Sunday, August 30, 2015

"So You Got Me On The Turn, You Sneaky Boy?"

Losing a poker hand is not fun, but sometimes you can feel like you lost even when you win.  You know what I mean—when you have the best hand and you can’t get your opponent to call and give you more money.  You were entitled to that money, right?  I talked about one such hand recently (see here) when Victor didn’t call my river shove when I only had quad Queens.  In that case, I probably blew it by not shoving the turn with a set.  This session started with another such hand.

When I got to the table, I recognized one of the players as one of the brand new dealers I’d seen at MGM when I first got to town almost a month earlier.  I’d seen her in the room a few times and she’d dealt to me maybe twice, no more than that. I’d never seen her play before. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to call her Ellen.

It was just my second or third hand since taking me seat, and I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings.  After a limper or two, Ellen raised to $5 and I made it $20.  Ellen was the only caller.  The flop was Ace-high, rainbow, and she checked.  I bet $30 and she called.  Obviously I was concerned she had an Ace and I wasn’t sure what to do on the turn, but the decision was made easier for me when the King of diamonds landed.  That put a second diamond on the board.  She checked again and I bet $40.  Ellen went into the tank for a good long while, then finally called.

The river was a third diamond but otherwise looked harmless.  She checked and I meant to bet $60 but somehow only put out $55.  I really wasn’t too concerned about her hitting a back door flush.  She went into the tank even longer this time.  But finally, she folded.  Hmm….Considering the size of the pot, I was surprised.  If she had a missed draw she would have folded instantly, so what did she have?  Well, she asked me what I had and I just smiled.  She started teasing me about what I had, what she had, trying to get me to tell her.  At this point, we were sitting a few seats away from each other and there was no way I was going to say anything that anyone else could overhear.  I said to her, “I’ll tell you when you get up to deal.”

She moved next to me and kept bugging me about it.  Obviously she made a pretty tough laydown to be so obsessed.  At one point she asked, “Did you have pocket 9’s?”  There was no 9 on the board, so she obviously could beat pocket 9’s.  Then another time, she asked, “Do you ever bluff?”  I chuckled and said, “Yeah, of course I bluff.”

She finally gave up, and then, about an hour or so later, she picked up so she could get ready to start her shift.  But I was in the middle of a hand when she got up, and I didn’t get a chance to tell her what I had.  Why did I want to tell her?  Well, I dunno, I usually do in a hand like that when one of us leaves, especially if it’s someone I know. I figure Ellen and I are possibly about to embark on a long relationship—strictly over poker, you understand—and why not become pals?  Besides, I was very curious about what she had herself. 

I’ll jump ahead another hour or so to when I was done for the night.  I cashed out and tracked her down.  She was dealing and when she was waiting for someone to act, I whispered to her, “I had pocket Kings in that hand.”  She spent a couple of seconds recalling the hand and then the light bulb went off over her head.  “Oh….so you got me on the turn, you sneaky boy?”  I laughed and asked what she had.  “Ace-Queen.”  She had to get back to the game and I took off, still obsessing a bit over the last hand of the night (which I’m about to get to) so I didn’t think too much of it.

But by the next day, I was thinking about it a lot.  She had Ace-Queen?  Top pair, really good kicker?  Seriously?  How does she lay that down, I wondered.  I mean, it’s not like I bet a ton of money.  For the size of the pot it was certainly worth a call. For the rest of the day, all I could think of was, “How does she lay that down?”  I knew I was gonna bitch about it to her next time I saw her.  Unfortunately, she has a sporadic schedule and I didn’t see her again until pretty close to my last night in town.  But I did find her and tell her that I was mad at her.  “Huh?”  I reminded of the hand from over a week before and then asked, “How do you fold top pair there?  It wasn’t even that big a bet.  It was a third-pot bet.”  She had moved on and didn’t recall it very well, so she just shrugged and said, “I just thought I wasn’t good there.”  Hmmph.  To this day, I wonder how she laid that down.

Anyway, after that hand, I won a few small pots but as soon as a new dealer pushed in, I went incredibly card dead.  In fact, about an hour later, Ellen said to me, “I don’t have a chance to win my money back because you never play a hand.”

Well, I played a few and despite my inactivity, I managed to drip, drip, drip down to almost break even.  And since I had gone so long without any getting anything worth really playing, I decided to end the boredom of fold, fold, fold and leave.  Even though it was fairly early, I was ready to call it a night.  I wasn’t protecting my $10-$15 remaining profit; I was just fed up with the cards I was getting.  Not my night, not since the very first dealer I had.

So down to my last orbit, and then finally down to the last hand I intended to play.  I was under-the-gun and not prepared to post one more blind.  And then I looked down at King-Queen of diamonds.  It was literally the first playable hand I’d seen in an over an hour.  I raised to $8 and four players called.  The flop was Ace-7-4, two diamonds, including the Ace.  So I had the draw to the nut flush. I made a c-bet of $25. The guy to my immediate left, with a shorter stack than mine, called.  And then the lady at the table made it $75.

This lady had gotten my attention when she sat down.  She was most likely Hawaiian, and she was skimpily dressed.  She had real really short-shorts and a crop top.  She wasn’t showing any cleavage, but the top barely came down below her boobies.  The result was a large area of bare midriff exposed.  And I must say, she had an incredibly flat stomach.  So it wasn’t exactly at unpleasant sight.  Let’s call her “Bare-midriff girl” or BMG for short. Her play had been a little erratic.  A few times it seemed like she was on the aggro side, but other times she seemed almost nitty.  It was hard to read her.

