Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Limp/Re-Raise

I was having a rather poor session.  Couldn’t get anything going.  It was disappointing because I should have had a good night.  I’d been running hot and this was the first night of the second weekend of March Madness. When I picked this particular table, there were no familiar faces and some big stacks.  The players were all laughing and having a good time.  It was clear they were all tourists.  I overheard the player with the biggest stack saying he had been drinking since10AM, and it was almost 8PM when I took my seat.

There was some wild action and it was clear early that bluffing wasn’t an option.  I’d have to make a hand at some point.  Not necessarily a great hand, or even a good hand, but some kind of hand.  So I lowered my calling standards, and played hands I usually fold.  But flop after flop missed me and put quality draws out there for players playing cards I didn’t have.

As my stack shrunk, I was about to add some more chips when I thought better of it.  You know those cash drawings they have?  Well, this was the last night I’d be able to catch one (they are only four days a week now).  Only three prizes were left, one worth $100 and two worth $1,000.  So if you got picked, you had a 2 in 3 chance of getting a grand.  Not bad.

With only 45 minutes left to qualify, I decided to just play the short stack and try to roll the dice trying to get some drawing tickets.  At that point, I had no tickets.  I also realized that mentally, I wasn’t really into poker right then, for whatever reason.  I didn’t think I was capable of playing my best poker.  So I figured it was safer to see how long my stack could last.  If I was gonna be chasing flushes for the next ¾’s of an hour, it seemed safer to not risk any more money than I had to.  With a small stack, I wouldn’t feel so bad calling on the river with a weak flush and losing to a bigger flush.  Somehow, in my mind, I justified investing the last of my buy-in into trying to get a chance at that $1,000.  Maybe I wasn’t really thinking all that clearly on this night!

So I let me stack get down to $58 (from a $200 buy-in), when this hand happened.  UTG +1 was first into the pot, limping in for two bucks.  Next guy folded and the action was on me.  I looked down at Ace-Jack offsuit.  I thought about putting it all in but didn’t think I’d get a call, so I raised to $8.  Two players called, including the big blind (this is important) and then back to the first guy in the pot.

He repopped it $28.  This got my attention.  This was the second time this guy had limped/re-raised.  And both times it was against me.  The first time he limped and I raised with Ace-Queen.  He min-raised me when it folded back to him.  WTF?  I called and had to let it go when he bet out on a flop that totally missed me.

Now he was at it again.  The funny thing is, this guy had been virtually a total non-entity the entire time I was there.  I couldn’t remember him three-betting any other time.  I couldn’t even remember him raising preflop before.  He hadn’t said much, hadn’t played much, hadn’t done much.  He was just taking up space at the table, waiting for his monster hand (I guess) to unleash the only tool in his arsenal, the limp/re-raise.  Twice.  And only against me.

He had me covered but not by much. Against anyone who had limp/re-raised me there, circumstances dictate that I shove back.  And I’m sure I would have done it to anyone.  But this guy, this guy….for sure I was gonna shove back against him.  No chance I’m letting this go with such a small stack to protect. 

I dunno why, but the limp/re-raise move is one that particular irks me.  I take it personally.  I know, I know, it’s a perfectly legitimate play.  I’m sure I’ve done it a few times myself.  But it always annoys me when I see someone do it.  Much more so than any normal three-bet.  I guess it bugged me more because this was the only action I’d ever seen this particular guy take.  It was almost like he had something against me.  If he had been an active player, played a lot of hands, raised a lot, it might not have bugged me so much.  But it felt like this clown was targeting me, specifically.  Hey, just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.

Also, by this time, the big stack, the biggest aggro, had left the table, and there was no guarantee that anyone would raise behind him.  It was a risky play.  By now, we were seeing a lot of limped pots.

So my shove got the other two players out and Mr. Limp/Re-Raise called.  We didn’t show.  I’m not sure the exact order of the board, but there was an Ace on the flop and by the end, there was a Queen and three 5’s.  Yeah, three.  So I had a boat.  I flipped over my hand and so did the other guy.  He had—can you guess?—the dreaded pocket kings!

I had to admit that was especially delicious.  I not only won the pot, but I cracked his Kings and I cracked his signature move, the limp/re-raise.  Heh heh.  And the boat meant I got a drawing ticket.

Awesome.  And it got better.  The big blind said he threw away the case 5.  He said he called my raise to $8 with Jack-5 sooooted (guess he wanted a drawing ticket too!) but couldn’t call my shove.  So it all worked out perfectly for me.

You see, if Mr. L/R-r raises there with his dreaded hand right off the bat, I fold.  I’m not calling a raise from a tight player with Ace-Jack offsuit, that’s for sure.  Maybe, maybe, if it was suited.  But offsuit?  No way.

So assuming he made a standard raise, similar to mine, would the big blind have called?  Probably, unless it was raised too much. Now, I wish I could remember the order of the cards.  I think the last two cards were runner-runner fives, but I’m not sure (it didn’t matter to me since I was all in already).  Would the big blind have called the Mr. L/R-r’s flop bet if he just had a pair of 5’s?  Or would Mr. L/R-r have not bet the flop when there was an Ace out there?  No way of knowing.

