Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Of Flopping Nuts; And Kings

This is the prequel to my previous post.  In that post, I told the sordid tale of how, after getting ahead over $300, I took the wrong attitude about continuing to play, then, despite that attitude, decided to play a hand anyway.  That was good, because it showed I was capable of playing a hand and taking a risk even though I thought I wasn’t.  But it was bad because I picked a terrible hand to actually play and played it badly.  (Note, if you go back to that post and read the comments, some of my readers think it was a decent hand to play and that I indeed played it ok…..)  For that hand, I should have paid attention to my otherwise terrible instincts not to play a hand.  Got that?
Anyway, the story of how I got to be over $300 up is a much more pleasant one, so here it is.  I once again found myself playing some 2/3 No Limit down at The Bike.  And as I was for this post here, I was distracted for a good part of the session.  But it wasn’t because of poor food service this time.  The service was fine, as was the free meal (I know for some of you, this is the most important part of the post, but I urge you to read on, you might enjoy the rest of this anyway).  What was distracting was the football game that was on in the room, the annual UCLA-USC game.  Being an alumnus of UCLA, it was very enjoyable to watch goodness finally triumph over evil as my beloved Bruins burst the Trojans, 38-28.
Ok, despite that distraction, I did manage to pay attention to the poker for the most part.  And what I was mostly paying attention to was my chips leaving my stack slowly but surely.  I wasn’t getting cards, unless you consider getting King-rag time and time again getting cards.  Every time I saw that first King, I was waiting for that other shoe to drop and the second King to show up.  But instead, it would be deuce, a five, a seven, maybe a nine if I was “lucky”.  At least it saved me the dilemma of having to deal with the dreaded pocket Kings for awhile.
My $300 buy in had dipped below $200.  No major disasters, just a slow exodus of chips.  But after awhile I had a pretty good read on most of the players at the table and remembered my vow to try to play outside my comfort zone (see here).  Waiting for a good hand to play was getting me nowhere.  So I looked for opportunities to play a little aggressively (or, to put it another way, less nitty).  But since this is still new to me, I prefer to at least have position when I try something.  So on the button would be my preference.
After another orbit or two, I had my chance.  On the button, there were three limpers when it got to me, but no raises.  I looked down at King-deuce of hearts.  As I mentioned, I was getting tons of King-rag hands, but this was the first time it was sooooted.  With all that limper money in, and having position, this was my chance.
I made it $20.  It folded to the one guy I didn’t want to call me, a guy I’ll call “Basketball Player.”  I’m calling him that because he looked like a basketball player.  He actually did look a little familiar, so perhaps he was a low level player somewhere.  If he was really well known, I probably would have been able to identify him easily, since I follow basketball closely.  Mostly, he was very tall, thin but not “too thin”—and he was black.  Sorry if that seems like I’m stereotyping.  It’s just that, I watch a lot of basketball and it does seem that there are a rather large number of tall black guys who play that game.
Basketball Player was the newest player at the table and the only one who hadn’t seen me fold about a thousand times in a row before this hand.  Actually, it was the same situation as the last time I tried something like this at The Bike, as told in the last post I linked to above.  Sure enough, he was the only person to call me.  He had been somewhat aggressive since he got there, but he hadn’t been there long.  He did straddle UTG every time he could.  He raised a fair number of times preflop, but he didn’t make continuation bets very often.
The flop was rainbow and none of the rainbow was a heart.  But I did catch a deuce.  Yeah, I had flopped bottom pair!  Oh joy.  BP checked, and I made my move.  I put out $30, hoping the flop missed him and he would fold.  Nope.  He rather unhesitantly called.  Damn.
The turn card seemed harmless and didn’t help me.  He checked again.  I wasn’t really wanting to invest a lot of money here.  I tried and failed.  How many barrels should I fire on a hand like this?  If it had been one of the other players, one who had played with me long enough to see how tight I’d been playing, perhaps I would have tried again.  I just figured I should cut my losses.  I checked behind him.
River was another seemingly meaningless card.  He checked again.  I considered that he might have missed a draw (sorry, I can’t really recall the cards here) and would have folded to my bet, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put any more $ at risk.  I checked behind him and embarrassingly showed my King-deuce of hearts for bottom pair.  He flipped over pocket 5’s and took the pot.  All I could do was hope my exposed hand would get someone to pay me off down the road.  In my opinion, based on his subsequent play, I think he would have called me on the river unless I went all in, and possibly even then.
Now I was running low on chips.  I had around $150 left, about half my buy in.  I was trying to decide whether to keep playing with a short-stack strategy or reload a bit.  Sometimes the short-stack strategy pays off; you play hands differently than you would with a bigger stack and it works.  Or you lose it all and re-buy.  Or go home.
I was still trying to decide when I got a hand that made the point moot.  Again, I apologize for not writing down the details and forgetting them.  But I had Ace-10 of clubs and I think I was on the button and had to call a fairly small raise.  I figured with my shortish stack, if I flopped the flush draw I would play it super aggressively.  Three of us saw the flop, I’m guessing the pot was around $45.  I didn’t flop the flush draw.  I flopped the nut flush.  
Yeah, all three cards were clubs.  But the preflop raiser checked and so did the other guy.  I decided to check as well.  I assumed the three clubs were scary and no one would call me.  I hoped the turn card would be something somebody liked.
