Sunday, October 4, 2015

How Do I Get That Last Hundred Bucks?

I returned to Player’s Casino yesterday for another poker session, and it turned out to be a good one.

When I got there, the parking lot was quite full and I suspected I’d have to wait a bit to get into a game, and I was right.  Eighteen people on the list for the 1/2 game and 10 on the list for the 2/3 game that I play.  Unfortunately, this poker room does not take call-ins, so you just have to tough it out.  There were at capacity and unable to open any more games until tournament tables (they have a $125 tournament on Saturdays that starts at 11AM) broke.

I decided to put my name on the list for the 1/2 game (which I’d never played) as well as the 2/3, thinking that since there were more 1/2 games I could get probably get a seat there first, and then decide if I wanted to move when my name came up on the 2/3 list.  And within a few minutes after arriving, they did call a new 1/2 game so I was pretty sure I’d get into a 1/2 game first.  My only issue with the 1/2 game is that that max buy-in is $100 so you are pretty much always playing short-stacked until you can win a decent pot.

Sure enough, I got called into 1/2 game.  It was the table that had just opened right after I arrived.  Perhaps that was the reason it was so tight, as I’ve seen other 1/2 games with big stacks.  One of my other minor complaints with that game is that they insist on playing it with $1 chips, not $5 chips, which I find inconvenient and annoying.

I was there for about an orbit when I got a decent enough hand—Queen-10 suited in late position.  I opened for $8 and didn’t get a call.  A few minutes later I heard my name called for a new 2/3 game and had no problem deciding to move to that.  I knew that brand new 2/3 games at this poker room are not typically tight. 

After about an orbit or two, I got my first playable hand—my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings. I opened the pot to $12 and it was four of us seeing a flop of 7-7-3.  I c-bet $40 and didn’t get a call.

On the button, I had Ace-7 of clubs, and called $13 from the player who was the most aggro at this point in the session.  He apparently is from Texas (or has lived there—didn’t have the accent), so let’s call him “Texas.” Three of us saw the flop of 10-7-2, two clubs.  I called Texas’ c-bet of $31 and we were heads up.  The last two cards were bricks, but there was no further betting.  Could my pair of 7’s be good?  Yes, they were, he had Ace-King.

I limped in with pocket 8’s.  Seven of us saw a flop of Ace-8-6, two clubs.  I led out for $12 and got two callers.  A red 7 hit the turn and the guy who had first action led out with a shove—it was only $85.  I had him well covered.  The guy behind me had less than $50 so I had nothing to do but call.  The guy behind me openly debated about putting his last $43 in the pot on what was obviously a draw.  He eventually called. A red 3 on the river looked pretty harmless.  The guy who shoved for $85 showed Ace-6 offsuit for a flopped two pair.  The other guy mucked some kind of draw.  It was a pretty nice pot, and my $300 buy-in had grown to over $500.

There was a hand that will illustrate the kind of player Texas was that I wasn’t involved in.  New player came into the game, immediately on my right, between Texas and me.  Someone in early position had opened for $12, and Texas, in late position, made it $42.  This new guy, who had come to the game with about $200, announced all-in.  It folded back to Texas who had the new guy covered.  He debated openly about whether he wanted to gamble and defend his $42 three-bet.  He finally decided to call.  The only important card on the board was, believe it or not, a 5.  New guy had Ace-Queen of spades—Ace high, therefore.  Texas had King-5 offsuit!  Yeah.  Seriously.  He three-bet with that hand and that called an all-in for $200 from a new player—as far as I could tell he didn’t know the guy from Adam—with King-5 off.  And of course got lucky enough to win the pot with a lowly pair of 5’s.

The new guy rebought and kept prooving that he was a very loose, aggressive player.  So there were at least two players at the table not afraid to put chips in play with marginal holdings.  I was licking my chops, just waiting to get something decent (or even semi-decent) with which to get some of these guys’ chips.

Then this young guy came to the table.  He looked like someone you see at every third seat in a Vegas poker room—but not that frequently in the L.A. rooms. Sunglasses, baseball cap (worn properly), earbuds.  Not a hoodie, more of an athletic type windbreaker, but close enough.  He said he had just busted out of the tournament.  He bought in for the max, $300, and made his presence known immediately.