So I dunno if the Limp/re-raiser would have won the hand if he had raised outright, but I do know I definitely wouldn’t have had.

That was especially sweet for me.  I wonder if he keeps up that Limp/re-raise trick or if he’s learned his lesson? 

You should have seen the expression on his face.  He looked like he’d seen a ghost.  Seriously, he looked like he’d never seen someone get his Kings cracked before!  Guess he doesn’t read this blog.

It took every bit of restraint I had to avoid commenting on his play, to avoid saying anything about his limp/re-raise blowing up in his face.  Or to mention that it was the second time he pulled that shit on me and I wasn’t going to take it again.  I just enjoyed the moment and watched as he picked up his few remaining chips and left the table with his tale between his legs.

Now….since I got my drawing ticket—which of course I wouldn’t have gotten if I had folded to his raise—it would be just awesome to end this post with the story of how that ticket was pulled out of the drum and I won $1,000 because of that guy’s limp/re-raise.

Sadly, not all tales have storybook endings.  They picked someone else.  

Nevertheless, I still am enjoying my small victory over the guy who limp/re-raised me twice.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Loose Calls at the Bellagio

A few months ago I played at the Bellagio for the first time in a long time, since this post here.

As a matter of fact, it was on Christmas Day. I figured the Bellagio was the perfect spot to get me feeling the spirit of Christmas.

Actually, that’s not true at all.  But it reminds me of something I found amusing from my day job during the holidays.  Inputting data into PokerAtlas, I noticed that one of my colleagues had entered a special tournament series for the Hustler Casino in L.A.  It was a holiday poker series called “The Larry Flynt Holiday Poker Classic.”  That tickled me. As I said to the colleague, “Because nothing says the holidays like Larry Flynt.” 

You will notice I have never once mentioned the Hustler casino on this blog, until now.  And it’s a pretty safe bet you won’t see me mention it again.

Speaking of PokerAtlas, the site was completely redesigned late last year, and has been continually upgraded and refined since then.  It features poker tournament information for all of U.S. and Canada.  Check it out, I can assure that a lot of my own blood, sweat and tears went into that site.

Anyway, getting back to the Bellagio, it certainly behooves me to play in all the big rooms at least occasionally.  Additionally, a month or two before, the new manager over there, Craig, invited me to check out the new look of the room.  They took out a few tables and rearranged the others to make it roomier.  They also installed cell phone chargers in all the tables (as many rooms have). Craig wanted me to play that day, but I had to work, so I promised I would be back and give the room a try in the future.  Craig is trying to change the room’s image away from being a room that is only interested in high rollers to one that caters to players of all bankrolls.

And so I went over there in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas.  Since I’d last played there, they had changed the lowest NL game from 1-2 to 1-3.  So after a brief wait, I was called to a table.  I must admit, I did appreciate the extra room.  Last time I played there it was so cramped.  I just wish they’d build in cupholders into the tables.  I have the same complaint about the Aria.

Things got started right away.  Second hand, I was dealt a couple of Aces.  It had been raised to $10 in front of me.  I made it $30. It folded to the raiser who just called, even tho he only had $15 left after calling.  It was low, dry looking flop and I put out $15 and he called.  I showed my hand after the river came out and he just mucked.

A few hands later, as the dealer was dealing me my first card, the lady to my right went to reach for her first card and flipped over my card.  It was a five.  My second card was a five as well.  The out-of-play card of mine was replaced by a Jack.  Easy fold.

The very next hand I was dealt pocket 5’s again.  Both this time and the time before, both fives were red.  I limped in, missed the flop and folded.

About two hands later I got two red fives yet again.  I limped in, and this time I flopped a set.  It was 9-5-3.  Since it was a limped pot, I bet $10 and got one caller.  A 6 hit the turn and I bet $20 and he called.  A deuce on the river put four to a straight on the board.  I checked.  He bet $50.

This guy had just come to the table, hadn’t really seen him play any hands.  My gut told me to call and so I did.  He had Ace-9 for TPTK.  My set was good.

I limped in with 9-8 of hearts.  The guy to my left made it $18.  Two others called before it got to me.  Since I would close the action I decided to call.  There was a 7 of hearts on the flop and I don’t remember the other two cards.  I was done with this hand.  But when the guy to my left bet $20 and the other two called, I had some crazy lapse and decided to call as well.  After all, I did have the back-door straight flush draw.  I thought I was a nit?

Well the turn was a 10 of spades.  No flush possible for me now but I did have the open-ended straight draw.  So the same guy bets $40, one guy went all in for slightly less and the other guy called.  How could I fold now?  I couldn’t.

Which was good, because the 6 of spades on the river gave me the straight.  There was no flush possible, I had the absolute nuts.  I suppose I should have either checked or bet smaller, but with the size of the pot I couldn’t see putting out less than $100.  No one called.  The guy who had been all in and was still alive just mucked when he saw my straight. 

That put me up over $300 and I was liking the Bellagio just fine. 

