Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Donkeys

Sunday nite I ran into a couple of donkeys at the poker table.  The first one was very good for me, but the second one cost me some money.  That's the way it is with donkeys.  In the long run, it's good to play with donkeys, but in the short run, they can kick you in the ass (pun intended, I guess).

I was at MGM during the NFL promo.  During the Sunday night game, every time a team scores, they pick a random seat and the person at that seat gets to pick an envelope worth between $100 and $500.  There's only one $500 envelope, a few $300, some $200 and of course mostly $100 envelopes.

I got a couple of big hands early.  With pocket Aces I bet $40 after a raise to $10 and a call.  No one called.  Then I got the dreaded pocketKings  and raised to $8.  Only one person called, and when I c-bet $12 on a low flop, I took it down.

Despite these monster pots, I had managed to drip down to about $130-$140 when the first really good hand happened.  Unfortunately for the blog, but happily for me, the big hands all came within a short amount of time, and by the time I got to making my notes on this first one, I had forgotten some of the details.  I was in the big blind with a Ace-7 of spades and called a raise to $7 or $8. A bunch of us saw the flop  The flop came 9-8-6.  I checked and then called $25 and we were heads up.  A 5 on the turn completed my straight.  I bet $50, which was more or less half my remaining stack--not sure exactly exactly how close.  He tanked for awhile and then called.  I didn't like the 10 on the river, but nonetheless, I put out the rest of my chips, and the guy thought for a bit and folded his cards.

This was late in a dealer's down and I hadn't finished stacking my chips when I saw another dealer ready to push in.  She was a new dealer in the room, and I'd only seen her one previous time, when I was playing with Prudence a week or so earlier.  I couldn't remember her name, so when she pushed in I asked her name and she said, "Janet."  Well, actually, she said her real name, but you know how I am.  Then she added, "Also known as the best dealer in the room."

I laughed and said, "Oh really, you're the best dealer in the room?"  She said, "Yes....of course if you do refer to me that way, no one else will know who you are talking about."

I got to chatting with Janet about her background (since she was new to the room) and didn't get a chance to jot down my notes on the hand that I had won.  I knew that I now had over my $200 buy-in but wasn't sure how much over it was. 

Then on the button I had Queen-10 offsuit.  There were a bunch of limpers and then a raise to just $7 from one of the donkeys.  Since there were two donkeys this session, I will call him "Good Donkey" to differentiate him from the other donkey, who we'll call "Bad Donkey."  Good Donkey had been at the table when I got there and there was nothing specific I can point to that made me think he was a donkey, I had just figured out that he was.  Although frankly, raising to $7 after all those limpers is a pretty bad move.  You're just going to get everyone to call and make the pot huge.  If you have Aces you'll have to play against too many players, and if you have a lesser hand why do you want to play it against so many players?  If you feel you have a raisable hand, make a real raise and thin the field.

But since I was on the button and would have last action, I decided to call for only $7 in what was likely to be a big pot preflop.  I would probably have only have done this from the button.  There were five us seeing a flop of 10-10-8.  Good Donkey bet $20 or $25 and I called.  It was heads up.  Why just call there?  Well, I suspected Good Donkey would keep betting and I could raise later.  The turn was a Jack and I called a similar sized bet, maybe $25, maybe $30.  The river was an 8, filling me up, and this time the Good Donkey checked.

Hmm....I guess the double paired board scared him off.  I assumed that he wasn't going to call almost any bet I made.  So I put out $40 and hoped that was small enough for him to call so I could at least get some value for my boat.  He thought for quite a bit, I assumed he was deciding between calling or folding.  But finally he started pushing chips out in front of him.

He did it in two motions, and then Janet turned to me and said, "all-in."  I was on the other end of the table from him and hadn't heard him say anything, so I had to double check. "Did he say "all-in?"  Janet assured me he had.  Well, I didn't really put him on quad 8's.  I didn't bother to ask for a count, but his stack was fairly close to mine.  I'm not folding my full house there (if I had the 8, not the 10, it's a much different ballgame).  I called and he flipped over....9-8 suited!

I showed the bigger boat and couldn't believe my good fortune.  The dealer counted our stacks and I had more chips than the $154 or so he had put out on the river.

I had him pegged as a bad player but I couldn't figure out that move at all.  Was he actually going for the check-raise?  How would that make sense?  I hadn't been the aggressor one time in the hand, why would he expect me to bet?  And when you have the bottom of the two pairs on a double paired board, does it really make sense to bet big?  I mean, you know there's a good chance you have the lesser boat, you want to get to showdown as cheaply as possible.  I was giving him the opportunity to do just that, and he went ahead and put all his chips in play.  Amazing.

