Wednesday, November 20th: This is the last day for me playing Poker at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MA, just outside of Boston. So far, I’ve had a great time on both Monday and Tuesday at this amazing property, and am looking for a third straight day of winning Poker.
What I didn’t anticipate happening is that I’d have the wildest session I’ve ever had playing cash game LLSNL. A great example of that is the two pictures I snapped of a restaurant and a club inside of the Encore – both pictures were taken at 4AM. Typically, that time stamp associated with a Poker session means good news – or a crazy story, at least.
Before the session: I got a late start to today’s session as I had to run an errand in Brookline, which is about a 15-minute Uber ride from my hotel. Massachusetts is one of the dozen states in our union where recreational marijuana is legal, and I needed a restocking of chocolate edibles back home. The staff at NETA in Brookline was great, super-professional and got me in and out of their location within a few minutes. I then needed to drop off my “prescription” (more like “over-the-counter” medication), and then back out to Encore before my flight back home the next day.
Hour #1: I might have mentioned previously how nice this property is in the last two blog posts. However, it bears repeating. Everything from the carpeting, the felt, the sight lines, the smells and the sounds – it all has been put together brilliantly. It truly is a pleasure to play at Encore Boston Harbor, and hopefully, some day, I’ll be back for more. Sadly, not all of the players are wearing rose-colored glasses as I am and don’t have outlooks on life as I do. There are a handful of players who, quite simply, are angle-shooting scumbags. These players, based on their actions, are either too ignorant to know any better or simply don’t give a shit about their opponents, the game of Poker, or the establishment that allows them to play.
In the first hour, I had the misfortune of playing at the same table as one of these low-life individuals. Luckily, only one incident occurred with me in the hand and the person, whom I hope I never play with again, left. In the hand in question, the POS (yes, the abbreviation is appropriate) is in the BB and has already reloaded three times and is tilted. I have 4h3h in LP and see a flop with one additional player of KQQhh. Action checks through to the 4x turn. Action again checks to the POS and this is where the “S” hits the fan. He clearly checks, tapping a green $25 chip he was playing with in his hand a few times on the felt. I am in seat 1, and he is in seat 6, so I had a clear, unobstructed view of his action. As the dealer taps the table with her right hand before flipping over the river card, the POS yells out “WHOA!!!!” and claims to have not acted yet, throwing out a $75 bet. I immediately say that he checked, to which the dealer agrees. The POS then starts getting angry and calls the dealer a liar, which prompts the floor to come over. I again simply state that “…it looked like a check to me”, and the floor, after hearing mine and the dealer’s testimony, rules that it was in fact a check and the river card should be exposed. The POS then loses it and flips out, saying that we’re all lying and flips up a card and slams it down – a third Q, giving him trips. The entire table was probably wondering what on Earth is going on at that point with this POS. Before the river card is exposed, I muck my hand as I see that I’m drawing slim already and don’t want to play with him anymore. He wins the pot and unexpectedly leaves shortly thereafter, to the delight of the remaining 8 players on the table.
Hour #3: Not much happens during the second hour, although I bled away my stack down to about $100 from when I sat down on Hour #1. I then play two interesting hands to get myself unstuck (again, unstuck, for the third day in a row). In the first notable hand, I post $4 after missing the BB. A solid player – possibly a part-time pro – raises to $18 on the button and directly to my right in the 9-hole. I have AJo and consider shipping it, given my stack size and given the fact that this good player has a wide range from the BTN. However, I just flat call like, as a I wrote in real-time in my notes, “…a fish”. The flop comes A88hh. I check to the player on the BTN who c-bets for $20. Now I do decide to get the rest of my stack in the middle, to which he snap calls. I tell him that his Ace is bigger than mine, but to my surprise, a Jx pops up on the turn and I most likely suck out against an AQ or AK and double up.
