After waffling back and forth deciding whether or not to go (and failing to convince Twoin to join us), Dawg, Chye and I finally decided to head down to The Borgata after work on Tuesday. Got down there at around 4:30, checked in, and immediately went to grab some of the always satisfying five-spice noodle soup at Noodles of the World. Their soup is delicious and isn’t too salty on the palate, but it does leave you feeling all thirsty, so I know it’s gotta be deceptively high in sodium. But the beef tendon in it is always so good, like what you’d only expect to find in a Chinatown eatery. It’s really such a nice way to eat relatively light before hitting the gaming tables.
Dawg wanted to play the 7pm $100+20 NL tourney so we went to go sign up for that first. We still had almost 2 hours to kill, so we went to scope out the blackjack tables. I was shocked at what I saw. Normally I’m always out there on the weekends when it’s crowded and $25 is the lowest minimum. Not so on Tuesday, even though it was the eve of July 4th. The tables were relatively empty, and they actually had several tables with $5 minimums! FIVE DOLLAR MINIMUMS! I didn’t even know The Borgata owned table placards for that level. All three of us bought in and started playing. Chye was all tired, so she quit after making a tidy and quick profit. Dawg and I kept playing because there was nothing else to do until the poker tourney. Glad we did, as I ended up catching a decent run of cards and cashed out when I had doubled my $500 buy-in.
The tourney began and I tried to get a feel for the players at the table, but I hadn’t entered a single pot yet when the two guys to my left knocked a couple players out and quickly became the big stacks. Wonderful. That made me tighten up my starting hand requirements and the result was that I only played maybe two hands the whole first hour. I didn’t really open up my play until we reached a level with antes, at which point I felt my table image was tight enough that the big stacks weren’t going to try any blatant re-raise steal attempts. I started nabbing the occasional pot, only bluffing once in a while, consistently from the big blind when there were nothing but tight limpers to me. I got hurt in one big pot with two pair and had to pay off a lady who had flopped the nut flush and just kept betting small enough to keep me on the hook all the way thru the river. Still, I had enough chips to work with and I was playing well. There were 120 players and they were paying the top 18 places. We got down to 3 tables, 7-handed each table, so I only needed to wait for 3 more players to get knocked out. I could have probably folded my way into the money, but I was a low-medium stack when I looked down at pocket Queens with a big-stack middle position raiser to my immediate right. If I had a bigger stack and 18th place paid more than 3x the buy-in, I might have considered a fold there, but in this rinky-dink tourney there was no way I was going to let my ladies go, not 7-handed. I moved in, and got called by the initial raiser who showed cowboys. His hand held up and that was that.
Oh well. Even worse than getting knocked out so close to the money was that it took 4.5 hours to do it, and by that point all the good restaurants had closed. Dammit! We ended up having to grab something at the Metropolitan. I ordered a steamed lobster which came out overcooked and with no tamale in the body cavity. Double Dammit!
After eating I was ready for some more blackjack. Unfortunately, so was the rest of New Jersey as there was not an empty blackjack seat in the house other than at the $100 minimum tables and up. Oh well, I could use a shower and a rest anyway, so I told Dawg I was going up to my room and that we should meet back at 2:30am.
The congestion at the tables had relieved considerably by the time I headed back downstairs, and I got in at a $15 minimum table, buying in with just the $500 in profit I had won earlier. I putzed around for a while not really counting cards nor varying my bets, happy to just chill out and enjoy my free drinks until Dawg came down. Then I started to wake up a little and made a little profit. Unfortunately just as the table got a little warm, the pit boss informed us that they were closing the table. I took my smallish $150 profit and bet more agressively on the last shoe, but ended up losing it all, so I left that table even for the session, still up $500 overall.
We moved to another table where the action was uneven and they were about to close that table too, so Dawg made the move to a new table that was going to remain open the rest of the morning. I played out the shoe and finished even before joining Dawg at the new table. This is when things got hot. The dealer was this Indian (dot not feathers) dude who seemed rather inexperienced and dealt slowly, but had a very friendly demeanour and seemed sincerely happy whenever he dealt us a winning hand. Genuinely happy, with an absolutely delighted expression on his face whenever he busted his own hand or counted out chips to pay us out. Not as delighted as my own expression of course, but delighted nonetheless. We played a few mediocre shoes, pretty much neutral, maybe slightly positive until Hing cut one deck and suddenly the shoe got warm. I went from my $500 to about $850 in that one shoe. We got the cut card to Hing again for the next shuffle, and this time the shoe went from warm to blazingly white hot. It was an incredible stretch. I started with a $30 bet, a level I start just about every shoe with. As I started winning hand after hand, I just kept incrementally pressing. Nothing outrageous because I had no intention of giving back my profit, just gentle presses along the way like I usually do. My strategy is always that if I lose a hand or if too many ten cards come out in a wave I would drop back down a bit for the next hand. But for this shoe, this was my progression: $30 to $45 to $50 to $70 to $80 to $100 to $130 to $150 to $180 to $220 to $280 to $320. Notice something about that? At no point in this shoe did I lose a hand! At worst I would push, but I had no losses for the whole shoe! But I did get scared on a whopper of a hand when I bet $320 and got dealt 8’s against a dealer 6. Automatic split for me, so I put my extra $320 out and waited for my turn to act. Meanwhile the clown to my right decides that he needs to hit his 14 against the dealer 6. The whole table tries to convince him not to do it. Finally after much delay we just tell him to do whatever he wants. He hits it and busts. My turn. The first 8 gets dealt… another freakin 8! Out comes another $320 for the re-split. I now have $960 on the table, which is enough to make me nervous even though it’s all house money at this point. I don’t even recall what my hands ended up being, all I remember was wondering if this magical shoe could hold up for me even after the boneheaded hit on my right. And guess what? It did! The dealer busted like he was supposed to and I finished out the shoe without losing a single hand! I cashed out immediately for $3,700(!) as there was no way it could get better than that and I wanted to end on the highest note possible. Fantastic.