Sunday, June 4, 2017

Getting Rewarded for Bad Play

The title of this post may or may not be a bit misleading.  I'm not sure if I was actually rewarded for bad play—in fact I probably cost myself some value along the way—but I'm not proud of the way I played the hands that were favorable to me.  This is not a session I'm going to learn anything from, that's for sure.  But it worked out in the end and variance (or bad play?) has been biting me in the ass lately so I'll take it (not that I have a choice).

This was a session a week or so ago at PC Ventura.  I ended up in the 1/2 game, not the 2/3.  The list for the 2/3 was long, and I was able to get in the 1/2 right away.  Once there, I was just too lazy to move.  But seriously, there were a number of big stacks at the table, and I'd begun to notice that the players sitting behind them weren't the best poker players I'd ever played against.  So stayed there.

Actually, there were an unusual number of females at the table.  All of them were, ahem, "middle-aged" (being very generous here).  And the ladies all knew each other, and were talking about their families and such.  In fact, it kind of resembled my dear, late mother's weekly Mahjong game when I was growing up. I almost, but not quite, felt like an intruder.

An intruder who was card dead, at least at the beginning, after one early pot.  I had Ace-10 off in late position and made it $10 after a limper.  Two callers, the flop was Jack-10-5 and I bet $15 and took it.

For the next 90-minutes or so, I got exactly three playable hands.  All of them were pocket Jacks.  And that was the only pocket pair I saw for that period.  It was JJ or nothing.  I didn't see an Ace with a kicker higher than a 6. 

The first time I had Jacks I made it $8 and it was three-way.  The flop was King-Queen-3, not exactly a good flop for me.  But I c-bet $12 and took it down.

The next time I got Jacks, I was in early position.  Remember, this game is played with $1 chips (and also has a $100 max buy-in, which is what I bought in for).  I started to grab some chips to count out a bet and before I did anything the lady on my left folded her cards.  That started a flood of folds until it got to the small blind just as I put out my raise (I think it was $8).  I think the dealer finally said something about all the out-of-turn folds by the time I got my bet out, and the lady in the big blind, oblivious to this, asked the lady in the small blind if she wanted to chop.  The dealer said they couldn't chop, there was a raise. I dunno, perhaps in their Mahjong game you can chop even if there's a raise. So they both folded and I took the blinds.

I was annoyed with the dealer.  He should have spoken up about the out-of-fold turns right away and put a stop to it.  Not that anyone who folded to a $2 blind was going to call my raise, of course not.  But this way it looked like I was trying to just steal their blinds—I might have done that with any two cards at that point, seeing everyone fold to the blinds—and not that I was making a perfectly legitimate raise considering my hand. 

One more time I got the fish hooks.  I raised to $8, two callers.  The flop was Ace-high.  Despite that, I boldly (or foolishly, perhaps) put out a $12 bet and found out that no one had called my raise with a crappy Ace. I took it down.

After awhile, the unplayable hands I was getting had somehow managed to cost me more than a few bucks.  I had $51 left in front of me.  So I bought another $50 in chips.  That gave me $101, technically one dollar over the maximum.  Honestly, I wasn't sure if the dealer or anyone else would know I had too much money.  But right is right, and I obeyed the house rules even if no one forced me to, and I put a single $1 chip in my pocket.

Shortly thereafter, I was dealt Ace-King off suit in the big blind.  A lady had raised to $6.  It folded to me.  Here comes the start of the bad play on my part.  I just called.  I know, that would have been a perfect spot for a three-bet, but I didn't want to play it out of position.  She likely would have called anything but a huge overbet.  I might have shoved if I hadn't just added-on....she wasn't likely to call a $50 bet and if she did I'd see five cards with a pretty good hand.  But at the time, all I decided to do was call.

The flop was Queen-9-8, two diamonds.  I had the Ace of diamonds in my hand.  I checked and she bet $8.  With overcards and two back-door draws, I decided to float.

The turn was the 10 of diamonds, giving me both a nut-flush draw and a nut-straight draw.  I checked and she bet $20 and I called again.  I think the call is ok with all my outs.  But maybe I should have check-raised?  Or even donked out a bet?  What do you think?

The river was the 4 of diamonds. I didn't have the nuts, a straight flush was possible.  I just didn't think it was very likely.  I mean, if she has it and I lose my stack with the nut flush there, well, that's just the way it goes.

I wasn't sure what to do.  I had a real strong feeling that she would bet if I checked.  And if I led out, it would probably shout that I had the flush.  Having played with her for a few hours, I wasn't sure she'd be concerned about it if I checked.  So I took my chances and checked.  Sure enough, she bet—$40.  Well, I didn't have $80 left to even min-raise, I had no choice but to shove.

She tanked for a bit and then said. "Oh, you've got the Jack?" she saw the straight.  Didn't she see the flush?  It's usually easier for players to be aware of a flush than a straight, especially if there's four to a suit out there.  She tanked a bit more and folded.  She said again, "I guess you had the Jack."

I said nothing of course, but the guy to my right said, "There were four diamonds out there."  She replied, "What?  There were?  I hadn't noticed.  I was worried about the straight."  Yeah, obviously.  I still said nothing.  Should I be upset at the guy pointing out what I probably had?  The hand was over. Does it matter?

I was still stacking my chips when I looked down at my first pocket pair that wasn't Jacks—two 4's.  I limped in and called a small raise by a different woman at the table.  Three or four of us saw a flop of Ace-10-4.  The lady made a smallish bet and I was the only caller.  I was planning on check-raising the turn.  But the turn paired the Ace.  When she made a slightly bigger bet, I panicked, worried that she might now have a bigger boat.  I know, that's monsters-under-the-bed thinking, but I refer you to the title of this post.  I check/called her river bet as well.  All she had was 10-8 for middle pair on the flop.  I was mad at myself for playing so wimpy, and also not having already figured out that she'd raised preflop with such a weak hand.  But then, I did recall at the time that earlier I saw her not open-raise preflop with Ace-King.

Despite that, when she raised again (to $6), I just flatted with pocket Queens from the small blind. I think three of us saw the Ace-high flop.  I called her $8, then $10, then $12 (we were heads up after the flop).  I guess I should have raised, but this time she had to have the Ace right?  So why did I call?  Cuz I'd just seen her play 10-8 as if it was the nuts.  She showed pocket 10's and I took another decent pot.

Well, I may not play well myself, but taking advantage of the bad play of other players is a skill, right?  I know I can't count on just bad oppenents and getting lucky to win.  But for that day, I was ok booking the $85 win.


  1. I just watched a vlog from Daniel Negreanu talking about exploiting small edges. He was saying he might be only 53% against the players he plays against (in certain situations) and if he doesn't take advantage of that he would never win.

    I am moving to Vegas in about a month, hope to meet you sometime.

    1. Thanks. Yeah, to make money like he does, I believe it, very small edges are the difference. Of course, you have to be rolled for it, like he is.

      Definitely we should try to meet up when you move to Vegas.

  2. I gotta question your call on the turn in the first hand you discuss.

    If I read your description of the pot correctly, after the turn bet of $20.00, you have to call $20.00 to get a pot of $48.00. You are therefore getting 2.4/1 pot odds on your call.
    But you only have 12 outs, with one card to come, giving you only a 26% chance of drawing out. I don’t think you can factor in significant implied odds on the call, so I really think you needed to either check-raise, bet out or fold. Then the first two options would at least give you some fold equity.

    1. Thanks, Aussiesmurf. Yeah, it might have been a loose call. But I might have had more outs than that--An Ace or a King might have worked. In any case though....I refer you to the title of this post.