In the second notable hand of the hour, which happens a few hands later one, I raise to $15 from the HJ with JTo. A player in the BB raises to $35 and I decide to flat call behind. The flop comes ten-high, and the player in the BB starts to assemble some chips in front of him as if to place a bet, but then, at the last second, checks. Usually, this type of move means that he wants to discourage his opponent – namely, me – from putting out a bet, which allows him to see a free card. I don’t oblige and bet $30. The BB then, rather quickly, check-raises to $75. Having top pair, there are going to be a lot of turn cards that I’m going to like with a Jack kicker, or, at least, a lot of turn cards that I can represent, given the action so far. I call his check-raise and see a 7d on the turn, which brings a backdoor flush draw. He again checks. I decide to jam all-in, as the chances of getting check-raised again (or, check-called again) have to be slim, and by going all-in, I can win the pot right now without letting him draw to whatever outs he might have from the BB. He quickly folds, and I now have about $270 in front of me.
Hour 4: By now, I notice the sheer volume of players in this second-floor Poker room, all grinding out these $1,000 high hands. This has been the case each day that I’ve been here – Poker Atlas shows 23 $1/$3 tables and 8 $2/$5 tables by the time the next few significant hands come up.
I look down at JdTd in the BB after a few limpers threw in $3 each before the flop. I check, and the flop comes out 5d8d9c, giving me a flush draw and an open-ended straight draw with two over cards. The action checks around, and I see a magical Qc on the turn for the nut straight. I again check for deception – a move that works a surprising amount of the time – and the player on the BTN bets $12. I check-raise to $35, which makes my opponent think for a little while before calling. The river is another awesome card, the Ah, which can be used as a great bluff card. I do just that and throw out a polarizing $85 bet. My opponent goes deep into the tank – this is an opponent who earlier called my lousy $10 into a decent-sized pot on the river after making the nuts, so the $85 pot-sized or slightly larger than pot-sized bet must look like a bluff to him. He eventually does make the call and I show him the goods, bringing my stack up to $365.
Shortly afterwards, I lose a massive $700 pot in a wild three-way hand. A player limps in from the CO, and I complete for $2 more from the SB with Q8o. The BB checks his option, and we see an insane JT9 rainbow flop. I flop the second nuts and check from the SB to induce some betting. The BB also checks. The CO bets out $20 and I decide to just flat call and give a good price for the BB to come in. The BB comes in, but for much more than $20. He jams all-in. The player in the CO snap-calls the all-in and after calling, asks for a count (it’s never a good sign when a player snap calls and then asks for a count, as if the amount of chips is secondary to calling the bet). I take a minute to figure out what the hell these two players have before I re-jam over the top of the CO, who then says “Let’s Do It!” and calls. The turn is a 2s, the river is a Tx for a paired board. The CO had JT for a full house, but even if he didn’t pair the board, I was drawing virtually dead as the player in the BB had KQ.
Even though that one sucked, myself and the player in the BB (a very polite and nice older gentleman in his late 70’s / early 80’s) start laughing it up and shaking our heads at that insane hand. Before I know it, the button is now on me and I look down at 99 and raise to $12, hoping it would look as if I’m tilted from the previous hand (truth be told I wasn’t at all). I get one caller to what some might call a nice flop: A99. I rapidly blink and re-check my hole cards to confirm that I’ve just flopped quad 9’s on the button with an Ace on the board for good measure. I check and still am chatting it up with the gentleman in the BB. Eventually the action makes its way to the river where my lone caller bets out some small amount that I didn’t write down nor that I can remember. I shove as a bluff, and while the player did think about it for a little bit, he folded and I smacked my hand face-up on the felt to get on the high-hand payout board.
While I had a 7-minute sweat, unfortunately a player at another table flopped quad Queens “at the buzzer”, so I don’t win a $1,000 bonus :(.
Hours 5 and 6: By the end of the fifth hour, I find myself with $175 after being up to close to $400 at one point in the session. I write in my real-time notes that it’s probably going to be a wild session, one filled with me trying to grind out another win after two very long and very workmanlike wins.
