Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The River of Dreams

This post needs to put in context. It was Memorial Day, which meant it took place in the middle of The Vegas Trip From Hell.  And I had spent the entire day dealing with internet connectivity problems that had plagued me from the moment I’d hit town.  I ended up wasting all of the day neither working nor playing poker but moving…across the hall, in an attempt to solve the problem (it didn’t).

The next day I had to be at the Rio at Noon to play in my first ever (and likely last ever) WSOP bracelet event, a nightmare you can find here.

Since I had a big day tomorrow, I knew I wanted to make it an early night.  In fact, if I had had a normal day, I might not have played in the evening.  But the day was so frustrating that I knew I had to get out of the room I’d just moved into and play at least a little poker or I would have gone completely insane. 

In May, the drawings for the cash giveaways were at 2,6, & 10, so I figured I would play until 10 PM and then pretty much call it a night.  Just a few hours in the poker room to get my mind off the horrors I was having trying to get on the internet.

When I got to the poker room, they were just starting a new table which I joined.  There was a player I recognized who plays the starring role in this drama.  Let’s identify him as DDB since I’ve never given him a name before.  Why DDB?  Well, he happens to be the boyfriend of the girl I call “Didi”—she of the 36DD purple bra fame (see here).  He was a regular in the room long before she was.  Unlike Didi, he is a solid player.  And it was a few days earlier that Didi had explained to me that every time she now comes back to town to visit him, she wears him out (see here).  And I don’t think it’s from building shelves (unless that’s what the kids are calling it these days).

Once the game started however, I could tell my mind wasn’t really into the poker.  I had to force myself to concentrate with marginal success.

Early on I had pocket Aces and Ace-King.  I raised with both and took both hands down with flop bets that weren’t called.

Then I had pocket 10’s in the small blind.  It had limped around, and I just completed the blind.  The flop was low, my 10’s were an overpair so I bet around $8 (I think six of us saw the flop).  Two players called.  The turn was an Ace, and I checked.  The player behind me, a woman, bet out $20 and the other player called but I folded.  The river was a blank and she bet out again, not sure how much, and the other guy called.  She turned over pocket Aces for a set.

Huh?  She hadn’t raised preflop with them.  Now this was hardly the kind of table where you could count on someone raising so you could go for the limp/re-raise.  I don’t think that was her plan.  I think she was just a total nit.  I’m kind of surprised she bet on the turn with the set.

Anyway, the very next hand, I had pocket 4’s on the button. Every single player before me limped in.  If I had been concentrating better, I would have realized that this would have been the perfect time to raise with my pocket 4”s and tried to steal all the limpers’ money.  Fortunately, as it turned out, I didn’t think of that.

Neither of the blinds raised and all nine of us saw the flop.  Hence, it was what’s known as a “family pot.”  Does anyone know how that expression came to be?

The flop was good news/bad news.  The good news was that it was Queen-8-4.  The bad news was that it was all spades.  Someone bet $5 and two others (including DDB) called.  What to do, what to do?

Do you just call and hope to get to a showdown cheap with your set that could already be behind a flopped flush?  Or do you bet big, not only to get some value for your set but to charge anyone who has a single spade too much to go for the draw?

I decided to raise. And raise big.  Someone please tell me the right amount to bet because I know I was way off.  I made it $75.  Why so much? I wanted to give bad odds to someone who had a single spade. I had had about $185 when the hand started.

The first two guys in for five bucks folded pronto but DDB took a moment or two and then announced he was all-in.  He had me covered. Back to me.  I had already seen DDB make an unsuccessful bluff a little earlier.  I didn’t put him on a naked bluff, but to me, that move smacked of someone with a single spade, likely the Ace of spades—a semi-bluff.  I didn’t put him on a set because he would have raised with either pocket Queens or pocket 8’s.  I didn’t think he had the flush either, because if he had the nut flush he likely only would have called and if he a weak flush he would have raised the $5 before it got to me.  That was my reasoning, at least.

I thought for a bit.  This is the time you can consider folding a set, right?  When the board is all one suit.  But no, I didn’t fold.  I called.  Having put nearly half my stack in already, I was basically committed to putting the rest in when I made that big raise.

DDB asked me if I had a flush.  I said no and he said, “I’m not folding a flush.”  Really?  He did have a flush?  Damn.  But neither of us showed.

The turn was some meaningless red card.  The river was not so meaningless.  It was another Queen, giving me a boat.  DDB showed 9-2 of spades.  He had indeed flopped the flush.

Suddenly, I had $400 in front of me, a really nice double up.  “Nice river,” I said to the dealer as I gave her a generous tip. Was it really “the river of dreams”?  Well, I suppose there’ve been hands where the river card made me more money, for sure.  But it sure looked sexy at the moment.  

And speaking of sexy, yeah, I know that Christie Brinkley hasn’t been married to Billy Joel for a long time, but she used to be.  And I’d rather see her in a bikini than her ex in one.  But for those of you who think I’m short changing Billy, I’m embedding the video of his classic, “The River of Dreams” at the bottom of this post.  I understand it’s my fellow blogger Pete Peters favorite song.  Or something like that. :)

I have to say, DDB is a good player but I don’t like his play there.  With a weak flush (and honestly, why was he even limping with 9-2?), doesn’t he have to raise the $5?  OK, say he was worried about someone already having a bigger flush?  In that case, with a weak flush like that, shouldn’t he be able to get away from it when I make my overbet?  He’s only in for $7.  True he has a flush, but with a tight player like me having made a big overbet—he had to know he could be drawing dead.