I had Ace-King off and after one limper, I made it $15 and a couple of players called.  Then this young guy with the shades, who was playing his first hand at the table, made it $53.  It folded to me.  What should I have done there?  The $300 he had was much less than me but more than everyone left in the hand, stacks of around $125-$200.  I thought it was slightly more likely than not that no one behind me would call.  It was an awkward spot for me.  If I call, I’m not really sure how much I like an Ace or a King.  And other than my “read” by his general look, I had no information on this player.  I thought about raising (shoving?) but did I really feel like risking $300 on Ace-King?  Some of you might, but I didn’t. 

I folded but two players did call and saw a flop of Jack-9-x, rainbow.  The guy with the shades made a $100 c-bet and took it down uncontested.  Did I make a bad fold there?  I’ll never know.

I had pocket Queens and raised to $15 and had two callers.  The flop was King-Queen-6, two spades.  Ugh.  Pretty scary flop for middle set.  I bet $30 and didn’t get a call.  That was the second set I hit for the day, didn’t get paid much for it, and I figured that I had probably used up all my luck flopping sets for the day.

With those three guys in the game, and a few others, I was just waiting for another opportunity.  But I went incredibly card dead, and just couldn’t find another spot to play for a long, long time.  I tried opening up as much as I could, but there weren’t a lot of opportunities, and when I did play a few speculative hands, I’d miss completely and just bleed chips. Example:  With pocket 3’s, I called a raise to $20 from a relatively short stack because there were the aggros with big stacks who hadn’t folded yet.  One or two of them did call but I missed and had to fold to a big flop bet. I didn’t think this was the type of table where bluffing would have been at all successful. 

I stuck around for a couple of more hours and hadn’t really gotten anywhere.  But in trying to catch something, my stack had dwindled down to about $350-$360 or so.  The shades guy had moved over to the PLO game, but the other two maniacs were still there.  I wanted to leave, but as the big blind came to me, I decided that I would play one last orbit.  I really came thisclose to leaving at that point, but decided to post my big blind and that for absolutely sure, this would be the last one I posted this day.

I don’t remember the big blind hand, didn’t get to play it, but next hand, the small blind, I had Ace-7 offsuit. It limped to me so I completed for a buck and the big blind checked behind me.  Now, the big blind is the key player in this hand.  He had just come to the table a few minutes earlier, stack I guess around $200, and had engaged in a non-stop conversation with Texas since arriving.  It appeared they were old poker pals, not only from this room but from a few other rooms around southern California.  I didn’t get the impression they had ever socialized together outside of a poker and there was a pretty big age difference—Texas had at least 30 years on this guy, who looked quite young (no shades, cap or hoodie, however).

All told, seven of us saw the flop. It came Ace-7-3, but it was all clubs.  I led out for $12 and had two callers, including the big blind.  The turn was a King of spades and I put out $20.  The big blind popped it to $50 and the other guy folded.

Hmm….as I said, I had no read on the guy.  Did he flop a flush and slow-play it one street?  Did he like the King?  How?  Pocket Kings, he would have raised preflop, so no set of Kings.  Two pair, Ace-King?  No, again, he would have likely raised pre.  King-7?  Maybe.  A set of 7’s or 3’s he slow played until then?  With all those clubs on the board?

Obviously I could be behind a flush.  But for a read, I decided to go by this:  Maybe he plays like his buddy Texas.  If that had been Texas, I could sure see him raising the turn there with just a draw, or maybe a pair and a flush draw.  Maybe he had the King of clubs and a blank?

It’s hard to fold two pair and I couldn’t do it, and one of the reasons was that this guy was a buddy of the aggro, Texas.  Ever do that before?  Get a read based on who he’s friends with?

So I called.  I wasn’t sure how much I could comfortably call on the river, but then I saw the river card, which was a beautiful, beautiful 7.  No flush worries for me.

Now the decision was to bet or try for a check-raise.  If I bet, how much?  I really couldn’t count on him betting.  I figured the paired board might slow him up.  He might be happy to check with his flush, if that’s what he had.  By the same reasoning, he might be hesitant to call a really big bet.  That was just a judgment call, I really didn’t know.  I just grabbed a stack of $100, split it in half, and put the $50, hoping for a call.

He tanked a bit, asked for size of my bet, and then counted out chips….more chips.  He put out a big stack.  It was over $100.  I didn’t ask for an exact count, because I could see that what he had left was a bit less than what he had just bet.  So anything I raised would be all in if he called.

