Saturday, May 12, 2012

He Limped, I Limped, We All Limped With Pocket Ace's!

A few weeks back, Ben Franklin, who does the excellent Lightning Strikes Blog did a post about limping with Ace’s.  You can find his comments here.I thought of that post the first night of my most recent trip to Vegas, and you’ll soon find out why.

I was fairly new at this 1/2 game I was in at BSC.  I was sitting in the one seat next to the dealer’s spot.  In the #2 seat was a guy who looked familiar, Let’s call him Willie.  I recognized him as a BSC 1/2 regular.  If I hadn’t recognized him, the fact that every single BSC dealer said hello to him by name, just as they did to me, would have tipped me off that he was a regular.  I couldn’t remember anything much about him, not sure if I had ever played much with him, but I knew if he was a regular here I should watch out for him.

And then there was the fact that when one of my dealer pals passed my table as he was walking by, said hello to me by name and said to me, “Watch out for that guy next to you,” pointing to Willie.  Thanks for the tip.

In the BB I was dealt pocket Queens.  There were a ton of limpers, including Willie who was under the gun.  I made it $20 which was enough to get everyone but Willie out of the pot.

The only thing scary about the flop was a King.  I don’t remember the rest but the overcard made me concerned.  But it was really hard to imagine a hand Willie had with a King that he would limp in but then call my raise with.  KQ?  KJ?  If he had AK, I thought he would have raised preflop for sure.  Anyway, I made my continuation bet of $25 and he called.

The flop wasn’t draw heavy but I didn’t like his call.  If he had a King, unless it was a weak King, wouldn’t he have raised?  I was confused enough to where, when the turn was a seemingly harmless looking card, I cowardly checked.  Willie thought for awhile but checked behind me.  When another harmless looking card hit the river, I again was too confused to do anything but check.  This time Willie put out $50.  Shit.

I figured he had seen my turn and river checks as signs of weakness and was trying to steal it.  I had a hard time putting him on any King he would have played that way.  So I called.

He didn’t have a King.  He had a couple of Ace’s and took down the pot.  I immediately thought of the blog post linked above!  He limped, under-the-gun, with Aces!  And it really, really, pissed me off.  Now I knew what my dealer buddy meant when he said, “watch him.”
If he had shown a King, any King, I wouldn’t have been upset.  Well, I might have been upset at myself for playing the hand so badly.  When he put out that river bet, I was thinking I had blown it by not making a bet on the turn.  Then I blew it again by not betting the river.  I could have scared him off his apparently weak King.

But now that I saw what he had, he wasn’t going to go anywhere.  He slow-played me all the way, and got me to call him on the river.  Now I suppose if I had made a big enough bet on the flop, or better, on the turn, I might have sold him on the idea that I had a set of Kings and made him lay it down.  After all, I did raise preflop, I could have had a couple of cowboys.  But worried about him having a King himself, I sure didn’t consider that move.

Of course, I’m still not sure if he played it the best way anyway.  If he had raised UTG would I have 3 bet?  I almost surely would have.  Then he could have 4-bet, or possibly just shoved.  I would have folded to a shove, not sure about a bet less than that.  BTW, I had close to my original buy in of $200 and he had about three times that in front of him—another reason I was “watching out” for him.

But if he wanted to limp with those Ace’s, I think a better move would have been to come over the top after I raised to $20 behind his limp.  A limp-raise, in other words.  If he had made it $60 or $80 after my $20 bet would I have called?  I can’t recall my frame of mind at the time, but I think I would have.  But then I would have likely folded to any bet on the flop, with that King out there.

I dunno if he played it well or not, but I know I didn’t and I know I just saw an example of making limping with Ace’s pay off.

So two days later I’m playing in a small afternoon tournament at The M Resort , a locals place down on the far south end of Vegas.  I used to like to play 2/4 there a lot but they don’t usually have a 1/2 game going whenever I go there these days so I haven’t played there as much as I used to.  But they added a 2PM tournament with a $1500 prize guarantee and if they make the guarantee (if they get to that prize pool without having to add any house money to it), instead they add $450 from the house to first place.  On this day, they didn’t make the prize pool so $1500 was it for a $55 buy in.

After a while I was doing poorly when I hit a set of 5’s to get me some chips.  A few hands later I raised preflop with AK and got no callers, so I took down a couple of limpers and the blinds (there are no antes in this tournament).  The very next hand I was dealt AA.  I know I should have bet out there, and hoped that someone thought I was suddenly in LAG mode to try to get chips, having just raised the hand before.  But I decided to get cute there and just call.

Ha.  I actually hit my set of Ace’s on the flop.  Since there was no preflop aggressor, I bet out and got a caller.  When a third heart hit the turn, I just said, “enough” and shoved.  No callers.  I had gotten some chips but probably not nearly as many as I should have had I raised.  Or perhaps they all would have folded to me again.  I’ll never know.  But now I can say I at least “survived” limping with Ace’s myself.

