Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Dreaded Pocket Queens

Yes, the title is the dreaded Pocket Queens, and it’s not a typo.

This is the story of my first night of poker of my most recent Vegas visit.  And sadly, it kinda set the tone for the entire trip.
It was a Friday night, a huge fight weekend.  The challenger was Mexico’s most famous athlete, so I think 75% of the population of Mexico was at the MGM that weekend.  There was a Mexican couple at my table—as in a couple visiting from Mexico.  The guy was a very friendly, chatty guy. He had made a bet on a baseball game based on someone’s advice.  And he asked the table, “What happens to my bet if the game ends in a tie?  Unfortunately, he knew more about poker than he knew about baseball.
His wife was much quieter, hardly said a word, except to him.  I could barely see her behind the mountain of chips in front of her.  She didn’t play a lot of hands, but she managed to win all the ones she played, or so it seemed.  Her husband was much more aggressive, and he too had a big stack by the time I got into it with him.  But he wasn’t the most aggro at the table.  There was an Irishman who liked to play a lot of hands and raise a lot.  I saw him lose at least two $300 buy-ins before things turned around for him.
I was slowly bleeding chips, mostly due to calling normal size raises with low to medium pocket pairs that didn’t hit.  Then finally, first time this trip, I was dealt the dreaded pocket Kings.  I was in middle position, there was a straddle and one person had already called.  I made it $16.  I only got four callers.
Ugh.  You don’t want to get four callers when you have pocket Kings.  Even if you are one of those crazy people who actually likes getting pocket Kings.  And the flop couldn’t have been worse for me.  Not only was it Ace high, but it was all diamonds.  My Kings were both black.
Before I had a chance to decide if I would even bother making a continuation bet there, the aggro Irishman led out with a bet of $65.  The guy next to him, a much more conservative player called.  That was good enough for me.  I folded.  Hey, only losing $16 with the dreaded hand is a good result for me.  The turn card was another diamond, making my fold look even better.  It ended there, so I didn’t see what the better hand was, but since even a two of diamonds would have beaten me, I wasn’t much concerned.
I guess my stack was down to around $140-$145 when I was dealt pocket Queens.  The aggro Irishman acted before me and bet $20.  His preflop raising range was reasonably close to Any Two Cards so of course I three-bet him.  I made it $60.  He called, and just the two of saw the flop, which was Ace-10-10.
Not the flop I was looking for.  Even though I was pot committed there—based on the size of the pot and the size of my remaining stack (around $80)—I decided to check the flop and see if by some miracle I could see a showdown for cheap.  He had checked in the dark on the flop.
The turn was another Ace, making it even worse for me.  This time the Irishman shoved, and he had me covered.  I had seen him make many a bluff, and I just thought I was in too deep to fold.  So I made the crying call.  The river was meaningless and he turned over Queen-10 offsuit.  So betting the flop wouldn’t have changed anything.  

