Thursday, May 19, 2016

Not The Start I Wanted

This is going to be another one of those boring posts with a lot of hand histories.  Sorry about that, but you have been warned.

This was my first nite in Vegas last month, a visit to MGM.  My very first hand was Jack-10 of hearts.  Now that is a starting hand I usually play and almost always raise with if the pot hasn’t been raised to me first.  On the other hand, I always play very tight (even by my standards) when I first sit down, preferring to get a feel for the table before mixing it up—unless I get something I have to play, like a big pocket pair or Ace-King.  So my first thought was to just fold and see what was going on with this table.  Then I thought, no, you can at least limp in with it.  Then I thought, screw that.  I was in the hijack seat and it had folded to me.  If I raised, I might not see a flop and perhaps raising with my very first hand might give me an image I don’t usually have.

So I made it $8. And everyone behind me called.  It was actually pretty funny.  We were now five to see the flop, which was Jack-10-5, rainbow. Cool.  I bet $25 and had two callers.  I wasn’t thrilled with the King on the turn but I put out $60 and didn’t get a call.

So after one hand, I was ahead for the trip.  Considering how my last trip went, I have to say the thought of standing up, cashing out, and turning right around and going home so I could call this a profitable trip did cross my mind.  But only as a joke.  Of course I played on.

Sometime later, still with a little bit of profit in front of me, I raised to $8 in late position with King-Jack of clubs.  Three of us saw a flop of Ace-3-2, two clubs (the little cards; the Ace was a heart).  Before I could c-bet a guy led out for $15.  The other player folded and I called.  The turn was good news/bad news.  It was the Ace of clubs.  So I had the nut flush but certainly not the nuts.  This time he bet $40 and I called.  The river was a blank, and I was a bit surprised to see him check.

As observant readers of my blog know, my default here is to check behind and see if my flush is good.  I started to do that and then I reminded myself how I should be value betting the river a lot more often than I do to try to get more money for my made hands.  This is a huge leak in my game.  So I thought about the action.  And I realized that there was just no way this guy, after donk-betting the flop and betting the turn, would be checking the river with a boat.  Just no way.  I mean, yeah, I suppose he could be trying to induce a bluff from me, but I just couldn’t see it. I was certain he would bet if he had me beat.  More likely he had a lesser flush or maybe trip Aces.  If he had those, he might call a bet with them.  I put out $60.  He tanked for a bit, but ultimately folded.

Still, I was happy that I bet.  It was a small victory overcoming my natural tendency to play it too damn safe.  Maybe he would have called a smaller bet.  But if he had, I’d be thinking, “He would have called more.”  At least I pulled the trigger.

I was up nearly $100 when my buddy Mike pushed in. Now Mike is famous for cracking my Kings—he was doing it long before it became a thing for me—but this time he didn’t have to give me the dreaded hand to ruin my evening.

In early position he sent me Ace-King off.  I made it $8 and the guy behind me made it $25.  The next player, an Indian fellow who had played very few hands since sitting down, called.  Two more players called.  So of course I called.  Although, with five people willing to see a flop for $25, I’m not sure what kind of flop I’d really like.

Certainly not the one we got, which was Jack-high. I checked, the preflop aggressor put out a good sized bet, and then the Indian announced all-in.  Hmm….he had a bit over $150 or so.  Everyone folded, including me, until it got back to the preflop aggressor, who wasted no time in calling (he had the guy covered).  I was thinking that the Indian must have had a set of Jacks—that would make total sense.  But no, he turned over two Aces!  The other guy meekly turned over two Queens.  He was shocked, as was everyone else, that Indian hadn’t four-bet with his Aces.  Nothing hit the turn or the river and the guy with the Aces had a nice pot. But boy, did he play that oddly.  I suppose you could say it was smart—if he four-bets preflop, he’s basically turning his hand face up, especially since he hadn’t played many hands.  And then by shoving any flop, it’s maybe his best chance at a double up.  But there’s a huge risk that someone hits a better hand.  And of course, he couldn’t know that it would be five players to see the flop.  So I can’t say if the guy was clueless or brilliant.  But in this case, it sure worked.

