Sunday, April 26, 2015

Here's a Leak I Need to Fix

So in my previous post, here, I mentioned that I wanted to save the last significant hand of the session for a separate post.  As noted, I was down to about $200 from my $300 buy-in at the Bike.  And it was about time for me to leave.  All the cool people had already left the game (except for me, of course).  And it was that time, anyway.  I was playing my last orbit.

And thus, I got in trouble.  Whenever I’m near the end of session, whenever I’m down to that last orbit or two, I find myself playing hands differently than I normally would.  There have been times when that has worked out real well.  But usually it just blows up in my face.

Let me be clear what I mean. I’m not talking about making adjustments for table conditions and reads.  You always should be doing that.  You play a hand differently if you’re at a table full of maniacs than if you’re at a super nitty table where no one has raised preflop since the Truman administration. 

I mean that, if I’m at the tail end of a session, I might play a hand completely differently than I would at the exact same table with the same players early in my session.  I’m surely not the only person who does that. We’ve all seen players who get down to a short stack, know that they are done if they lose it, and then shove with marginal hands hoping for a double up but prepared to call it a day if they get called and lose.  I talked here about the player who didn’t want to cash out his few chips and shoved blind every single hand because he had tickets for a show.  That’s an extreme example, of course.

So I had a decent stack, even if I was stuck $100, and was perfectly willing to cash that out, take the $100 lose, and go on with life if I didn’t get a hand or a situation to exploit.

But I let the fact that I was on my last orbit affect my play.

I was in middle position with Ace-9 of spades.  These days, I almost always raise with a suited Ace.  And I absolutely should have here.  But I just limped in.  I had been raising with hands like that all day. I guess I was thinking I didn’t want to bring my stack under $200 unless I had a good hand or a good draw on the flop. Dumb.

Five or six of us saw the flop.  It was Jack high, two spades.  Someone bet $10, another guy called, and I called.  I suppose I could have raised, but honestly, I rarely raise with my draws in cash games, although I should definitely consider doing it more often.  There were now three of us left.

The turn was a non-spade 9.  The guy who had bet the flop checked, but the next guy bet $45. 

I wanted to fold.  I knew that was too high a price to pay to hit my flush with just one card to come.  Even if the other guy called.  But that 9 was so inviting.  I figured that gave me some more outs.  Two 9’s were likely outs.  Three Aces were likely outs. That’s assuming the guy who bet didn’t have a set.  And of course, I had all those flush outs. 

But I knew that even if I did have all those outs, I still wasn’t getting the right odds.  The guy who bet $45 had about $80 left so the implied odds weren’t good, either. This guy was middle-aged, or older, fairly new to the table and hadn’t played too many hands.  I couldn’t count on him paying me off if I hit my flush.  The other guy had more chips than me but I didn’t think he’d call.

But I called.  Last orbit, a chance to win a big pot, end the day ahead if I made my hand.

The other player folded.  The river was another 9.  So now I had trips.  Was that good?  My opponent went all in, I asked for a count, it was $83.

I couldn’t not call there, could I?  Trip 9’s with top kicker?  Of course I feared that the 9 had given him a boat. I had been thinking another 9 would be an out, but of course his shove gave me pause. But I called and said, “You have a boat?”

He didn’t say anything.  He just turned over Jack-9 for the full house.  That 9 was really the worst card I could have seen.  Any blank saves me $83.  Aces would have been good, or any spade. 

I stayed a few hands longer, and didn’t get a hand worth risking my remaining $70 or so.  I had a lot of time to think about that hand on the way home, as the freeway entrance right by the Bike was conveniently closed.  It took me almost as long just to get to the next nearest entrance as it would ordinarily take to get home.

I thought about all the mistakes I made on the hand.  Should have raised preflop.  Maybe that gets Jack-9 offsuit to fold?  Not sure, I’ve seen calls with that hand (and worse) many times.  I mean really, he shouldn’t even have limped in with it.  The call on the flop was ok, though I really should work raising with my draws more into my repertoire.