But since I had the draw to the absolute nuts, I wasn’t reluctant to call.  Now, it did cross my mind to come over the top (she had me covered by a fair amount), but I don’t usually raise with just a draw and the last time I tried that (see here) it didn’t work out so well.  So I just called.

The guy on my left shoved--but only for $67. Obviously it made no sense for him to call and leave $17 behind.  And then, as soon as he shoved, BMG announced, “all-in.”  Really?

Well, of course, she couldn’t raise.  Her bet had only been raised $17 on top of her $50 raise, so his raise didn’t re-open the betting. But I sure took note of the speed with which she announced her intention.  I recognize that her actions could possibly be something she intentionally did to throw me off and that she knew she couldn’t raise.  But I was pretty sure that she genuinely wanted to raise there.  So she called the $17, and of course I did as well.

But I had to think that she was going to shove on the turn, unless she really didn’t like the next card.  I spent a nano-second wondering if I should bet if I caught my flush—a third diamond might have been the one card that would have prevented her from voluntarily going all in there.

But the card was black and another 4, pairing the board.  Not at all what I wanted to see.  I checked and she wasted no time announcing her all in.  Ugh.  I thought long and hard, and then longer and harder.  As I said, she had me covered.  I counted my own chips.  It was around $135 left.  The math didn’t really work, even if my hand was still alive.  I couldn’t put her on just a pair there, not with her aggressive action on the flop.  I figured she likely had two pair or a set on the flop.  Which meant that she might have had a full house on the turn and I was drawing dead. 

It didn’t make sense to do anything but fold, so I did.  And then I watched the dealer put another diamond on the river. However, it was the 4 of diamonds.  Yikes.  There were three diamonds and three 4’s on the board.  I knew of course there was no way the flush I would have caught could be good.  The short stack flipped over 10-9 of diamonds.  BMG flipped over Ace-5!  Seriously?  Wow, not only had she wanted to shove the flop with just top pair, but she had no kicker to boot.  I totally misread her strength there (or lack thereof).   Of course, with the trips on the board, she did indeed have a boat to take down the pot.  I guess I would have been pretty unhappy if the river had been any other diamond, since my hand was very much alive when I folded.  But again, I wasn’t getting the right price to call.

BMG was quite giddy at the turn of events as she scooped in the nice pot.  She kind of did a bit of dance, and it was one of the few times I can remember not enjoying seeing a hot girl wearing very little clothing dance.  I believe I revealed what I folded (since I was leaving anyway) and she said, “I wish you had called—I wanted you to call.”  You know, if I had, and instead of the 4, the 2 of diamonds hit, I don’t think she’d have felt that way.

I did wonder though what would have happened if I had shoved over her re-raise on the flop.  Would she have called?  I should have asked her, not that I would be able to trust her answer.  Based on how aggressive she had played it until then, I can’t assume she would have folded for $134 more. 

That hand gave me no reason to change my mind about calling it a night.  I cashed out with a small loss.  See?  Even when I win with pocket Kings, I lose.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Maybe I Should Play 4-3 More Often

This session goes back to the first few days of my summer trip—to when Lightning had just arrived in town.  Of course he’s written about this session already—back about an eon ago—and you can find that here.  As he mentioned, we didn’t really get into any hands together the whole time he was in town.  This was not an accident.  As I reported here, Lightning is a bad player—you know, he plays Queen-10, the evil hand (© Coach)—and honestly, I’m not a good enough player to know how to play against bad players.  I can’t play against good players either.  I need to play against extremely mediocre players to have a chance to win.  Therefore, whenever he was in a hand, a pretty much insta-folded.  I only folded Aces once and Kings three times preflop in order to avoid facing the challenge of facing his mighty Queen-10.

The session for me started before he showed up. It was my usual 1/2 game, $200 buy-in.  I hadn’t played a hand for an orbit or two when I was dealt pocket Queens under-the-gun.  I open to $8 and had four callers.  The flop was 9-7-3 two hearts. My ladies were both black.  I bet $30 and a woman made it $90.  One guy called and another guy tanked and finally folded.  What th-?  Since I was new to the game and had no read on anyone, I was thinking my Queens were no good.  I decided to play it chicken safe and folded.  I doubted both of them had the draw and it was hard to believe anyone was raising me with just top pair if top pair was 9’s.  So I figured the lady had a set.  But when it went to showdown—and I didn’t record any of the betting action after I surrendered—the lady showed 7-3 for two pair.  Pretty hard to put someone on two pair with that board.  In her defense, her 7-3 was soooooted.

A bit later I was served the dreaded pocket Kings. I raised to $8, one caller.  Bet $12, then $20 on blank boards.  I didn’t bet the river and my Kings were somehow good.  Dodged a bullet there.

I lost some money calling a guy down with Ace-rag from the big blind.  I caught an Ace on the flop, but he had two pair on the turn and that cost me some chips.

Soon after that, Lightning showed up and we enjoyed a nice dinner at the sports bar right next to the poker room.  I’m sure we didn’t talk about anyone you know.

Back from dinner, we got into the same game and were able to chat.

Had pocket Queens again and called $12 from the small blind.  It was three-ways.  I checked/called $20 on a low flop.  Another low card hit and I check/called $35.  It was still three ways.  The river looked harmless but fearing a bigger pocket pair, I checked.  No one bet this time and I showed my Queens; the others folded without showing.

