Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book it, Danno!

This took place towards the end of the September trip.  My results had been pretty bad all trip with just a couple of exceptions.  I really felt that I needed a good session, not just for the sake of my wallet, but for my psyche as well.

The session started as all my recent sessions had…..with my chip stack slowly but surely dripping down.  The first hand I won was a chopped pot when I limped in from the small blind with Jack-9 and flopped a straight.  Turned out the button had limped in with the same hand.  We didn’t even bet big because we were both worried about the flush, which no one had.

I was down to about $150 (from $200) when I found my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings, on the button.  There had been a straddle and a couple of limpers, so I made it $20.  I had three callers.  The flop was low, no face cards, no pairs, rainbow.  It was checked to me.  So I bet $60, a little less than half my stack, knowing I was committed.

The guy to my left, the small blind, immediately shoved.  I wasn’t happy about the check-raise, but I had to consider the source.  This guy had not that long ago shown a big bluff.  He had made a big river bet against a guy who must have liked his hand because he took a long time to fold.  But when he did, this guy to my left showed 5-2 offsuit which meant he had as much of the board as I do right now, sitting here writing this, at least 30 miles from the nearest poker table.  So his check-shove did nothing to convince me that I should reconsider my commitment.

The other two players folded instantly and I put out all my chips.  Our stacks were pretty similar, I honestly thought he had a few more than I did, but it didn’t matter.  We didn’t show and two more harmless-looking cards came out.  I showed my Kings and he said, “you’re good” as he showed his pocket Jacks. 

Turns out he had a few less chips than I had and he left, I had a nice double up.  I was still stacking my chips when, two hands later, I looked at Ace-King in the small blind.   It folded to the cut-off seat, who made it $13.  The button called.  As I’ve noted before, I don’t often three-bet A-K and I sure am unlikely to do so out of position.  Neither the raiser nor the caller were particularly aggro.  I suppose a good case could be made for folding, but I just flat called.

No one else called.  The flop was Ace-Queen-5.  I wish I could tell you I had a good plan there, but I really didn’t.  I checked just to see what the other two would do.  The preflop bettor bet $16, which was rather low for the size of the pot.  The button called.

Now I felt better about my hand.  I read the first guy’s bet as being scared of an Ace and just making the c-bet to see if he could take the pot without a fight.  I read the caller’s bet as saying the first guy’s bet was so small that his pot odds were too good to pass up.

So, thinking my TPTK was probably good, I decided to check-raise.   I made it $60.  The original raiser folded, but the button shoved.   However, he only had $19 over my $60 bet, so it was an easy call for me.

When I called, he said, “come on, show your Aces.”  But I didn’t show my hand, and neither did he.  The turn was a second Ace, and who knows what the river card was, but he flipped over pocket Kings and my trip Aces were quite good.

Nice.  So within in three hands, I had won with pocket Kings and cracked another guy’s pocket Kings.  Why do I hate that hand again?  But let’s look at this a bit more closely.  The guy with the KK has only himself to blame; he played his hand terribly.  I had to wonder if he’s read my blog but then, as much as I talk about how KK treats me like a baby treats a diaper, I never play the dreaded hand that timidly.  Never.  Obviously, he should have three-bet preflop—and remember, he was on the button.  If he does, I’m not likely calling a three-bet with my out of position Ace-King—not a three-bet from him, anyway.

I suppose there’s a school of thought that you only call there and hope not to see an Ace on the flop.  If that was his thinking though, wouldn’t it be best to fold to a bet when the Ace came?  Well, it was only $16.  But then when I raise, he’s gotta know he’s beat by one of us, right?  Maybe he felt pot committed.  Whatever, I was more than happy to take his money.

I was still stacking my chips from both pots when my buddy Troy came to deal.  He said hi and then said, “I didn’t recognize you with all those chips in front of you.”  I laughed and he said, “You can tell you’re not used to having so many chips, you don’t know how to stack them.”  I laughed and tried to explain that I wasn’t done yet, but the truth is, it had been awhile since anyone had seen me with that many chips.

I already mentioned a bit about this next part of the story in this post here.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, this player a few seats away from me says to me, “So Rob, how many magazines do you write for? I know you have a blog and write for Ante Up.  What else?”

I was totally caught off guard.  Although this guy looked familiar, and I was fairly certain I had played with him before more than once, I sure as hell didn’t remember ever discussing either my blog or my Ante Up columns with him and believe me, if we had, I would definitely have remembered that.

