Sunday, March 31, 2013

Three-Betting Pocket 4's

This is the story of the last Binions tournament I played in my January trip—even though it was February by the time this took place.  In fact, it was the very next tournament I played in after the min cash the weekend before that I described here.

This was also the day before the Super Bowl and that may have had something to do with the fact that the tournament was huge.  I think it was the best turnout they ever had, Usually they get a bit over 100 players, sometimes close to 150.  This time, they had 175 entrants!  It was amazing.
The problem for me was that I arrived late.  Not my fault.  Traffic on the I-15 was dreadful, practically a parking lot.  It took me forever to get off early and maneuver my way to downtown.
I arrived at the poker room with a minute or two to spare, but because of the unexpectedly large turnout, there was a huge line of people waiting to buy in.  The tournament was well underway by the time I got seated.  And I got seated in like a corner table that I don’t remember them using before, every table in the tournament room was in use, they were using tables in the nearby cash room for overflow, and even with that, they actually had to start an alternate list, I don’t think I’d ever seen that before there.
You see, they might have had enough tables but they actually ran out of dealers!  Seriously, they simply did not have enough dealers to handle this crowd.  In fact, they were unable to do a “push”—the dealers all stayed at their first table for about three or four downs because there was no dealer not dealing.  On the first break, in order to give the dealers a break if they needed it, and also in order to rotate them, they asked all the players to exit the tournament room so that they could leave the chips unprotected while they rotated.
This was another bad draw for me.  As I’ve explained before (see here), there’s an unusual high number of really attractive female dealers working this tournament.  It would have been great to have one of those ladies stuck at my table for three or four downs.  But no, we had one of the guys dealing to us.  True, he was a nice guy and a fine dealer, but for some reason, I really would have preferred a fine looking lady dealer getting stuck there for so long.
Another bad draw was the cocktail service.  Ordinarily the waitress, although overworked, does a damn fine job of keeping up with us.  And like every good cocktail waitress in town, she knows my drink order without having to be told.  But this time, there were way too many people for her to keep up with.  Worse, the location of our table, and the fact that it is rarely used, made it easy for her to skip us.  I know at least two or three times she ignored us because she was just so swamped.  This was especially rough on me as I had woken up with a dry throat (Vegas throat, I guess) and really needed to keep it lubricated. 
Oh, and maybe there was another reason (other than it being Super Bowl weekend) that such a big crowd showed up.  This was the first tournament they had since my Ante Up column had appeared, the one mentioning this very tournament (see here).  Clearly that was the reason for the big turnout!
In fact, a regular told Paul, the tournament director, that he had read the column in Ante Up and liked it.  Paul was only too happy to point me out to the guy as the guy who had written it (Since I mentioned Paul in the Ante Up column, I think it’s ok to use Paul’s real name).  I later tweeted to Paul that I was taking credit for the big turnout and he jokingly agreed.
On to the poker.  I had missed a number of hands before getting seated, but it was still in the first level.  A guy on the other side of the table immediately caught my attention.  Initially, it was his look.  He had a scraggly, faint beard & moustache, do-rag, headphones, and sunglasses. He was definitely attention-getting.  I’m going to call him PIA, as in pain in the ass.  He was a pain in the ass not just because of the look but because he liked to raise every single hand.
Every freakin’ hand.
At least that’s what it seemed like when I first got to the table.  Seriously, the first four or five hands I played, he raised preflop every single time.  I started to get the feeling he might be raising a bit light.
After four or five of these, I was dealt pocket fours in middle position.  I knew PIA was going to raise and I figured I’d call hoping to catch a set.
 Then I thought about it some more.  No one had really offered this guy with all his preflop raises any resistance.
I’d never in my life three-bet with pocket 4’s but I thought maybe this was the time.  I still had my full starting stack of 20K and the blinds were 25/50.  I decided if the guy raised again, I was going to re-raise him and see how he liked that.  His raises had been called sometimes since I’d been there, but no one ever re-popped him.  Let’s see how he reacts when his aggression is met with even more aggression.
Sure enough, he raised it to 250.  Folded to me and I made it 750.  I had no idea if he’d fold, re-raise or just call.
It folded back to him and he just called.  As part of my plan, I was going to c-bet the flop (if he didn’t lead out) no matter what it was.  If I missed and he raised, I would probably be done with the hand.  And I couldn’t see myself firing any more barrels if the flop missed me.  This was kind of an experiment.
But the flop didn’t miss me.  On an otherwise dry board, there was a 4.  I hit my set!  He checked and I rethought my plan.  I decided to take a bit of a risk and check behind him.  I didn’t think the flop had likely hit him and I didn’t want him folding just yet.
The turn was a 7, which made for two of them, giving me the full house.  He checked, this time I bet, and I expected him to fold.  Nope, he called.
The river card sucked.  It was a second 9, meaning the board had double-paired.  I still had the boat, but now if he had either a 9 or a 7 he had me beat.  I was tempted to check, but I managed to put out a bet instead, and he folded.  So that was a nice little pot and I managed to stand up to the guy who was auditioning for the role of the table bully.
Anyway, I came in with the same attitude I had the week before (see here) when I played 8-1/2 hour for the min cash.  I was going to start out more aggressive to try to chip up or make it a short day.  But PIA made it a bit difficult as he continued his aggressive ways.  But I picked my spots against him and also picked a few spots when he wasn’t in a hand, which happened occasionally.  I hadn’t made any big scores, but I had added at last $5k to my stack when we got to the last hand before the break.
