Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Losing with Pocket Kings Doesn't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger

Tonite was my last night in Vegas for this trip, and originally I thought this was going to be a short blog post about how I got hurt with the dreaded Pocket Kings again.  But then…

Well, let’s start at the beginning.  Bought in for $200 at NL game at BSC.  Started spewing chips (a recurring theme for this trip, alas) and although I didn’t really bust out, I got down so low I bought an additional $200, giving me about $230 or so (I didn’t want to play short-stacked).  This was definitely my last buy in of the trip and I was prepared to make it an real early evening if I lost that.
Down to slightly less than $200, I found the dreaded pocket kings in early position and raised to $10.  A short stack went all in for $39, folded back to me.  For that amount it was an easy call and I doubted he had Aces.  We didn’t show our cards. Flop was K-10-9, two of one suit, but suits don’t enter into this story.  Turn was an 8, river was a 7, giving me a bad feeling.  The feeling was justified.  The short-stack turned over pocket Jacks, giving him a straight.  Even when I flop a set of Kings, I can’t win!  I was pretty sure that was going to be my blog post, but things did change a bit for me.
I was actually losing a good portion of my second buy-in when I raised with Ace/Jack offsuit.  A few callers.  Ace on the flop, nothing much else on the board, one guy (friend of the short-stacked guy in the previous story) kept calling.  He had Ace-7, since there was no 7 on the board, my Jack kicker held up and I won a nice pot.
A few hands later I called a $11 raise with pocket 3’s on the button.  I hit my set on the flop, and preflop raiser led out for $25, and was called by the A-7 guy in the previous hand.  Since there were 2 clubs on the board, I wanted to take it down there.  I thought of shoving, but decided to just make it $75.  I think that was a mistake, I didn’t raise enough.  No matter, both of them folded, so I guess neither had clubs.  So that got me some more chips.
Then the hand that really turned things around for me, the Grump.  On Poker Grump’s excellent blog, he has many entries devoted to the mighty deuce-four.  Check it out for yourself, he currently has 135 posts dedicated to the power of this mighty hand. Since reading of it’s power, I usually play the deuce-four by limping and occasionally calling a small raise with it, but it hasn’t paid off too much….until tonite. 
Had it in late position and was able to limp with it.  Both a two and a four hit the flop, and a mid-sized card to go with it.  I bet the flop and the river and got two callers both times, getting the pot to around $120.  The river card was a 5 and the third of a suit so I didn’t value bet there, I just checked it down.  But the two pair was good to take a nice pot.
By now I had not only got my second buy-in back but was pretty much caught up with my first buy-in.  Then came the hand.
On the button I saw A-10 offsuit.  I can’t remember whether there was a small raise that I called or if I just limped, but three of us saw the flop, which was K-J-10, rainbow.  So I had bottom pair and a gut shot draw to the nut straight.  Small blind led out, was called by the other player and I called too.  I don’t remember the size of this bet, but it wasn’t too high and with both a pair and a gut-shot, I thought a call was reasonable.  Turn was a second 10.  SB went all in, but he didn’t have that much (can’t remember) but when the other guy called, it was an easy call for me to make.  I figured I was behind, but had a good draw.  A queen gives me the nut straight, although I assumed that would be a chopped pot.  An Ace would be better, giving me a nice boat.  I didn’t dare even consider the possibility of the case 10 hitting, I’m not that lucky.
Except this time I was.  Yeah, the case 10 hit the river.  Oh my.  SB was already all-in.  I figured the other guy would check, I’d make a bet that wouldn’t get called, but it was still a nice pot to take down.  To my utter delight, the other guy said, “all-in”!  Oh my indeed. Thank you, sir!
He had just hit two straights within like about 15 minutes to take down two decent pots, and although he had only bought in for a $100, his all-in added almost $200 to the pot.  In the history of poker, I don’t think anyone has said “call” faster than I did.  There was no need to hesitate, both the players were already all-in, so my action was last.  I suppose if the SB still had to act, I would have tried to make it look like it was a tough call for me. 
I showed my quad 10’s and the SB just mucked, saying he had flopped a straight.  Dunno if he had AQ or Q9.  The guy who just shoved $200 into the pot had a King for a boat.  Hmm….I don’t think that was a great move on his part.  Did he think I’d call with just a straight or lower boat?  Seems like only AA or the case 10 would call that bet.
But good for me.  The pot was well over $400, biggest pot I’d ever won in a cash game.  I was now well ahead for the night.  Unfortunately I gave some back on a tricky hand, I had K-10 on a flop of 8-9-J.  So not only did I have an open ended straight draw, but with the K, if the Q hit I might beat a lesser straight for a big pot.  Didn’t hit and I called some fairly large flop and turn bets.
Still, from being down nearly $400, I walked away winning $350.  And survived losing with the dreaded pocket kings.  Not a bad last nite in Vegas.


