Yesterday I traveled to Ventura to play poker at Player’s Casino. I was seated immediately at the 2/3 game, and bought in for the usual $300, the max. The place was rather dead, which didn’t surprise me. Memorial Day Weekend in Southern California, a lot of people go out of town. And let’s face it, a lot of people who might normally be there to play poker may have gone to Vegas to play poker there instead.
Still there were three full tables of the game and we were never short-handed. I recognized a few of the players, but the one that stuck out was the lady who I mentioned the last time I played there (see here). She had that odd playing style, sometimes very aggro, a real LAG. I knew I had to keep an eye on her. As it happens, she never had a big stack, and played her wild game a smaller percentage of the time than two weeks ago. But she still liked to make the occasional big bet, the big three-bet, the odd shove. Just not as frequently.
The very first hand I was in, I was in the cut-off with King-Jack of diamonds. A few players had limped, and I decided to limp as well. The lady was in the big blind and I wanted to see what her level of crazy she was playing this week. It was a marginal hand, and not really knowing many of the other players, I didn’t want to raise so early. Sure enough, the lady made it $18, one of the limpers called so I came along.
There were two low-ish diamonds on the flop (the other card was low too) and she led out for $20. I called. The turn was a blank and this time she bet $15. That was such an odd bet. I felt like raising but was worried that she would re-raise—that was certainly in her repertoire. I figured that since she was giving me excellent odds to chase my flush, I may as well take advantage and just call. The river was indeed a diamond and I had the second nuts. She checked. I bet $25 and she folded.
Nice to win the very first hand. I was hoping it was good omen.
I lost a few bucks chasing but was still a bit in the black when I raised to $15 in late position with King-10 of hearts. Only the guy next to me called. From one hand I’d seen that day, and from my recollection, he was a bit of an aggro. So I didn’t c-bet when I whiffed the flop. But he checked. I was still sensing something so I kept checking and he kept checking back. Nothing hit and my King-high was good (he said he had overs but obviously below a King). Ok, I’ll take even though I would have ended it sooner with a c-bet on the flop.
Then came the most interesting hand of the session. I looked down at my first pocket pair of the day, two Queens. A tight player who hadn’t played more than two hands since I’d been there raised to $12. I just called. The guy behind me called and then the young Asian fellow at the table made it $35. He had been up and down, losing his stack recently and only re-buying in for $100. But he had hit some lucky hands both before and after busting and re-buying, and had demonstrated some interesting play. He had three-bet pre a few times with Ace-rag type hands—and in the cases I’d seen, hit them big. Just before this hand, he had three-bet with Ace-4 off and taken a pot with two pair against a much stronger Ace. When his stack was below $100 he seemed to shove (sometimes a three-bet shove) fairly light.
It looked like he had around $150ish left after the bet $35, give or take. But his chips were arranged oddly so it wasn’t clear. I had a bit more than the $300 I’d started with. When the original raiser folded, I decided to re-raise. I felt my Queens were way ahead of his three-betting range. I thought he very likely had an Ace but the other card was lower than a Queen and thus it wouldn’t be a coin-flip, I’d be a big favorite. I also thought there was a pretty decent chance if a tight player like me pulled the call/re-raise move, he’d fold a crappy Ace.
There was still a player behind me. I was a bit worried about him. His stack was closer to the Asian’s than mine. I decided to put another $100 on top of the $12 already out there. I figured he’d either fold or shove, not call, and I was fine either way. The player between us got out of the way and the Asian immediately announced “all-in.” I snap called. He said, “Is it Aces vs. Kings?” Gulp. He showed me two Kings and I was certainly dreading them. I just shoved another stack out in front of me, expecting to be down a fair amount after the hand played out. I got unlucky there, I thought, but based on my read of this guy, I was ahead of more than half the hands he could have there. Oh well.
The flop was all low, and rainbow….no one was catching a flush. I saw a face card come out on the turn, but it was a Jack. I found myself thinking, why couldn’t that be a Queen? Of course, it could have been a King too, leaving me drawing dead. I was resigned to the worst and then….well, wouldn’t you know, an absolutely beautiful lady hit the river. Everyone groaned or whatever it is you do when you see that. The guy took it pretty well. He muttered something under his breath but otherwise was a good sport. I gave my apology. “Sorry….not sorry.” And as I was stacking my chips, I said, “It was worse because it was on the river, right? Wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it had been on the flop?” He didn’t really agree with this assessment. OK, whatever.
I few of the other players said things like, “That’s awful,” “You hate to see that,” or “That’s sick.” Really? I found it rather inspirational, myself. That Queen on the river was the best looking lady I’d seen in a long, long time. And she wasn’t even naked.