Mike wouldn’t deal me pocket Kings so he sent me two black Aces instead.  I raised to $8 and had three callers.  The flop was King-high and all hearts.  I dutifully put out $25.  Anyone think I shouldn’t bet there (or maybe less?).  Two folds, and then the last guy—also the last guy to call my bet preflop from the blind—check-raised all in for $125 or so.  I folded.  He showed his hand, Queen-2 of hearts, so he could get a drawing ticket for his flopped flush. 

Then Mike dealt me two Jacks.  After a limper, I made it $12.  The guy on my left called, it folded to the limper, an older gentleman from Houston.  He announced “all-in.”  But he only had $28 total.  So I called and the other guy called.  The flop was Queen-9-7, rainbow.  Hmm….Well, I’m basically heads up against the guy with a big stack.  I figured the odds were against him having a Queen so I bet $40.  But the guy behind me shoved.  He had me covered (we both started with over $150 or so).  I shrugged and figured I was beat, so I folded.  The turn was another Queen, and the river was a brick.  The old guy turned over pocket Kings.  Clearly, Mike intended to give me those Kings and missed by one seat.  He took the pot, but the other guy had already claimed the $40 I bet on the flop with his shove.  And he showed 9-7.  He said, “I only played it because it’s my lucky hand.”  No, he was not The Trooper.

So I made a good fold, and I really don’t think my flop bet was a bad idea (agree/disagree?). Of course, had I called his shove, I would have won the side pot when the Queen on the turn counterfeited his hand.  But that’s results-oriented thinking.

That was pretty much the end of the (mildly) interesting hands.  I noted one more hand, when I raised with Ace-Jack and took down a three-way with a c-bet on a Queen-high flop.

All told, what started out as a promising night ended up with a $100 loss.  My trip was not off to the positive start I had hoped for.  These losing sessions are starting to drive me to drink……


  1. Quick rundown for one hand: "I made it $12. The guy on my left called, it folded to the limper, an older gentleman from Houston. He announced “all-in.” But he only had $28 total."

    You're playing 1/2 or 1/3 meaning you raised $9-10. The 3bet is a raise of more than $9-10, meaning that you could re-open action. Why not 4bet it to trap the limper's dead money and isolate?

    Forget about results-oriented play where it would have made no difference (i.e. shover had KK). From my perspective after reading this hand, you had a limper who called your $12 raise and with your call, gave good odds to call another raise 3-way (call $16 to win $84).

    Curious to know what your thoughts were.

    1. You are right PM, when I was reviewing this to write the post, it occurred to me re-raising would have been a good idea. But I'm pretty sure at the time, it didn't really occur to me. I recalled wondering if there was any point in even calling. The limp/re-raise from an older guy screams AA (KK was actually a surprise to me) and I figured I was therefore setmining without the right odds, since there were no implied odds from him.

      And then I had Jacks, so did I really want to four -bet with that? Not usually. I guess I wasn't thinking it through properly.

  2. I am taking it from your reply to PMs comment that you feel 4 betting to isolate would have been a proper maneuver. I am somewhat confused Rob because I had commented on one of your posts about isolating and you told me at the time that it was more of a tournament play and not a cash game play but now you seem to feel that that might have been a good idea after all. Have you altered your views about isolating in cash games??

    1. Well, I really don't remember the earlier hand you are referring to. But you know, just because I didn't think that particular situation was right for an isolation play, I don't think I meant that it was NEVER right in a cash game. In fact, like everything in poker, it depends.

      But honestly, I'm not really sure that a raise in the hand described in this post would have been a great play either....just that I should have considered it at the time. I thought about it when writing the post, but you know, then it was too late.

      The other thing to keep in mind, FD....I'm not a very good player.