  1. How exciting! You are a poker maven. ... Hopefully you'll be back for your birthday.

  2. It's always gonna be something really good or really bad when you read "then came THE HAND"... :)

    1. Indeed, Coach. I'll be using that phrase again real soon, in fact.

  3. "I don’t think that was a great move on his part. Did he think I’d call with just a straight or lower boat? Seems like only AA or the case 10 would call that bet."

    It doesn't make sense for you to have AA since you just called preflop and didn't raise flop. there are only two other hands that beat him which are two JJs or a hand with the case 10. two JJs are unlikely because you'd normally raise the flop with that.

    Now, on the other hand what hands could you have that would call that he can beat? Not much really. Really just two QQs or maybe maybe a hand with a J. In this spot if he checks he MUST call any bet you make. If I thought long and hard I'd check/call but that's a lot to think about so I understand his shove.

    I'd like to see you get more value for your sets. Change your mentality. For example, you wrote, "Since there were 2 clubs on the board, I wanted to take it down there." What you should be thinking is, "I'm ahead. I want value for this hand, but I want to figure out the proper amount to bet to charge drawing hands to get there". It's one long session...

    1. Vook, thanks. You know I always appreciate your thoughtful insight and advice.

      Interesing that you would have called with 10's full of Kings, and might have shoved yourself. My gut was that he'd only get called (with his shove) by hands that would beat him. On the other hand, if he checked and I shoved, he'd probably have to call to protect himself from me having the same hand, all it would take was a King.

      He shoved so fast I never had the time to consider what I'd do if he checked. Once he shoved, it was the easiest call I've ever had, of course. But I have to admit, if he had checked, I don't think I would have shoved. I think I would have bet less, figuring he wouldn't call my shove but might call a smaller bet. I guess that would have been a mistake, and I'm doubly luckly he shoved first.

      On the set of 3's, I really wanted to make sure I wasn't giving anyone with clubs good odds to call, and I think I bet too little for that, since there were already two of them in for $25. But I was definitely thinking of the hand I screwed up in my "How to Lose With a Set of Ace's" when I made the bet.

      But this is all part of the learning process for me. Life was so much easier when I could either call $4 or raise to $8.

    2. against you I would have my guard up and there is no way I would shove with his hand. I might even check/fold because I know you. Most everybody else is going to value bet a K so with a K myself I would check/call unless I had a great read.
      I was just saying that in the heat of the moment it's possible to overvalue the hand (I'm not perfect... it's easier to analyze on a forum), but I 100% believe he should be checking.

      you're doing fine progressing along with NLHE. Keep it up. The hardest part is knowing when to go for thin value... I'm constantly battling with that as like you I lean towards the nitty side.

    3. Vook, sounds like if we ever played together, I could pull off a fantastic bluff against you! :)

    4. exactly.... that is the way you should be thinking. Staying one step ahead of your opponent ;)

    5. So now that I've said that, you'd be looking for it so you wouldn't fall for it. Instead, I could make a huge value bet with the absolute nuts that you'd have to call because you know I'd try to bluff you!

      How many levels are we down to now? :)

  4. play the deuce-four by limping and occasionally calling a small raise with it, but it hasn’t paid off too much

    The mighty 2-4 works much better if you actually have faith in it.

    1. I suppose so....I have to work up to it though. Next time I'm dealt it, I'll just shove no matter what the stack size.