Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Didn't Look at My Cards—Honest!

Well, this is going to be a follow-up to my last post (here) which was about a session at PC Ventura that was—amazingly enough—saved by the dreaded pocket Kings

The next weekend—that would be yesterday—I returned to PC Ventura with the thought that I would try the suggestion I half-kiddingly gave myself in that post, if the circumstances were right.  That suggestion was, if I had established a tight image (the usual case) and I thought the players were paying enough attention to notice, I would try raising blind from the cut-off or the button.  My exact quote from that post was, “I’m actually thinking that—just as an exercise—I should try raising in late position a few times without even looking at my hand.  Because if I look and see how bad it is, I’ll get cold feet.”

Well, the session was going extremely uneventfully until I was just about done, when one of the last hands I played made the day worth writing about, even though it didn’t have a happy ending (by any definition).

I was card dead again but my plan was initially aborted due to a few aggros at the table, one in particular.  And he wasn’t even the guy I saw take down a set of 7’s by hitting a straight with 10-6 offsuit.  Did I mention the 10-6 offsuit called a $15 raise out of position preflop?  But the guy in question referred to himself as “unpredictable” and indeed he was. 

I limp/called $18 with Ace-8 of spades.  The flop was Ace-x-x, two diamonds.  I folded to a $35 bet from this “unpredictable” guy.  This was early in the session and I had never seen him before.  I assumed he had me beat.  I didn’t like my kicker.  Maybe he had a diamond draw.  He got called in one spot.  There was no more betting and he took it with a pair of Jacks—the Jack was on the river.  But he had the diamond draw and missed that.  I was pissed that I lost that for not calling the $35 on the flop.

Very next hand I had Ace-Queen and opened to $15.  Only this guy called.  The flop was Queen-7-7.   I bet $25 and he called.  There was a Jack on the turn and I checked.  He bet $110.  I folded.

I studied this guy and saw that he liked to make really big flop or turn bets.  And then when I saw a few more of his hands I realized he was betting light, with draws, or middle pairs, or even stone cold bluffs. He showed his bluffs a time or two, but usually didn’t show his cards unless he had too.  He did show a set once when he didn’t need to.

He almost never folded to a preflop raise.  I figured the best way to play was to wait for a good hand, and then try to get him to pay me off.  The second part might not have been that difficult.  The first part was proving to be impossible.  I wasn’t waiting for the nuts, just a hand with showdown value.  If that hand with Ace-8 had happened later in the session I would have called in a heartbeat.  And I probably would have kept betting the Ace-Queen hand.

But the cards never came.  I was not getting anything to play.  And I wasn’t about to raise blind knowing he was gonna call almost anything. 

The first pocket pair I got was pocket 6’s.  The other aggro at the table opened to $20.  His stack was only about $110.  Looking at who was left in the hand, I thought it was very likely we’d be heads up (the unpredictable guy had actually folded).  So I folded and I was right, no one else called.

I got Ace-King and raised to $15, got a caller.  I c-bet $25 on a low flop and took it.  It was the first pot I’d won.

By this time, unpredictable guy had taken off with a lot of chips.  Well, at least I wouldn’t be distracted by him anymore.  I got Ace-King again and raised to $15.  This time it was three-way.  The flop was Queen-Queen-X.  I bet $30 and took it.

That was the second pot I’d won and it wasn’t lost on me that the only hands I’d won were ones I’d raised preflop.  So I opened to $15 under-the-gun with Jack-10 of hearts.  No one called.

By this time the other aggro had left, and the game was pretty tight.  Although the older woman who replaced the other aggro was a regular I’ve played with a lot and she is, against type, a bit of an aggro herself.

I called $12 with pocket 7’s—my second pocket pair of the day—and it was three-ways.  The flop was Queen-7-5, two clubs.  The preflop raiser checked.  Damn.  Well, I had to bet, right?  Both to build the pot and because of the two clubs out there.  I bet $25.  The guy behind me thought a long time but folded.  The preflop raiser folded instantly.  Kind of a waste of a set—but it beats getting sucked out on, I know.

Now it was getting late.  I was down about $110 or so from my $300 buy-in.  And I thought it was time to try blind raising from late position—at least once.  For science, if for no other reason.  But I couldn’t do it.  At least for awhile.  Sometimes there were raises in front of me, and I sure wasn’t going to 3-bet blind.  And then, the other times, there always seemed to be a bunch of limpers, and I figured at least one or two of them would call. I just couldn’t do it.  No guts.

I kept giving myself pep talks, to get myself to do it.  But no, every time, I found myself looking, seeing something like 10-3 offsuit and then throwing it away.

