Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"You've Loosened Up A Bit"

It’s been over a year since I made the switch from being a 2/4 limit player to a regular No Limit player.  Every time I think I’m making progress as a player, something happens to convince me otherwise.  It’s just that this poker thing is hard, you know?  On the one hand, I think I’ve learned an awful lot— but then, it also seems like I’ve just scratched the surface and have so much more to learn.  And I played 2/4 so long that to some degree, I still forget and think of myself as a 2/4 player.

But this story is from a couple of back-to-back sessions from my March trip.  It wasn’t so much that I won a lot of money, it’s just that I think I played a few hands well and even impressed one of my dealer pals with my play.  You see, all that 2/4 earned me a bit of a reputation among the dealers at BSC.  I was really, really, really tight as a 2/4 player.  I’m nitty tight as a 1/2 player too, but not as tight as I was playing 2/4.  One of the dealers there, Troy, the dealer who asked me to post this story here about the “heart attack” victim, dubbed me “The Rock” for my tight play at 2/4.  He saw me play multiple times when I was testing the waters of 1/2 and saw me play, initially, even tighter that I did as limit player. 
But as I’ve gotten comfortable, and learned, I’ve definitely loosened up.  You would hardly call me a maniac or any kind of a loose player, but there have definitely been changes (and hopefully) improvements in my game over the past year.
So back in March, my very first hand of the session I was in the cut-off seat with K-10 offsuit and called a small $7 raise.  Not something the old Rob would have ever done.  But I figured I would have position so I took a shot.  King high flop, both the raiser and the other caller checked.  Of course I bet but the caller (not the raiser) called.   We both checked a blank turn.  A third club hit the river and I hesitantly bet out, he called and then mucked when he saw my King.
Soon after, Troy came to deal.  I limped in late position with King-Jack of spades.  Ace of clubs with 2 spades on the flop.  With the draw to the second nuts, I called a $12 flop bet.   Blank on the turn and I called a $21 bet.  The river was the Ace of spades, giving me the nut flush but not the nuts since the board had paired Aces. Now the guy checked. Ordinarily I would have just checked behind him and played it safe, but I tried to see if I could get some value for my hand and bet $50.  Nope, he folded. 
The guy in that hand was kind of an aggro British player.  Earlier, when Troy was pushing him a pot, he somehow jammed a chip against the Brit’s finger and he yanked his hand away quickly.  “That hurt,” he exclaimed.  Troy said, “I thought you Brit’s were tough.”  I chimed in with, “I guess he has a glass finger.”  Troy, a boxing fan, liked that one.
On Troy’s last hand of his down, I was dealt pocket Jacks in the big blind.  On the previous hand, another player had had the same hand, raised big preflop, gotten several callers, and then taken down a huge pot by hitting his set.  Now the Jacks had come to me.  As I was trying to figure out my bet, a late position, very tight player, made it $15.  If it had been the aggro Brit, I would have three-bet, but with this guy, I just called.
Three of us saw the flop, which was King high.  I checked and so did everyone else, including the preflop raiser.  So we all saw the turn for free which was a 7, pairing the board.  When the preflop raiser checked, I was thinking my Jacks were good, although I have certainly seen players slow play a set of Kings in that situation.  I couldn’t imagine him slow playing any other King he might have had.
The paired 7’s made it even better for me to bet there, I thought. It would look like I had a 7 and now had trips.  I bet out $25 and the preflop raiser called (the other player folded).  Then I got lucky and caught a Jack on the river, filling me up.  I put out $60 and the other guy called, which surprised me.  But he just mucked his hand when I showed my Jacks.
Troy got up to leave and I whispered to him, “Nice river, Troy.” And he whispered back, “You’ve loosened up a bit.”

