Sunday, August 7, 2016

I Only Played Two Hands

Those of you follow me on Twitter (or Instagram, for that matter) probably saw me tweet the picture below yesterday, with the caption. “Good day at the Bike.”

Here’s the story of how I ended up sitting behind all those chips.  In case you can’t tell, or didn’t know, the yellow chips at the Bike are $5 chips. The light blue ones are dollar chips.

As I periodically do, I made an appointment in the West L.A. area late Saturday morning.  From there, the Bike, in magnificent Bell Gardens, is a helluva lot closer than is Player’s Casino in Ventura.  So if I wanted to play poker after my appointment, it made sense to head to the Bike.  I actually have a post about my last session at PC ready to go, but decided to bump this one ahead of it because the story from the Bike is so fresh in my mind, and my Twitter peeps no doubt are looking forward to the details behind the pic.

The good thing about heading to the Bike from where I started out is that the route avoided driving right past Dodger Stadium, as I invariably do when I go there from my home.  The Dodgers were playing the Red Sox yesterday at 1PM, and the traffic on the I-5 would have been even worse than usual.  And since it’s L.A., traffic falls into one of two categories: Awful and god-awful.

So I avoided that, but I knew that there was an excellent chance I’d have to drive right past the stadium around the time the game was letting out. Still, it made more sense to hit the Bike than to head all the way to Ventura.

I got to the Bike and had to wait a surprisingly long time to get in the game.  There were only two names ahead of me and two 2/3 games going, but no one left either game for a while.  However names started filling up the list behind me and finally they had enough to start a new game.  So I took seat 1 at the new game, and it was filled from the get-go.

I didn’t get any cards for awhile and was busy observing the other players.  It was a pretty tight table for the Bike, with two exceptions.  Seat 3 was a youngish guy who played almost every hand and raised more often than he limped—a lot more.  He c-bet almost all flops, and only then did he consider slowing down.  For a while his main sparring partner was another young guy (wearing a Dodgers cap, as it happens) in seat 8 (tables are 9-handed).  There were many hands where they were the only two players, and they exchanged chips back and forth for awhile.  Seat 8 had bought in short ($100) and when he reloaded only bought $100 at a time.  Seat 3 bought in larger ($200-$300) and kept reloading at that amount.

After a quite a few orbits of not playing a single hand, I looked down at Ace-9 offsuit in the small blind.  Seat 3 had straddled as he did pretty much every time he had the chance.  There was a call to the straddle in front of me.  I had observed that when Seat 3 straddled, he didn’t usually raise, the straddle was enough for him.  And compared to the hands I had been getting, that Ace-9 looked like a monster.  So I figured I’d take a chance for four more bucks and called.  The big blind called, the aggro in seat 3 checked his option, as I expected (and hoped) he would do.

The flop was Jack-high, and all hearts.  Wouldn’t you know it—I had the Ace of hearts.  I checked and the big blind bet $15.  He was a middle-aged Asian man who hadn’t really played many more hands than I had.  So the flop must have hit him fairly hard.  Seat 3 called, which could have meant anything.  The other guy folded, and, with the nut flush draw, I called.  The turn was the 4 of spades, a brick. I checked, and Asian man bet $45.  Seat 3 wasted no time calling.  I called too.

The river was the semi-beautiful 4 of hearts.  Semi-beautiful because, although it did give me the nut flush, it also paired the board, and it certainly was possible that one of them had a set which had just turned into a boat.  I had both players covered, still having almost all of my original $300 buy in.  They each had less than $200.  I didn’t think they had enough for me to consider bet-folding.  If I bet and one of them shoved, it probably wouldn’t have made sense to fold.  So I decided to just check and see what they did.

The Asian man grabbed some chips and looked like he was about to bet.  But he hesitated and finally checked.  The aggro didn’t bet; instead he just quickly announced, “I have two pair.” Cool.  I turned over my cards, as did the Asian man.  He had 10-2 of hearts. 

I swept in the pot, which made my stack a bit over $400.  The Asian man later asked me if I would have called a shove on the turn.  I said I wasn’t sure.  Since I couldn’t recall exactly how much he had, I couldn’t say.  Plus it would depend on what Mr. Aggro did in response.  The Aggro claimed he had flopped two pair, so the paired 4 on the river didn’t help him.

I went back to just watching, as the cards I was getting were basically all text-book examples of what they refer to in poker books as “garbage hands.”  In the meantime, the Aggro had lost another buy-in or two.  He was pretty good at that.  At one point he had lost most of his chips, had a chip runner on the way with more chips, and lost those chips to someone before the chip runner even returned with them.