You may sense from that hand that I have a tendency to make some loose calls.  Yeah.  Well on the next hand I’m about to describe I paid for it.  I limped in with 9-8 of diamonds.  It was a limped pot and the flop came 9 high, two diamonds.  Pretty good flop for me.  I bet $15 and had one caller.  He had a stack almost as big as mine.

A diamond hit the turn, completing my flush.  I bet $55.  Should I have bet smaller?  That was more than the pot, my thinking was that I didn’t want to give him good odds to call with a single diamond that was higher than a 9.  But if he had a big diamond, particularly the Ace, is he ever folding there?  Anyway he called.

My fears were realized when the Ace of diamonds hit the river.  This time, the guy led out (he had been check/calling until now).  He put out $100.  My first instinct was to fold, surely he had a bigger diamond than a 9.  But I thought about it more.  Not long before, this guy had lost some chips with a big bluff.  Plus, he was Asian.  I couldn’t get away from the thought that the fourth diamond gave him an excellent opportunity to bluff.

So, after a bit, I called.  Ugh.  He had King-10 of diamonds.  He was ahead of me from the turn.  He didn’t need the Ace on the river.  I was really upset that I had given away a good chunk of my profits by playing so badly.

I won one more hand before calling it quits.   I limped in with Ace-10 of clubs.  The flop was all clubs.  It was checked to me and I checked, deciding to slowplay for once.  The turn was the Ace of spades, and the same guy who had beaten me in the previous hand bet out $15.  I made it $35 and he folded.  It wasn’t much revenge, honestly.

I left a winner and I liked the room.  I haven’t been back there since—mostly out of habit—but I will return soon, I’m sure.

According to Twitter, today, when I post this, is "National Cleavage Day."  If I known earlier, I might have done an entire post dedicated to this juicy topic.  But sadly, the picture below will have to do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Calling Station & The Straight Flush

I've been talking a bit about online poker.  U.S. Poker is a great site for news, info and about online poker and poker in general, you can find it here.

But back to live poker.  On this particular night, I happened to be sitting next to a guy who exemplified the term “calling station.”  He came to the table with $300 and somehow built upon that—for awhile anyway.  In the two-three hours I played with him, I think he saw every single flop. Seriously, he hardly ever folded preflop.  Maybe once or twice, when someone made a really big three bet or a short stack shoved.  But if he had to call $25 or less, he saw the flop.  Also, I don’t think I ever saw him raise preflop.  I don’t think he ever raised on the later streets but on rare occasions, very rare, he did lead out with a bet on a later street.  If you want to know what he looks like, just Google “calling station” and you’ll see his picture.

I am grateful to the Calling Station because if almost any other player in the universe had been sitting directly to my right, this hand likely never would have happened.  In the small blind, I had 4-6 of clubs.  It folded to the button, aka the Calling Station, who did what he always did—he limped in.  Most players there either fold so the blinds can chop, or raise and try to steal the blinds.  But neither folding nor raising preflop was in his repertoire.

For a buck I figured I would try for the flush to get a drawing ticket.  The big blind just checked and the three of us saw the flop with a humongous $6 pot.  It came 7-6-3.  The 6 was red and the 7 and the 3 were both clubs.  So I had a pair, a gut-shot, a flush draw and oh yeah, a gut-shot straight flush draw.  Considering the preflop action, there was a good chance my pair of 6’s alone were good.  Although not necessarily. The calling station could have easily had pocket Aces because if he had, he would not have raised preflop with him.

I was first to act and I checked.  Why, with all that equity I had, did I not bet?  Well, with such a small pot, I was actually afraid I would take it down there, and I figured I wanted to see another card and try to get that flush (for the drawing).  I figured it wasn’t going to be a big pot no matter what.

The big blind bet $15, more the twice the size of the pot, and the Calling Station folded.  Note, he was capable of folding after the flop, just not so much preflop.  I called.

As the dealer was about to put out the turn card, I was thinking to myself, “Gee, the 5 of clubs would be real nice, wouldn’t?”  But of course, you never get the exact card you want right?  Well this time I did.  Yes indeed the turn card was the beautiful 5 of clubs.

I checked and started thinking about how to maximize this monster.  And I flashed back to the time I bet $10 when I rivered quad 10’s.  That story was told very recently here, and once again I was faced with the dilemma of how to play a monster.  Though obviously, it’s a nice dilemma to have.

The big blind put out $20 and I called.  When I later told my pal Abe about this hand, he thought that maybe that would have been the time to have pulled the trigger.  What do you think?  Do you think check-raising on the turn would have better than waiting for the river?

I didn’t know what I wanted to see on the river but I figured another club or a card that paired the board might get me some more chips.  How about a club that paired the board?  But it was a high, red face card that didn’t figure to have changed anything.

Still thinking about the quad 10’s hand I just alluded to, I forced myself to check the river.  It was hard.  I was gonna be so pissed if he checked behind me and I didn’t get paid off.

And sure enough, I was pissed.  He just checked and showed his hand.  He had pocket 6’s.  He flopped a set but he was smart enough to check the river with that very wet board.  Damn him.

As I said, you just don’t get enough practice playing monsters.  With a set, I think he would have called a reasonable-sized bet.  But who knows?

I think one thing I learned is, the key to playing monsters is to only get them when you’re last to act. 