Finally, I was the button.  And I knew it was gonna be my last orbit before heading home.  But there were three limpers in front of me.  I couldn’t stop myself from looking.  And yes, it was 10-3 off.  So I folded.
But…but….as soon as I did, I was really pissed at myself.  So I said to myself, “What’s the big deal…so there’s three-limpers… bet $21 there and see what happens.  If it’s reraised you look and likely throw it away, twenty bucks isn’t gonna kill you. If you get calls you look and just maybe you’ll get lucky.  Heads up, maybe you can take it with a c-bet.”

So while that hand was playing out, I actually took four $5 chips and a $1 chip and put them aside.  And I told myself, “Here’s your bet if it’s three limpers to you.  Don’t wimp out!”

So the next hand was dealt.  And wouldn’t you know, before it got to me in the cut-off, there were exactly three limpers, just like the last hand.  Three.  No more, no less.

I had the $21 set aside.  I pretended to look at my cards.  But I didn’t.  I forced myself not to look. And, without looking, I put the $21 into the pot.  Of course, I was really hoping for everyone to fold.  Note: I actually didn’t put the chips I’d set aside out. I realized that would suspicious. So I took the chips off my main stack and used those.

But the guy on my left immediately called.  There was another call, and another….and by the time the action was done, there four callers.  Four!

Gulp.  Well, there’s twenty bucks down the toilet, I thought.  As the dealer was gathering all the chips and about to put out the flop, I of course looked at my cards for the first time.

I couldn’t believe it.  I saw two Queens!  Holy shit, I thought.  Only my third pocket pair of the day.  And it was Queens.  And I had accidently made the same exact bet I would have made if I had actually looked at my hand before betting. 

It wasn’t even a hand I would only consider raising with if I had looked—like a low pocket pair, a suited connector, Broadway cards.  It was a hand that I would always raise with in that spot. Every single time.  No exceptions.  I would have bet the $21 if I had seen the hand first.  My betting blind had in fact made no difference whatsoever.

I almost started laughing, it struck me as so incredible, and so funny.  It took every ounce of self restraint I had to catch myself from turning over my hand to show everyone right then and there and say, “I raised blind! I didn’t look at my cards before I raised.  Honest!”

Of course, I didn’t do that, and then I looked at the flop.  King-high, two unconnected small cards, rainbow.  It checked to me.  What to do?

Five-way I had to figure someone had a King (at least).  But I couldn’t see checking there. Maybe I should have?  I mean, I might have punted on Ace-high flop.  But King-high?  I bet.  I put out $60, hoping somehow that would take it.

But the guy on my left called.  If he had raised, I’d be gone for sure.  He was fairly aggressive when he’d first gotten to the table but also, he was hitting hands.  He had a big stack now.  And he had never shown a bluff.  I recall one hand where he had called a raise with Queen-9 off, caught a 9 on the flop, a Queen on the turn and a 9 on the river to stack some guy.

The elderly Asian man called as well.  He was a tight player, and a good one.  I wasn’t sure though that he had a King because I thought he would have raised if he did—unless it was crappy King. He had us both covered. The other two folded.

Well, the last two cards were bricks and no one bet.  I suppose I might have bet on the turn, but with my stack (a tad over $100), I didn’t think anyone would fold.

On the river, the guy on my left didn’t check, he turned over his cards—two Jacks.  I eagerly showed my Queens.  I thought I was going to win because, again, I thought the Asian man would have raised the flop or bet the turn or river if he had a King or better.  But no….after he saw my cards for a second he turned over….King-Jack.  And he took the pot.

I was surprised, but then figured he was most likely afraid of me having Ace-King.  He was worried his Jack wasn’t good enough against a nit like me.  That said, I am 99% sure that with my stack, he would not have folded if I bet the turn.  In fact, the guy with Jacks next to me might not have either.  But for sure the guy with King-Jack wouldn’t have.

Ugh.  I played a few more hands and racked up my chips and called it a day, out $200.

But all I could think of on the way home was how crazy it was that the first time I raised blind I ended up with a big hand that I would have bet the exact same way if I had looked at as I did betting blind.  What are the odds of that?


  1. Replies
    1. So you're saying I get a hand I would raise with once every 16 hands?

      Hmm....I suppose I should run that thru some software to see if that's right.

    2. I went with the top 15 hands out of 212 possible starting hands which after doublechecking this morning was wrong. There are 169 possible starting hands. Making a top 15 assumption lets go with 9 to 1 instead of 15 to 1.

    3. Wow. So practically a coin flip. :)