Very next hand, in the big blind I called $12 with Ace-Jack of clubs. Three of us saw a flop of Queen-10-9 rainbow.  I decided to call $20 with my gutshot.  It was now heads up.  The King of hearts on the turn gave me the nuts but put a second heart on the board.  He bet $25 and I made it $75.  He took some time but finally folded.

There was an aggro at the table, raising a lot of course and in middle position he raised to $12.  I was on the button with 4-3 of hearts and decided to call.  It was calculated based on the guy being an aggro.  There were three or four of us.  The flop had one heart and a 3, the other two cards were mediumish.  The aggro bet out $20.  I decided to call.  All I had was bottom pair with a back-door baby flush draw, but I figured he was likely betting with air and so it was basically a float.  Besides, the Ed Miller strategy I (sometimes) try to follow calls for a lot of calling on the flop even when you don’t catch anything.  It was now heads up.

The turn was a total blank, and not a heart, and I probably would have been done with the hand had he bet.  But he checked and I checked behind.  The river was another 3.  This time he bet $40 and I called.  Yeah, I should have raised.  This is another example of how I don’t get enough value for my good hands.  Trying (unsuccessfully, so far) to work on that.  But on my last trip to town (or maybe it was the previous one), I had a bunch of sets that lost to straights and flushes, and a couple of times bet the river only to be raised and regretted it.  I was going around telling myself, “Don’t bet the river unless you have the stone-cold nuts,” which of course, is not the right lesson to learn.

Anyway he flipped over pocket Kings.  The best part of winning that pot was the look on the guy’s face when I turned over my hand.  You could tell that he could not believe I had 4-3.—or that I called his flop bet with just bottom pair and absolutely no kicker.  Especially because he’d been playing with me long enough to see how tight I was playing.  It was a great moment.

Last hand of note, I had pocket 10’s in the big blind.  I just checked—don’t like raising a hand like that when I’m out of position.  Five of us saw a flop of 10-9-9.  Yahtzee!  I checked and called $5 from the aggro.  It was heads up.  The turn was a blanked and I checked again, and he bet $15 which I called.  I should have either bet myself or check-raised there, but I was hoping I could make more money by slow playing it.  The river was harmless looking and I had a decision to make—check or bet.  I was really sure he’d bet so I checked.  He did bet--$40.  I thought for awhile and decided to make it just $90.  Surely he’d call $50 more?  But no, after tanking he folded, showing a 9.  Really?  Wow.

Anyway, the real highlight of the evening was meeting Mr. Subliminal.  This was something Lightning arranged.  He emerged from his cardboard box to just say hi, he didn’t play.  I’m thinking he hadn’t begged enough quarters for a buy-in yet.  He seems like an awful nice guy for someone living in a box.  He told me that he really liked my blog was impressed that I find these stories and tell them in such an fascinating way that I get so much material out of them. He said he could tell me stories from his life that I could turn into epic posts whereas they’d be three lines if he wrote them up.  At least, I think that was a compliment.

I left a bit after the midnight drawing (missed) up around $100 between the two sessions.  Any session where I both win with pocket Kings and crack someone else’s Kings is a good one.

Note:  The pic immediately above has nothing to do with this post, it is a special treat for long-time reader and occasional guest-blogger, VegasDWP.  He will surely understand the significance.  The rest of you may understand if you follow both of us on Twitter.  The first pic in this post is the one that actually relates to this particular post.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's to Dread About Pocket Kings?

Saturday I had another session over at Player’s Casino. There was only one name ahead of me for the 2/3 game and it didn’t take me too long to get called.  One recent change at PC: When I first started playing there, you would always buy your initial stack of chips from the guy at the podium handling the waiting list.  Recently they hired some chip runners and now they will send you to the table have someone come by to get your chips.  

So I took my seat and gave the chip runner $300 and almost immediately just basically threw away fifteen bucks.  While waiting for my chips, I was dealt in and looked down at King-10 of spades.  There were a couple of limpers so I limped too.  That’s not the kind of hand I’m going to raise with (although I’m supposed to) before I have any clue about how anyone at the table plays.  It was five-way and the flop was King-high, rainbow.  Since I still hadn’t gotten my chips, I had to tell the dealer that I called and then, when it was checked to me on the flop, I told the dealer I was betting $12.  Just at that moment, the chip runner came back with my chips. And put three stacks of chips right in front of me, right next to my cards.  As I grabbed the chips to move them closer to me, my cards somehow got caught in the chips and I flipped them over!  I covered them and turned them back over as fast as could, but it was certainly possible that someone had seen them, especially if they were sitting close by.

Well, the player on my immediate left (seat 2) wasn’t in the hand, but seat 3 had already announced a raise to $30.  I think he announced that before I did my card flip, but I wasn’t sure.  He may very well have seen my cards before announcing his raise, and if not, he may very well have seen them after.  Damn.  It folded back to me.  After a few seconds, I decided the only thing I could do was fold.  Just seemed way too risky since I might have very well have been playing the rest of the hand face-up—literally.  The guy showed one card….a King.  Did he have me outkicked?  I assumed so at the time, but after playing with him for a few hours I realized that I may very well have made a bad fold there.  Oh well.

The first time I was the big blind—a few hands later—I had 8-4 offsuit.  No one raised and three of us saw a flop of Queen-8-x.  It checked around.  Another 8 hit the turn, a guy led out for $20.  I just called.  I was still getting a feel for the table and was being cautious.  Seat 2 behind me called as well.  There was an Ace on the river and this time it checked to me.  Again being nitty overly cautious I checked.  Seat 2 bet $20, the other guy folded and I called.  Seat 2 had caught an Ace and my trips were good.