It was a small pot, but you know, it’s always sweet to a hit a straight flush. 

What’s not so sweet is to fold the best hand even if it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, this was a hand I played really badly on every street.  I throw it in for those of who think I only talk about hands I play perfectly!  In the big blind I had Ace-King offsuit.  It had been raised and re-raised ($7 to $15) when it got to me.  I’m never four-betting Ace-King so the question was, should I call?  The three-better was an aggro who usually raised to $20 preflop, so I was surprise his three-bet was so small.  I suppose I should have repopped it there after all.  But the original raiser was still behind me and I thought he might actually have a hand. From this distance it sure looks like calling was the worst option and that was what I did.

Of course, before it came to me the Calling Station called and then the original raiser just called.  So four of us saw a flop of K-7-7.  I should have led out, but I just checked.  I guess I was gun shy because it had been raised and re-reaised preflop.  The preflop raiser bet $25, the three-bettor just called, the calling station also called (of course) and I called as well.  The turn card was an 8 and this time, everyone checked around. 

The river was a deuce or a 3.  I checked, the original raiser checked, and then the aggro who had three-bet it preflop shoved.  He had a few bucks less than I did ($130-$140).  Then the Calling Station called (he had the first guy covered).  OK, that was good enough for me.  He called everything preflop, and maybe on the flop as well, but I hadn’t seen him make a lot of calls on the river unless he had a hand. And there was still the original raiser behind me.  So even though there weren’t a lot of draws out there, I had to figure one of these two players had at least a 7.I folded, as did the preflop raiser.

Aggro tells Calling Station, “good call” and shows Queen-Jack off (which he had three-bet preflop with).  In other words, he had nothing. Surely Calling Station had a 7 right?  I mean, he would have called $15 preflop with 7-deuce, easy.  But no, no, he had pocket 10’s.  Pocket 10’s?  Well, he was a calling station but he was smart enough to make a good read on the aggro.  More than I can say!  Actually, I think I made a pretty good read on the Aggro, but a bad read on the Calling Station….which I should have taken into account before folding.

All in all, I butchered that hand pretty badly and lost what would have been a real nice pot.

A while later I had King-8 of hearts in the big blind.  It was raised to $12 but there were already two callers when it got to me.  I’m sure most of you would have folded there but no, I called (sorry, Coach).  I guess I was thinking of those drawing cards you get for flushes or better.

The flop had the Ace of hearts and two non-hearts, neither of which hit me.  But it was checked around. 

The turn card was a second heart, still no pair, either for me or the board.  The aggro bet $25 and the Calling Station—are you ready?—called.  So with a draw to the nut flush, I called and the other player folded.

The river was not a heart.  It was a King.  I checked, and the aggro bet $35.  This time Calling Station folded.  For the size of the pot, it was a fairly easy call.  Besides, hadn’t I just seen him bluff and get caught?  When I called, he insta-mucked and said, “I thought you were gonna fold.”  What’s that saying?  “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, I pity the fool”?

Or something like that.

A bit later I had pocket Queens in late position and the aggro led out for $15.  I made it $40.  Only the aggro called.  The flop was low and he checked and I bet $60 and he folded.  “Your Aces are good,” he said.  Hey, I can three-bet with QQ against a maniac like you, fella! (No, I didn’t say that, I said nothing.)

I won a few small pots after that and left with a small profit. The Calling Station made a few too many calls and eventually busted out, by the way. It was an ok night (sure beats losing) but I played one hand really badly and also didn’t get paid on my straight flush.  As I said before, you just don’t get enough practice playing those monsters.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bad Player Wins!

Well, last night I had the pleasure of meeting, and playing with, The Poker Meister.  Had a great time shooting the breeze with him at the poker table.  He apparently brought me some good luck, as I ended up having one of the best cash game sessions of my life.  I would like to tell you that my good results were all due to my brilliant poker play, but a) I don't want to lie to you, and b) no one who reads this blog would believe that anyway.

No, last night I turned into a luckbox.  TPM and I had a great discussion of one of my hands and I think it will make for great discussion here on the blog.  I can't wait to blog about the entire session.

Except that's not true....obviously I can wait, since I'm about to go out and play some more poker rather than sitting here and writing that post.

In the meantime, that intro really segues nicely into this current post, which I wrote a little while ago while still in L.A.  Yes, the title of this post doesn't refer to me last night, although perhaps it could!  So......

I’ve been writing my column for Ante Up for over a year now.  And some of the folks I see all the time at MGM are just now finding out that I write for a poker magazine.  At least once a trip, a dealer or a floor person will come up to me and say something like, “I didn’t know you wrote for Ante Up,” or some such. Of course I’ve been doing this blog for some time longer than that and have over 400 posts to show for it.  But since my posts are so short, it would be more like 150 or so for any other blogger.

And except for people I’ve explicitly told about the blog, I’m often surprised—and sometimes even embarrassed—to find out when this person or that person knows about my blog.  There are people mentioned in this blog (with the standard “robvegaspoker” pseudonym, of course), that I’d just assume not know about this little corner of the web.  Because it might embarrass them a little.  And thus, embarrass me a lot.

