Sunday, June 5, 2016

Face Off in Ventura

It was a titanic battle of two Asians at PC Ventura yesterday.  The first one had joined our table after I’d been there for a good hour.  He was both a bit of an aggro and a bit of a luckbox, at least when he started out.  His stack had risen and fallen, and I’m sad to report his stack had doubled (from under $100) when he beat me boat over boat.  By the time this hand occurred, he had nearly $600.

The second Asian had joined the table more recently.  He was even more aggro, and he was only at our game for a few hands when they asked him if he wanted to move to a bigger game, but he said no, he would stay at this table. So I figured he’s probably used to bigger stakes. The two of them got into a few hands together, and seemed to be playing against each other a bit.  As far as I could tell, they didn’t know each other previously, but it’s possible that I’m wrong about that.  He had just won a big pot right before this hand and had around $500.

We’ll call the first player I mentioned Kenny and the second guy Artie.  Kenny had been away from the table for awhile and didn’t see Artie win that big hand I mentioned.  On Kenny’s first hand back from his little break, he raised to $21 after a couple of limpers.  Artie immediately said something like, “Whoa…first hand back and you make it $21?”  I don’t believe he had looked at his cards when he said that.

Meanwhile, an older gentleman, one of the tightest players at the table, had called the $21 immediately behind Kenny.  Artie looked at his cards and then said, “The bet is $21?  What’s four times $21?”  The dealer said, “No math please.”  I’m not sure if he was joking or not. Maybe it appeared another player, one not in the hand, was going to tell him, and I guess that would not have been ok.  But the guy managed to figure it out without any help and called out his raise to $85 (close enough).  It folded back to Kenny.

He complained a bit to Artie.  “What, you were giving me a hard time over $21 and you make it $85?  What’s that all about?”  Artie said something like, “Hey I’m not kidding here. I mean it.”

Kenny tanked for some time, then counted out chips and looked at his stack and looked at Artie’s stack.  And reading his body language, I thought he was going to re-raise.  But finally he said, “I’ll just call,” and counted out the $85.  The gentleman who had called the $21 folded instantly.  Apparently he only had a $21 hand, not an $85 hand.

It was heads up and the flop was Queen-high on an unconnected board.  Kenny took very little time in checking, but Artie didn’t notice that he checked.  “Is it on me?”  Assured that it was, he announced, “all-in.”

Kenny was surprised by the bet.  “What does he have, “$300?”  No, he had more than that.  He had two $100 chips which were kind of hidden (by the way, in this casino, the $100 chips are white, not black).  The dealer said it was more so he asked for a complete count. It was something like $425-$435, in that range.  So Kenny counted his own stack, and separated the amount he needed to call.  It would have left him with less than $100 if he called and lost.

Kenny was in a bit of agony.  He mentioned something about really not wanting to lay his hand down.  Or maybe he said, “I can’t lay this down.”  Artie said, “I showed that one hand.”  It was a reference to a really big bet he had made in a previous hand, and after getting the fold, he showed his hand to be exactly what he was representing with his big bet—not a bluff.

So Kenny asked, “Will you show if I fold?”  But Artie said, “Will I show if you fold?  No…I don’t do that.  I never show.  That one time was it.”

Kenny stared and stared.  He kept quizzing Artie and Artie just softly indicated he “had it” and that he wasn’t kidding.  I can assure you that everyone at the table was totally engrossed in this battle of wills.  So I was kind of surprised when someone called for the clock.  I wasn’t sure who it was.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Artie.  Frankly, I was enjoying the drama.  I wouldn’t have minded watching for another five minutes if not more.  It was highly entertaining.  Of course, I would have been more in favor of calling the clock if it had been a tournament setting.

It took awhile for the floor to come over for the clock, but finally he did and the countdown began.  The staring continued, Kenny kept talking, saying anything to try to get a better read on Artie.  By this time Artie had stop saying anything in response, and was looking away.

The floor said, “30 seconds,” and a few seconds later Kenny just flipped over his hand.  It was two Kings.  Artie jumped a little…..not sure if it was from the hand itself or if he was just surprised to see the hand exposed.  Needless to say, Kenny wasn’t taking his eyes off Artie the entire time. 

But he still wasn’t acting on his hand.  The floor man spoke again. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…”  I knew that if he got past “one” his hand would be dead.  Kenny was motionless and I wondered if a last second “call” announcement would escape his lips at the last possible moment.

But……no, it did not.  The floor man said “one” followed by, “this hand is dead,” And he himself put his hand on the two Kings and swept them into the muck for the dealer.  The dealer started pushing the pot to Artie.  Everyone was kind of gasping that he could lay down his Kings on a Queen-high, non-threatening board like that.    Especially since, from our observations, Kenny certainly seemed to have more than a little gamble in him.