Well, the question he asked the dealer may explain it.  He asked if he wasn’t entitled to a drawing ticket.  Actually, she had forgotten to give either one of us drawing tickets.  I got one for my boat, and he got one for his flush.

Now, here’s how those ticket works. You don’t have to have to have the winning hand to get one, but your hand must be live at showdown to get it.  Which meant that if he had folded to my $75 bet, he wouldn’t have gotten a ticket.  If it had gone to the river, he would have to call a river bet in order to get the ticket.  You can’t get one if you fold to a bet.

So that may have been why he did what he did and why he said, “I’m not folding a flush.”  He wanted a ticket.  This was the end of the month, and I believe they still had a number of big cash prizes left ($2,500, $3,000, something like that). I think the percentages were actually pretty good for scoring more than the minimal $100 prize.  So maybe that’s why he never considered folding his mediocre flush.

That might also explain why he limped in with 9-2.  Because it was sooooted and he was going for the flush to get a ticket.

In that case, he got a ticket to the drawing that cost him nearly $200.  And by the way, neither one of us won the drawing that night.

Later I hit another set, this time with pocket 6’s.  It was a limped pot and I raised someone else’s bet on the flop.  No one called.

Then came the hand that proved why I shouldn’t have been playing this night. My $200 profit had been cut down to around $155. It was near drawing time, and nothing had happened to convince me that I should stay much past it.  I still wanted to make it an early night because of the WSOP event the next day.  I guess I had already mentally checked out and was playing the last few hands before the drawing was going to be held (I just had the one ticket).

As such, I was thinking I really wanted to leave the game up over $100; it would be a real positive for me going into the tournament the next afternoon.  Especially since my mind was not really into it and, let’s face it, I had gotten real lucky on that double up.

So I found myself with pocket Queens in early position.  I raised to $10.  Honestly, I really did consider limping there, if not folding.  But no, I made the obligatory raise.

Three people called the ten bucks.  The flop was Jack-high, rainbow. I put out $30.  The first guy folded, but the last guys—the blinds—both called after checking the flop.  Grrrr.

The turn was a second club but otherwise innocuous.  When they checked—I checked behind them. Sigh.  Yeah, I just felt like I didn’t want to risk a lot more money on just an overpair. I figured I would have had to have bet $100 there and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  If I wasn’t about to leave, if I wasn’t thinking about the tournament the next day, I would have bet.  As I said, my mind wasn’t in the right place to keep playing, so I went into super-nit mode.

The river was a third club, if that mattered.  I also noticed there was a ugly looking straight possible, though unlikely.  This time the first guy led out for $75.  The next guy folded and I tanked. 

Instead of doing the math, instead of using everything I’ve learned since I first started playing NL, I went back to the first thing I learned when I started playing NL…..don’t lose too much on just a top pair or overpair hand.  And I was thinking how much it would mess with me mentally to leave up just a few bucks after a quick session where I was once up two bills. 

So, as embarrassed as I am to admit it (and the whole way I played this hand, honestly), I folded.  I would have felt ok if the guy who took it flipped over two clubs for a back door flush (he would have showed to get a drawing ticket.)  But no, he didn’t do that.  He didn’t show, but he whispered to the fellow next to him (the other guy who was in the hand until the river),  “He made a mistake, he didn’t bet the turn.  I had Ace-King.” Of course I had the misfortune of overhearing that.  So yeah, I should have bet the turn or called him on the river.  I think that made me feel worse than if I had lost my stack with the damn Queens.

A few minutes later, they had the drawing and didn’t call my name. I got the hell out of there before I could do any more damage to my psyche or my wallet.

It was an early night, but not early enough.  So I tried real hard to focus on the sweet river against Didi’s boyfriend, and not on the wussy way I played those dreaded pocket Queens.


  1. Hi Rob I do not think ddb play was as suspect as much as you do. Look unless you also had a higher flush he had a made hand. It always comes down to a flip if you have trips. I actually do not mind pushing all in with the best hand. You hit a two outer to make a full house to win. If you had A high spade then you still are behind. You got lucky and won. That's poker.

    1. Thanks, Ed. You make a good point. I will say, however, that I have folded flushes myself when I thought it very possible or likely someone had a bigger flush.

      Oh, and I hit a 10-outer, not a 2-outer to make my boat (3-queens, 3-eights, 3 of whatever the turn card was and the case 4.)

  2. Replies
    1. do u play on juicy stakes/america's cardroom/betcoinpoker bcuz lot of freeroll. also do u eat spam??

    2. No....and no.

      So what, no comment on the Christie Brinkley pic? Too old school for you? Not enough cleavage?

    3. LOL. oh no . i love the cougars,sir. BUT not alot of cleavage. LOL. she was smoking hot in national lampoon vacation,thou.