Monday, July 04, 2011

King of the Mountain: My Trip to Harrah's Joliet

It was certainly not inaccurate to say that I had been in a poker slump. I had not played a tremendous amount of poker since Black Friday. When I did (trip to Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL and a trip to Las Vegas last month), I was shocked at how bad I ran. People called with garbage and hit runner-runner flushes. I got rivered more times than I thought possible. I was coolered in a couple of big hands, and I never seemed to catch a break. If I chased, I never caught. Others could suck out, but why not me?

With this as a backdrop, I decided to check out the poker rooms at the Joiliet, IL casinos on the way home from my mom's house in suburban Chicago. It was a good decision.

I left my mom's house Friday morning, caught some lunch in the next town, then headed to my first stop, the Hollywood Casino in Joliet. The casino had formerly been the Empress Casino, one of the many old Illinois riverboat casinos that never sail anymore. I had always thought that the Empress looked kind of junky when it opened, but it had gotten better. As Hollywood Casino, it really looked quite nice.

The poker room was at one end of the casino, a nice but small five table area. I was put on the waiting list for 1-2NL. One table was already filled with players.

After fooling around on some video poker machines for about twenty minutes, I got the call to come to the poker room as a second table was about to open. We filled it and away we went.

I caught a few cards early and chipped up aganinst competition that I thought I could beat. Unfortunately, as more players came, I  was moved to the original table. It appears that the second and succeeding tables are usued as fillers for the original table(s). There was much more money at the original table, so the switch was fine with me.

I treaded water while the aggro guy on my left kept winning pots. Once people started looking him up and winning while calling light, he started losing. In the meantime, I got zilch for cards. I chased with an open ended straight and a fludh draw, but nada. I finally got a hand in the small blind when my junk flopped bottom two pair. I raised and was called by one played. Raised on the turn and was called. Checked the river not knowing what the player had, and then re-raised his raise. He had been calling with top pair good kicker and caught a higher two pair on the river. I was pissed! I threw down my cards, waited two hands, then left. The shitty luck was still going strong.

I then drove to Harrah's Joliet, a short drive away. I had not been to this Harrah's since I started playing poker, but I knew it has opened a special WSOP poker room recently.

The setting in Harrah's was much more intense than Hollywood. Hollywood had been very friendly and laid back. The play at Harrah's immediately struck me as much more serious. I was surprised at the guff some of the players gave the dealers ... and the calmness of the dealers in handling it. It seemed that nothing would faze them.

My bad luck continued when my big raise with Q-Q in the big blind was called by a guy with a crap hand who, of course, hit the perfect cards he needed. I was getting frustrated, and when an orbit or two later I flopped bottom two pair in the small blind, I said "eff it" and re-raised a $20 raise all-in -- another $80+. Much to my surprise, a guy called. The board completed with two rags, and the guy mucked his cards. I never found out what he called with, but I did not care as I rebuilt my stack and did not have to rebuy.

The first big hand of the night started when I was dealt A-Q. I called an average raise to see a flop of K-10-rag. The original raiser made a small raise, so I called. Bingo -- a Jack! There was a flush draw on the board and I did not want to let anyone get there so I pushed all in. The original raiser called and said, "I hope I wasn't coolered." He showd K-K for the flopped top set. The river was a BLANK (what?) and I scooped a nice pot and finally had a decent stack.

This same guy was the person who started what was to become the biggest hand of the night. He had gotten short stacked and pushed all in in early position pre-flop. I looked down to see A-A! There were several people acting after me, and I was hoping to lure in an aggro guy who had a stack the same size as mine, so I smooth called. Much to my surprise, as I was counting out the 50-some dollars to call, the aggro guy raised me another $100. After a bit of hollywooding, I said "all in." He did not take long to say "I have to call." I was guessing anywhere from Q-Q up. He asked me if I had aces and I nodded. He had K-K. The flop came with both an Ace and a King, so I knew he was drawing to one out. It did not come, and I scooped a huge pot! It is not bad being the King of the Mountain of a big mound of chips! The funny thing is that Harrah's has a bad beat promotion going and if my opponent had spiked his one outer, I'd have won half the mini bad beat jackpot -- or $3500. The one time I wish I'd been rivered. But ... no complaints here after that hand.

I played pretty much even Steven for the rest of the night. I finally had to leave with a long drive in front of me. The ride home in the early morning hours was made with a big smile on my face ...

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Blogger bastinptc said...

Nice. Very nice.

3:04 AM  
Blogger DeRustZelve said...

Nicely done and a nice trip report, keep up the good work

3:45 AM  
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5:12 AM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

Well done Light. Glad to see someones bad run has turned.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Lucki Duck said...

New casino, new direction! Glad to hear the slump has come to an end. Congrats on the win!

11:52 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Nice work. I meant to check out Harrah's last night but ended up at Hollywood. I read that Harrah's charges time-rake, and I'd much rather the winners pay the rake than everybody pay the rake. I'm not lucky enough to bleed rake money every half hour!

12:14 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@ Shelly -- I thought about you while I was playing. The trip was unplanned, however. I did not decide to actually do it until I got ready to head home. If I plan to go in the future I'll let you know.

btw -- there was no time rake. I think it was $6 max with $1 going to the bad beat jackpots.

Although only based on one trip, the action at Harrah's was much looser and wilder than Hollywood.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

The trip home is always sweet when you're abig winner. Good job

1:30 PM  
Blogger jamyhawk said...

awesome news! congrats.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Josie said...


Maybe Black Friday ain't such a bad thing if it forces you to play more live poker.

Well done!

6:36 PM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

nice 1300?...I can't wait to go to Mohegan Sun on the 23rd. I'll be at a bachelor party but I'm sure I can get to the poker room at some point.

9:20 PM  

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