This is from the night I learned that one of the recurring characters to have appeared on this blog knew I did some writing, and it surprised me.

As I approached the table I was sent to, I noticed two familiar faces—and voices.  They were loud, and appeared to be having a good time. Sitting next to each other (or possibly one seat apart) were Isabel and Faith.  Isabel is dayshift dealer, who I most recently blogged about in the post here.  If you want to read a more salacious post involving Isabel—and really, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t—you can find one here.  If you read that first link, you’ll see that in it, I mentioned I was telling one part of the story from that night and that I hoped to blog the rest of the night eventually.  Sadly, eventually hasn’t yet happened, and it may not.  When I recently reviewed my voice notes for that night, I found that the evening wasn’t nearly as scandalous as I had hoped it would be when I sat down there that night.  As for the poker, it was an awful night, and the most interesting hand was the one I’ve already discussed. 

Isabel’s partner in crime on this particular evening was Faith.  Faith is not a poker dealer, but she is very much a regular in the room and a good friend of Ginger, one of the dealers who earns a lot of space here.  You’ll read more about her if you click on the links in the previous paragraph. One story involving Faith is here and another is here.  In the second link, I don’t mention her by her blog name but she is the non-dealer player I mentioned (and of course, Ginger is the dealer).  Oddly enough, since she’s friends with both of them, Ginger doesn’t appear in this story.  I believe she was actually dealing this night, unable to take an early out.

As I was taking my seat, a hand was in progress, and the final two players were Isabel and Faith.  I didn’t note the details except that the board paired deuces on the river.  Faith bet and Isabel called.  Isabel showed her hand—top pair, I believe.  Faith flipped over deuce-rag for trips.  Oh wait, usually when you say “rag” you would mean a deuce right?  It was some fairly big card. It was a hand that you shouldn’t really play.  But Faith had played it, called a bet on the flop and/or the turn, and hit her suckout on the river.  This, by the way, is very typical of Faith’s play.  She plays bad cards and is a bit of a luckbox.  Maybe more than a bit.

Isabel was a bit upset, and exclaimed, “Terrible player wins.”  Then, to my surprise, as if a lightbulb had just gone off over her head, she looked at me and said, “Oh, put that in your notes.  Write about that, write about that.”

Uh oh.  Did she know about the blog?  Had she read it?  Here we go again (see here).

Isabel continued.  You write for Card Player, right?”  A lot of people make that mistake.  I corrected her.  “Well, no, it’s Ante Up.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah….there’s an article for you.  Put that in your notes. ‘Bad Player Wins.’  There’s a column for you.  ‘Bad Player Wins.’”

I laughed.  “Yeah, I suppose I could write about that.”

Heh heh.  I knew I couldn’t write an article called “Bad Player Wins” for Ante Up. Not exactly what they’re looking for.  But could I think of another venue where such an article could appear?  Why yes…yes I could.

I don’t know what possessed me to say what I did next.  But for some reason, I said to Isabel, “But I’d need a picture.  I’d have to have a picture.”  I had no intention of taking Faith’s picture, or of posting such a picture anyway.  I guess I was just having fun, trying to see how far they would take this.

Isabel said, “Sure go ahead….take her picture.”  Faith refused to have her picture taken, at which point Isabel tried to convince her that she should go with it.  And to my astonishment, she finally agreed.

Damn.  I said, “No, I can’t do it.  You can’t take pictures in the poker room.”  Isabel said, “Give me your phone, I’ll do it.”  And I refused.  And after a few seconds, the subject was dropped.

But a few other times, when something odd happened, Isabel would turn to me and say, “Write that in your notes….write that in your notes.”  One time, we all heard a passerby shout one word.  It was the f-word.  As soon as the word had left his lips, with impeccable timing, Faith added, “you.”  It was very funny.  And so Isabel again told me to put that in my notes.

Hmm….Well, ok it’s at least conceivable that a poker mag would want an article about bad players winning.  But surely she knew I couldn’t tell the “F…U” story in Ante Up.  Maybe she does know about the blog?  Probably not.  But then, I was surprised she knew about my column for Ante Up.  She doesn’t strike me as the poker magazine-reading type.

Later in the evening, the girls of the Slut Parade started walking by.  When a particularly attractive group walked by, all smokin’ hot with awesome figures, Isabel started complaining.  “That shouldn’t be allowed.  That’s not right.  That’s not fair.”  It’s just not fair for the girls to have such great bodies, she felt.  I beg to differ.

There was a guy at the table for awhile who claimed to be a boxer.  He said his nickname was “Quick.”  That’s not my name for him, that’s what he told us.  He claimed it was because he was really quick at throwing punches.  But Isabel and Faith were joking that a guy being known as “Quick” wasn’t really a good thing.

Isabel and Faith were surprisingly well-behaved for the evening.  Damn.  Don’t they know this blog relies on drunk women giving me material?  Though now that I think about it, it may have only been Isabel that was drinking.