A little bit later I raised to $12 with 8-7 of diamonds and had two callers.  The flop was Queen-high, 1 diamond.  I tried a $25 c-bet but no one folded.  The turn was a black Ace and I folded to a bet of $80.

A while after that, having been inactive with crappy cards for a while, I raised to $12 with Ace-7 hearts and had three callers.  The flop totally missed me, and before it got to me, a guy donked out $40 so it was any easy fold.

I’d gone the whole session without getting a pocket pair thus far, so it seemed only right that the first one I looked at was the dreaded pocket Kings.  I opened to $12 and had three callers.  The flop came 9-7-7.  It checked to me, I bet $30 and no one called.  Seat 2 said to me, as I stacked my chips, “You probably had a monster that time.”  I laughed and said, “I dunno—do you consider quad 7’s a monster?”  He laughed but another player said, “You had quad 7’s?”  I just laughed and Seat 2 said, “No, he didn’t have quad 7’s, he was joking.”  Was I?

I played on….and on.  Donking off chips, occasionally winning small pots.  I got lucky again in the big blind with Queen-3 and no one raised, or bet the flop, which was Jack-high but had a 3.  The turn was a Queen and I bet, and no one called. 

I was sitting with $299 in front of me and it had been awhile since I’d played a hand.  I’d seen pocket 8’s once and missed with them.  No other pocket pairs.  No Ace-King or even Ace-Queen.  I already told you about the one hand of suited connectors I was dealt for the day.

And then, I got another pocket pair—Kings again.  They were both black and I recalled that the first time I got them, they were both red.  I happened to be in the big blind.  So seat 2, under-the-gun, raised to $15.  I should tell you a bit about Seat 2.  When I first sat down I noticed his stack, two stacks of apparently $100 each and a smaller stack.  Then I did a double-take.  One of those $100 stacks was actually made up of black chips, not green ones (recall that at PC, the $5 chips are actually green and the $1 chips are blue).  Yes, he actually had, when I sat down, over $2K in front of him, most of it in black $100 chips.  Unlike most Vegas poker rooms, black chips play at the smaller stakes games.  At most Vegas rooms, the biggest chip that plays is $25.  Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen a $25 chip at this room.  I’m not saying they don’t have them, just that I’ve never seen them.  But they do use $!00 chips at this table and this guy had boat load of them.  Later, I heard him tell the guy next to him that he had been playing since 9PM the night before, and this was the middle of the afternoon the next day.

Anyway, no less than three people called his $15 raise before it got to me.  I thought about what to bet and came up with a number--$100 even.  I put a stack of $100 out and pulled back my $3 big blind.  Seat 2 thought for a bit and then put out one of his $100 chips out.  Everyone else folded.

The flop was 3-2-2.  I immediately announced all-in, the only bet I thought I could make.  Seat 2 took only a few seconds to announce call.  We didn’t show.  The turn card looked harmless but I didn’t like the Ace that hit the river.  I showed my dreaded Kings and he hesitated, and finally showed two lovely ladies.  My Kings held, and I had a really nice (more-than) double up.  I said to the guy, “I was afraid you had an Ace there and I had gotten rivered.”  He said no, that he knew had a good hand but he couldn’t fold his Queens.  “I was hoping to get lucky, I guess.”  Hmm.  OK by me.

I went back to being incredible card dead, and started to think about calling it a day.  I still had over $600 in front of me and began to think that booking a nice win like that would make this a real good Saturday afternoon.  So with that mindset, in the cut-off, I finally got another decent hand—Ace-Jack suited (spades).  I just limped in.  My buddy in seat 2 made it $15 and three players called before it got back to me.  Of course I called as well.

Pretty good flop—King high, two spades, and a Jack for good measure.  It checked to seat 2 and he bet $35.  Only one player in front of me called, and I called as well.  The turn was a 5 of clubs, worthless.  It again checked to seat 2.  He put out another $35.  Hmm….The other guy called and I did as well.  Seat 2’s $2K stack of blacks had by this time dwindled down to $1K.

The river was not the spade I was hoping for—nor was it another Jack.  No, it was another damn King.  First guy checked, I checked, and Seat 2 bet again—but again, only $35.  The other guy folded but with the size of the pot, I couldn’t see folding.  I was getting an incredible price to call and it was at least within the realm of possibility that my pair of Jacks could be good.  So I said, “OK, I’ll give you some of your money back,” and put out $35.  I was hoping for him to respond, “No, you’re good,” but no such luck.  He showed me King-Queen.  Like I said, it was just too small a bet to fold to.  I wouldn’t have called a much bigger bet, but I thought it made sense to call $35.

And that was it for me.  I played another couple of orbits and didn’t get anything remotely playable.  Time to get back on the freeway and head home.

I had to settle for a $200 profit.  But at least I went 2 for 2 with the dreaded hand, and had a big double up with them.  Maybe I need to dread flush draws instead?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It Sure Didn't Feel Like Winning

This is part 2 of my tournament summary, you can find part 1 here. We pick up at the new table I had recently moved to, level 8 (100/600/1200) with about $64K in chips. I had10-5 of diamonds in the big blind.  No raise, three of us saw the flop, including the guy who had a set of Queens to my set of Kings, who was to my immediate right.  The flop was all bricks, but nobody bet.  I called his $1,200 bet on the turn which was a 10.  And I called his $2,200 bet on the river, which was unfortunately a 9 that gave him a straight.  I suppose I had that coming.

