Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Poker Sponge

I have to share my favorite poker story and hand of all time, something which occurred in November of 2003 at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with Hold Em or poker in general will not find this anecdote amusing nor interesting. Oh well!

Anyway, I'm sitting at a 20/40 table with a bunch of loose and crazy players, including your stereotypically LOOSE Asian gamblors. One in particular is giving a new definition to the term loose calling station, and a couple young kids sitting to my left had pointed his play out to me as soon as a sat down. These two young players were fun to play with, and, over the course of the evening, I had become buddies with them and enjoyed watching the donkeys around us play their hands. A.J. sat to my immediate left. He was always joking around, and the fact he sounded like Marlon Brando in The Godfather (except with an even higher, raspier voice) made him even funnier. To his left was his friend Alex, a solid Asian kid who was running bad that night. Finally, in the 1 seat, playing EVERY hand, was an old Asian man in his 60's. This guy was there to GAMBLE. I'm talking about calling three bets cold with 2-7 suited. If he held an Ace, see you at the river. Gutshot draw with two cards to make a pair lower than the board? See you at the river!

A.J. had said an hour before, "Check out the guy in the 1 seat, he's a huge sponge." "Sponge?", I asked, as I was unfamiliar with the term. Apparently it was poker lingo for a player who absorbed incredible amounts of bets and raises with astonishingly awful hands. I hadn't heard the term before, but I took a liking to it. Anyway, I'm in the 7 seat, in the small blind, when I get dealt pocket aces (A
, A ) and the following hand occurs:

Alex folds, fold, Sponge calls (shocker), call, raise, call, fold, fold, fold, and action is to me. I make it three bets to go, A.J. immediately folds and wishes me luck, Sponge insta-calls two bets cold, and everyone else calls. The flop comes:

J 8

As I was the small blind, action starts with me. I know I have the best hand, but the table was playing loose-aggressive, so I check with the intention of check-raising the flop and hopefully taking control of the hand. Sponge checks, check, 3 seat bets, and 4 seat raises. I still had no doubt that I had the best hand, and figured I was up against a J (the 3 seat, probably QJ, KJ, or AJ) and a club flush draw (the 4 seat). I raise and make it three bets. In the play of the night, the Sponge makes what is now a routine call. It's not too often that you see anyone cold-call THREE bets, much less after the flop, but this man was not to be denied. Anyway, the 2 seat folds, and the 4 and 5 seat both call. I'm even more sure of my read now. The turn:


This isn't a great card for me, but it's not a bad card either. The only player I'm worried about is the Sponge at this point, and I bet out. The Sponge makes another quick call, and the other two players call as well. Now the moment of truth, a sizeable pot and one card to come. The river:


Sort of a nauseating card. The flush draws are busted, but any 7 makes a straight. I still think I'm good and figure if I'm beat, I'll know when I'm raised. After my bet, everyone is silent, with the remaining players still in the pot contemplating. At this point I sensed that no one had a straight. The Sponge called my river bet, which was no surprise, and the 3 seat disgustedly called while the 4 seat folded. I flip over my aces, and the 3 seat says "Nice hand, I had a jack." A couple other guys say nice hand, and A.J. sitting next to me was whispering "You're good, you're good, that's a monster." After what seemed like another 10 seconds, the Sponge finally speaks up after seeing my hand. "No goo!! Two peh!," and the Sponge flipped over 5,6 off for runner-runner two pair.

"Oh my fucking God, the Sponge just hit runner-runner two pair, that's so awful!" were the words of empathy from A.J. as I mucked my aces after flashing them quickly. I was a little disappointed in losing a nice pot, but I couldn't help laughing after thinking about what had transpired. After dumping a couple thousand, the Sponge used his 3 bets-cold- for- a- gutshot-on-the-flop hand to catapult himself into a nice little rush, as he started combining suckouts with a few genuine monster hands to win back his lost thousands, only to start absorbing bets and giving chips away again.

It's funny to think that those swings are part of the reason Sponges everywhere play the way they do, along with the fact they can't tolerate not being in the action every hand.

200% up to $200!!!

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