Thursday, March 13, 2014

You Don't Get Enough Practice Playing Monsters

Quads everywhere.  How many times can you see quads in one night?  In my case, one time too many.

This is about a very good session from early November.  It was almost a fantastic session, but then poker happened.

Soon after I got into the game, a woman at our table was selected as the 6PM drawing winner.  I’m going to call this woman Faith because, as far as I know, that’s her real name.  She’s unlikely to ever appear in another blog post of mine again, so why bother with a pseudonym, especially since she didn’t do or say anything salacious dammit.  The biggest prize in that month’s drawing was $3,000 and damn if she didn’t draw one of the envelopes containing $3,000.

Now as it turned out she was booked on a 9:45PM flight for her home in South Carolina.  That didn’t stop her from earning more drawing tickets, which she declined to take since she wouldn’t be around for the 10PM drawing.  Faith told us that just a few days earlier, on Halloween, she was picked for the second to the last drawing of the month.  There were two envelopes left, one for $2,500 and one for $100.  She picked the one worth $2,500.  She cashed out that night, went to play penny slots, and hit an $800 jackpot.  To say she was running good would be a serious understatement.

I was doing so-so and then this hand happened. The player directly to my left was James, who is a daytime dealer.  He must surely recognize me as a regular, but probably doesn’t know me by name.  After I limped in with Queen-Jack in the cut-off seat, James, made it $7 from the big blind.  By the time it got back to me, four players had already called his bet so it was pretty easy for me to call as well.  The flop was Ace-Queen-Jack, two hearts (I was heartless, as usual).   I called a $12 bet.  Why didn’t I raise with my two pair?  I’m not sure.  I must have been concerned that someone already had the straight, and I didn’t think I’d be able to protect my hand anyway on such a draw-heavy board.  Two other players called as well.

But when a harmless 5 of diamonds hit the turn and it was checked to me, I bet out $70, which was about half of my stack.  Only James called.  Then a 9 of clubs hit the river and I decided to check.  I didn’t think James would call my bet unless he had me beat.  But if I checked, I thought he might bet a hand that was worse than mine (or better, in which case I was screwed).  And indeed, he bet enough to put me all in, and I called.  He showed Ace-King of hearts.  He not only had top pair, top kicker, but a guy-shot to a Royal Flush!  Lucky for me, he missed.  That was a nice pot.

Then came a great hand that I messed up big time, and inspired the title of this post.  I had 10-4 in the big blind.  No one raised, so I saw the flop for free.  The flop was 10-10-2.  I checked, deciding to slow play it.  The guy two seats to my right bet $10 and I just called.  The turn was a total blank and I checked again.  It was just the two of us and the guy bet $20 and I just called.  I know I should have raised there and that was clearly a bad play on my part.  But not as bad as my next move.

I suppose I was somewhat concerned that the other guy might have a 10 with a better kicker. But that worry left me when the case 10 hit the river.  Then my concern became, “I have to get something for this.”  I figured that since he obviously didn’t have a 10, he wouldn’t bet.  I dunno where I came up with that, it was not very smart.  He could have bet a full house easily.  But for some reason, I bet.  And I bet only $10, thinking that would be small enough for him to call with anything.  But he must have had nothing, because he folded.  I showed my quads so I could get a ticket to the next drawing.  Note, if he had a boat, he likely would have called the $10 just to show it and get a ticket himself.

He saw my quads and asked why I bet.  I really didn’t have a good answer.  “I don’t know, I guess I wanted to get something for it.  You know, I panicked.  You don’t get a lot of practice playing monsters.”

Then I asked him if he would have bet if I had checked and he said yes.  Shit.  I would have min-raised and he would have folded but I would have gotten more for my quads than I did.

I kept thinking about what I said.  You really don’t get much practice playing monsters.  They come along so rarely.  I actually remember reading something like that from one of the first poker books I read.  I think it actually said not to worry too much about playing monsters because you just don’t get them very often and you can’t really screw them up too much.

Except I did.  Of course, that book was a book on limit poker, so yeah, you wouldn’t cost yourself that much by playing it badly. 

I stopped worrying about it after awhile because I figured it would be a long time before I had another monster hand.

Heh heh.

Awhile later, I got pocket 6’s, limped in, missed on the flop and folded to a bet.  The very next hand I got pocket 4’s. I limped in again.  This flop hit me a little better than the previous one.  It was King-4-4.  Quads again?  Ho hum.

Guess who led out on the flop?  Right, the same guy I had the quad 10’s against.  At least this time I had position on him so it made it harder to screw up.  I called his $10 bet but no one else did.  I don’t remember the turn card but he bet $20 and again, I called.  After a meaningless river card, he put a $100 bill over the betting line and said, “make it $50.”

Bless you, sir.

I tried to act a little hesitant, without overdoing the Hollywooding.  But eventually I put a stack of $100 out.

He announced “Call.”  He didn’t show his hand, but I’m pretty sure all the color drained from his face when he saw my quads.  This was not just the second time he’d lost to quads in less than an hour.  It was the second time he’d lost to quads to the same guy in less than hour.

I’ve had some bad runs, but I don’t think I’ve ever lost to quads twice in one session.  And certainly not to the same guy!

Yikes.  He busted out a little while later and didn’t rebuy.  He muttered something about it not being his night.  Ya think?

Then I won a bunch of smallish pots.  Pocket 10’s, Ace-Jack, Ace-Ace, I raised with all of them and took down the pots with c-bets.  I limped with pocket deuces and hit my set.  I bet $15 on the flop had one caller.  The guy led out on the turn, $15.  I made it $45 and he called.  He checked the river, I bet $50 he called and mucked when he saw my set.

