Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ace Queen, First Hand of the Game!

Reading this post  at Bob Taylor’s excellent blog reminded me of a hand I wanted to blog about from last month’s visit to Vegas.  Not only does it have a better ending than Bob’s story but it also has a lot better ending than my previous blog entry about the curse of the pocket Kings.  The issue for Bob was a brand new player he had no read on made a move and he wasn’t sure at all what it could mean.  The issue for me in my hand was that I had no read on anyone at the table, or the table itself!
I went over to the Mirage and decided to play some 1/2 No Limit.  I was just sitting down and putting my jacket on the back of my chair when the dealer starting dealing me my first hand.  If he asked if I wanted a hand (rather than waiting for the button to pass), I didn’t hear him.  OK, I’m not likely to see a hand I want to play right away anyway, right?
I was in early position and the action was on me before I even got my chips or finished adjusting my jacket.  I looked down to see A/Q suited!  I had $100 behind and I had seen virtually no action at the table, so I was taken aback as to how to play this.  I had no idea what a “normal” raise was for this table.  No idea if I was playing with good players or a school of fish (or more likely, some of both).  I seriously considering just folding to bide my time and try to get a feel for the table.
But instead, I decided to play.  And raise.  I called out my bet of ten bucks.  It folded around to a youngish guy who called.  I had a tiny, tiny read on him.  As I was sitting down, on the very previous hand, I noticed he folded 3 4’s (he showed) to pocket Jacks (he also showed).  The guy had a 4 in his hand and there were two on the board.  The pocket Jacks took the hand unimproved because his river bet wasn’t called by the guy with the trip 4’s.  I wasn’t even sure how big a bet he needed to call, I got there too late.  And I hadn’t seen the play of the hand to even hazard a guess as to whether the betting action had convinced the guy with the winning hand he was beat.  It may have been a smart play—in theory—to fold.  But in reality, he folded the winning hand.  I suppose the sting of knowing this (because the winner of the pot showed he had nothing better than a pair of Jacks) may have affected his actions on the hand he was now in with me. 
I had no intention of going too far with this hand, since I had no idea the level of competition I was up against.  But the flop was A-Q-7, rainbow.  I had flopped top two pair.  Nice.  I was still getting situated in my seat, but at least my chips had come.  I paid in the $10 I owed the pot and then figured out my flop bet.  I bet $25, a bit over the size of the pot.  If he’d come back at me with a raise I could see myself folding.
Instead he flat called.  The turn was a blank but it put two clubs on the board (not my suit).  If he flopped a pair with two clubs in his hand, that could be problematic (I assume he had something better than just a back door flush draw on the flop to call my flop bet).  I thought I was close enough to being pot committed that I just shoved in the rest of my chips.  I kind of expected him to fold but he thought about it and called.  He had me covered, he had at least another $100 behind after calling my shove.
The river was a low club, which concerned me a little, but I had to show my hand first and showed my AQ.  He turned over one of his cards, an Ace, and said, “I thought we were gonna chop it.”  Hmm….so I’m guessing he had AK and thought I had the same?
Anyway, a hand I didn’t really want to play, and shouldn’t have played (because I should have let the button pass), ended up doubling me up on the very first hand.  Perhaps ignorance was bliss!  Maybe if I had a better read on the table and this guy I would have played it differently?  The guy left less than 15 minutes later (with the chips he had after his loss to me) so I still had no real read on the guy.
I played a couple of hours and bounced up and down for a bit, finally leaving up $120.  That very first hand made it a nice session.  And fortunately, I wasn't dealt Pocket Kings even once!


  1. Winning with A-Q (a hand that crushes the best of poker players)perhaps makes up for your K-K luck?

  2. Nice thought, but that's one victory for AQ, half a dozen or more defeats for pocket kings (I haven't come close to blogging about all of them yet!) But thanks!

  3. Once you flopped top two and bet out, with >$95 in the pot and only $65 behind, would you really have folded to a flop raise? That short, I hope the only thought in your head was how to get it all in.

  4. You're right Grange, that makes no sense. The problem is that this hand happened almost a month ago and I had a hard time reading my notes about it. I do recall being overly concerned that I had no idea what kind of player I was up against and at that point I should have been a lot more concerned with the math. I also remember being way too distracted by just getting settled in at the table than on how best to play the hand, which is why it was techically a mistake to even have taken a hand. Fortunately, it worked out very well for me. That's what I thought was noteworthy about the hand; being put in a position like that on my very first hand, and never having seen any of the players at the table before. I don't think I ever would have folded post-flop; but I'll let the post stand as is.

  5. Nice flop for you. You had to know he wasn't chasing a flush when he called your $25 bet on a rainbow flop. One or two big hands make or break a session.

    I can understand you being gun shy about K-K after reading your last post, but A-Q is the hand that's usually a killer (in a bad way).

  6. Josie, I'm trying to remember but as tough a hand as AQ is, I don't recall any horror stories from it. I've got horror stories for AA, JJ, QQ, AK and of course....OF COURSE KK. All the big hands. But I don't recall anything bad with AQ. Maybe that's the opposite of my jinx hand, my "good hand". Maybe I should just shove every time I get it. Yeah, I'm sure that will pay off.