When I finished stacking, I had about $510 in front of me. The pot must have been $360-$370 or so. I’m sure that’s the biggest I’ve dragged (in a cash game, of course), since I left Vegas at the beginning of the year.
Later I was in the big blind with Queen-Jack off and saw the flop for free. Only three of us were alive and it came King-Queen-10. No betting on the flop and I called $17 on the turn, it was heads up. It checked around on the river, another blank. He had pocket 6’s and my Queens were good.
I raised to $18 after a couple of limpers with Ace-Queen suited; no one called. Very next hand, I raised to $12 with Ace-King off, and had two callers. The flop was 10-6-2, rainbow. I led out with a $20 c-bet. The next player made it $60 and the third player called. I got the hell out of there. There was more betting on the turn and they got it all in. Turned out it was set over-set, 10’s vs 6’s (the 10’s just called the flop bet). Actually the board paired on the river and the guy with the 6’s lost boat-over-boat. Tough way to lose your stack.
I raised with Queen-Jack of spades and had a couple of callers. The flop wasn’t bad—Ace-King-10. There were two of some other suit. I bet, an older gentleman, a seeming nit, min-raised. I came over the top, he shoved, I snapped and of course he showed Queen-Jack too. His was unsuited but he didn’t have the flush draw. Beats losing, right?
Eventually my $200 profit had worked its way down to closer to $100. It was getting late—I was interested in getting home in time to see the basketball game (Warriors-Thunder, game 6, what a freaking game!). So when I posted my big blind this time, I felt it was likely my last orbit. I had still been fairly card dead most of the day, save that one incredible suck-out that went my way. The only other pairs I’d started with were 10’s twice, both times calling raises with them, both times folding to decent-sized bets on flops that had an Ace. The only Ace-King, Ace-Queen hands I had I’ve already described. The Queen-Jack where I flopped Broadway was the only suited connector I had above 5-4.
Anyway, the big blind hand was garbage and then in the small blind, I finally saw another pocket pair. Two Jacks. That same Asian fellow, under-the-gun, had limped in. After rebuying when I felted him, he had been quite a bit quieter than before. Might have been that this was his last buy-in, or maybe he was just not getting cards he liked. He had about $200 or so, which is what he’d bought in for after he started liking Kings as much as I do.
It folded to me and I made it $15. The big blind folded and the Asian fellow called. The flop was Queen-Jack-2, two hearts. I bet $25 and he called. The turn was a blank. This time I put out $50. He tanked. But eventually called. A low heart hit the river, and I was not happy at the scare card. My naturally tendency there is to check. I thought about overcoming it.
Yeah, he had tanked on the turn. But I remembered all the times—particularly the post here—where I had misread a player taking his time, thinking it was almost a fold when it was really almost a raise. Was this guy capable of raising me on the turn with a flush draw, thinking I might fold a one pair hand to him? Yes, he was.
So if I bet and he raised, would I have the discipline to fold my set? Well, likely not. Hard to fold a set of Jacks, especially to someone who was certainly capable of bluffing or betting a worse hand than mine. I figured if he had hit it, a check would cost me less money, so I ended up checking.
I was somewhat expecting him to bet, I was just hoping it was something I could comfortably call. But he instead flipped over his hand. King-Queen, no hearts. I showed my Jacks, and he dutifully said, “nice hand.” As I dragged in the pot, I said to him, “I thought maybe you were on the flush draw. It would have only been fair if you rivered me back.” He sorta-laughed.
By then I realized he wanted to get to the showdown cheap. If I had bet $100 on the river, he’d probably have folded. But if I had bet $50 again, it would probably have been too cheap for him to fold. Oh well. I’m not losing sleep over that.
Second to last hand, I got another pocket pair. It was 3’s. I had to call $15 to see the flop, which was Queen-4-4. I was done with the hand. But here’s something I’ve observed, maybe it’s just my mind tricking me. But have you ever noticed, whenever you have a small pocket pair, and the board comes out paired, more often than not the board pair is just one off from yours? I mean, you have two 5’s and there are two 6’s or two 4’s on the board, something like that? Or is that just me?
I racked up and was up $202. I wished everyone luck, as I often do when I leave, and then nodded to the Asian. I guess I said, “sorry,” and he said, “Hey it’s ok…that’s poker.” Good sport! I’ve seen plenty of guys who don’t take it so well. I said back to him, “Well, next time, you’ll get me.” I sure hope I’m wrong about that.
My best session, believe it or not, since the first few days of the year (from my Christmas trip). I dunno how well I played, but it was sure nice to be on the right end of the luck curve for once. I was due, right?