Friday, June 9, 2017

Poker at the Horseshoe

I finally got a chance to play at the Horseshoe poker room in Baltimore, MD.  The Horseshoe opened almost three years ago and this was my first poker session there.  I played in a tournament two years ago but not in the poker room.  The tournament was held in a big convention hall on the ground floor.

In my opinion, out of the three poker rooms located near I-295, the Shoe looks the best when you walk in.  The MD Live poker room lighting could be better and the MGM poker room entrance is right on the casino floor.  Local poker players and bloggers TPM (blog) and PPP (blog) have played many sessions there.  Even the travelling poker player TBC (blog) has played more times at the Shoe than me.

I decided to make the trip after work and see if a change of scenery brings back Lady Luck.

I got my chips and picked up the Ante Up magazine at the podium.  I was sent to a table right away.  I chose the only open seat, 4.

Front and center: famous poker blogger

It didn't take me long to realize that seat 5 was the table captain.  He said he was waiting for a $2/$5 seat to open up.  He was in almost every pot and rarely did he make it to showdown without raising big on one of the streets.  It was unfortunate that I was immediately to his right.  I tried limping several hands but his $15 to $30 pre-flop bets/raises made me fold quickly.

The Shoe allows straddling from any position aka Mississippi Straddle.  Maybe I wouldn't mind it if seat 5 wasn't using it so often.  The way the game played and seat 5 having position on me, I didn't like it.  Let's get to some hand summaries.

Less than two orbits in, I'm UTG+1 and get dealt A-10.  I don't have much on my opponents.  UTG leads out for $12 and I call.  Seat 10 makes the call as well.  The flop is 10-4-4 and seat 3 bets $25.  I call and seat 10 raises it to $65.  Seat 3 calls and I'm sitting there trying to justify a call.  What would you do?

The table was not tight to say the least.  Seat 5 opens for $10 and gets three callers.  He gets it all-in on the flop with 7-7 versus seat 7 who has K-Q and rivers a straight.  Seat 5 rebuys before the chips get pushed to seat 7.  Table captain was playing aggressively and it cost him another buy-in.  He kept showing the second best hand.

I bet $10 pre-flop with 10-9 in the cut-off.  Seat 5 called.  The flop was 7 high with one club.  I checked the flop and the turn which was also a club.  Surprisingly, he checked back.  The river was a 9 and I bet $25.  He decided to look me up.  I showed and he mucked.  

In seat 4, I get dealt 5-6 in the BB.  Seat 5 bets $10 and I call.  We are both about $200 behind.  We check the 5-4-10 flop.  I lead out for $15 on the 7 turn and he calls.  The river is a 5 and I bet $25.  He moves all-in for about $130.  I'm in a pickle.  What would you do?


Thank you all for the comments.  I learn a lot from experienced players and their approach to poker.  In this hand, you might say that I made several errors.  I won't disagree.  My thoughts, when it came to my opponent in seat 5, were that he likes to play many hands and is aggressive.  I liked my suited connectors and wanted to see the flop against seat 5 since I close out the action pre-flop.  
I check the flop and he checks it too.  Him checking the flop gave me info that I thought was valuable.  I would expect an overpair or a set to bet in order to charge straight and flush draws.  The pot was $21 and I bet $15 on the turn.  I think the bet helps me keep him guessing.  If he has a flush, unless it's ace (or maybe king) high, I'd expect just a call.  And if he has an overpair, he would want to see the river.  

When the 5 comes on the river, I bet $25.  If he has an overpair, he might call the small bet.  I don't think a straight would raise.  No way he has a 5 in his hand.  What hand with a 5 would he raise UTG pre-flop.  When he moves all-in, my thoughts were that either he has a flush or he's beat.  Yes,  he could have a full house but that's unlikely.

I made the decision that I wanted to see his flush.  If he has it, I'm ready to say nice hand, sir.  I call and he doesn't seem to like it.  He slowly turns over his cards and I see the A and a black queen.  I feel discouraged for a millisecond.  I look closer and see that it's the queen of spades!

His play made some sense.  He raised pre-flop to $10 with A-Q.  The flop wasn't that good and he checked.  He called the turn after he improved to the nut flush draw.  The 5 on the river looked like a blank.  He probably put me on a 10 or even a straight.  His thinking might have been that he can represent the nut flush and make me fold my hand by raising the river.

I raked in the chips as he got up and left.  I played for a bit longer and then cashed out double my starting stack.  It felt good to call and be right but I could have easily lost.

I took some photos of the casino.


  1. Out of all the area poker rooms, I like the feel of The Shoe the best. It's a really nice room. It's also nice that you rarely have to wait to get a seat. As for the games . . . the action is nearly universally good. I find, however, that on occasions, the game is a bit "too good" for my style of play because of the Miss. Straddle. In a $1/3 game capped at $300, when you have some dudes straddling every hand to $10 or $20, it turns the game into bingo...

    Lately, I've been playing here and at The Chuck. I tend to prefer the games at these places more than Live and MGM. More chill.

    1. I've never played at the Chuck. MGM 1/3 plays huge. Anything to see in/around town there? Would you fold the river?

  2. AT hand in UTG+1:

    I fold preflop. If people after you call, you will be out of position in the hand. If the UTG raiser is a known donkey and I wanted to play a hand with them, I would 3bet preflop to isolate (assuming relative stack sizes are 100BB).

    1. Pre-flop fold, OK. But, since I called, the big question is what to do on the river?

    2. Player bets, you call, a player raises, and original better calls that raise. Top pair, top kicker is never good. Instant fold.

