The table of dreams – My personal nightmare

Once in a while you stumble on a table that most of all reminds you of those gigantic Christmas presents your uncle Livingstone brought home from Africa when he managed to find the time to attend the family Christmas once every ten years. Most of the time the content of this promising gift lived up to the expectations, but occasionally the package would contain a monkey with Ebola, and yes, Christmas was ruined for everyone. I sat down at a table like that a couple of weeks ago.

Searching for good tables

I had just opened my favourite poker application and business as usual skimmed the lobby for interesting tables, and there it was: a shorthanded 5-10 $ no limit table with an average pot size of 800 dollars. I could not believe my eyes and immediately opened the table. There were no free seats, big surprise, so I joined the waiting list in 4th position and decided to watch the table while I sat down at a 3-6 to pass the time.

I quickly realized that my 3-6 was a complete waste of time compared to the Mother of All Tables I had running in the top left corner. It dawned on me that there were not only one bad player, but 3 who apparently had a competition going on who could get the most money into the pot the fastest.

The lowest stack was around 500 while all the others had more than 1000 dollar at the table and the chipleader had more than 2000. I quickly realized that with the betting that was going on I could get a seat very quickly so I closed my 3-6 and wisely enough took the time to study my opponents-to-be. It seemed that one guy had gotten into a habit of raising 2 out of 3 hands to 75 preflop, which meant that every time someone wanted to take a peak at the flop the pot would already be at least 165; this would usually be followed up by a bet of 200 or more on the flop which most of the time would be enough to win the hand, and if it wasn’t then the raise all in usually was. In this highly unusual game a player lost all his money every 5 min while I was watching and I got offered a seat 15 min later when one guy finally gave in.

I decided to go in short stacked with 250 $, this would give me the chance to play in these wild hands fairly cheap and would ensure me a showdown in most cases when I would be all in. I had recognized 2 strong players at the table who I had played against before. They were probably thrilled to sit there waiting for their chance to bite into the fish when they got caught in a mistake. But as it turned out, they had as much trouble getting to see a flop as I had as the 3 other players were betting and raising like a whirlwind every chance they got.

Two jacks going all-in

When I got my first hand a player had already raised to 80 preflop and I decided to go all in on my JJ. I had 210 $ so it was definitely worth trying to get him to fold preflop, but he immediately called on his A3 off and got rewarded with 2 aces on the flop. I made 2 other 250 $ rebuys and gave the money away just as quick, losing AK then a nut flushdraw with overcards and two other players in the pot.

Having lost 750 $ most players would probably choose to pack it in for the day, but I just can not leave such a wild table. The potential was way too big. I made buyins for 500 $ now to be able to put some pressure on my opponents, who clearly had no problem calling 250 cold. Maybe 500 would do the trick. It took me 10 minutes to get KK, and get a re-raise all in from one of the solid players, and while I was almost sure he had the aces, I was committed since I had re-raised the original raise to 300. As the first guy wisely got out of the way I reluctantly put my remaining 200 $ in, and yes he had the aces, and yes, they held up.

I lost another 500 before things finally started to turn around. I played my next reload up to 1600, made a set of nines and lost it all to a river flush. Amazing, I was stunned and down almost 2500 for the session. I made one final full buy in and decided to play it safe, I had been wildly unlucky, but had not gone on tilt yet, and until I felt that happening I still saw a big potential in the table which at this point had more than 9.000 $ between the players.

Unfortunately one of the maniacs had left the table with a healthy profit, on what was probably the luckiest day in his life. Yet leaving the table was his best move so far in the game. Another one was close to being bust after having made even more reloads than me, and he left shortly after. This left 5 fairly skilled players at the table and 1 maniac, who still raised every hand preflop. He fought bravely and made controlled folds or (bluffed?) all in every time he was raised. He had close to 3000.

His stack had withered down to around 2000 when I picked up the aces on the button. As usual he raised, and I made it 200 to go. He immediately went all in and I happily called my remaining 700. 1800 $ pot and a chance to win some money back, and I was glad to see him turn over AK off suit. The flop came a brilliant Q-2-2 for my aces forcing him to hit both the turn and river to win.

The turn revealed a Jack, and I just had time to pick up on his inside straight draw before the river gave him the absolutely surreal 10. I had lost my aces to his straight and more than 3500 $ all in all. It did not exactly help on my mood when one of the solid players revealed that he had folded 10-10 preflop. Beat for 1800 dollars on a river 2 outer. A perfect end to a surreal session.

So what is the lesson here? Well, if I get the chance to sit down with those guys again I would not hesitate a second, but as I knew beforehand, finding a table like this is a double-edged sword. You can make a lot of money but can also be sure that if you are having a bad day it is going to be expensive. What should you do when you get the chance to play on a table like this? It is rare in limit poker, and when you do get bad beats it is not going to be that expensive.

Having the right mindset

You will have plenty of opportunities to get your money back, but as I experienced, you also will have sessions with plenty of bad players who will be the lucky ones that day. I would still recommend sticking it out, however occasionally you have to take the loss, get up and leave the table before things get completely out of hand.

What I did? I left the table after having realized that it just wasn’t going to be my day. Then I went to another site and lost 1500 there. Yet the next day after I had bought myself a new mouse – the old one didn’t survive my final loss, I sat down at a limit table again trying to forget one of the worst days of my poker career. Good luck.


Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.