Then I got pocket Aces.  A lady limped in so I made it $3,500.  She called.  On a Jack-high flop she bet and I made a big raise (didn’t note the amounts).  She tanked for a bit and folded.

Level 9 (200/800/1600) $71K.  After a three limpers, I made it $10K with pocket Jacks, and no one called.

It folded to me on the button, so I raised with Jack-4 of clubs.  The embarrassing thing was that I lost track of what the blinds were and put out $3K thinking the big blind was $1,200.  So I had to make it $3,200 and that got both blinds to call.  I missed the flop completely but when they both checked, I tried to steal it with a $7K c-bet.  And it worked.

With pocket 4’s I raised to $4K.  A guy shoved $11K and since it folded back to me, I thought calling was the right play.  He had pocket Queens and I didn’t improve.

Level 10 (300/1000/2000) $66K.  I lost $20K or so on a hand I can’t quite figure out from my notes.  I had Ace-King and called a short stack’s shove for $3K.  Not sure why exactly why I didn’t raise to isolate since there were players behind me, including the button who had a huge stack and a lady who had limped in. Anyway, that big stack called and the lady who limped shoved for around $20K.  Probably should have shoved or folded, but I just called, as did the big stack.  The two of us with chips left checked it down when nothing hit.  The short stack had some crappy hand that somehow caught two pair, and the lady took the big side pot with pocket Aces.  The limp/re-raise with AA worked out well for her.

In the big blind, I had Queen-8 of clubs, there was no raise, it was 3-handed.  The flop came Ace-Queen-8 and I led out with a shove.  I just figured no one had a decent Ace or they would have raised pre.  No one called, but one of the guys who folded said, “I would have shoved if you hadn’t.”

On the button with King-Queen off, I made it $10 after one limper.  No call.

In late position, I opened to $5,500 with King-10 off and didn’t get a call.

Level 11 (300/1200/2400) $70K.  A guy raised to $4800.  I was in the small blind with Ace-Queen off and three-bet, putting $15K on top of my small blind.  He shoved around $55K.  Ooops.  I folded like a cheap suit.

I opened raised to $7K with Ace-5 off suit in late position and took it down.

I raised to $7,500 with pocket 9’s and had two callers.  The flop was King-Queen-5.  Second to act, I c-bet $15K and didn’t get a call.

From the small blind I completed with Ace-2 off and it was three-way.  The flop was King-Queen-10, giving me a gutshot, so I called $2K.  But I missed and had to fold to a big turn bet.

Open raised to $7K with Jack-10 off and took it down.

That got me to level 12 (400/1500/3000) with $78K.  Level 12 is crucial because it’s the last one before dinner break.  Since it was part of the Binion’s Classic, this tournament had a half-hour dinner break.  The regular tournament (same structure) doesn’t have a dinner break and if I make it this long I have to gobble down a couple of hot dogs during a 10 minute break.  This time, I would have 30-minutes to relax and enjoy those fine hot dogs.  But the dinner break is kind of the line in the sand for me.  If I bust before then, oh well, on to the Strip and a regular dinner and a cash session in the evening.  If I make it to the dinner break, I have a crappy, hurried dinner and at that point, and to compensate for that—and the time I’ve already put in—I feel like I damn well better cash.  Having to rush thru a crummy dinner and still leave empty handed is unacceptable.

So I was, in theory at least, looking to make my stand there, go big or go home.  Trouble is, I didn’t get cards that would cooperate with this strategy and I’m not just going to shove with 7-deuce or some other garbage hand.

After a limper, I raised to $12K with Ace-10 off.  One caller.  The flop was all bricks, but my $20K c-bet took the pot. 

In the small blind, it folded to me so I made it $8,500 with Ace-2 off and the big blind folded.

And I had a pair of deuces that I limped in with.  I missed, folded to a big bet, then saw a deuce hit on the turn. Ugh.

And that was all I could play that level, so I took my dinner break and now for sure I had to cash in this damn tournament.

Level 13 (500/2000/4000) $92K.  Hmm, that seems kind of high for only winning two pots.  I may have left out a couple of blind/ante steals I pulled off but no big hands, I’m sure.  First hand of the level I raised to $11K with King-9 off, no call.

I opened to $1,100 with Ace-Queen and didn’t get a call.  Very next hand, I got Ace-Queen again.  A guy in front of me with a slightly smaller stack than I had raised to $20K.  He had been raising a lot and I thought he was likely raising light, so I decided to shove. He went into the tank and when he came out, he tossed away his cards.

Level 14 (500/3000/6000) $113K.  In the big blind I had King-2 offsuit and after two limpers, I checked, The flop was low and had a deuce.  I bet $15K but then had to fold to a shove.

During this level we got down to 4 tables.  All told, there were 213 players.  Top prize was around $6,600.  The total prize pool was $27K. They were paying 27, which seems like too many for that number of players.  What you really want to know is what the min-cash was, right?  Well it was $305 and the last 9 places got that.  Note that $305 is less than double the $160 buy-in, which is what I think it should always be (see here). Even though I expect that, it still pisses me off whenever I see it.  The next step up was $345. You had to get to 7th place or so to get over $1K.  Fourth place was a tick under $2K. So I had to outlast 9 more players to get what I considered an inadequate payout.  If you ask me (and no one ever does), the whole pay scale was way, way too top heavy.

Last hand at the level, at my new table, I raised to $16K with Ace-9 off.  No call.

