Thursday, July 23, 2015


I had one of those sessions over the weekend that makes me wonder how they do it.

The “they” is the professional poker player.  Not necessarily the big names you see on televised poker, but the grinders.  The folks who grind out a living playing 1/2, 1/3, 2/5.

I mean, how do they deal with the variance without going crazy?

You’d think I’d understand by now, be used to it, but honestly, it’s not easy.  I’ve been playing poker for quite some time.  As long-time readers will recall, when I started this blog I was almost exclusively a limit player—low stakes: 2/4 3/6 and the occasional 4/8.  It seems like just yesterday I switched to NL cash games, but it’s been over 3-1/2 years!  So why aren’t I better at poker and why aren’t I used to the wild swings that happen in these games?

For my first post-Vegas trip poker session, I once again chose Player’s Casino in Ventura (see here, for a refresher on the room).  When I arrived around 1PM this past Saturday, the place was absolutely packed.  There were long lists for every game.  The guy at the podium said they would open another table as soon as a tournament table broke.  There were a couple of empty tables but no extra dealers.  I suspect the weather had something to do with the crowd.  An extremely rare July storm was passing through Southern California. It never rains here in July.  Never.  But somehow, there were heavy thunderstorms on and off all weekend.  I suspect the inclement weather kept people away from outdoor activities and encouraged them to head inside for some poker.

One of my few issues with Player’s Casino is that they don’t take call-ins to get on the waiting list. So I had to wait an hour for a seat in the 2/3 game. It was a new game (the second game they opened since I’d been there, the first one was a bigger game).  I grabbed a seat and I actually recognized one of the players.  I recalled playing with him the last time I was there and remembered that he was kind of a maniac.  The other players were all new to me, as best as I could recall.

It didn’t take me long to confirm my suspicions.  The very first hand, this guy open raised to $25 in middle position.  The big blind raised to $50, the first guy called.  The flop was low and the three-better shoved.  The original raiser folded but the three-better showed his hand: pocket Jacks.  Hmm….seemed like an interesting table!

I believe the next hand I was the big blind and it folded to the small blind and we chopped.  Next hand I lost the small blind folding to a raise.  So my starting stack of $300 was missing only two bucks when, on the button, I woke up with pocket Aces.  There were a couple of limpers so I made it $20.  Three of us saw the flop, which was King high, two spades (I didn’t have the Ace of spades). It checked to me and I bet $50.  Only the guy to my immediate left, the small blind, called.  Another low card on the turn and this time the small blind bet $100.  Hmm.  He only had another $20 left, which was odd.  I shoved and he of course called.  As the dealer was in the process of putting out the river card, the guy was turning over his hand.  He had pocket 3’s for a set.  I thought he might have had a set but he didn’t have enough money to get me to fold my Aces.  And then in the microsecond I was considering the fact that my Aces were cracked by a set of 3’s, I noticed the river card was an awfully nice looking Ace!

So suddenly I had a nice big pile of chips in front of me, less than 10 minutes into the session--$509 to be exact.

Not too much later, maybe an orbit or three, my old friends the dreaded pocket Kings showed up.  My first thought was “OK, here’s where I lose all that money the AA suckout got me.” I opened for $12 and there were four callers.  On a Queen-high flop, I led out for $45 and only the guy to my immediate left, the guy who had the set of 3’s earlier, called.  The turn paired 4’s and I put out $100.  He tanked and then finally muttered, “I don’t think my kicker is good enough,” and folded.

At this point I had pretty close to a double up.  If only I felt like calling it a day after less than an hour of poker and driving home in the thunderstorm.

I still had over $500 in front of me when the next significant hand occurred.  From the big blind, I called $13 with pocket deuces.  The raiser was that guy I mentioned at the outset, the guy I recalled being a maniac.  He had already rebought at least once, possibly twice.  And five of us saw the flop.

Said flop was Jack-7-2 two diamonds.  First to act, I checked.  The preflop raiser would be second to act, and I wanted to see what he’d do, as well as the players behind him.  I was absolutely certain it wouldn’t check through and about 99% sure the preflop raiser would bet.

But the guy next to me, the set of 3’s guy, led out for $35.  The preflop raiser just called, as did one of the two remaining players.  Time to unleash my check-raise.  I made it $150.  Too little?  Too much?  The first and last guys had not that much more than that, but the original raiser had close to a full $300 buy-in. 

To my surprise, after a few seconds, the guy to my left announced all-in.  Damn.  Did he have another set?  I wouldn’t be so lucky this time.  If he had a set, it had to be bigger than mine and I’d have a one-outer.  The original raiser folded.  The last guy tanked forever. 

Eyeballing his stack, he didn’t have all that much more than the bet, so it seemed to me if he was gonna stay in, it made no sense to just call.  He tanked forever, and I could practically see the calculator running over his head.  Finally he announced “call.”  Really?  He didn’t have that much behind, but oh well.

It was only $26 for me to call so of course I did.