It was the Queen of spades.  First guy checked, preflop raiser out a nice size bet, an odd amount like $43, close to the size of the pot.  Did he like the queen or was he just betting to see if he could steal it since no one bet the flop?  I decided to find out.  Since three times that bet would put me almost all in anyway, I just shoved.  The next guy to my surprise went all in—but he was really short stacked, he only had about $30-$40.  The original bettor thought about it for awhile and then, sadly, folded.  The guy who called short asked if I “already had it.”  I showed him the nuts and he groaned.  When a meaningless red card that didn’t pair the board hit on the river, he mucked face down and left the table.
But now I had enough money to keep playing without having to think about buying more chips.  I was still down a little, but not that much.
A couple of orbits later, after little or no action for me, I looked at my cards one at a time and saw a King.  I looked at the other card, expecting a card 6 or under, as had been my pattern all day.  Nope.  This time that other card was a King too.  Gulp.  There it was, my favorite hand, the dreaded pocket Kings.  I was in late position, so I was ready to count the limpers to size my raise.
But instead, a guy in early position made it $13.  I think one guy called.  The guy who raised was, again, fairly new to the table, but this was only the first or second time he’d raised.  He’d called a few preflop raises though. I made it $45.  Folded back to him and he called without any hesitation.  The other guy folded.
The flop was 10 high and not at all scary.  He put out a bet of $90, which was a little more than half his remaining stack.  So I just shoved.  He snap called. I decided to show my Kings.  If he had Aces—or worse, pocket 10’s—might as well see it right then and there.  He turned very pale and showed his pocket Jacks.  The next two cards helped neither one of us, and he was busted and I was stacking chips.
Yes, it’s true.  I had won a hand with pocket Kings.  I had won a hand at showdown with pocket Kings.  I had won a hand with pocket Kings that didn’t improve at showdown!  I had even risked most of a pretty healthy stack with pocket Kings.
So now I know that it’s possible to win with pocket Kings.  Glory be! I was now up for the day.  Nice turnaround.
But I wasn’t up so much that I was mentally unprepared to put chips into play to win more.  No that happened later, as I explained in my last post.  That happened after the hand I’m about to describe.
In middle position I looked at pocket 7’s. In early position, the Basketball Player raised to $15.  I called, knowing that in absence of some freaky straight draw, I’m done if I don’t flop a set.  One other guy called.
I noticed a 7 on the flop and was very happy.  Then I noticed what looked like another 7 there too.  Was I seeing double?  Nope. I didn’t flop a set.  I flopped quads. You could say I found that flop somewhat to my liking.
The other card was an 8, but when you flop quads, you don’t really care.  But to my dismay, the preflop raiser—the Basketball Player—checked.  No way am I betting there, I want someone to catch a card.  I assume if I bet there, everyone folds and I win a rather small pot.  Definitely a hand to slow play. 
The third guy checked too.  The turn card was an Ace, I hoped somebody liked that.  But no, apparently not.  BP checked, I checked, last guy checked.
Damn, didn’t look like I was gonna get paid for my quads.
Don’t remember the last card, but it didn’t double pair the board, or put three to a flush out there.  Damn, I thought.  I’ll have to bet, no one will call, and I’ll show off my flopped quads even though I won’t have to because, if you have quads, you have to show it off, right?
Well, it didn’t work out that way.  Basketball Player puts out a big bet.  It was like $100, more than the size of the pot.  Seemed like an overbet.  I assumed that he was bluffing at the pot, thinking since no one had bet, he could steal it.  I wasn’t paying much attention, other than to notice his bet was about half his stack, give or take a few chips.  Therefore, that’s an easy shove for me.  If he’s bluffing, he folds no matter what I raise.  If he’s got something, he’s pot committed to call me.  The third guy had shown no interest in the hand and I assumed he’d fold to BP’s bet even if I just called.
Third guy did indeed fold, and BP snap called and tabled his hand.  “I flopped it,” he said. 
Indeed he had.  He had pocket 8’s.  He flopped a very nice full house.  I wasted no time in showing my hand.  “I flopped it too” and showed my quad 7’s. 
He looked sick and merely said, “wow.”  He got up from the table and disappeared.  I didn’t give the insincere “Sorry.”  I just said, “ouch.”
Then, remembering that The Bike has a bad beat jackpot, I asked, “That doesn’t count as a ‘Bad Beat’?”  The dealer said he needed a fourth 8.  If he got his case 8, that would have been a bad beat.  I would have lost the pot but won the larger portion of the bad beat jackpot.  The lowest losing hand is Aces full.  Eights full didn’t quite cut it.
Too bad he didn’t catch his 8.  That would have been one big pot I would have been delighted to lose.  I didn’t bother to check on what the jackpot was.  Since I didn’t get, why bother?
Anyway, once I finished stacking my chips from this pot, I counted almost $650, more than a double up for the day.  Summarizing, from a stack of around $150 I actually quadrupled up with three hands—1) flopping the nut flush; 2) pocket Kings holding up unimproved (a miracle, for me); 3 )flopping quads against a flopped boat.  There were a few other hands in there where I either won a little or lost a little, but nothing of major significance.
And that’s how I got to the point where I played that sickening AJ hand that I wrote about last time, here

Note, I got out a chuckle out of this latest Dilbert cartoon.  I know he was talking about corporate America, but it really seemed to me like he was talking about poker, and that he had read my previous post about the dilemma I had then....keep playing with all those recently won chips or pick them up and book the win!


  1. Nut flushes, KK, flopped quads? Poker is EZ sometimes, sir.

    byw -- You have kicked your vagina/boobs addiction?

    1. Lightning, I intend to take that addiction to my grave.