Jan. 3, 2020, poker recap

January 10, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 10, 2019 2020

It’s only been five days since my visit to the casino in Bethlehem, Pa., but it seems like a much longer while.

I was card dead for quite a while, both before and after my successful acquisition of a working Wind Creek player’s card. Over time, my stack shrunk from $220 to $210 to $200… I had a number of $25 chips plus some $5 and $1 chips. I must have gotten below $150 as things continued to go direly.

The best hand and only pair I got over the first hour or more was 9-9. I raised with it and got at least two or three callers, plus a flop with at least one over (a 10, and maybe there was paint as well). I called a post-flop bet but folded when the turn failed to bring me a third nine.

I made money on three hands. I remember no details about the first — was it ace-queen or ace-jack — except that I bet the river, mimed a bit of anxiety and got called by a beefy fellow two seats to my left. I think I must have straddled that hand, which is a move that involves posting twice the big blind ($4 on this $1–$2 table) and acting last on the initial round of betting.

On the next orbit, I straddled again and got 10-9 off-suit, which I checked preflop. I paired my lower card on the flop, made trips on the turn and got a full house when the river brought a 10.

As it happened, the only person left in the hand was the same fellow I’d taken a modest pot off in the forgotten hand mentioned two paragraphs above. I made a ridiculously teensy-tiny bet of just $3; after only a few seconds, my foe mucked his hand, which presumably was a busted draw.

The third hand on which I made money was the most dramatic. I think this may also have been a straddle with pocket aces, which I may have checked preflop.

The flop was king-jack-something (nine?). There were four or five people in the hand. I made a sizable bet, maybe $18; the man in seat nine stayed, and maybe another player too.

I forget what the turn was. Bet, call — I forget who initiated, but I felt a bit uneasy.

The river was a five. I made a very modest bet, maybe $8 or $12.

The guy in seat nine raised me big-time, to $60.

If anyone was left in the hand, he folded. That left me with a decision.

I obviously had the strongest hand preflop. And because there was a five on the board, the river had brought me two pairs. If my opponent also had two pairs, I had a stronger hand because he couldn’t beat my aces.

Should I raise?

There was a possibility, however, that he’d hit a set on the flop or turn. If that were the case, he’d have a full house. And if he somehow had a five, then he’d have a minimum of three of a kind. I decided just to call.

I put the $60 across the betting line. My opponent showed king-jack off-suit. I nodded: He’d made two pairs on the flop.

I flipped over my aces. That river had helped me immensely. I gratefully collected the pot.

I played until nearly 2:15 p.m., hoping but failing to find another score. At last, I stood up, located a tray, racked up my chips and told the fellows at the table that I’d enjoyed playing with them.

My first Wind Creek Bethlehem poker room haul. I started with $220.
My first Wind Creek Bethlehem poker room haul. I started with $220.

My holdings came to $353, which worked out to a profit of $123. I walked across the casino floor to the cashier cages, where I exchanged my haul for not particularly cold, not at all hard paper American currency. After confirming with the cashier that I could give her a tip, I handed her back a dollar, leaving me with a $122 net.

That was that. I made my way back to my car and found my way to the property exit that led to Interstate 78 west. There wasn’t a gas station between the casino and the highway. While making my way there, I saw a man sitting in the front passenger seat of the red SUV in the lane beside me — I had a strong feeling that they’d just come from the casino, just like me — roll down his window and flick a cigarette butt onto the road. That got me real steamed, because I hate littering. I did not react.

I had to make an impromptu refueling and restroom stop between Bethlehem and Harrisburg; I’d hoped to avoid that until I’d gotten past the state capital, but that was not to be. Traffic was piling up in Harrisburg, so I used the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a toll road, to bypass the city. There was rain and darkness over the last bit of my trip, but I made it safely, and at the end of it there were good friends, a nice taco meal and a friendly dog.

The friendly dog at the end of the road.
The friendly dog at the end of the road.

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