I wasn’t 100% sure the board pairing would help me, unless it paired the deuce.  But I knew for sure I didn’t want to see a diamond.

So of course the turn card was a diamond.  The guy who had tanked happily put all the rest of his stack out.  It was around $60-$70 as I recall and I couldn’t fold for that.  Assuming the other guy didn’t have a set, I was getting great odds to draw to a boat.

After I called, the guy who had just shoved said, “Don’t pair the board.”  Funny, that’s exactly what I wanted to happen.

But it didn’t. The river was a brick.  The second guy—the one who had tanked—showed the nuts—Ace-9 of diamonds.  The other guy showed King-Queen of diamonds. My set of deuces was only good for the bronze.

Interesting discussion afterwards.  The guy now stacking all the chips said to the other guy, “I never would have called if you hadn’t.  If you had folded that’s an insta-fold for me. But you priced me in. And….if I had known you had diamonds, I wouldn’t have called.” 

Obviously I was unlucky there, but I’m not sure if I played it badly or not.  Thoughts?  I mean, I could have just open shoved the flop, which might have taken down the $60 pot, but that’s not the right play.  You want to get value for your set.  But would the King-Queen guy have folded?  Maybe not, he seemed eager to get it all in with his second nut flush draw.

I guess once it got back to him after my re-raise, with his stack size, his call/shove makes sense.  Not sure I like his $35 donk bet.  What do you think about his play?

Anyway, I now no longer had profit from this session, I was losing. That big stack was gone.  And of course, I had been drawn out on.

Now logically, I had no right whatsoever to complain.  Even though I had 75% equity when we got most of the money in the pot.  After all, the beat I laid on the guy to my left with my rivered set of Aces against his flopped set of 3’s was much, much worse.

But I sure did miss those chips.  And all I could think of was, if I had won that huge pot, I’d have a big score, I would call it a day and book the win.  I’d have pleasant thoughts to keep me occupied while driving home in the rain.

But no.  I kept thinking how ridiculous it is where one damn card means so much.  One great card in the early hand and I’m really happy.  One bad card on this latest hand and I’m miseable.

Again I ask, how do the grinders do it?

A number of orbits later I had Ace-2 of spades in early position.  I raised to $12 and it was four to see the flop.  All three cards were spades.  I bet $25 and the maniac shoved.  He had about $110 or so left.  Of course I snap called, it was just the two of us.  He had a baby flush.  So with that, I now was back to having a small profit for the day.

But not for long.  On the button with Ace-Jack of diamonds, I called $15.  It was just heads up.  The flop came Ace-King-10, rainbow.  The raiser led out for $20, I called.  The guy who had raised was one of the least aggro players at the table, so I thought he could easily have Ace-King, Ace-Queen or even a set.  I didn’t want to raise but my hand had showdown value, plus I had the gutshot to Broadway.  The turn blanked and I called $30.  The river was another King.  Ugh.  I couldn’t dismiss the possibilities of quads.  But when he bet $70 I thought that was small enough to call just in case he had a worse Ace or maybe the same hand as me.  Nope, he had pocket 10’s for a boat.

And that was the last hand I noted.  I don’t think I won another pot.  I didn’t lose any more money in spectacular fashion.  Just the normal way.  And my once nearly $300 profit was close to a $200 when I hit the wet freeway to drive back home.

And the whole drive home—when I wasn’t worried about the terribly visibility due to the storm—all I could think about was variance and what a bitch it is.  And how one damn card can be so damn important.

I should explain the pics I’m using here.  I Googled “variance” just to see what it came up with.  It turns out there’s actually a line of lingerie called “Variance.”  No kidding.  I believe it’s a French company which is I suppose why I had never heard of it.  So all the lovely ladies in these pics are modeling Variance lingerie.

Now, I could have just included one picture in this post, as I usually do.  But I decide to include multiple pics because…well, variance.


  1. I like the Google kind of variance more than your kind of variance.

    1. Google kind of variance? Not familiar with that.

    2. When you googled variance, you got these nice images. They are more appealing to me than the variance at the table (which can suck). Hmm, well whatever.

    3. Duh, sorry, I'm slow tonite. Gotcha, thanks.

    4. They run about a full size large so order a smaller size than normal for your lucky underwear Rob. I hear wearing women's underwear at the poker table helps control variance. The irony of wearing the brand of the same name would be kinda funny I think...

    5. LOL...yes, that's pretty funny. Thanks for the suggestion but I'll leave it to the ladies (or men predisposed to wearing ladies clothing).

  2. Rob,a friend of mine from that area told me Players had been moved to Oxnard. Is this information incorrect?

    1. That is incorrect, but perhaps an understandable mistake.

      From my research, the PC moved from one part of Ventura to another--it's current location--a year or two ago.

      The new location is definitely in Ventura, but Oxnard is the next city over. When I drive there, the last exit before the one I use to get to PC is the last Oxnard exit. So it would be easy for someone to think it was in Oxnard. It's just a stone's throw from there.