Artie started to just slide his cards back face down, but at the last second, he flipped them over.

Of course, it was two Aces. 

Artie said, “Wow….how could you lay that down?  I would have called.”

He repeated similar comments for a quite a while and now Kenny was strangely silent.  I think at one point he said, “I saved myself a lot of money there.”  He did indeed.

Artie even pointed out that he could have still won.  He had outs, after all.  Yeah…two of them.  But he used that to justify his statement that he would have called had the shoe been on the other foot.  Another player said, “I thought he had a set of Queens,” (meaning Artie).  Kenny said, “No way, I knew he didn’t have a set of Queens.”  I agree, I don’t think he would have played it that way.

OTOH, I’m not sure I like how he played the Aces. It was a dramatic hand, but not necessarily a well played one, at least not by Artie.  You can’t argue with Kenny’s play, unless you just want to say, “Kenny was supposed to lose his stack there.”  But Artie?  His shove into a pot of a bit less than $200 was not necessary.  He probably could have gotten called with a bet of say, $150.  And been an 90/10 favorite if the hand continued.  Based on his comment though, it appears he really was concerned with losing as a huge favorite, that’s why he bet so much.

If that was his concern though, did he consider the possibility that Kenny might have played pocket Queens the exact same way?  In which case Artie was shoving into a set?  Just asking.

What do you think of Artie’s play there?

Anyway, the table was buzzing about this for the rest of the time I was there.  I enjoyed being a spectator to it.

Oh, and by the way….my original title for this post was going to be, “Aces vs. Kings—Asian edition.”  As you likely know, I’ve done “Aces vs. Kings” posts a few times (see here, here and here).  But I realized I’d be giving away the punch line of my post in the title, so I had to up with something more innocuous. 

Anyway, the pic below was taken by my pal Norm in Vegas at the grand opening of the new Wynn poker room.  It seems an appropriate pic for a post about Aces.  As far as I know, there were no guys there dressed as Kings.  Sorry.  Thanks, Norm!


  1. Making it $85 pre, gave his hand away. Why would the other guy call $85 and fold on the flop? If I bet $21 and a guy makes it $85 pre, either we're getting it all-in pre or I'm folding. I guess he was looking for his 2 outs. How would you play the KK there pre?

    1. I think he probably intended to get it all in if there was no Ace on the flop but likely changed his mind as he thought and thought and thought.

      Me? Well, based on the guy's play, and the fact that he was Asian (sorry if I'm stereotyping), I'm probably getting it all in preflop. Maybe I think of a different way if I'm that deep. Not sure.

    2. It might be incorrect to go all-in while that deep. If the KK guy calls a standard flop bet, and the turn and river are blanks, then he'll call two more bets. I find it hard to believe that all of his chips won't end up in the middle anyway.

    3. I think Artie's raise to $85 is NOT playing his hand face up (see below). He bet 4X, which makes sense since there was a caller after Kenny's raise...otherwise it's 3X.

      I also think that Artie--this particular player, anyway--could do that with QQ, JJ and AK, although as pointed out below, he has two blockers to AK.

  2. KK blocks AK and KK, and unblocks AA. If his opponent is playing standard 1/2, he won't have AQ or JJ in this spot as he should, so there is nothing that Kenny beats in a standard value range given circumstances. On 10 7 4, Kenny gets the KK in because he still beats several hands, but Qxx means his primary target just made a set. It's the nut worst flop for his hand, because Axx takes aways some combinations of Aces but leaves all the QQ intact.

    Also, asking "Why such a big bet" or "you really made it x amount? [in this case $21]" in this situation is a top tier strength tell.

    Artie's flop shove is terrible and gives Kenny all risk and no reward. The fact that Kenny took so much time says it all: he wants to call because he has kings but he reads the board and the action and his brain won't let him: he times out rather than act, unable to resolve the discrepancy.

    So the hand is a nice combination of Kenny playing well and Artie the opposite. Don't pay with Kenny, follow Artie around.

    1. Awesome analysis, thanks for that great input.

      I think Kenny knew that Artie is NOT a standard 1/2 player (actually the game was 2/3) so that made his decision more difficult.

  3. When someone makes a 3 bet in a low stakes NL game, and it's a 4x re-raise, you can narrow the betting range to be QQ+. So when the board is Q-x-x rainbow, Kenny with KK knows he's either losing to Artie's entire range, or chopping.

    He loses to QQ.
    He chops to KK.
    He loses to AA.

    It's a fold.

    It's also a terrible overbet by Artie.

    1. Thanks very much, appreciate the feedback.

      I would just say tho that in Artie's case, his range was probably a little wider than than that. But still, Kenny is behind his range.