    3. I folded A,10 but the 5,6 hand is more interesting.

    4. The 5,6 hand:

      Do you need to call 130? And the pot is 230? If so, you are getting 1.77 to 1 on the call. You would need to be ahead 37% of the time to show a profit.

      That would come down to a feel for the opponent. How often would he bluff raise this river? You bet the turn when both the flush and straight draws hit. And then also bet the river. Now he is shoving the river when the board pairs? I know he knows you can't have a full house, because why would you check the flop when the board is that wet with a set? But then why would he bluff that river when you could have a made straight or flush? Does he think you'd actually fold one of those hands? What would he be bluffing with? What type of hand would he check the flop, call the turn, and shove the river with. He's not doing it with an over pair. He'd bet the flop with that. He's not doing it with a draw, because the draws all hit on the turn. I've seen bad players ship that river before with A5. He sees he has trips with an Ace kicker and thinks he is too bad of a player to know he can't shove there.

      I'm trying to think of if he could have flopped a monster like a set and then got cold feet on the turn and only called your bet when both the straight and flush draws hit. He could have flopped top set and tried to let you catch up.

      Without having seen him play, I do not know how you are ahead 37% of the time to make it a good call. I'd probably fold. Not sure if I could figure this out in real time though.

    5. It is an interesting spot since I've never played with him before. All I know is that he likes to bet. He slows down on a street or two but then puts in a big bet. I would be surprised if he shows up with the last 5 in this spot.

  3. Being on the right of LAGs has its advantages. I'm folding my speculative hands. But strong hands like 99+, AT+ I'm limping, hoping he raises and gets callers then I am making a HUGE 3bet check raise. The advantage here is you get to see how all of the other players react. If no one 3bets before you, you know they don't like their hands. A big check raise either picks up all of the dead money immediately or gets you heads up with the LAG. Once the flop comes, I'm shipping most flops. Exceptions would be if I have a pair like 99 or TT and 3 over cards come. That might be a check-fold.

    Say, you have AJs and started the hand with $300 (I'm assuming you can buy in for $300). Limp and he raises to $15. Let's say he gets 3 callers and it gets back to you. I'm raising it to $100. Let's say he calls the raise. His lack of a preflop shove tells you he doesn't love his hand and just wants to see a flop and gamble. You are ahead of his range at this point. Let's say the flop comes 2-5-T with one of your suit. There is $245 in the pot now. You have two over and backdoor straight and flush draws. You ship all-in on this flop with your remaining $200. What hands can he call that bet with? Most every hand he has, he will have to fold. Even the few times you get called, you have enough of a hand to be able to outdraw him X% of the time. So, your fold equity and your hand equity when called are good enough to make this a profitable play over the long run.

    People that play almost every hand are bad players and are almost always long-term losers. Yes, sometimes they will build big stacks because people fold too much to them. But one cannot play 80%+ of their starting hands and be a long term winner.

    Against bad LAGs you have to play tight AND aggressive. You want to be heads up against the LAG. Your range (because you are tight) will crush their range. When your range crushes your opponents range, you want to play huge pots against them. Over time you will win so much money off of them.

    I play regularly in a small market. All the time, I hear bad regulars complain about how they hate playing with players X, Y, or Z because they are so loose they never know where they or at. They always focus on the times they lose pots to those players. They always table change to get away from them. I focus on all of the times I win money against them. Sure, I will have my bad nights against them, but I win more often against them. I am damn sure table changing to get onto their tables not getting away from them.

    1. if u shove the AJ no pair, u will get called everytime he has any type of pair if hes loose

  4. Nice pics, thanks. Did you have any problems taking them? Some casinos/poker rooms don't let you. As one of the supervisors told me one time when I tried to take some shots, you might catch somebody's preacher sitting there gambling. LOL.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. No issues at all. Only once did a casino say anything and that was on a BBJP hand. Everyone was trying to take a photo so it was very obvious.

  5. I think I fold this river, as much as I hate it. You river your nut card, but there's simply so much that has you crushed: club flush, almost every 5 (all 5's lower are chopping), straight draws, etc. I think he turned a flush or [less likely] rivered a bottom 2 pair type hand into a boat; 5 4 or something like that. Your hand strength is trip 5's no kicker: far from the nuts.

    Final point of note in favor of folding: he's raising your lead on the river. This bet is rarely a bluff at this level, as players at this level are rarely raising the most expensive street -- since he's a 2/5 player, I don't really have much info on that type.

    FWIW, you don't give seat 5's position; did he limp in? I think from your above summary, he's UTG or UTG+1 since he has position on you & you're in the BB. This would be a helluva bluff on this board if he is indeed bluffing.

    As an aside, why are you betting the turn on a 3 club turn? Are you trying to rep a flush / turn your hand into a bluff? The $15 bet seems pretty aimless; just a bet to not get him to bet, which is a bad move IMO. He's always going to at least call the $15 with hands that beat you and likely fold the hands that you beat unless the has a weird Ac[T|4|5]. I feel like a $15 bet is very weak on the turn; $15 into prolly around $32 pot - I think $22 or $24 makes a bigger statement if your goal is to turn your hand into a bluff.

    1. TPM, thanks for the detailed response. He was UTG and I was the BB in seat 4 (updated). Pot was $21 and I bet $15 into it. I think a fold has merit since I'm not invested in the hand. I had about $200 to start and by the river bet, I was $150 behind. My thoughts in the updated post.