Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ask Rob

This is going to be a bit different kind of post--It will actually be entertaining.  (Well, let’s not go that far.)

No, I’m going to respond to a couple of questions I received in response to my previous post (which you can find here).  When I read the comments I realized my response would likely the size of an average blog post.  Not one of my average blog posts, mind you, but one that a normal person might write.  So rather than spend all that time and effort on a reply comment that hardly anyone would see, I thought I’d turn my response into an actual new post that maybe a couple of dozen of people will see.

Since one of the questions actually involves the inner-workings of this blog, you could say I’m taking care of some housekeeping.

The comment was from fellow blogger FlushhDraw.  The first question involves a hand I described last time.   He quotes from my post then asks about why I played it the way I did, so here’s his comment quoting from me and then posing the question.

"’Then I called $7 with Ace-King of diamonds. Another player shoved for $22. The first guy called so I did as well.’

“You did not mention approx what you would had or what the other guy had in chips where you had AK, but wouldn't the proper move have been to go all in pre flop in a squeeze play in order to isolate the guy that went all in for $22 or did you feel that the guy that raised originally and then flatted the $22 had a big pocket pair?”

OK, FD, this goes to the whole topic of how you value Ace-King, a topic I’ve covered a few times over the years.  In fact, I even did a post titled “Overvaluing Ace-King” which you can find here.   As you can see, I got some pushback on that and I know there is debate about how to value that hand, especially in a cash game.  I probably undervalue it.

When I first saw your comment, my immediate reaction, without even trying to recall the hand you were referring to, was, “That’s more of a tournament move than a cash-game play.”  And the truth is, at different points in tournaments, I would value that Ace-King a lot more than I did here, and I certainly can and do play it more aggressively than I did here. 

In this particular situation, this was the last hand I made note of.  That means that I had most of the profit I made from this session (about $140) in front of me.  If I recall correctly, the guy who made it $7 actually had me covered.  So shoving there would have been totally incorrect.  But should I have made a reasonable three-bet?

Well, as I’ve stated many times, I rarely three-bet with Ace-King in a cash game. That might be weak, too tight, whatever, and I admit I probably play it too soft most of the time.  Would this have been a good time to mix it up (for me) and try the squeeze play as you suggest?  Possibly.  But remember this was in the midst of a pretty bad run, I had gotten pummeled the day before, and I was certainly not of a mind to try to a play I wouldn’t normally make even when I’m running well. 

I would have considered it if the guy who raised to $7 was a guy who had a really wide open-raising range, but this guy was not raising preflop all that much, perhaps just a bit more than the average player. So it never was something I considered for more than a milli-second.

And the bottom line is, yeah, maybe making that three-bet would have been the right play.  And now you know why I don’t write strategy articles for Ante Up!

FD’s next question is directly about how I do things here on the blog:

“My second question is one of simple curiosity. You used to refer to the places that you played on the strip as BSC which meant big strip casino. Previously you felt uncomfortable about stating where you were playing but I noticed now you seem to always say where and I was wondering what brought about that change. I will say that I so enjoy the fact that you do mention when you are playing much much better.”

This is something I’ve mentioned from time to time as well, but maybe it’s worth talking about every now and again as readers come and go.

When I started this blog, I really didn’t expect to be talking this much about poker.  Maybe that sounds silly, but it’s true.

Back when I started doing this, I was strictly a 2/4 limit player and I didn’t start the blog to talk about my 2/4 hands or the strategy behind my play.  That’s not to say that there isn’t any strategy for low limit poker, but it’s a lot more straight forward than strategy for No Limit and I honestly didn’t have any interest in doing a poker strategy or even a poker hand history/results blog about 2/4 limit.

No, the reason I started this blog was to relate stories I had accumulated from all my trips to Vegas.  Since poker was my main activity in Vegas, a lot of those stories took place at the poker table, of course.  But it was actually my non-poker playing friends who convinced me that my stories (and also my way of relating these stories) were interesting enough to share with a wider audience.  You can read about that in more detail in the post here.  (Note: that post from 3+ years ago was celebrating 50K pageviews; I’ve now hit 16X that number, so I guess there are some people interested in my silly stories).