Also at the table was my pal Abe.  He was sympathetic, but he joked, “Hey, that’s my money you’re giving him.  I joked back that I had already lost his money some time back.  He did tell me that he felt I had to call there.  Of course, he assumed I had KK, not QQ, but in this case, it was the same thing.
I had to re-buy and I managed to build up a stack.  I kept getting Ace-King and won a few hands with them, mostly by raising and taking it down with a c-bet.  But I also hit a gut-shot and a nut flush.
Another time I had Ace-King, the flop came King high.  Although I had raised preflop, a new player I didn’t have a read on led out the flop betting before me.  I bet 2.5x his bet and he called.  I shoved on the turn, and he called (I had him covered).  He had King-Jack and I took the pot.
This gave me around $340-$350 and I was thinking I was going to salvage this session.  Then, in the small blind I looked at Ace-Queen hearts.  It was limped to me and I just completed the bet.  Ace-Queen is rough to play out of position.  I suppose a big bet there might have gotten me the limpers’ money, and in hindsight that would have been great, but I don’t think it’s a bad play not to raise with that hand out of position.  Maybe because it was suited it merited a raise?
Anyway, five of us saw the flop, which looked very nice to me.  King-3-2, all hearts.  Since the pot was only $10, I bet $5.  Frequently on a monotone flop, you won’t get any callers, especially since no one liked their hand enough to raise.  But everyone called my huge bet.
The turn paired the deuce.  I didn’t like that, but I figured with a low pair like that, I was still likely good.  This time I bet out $25, and the woman from Mexican with the huge stack called, as did the guy to my right, a new player.  He didn’t seem to be all that experienced playing poker.  At one point I heard him say he mostly played table games.
The river was a five of diamonds, putting a possible straight out, which of course didn’t worry me.  I bet out $75 and the woman from Mexico calmly, silently, put two $100 stacks out.
The guy next to me thought for awhile and called.  He was all in for a bit more than my $75 bet.
I figured the woman had the full house, but I don’t see how I could fold there.  The pot was huge, and she might have been making that play with a smaller flush or a straight.  As unlikely as it was, I just couldn’t find a fold.  I was getting almost 4-to-1.  I made the crying call.
Of course, she turned over pocket 3’s for the turned boat.  The other guy showed a Jack high flush.  Unfortunately, the second best hand gets you nothing in this game.
I don’t know how I could have played that hand differently.  I couldn’t have gotten her to fold her pocket pair preflop.  She slow-played the flopped set and the turned boat.  And again, I don’t see how I can fold for $125 with the nut flush when the pot was over $460.  Disagree?
Well that sure hurt, and then I ran into the Irishman again.  My stack was a bit over $100 and had Ace-King again, which had been pretty good to me all night.  He raised, I three-bet, he shoved to put me all in.  I accepted his offer.  We didn’t show.  The flop was Jack high, but I liked the turn card, a King.  I also liked the river card, an Ace.  He didn’t show, but he said he had me on the flop, claiming to have Ace-Jack. Frankly, I doubt it.  I think he would have showed that to prove that I sucked out on him.  Whatever, it got me some chips back.
My stack dwindled back down to about $150 when I was, once again, dealt pocket Queens.  In middle position, with a limper or two, I put out $12.  It folded to the guy from Mexico, husband of the woman who had the boat against my nut flush.  He made it $100.  Wow.  That was a bit of an overbet.  I didn’t think he’d bet that big with Aces or Kings.  A lesser pair to my Queens, or maybe a big Ace and he was trying to take it right there.  He had at least $600 in front of him, and he had been fairly aggressive.  Speaking of aggressive, the Irishman called instantly, not giving it any thought at all.
I really thought my Queens were beating both of these guys’ ranges.  So after thinking for just a bit, I went ahead and moved all in.  Of course the other two instantly called.
Now there’s a moment when I’d just really like to see two Queens on the flop and just get the suspense over with, right?  But nope, not only was there not a single Queen, there was a very ugly looking Ace.  The guy from Mexico put out a big bet, and the Irishman folded.  I don’t remember the rest of the board but there was no Queen on it.  I showed my Queens and he flipped over Ace-King for TPTK.

And with that, I was done for the night.
The dreaded pocket Kings had only cost me $16, but damn, did those damn pocket Queens killed me.  It wasn’t the last time on this trip that hand was my Waterloo (see here).
The dreaded pocket Queens.


  1. Hi Rob I have been reading your blog for about a year now. Its very entertaining. I like all your stories especially about the woman who puts all the players on tilt. Rob most of your poker stories do not end well. I mean you sure get sucked out. How are you able to sustain these bad beats. Are you independent wealthy. It seems you lose more often then you win.. Just a little curious. This could also be me. Thanks

    1. Thanks for your concern, ed.

      I was actually having a very good year until the last couple of trips to Vegas. I sure have written about some of the better sessions, but some of the smaller "victories" were just grind it out sessions without any dramatic hands that would make them worthy of blog post. It seems that the bad sessions with the suckouts are the ones that are most blog-worthy. Sorta like why most of the newsreporting covers BAD news.

  2. "I don’t see how I can fold for $125 with the nut flush when the pot was over $460. Disagree?"

    Well, yes, I disagree :-) This is something that took me a while to figure out, the difference between absolute and relative strength. Your absolute strength is the nut flush. On a paired board, after you bet and get a raise and then a call, you are highly unlikely to have "the nuts" and are clearly beat, unless you are playing 2 maniacs or total morons. Your relative hand strength is now basically a bluff catcher :-(

    Look at it this way: The best hand you can beat is a Jack-high flush. If you held a Jack-high flush, on this board and in your opponents position, would you ever raise? If not, why would your opponents?

    Keep the stories coming!

    1. Thanks for the response, Steve, I appreciate it.

      I certainly welcome your contrarian view, that's why I posed the question.

      You know, when I first switch from limit to NLHE, I always backed down in the face of a big bet--I always put the bettor on the best possible hand they could have, even if there was only one hand that could beat me. I'm sure I made some incredible weak laydowns back then.

      I've been trying like hell to overcome that, and I have probably made some bad crying calls to compensate for it. This may have been an instance of that.

      I'm thinking now that the mistake I made was betting out. If I had checked, the lady makes a much small bet, and I haven't put much into the pot. Depending on the size of her bet, and what the other guy does, I can call at a much small risk or fold to her huge bet without having lost much in the hand.

      But that's another problem I'm dealing with. Too many times I don't value bet the river if I have less than the nuts, and I'm costing myself chips. there too. So...

      I know that, relatively speaking, my hand wasn't that strong any more. But I "did the math" and thought that, on a percentage basis, it was probably worth calling there.

      But it was a close call and I know I may have been wrong.

    2. i dont think . u can fold there, dude. the only reason , u fold is bcuz like u said in the blog that she won the hands she her image mayb u could of folded. as far as pocket queens, the only time , i like 4 titties is in my porn

    3. Thanks, anger. In your porn? Or in your face? :)