Thursday, May 30, 2013

Old Friends

It’s always nice to run into old friends, right?  Well, if the friend is a nice person and a great poker player you haven’t seen in over a year, then yes, of course it is.  If the old “friend” is your own personal kryptonite hand….well, not so much.

A couple of nights ago I ran into Alicia at the MGM.  Alicia is the absolutely terrific tournament poker player I ran into at the Aria a bit over a year ago.  Of course, in my initial post, I gave her a phony name—as I tend to do—and called her “Veronica.”  You can read that post here.  That was one of the most popular posts I did last year.  A few months after that post, Alicia played in her very first Main Event at the WSOP, and I not only tweeted updates about her run but mentioned it at the beginning of a couple of current posts, (see here and here).  And as I publish this post, Alicia is starting play in her first WSOP bracelet event, a $1K NL event.  Let's all wish her luck.  (Edited to add: I can now report that Alicia did indeed cash in Event #3 of the WSOP!)
Alicia was running great in the ME last year until she had her pocket Kings run into pocket Aces.  Gee, that doesn’t sound too familiar, does it?
Actually, that was the second time I’d run into her in three days.  Two days before, I saw her for the first time since the two Aria tournaments we played in last year at Bally’s.  It was kind of a fluke since neither one of us play at Bally’s very much.  The poker world is a small one indeed.
Alicia was there to play in their HORSE tournament, and sadly, that didn’t end well for her.  So she ended up playing some 1/2 NL while waiting for her boyfriend, who was still alive in the tournament.  And she sat right next to me….on my left.  As much as it was great to see her again, I have to say having such an outstanding player have position on me was not ideal, even if she is much more of a tournament player than a cash player.
But it gave her a great view to see my latest encounter with another old friend of mine, this one I was a lot less eager to renew my acquaintance with.  Yes, it was the dreaded pocket Kings.
This was at the end of a particular brutal session.  How brutal?  Well even flopping quad three’s—and getting paid for it—didn’t save it.  If I was doing the kind of posts that all my readers love—you know, the exceptionally lengthy ones—I would talk about that and also describe the fun of having flopped a set of Jacks lose to a turned set of Queens.  But I guess I can save that for when I have more time. (The explanation of why I'm not doing longer posts is here).
I was pretty close to wrapping things up when I got the dreaded hand in late position, with about $110 or so left after an extra re-buy or two. 
One player had already limped and I raised to $10.  Two behind me called, as well as the limper.  At least Alicia, the player I was most concerned with, folded. I should mention that this was quite the action table.  Lots of three-betting, raises and re-raises on the later streets, some wild bluffs and semi-bluffs.  There was money to be made if you caught a hand, but whenever I did, someone caught a better one (see above: set of Jacks losing to set of Queens).
The flop looked good for my hand, 9-6-3 rainbow.  The first player to act bet, I think $25, and the next player made it $55.  Now, despite this action, I still thought my hand was good.  There had been plenty of bets at this table and from these players with weak holdings or naked draws.  I knew I could be facing a set, and if so, so be it, but I thought two pair wasn’t too likely.
With my last remaining $100 or so, I shoved.  The last to act was a particularly aggro player—he had a British accent though he hardly ever spoke—and had three-bet a lot preflop.  He had also hit more than his share of suck outs.  I guess I should mention that all the players had me covered.  He thought long and hard, but that wasn’t unusual, he always took his time when the action was on him.
He eventually called and the other two folded.  I was right, they were both betting light.

(Edited to add:  OK, honestly, when I recalled the hand, I wasn't 100% sure whether the Brit called or raised.  I actually thought he might have shoved.  Since my action was over, I wasn't that concerned with whether it was a call or a raise, only that he didn't fold.  I have conferred with Alicia and she recalls that he did raise my shove to isolate.  He had both the other players covered, which help explains their folds).
I had been playing with this Brit for three hours, and if I knew his game, he should have known mine.  He’d seen a few of my tough beats, and also had been the victim of my flopped quads.  And he had seen me play very few hands all night.  It should have really stood out at this action table that I was not the player supplying any of the action.
He never showed his hand when there was an all in, prefering to show it only at the end if he won.  He never showed if he lost, and would never respond when asked what he had.  So I didn’t flip over my cards either.
The turn was a 10 and the river was another 9.  I showed my Kings and he flipped over…..Queen-9 offsuit.
Queen-9 offsuit.
So he called my preflop raise with Queen-9 offsuit—before he knew anyone else was going to call.  Then he called my shove with top pair, mediocre kicker.  From playing with me for all that time, he had to know that his hand was behind there, that top pair was no good.  But he called anyway.
And hit his damn trips on the freakin’ river.
Pocket Kings.  What else would I expect?
I said goodbye to Alicia, and headed for my car.  I tried to repeat, over and over again, the poker sayings, “You want them to call there,” and, “I got it in good.”
It was nice to see Alicia again.  My old friends, pocket Kings?  Not so much.


  1. I try my best to take my bad beats in stride, but I don't think I would have been able to hold my tongue in that spot. I would have definitely given him a very sarcastic, "Well played, sir, well played."

    1. Thanks, Jeff.....I really never do that these days. I say "nice hand" in a totally insincere voice, but that's about it. I suppose in this case I could have been really tempted, especially since I was leaving then, but I didn't.

  2. What do you put they guy on who raised to $55 and then folded
    to your all-in of approx $50 more with a > $300 pot?

    1. Steve, please see the new version, which I have edited. I was never sure whether the Brit called or raised, but your question made it pretty obvious that he raised, because it would have been a really bad fold on the re-raisers part. As I indicated, Alicia remembered it better than I did, and she recalled that he indeed raise so it would be heads up with me.

      Thanks for the comment that made me get it right.

  3. Maybe you should just insta-fold pocket Kings whenever you get them?

    btw -- Your name is being dragged through the mud over at Bikini Beach ... : o )

    1. That is current my running joke with my poker pals. If I get Kings, I instafold. So far I haven't gotten them again. We'll see what happens next time I get that dreaded hand.

      As for the comments over on Coach's blog....note that I responded in as short a response as possible. :)

    2. I want Rob to do the hockey post now... :)

    3. I know so little about hockey that I fear it would be way too short of a post, Coach.