The poker was pretty much of a bust this night.  I lost a little, and the closest thing to an interesting hand (other than the one that illustrated “Bad Player Wins,”) was when I had Queen-7 in the big blind.  The flop was Queen-high.  The rest of the board was innocuous. I called three fairly small bets; it was just two of us.  The guy flipped over the dreaded pocket Kings to take the pot.  He hadn’t raised preflop with them.  I see that quite a bit, players slowplaying KK.  And often they win that way.  Maybe I should try that?

I left with a little less money than I started out with, but at least I had a blog post title courtesy of Isabel.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Worst Call I Ever Made

OK, so as I post this, I'm finally back in Vegas, first time in over a month.  Fortunately this time, I have some pre-written (just add water) blog posts read to go, so even if I don't get to do any blogging while I'm here, I should have enough ready-made material to last until I get back home.  But I do hope I get to write some posts while I'm here.  In the meantime.....

This is a night that started out really well….and then…..well, you’ll see.

Early in the session I limped in with Ace-6 of spades.  As explained previously, they had those cash drawings every four hours and you needed at least a flush to qualify for a ticket. 

The flop came King-Queen-Jack, two spades.  I called a $10 flop bet, as did four others.  The turn card was a low spade, giving me the nuts.  The guy who bet the flop bet $45 and the next guy called in front of me.  I guess I should have considered flatting there, but I always think a flush is vulnerable, so I decided to raise.  The pot was now so big that with my stack (close to my $200 starting stack, more or less), I really couldn’t make any sensible raise other than a shove.  So I moved all-in.  It folded back to the initial bettor who folded.  But the next guy called my shove.  He had a similar stack to mine.

We didn’t show and I didn’t like the King on the river that paired the board.  Obviously the only thing I was concerned about was a full house.  I even said to him as I tabled my hand, “You got a boat?” He said nothing, mucked his hand, and left even before the dealer confirmed that I had him covered by a few bucks.  It was a nice (more-than) double up.

Then I had Jack-10 of hearts in early position.  I limped/called $8, and four of us saw the flop.  It was King-Queen-4, rainbow, no hearts.  I checked/called $20 (three of us left) with my open-ender.  The turn was a blank and I check/called $30 (still three of us).  The river was a 9, giving me the nuts again (no flush was possible).  I was first to act, and didn’t want to take a chance of the both players checking behind me.  I guess I should have considered that more.  Betting there pretty much screams that I have the straight.  Maybe the bettor doesn’t think I’m going to check-raise and value bets?  Definitely a part of my game that I need to improve.  Then, to make matters worse, I bet $100, which was maybe right for the size of the pot but not good if I wanted anyone to call me.  As such, they both folded.  Still, it was a nice pot and I was off to a good start, up over $300.

I lost some chips and then won a small pot when I flopped a set of deuces.  It was only heads up after the flop and it had been limped so it was a small pot.

Then came the hand whence came the title of this post.  In the big blind I had Queen-7 off, no raise, so I saw the flop.  It was Jack-8-2.  It was checked around.  A 9 on the turn gave me a gutshot.  It was checked around again.  And then I hit my straight when a 10 fell.

Problem #1 was that there was nothing in the pot, ten bucks or so.  Problem #2 was that I didn’t have the nut straight.  King-Queen was the nuts.  I thought about it and felt that King-Queen was unlikely there.  I don’t know why.  A lot of players don’t raise with that hand (including me).  I just didn’t think it was likely.  I bet $12.  It folded to a guy in late position and he promptly put out a $70 bet.

A bet that size smacked of someone trying to steal the pot.  The player had been solid all evening, I hadn’t seen him do anything like that, but I felt he was capable of it.

Except for this minor detail…..the pot wasn’t worth stealing.  Betting $70 to steal a $20 pot?  Why would anyone do that? 

Although I considered he might have the bigger straight, I quickly dismissed it.  He probably had a Queen too, and we’d chop it.  I couldn’t let him get away with this steal, could I?

Besides, you know what they say, right?  “Your opponent almost never has the best hand you can put him on.”

Well, almost never isn’t never and this time he did.  He tabled King-Queen and dragged the pot.

I was really upset with myself.  A few seconds too late, I realized how terrible that call had been.  I wasn’t faulting my reasoning as to why he probably didn’t have the hand he had. It was just that….there was no pot to fight for.  Really, what was I calling for there? The most likeliest hand he had was the same as mine. So….call $70 in hopes of getting my $12 back and a few bucks more?  How could I be so stupid?  Even if he was making a move, there wasn’t enough money at stake for me to call him on it.

Really, the more I thought about it, the worse it got.  I started thinking about how he had played it at the end.  It was bad play on his part, right?  He bet too much.  He had the nuts, he should have min-raised me, or maybe 3X my bet to induce a call from me.  But no way would anyone but a total idiot call his bet without the nuts.

Which makes me a total idiot.  I guess he made the right play, he obviously pegged me as a total fish who would call such a big bet without the nuts.  Good read, sir.

I dunno if that was the absolute worst call I ever made, but man, I sure hope I haven’t made too many worse ones.  Oh, and by the way, this one’s for you, Mickey.  Mickey is the guy I met who complained about how I never wrote about any hands I played less than perfectly (see here).  Is this one less than perfectly enough for you?