I ended up doing well in that tournament.  Key hand was when a guy I had barely covered shoved.  With his chip stack he could have made that move with a lot of hands.  I was looking for a place to shove myself and woke up to see AK.  So of course I called.  He flipped over AA!

Well, he sure as hell knew not to shove with that!  Anyway, the flop came QQ10.  Some harmless looking low card hit the turn.  But the river?  Not so harmless.  A beautiful, beautiful Jack, giving me the nut straight!  Sorry guy, that’s poker!

Another big win was win my pocket King’s held up (yes, the freaking held up) against AQ.  That was an all in too.  And guess what?  At the final table those damn cowboys held up again against AJ! 

I never was close to being the chip leader but I kept hanging on as the others dropped up.  There were only 3 tables, never completely full and they paid 5.  No payout to the bubble boy but suddenly we were down to 5 and I’m in the money.  I was second to shortest stack and suddenly #5 bites the dust.  After a few hands, the player in 2nd place took stock.  One guy had a huge lead, but the rest of us were fairly even, although I was clearly the smallest stack.

Second place suggests we give the big chip leader $500 (instead of $580 if he just won 1st) and that we split the rest evenly, which was $310 apiece.  I sure liked that idea, being the bottom guy.  If I had gone out next, I would have taken down around $150 I think.  I was surprised chip leader went for it, but both he and 2nd place were long time players at M so they had some kind of relationship.  Besides, it was by now pretty much nothing but a shove fest and so anything could happen.  We shook hands and this was my first of three tournament cashings during this trip.  The other two have already been blogged about here and here.
And the tournament ended early enough that I was able to make it the Orleans tournament at 7 that night.  Although no cash was handed to me for that event, the story of that tournament can be found here.
Although no huge wins, I'd have say that cashing three times in tournaments on one trip is a result I'm more than willing to accept.


  1. Nice post, as usual. However...

    At the risk of extending my rules of thumb thing, if you haven't heard this one yet: BEWARE THE UTG LIMPER. Especially having inside info that he was a good player.

    1. Thanks Gary. I didn't know that one but I'll keep it in mind. But at this point in the game, there was a whole lot of limping going on at this table (and I know how much you love that). So it didn't really stand out at the time.

  2. Anytime someone Limp re-raises, especially from a position like UTG, unless I have a lot of history with them I just go away even if I was the PFR.
    Unless their raise was that really crappy, poorly played min-raise that is used by weak players everywhere any more. I call that shit in a heartbeat.

    However, on the flop, if I don't set or have a MONSTER draw I go away because I put them solely on KK or AA unless I have seen them play any other hands the exact same way.

    Just my opinion.

    1. Thanks grrouch. Not sure tho if you are aware that the villain did NOT limp-raise here, I was just suggesting at as a possible play he could have made, having decided to limp in UTG with Aces.

  3. Ben Franklin? The original renaissance man, or the reputed dirty old man? He invented the lightning rod, btw.

    Hey -- you mentioned the M Resort? What gives? Not the Z Resort????

    1. Well, Ben, I have mentioned other casinos by their real names, such as Binions, Aria, Santa Fe Station. I guess I have to watch that because if I keep doing it, I'll reveal BSC by process of elimination.

      I thought the tournament prize structure (with the $450 add on if they met the prize guarantee) was unique enough to mention and thus I had pretty much revealed the room anyway.

  4. He outplayed you bad with his AA.. If he has the discipline to laydown if he thinks you hit a monster slow playing is fine. Especially in a cash game.

    It was kind of interesting how you compared AA in a tourney with AA in a cash game. I think you need to consider that the two formats are WAY different and that what is good in one may not be good in another.

    You have to factor in that you can not rebuy in a tourney and sometimes it is better to just end the hand instead of being cute perhaps.. and sometimes you have no choice but to slow play it because you need chips and everyone has been folding to you all night...

    Good post though.

    1. Thanks, Waffles. Ok, on the tournament hand, I didn't it play it the best way possible, I admit. And I wasn't really trying to compare it that much to the cash game incident as much as I was just tying the two together for the purpose of making a post about limping with Ace's. I mean, when I did it myself--not really because of what had happened to me in the cash game--two days after I got burned by it, I thought it would be a good subject for a post.

      But on the cash game hand, while I probably didn't play it best, almost any way I look at it, I probably would have lost more money than I did if I actually played it better. Do you see any way he folds there? I mean, I could have shoved the turn, but with that board, the only hand he was behind he could reasonsably have put me on with the way I played it was KK for a set. I don't think he would have folded his bullets to that small of a range.

  5. This blog would be greatly improved if the author stopped using apostrophes in plurals, for example "Ace's" and "King's." Such usage seriously lowers the tone.

    1. Oh wow, great to hear from my old High School English teacher after all these years. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Mrs. Wood!

    2. One more remark like that and it's detention for you, young man!