In hour 6, I get back up to $225 after holding Tc8c in LP and flopping QJJc. The turn and river were a 3c and a 6c, respectively, and my JT863 flush beat my opponent’s trip Jacks. I then find myself counting up a stack of $285 after getting good value from a flopped top two pair, but then I find myself counting down a smaller stack of around $250 after losing with my AKo against a player’s Jd9d.
Hours 7 and 8: The night is getting late, but little did I know that the craziness would just be getting started. I pick up AA and AKo in Hour #7, but lose the minimum with both hands and find myself back down to $180. At this point, a good, young pro has taken command of the table, and I’ve found myself mixing it up with him a few times. At one point, he was in seat #4 and after I showed him Qs3s to win a decent-sized pot, he changed seats to be directly to my right. He’s definitely one of the more aggressive players I’ve played with during this session, so my guess is that I’m placing a 3B pre-flop, that my range is very narrow and capped (which he can then use to his advantage).
After busting a short stack with my lucky hand of the day (Pocket 9’s) and getting un-stuck yet again and sitting at $300, I play a hand against a very aggressive player who just sat down at our table. He’s listening to music and head-bobbing along to whatever genre suits him. I complete a $12 raise in the HJ from him with me in the SB with an off-suit raggy Ace. The flop comes 986cc and I want to let him know that I won’t be scared or playing tight with him, so I lead right out for $35 as a bluff. He quickly calls and then checks out of turn on the 8x. Since he checked out of turn, my read is that he wants to see a cheap or possibly free river card with his presumed draw. I make it $55 and he open mucks QJo, confirming my suspicion and increasing my stack to $330.
Some later hour: By this time of day (night?), my phone is running on fumes as my battery is below 10%, so typed-out reference notes are very few and far between. I actually wound up borrowing someone’s charger and leaving my phone on the side cart table, just so that I’d have enough juice to, you know, have a useable phone. I actually get felted and had to rebuy for another $300 after my AK lost to a player’s AQ after the player rivered a Q on an Axx board with two very low cards. This winds up being the player that I had to borrow a phone charger from, so I fist-bump him at the conclusion of the hand and move on.
Shortly after, I raise preflop with AdTd on the button and get two callers. The flop comes KJ8 and the action checks to me. I decide to c-bet bluff and throw out $50. One player in MP calls and we see a great Qh on the turn. I check and the player slides out a stack of 20 $5 chips for a $100 bet. I Hollywood for a little bit, as I have not played a hand against this particular opponent yet. I then decide to shove all-in, which my opponent snap calls. The river is an 8x which pairs the board, but it does not improve my opponent’s hand and I am now all the way up to $800.
After losing a few smaller pots. my run-good continues as I called a pre-flop raise (of $10, I believe) against a good player in the SB. The flop comes ATx, all spades. The player in the SB checks and I bet $20 for thin value, if thin value is such a concept on the flop. He calls, and we see a 4h on the turn. I again lead for $65 and, after some deliberation, he again calls. The river is a brick and we both check. My hand holds and it’s good, bringing my stack up to about $830.
Some wee hour in the late night / early AM of the next day: I’m looking at roughly $600 in red chips with a few green chips on top, and the night is getting late – VERY late. The tables at Encore are now starting to empty as the high hand promotion has ended, and the vibe in the Poker room is changing. Every table now is playing 6 or 7 handed, but the staff at Encore is doing an amazing job of keeping all of the tables balanced and sitting new players right away in games without waiting too long. I am still in seat 1 on table 60, which sits on a balcony-like overhang overseeing a sea of slot machines below on the first floor. Seat 7 has been open for a while and, finally, it is filled by a man is his late 20’s / early 30’s. He was accompanied by a woman whom, at a quick first glance, gave me the impression that this was this player’s significant other. However, it becomes apparent that this woman is much older than this player (this woman is not in the game, just sitting next to this player but behind him, at an angle), and that this woman is this player’s mom (This is confirmed by another player later).