I kept trying to expand my range a bit but just lost chips.  I was over $100 up at one point but start drip, drip, dripping downward.  I was getting a lot of small pocket pairs that never hit the board.  I did make one three-bet against the aggro Brit with Ace-King.  He looked me up and down and took awhile and finally said, “Alright, I’ve never seen you do that before,” and folded.
As I was nearly ready to leave, most of my profits for the night were gone.  In late position, I had Jack-10 of hearts, There were two limpers, and I was ready to limp in too when I decided to raise instead.  That’s not a hand I normally raise with, but I had position so I figured why not?  Two callers including an absolute calling station.  This guy, an odd looking older man with long hair and a huge white beard, had around $600 in front of him when I got to the table and never saw two cards he didn’t like.  He was never very aggressive after the flop himself, but he saw almost all the flops and made many calls on the flop and turn.  By now his stack was down to less than $300 but still more than I had.
The flop was 10-9-7, no hearts.  I bet out $25 and he called, as did the other guy.  The turn was another 10, which I was happy to see.  I put out $70, a bit less than half my stack and the calling station called but the other guy folded.  The river was a blank, didn’t make the straight any more likely than the flop had, no flush.  Just a pair of 10’s.  He checked.  Not long ago, I would have checked behind and shown my hand.  But I thought, “this guy is a calling station, he’s not a check raiser.”  But I didn’t think he was likely to be slow-playing a straight.  My biggest concern was that he had a bigger 10 than me.
But I decided to bet out.  If I lost my $90, so be it, I got a lot of play for my one buy in.  I could call it a night right there.  So I shoved.  He asked for a count, a good sign.  He snap calls if he has a boat, a straight or even a big 10.  After getting the count, he thought for a long, long time.  I really thought he was gonna fold but no, eventually, he called.  When I flipped over my hand, he looked at it for some time before folding without showing. Nice double up there.
That was pretty much it for that session.  The next night, I was assigned to the seat immediately to the dealer’s right at the same table.  I lost some chips early playing The Grump against a guy who totally disproved a stereotype.  He was an Asian who had at least $1,600 in chips in front of him.  Seriously.  I limped in with deuce-four and caught a 4, but since there was also an Ace I checked.  So did everyone else.  So I bet the turn and the river when the board looked ok (except for the Ace) and the Asian called both times.  I showed my deuce-four and figured he had a bigger pair since he called.  I was shocked to see he actually had an Ace.  Ace-9 to be exact.  I dunno how he didn’t bet his top pair on the flop.  He may have been the first Asian in the history of poker to not bet a pair of Aces on the flop, a very surprisingly meek play, especially with all those chips in front of him.
Troy soon came to deal and I got deuce-four again.  I limped.  All I caught was a draw (open-ender) but it was checked to me and instead of accepting a free card, I bet the draw.  Both called. The turn blanked and this time I checked behind the other two.  The river also blanked and again they checked to me.  Knowing my four-high wasn’t likely the best hand, I went for the steal and bet the pot.  Nobody called.  The irony is that Troy had made a comment to me about bluffing only a month or two earlier.  I had made a bet that no one had called and someone said, “Show the bluff.”  Of course I just chuckled but Troy whispered to me, “You’re not even capable of bluffing.”  Yeah, right.  But I didn’t tell him about this hand then.  I was afraid someone might overhear.
I limped in with Ace-6 suited in early position.  The flop was King-6-6.  I bet the flop and the turn, and one of the tightest regulars called both times.  On the river, I put all the rest of my chips in.  Sorry, I didn’t write down the amounts, but I’m sure my river bet was close to $100, a little bit less than the pot. Troy knew that I knew the regular in the hand was a tight player.  Troy whispered to me, as he pushed me the pot, “There’s only two hands you have there.  Pocket Kings or pocket 6’s,” Come on Troy, I would have raised preflop with KK and I would have slow played the flop with quad 6’s.  I said to him, “neither” and he shook his head in disbelief.  Again, I didn’t want to whisper it for fear of being overheard.
So, later I wrote down on my note pad “Ace-6 suited” and showed it to him and said, “The hand I shoved on the river, that’s what I was holding.”  He was surprised. “My, you have loosened up!”
Then this young guy came to the table with $1K in chips.  He had moved over from another table.  Apparently this guy was a well-known (to Troy, anyway) donkey who was having a good night.  Why he would have wanted to leave a table where he’d accumulated that much in chips remains a mystery to this day.  In the small blind I had Ace-Jack off, and there were tons of limpers.  I made it $16.  The only caller was the kid with the $1K stack who was to my right, on the button.  The flop was King high and totally missed me.  So I made a $30 c-bet and the kid thought about it for awhile before folding.  Later, he told me he had a King there.  “You had a King beat there, didn’t you?  It was a good fold, wasn’t it?”  I of course nodded and said it was indeed a good fold.
It was a good fold for me, that is.
Apparently too overwhelmed by my brilliant play, the kid took his big stack to another table soon thereafter.
I left the table not much later myself.  Not to leave for the night.  No, it was because this was the same night that Jack came over to me to tell me Natalee had returned, and I moved over to join her and see what antics she was up to this night.  If you haven’t already, you can read about the rest of the night—poker wise and  “lucky boobs” wise, here.


  1. just a question,sir. y not just move up in limit like 4-8 . instead of switching to nl

    1. Well, I was also playing some 4/8 when I was playing 2/4 and wasn't really doing any better at it than I was at 2/4. I tried NL and seemed to like it right away, and besides, that's what everyone else on the planet was playing, so....'

      Besides, not really many places where they have 4/8 limit in Vegas.

  2. Did I really read about you bluffing above?
    I'm pretty sure you probably just put out a bet on the river with 4 high by accident, you went to check and some chips dropped out of your hand right?

    1. No lie, grrouch....I did indeed bluff there, and many other times too.

      It's a Bizarro world. You're playing tight, I'm bluffing.....

      Dogs and cats, living together....

  3. " I limped in late position with King-Jack of spades. "

    This statement is evidence for the "I've got a lot to learn" column, not for the "I've learned a lot" column.

    Seriously wrong.

    Assignment: Compose for the class three brief but different explanations of why this is a terrible move and you'll never do it again.

    1. LOL, Grump. But since you have retired from Hold'em and are spending all your time trying to become an Open Face Chinese expert, are you sure you know remember regular poker? He he.

      What I find interesting is, that paragraph came immediately after one where I said I called a raise with K-10 off. To me, that's a much more questionable move.

      Fortunately I still don't answer to anyone for my blog posts (as opposed to editors I do have to answer to at Ante Up or any freelance articles I sell), so I won't accept your assignment. But I'd certainly be willing to read (and post) your Rob-length explanation as to why this was the biggest donkey move in the history of poker.

      That said, YES, I know I should either raise there or fold. Later in the session I raised with similar holdings, but I was still learning the table at that point and didn't feel like investing much with a marginal hand.

      So YES, in that case, I should have just folded.

  4. Oh, and I kept reading further in the post, and got to the part where you LIMPED with The Mighty Deuce-Four? Are you trying to replicate Tony's results from limping with aces?

    Sigh. I might have to have you excommunicated from the Holy Order of the Deuce-Four if you continue such appalling conduct.

    1. Sigh.

      You know Grump, sometimes when I am dealt an absolute monster like Deuce-four I do limp to disguise the strength of my hand.