My Marathon Session
Donning a PokerTips.org t-shirt, I made my way to the poker room in the Venetian with the goal of playing a 24-hour session. At 6:37 pm, I sat down at a $1-$2 no-limit hold'em table. Already feeling tired and overwhelmed at the quest ahead of me, I bought in for the max of $200. I immediately noticed that the standard raise at this table was in the vicinity of $10 to $15, rather than $5 to $8 like you might find at an online game.
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To keep myself entertained during periods of rapid folding, I started up conversations with some of the dealers that I thought were pretty cool people. One guy named Jake had some pretty interesting commentary on the cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas. He basically said that they're all driven by money and have no soul. Now, while that's obviously an exaggeration, I found it to be quite hilarious. An hour into the session I have a streak of 10 hands where I am dealt 66, 77, 88, and 99. My stack is at about $240, and I'm feeling pretty good.
Around 8:00 pm, I make a $75 bluff on the river into a pretty big pot. When my opponent folds, I let out a sigh, and realize I have built up to $395 pretty easily. My confidence only continued to grow when I manage to lose less than $20 while holding T9 on a TT7 board against a very tight player (who was trying to trap me with KT). My first casualty of the night comes when I double up a girl while holding 57 on a Q75 board. She had QT, and I stupidly put all of my money in after the turn came a ten.
The players at my table seemed pretty friendly. I noticed that a lot of them were mentioning they were from New York. At one point I asked them if I was the only player at the table who wasn't from New York. Only the dealer came to my rescue by saying "I'm from Iowa". I bet $10 with JT on a JJ7 board. The tight player I mentioned earlier made it $30. I fold to him cold and show him the Jack, saying "I know better against you." I felt like a god when he said "nice fold" and showed me QJ.
I kept a notebook with me to detail some of the moments of the session. The notebook seemed to be quite a topic of interest for my opponents. Throughout the session people kept asking me what the notebook was for. When I told them what I was doing, everyone was like "ooooh, you have to mention me in your article!"
At 9:37 pm, exactly 3 hours into the session, I stood up from my chair for the first time to stretch. At this point, I was feeling pretty good, and had little doubt I'd be able to play for 24 straight hours. I get my stack up to $440 when I make a great call while holding TT on a T9764 board. I couldn't rationalize my opponent holding an 8 in the given situation, so I picked off his $100 bluff, which felt good.
Earlier in the night, I was playing very loose-aggressive and was generally very interested in the action at the poker table. At 11:00 pm I was running cold and getting hungry. With a stack of $300, I ordered an over-priced chicken-caesar salad. I thought it was kind of fun having food delivered to the table. One girl, who insisted I refer to in this article as the "poker goddess", told me the salad smelled amazing. It was okay, but certainly not worth the $20.
For those of you who haven't played much live poker, I think you will find that most people are pretty friendly at the poker table. Most of the games I have sat in are full of people willing to make casual conversation. Sometimes when I take a big pot off of someone that I've been chummy with, it makes me kind of feel bad. I guess it's against the nature of the game to be really friendly with the players at your table.
Around midnight, things are going awful for me. I rebuy for another $80 to get my stack back up to $200. At this point, I was in for $380, and running a little low on cash. To be sure I made it through the night, I called TwoGun to borrow a couple hundred in case I had to rebuy at some point.
My first huge pot of the session came at 12:30 am. With a stack of about $300, I raised to $13 in early position with JJ. An aggressive (and drunk) player on the button re-raised me to $35. I figured his range could be pretty huge here, but didn't want to make it four-bets with JJ and risk punting $300. I called his raise, and we took a flop of AKJ. At this point I knew I was going to go broke if he had pocket kings or pocket aces. I checked to him, and he instantly bet $35. The speed in which he bet made me think that he didn't have aces or kings, so I went ahead and raised him all-in. He instantly called, and flipped over A3. That got my stack up to $587, which had me feeling great.
Around 1:00 am, I started drinking green tea to help keep me focused and awake. Maybe it was just a placebo effect, but the tea seemed to really work for me. I didn't want to drink Red Bull because it often makes me really jittery and sometimes nauseous when I'm tired. The green tea gave me more of a mellow concentration which was exactly what I needed to keep playing good poker through the night.
At 2:12 am, my friend Dave, who was also playing at the Venetian, walked over to check on me. I told him that I really wanted to go to sleep. To keep myself awake, I started talking with a pretty cool guy sitting next to me named Joe. I found out he lives in Austin, Texas. I was playing a lot of uncontested pots and was slowly increasing my chips.
Around 2:30 am things started to change for the better. A very cool (but highly intoxicated) guy named Daniel sat down. He was in his mid-30s and was from Canada. Along with being very friendly, he was also pretty bad at poker and did quite a bit of donating. After I had taken a couple hundred off of him, I got involved in a huge hand with him. I held T7, and the flop came 775. To me, it immediately became a game of "how can I get this guy to give me his stack for the third time?" Needless to say, all the money was in by the turn. After he had called himself all-in, he flipped over 55 (to my horror). My stack was saved when the river gave me quads. He was a really cool guy and I felt bad I put such an awful beat on him. But, all the same, it got me up to $565 and gave me a second wind.
Canada Dan continued to donate to the table. At 6:37 am, exactly halfway through the session, I was feeling tired, but content with my $655. At this point in the night, the game had surprisingly gotten very sharky. All of these younger guys were trying to rack up hours at the Venetian in order to qualify for a huge freeroll. Most of them played very well, and I couldn't help but admit to myself that I was far from being the best player at the table.
At 7:33 I made a note saying "I want to die". However, I was playing pretty good poker. Against a young guy who was clearly a very strong player I played AQ masterfully and got my stack up to $760. This guy had sat down with $200, and built it up to $1,100 in less than three hours. It felt nice to take a pot off of him.
One of the young guys at the table says to me "I haven't seen you move your face in the 3 hours I've been sitting here". I tell him that it's not my poker face, it's my "I'm too tired to make a facial expression" face. The table laughs, and one guy who has been at the table the entire time that I have comes to my defense and informs the kid that I was quite animated earlier in the night.
At 8:27 am, the only remaining player from my original table left. Now the table is composed of guys who have been awake all night and are trying to chase their losses.
I kept falling asleep around 9:30. When the dealer kept waking me up to inform me that it was my action, it started to dawn on me that I might not be able to make it another 9 hours. I mean, there I am, in my PokerTips.org t-shirt, having to be tapped on the shoulder by the players around me to keep me awake. At about 10:00 am, I tucked my tail between my legs, and left the table. I walked off with $710, making me a $330 winner on the night. I went back up to the hotel room as TwoGun was starting to wake up. He said "uh-oh, this can't be good" (assuming I had lost all the cash I had on me). I told him "Oh, don't worry, I won money, but just couldn't play for another second". I have nothing but respect for players who can handle marathon sessions. Pooping out after a mere 16-hour session made me realize that I am a weak, weak man.