Level 15 (500/4000/8000) $104K.  With Ace-Queen on the big blind, it folded to the small blind, a big stack, and he just limped in.  So I shoved.  He said, “so much?”  Yeah, not really so much at that stage of the tournament with my stack.  He folded.

I was card dead most of the rest of the level, and as the bubble was approaching, I got a lot pickier about the hands I was playing.  Yeah, I didn’t want the min-cash, but I wanted the no-cash even less, it was getting close to 11PM  It was the point where the thought of walking away empty-handed after all that time was revolting.  As we had neared the bubble, someone brought up paying said bubble, but it was immediately vetoed by a player at another table.  So we were going to play down to 27 before anyone got any money.

At this new table, I was sitting next to two guys who were obviously buddies.  Interesting that they ended up sitting next to each other.  They kept making jokes about one of them busting and leaving the other one stranded, as they had come in one car.  One of the first hands I saw at this table involved the two of them.  Buddy #1 made a big bet on a flop, and buddy #2 went into the tank for a long, long time.  He insisted his pal had nothing and was trying to steal.  He asked his pal the immortal question “Will you show if I fold?” His pal said nothing.  “You won’t show if I fold?”  The guy said nothing. This is where he teased the guy about leaving him stranded.  He was in totally agony and finally called the clock on himself!  And even then, he asked one more time if his pal would show, and finally, the guy said he would.  So the guy folded and his pal showed two pair, which shocked the first guy (who just had top pair).

So on this hand, I had Ace-Queen off in the big blind.  It folded to buddy #2, who raised to $30K.  Buddy #1 took a bit of time to call.  We were down 28 or 29 players. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when the first guy made it $30K.  But when his buddy called—reluctantly, it seemed—I thought this was the time to go for it, bubble be damned.  I shoved.  Buddy #2 was again in great pain.  “Why would you do that…..we’re on the bubble….why…You have me covered….Why….”  This lasted a little while and it’s true, I did have him covered.  He finally folded.  And then his buddy did the exact same thing, totally agony over my bet.  Unlike his pal, I had a little less than him.  He asked the dealer to pull in the bets and he had around $97 to call, he didn’t have all that much more than that.  After some more agony, he finally folded.  Of course they both asked me what I had and of course I said nothing.  But that got me a lot of chips and my gamble there paid off.

A bit later we got down to 28 players, and since paying the bubble had already been nixed, we were just about to go hand-for-hand.  Our table was stopped waiting for the action at one of the other tables to be completed.  But before the official announcement was made that we would actually go hand-for-hand, two players busted on the same hand at another table.  They had to determine who had the biggest stack on that hand before it was dealt, one player got the min-cash and the other player was the official bubble boy. So we never suffered through the hand-for-hand portion of the tournament and I was officially in the money.

My stack was pretty short, but there were plenty of shorter stacks among the 26 of us left (plenty of really big stacks too).  I was determined to work my stack up into a decent pay day.  I knew the odds were against me, but honestly, I really felt that this time I was going to going to do it and last a lot longer.  I guess it was really just wishful thinking on my part (which is pretty odd, as I’m a pessimist by nature).

Level 16 (1500/5000/10000) $147,500.  The level changed right around the time the bubble broke.  We were down to three tables and mine was the table they broke.  First hand at the new table, I was got pocket 10’s and open shoved.  No call.

I raised to $25K with King-Queen off, no call.

Level 17 (2000/6000/12000) $150K (takes a lot of stealing to keep up with the blinds and antes at this point). 

I was trying to find the right balance between aggression and caution.  Yeah, I was in the money, but I really wanted to move up that pay scale, and do a whole lot better than the min cash.  Players were busting with some frequency.  I kept looking to see how close I was to the next pay bump.  And so when this hand started, there was one last person who would get the min cash before the person busting after that would get a whopping bump to $345.

And I looked down at pocket Queens on the button.  Before I could act, a lady with a big stack (of chips, ahem) made a fairly big raise ($40K or so).  I had played with this woman on and off all day.  She was a solid player.  She hadn’t been overly aggressive, but she was often raising if she could open a pot.  It folded to me and I of course shoved.  There’s only two hands I’m behind, and if she has one of those, well, sucks to be me.  Otherwise I’m a big favorite or it’s a race and in my situation, I could of course live with that.

Back to her, she tanked for awhile, studying my stack and looking at her chips (she had at least triple my bet).  She didn’t ask for a count, and finally announced call.  She’s snap calling with Aces or IKings so I thought I’d be in decent shape, and I was.  She flipped over Ace-Jack.  So much better for me than Ace-King.  I was a 70/30 favorite.

Of course, two days earlier, in the Aria WPT 500 tournament (here), I had Aces vs Jacks and was an 80/20 favorite and lost.  So of course, there was the ugliest looking Ace you could imagine on the flop.  Nothing came along to save me.  I was done.

The one lucky break was that, during the play of my hand, while the lady was tanking, a player from another table had busted.  This meant I did move up on the pay scale, and was the first person to bust out with (slightly) more than the min-cash--$345.

I was not at all happy.  In fact, for a guy getting $345 I was damn miserable.  It was close to midnight and I had played nearly 10 hours and was barely getting double my buy-in back.  Just didn’t seem right.  I was extremely frustrated.
And then…of course getting it in as a 70/30 favorite and having it not hold irritated me as well.

I was pretty unhappy the rest of the evening.  Honestly, I’m not sure I would have been more upset if I had busted an hour earlier and left empty-handed.

I know that sounds crazy.  But like I said….poker tournaments drive me crazy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Heck....Rob Would Let Me Sleep On His Couch"

Well, I have one more tournament experience to talk about from my most recent Vegas trip, so here we go.