I stammered out, “Uh, just Ante Up.”  And then, after a few seconds trying to search my memory for more info on this guy, I finally said, “How do you know my name?”  I suppose he could have heard one of the dealers saying hello to me by name, and my blog had already been mentioned, but my Ante Up column had not been discussed on this night before.

“Well, your name’s right under your picture there in Ante Up. That’s the first article I read every month.”  Reflexively trying to be self-deprecating, I said, “Oh, I didn’t think anyone read that.”
“I read your column every month, as soon as I get the magazine.  You can’t be anonymous any more, Rob.  Your name and picture is out there.”

I laughed and said something like, “I guess so.  But remember, they don’t ask me to write any strategy articles.”

Anyway, I was very happy to accept the compliment and asked his name.  He told me it was “Warren”—or let’s just say for the sake of my blog, that’s what he said.  It wasn’t clear to me if he read the blog or just knew about it, and I didn’t want to put him on the spot by asking.

I told Warren that I knew we had played together several times—he said it was many times—but didn’t recall us ever exchanging names.  He said that one day, he was reading my Ante Up column, noticed my picture, and said to himself, “Hey, I think I played poker with this guy last nite.”  And then that nite, he saw me in the room again and said to himself, “Yeah, I did play with him last nite!”

However, a while later my pal Abe came to look for a seat and to say hi.  He didn’t join our game, but he said to me, “You know, you should give yourself an alias on your blog.”  I said I had actually thought about that but—and then he interrupted and added, “Well I guess you sort of do.  ‘Robin’—as in Robin Williams.”  Except that Didi, who thinks I look like Robin Williams, calls me “Patch”, as in Patch Adams, one of Williams’ more forgettable characters (see here).

Anyway, the way Warren laughed and reacted to the suggestion that I have my own blog pseudonym—and seemed to understand the reference to Robin Williams—makes me think he must just be a blog reader.  Maybe he’ll say something about being called “Warren” next time I see him.

Mike came to deal and while waiting for the previous dealer to finish up, he noticed my nice stack.  Mike and I have a running gag about him always dealing me pocket Kings that dates back to before the blog (see here).   “What happened, your Kings held?”  He was exactly right, but there was more. “Yeah, not only did my Kings hold, but I cracked somebody elses.”  “Nice,” he said.

Mike soon dealt me two queens, and as I mentioned in this post, that hand had not been to kind to me this time around.  I was in the small blind, and before it got to me, a tight player made it $7.  Being out of position, and seeing as how the raiser was not particularly aggro, I decided to just call.  There were four of us to see the flop, which was all low cards.  I checked and the preflop raiser bet $20, which I called (no one else did).  Two more harmless looking cards fell on the turn and the river, and I checked, as did the preflop raiser.  He had nothing and my Queens were good.  I took down a small pot and said to Mike, “I thought you were gonna crack my queens this time.

But as I stacked my chips, I realized that I had played that incredibly timidly, and I knew what that meant.  I was thinking a lot more about booking the win than I was about trying to win more chips. I’ve written about this before, see here.  I felt like I was going into “shut-down” mode and I knew if I couldn’t reverse it, it would be time to call it a night. 

I think I’ve been pretty good about avoiding “shut-down” mode lately, but having had a few rough sessions lately—and more rough sessions than the other kind—well, as I said at the outset, I really wanted to get that win in the books this time.

So I started thinking of calling it a night.  I wanted to see if I could play a hand that should be played aggressively, well, aggressively.  And in late position I was dealt pocket Jacks.  I made it $12.  Only Warren—who was having a better night that I was having and had me covered— called after limping in originally.   The flop was Ace high and as I was trying to figure out if I was too protective of my big win to make the continuation bet, Warren, first to act, put out $20.  I think the rest of the flop was something like 6-5 or 5-4.  I thought about it but not for very long.  I said to him, “You like your pair of 5’s that much huh?” and mucked.

He laughed and said, “A pair of 5’s would have been good there?  I liked my Ace.  I figured you didn’t like it, and if I was wrong, you’d let me know.”  I’m pretty sure had had an Ace.

And I knew it was definitely time to book the win.  I think I played the Jacks ok, considering my opponent.  But I knew I was way too intent on getting that win in the books than I was in playing good, smart poker.  So I racked up and cashed out up $250.  And yeah, it was more important to my psyche than it was to my bankroll. 


  1. Rob, when are you coming out to Hawaiian Gardens Casino? ;-) (aka, my neck of the woods.)

    1. Never played there, Steve. A bit farther away from my house than the Bike is.