Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Shoulda Stood in Bed

This one’s for Mickey, I guess.

Mickey is the name I’m giving the guy I blogged about in this post here, the guy who kept asking me if I would show my hand if he folded.  When I wrote that post, I didn’t give him a blog pseudonym, I didn’t know I’d be talking about him again.  Besides, I didn’t know his real name, so if I gave him a fake name, there’s, what…a one in a gazillion chance I could accidentally use his real name as my fake name for him, and then where would I be?

But as I mentioned in this subsequent post here, I ran into “Mickey” at Binion’s again, and he made it clear he had now familiarized himself with my blog.  I asked his name and so I can now safely call him “Mickey” knowing that’s not his real name.  By the way, “Mickey,” if you’re reading this—and I know you are!—I not thinking of Mickey as in the famous cartoon mouse but more along the lines of baseball great Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, one of the things Mickey accused me of when we met up after he had read my blog was that I never wrote about any hands that I admittedly playing badly.  I disputed that.  I think there are plenty of times I’ve questioned my own play here, and also times where I admitted that I misplayed a hand.  And if I had the time, I’d try to find some to link here.  But I’ll never get caught up with all my posts if I do that—they’re not nearly as easy to find as hooker sightings, boobs mentionings, or posts about the dreaded pocket Kings.  So I’ll leave that for some enterprising reader to find, if anyone wants to.

This is about two hands I played badly, very badly.  On the first one, I’d love to get some feedback on how I should have played the hand.  And if you tell me that I should have played it under an assumed name—well, that’s actually pretty appropriate considering all the assumed names I use here.

I think the biggest problem was my mindset going into the session.  This took place on New Year’s Day.  I didn’t to bed until close to 4AM, because, well, New Year’s Day followed New Year’s Eve this year.  And because I didn’t really work on NY’s Eve, I had to work NY’s Day.  Furthermore, I was coming up on the deadline for my next Ante Up column.  I really should have just stayed in my room and worked on my column that night, but no, I wanted to play at least a bit of poker that evening.

I figured I’d try to make a short session.  I was determined not to rebuy if I busted early.  If that happened, I’d just come back and get working on my column.

I think my determination to make it a quick session, and not to buy-in more than once, was my downfall.  You really need to be in the right frame of mind going into a poker session, and I wasn’t. I had just gotten to the table.  I had played maybe two hands, three tops, when I was the big blind and looked down at two red Queens.  Grr….I’d really like to have played a few orbits before getting a hand like that.  I had no clue how anyone at the table played.  I had never seen anyone at the table before.  There was one player I immediately identified as being the player to most watch out for.  He was a very young kid, looked just barely legal to play.  He had the baseball cap and the hoodie (but no ear buds and no shades).  He also had a huge pile of chips in front of him—about $600-$700.  From the get-go I had gotten the impression that this was how he made his living.  I later found out I was right, or at least that’s what he told his neighbors.

But he doesn’t figure into this hand. Before I knew it, the guy on my immediate left, with a stack of a bit less than $100, had raised to $10 UTG and the very next player, had made it $25 UTG+1.  He appeared to have a little bit less than my $200 starting stack, which had only been slightly diminished by the $2 big blind.

It folded to me.  What should I have done?  As far as I could tell, both players in the pot were tourists, no reason to think otherwise.  Neither one was from a certain ethnic group that might stereotypically indicate especially aggressive play (see here).  I later figured out that the three-bettor was European but he hadn’t said a word to this point so I didn’t know that then. Until I have reason to believe otherwise, my default thought is that in a 1/2 game with mostly tourists, a three-bet in early position means AA, KK or AK.  Maybe QQ but, considering my hand, very unlikely.  Pocket Jacks perhaps, but without having seen him play more than a few hands, I put that as not all that likely. 

Folding is way too weak there, right?  Do I four-bet?  Now here’s where my mindset comes into play.  Maybe on another night I do indeed four-bet and see what happens.  But since I wasn’t planning on rebuying, I really didn’t feel like risking my whole stack on just a pair of Queens when I had no clue about how the other two players played.  I mean, I wanted a short session, yes, but I didn’t want it to be three hands and done either.

So I just called.  The original raiser called as well and the three of us saw the flop.  It was all low cards, all red, but not monotone.  Which meant I had an overpair and a backdoor flush draw.

Any advice for me there?  I checked and so did the next guy.  The three-bettor bet $35.  I called thinking—hoping, I guess—that he was just making a c-bet with an Ace-King type of hand.  The other guy folded.

The turn was a blank—not a flush card—and I checked again.  The other guy checked behind me.  Maybe he did have AK and was now giving up on the hand?

