Thursday, January 19, 2006

Holland Casino

On a chilly December night in Amsterdam, everyone else went home except for me and a cute Alaskan girl who’s living in Holland with her ice hockey-playing boyfriend.

I suggested we head to Holland Casino. It was about three or four blocks from my hotel. Score.

I found the poker room upstairs. It had two tables open, one $5/$5 no limit and one $10$/20 limit. Sweet.

I get on the limit list and go to play some blackjack with the Alaskan girl. I bankrolled her, which is so freaking cool. She won some money for me -- about 18 euro.

Then we went back upstairs to check on the poker. The list hadn't moved, so I hopped into the no limit game. It's just like everything I've heard about poker in Europe. Stupidly aggressive plays by mid-40s year old guys who wish they could play 10 times higher, so they're just having a good time (and losing). I figured if I got any hand at all, they would call a huge bet and I could win a lot in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I folded 26 out of the 28 hands I was dealt. Two of the hands (a JT suited and a pocket pair) I limped in with and then folded. Plus the post, that's -35 euro.

I was getting a little impatient. The Alaskan girl was cheering me on, but I didn't want her to get bored. So I stood up and pledged to be back soon.

Saturday night I left earlier so I could go ahead and get on the list for the limit game. But the list was already six deep for the limit game and four deep for the no limit game.

After two hours, I got into the no limit game. I won one big hand off of ATs from the button. I limped into a seven-way pot. Flop came AA5. It was checked to me and I bet 50 euro. The small blind check-raised to 100 euro. I called, thinking that he could have a higher kicker, but I could probably take him on this hand. The turn brought a third Ace to give me quads. He fired 100 euro into the pot, and I called with the nuts. I should have raised, but I figured the only way he'd pay me off is if he had pocket QQ or something that he thought was the best hand. He was a fairly conservative Dutchman compared to the rest. The river brought a blank, I bet 150, he folded. I didn't show.

There was this other character who had the book "Who moved my cheese?" in his jacket pocket. He had a lot of money, and he played about 30 percent of his hands. Pretty much any hand that he hit at all he committed to with all-in bets or calls on the flop or turn. He got lucky a few times, but then he repeatedly busted and rebought with tons of eurobills. It was funny. He was to my right.

But other than the quad Aces hand, the rest of that 2 hour no limit session was slow. I limped with a few suited connectors and pocket pairs into big pots, and I raised with a couple of hands like AK. Nothing came of it, so when they called my name for the limit game, I was down five euro of my 490 euro buy-in (I was going to buy in for 500, but I had to break a 10 to buy a coke).
The rakes were criminal. Twenty euro max rake for the no limit game, and 15 euro max for the limit game. The only consolation was that it was 5 percent of the pot raked (instead of 10 percent), so pots didn't reach the max rake frequently.

I sat at the limit game at 1:30 a.m., so I had an hour and a half before the casino closed at 3 a.m. to make some money at this juicy limit 10/20 table of my dreams. I had watched it a good bit while I was waiting, and it wasn't like the no limit table in terms of aggression. It was total loose-passive play.

I got pocket Kings from the big blind on my second hand, which I raised. Flop came Q high, and I bet and then re-raised. Dude called me down and didn't show. He must have had AQ. He said it wasn't fair that a new guy at the table could get KK on his second hand.

Then I got JJ a few hands later and raised a big field. The flop came QTx with two suited cards of different suits from my Jacks. I bet it out and got called everywhere except for this early position dude who check-raised the field. I figured at worst he was on a flush draw against my backdoor straight draw, so I folded.

Shortly afterward, I raised with AQ and hit a Q high flop. I bet from late position and was called. I bet and was called when a K fell on the turn. Dude bet out the rag on the river, and he showed down AK. Fish played it terribly.

Another time I raised AK in a three-way pot from late. Flop was 833. Both players were very weak, so I bet the flop and the turn. The winning hand was A7, with a 7 that hit on the turn.

Finally I got 107 suited from the big blind. Several people limped, and the flop came J96 rainbow. I checked my gutshot, one blond dude who was pretty quiet bet 10 euro. Everyone folded, and I called -- there were 7 small bets in the pot, but I estimated my implied odds as being very good. The turn brought the 8. I checked, he bet, I check-raised, he reraised, I reraised, he called. I think there was no cap on the betting heads up. The river brought a rag flush card, and I went ahead and bet. He raised me again and showed QT offsuit for the higher straight. Ug.

I ended up down about 257 euro, but it was a good game. It was a lot of fun.

These Europeans are totally on the crypto network.

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