This took place a mere two days after the Aria WPT 500 tournament that I wrote about here.  It was the fourth of July, as it happens.  You would think that after all the bad things I’ve said about tournaments here, and after that last horrific bad beat that killed me in said Aria tournament, I wouldn’t be ready to get back on the horse so soon.  But as I said, tournaments make me crazy.  It was my last Saturday in town for the trip, and the end of another big Vegas summer tournament season.  I had to take one last shot.

The tournament of choice was Binion’s $160 affair, one of the last days of the Binion’s Classic.  It was now or never.  And once again, I vowed to really go for it, be aggressive early and try to get a big stack—and if I busted early, so be it.  But you know, I always say that to myself and then when I write up these tournament summaries, I wonder if I ever was really doing that—at least on a consistent basis.  If I go deep in a tournament, it always seems to be with a short stack anyway.

The starting stack is $20K and the blinds for the first level are 50/100.  First hand I got involved in was Ace-2 off from the big blind.  It had been min-raised to $200 so I called.  It was heads up.  The flop was King-Jack-2, I checked/called $250.  There was no betting on a blank turn.  Ace on the river so I bet $600 and took it down.

From the small blind I complete with Ace-9, six-ways.  King-10-9 flop, no betting action.  I bet $600 on the turn, an Ace, no call.

I open raised to $275 with King-Jack and no one called.  I tried raising with the same cards a few hands later and was called.  I had to fold to a donk bet on an Ace-high board. 

I raised to $325 with Ace-10 off and had two callers.  The flop was King-Jack-x, I made a c-bet of $700 and had one call.  I checked a blank turn and the other player bet $1,200, I folded and she showed a Jack.

Level 2 (100/200), $19,625.  I opened to $350 with Queen-Jack offsuit, four players called.  The flop was Jack-9-2.  A guy donked out $1,125 and I called, as did one other player.  This guy had already convinced me he was a bad player when I saw that he had called a preflop raise with Queen-5 off (although he ended up winning that pot).  The turn was a 10 and there was no betting.  The river was a 4 and he bet $2,200.  I tanked and then called.  Good call, he had a 9, that was it.

I called $1k, then a raise to $2,200 (cuz I was already in for the $1K) with pocket 3’s.  Didn’t hit and had to fold.

I limped in with Ace-10 offsuit and six of us saw a flop of King-Jack-x.  I called $700 but then there was a re-raise to $2,100.  The original bettor folded, as did I.

Level 3 (150/300), $22,725.  I raised to $1,100 with King-Queen offsuit on the button.  The flop was 9-8-3, two spades.  I had no spades.  It had been just heads up, and the guy donked out $!,800 and I folded.

Last hand of the level, I raised to $800 with pocket Queens.  There was a caller and then a shove for $5,500.  I called and the other player folded.  The short stack flipped over Ace-King off.  The flop was Jack-high.  The turn was a Queen.  The river was another Queen.  At least the guy could say that it took quads to bust him.

But note the hand….runner-runner quads.  This tournament took place the day after the story I told here, where I was playing cash and had runner-runner Queens for quads.  So, in less than a 24-hour period, I went runner-runner for quads twice.  And even more amazing, it was the same quads—Queens both times.  Very freakish.

Level 4 (200/400) $27K.  But I basically sat that level out and went to level 5 (300/600) with $25,500.  I lost a bunch of chips calling a raise with 8-7 of spades and then chasing a straight draw that never hit.  Then I raised to $1,600 with Ace-Jack off.  One caller.  I flopped a gut shot and c-bet $2,500.  My opponent made it $5K.  I decided to call to see one more card.  It wasn’t one that helped me and I folded to her shove.

That took me down to $13,200.  I raised to $1,600 with King-8 of hearts.  There was one caller.  There was an 8 on the flop (middle pair) and my $2,500 c-bet wasn’t called.

I limped in with Ace-7 of spades and it was 7-handed.  The flop was 2-2-7.and it folded to me, so I bet $3k, one caller.  Ace on the turn and my $5K bet wasn’t called.

Level 6 (400/800), $21K.  I get the dreaded pocket Kings  in the big blind.  There were some limpers then a guy made it $2,800.  I made it $6K.  Folded back to the raiser and he went into the tank.  Finally he folded pocket 9’s face up. 

Level 7 (500/1000) $24K.  With Ace-Jack offsuit I made it $2,700, one caller.  Ace-high flop, I bet $5K and he called.  The turn was a blank and I shoved, he folded.

Then came a key hand.  I had pocket Kings again, in late position.  There was a normal raise, then a guy in front of me made it $6,500.  He had just come from a broken table so I had no read on him.  He had me covered. I actually considered just calling, something I never ever do despite my headaches with KK. But no, I decided to shove so he wouldn’t call me with a mediocre Ace and then hit.  If he had pocket Aces I’m probably dead no matter what. It folded back to him and he tanked forever before finally calling.  He showed pocket Queens.  The window was a low card but the other two cards were more interesting.  One was a King, and one was a Queen.  So I had just called we would have both gotten it all in on the flop anyway.  Interestingly, I saw the King first but the lady next to me (not in the hand) said she saw the Queen first and kind of gasped.  The guy didn’t hit his one outer and I took in a really nice pot.

I offered him some insincere sympathy as I stacked my chips. I even said, “Yeah it was tough for you because you had just gotten to the table and had no read.”  So he said, “Well, at this point in the tournament, I’m never folding Queens.”  Really?  Then why did it take him so long to call?  It sure took him plenty of time to never fold Queens.