But the original batch of stories I had in the bank when I started were all taken from play at the 2/4 limit table (if they had any poker context at all).  I would talk about poker hands only insofar as they were part of the story.  Like when I had quad 7’s and an obnoxious guy kept betting non-stop even tho he only had two pair (including the two 7’s on the board) (see here).  Or the time a girl had the greatest reaction ever when she saw her quad Jacks lose to a Royal Flush (see here).

Hmmm… usual, it’s taking awhile to get to the point (which I actually think is what a lot of folks like about the blog) but here it is.  When I was just telling stories, those stories could and would involve the employees of the rooms I played.  Some of those stories might have been embarrassing to the employee mentioned in the post.  I became pretty friendly with the staff in the three rooms I played in the most.  In addition to these pals being involved in the stories I had, they started telling me interesting but somewhat confidential stuff about what was going on in their room and around the city.  That’s why I gave everyone phony names.  But I went a step further and figured I would make it even harder for anyone to identify the person in my story, so I didn’t reveal the real name of the poker rooms, either.  It was double protection.

But what happened was, I switched to NL.  I didn’t plan on it, it kind of just happened.  Pretty soon after I started the blog, in fact.  And suddenly I started blogging about that.  For a good while there, the blog became a lot about my transition from a limit player to a NL player.  As such, hand histories and strategy (or attempts at strategy) became a lot more important than when I started.  Damn, suddenly I was actually writing a poker blog!  How’d that happen?

Despite all this time, I still feel I am transitioning from limit to NL, which I guess explains some of my poor play.  But of course, playing poker is a constant learning experience.  You never can or will know all you need to know.

Anyway, when I started having good results in tournaments, I felt it would be weird not to mention where these tournaments were.  So I named names.  If I also gathered fun stories there—and hopefully I did—I just had to rely on the phony names I’d given to the staff and the players for protection.

And then damn….suddenly this blog got a bit popular.  I mean, I never meant for my own real name to get out there, and then I landed the gig at Ante Up and I had to use my real name (or at least, what the Feds think is my real name, heh heh).  And my attempts to hide casino’s identities never really panned out anyway.  Check out this three-part post to see how I thought I was being so careful to protect the identity of a poker room and a dealer and it was about five minutes before the subject knew I had written all about her—that the story about her undone zipper was on the internet.

And then what happened to make it even extra difficult to keep the actual casino names secretive was when the Slut Parade was born, and I couldn’t really talk about that regular Vegas feature without identifying the casino where it took place (although of  course, there are similar Slut Parades in every casino with a nightclub).

So that’s why I started out with fake names for casinos and have pretty much abandoned that practice.  Although you will note that very recently, I refused to identify what poker room a certain story took place because I felt I needed to be discreet (see here).

OK, to finish this post with some fresher content, I’ll describe a hand I saw from my latest session at the local poker room.  Personally, it was similar to my previous two sessions—mostly card dead and ending up close to even.  Nothing very dramatic.  But this hand I wasn’t involved in was kind of neat.

On a flop with two clubs on it (let’s say the two clubs were the 5 & 8), someone bet, someone called and the last guy shoved for a total of $110.  Original bettor called as did the other guy.  Two of clubs hit the turn.  First guy shoved for about $200 and the other guy, who has slightly under that, tanked.  Finally he said, “Let’s get lucky” and called for all his chips.

He thought he had when the river was the 6 of clubs.  He showed his Ace of clubs (other card was the 10 of spades).  But the guy who shoved the turn had 9-7 of clubs for the straight flush.  So he got a lot luckier than the guy who wanted to get lucky—he didn’t need a club to hit but that was the only club that wouldn’t have beaten him.

Oh, the original shover on the flop had a set of 8’s.

Poker, huh?


  1. I remember when you referred to an irritating well-known player as "Poker Genius" and I knew exactly who you were talking about! The poker world, at least in the USA, is not really as big as one would think.

    1. Yeah....but in that case, my original version of the post basically talked about a website that identified him by name, which was really dumb. I had to edit it when that was pointed out to me. But yes, the poker world is a small one indeed.

  2. Appears to be a boobie trap. Well done sir.
    I will be in Vegas this weekend, 2/26 - 3/1.
    You should head on over before the parking scam goes into effect. GL Sir,
    Big L

    1. Good luck in Vegas, sir. I'm scheduled now for some time in Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness. Hopefully before the parking fees kick in.