But the turn was the mistake.  Even with the 9, even if I was somehow sure another 9 would be good for me, it was a bad call.  And I know why I did that.  I know if this exact same hand had occurred earlier in a session, when I wasn’t just a few hands from calling it a day, I would have folded.  A bad call there and a miss would have led to me reaching into my wallet for more money to get more chips.  Of course, I would have had no problem risking my chips and having to rebuy if I was getting the right price, even if I wasn’t ready to leave.

But as I was ready to leave anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to dip into my wallet if I missed.  There was nothing that could happen to get me to touch any part of the second buy-in I had with me.  If I lost there, I was done, and I didn’t have to worry about losing anything beyond what I had in front of me.

And that’s what made it easier to make the bad call.  It was strictly gamble gamble, with bad odds.  So it cost me $140, basically because I knew I wasn’t going to rebuy.

Is that a good enough reason to play the hand the way I did? Because I was leaving in a few minutes?  As I said, we see people do that all the time.  Sometimes it pays off.  But then, if you call enough times with 7-deuce you’ll eventually flop a boat.  Or even quads.  But you’ll lose a lot of money trying for that.  It’s not an +EV play.

So I think I should work on fixing that leak.  That $140 didn’t prevent me from having dinner that night, or paying my bills.  But it looks real crappy on my log.


  1. Rob Send the girl over to fix my leaks anytime. If you added up all the times we have gambled on the last round it would be a fortune. Its just hard to stay disciplined all the time. Hey he had to have a boat to win that hand.

    1. If I find her, I've got a LOT of leaks for her to work on first, Ed!

      Thanks for your thoughts, true he needed a boat, but he was of course ahead the whole time.

  2. She's never going to fix any leaks!
    1. She doesn't have any tools
    B. Cranking on a pipe like that will do nothing!

    1. ! and B, huh? Why not A and 2?

      So she's never going to fix my leaks, huh. Instead she's just gonna be at my house all day, twisting that pipe, all day, looking like that?

      I fail to see a problem.

  3. Depends on the pipe....

    Do you think you play this the same way if you are sitting in the exact same situation UP $100 instead of DOWN $100? I have a tendency to, at the end of a session tighten up to try to protect winnings when up, or loosen up and try to get even when down... both are leaks I need to work on... it's very TBC of me, I know...

    1. Great question, Greg. If I'm up $100 and planning on leaving very soon, I probably don't even play the hand.

      But I'm sorta like you...about protecting my winnings. I can't break that tendency. I know I play much better if I'm down for the session than if I'm up. No doubt about it.

    2. When you were describing the guy playing scared with the huge stack, I was thinking "Was that me?" (I wouldn't have asked about taking money off) This is why I try to break my sessions into two separate casinos. Start at Caesar's, play 4 hours or so, if I get up over $500 bow out as soon as it won't look like a hit and run. Then walk down to MGM and continue. I think a walk that long helps me mentally reset. There is so much craziness to look at between those two casinos, you can't focus on poker. Plus, I usually time it to get to MGM at 8, so I get in a full four on the midnight drawing.

      When I had a larger bankroll, none of this was ever a problem.

    3. We must have been at the MGM at the same time many, many times....that's pretty much the time frame I'm there.

      I like your strategy, certainly very doable in a place like Vegas where there are so many places to play in close proximity. But I have to say....that's a pretty long walk from Caesars to MGM!

    4. Well, it's the only exercise I ever get... that and I walk from MGM to the bus stop on Sands and LVB...

    5. No car? Wow, I don't see how you do it.

  4. I'm sure she is grabbing your pipe in your dreams ...

    1. Nah, that would just be a pipe dream.

    2. In that case, I think she'd just create more leaks than she'd fix.....

    3. Again...I fail to see a problem.