It’s funny, when I played back my voice notes to prepare for writing this post, I heard myself debating whether or not to record the details, under the logic that I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself publically by blogging about the hand.  And then I heard myself saying, “I’m going to record and chastise myself for it, so I can learn from it.” Thus, my self-flagellation.  But please, don’t be afraid to pile on, I could use the extra criticism.

I was still way ahead for the night but I could no longer think about the chips in front of me or the good hands I had earlier.  I went on tilt, or at least my version of it.  That’s where I think about nothing else but that one hand and stop paying attention to the game.  I don’t go wild, instead, I turn extra tight, afraid to play anything for fear of making another colossal mistake.

After a few orbits, I was still thinking about the hand, so I took a break.  I walked around the casino for bit, trying to clear my head.  I missed a few orbits. 

When I resumed play, I was in a little better state of mind.  I won a small pot raising with Ace-King and taking it with a c-bet on the flop.  But I wasn’t done playing badly.  In the small blind, I limped in with Ace-6 of spades but the big blind made it $12.  Two others called so I called as well.  The flop was Ace-10-4 and it was checked around.  I assumed the big blind would bet and I also assumed my kicker was no good.  The turn was another 4 and this time I put out a $30 bet.  The preflop raiser called and then a guy shoved.  Who?  The guy who had King-Queen in that infamous hand.

After he had taken my money, I had seen him get caught in a big bluff—the first time I’d seen him bluff all night.  He had shoved-bluffed and thus had to rebuy.  So that was in my mind now.  But his shove was only $38 more than my bet, so I called.  I couldn’t put him on a 4 and I thought I’d get some money back from him.  The other guy folded.  The river was a blank and sure enough, he had 5-4 offsuit.  Really?  I guess I had no right to complain, playing Ace-rag suited.

This did not help my state of mind.  I was still up, but all I was thinking about was the $150 or so I had given away from the money I had won earlier.  I realize that’s poker, but it was much worse because I had lost it due to bad play and not because of getting sucked out on.

When you’re playing badly, it helps to get lucky.  Actually, getting lucky helps even if you’re playing well.  I limped in with Ace-4 of spades, trying to get another flush before the 10PM drawing.  It was raised to $12 but when two others called, I decided to come along for the ride.  The flop was Ace-King-x, two spades, a great flop for me.  But I just called a $30 bet from the preflop raiser.  There were three of us left.  No spade on the turn, just another Ace.  I didn’t know whether I liked that or not.  I still I felt was going to be outkicked, or maybe someone had a boat.  I checked.  The preflop raiser looked like he was going to bet, but changed his mind and checked.  So it was still three of us seeing the river card.

The river card just happened to be the case Ace.  That was nice, because on this night, it seemed I was only going to win when I had the nuts on the river.  I was first to bet, and I felt I had to put something out there.  I made it $50 hoping for at least one call.  A raise would have been too much to hope for, but I would have been ecstatic to take it.  The preflop raiser called and the other guy folded.  As he called, he said, “I’m hoping for a chop,” and tabled King-Queen.  This time I could beat King-Queen.  Easily.  His boat was no good.

Winning with quads was nice.  It was a good pot and I even got paid on the river.  Still, those bad hands were mostly what I was thinking about.  Frustrating. 

Then I had a tricky hand.  Pocket Queens, both red.  I raised to $8 and had four callers.  It was a low flop but two clubs.  I bet $30.  The only caller was a guy who had me covered by plenty.  The turn card was terrible, the King of clubs.  So now there were three clubs on the board plus an overcard.  I checked.  Big stack bet $80.  I thought it about and folded pretty quickly.  I was certainly gun shy about making another bad call.  Just too many ways my Queens were no good there.

Having failed to get those bad hands out of my mind, I decided to call it quits while I still had a decent profit left.  I was up over $200 even with those terrible hands, including possibly the worst call I’d ever made. This was probably the worst I’d ever felt after a winning session.  I hope I can learn from it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Winning the Pot Put Him on Tilt

Usually it’s a bad beat that puts people on tilt.  An especially bad beat. Someone is playing a hand they have no business playing and hits their two-outer.  Maybe even a one-outer.

This is about a guy who won a big pot and went a little crazy.  See if you can understand why.

I have no idea the name of the guy who was tilted.  Let’s just call him “JJ” and you’ll soon see why.  But I do know the name of the guy who put him on tilt.  I’ve already introduced you to him as “Amos” and you can find my first mention of him in this post here.  In fact, in that post I allude to the hand I’m about to describe. Amos is the guy who, in that previous post, heard another player exclaim “Oh shit” the second he saw Amos put his chips down at his table. 

As I explained, Amos is a major aggro and he likes to play bad hands, raise or even three-bet with them preflop, and then hit them and suck out on players who have good hands.  He tries to put people on tilt. He will admit this at the table.  This time he succeeded, although not the way he would prefer.

JJ and Amos were both at the table when I took my seat, and I got the impression they had been playing together for awhile.  It appeared to me that JJ was already well fed up with Amos, though I could only imagine why (and it was easy to imagine).

