Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dodging Bullets with Pocket Kings

Not every hand where I’m dealt the dreaded pocket Kings ends in disaster.  Sometimes, no one calls my preflop raise when I have them. And then, there’s this time…..

There was a couple with Eastern European accents at the table.  I think they might have been Russian.  That was my guess anyway.  The wife was only a little bit of an aggro, but the husband was basically a maniac.  He was very aggressive, so I’ll name him after another aggressive Russian and call him “Putin.”  His raise to limp ratio was about 90% to 10%.  And he didn’t fold very many hands preflop.  He also straddled every chance he got.

Against a guy like this, I’ve learned you have to call some of the raises with questionable hands.  So in the big blind, when he raised to $10 and three other people called, I called with 10-6 soooted.  The flop was Ace-Ace-6 and no one bet, not even Putin.  Another 6 on the turn gave me a boat and no one called my bet.

I think Putin was away from the table when a very tight player raised to $12.  I had Ace-King hearts and just called.  If it had been Putin that had raised, I would have three-bet, but not this nit.  The flop was A-10-X, all clubs.  He bet $22.  I decided to call and see one more card.  I thought a pair of Aces might be good.

The turn card was another club and we both checked.  The river card was yet another club and we both checked.  He turned over pocket 10’s for a set of 10’s.  Well, on the flop he had a set of 10’s.  Now he had a flush, same as me.  We of course chopped up the pot, it was kind of funny.  And bad luck for him to be sure.

I had another hand against this same player.  I raised to $8 with pocket Aces, he made it $27.  I made it $70.  He tanked for a long time and then folded.

Then I had Ace-9 offsuit.  I raised to $8 in middle position.  Another player called and then Putin made it $32.

Hmm, he was aggressive, but I hadn’t seen him 3-bet a lot.  In fact, he was capable of folding preflop to a raise, which was one of the reasons I raised with such a marginal hand.

I had to assume that this time, Putin might actually have a hand.  I assumed he had A-Q, A-K or a pair of 10’s or better.  I saw no point in calling and risking my stack.  If I caught an Ace, I could easily be outkicked, and if I called and the other guy called, we’d be playing for stacks.  I folded.
But the other guy called.

The flop was King-King-x.  Both players checked.  The turn was an Ace and the first player shoved.  Putin called in a nano-second.  He had the bigger stack: the other guy shoved with about $150, if memory serves.  Blank on the turn and the other guy turned over Ace-Queen.  Putin only had pocket Kings, for flopped quads.

Even maniacs—even Russian aggros—get monsters occasionally.  The guy next to me, who had watched the whole hand play out, couldn’t believe it.  He kept saying, “Why do you shove there when only one King beats you?  He didn’t have to do that.  Why did he do that?”

I didn’t want to say anything in front of Putin, but I knew the answer.  They guy had seen Putin being super aggro all night and figured he might be weak there.  But he failed to realize that he wasn’t 3-betting with garbage, in fact he rarely 3-bet.  A lot of his range there had Kings in it.  Still, I could understand his thinking to some degree.

The guy who was bewildered was new to the table and hadn’t seen Putin being a maniac for a long enough time for him to understand.

Now, that hand is not what the title of this blog post refers to.  I’m getting to that now.

Not long after this hand, I found myself with pocket Kings myself.  A guy raised to $10 in front of me and Putin called.  I made it $40 and both the original raiser and Putin called.  The flop was Queen-8-2, two spades.  My Kings were both red.

I had started the hand with around $160, so the pot and my stack were about the same.  Since I got the flop I wanted (well, I would have preferred the flop Putin had gotten when he had pocket Kings), I was prepared to shove.  But the original raiser was first to act, and he put out $50.  Putin folded.  I shoved without hesitation, and the other guy snap-called (he had me covered).

A 10 hit the turn (it was not a spade).  Another non-spade hit the river (no pair).  I showed my Kings.  He showed Ace-Jack of spades.  Phew.  He flopped the nut flush draw and turned a gutshot for good measure.  Of course, I had two of the Kings he needed to complete Broadway.

Brent was dealing and he said, “Wow, Robert, you dodged a lot of bullets!  He had a great draw there.”  He did indeed.  In fact, Brent mistakenly declared that I was actually the underdog on the flop, but that wasn’t the case.  But it was close.  Pretty amazing to me that I had such a good chance of being outdrawn with my jinx hand and the guy missed.

I was now up around $160 to the good.  But I kept playing and that wasn’t a good thing.  My stack bobbled up and down for a while and then took a pretty big hit.  I had “big lick” (6-9) in the big blind and the flop was 6-7-8, two diamonds.  I didn’t write down the details, sorry.  I was too pissed afterwards.  But I called a bet on the flop, then bet out on the turn when a 5 came.  Then I called a bet on the river when a third diamond hit.  Ugh.  I was in third place.  One guy had flopped the nut straight with 10-9, and the guy who won the hand—Putin I believe—caught his flush on the river.

So I ended up leaving just a tiny bit ahead, despite the big hand with Kings.  Sometimes, it’s not the dreaded pocket Kings that get me. There are a lot of ways to lose in this damn game.

I best explain the picture I’m using for this post.  Since I named a character “Putin”, the most obvious thing would be to use a picture of the actual dictator of Russia, Putin himself.  But screw that.  I’d rather post a picture of a much better looking Russian—famed tennis player Maria Sharapova.  That’s close enough, right?  I mean, what would you rather see, a picture of Putin with his shirt off, or a picture of Maria with her shirt off?

Sadly, there are no known pictures of Maria with her shirt off. But she's not actually wearing a shirt in this pic, so it will have to do.


  1. sweet post SWEETER PIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! did ask em their nationality or just assume they were russians????????

    1. Thanks, anger.

      No, I never asked. I just assumed. If I'm wrong, they'll never know But this way I had a good excuse to run that Sharapova pic.

  2. Entertaining post, Rob. I like Sharapova a lot, but wouldn't have argued if you had decided to also include a picture of Anna Kournikova in her prime.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. Yes, I did consider Anna, definitely a hottie. But I went with Maria since she's still playing tennis, has actually won major tennis tournaments and....is hotter, in my humble opinion.

  3. PPP says to tell u hed much rather see a picture of Putin with his shirt off