That brought me up to around $66K.  Sweet.

Note:  The guy seemed to take it take it pretty well at the time.  Here’s a question though.  Since we were face up before the flop, do you think it’s worse for him that we both hit our sets?  Or would it have been just as bad if we had both missed and my pair of Kings held?  Anyway, later in the tournament he showed maybe he hadn’t taken it as well as I thought.  He and I were separated at one point and then I moved to his table, immediately on his left.  I even said to him, “Oh, sorry, I guess you don’t want to see me.”  He just grunted. 

But a bit later, a player who had been at the same table with us when the KK vs. QQ happened shoved a short stack over his initial raise.  The guy thought for a bit and then called with pocket Jacks.  The short stack had Ace-King. Pretty standard, right?  Also standard?  The short stack caught an Ace and doubled up. 

Here’s the weird thing.  The guy who lost started complaining that the guy had called with Ace-King.  “You’re never gonna cash in this tournament, risking your tournament life with Ace-King. Really?”  He went on for a bit.  I didn’t say anything but when he busted out I said to the guy with Ace-King, “What a jerk.  You made the most normal move in tournament poker.  He must have seen that play 1,000 times. Every other player here would have done the same thing.”  The guy wasn’t fazed.  He just shrugged, “Yeah, whatever, let him bitch.” And he laughed.  Then I said, “I guess he never got over that hand Kings vs. Queens hand from the other table.”

Now who was playing at this new table they’d sent me to? The beautiful and sassy Denise, the Binion’s dealer. It’s been a while since she’s appeared in a blog post.  You can learn most of what you need to know about her in the post here.  Cliff note’s version: we have a quite a history, dating back to the time I first wrote about her and described her physical assets in less than gentlemanly terms.  Turns out that not only was she not offended, she was flattered.  She has subsequently mentioned my blog to other players right in front of me.  She is very funny, always entertaining, extremely extraverted and sometimes risqué.  In other words, she is a great source for “woman saids”—my favorite kind of blog post.

She changed her shift awhile back so that I have to last long into the tournament to see her deal, and for the same reason, I haven’t seen her play in the tournament since then.  But I had noticed on the first break that she was indeed present and playing on this day.  I didn’t get a chance to say hello to her, but I did notice what table she was at.  And so, when they broke our table, I was delighted to see that my new assignment was at the very table where she was playing.

But this was not the usual Denise.  She had her face buried in her phone the entire time I settled into my seat, and never looked up.  We were on opposite sides of the table.  She didn’t say a word for a long time.  Usually, she won’t go 5 seconds without speaking.  Plus, she was folding.  A lot.  Usually her game is much more aggressive than this.  And she pretty much never looked up from her phone except to look at her cards and fold. When she did play a hand, she’d look at the pot and the players involved and then when she folded (or won), her face would go back to the phone

So for at least 20 minutes, she didn’t even notice me.  I opted not to just shout hello over to her, I figured sooner or later she’d have to look over my way and I would say hi.  Finally, I did notice her look over at my end of the table and I just waived to her.  She said, “Oh, hi Rob!  How are you?”  I said I was fine and then I said, “Who are you?  I haven’t heard you say a word in 20 minutes since I’ve been here. Are you possessed?”  “No, I’m just being quiet today.”  OK…she wasn’t playing or acting in her usual fashion, that’s for sure.

Now, she was sitting next to an older gentleman—oh hell, let’s call him what he is: a geezer.  And at one point Denise took some time to finally fold her cards and then made a comment to the geezer about how she was playing so tight for a change.  I think she said something about playing with “scared money.”  I didn’t hear exactly what she said next, but it was something to the effect that, if she didn’t cash in the tournament, she’d be out on the street.

Then she added, “Oh I’m just kidding, I’d never be out on the street…….Heck, I know Rob would let me sleep on his couch.”

So I replied, “Yes, of course, I’d let you sleep on my couch……or, you could sleep in my bed.”

She didn’t react to that, and I feared that my comment didn’t come out the way I meant it, so I went on.

“You could sleep in my bed…and I’d sleep on the couch,”

“Oh, right, yeah….” She said.

And I continued, “After all, I am a gentleman!” 

She smiled and nodded.  “Yes you are.  You are a gentleman.”

At this point, the geezer spoke up. “Well I’m not a gentleman.  I’d sleep on top of you.”

We all kind of went “whoa” and Denise kind of groaned.  In her normal state, I would have expected her to have a good comeback to that tacky line, but she didn’t really respond, other than perhaps shake her head.  Someone else said, “That wouldn’t be very comfortable.”

As if we need any more proof, the geezer repeated, “I ain’t no gentleman, I’ll tell you that.”

A little while later, someone said something about their hand which was most likely a lie (yes, people do lie about their hands at the poker table).  She said, “Yeah….and I’m the Pope’s wife.”

I shouted over to her, “Yeah, how’s that working out?”

Now, I’m not 100% sure what she said in response.  But I think it’s entirely possible that she said, “Not good….he f***s terribly.”  Then she seemed embarrassed and tried to take it back, and I knew not to ask her to repeat it….but based on her reaction, I do kind of think that’s what she said.

And….that’s where I’ll leave it for now.  Haven’t finished writing the rest but I’m fairly sure I can finish this up next time. Y’all come back now, hear?--AND IN FACT, THE FOLLOW UP POST IS READY FOR YOUR REVIEW....SEE HERE.