The player being referenced here finally gets comfortable in his seat and puts $300 in front of him. The dealer begins to deal out the cards and the player doesn’t seem to be sure what is going on. He learns on-the-spot that we’re playing $1/$3, not $1/$2 as he originally thought the game was. Once the betting limits were confirmed, he throws out a call with a single $5 red chip. I look down at AcJc and raise to $12. The action folds around to the player in question and he calls. The flop is AKx with two clubs, giving me top pair, decent kicker, with the nut-flush draw. Before I even get a chance to figure out what I’m going to want to do, he quickly bets out $10. Since I’ve never seen him before and have no reads at all, I want to keep him around and not scare him away in case he’s drawing or has an Ace or even a King in his hand. I call the $10, and the turn is a complete blank. He leads right out for $20 in a similar manner as he lead out on the flop. I decide to raise my voice a little bit and make an old-fashioned, time-honored See Where I’m At raise of $65. Even if he has an odd two pair of some sort, I’m not going anywhere with a draw to the nuts and top pair, good kicker. The player picks up the remaining chips he has in front of him with both hands and slams all of them down in the middle, shoving all-in. I literally sigh-call. The river is a 4s, and I flip up my hand saying something to the effect of “I only have AJ so you’re probably good”. He confidently flips over his hand and smacks the cards down face-up on the table, which is always a sign of strength. Seeing the wind up, I immediately resign to the fact that I’m losing this hand, but want to see what two hole cards my opponent is so demonstratively showing down. After a moment of silence from the entire table whose side chatter has abruptly ceased, I realize that my opponent has flipped over Ace-three off-suit, for a worse Ace than mine. We both stare at the board and at the hands and the dealer quietly raises the AK4 from the board to indicate that those three cards, in addition to my AcJc, were the five best cards of the seven and mucks my opponents hand. A player then asks “What did he show??” and I’m sitting in stunned silence, watching a $600 pot being shipped in my direction. The table now is dead quiet and no player is looking down at their phone screens. My opponent looks at what we all learned later was his mother and says “OK, that’s it”, and quietly leaves. After the player left the area and the Deck Mate 2 automatic shuffler machine was ready with a fresh deck, the table erupts in laughter and disbelief of what just occurred: I just busted a player in front of his mom in embarrassing fashion.
After about 2-3 more hours of some of the craziest late-night poker action you can possibly imagine, I rack up for $901 for a profit of $301 on the session, or, 7.4 BB/H. In fact, I have other stories about this crazy night, including playing with an angry old Army vet who liked to shove with nearly any two cards, and a retired physician who now travels the world playing Poker, and possibly some gang-affiliated younger aggressive pros. However, those stores just don’t come close to busting the player in front of his mom on his very first hand at the table, so I will exclude those stories for now.
When I decided to create this blog, the intention was selfish: Document my wins and losses in the attempt to improve my overall game. If I get an audience that is interested in these long reads, that’s fantastic, but if I don’t, then that’s OK, too. I don’t ever see myself asking for page views or impressions, but I am hopeful that some employee from the Encore finds this site and this particular blog post in general, because there is a staff member that I want to publicly acknowledge: Her name is Liz and she works the floor as a brush / assistant in the daytime and early evening. Throughout my three sessions, nearly every time I looked up from my seat or walked around the Poker room, Liz was either helping someone find their seat, answering questions, or even helping clean up garbage left over from players’ drink and food orders that they were finished with or had long forgotten about. Liz was working hard and always had a pleasant smile on her face, and I noticed. Hopefully the good staff at Encore Boston Harbor have also noticed. Obviously, I don’t know what Liz’s career aspirations are, but hopefully the Encore staff can help her career move forward, as they definitely have a great, dedicated employee on their team.