I'm guessing his instinct was to check the river, and then he got another instinct to shove when it came back to him.  I knew he was bad, but not this bad.  Note:  As I'm writing this, the thought occurred to me that he might have assumed I had the same hand as him and that his shove might get me to lay it down, fearing he had the 10.  While that's possible, I have absolutely no reason to believe he was capable of that kind of thought process.

I was still stacking my chips, and still hadn't written notes on either of those last two hands when Janet dealt me two black 7's. I called 7 and it was 5-ways.  The flop was damn nice, Ace-Ace-7.  There was a $20 bet I just called, and it was heads up.  I don't remember the turn card, but this time it was checked to me.  I put out a bet, a small one, maybe $40.  He folded and I showed my cards to get another drawing ticket.  Then I said, "Janet, you are the best dealer in this room.  Two boats within 5 minutes.  Can you stay here?  You know, I have some pull in this room, I can arrange to have you stay at this table until I'm ready to leave."  She laughed and said she was off in an hour, and needed to get some rest.  Damn.

Well now I was still stacking chips.  I had no idea how many I had, and had not been paying attention to the football game for some time.  The game had started slowly, scoring wise, but had picked up a bit and they'd call a few people up to claim prizes.  Well, as I later found it, it was late in the first half, and someone had scored.  I didn't realize that until I heard the announcement, "And it's table 8, seat 1."  Wait, isn't that my seat, I thought?  Well, when Stan called me by my last name, it was clear I was in the fact the lucky winner for this drawing.  I jumped up to pull an envelope out of the box.  To this point, I think it had been mostly $100 prizes picked, with maybe one $200.  Nothing bigger.  I grabbed an envelope, opened it up and it said "300."  Sweet!

I got back to my seat and when they brought me my $300, I immediately took if off the table, I thought I already had enough chips to play with. 

Janet soon left the table, and boy oh boy, was my rush over. I should have followed her to the next table. Back to be card dead for the rest of the game, pretty much.

I finally got to do some notes, and counted my chips.  I had close to $300 profit at one point.  Dripped a little, but really went back to playing very few hands.

Finally, after getting nothing hand after hand, I looked down at Ace-King of hearts in the big blind.  And wouldn't you know, after one limp, Bad Donkey raised to $12. Like Good Donkey, I had pegged as a bad player for reasons I can't really enumerate.  I don't usually three-bet Ace-King, but I suppose against this guy it would have been a good time to do it.  But no, I just called, I didn't want to play a big pot out of position with Ace-King.  The limper folded, a bit of a surprise, and we were heads up.  The flop came K-3-5, two spades.  Bad Donkey put out some chips, maybe $20. I just called.  Again, that's pretty standard with me.  I'm not raising the preflop aggressor with just top pair, though I admit, that is probably a leak in my game that I don't do that more often.  The turn was an Ace, and this time he checked.  So I put out $35. He didn't think about it too long and called.  That Ace was the second club, by the way.  I was just hoping to see almost any red card on the river, but it was actually the deuce of clubs. Did he catch a flush?  But he checked, and I played it safe and checked behind.

Bad Donkey then said, "I have trips."  Huh?  Actually, he had pocket deuces for a rivered set.  Technically, it is trips, but we hold'em players call that a set, Mr. Donkey.  I was shocked.  Before I had a chance to say anything, he said, "I was really just going for the straight."

See, I thought that was an awful play on his part, sticking around hoping to hit his two-outer.  But no, it was pure brilliance, trying to hit his gut-shot.  Genius in fact.  Now if he wants to raise with deuces, fine.  And I get the c-bet on the flop.  But with one card to go, calling my bet with a gut-shot?  Seriously?

Ugh, it cost me around $70 and it pissed me off because I thought I lost money to a bad player, misplaying a hand. I was thinking, I hate it when donkeys cost me money.  Then I thought, well that first donkey paid me off a lot more than I lost to the second donkey.

But because I'm a poker player, I ended up spending the evening thinking—and being pissed— about the donkey that cost me the smaller amount more than the donkey that paid me off a lot more.

I returned to being card dead.  The only other hand I got the rest of the evening worth playing was pocket Kings again.  I raised to $10, got two calls, bet $25 on a Jack high flop, and took it down.

From actual poker I won a bit over $200, so it was a plus $500 night including the football promo.  I ran into one too many donkeys.


  1. Hi Rob,

    Huge fan of your blog having followed for many years from the UK. Great pic from my hometown of Blackpool!

    1. Thanks, Anony.

      Blackpool, huh? I had no idea....was just looking for a hot girl with a donkey.