JJ was from Texas and both he and Amos had big stacks, well over $500 each (the max buy-in is $300).  Amos raised to $15, probably his normal raise from early position (or maybe a little less than usual).  JJ was the big blind and three-bet to $35.  Amos called.  I don’t recall the flop, other than it was pretty dry and had an Ace.  JJ bet $45 and Amos called immediately.  Looked like a blank on the turn and this time JJ checked.  Amos bet $55 and JJ took a while to call.

Another seemingly meaningless card hit the river and again, JJ checked.  Amos counted out his chips and finally put a bet of $145 out.  JJ agonized over it for a long, long time. 

Finally he called, and Amos nonchalantly turned over Queen-5 offsuit.  There was no Queen, no 5 on the board.  No draw for him either.  He had, as they say, zilch.  It was typical of Amos’s play.  Raise with garbage, followed by a big bluff.  Of course, often in that situation, he’d hit at least his Queen if not something better and suck out.

JJ flipped over his cards—pocket Jacks, of course—but was none too happy.  He was dragging a very nice pot, but was furious.  I could almost see the steam coming out of his ears.  I guess he had a problem with Amos playing that hand so maniacally.  And making him sweat the call on the river.  Every one said to him, “Good call.”  Of course, a big part of Amos’s range there is Ace-rag (actually, a good part of his range is any two cards) so it wasn’t easy to call.

Amos and JJ were both talking but it appeared they were talking to themselves.  I couldn’t catch anything intelligible that JJ said.  I did hear Amos refer to JJ as “Nitter Bitter” or something like that.  I knew JJ was livid, but it was hard for me to tell if Amos was pissed off or maybe actually enjoying the torment he had put JJ through even while losing a nice piece of change.

But there was no mistaking JJ’s reaction.  I honestly think that if Amos had flipped over a bigger pair than JJ’s Jacks, he would have been happier losing the pot than he was winning it.  It was the damndest thing.      

That of course, is exactly what Amos wants.  Except for the losing the pot part.  But I’m sure he felt that it was a worthwhile investment to get JJ off his game.

On the very next hand, as JJ was still (mostly) silently seething and stacking his chips.  Amos raised again.  It folded to JJ and he immediately shoved.  He now had at least $700 in front of him, Amos still had plenty of chips and had raised to $15 or so.  I don’t care what JJ had, there was no hand where that shove possibly could have made any sense.  He was clearly doing it to spite Amos.  He was on some form of tilt.  For winning a pot.

Amos found the shove amusing.  He started laughing as he held his cards.  He yelled over to JJ, “I’ll give you 15 bucks if you show me a bluff.”  He repeated it several times but JJ said nothing.  Finally Amos said “OK” and folded.  JJ took the small pot without a word.

I think Amos left soon after, not sure if he went to another table or left the room.  But after he was gone, JJ started verbalizing his feelings about Amos.  I believe a seven-letter word that starts with “a” was thrown around.  But with Amos gone and JJ holding a lot of his chips, he eventually calmed down.

Before his fun with JJ, Amos told the story of young, good looking girl he knew who was getting paid $25/hour to sit around a pool in a bikini. Tough gig.  According to him, she was hired by a local strip club that had a pool and all she had to do was sit by the pool and in her bikini.  That’s it.  She was called “atmosphere.”  Then they closed the pool.  She still works there but is now inside and makes less money.  She said it’s a brain-dead job but the money’s good and she’s using it while in school.

I didn’t question Amos at the time but the story seems a bit odd to me.  This was a strip club.   All the “entertainers” perform topless and nearly bottomless.  If they are paying girls to sit and walk around to provide “atmosphere” in a topless club, why in the world wouldn’t they have be topless?  I don’t get it.  For 25 bucks an hour, shouldn’t they show the goods?  Just asking.

There’s really only two hands of mine from this session worth mentioning.  I was having a nothing night, as in getting nothing to play, and nothing to make notes about.  Finally, down to about $140 or so, I got my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  I was in middle position.  The guy under-the-gun shoved for his last $23.  The next player had a big stack and called.  I split my remaining chips into two equal stacks and put out one of the stacks--$70 or so.  It folded to the guy who had called the $23 and he announced “all in.”
Then he said—and I think he may have said this before I even acted—“That way, I won’t have to decide whether to call on the flop.”  O.K.  It didn’t really matter.  Unless he actually showed me two Aces there, I’m not folding.  Because, you know, KK has been so good to me over the years.

When I said “call” he said, “Your Aces are way ahead of me.”  I said I didn’t have Aces, and then flipped over my hand.  He reluctantly showed his pocket Queens.  The flop was Jack high, but on the turn he picked up a gut-shot.  Fortunately for me, he missed. The short stack had Ace-King of clubs and missed a flush draw.  I had a nice double up.

I wound up winning a few small pots after that…then had pocket Kings again.  After a bunch of limpers, I made it $14 and had three callers.  The flop was King-10-4 rainbow.   It was checked to me.  I considered checking there and slowplaying it, but decided to bet just $25 instead.  Still, no one called.  I was ok with that.  I didn’t want to add to my KK stories by having a set of them lose.

And soon after, I took off.  I had made a small profit, and more importantly, I didn’t win any hands that put me on tilt