I limp/called $6 with 9-8.  Six of us saw the Queen-9-8 flop.  I bet $30, only one called.  Blank on the turn, I bet $50, he made it $100.  I called.  Another blank on the river, we both checked.  All he had was a Queen, another nice pot. 

Yeah, I was having a very good night.  I had over $700 in front of me, over $500 in profit.

And I debated what to do.  Should I call it an early night and book a $500 plus night?  Or should I keep playing and try to build on it even at the risk of losing some—or all—of it back?

It was about a year earlier that I had written a post about playing scared and trying to “book the win.”  You can read that post here. Sadly, to this day I have a tendency to play too timidly when I’m up big for the night.  But I’m fighting it.  On this night, I decided to stick around, this is an area of my game I have to keep working on.  So I played on and made sure I monitored myself for signs of playing “scared.”

I had Ace-Jack of diamonds and called a raise to $7 in late position.  I don’t know whether I called just to prove to myself thatI wasn’t playing scared or if I was trying to get a flush for another drawing ticket.  James flat-called behind me.  The flop was Ace-King-5.  Preflop raiser checked and I bet $20.  James called and the other guy folded.  Another King hit the turn and this time I checked.  James bet $30 and I called.  The river was a blank and I checked, hoping James would check behind me.

But no, he bet $50.  I thought long and hard.  Did he have a King?  Did he have an Ace with a better kicker?  A lucky two pair? He hadn’t three-bet preflop so it was hard to put him on Ace-King.

I thought, for the size of the pot, there was a decent enough chance that he might have had a lesser Ace than mine, enough of a chance to make calling the right choice.  Besides, I thought, if I fold, doesn’t that prove I’m playing scared to protect the win?

Ugh.  He didn’t just have one King.  No, he had two.  He had the dreaded pocket Kings and they were quite dreaded for me.   I was totally shocked.  I couldn’t believe he didn’t three-bet with them preflop.  That’s a very dangerous play in my opinion, but it clearly paid off for him.

So that was the third time I’d seen quads at that session.  A bit unusual, to say the least.  I liked the first two times a lot more.

Well that cost me a bit over $100.

With Ace-Queen I called a $7 raise and four of us saw a Queen high flop, two hearts, one spade.  I led out with $20 and everyone called.  The turn was the second spade.  The guy to my right bet this time, $35.  I called.  I’ve seen so many times people betting like that with top pair and a mediocre kicker, I felt it was worth calling.  Only one player also called—the preflop raiser.

A third spade hit the river.  The guy to my right bet $70.  I don’t know why, but I still thought my TPTK might have been good.  I called.  I expected the preflop raiser to fold, but no, he made it $200!

The guy to my right folded, as did I.  Now I finally was convinced my Queen was no good.  The guy who bet the $200 showed his hand, which was Ace-9 of spades!  He had gone runner-runner flush.  Why he called the flop bet is beyond me.  But my stack had taken another big hit.

I limp/called $7 with Queen-Jack of clubs, late position.  Flop was Ace-10-2, one club.  Preflop raiser bet $20 and the next guy went all in for $24. The guy to my right called.  At that point, I thought it was worth calling with my gut-shot (and back door flush draw) for the size of the pot. The turn was a blank and this time, everyone checked.  The river was the King of hearts, giving me the nuts.  I bet $50 and no one called.  Still, it was a nice pot.

I had been down under $300 before that hand, but after, I was back to plus $350.  I figured it was a good time to book the win.  I didn’t think I had played too scared when I was up over $500, but I couldn’t dismiss the possibility that I had actually made some bad calls just trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t playing scared, and that’s not good either.

So, $350 isn’t as good as $500, but I’ll take a +$350 night every time, thank you.


  1. Damn you, Rob. I was planning on taking it easy this weekend. But, this post now has me wanted to find a cash game Tomorrow!

    1. Heh.heh. Be sure to let me know what room you visit, I want to make sure they pay me my commission.

    2. You should Pete - you don't get out enough... #ugghhh

      Rob, do you ever lose anymore? B-)

    3. Lose? Losing is for....umm....LOSERS.

      Obviously I have more fun posting about winning sessions, but I post about the bad ones when there's either something else of interest at the table, or there's a lesson to be learned.

      Pretty sure there's some losing sessions in the pipeline.

  2. Nice session sir.
    I actually lost to quads twice to the same person within 30 minutes of sitting down at the MGM at about 6 am once.
    Both times he had quad queens.
    I pretty much wanted to hang myself

    1. Was this when they still had the lions? Because if it was, I'm impressed you didn't feed yourself to them.

  3. Quads are a gift from the poker gods. Once in an online cash session I noticed that 8's seemed to be running wild. I made an ultra-loose call because I had an 8. The flop was 8-8-rag. Turn was an 8. Felted a guy with a boat. Nasty chat comments soon appeared.

    1. nasty chat comments online? nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    2. @Lightning, Great story. Felt good, right?

      @anger....yeah that was probably the first time ever, right?

  4. personally i like the bet on the river with quad 10s. u cant take the chance that he is going to bluff on the river.

    1. Thanks, anger. I think the problem was the bet was so small it was just suspicious. I suppose an argument could be made for making a really big bet there, making it look like I was trying to steal the pot. If he had anything at all, he might have been real tempted to call and catch my "bluff."

  5. does planet hollywood have apoker room. i just saww NIN and soundgarden r playing there in july

    1. Yes, Planet Ho has a poker room, an action packed poker room. The first few Mega Beats hit there last year. I've played there and mentioned it a number of times.

      I guess my best post from that venue would be the one below: