Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Call

If one were to engage in strictly results-oriented thinking, this would be a post about a brilliant call I made at the Bike this past weekend. But if we think about making the “right” call—regardless of the actual outcome—it might just be a post about a really bad play that I was a fool for making.  I’ll let the reader decide.

Yes, I was at the Bike, in elegant Bell Gardens, CA, playing my usual $2/$3 game with my usual $300 buy-in. For the first hour or so, I was ridiculously card dead.  My first hand, in the big blind, I had pocket 3’s.  I called a raised, saw a flop with all paint cards and folded to a bet.  That was my last pocket pair for that hour.

I got a few hands to call raises with, but never was first in to raise first myself and certainly didn’t have a hand to three-bet with during this time. Never connected with a flop.  I was down about $40-$50 when I finally had a chance to raise.

The hand was King-Queen of spades in the small blind.  After a few limpers, I raised to $17.  Only one player called.  This guy had aggressively played a pair of pocket 5’s when I had first sat down.  He called a raised, then led out in front of the raiser on a 7-8-8 board.  He bet again on a 6 turn and shoved on a 9 river.  He caught the bottom end of the straight on the river but bet the whole way like he had a big hand.  He cracked the preflop raiser’s Aces.  I’m thinking the guy with Aces should have raised the other guy’s flop bet.

The flop was King-Queen-10, rainbow.  I suppose I should have slow played it, but I thought the guy would call a smallish bet, so I bet $20.  He tanked and folded. 

The very next hand, on the button, I got my second pocket pair of the day, Queens.  Again, a few people limped, I made it $17 and no one called.  And so ended my rush for awhile.

I raised with Ace-4 suited (as per Ed Miller’s starting hands) and didn’t get a call.  Then I had suited King-Queen again, this time clubs.  I was under-the-gun and made it $10.  It folded to the guy in seat 5 who made it $30.  This guy was fairly aggro.  He often (but not always) straddled (only UTG is allowed here at the Bike). He had a shaved head, so let’s call him Shaved Head.

It folded back to me and I called.  This is in keeping with the Ed Miller strategy (see here).  If I was on my own, I likely would have folded.  Come to think of it, if I was on my own, I would probably not have raised under-the-gun with that hand.

Heads up, the flop was all red, two 9’s and a 7.  Shaved Head bet $60.  Ed would have me call there, but I folded.  With just overcards, nothing else, and knowing that I could hit one of my cards and still be behind, I couldn’t do it.  Of course, the real reason to call is to try to steal the pot on the turn, but being out of position, I gave up.  But I didn’t forget about the hand.

Then I got my third pocket pair of the session: my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  First in, I raised to $13.  The guy who cracked the Aces with his pocket 5’s shoved for a total of $25 (his luck hadn’t lasted, obviously).  It folded to Shaved Head, who asked the dealer if I could raise if he called.  The answer was of course yes.  I had raised the blind $10, and the guy who went all-in had raised another $12, so yes, I could reraise.  Shaved Head thought about it and folded.  Note: this would have been a pretty good angle to have played if he had Aces, right?  Look afraid of a reraise by asking that question.  I go ahead and reraise and then he comes back over the top.  I’ll have to try to remember that.

But he was out of the pot and I put in $12 to see the flop.  The guy said he needed some luck and showed one card only…a King.  He didn’t show the other card.  The flop had two hearts and was Jack high.  But the King he had shown was black.  Another Jack hit the turn.  A blank hit the river.  He showed his other card.  Of course, it was a Jack.  I had had my Kings cracked by King-Jack.  Again.  However, I haven’t yet blogged about a similar hand I had in Vegas last month, so consider this foreshadowing.  At least this time it only cost me $25.

I raised to $11 with King-Queen of clubs (King-Queen being my favorite hand of the day) and had three callers.  The flop was Queen-high, rainbow.  I bet $30 and had one caller.  It looked like he was thinking of raising, but he just called. The turn was a blank and I bet $75.  He called again. The $75 was more than half his stack.  I put him all in on a blank river.  He called and showed King-Queen for a chopped pot.

I had pocket 10’s and the guy to my right bet $23.  Now there was a straddle which might have explained the big bet.  I called, as did two others (hey, this is the Bike). The flop was Ace-high and no one bet it.  When the preflop raiser checked again on the turn, I knew I should bet.  But I didn’t.  I choked.  Everyone else checked.  How about betting the river when the preflop raiser checked again?  I should have done that and gagged again.  I guess I was thinking my 10’s might be good.  No one bet and the preflop raiser showed pocket Kings!  Really?  He didn’t bet?  Did I mention this fellow was Asian?  Never bet after the flop.  I said to him, “I guess you were scared of that Ace, huh?”  He said that with three callers he assumed one of us had an Ace.  Hmm….I wonder if he would have called a bet if I had put out some chips?  I think he probably would have made the crying call, but it definitely would have been the right move for me to bet.

Very next hand, with Ace-7 of diamonds, I raised to $12.  There were four callers.  The flop was Queen-Queen-x, two diamonds.  It checked to me and I bet $35.  No one called.

Now, there were a lot of hands that cost me some chips, never a lot of chips on any one hand, but enough small loses to offset all the wins I’ve mentioned so far and then some.  It was getting to be near the end of my session, near time to wrap it.  I was down to about $210-$220.

Under-the-gun, I got pocket 10’s again.  I raised to $10.  Although I don’t usually do this, I actually said, “Raise” as I put out my two yellow chips (the $5 chips at the Bike are yellow, not red).  Not sure why I did this, if I put out two chips totalling $10 and don’t say anything, it’s obviously a raise.  Anyway, I was sitting right next to the dealer and I thought I heard him say “Eighty!”  I was confused….was someone wanting to buy $80 worth of chips?  Then I saw a guy calling me by putting out one $5 chip and three $1 chips.  Apparently the dealer thought I had said “Eight” instead of “Raise.”  So he had said “Eight” indicating my raise was to 8, not 10, which of course was incorrect.  I corrected him and told him I said “Raise” and he corrected himself.  The caller put out two more bucks.  I commented that I thought I heard him say “Eighty” and assumed it was someone buying chips.  A lady at the table said she thought she heard him say “Eighty” as well.

Well, that was all corrected and it folded to Shaved Head—remember him?  Once again, he three-bet me.  This time he put out two stacks of 4 yellow chips each.  The dealer said, “That’s half of eighty.” It folded to me. 

While I was thinking, I joked, “Half of eighty, huh?  I can do that in my head…..that’s forty, right?  That’s pretty good, huh?”

He chuckled as I considered my action.  Pretty standard Ed Miller strategy to call the three-bet there.  Then I looked at his stack.  After he put out the $40, he had around $80 left, give-or-take.  Shaved Head had three-bet before and I didn’t see what he had.  I considered just shoving to see how much he liked his hand.  He hadn’t three-bet a lot, but enough to make me feel like his range was a lot wider than AA, KK & AK.  And as I said, it was the second time he had three-bet me.

Now the thing with the Ed Miller strategy that I’m kind of ignoring is that he is assuming deep stacks.  And that wasn’t the case here.  The other guy in the hand had at least as much as me but I didn’t assume he would call the $40.  So it was probably a really bad call there, but I made it anyway.  The other guy folded.

The flop was King-8-4, rainbow.  I checked, and Shaved Head instantly put out all his chips.  Now, at the Bike, unlike a lot of places in Vegas, they let you keep racks on the table and even let you bet out of the racks, you don’t have to have a stack out to bet with.  He had all his chips in the rack, so he just put the entire rack out in front of him.  I asked for a count.  It was $77.  “So, $77 to call?  Plus the rack?.  But I don’t have a rack.”  The guy next to me grabbed a rack off a drink tray between us and said, “Here, you can use this.” 

I tanked for a good while.  There was something about the way the guy bet instantly, as if he was going to do that no matter what, that made me quite suspicions. I just picked up a vibe that he was c-betting with nothing.  Yes, I thought, a very likely hand for him there was Ace-King.  I knew that.  But I wondered if he would shove with Aces, and I certainly didn’t think he’d shove with a set of Kings; he’d play that slower.  Would he have shoved with Queens or Jacks?  Yeah, maybe.  But the King might have slowed him up in that case. 

I thought some more.  And I did some math.  The pot, with his bet in it, was about $160 (there’s a big rake).  I was getting 2-to-1 for my call.  Which wasn’t very good if he already had me beat.  But…..I had put about 1/3 of my effective stack (against him) in there, making it very tempting to call. It seemed like maybe I should call.  And I figured his range included AQ, AJ, maybe even AT and hands like QJ, J10.

And then I thought, well, if I call and lose, I will call it a day, and I’ll have lost about $200 for the day.  If I fold, and keep my current stack, I’ll be out $120.  In the greater scheme of things, does that $80 make that big a difference?  Plus, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my 10’s were good.

So I did it.  I made the call (which is the call I’m referring to in the title of this post).  I called the $77.  We didn’t show as two blanks hit the board.  He flipped over Ace-Jack.  He had missed, as I suspected.  I flipped over my 10’s, heard a bunch of players say, “Good call” and started stacking my chips. In fact, the dealer gave me Shaved Head's chips still in the rack, so I got the rack too.

I was ahead for the first time all day.  I played one or two more orbits, didn’t get anything playable, and left up around $85.

Because, rightly or wrongly, I had made “the call.”


  1. Yellow chips for the $5 denomination? Let me guess... the $1 chips were green?

  2. Be careful Rob, there is a famous poker player from Vegas in CA! And according to Koala, he drives most people crazy. The excuse could be his mental illness or just stupidity.

    1. Thanks, Xdex7, I already heard this news. In fact, I'll have more to say about said poker player in my very next post--per your request.