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My Night at Rockford Charitable Games

August 7, 2008

Chicago itself doesn’t really have casinos.  We have a few just over the border in Indiana.  But I live in the northwest suburbs and so I have to travel all the way around the city to get to those casinos (translated: 45-90 minutes each way).

What we do have is Rockford Charitable Games.  They put on “events” many days of every week where they have live poker and at least some of the money goes to a charity.  Last night it was right in my neck of the woods.  For background, I had a weird day.  It was probably the wrong day to be playing poker.  I got up at 4:30 AM to catch a 6:30 AM flight to Midland, Michigan to meet with a customer and then back home again at 7 PM.  So I drove right from O’hare to this banquet hall where they were holding this event.

How was it?  Well, on one hand I was impressed.  They have roughly 12 cash tables in operation spreading $1/2 NLHE, $3/6 NLHE and $2/5 LHE.  They also had a big $200 MTT with at least 3 tables running and several SNGs running at $25, $50 and $115.  The tables were mostly full.

I started the night playing a $25 SNG which was a waste of money.  We got $1600 chips, with starting blinds of 25/50 and the blinds doubled every 8 minutes.  So in 24 minutes if I played no hands I would have 8 big blinds.  I had only 32 big blinds in the first round.  It was kinda sick.  Two players were running the table with raw aggression (but showing down some good hands).  I made a couple of bad plays and found myself in level 2 with only 500 left (5 BBs).  I open raised all-in from MP with A7o and was called by the BB with J7s.  She caught a flush on the river and I was gone.

So I walked over to the $1/2 tables.  I bought in max for $150.  Early on I raised to $8 pre-flop with As 9s and had 2 callers–both the LAGs at the table.  The flop came Jc 3c 9d.  One of the LAGs who had called from the blind bet out $15 and I called.  The turn came 9c and he bet out $15 and I re-popped him for $45 and he called.  The river came a fourth club and I hated my life.  He checked and I checked behind.  He had 6c Tc and so he’d caught the flush on the turn and believed that potentially I had made a higher flush.  I don’t think that if I’d have pushed on the river he would have folded.  So that cut my stack way down early.

I played the night mostly tight which meant that I was being run over by LAGs all night.  There was no shortage of them.  We had lots of limping and lots of semi-bluffing.  There were middle pairs winning all night.  When I had a decent hand, I would get run out of it by a pot sized bet from someone with middle pair and a gutshot straight draw.  It was sick.  I lost two more big hands: once where I flopped two pair with KQ on a KQ9x board and went all in.  The villain called with JJ and caught a T on the river for the straight and the other time when I had JJ and the board came 99J and I pushed and was called with 94s and the river gave him the fourth 9.  In these two hands I did the right thing by getting in when I was ahead.  It happens.

Either way, it didn’t feel good.  I wasn’t comfortable and I felt like I was outgunned.  Some of it was the cards.  I was dealt absolute crap all night.  I think I saw 7T like 50 times in 300 hands.  I got dealt pocket queens twice and won with it twice for smallish pots.  Apart from that, I think I got pocket 7s, 6s and 2s once each and never caught a set.

The hardest part of the night was that there was one very good LAG at the table.  He was loose and had great instincts.  If I had nothing and decided to bluff he called.  If I had something, he folded.  I’m not sure if I was throwing off some tells–either physically or with my bet size–but he had my number (or got lucky a lot).  I honestly don’t know how best to play on a table full of LAGs.  I know conventional wisdom says “play TAG”, but most of these LAGs were smart and would fold when I bet OR had caught and punished me with huge raises that I either called (and lost) or folded to.  I’ll need to develop a strategy for this.

It seems like people who go to these events are poker players.  They are people that have had to work to seek out the game and have generally come a good distance to play.  In other words, there aren’t a lot of fish–no tourists, no casual players, no people who are there to play black jack but have watched WPT on TV and want to try their hand at poker.  These are people who play poker.  I was the fish, the casual player, the guy who thought he could play.