In late position I looked down at pocket Queens.  A few people limped until PIA raised, of course.  So I made a big three-bet.  And then this old fart, who hadn’t been heard from much all day, who had initially limped into the pot, freaking shoved.  Yeah, the ol’ limp/shove. Everyone folded, including PIA.
I had the old fart covered, but not by much, maybe 3500 more than him.  I suppose a few months ago I would have considered folding my Queens.  This guy had gotten into a few hands by now, but he hadn’t raised too much.  It was easy to put him on a small range there.
But I wasn’t going anywhere with my Queens this time.  No, sir.  If he had me beat, so be it.  I wanted to chip up big or bust, so I was fine taking my chances there with the third best starting hand in Hold’em.
I called and he flipped over what people tell me is the second best hand in Hold’em—yes, the dreaded pocket Kings.  At the time, I was really pissed at his limp/raise move, but now that I think about it, it was a good play on his part.  He had good reason to assume someone would raise behind him, most likely PIA, so it was kind of a safe play.  If he had raised initially, it’s possible all he would have gotten for his cowboys were the blinds.
One of us hit our set—and it wasn’t me.  So I entered the break down big, from over 25k to about 3500.  Pretty close to desperation time.
But I still had a little play left.  I found some hands to make moves with, and got some chips with some well timed raises.  No big pots, but this gave me enough chips to play with without having to shove.
Then I looked down at King-jack off suit on the button.  It was just the kind of hand I’d been raising with.  There were a whole bunch of limpers, putting enough into the pot so that I really wouldn’t have had much fold equity there with any raise other than a shove.  OK, let’s roll the dice, I said to myself.  I shoved.
Guess who called?  No, not PIA.  It was the old fart who limped/raised with the Kings.  No one else called and old fart turns over Ace-King (which, of course, he limped with).  It looked pretty bad for me, having only one live card.  The flop included a Queen and a 10, giving me the straight draw, but the turn was a blank.  I stood up and started to gather my things.  The dealer kiddingly said, “No standing up.” And then put a 9 on the river to complete my straight.  So I got a bit of revenge on the old fart.
The dealer kept teasing me about standing up, “You’re not supposed to stand up.”  I said, “No, no, standing up was what did it.  If I had stayed seated, you would have out a 6 down there.”
He kept going on.  “No standing up, next time, there’s a penalty.”
Well that was a nice double up and now I actually had some chips to play with, and made through the next break in semi-decent shape.
So at one point, not having to shove, I was on the button with Ace-5 diamonds.  A bunch of limpers, and so I made a nice big raise.  Folded to this woman who had been playing rather conservatively.  And she shoved.  Yeah, she too tried the ol’ limp/shove.  She had me covered.
Well, I had enough chips there so it was a pretty easy laydown, especially with only Ace-5.  As I folded, a couple of the players around me noted that I’d already faced that move (limp/shove) before.
Then I had pocket 10’s under the gun.  I probably didn’t have to shove there, and I might not have with a bigger pocket pair, but I thought shoving was a better move than just raising.  So I shoved and it folded to the big blind, a lady who had become a hero at the table earlier for busting out PIA by hitting runner runner quads.  She thought long and hard, asked for a count of my chips, and then finally called.  And turned over pocket Jacks.
Nothing hit, and I was done.  So in the same tournament, I had Queens lose to Kings and 10’s lose to Jacks.  Ugh.
I decided to do something different and play a little cash at Binions.  For playing one hour of cash after playing in the tournament, they’ll give you a $10 food comp.  Also, Saturday night, they have hourly drawings where they give away seats to the tournament the next day.  So I figured I’d try to get lucky.
I didn’t win any drawings, although I came close.  They had different people drawing seat cards out of a bag, and one time it was my pal Heather (right before she was going to leave for her second shift over at BSC).  She picked the seat to my immediate right.  Darn.
There was one hand of the cash game worth re-telling.  In the small blind, I had pocket 7’s.  Almost everyone limped in. J-7-x on the flop.  I bet out $10 and the big blind calls.  Turn looks harmless, I bet out $30, and big blind calls.  The river put a straight out there, it was a little scary.  I thought about checking, but I decided no, I’m going to value bet.  So I put out $60. Big Blind is very hesitant, takes a long time but reluctantly calls.
He flips over pocket Jacks for set over set.
Huh?  He did say to me he was worried about the straight, that’s why he didn’t raise.  Ok, but why didn’t he raise me on the turn (or the flop)?  For that matter, why didn’t he raise preflop?  That’s the move I really don’t understand.  All those limpers, it was a perfect place to raise big there on the big blind.  I mean, you know a couple of them have Aces, there’s probably a King out there too.  Unless you hit your set, your Jacks are worthless after the flop.
Of course, he did hit is set, as did I.  I lost a fair number of chips, but I was lucky not to have gotten stacked there.  Had he been a better player, I would have been.
I soon thereafter picked up my remaining chips and enjoyed my comped dinner.  All the while, thinking of three hands.  Queens losing to Kings, 10’s losing to Jacks, and a set of 7’s losing to a set of Jacks.
Poker is a silly game.


  1. Rob, there isn't a poker player who hasn't made stupid moves. It is part and parcel of poker. I can tell you about hands that still bug me -- 10 years later.

    It is like that silly song says: You pick yourself up; brush yourself off; and, start all over again.

    1. Agree, Ken, thanks.

      That said, if I didn't kvetch about stupid poker moves, I'd have nothing to write about except boobs.

      And that would be wrong because....because....because....well, I'm sure there's a reason.