The river was an ugly Ace.  I checked with the intention of folding to any significant bet.

The guy hesitated for some time before taking action.  Finally he put out all the chips he had--$36.  You see, the rest of his stack was one single $100 bill.  So he only put out his chips.

Damn, with the size of the pot, I couldn’t resist calling such a relatively small bet.  Maybe he had Jacks?

So I convinced myself there was at least some chance my Queens could be good there and called.  Of course, he flipped over—you guessed it, the dreaded pocket Kings.

Again, any advice, any suggestions, any thoughts on how I should have played that hand would be appreciated.  This includes you, Mickey.

And less than 5 minutes into my session, I was out about half my stack.  I decided to add $100 to my stack.  That’s only half a rebuy, not a full one, right?  I figured the best way to recover was to have enough chips to maneuver with.

Unlike most sessions, I kept getting playable hands.  Hands that didn’t lead anywhere though, just costing me a few chips at a time.

And so I was on the button with Ace-King offsuit.  There were a couple of limpers so I made it $12.  Three players called, including the kid with the baseball cap and the hoodie.  And yes, he still had the big stack.

The flop was Queen-10-x, giving me the gutshot.  I’m not normally betting with just a gutshot, but I do usually make continuation bets.  Although with three other players, that gets a bit dicey.  But that was the advantage of having position.  Everyone checked to me so I thought I should put out some chips and see if I could just take it down.  My bet was $35.  One player called.  It was the kid.  The player I least wanted to call me.

The turn was a blank and this time I checked behind the kid.  I really didn’t consider firing another barrel there.  Perhaps I should have.

The river was another blank.  This time, the kid put out a bet of $35 himself.  By this time my suspicions about the kid had been confirmed.  He was a solid player, not overly aggro.  Just a good, solid player.  I started thinking of how many “levels” I should be thinking about.

Again, it was kind of a small bet for the size of the pot, so it was tempting.  Could my Ace-high possibly be good there?  Well…..he probably put me on a hand similar to what I had.  So if he had a Queen or even a 10, would he have bet?  If he thinks I have Ace-King he would think I wouldn’t be calling his bet.  Why make a bet that will only be called by a hand that beats him? So maybe that’s why I should call his bet?  Or was he value-betting?  What would I call with?  A low to medium pocket pair?

The more I thought about it, the more I could see him betting to steal there.  Of course, Ace-high isn’t much of a bluff-catcher.  And the size of the bet screamed of a value-bet, not a bluff.  But maybe that’s what he wanted me to think?  The last poker book I read talked about making bluffs as small as possible so you lose less money when you get caught.

I finally decided he was a good enough player to try to steal the pot for $35.  Maybe he had King-Jack and had missed his draw too?  So I reluctantly called, hoping to hear him say, “Good call.”

But no, he flipped over his cards and showed King-Queen.  His top pair was good.  I gave him too much credit.

Or, just butchered the hand, same as I did with the Queens at the beginning.

I had played less than an hour and still had some chips left.  I saw no reason to put them in play.  I grabbed some dinner and then returned to work on my column.

I came to play with the wrong mindset and got what I deserved.

As Yogi Berra (a teammate of Mickey Mantle’s) might have said, “I Shoulda Stood in Bed.”


  1. imo. the queens r a shove or fold situation preflop. not alot of hand that beat u preflop. and since the flop was low with no scare cards(king,ace,blah,blah). it got worse. the other hand , i think is ok but not the river call like u said what can u beat. and what no boobie pics.WTF

    1. Thanks, anger. I think in hindsight, being so new to the table and with my "one buy in' mindset, I should have folded the Queens pre. Then, a few hands later, I would have thought, "If you're folding Queens to a $25 bet, you shouldn't be playing poker tonite" and picked up and left.

      Sorry, there's more to life than boobies. Yeah, I really said that.

    2. i know that. there is weed,poker,fantasy sports,mountian dew,taco bell,and crime fiction novels but yr blog isnt about those. LOL. well there is poker

    3. My favorite soft drink is DIET Mountain Dew....does that count?

      You left out deep fried Oreos.

  2. Seems like it's just a cooler, Rob. What could you have done differently? If you 4-bet, is he going to fold kings? Maybe he shoves and you can then get away from the hand? But that's just speculation. Once you call preflop and the flop hits with all unders, you are not going to get him off KK. Nor are you folding to a bet. Same with the turn. So, while the outcome sucks, where could you have played the hand differently?

    1. Thanks, Pete. That was clearly the way I was thinking but I knew there would be other schools of thought (see anger's comment above).