I didn’t really think, I just said, “all-in.”  He replied….”I was afraid of that.”

He tanked forever.  He verbalized his feelings and it was pretty clear he had flopped a flush.  He seemed to know he was beat, but was having difficulty letting go.  “You really liked that 7, didn’t you?”  I sat there stoned faced.  At another point, he said—apparently to Texas—“Should I waste another $100?”  Texas responded, appropriately, “I can’t help you.”

Finally, finally….he folded.  He showed 10-9 of clubs.  He said, “I can’t beat your full house.”  Texas said, “Or his bigger flush.”

He said “nice hand” as I happily stacked my chips.  I played that orbit and as I had promised myself, left when the big blind came back to me.  By this time, the guy who lost that pot had moved over to the PLO game.  I ended cashing out up $285, just shy of a double up.

It was a good day, for sure.  On the way home I was thinking about how I could have played the river better, and possible gotten all the guy’s chips.  One thing I always think of—does it matter that I went all-in when that was really the only bet?  I mean, if instead, suppose I had just bet twice his bet (which would have been all-in for him to call).  I mean psychologically, is it less intimidating than seeing an actual all-in with a big stack, even though the result is the same?  I always wonder about that.  In this case, the guy was an experienced player and I don’t think it mattered.  Would it make a difference with a more inexperienced player?

The other thing I thought of is something I never do, and don’t like it when they do it to me….talk.  I mean, before I re-raised.  You know, when he raised, I could have Hollywooded it up, asked for a count, counted my chips, then said something like, “Did you really flop a flush?  You flopped a flush?  Hmm….do I believe you flopped a flush?  I don’t think I believe you.”  Then pause and then put out a re-raise.  Might that have worked?  Is that something I need to add to my repertoire? 

I’m happy booking that win but I want to learn how to get that last hundred bucks, if possible.

And below is depiction of something else I'd like to learn how to get......


  1. hair extensions? also, thanks for TaTa pic.

    1. Can't believe you noticed hair extensions in that pic?

      BTW...what the hell are hair extensions?

  2. The only way I see it, is if he is going to 2.5x your river bet, would he have done the same if you led for $80, then he makes it $200ish, or pushed himself if he only has a bit behind. Even if that's not everything he has, he probably is committed to put in his last $40 or $50 with that much out there.

    Oh, I have a break before my last class and plan to play Friday night. Are you around?


    1. Thanks, Dave, great analysis.

      Unfortunately, I won't be able to join you on Friday. Have fun and make some money!

  3. i dont know why u checked the a7 clubs hand against his ak on the turn

    1. I'm a nit. All I had there was a pair of 7's. Typically, I'm looking for a cheap showdown...unless I catch trips, two pair or my flush.

  4. Maybe this could have been a spot to try the all in overbet? It's a situation where you want your opponent to think you're weak and trying to look strong, when in reality you're really strong. Just a thought.

    1. That's not a bad idea, Nick. It might have worked, I suppose.

  5. I'm not trying to do the math right now, but he only has to call a certain percentage of the time for it to be +ev. If you reasonably expect a call that often, it's the right play. I think it works often enough to make it reasonable to use it. It's good especially in a spot where you can represent a naked over card that mussed the flush, or rep the hand he actually has when in fact you're stronger. He shouldn't be able to fold a flush there the way the hand played out, and if he can, he should either bet more with his made hand earlier, or not play it. That's a spot he should be getting his money in by the turn to avoid the trouble he ran into on the river.

    Plus, if he's going to raise and then fold the river, he's basically turning his hand into a bluff.

    1. Thanks, Nick, some great points. Yeah, you know it really is odd that he folded there after raising me on the river. That was definitely a mistake, at least percentage wise, he had put in well more than half his stack and it was less than his bet to call me there. If he realizes he can find a fold if I come over the top, why raise at all?

      I said he was an experienced player--I didn't say he was a good one!

  6. I'm not going to say that this type of table talk never works but I tend to think it gives too much away and it doesn't seem to fit your personality either. I agree that you're better option is just to put more out there on the river because the $50 bet seems awfully suspicious.

    Dan (Zourah)

    1. Thanks, Dan. I honestly don't think I could pull off that table talk without making it obvious what I was doing....perhaps with a lot of practice? But isn't it true that when people talk, it's almost always because they have it and want a call?