Anyway, I lost a good amount and felt like crap about my game.  So I went home and beat up on some online $.5/.10 tables.  I ended up just up slightly, but only because I was just messing around.  At one point I was way up but lost a lot of it when I ran up against quads (for the record, that’s twice in one night–once live and once online–what are the odds?).  It didn’t matter whether I won or not.  It had the desired effect of boosting my confidence.

So, would I recommend playing at a Rockford Charitable Games event?  Hmmm…if you are jonesing for some live poker and don’t mind a loose, fast game with solid players, then yes.  If you’re looking for a game with challenging yet beatable poker including some tourists and casual players, then no.

In other news…

I started reading the forums.  What an excellent resource.  I’ve learned a bunch of things already.  I also got partnered with a guy from Russia for a sweat session tomorrow which I’m looking forward to.

And Saturday I’ll be playing in a home tournament (and hopefully cash game) with some casual players.  I should have an edge, but I really haven’t had too good of luck in the home games so far.  I’m hoping for some good luck and I’m going to try to play a little better than I have in the past with these games.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2008 3:27 pm

    Great summary of how despite doing everything right, the “poker gods” are just not with you sometimes.

    Got to think of the long run, rihgt?

  2. brooklyn bum permalink
    August 7, 2008 3:32 pm

    Hey Bad,

    Sorry to hear of your bad streak at the live games.

    When I play at my live games against LAGs I tend to play tighter but play my hands more aggressively, in other words make them pay for their draws.

  3. sam permalink
    March 13, 2009 2:24 pm

    i go to rcg a lot and i’d say your description is not all that acurate. there is definately some money to be made. there are plenty of bad players- not aweful players, but bad players.

  4. badbeats permalink*
    March 14, 2009 12:42 pm

    sam – I’m sure there are some bad players there, but I think compared to the casino where you get some “bleed over” from the craps and blackjack tables, at RCG everyone there had to work to find the game. These are people who came to play poker (and generally know what they are doing).

  5. February 21, 2011 1:47 pm

    I have played Rockford Charitable Games multiple times. Their tourneys are soft, and their cash games are softer. Especially the 1-2 NLHE. But I’ve seen bad play at the 2-5 tables as well. The sit-and-gos are a bit quick for my taste, but patience and aggression gets the job done there.

    If you are having trouble beating home games, I am not sure why you are seeking out card rooms where you will have a harder time beating the game. By all means come see me at the majestic star or the horseshoe or the next RCG event.

  6. Alejandro permalink
    May 13, 2012 7:59 pm

    There are a lot of LAG players at the cash tables, I played once at the cash games and that is what I experienced as well, I only play at the SnGs, 3 wins out of 4 isn’t bad at all, but I was always a great tournament player, so I am not surprised, it depends what you are looking for, but I recommend the SnGs, you will know if your playing against me at the SnGs, I am definitely becoming a regular and gaining respect and rep at the same time, loving every moment.

  7. Charlie permalink
    May 16, 2012 8:47 am

    Ive always wished i had a bankroll big enough maybe 1k or so to just go in their for one night and just sit and pick my spots.Why..because ive never seen cash games as soft and so full of knuckleheads that will line your pockets with pure filthy GOLD.However what i have learned is you have to be able to sit deep enough to ride out a few all in villain calls with bottom pair and they two pair you on the river,The gut shot straight all in from the villainwhere he hits (which by the way is the last time ive been to CG’s because it made me so mad lol).Though i believe in my heart of hearts if your deep enough and you can play super tight and only get it in with the nuts or next to the nuts it doesnt matter how strong your hand tips them their snap calling your all in with middle pair.Deep enough i would definetly be willing to go back and claim me pot of fools money.

  8. Lan permalink
    November 3, 2012 1:08 pm

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your content.
    Your article has really peaked my interest.
    I’m going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.


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