Then one of the floor persons came over to ask him if he wanted to move.  He said he did, but asked if she could hold the seat for him for like 10-15 minutes.  She said sure, which surprised me, but hey, this is the Bike.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to another table of 2/3 or if he was moving up to a bigger game, since apparently he couldn’t lose his money fast enough at this game.  He was probably going to a bigger game that they had just started.

So I knew he was planning on leaving our table fairly soon.  By this point, he had pretty much taken to raising every hand preflop if it wasn’t raised first.  He called raises, but he didn’t three-bet preflop that often.  And so, in early position, I looked at my cards and first saw a 9.  I expected the second card to be a deuce, maybe a three at best.  But no, it was another 9.  First pocket pair of day!  BTW, that Ace-9 I’d had earlier was by far the best Ace I’d seen all day, I think I may have had Ace-2 and Ace 3 off too.  Sure that Mr. Aggro was going to raise, I limped in.  And on cue, he made it $16.  There were two callers and I made it four to see the flop.

Well the flop was pretty nice. It was King-9-x, with two clubs.  I checked.  I was 100% certain that Aggro would bet.  I mean, if he had checked there, I think I would have fainted from the shock.  No fainting necessary, he made it $50.  One of the other two players tanked for a bit, but they both folded. 

Now, I had checked knowing he was going to bet.  What I wasn’t sure of was, did I want to check-raise the flop or just call and try to trap him?  I was concerned about the clubs, but I decided to gamble.  It had been a good long time since I’d had a big hand against a guy this capable of paying me off.  I was going to swing for the fences.

I was struggling grabbing my chips, and I didn’t want to appear to be angle shooting, so before I cut a stack of $100 in half, I announced, “call.”   Actually, I didn’t want to make it seem like I was considering raising.

The turn card was the Ace of diamonds, perhaps a scare card for him, but not as scary as a club would have been (assuming he didn’t have clubs).  I decided to check again because I was pretty confident he would make another bet.

He took his time, played with his chips and at first it looked like he was going to put out a smallish bet.  But no, he pulled those back, grabbed a $100 stack and added $50 to it before pushing them forward.  I was a bit surprised because $150 was more than half his stack.  He had actually won a pot or two before this hand and had over $300 when the hand started.  I still had over $400 and thus had him covered.

I figured he had to be pot committed, even though my calling his flop bet and then check-raising him there should have scared the crap out of him.  We had been playing together since the table opened, and he had to have been aware that this was literally the second hand I’d entered voluntarily all day.  And I showed the nut flush on the other one.

I avoided Hollywooding much (that seems to backfire) and just waited a few beats before announcing, “all-in.”

Sure enough, he called.  He didn’t seem too happy about it, but he called.

The river was a red 10 which might have completed a straight draw, but it didn’t please Mr. Aggro at all.  He said, “You have Ace-King….or a set?”  I didn’t respond, just tabled my hand.  He groaned and mucked without showing.  He might have had Ace-King himself, or just the King, or who knows.

The dealer confirmed that I had him covered and all his chips came my way.  When I finished stacking them, I had all those chips you see in the photo.  Over $800 worth.

Damn, that couldn’t have worked out better for me if I had written a script for it!

Mr. Aggro actually bought in for more chips to play at that table, even though he was still planning on moving to the other game.  He played another orbit and only left after hanging around long enough to straddle my small blind again.  Then he moved on.  I wasn’t going to get any more of his money this day.

Meanwhile, I went back to seeing hands right out of “Unplayable Hold-em Hands 101.”  And I kept staring at that big stack of yellow chips in front of me.  They sure looked pretty.  And I was thinking about how long it had been since I’d booked a really big win at a cash game.  It had been way too long.  And man, wouldn’t it be nice to book a win like this?

And…wouldn’t it just ruin my day if I ended up losing a good amount of those chips (or, shudder, all of them) to someone else?

A $500 win would sure be mighty nice after the bad run I’ve had.  Added to that was the fact that I had gotten up early, was tired, and wouldn’t be able to stay too long anyway.  Plus if I left then, I’d be passing by Dodger Stadium during the middle of the game, so the traffic around there would be better than if I waited until the game let out.  And furthermore…the ATM machine had left the game, and the other players were actually all at least semi-decent players.

I couldn’t talk myself into staying.  I’d posted some blinds, so I racked up $801 and called it an early day.  And a damn profitable one.  And by the way, even without the Dodger game to worry about, traffic still sucked.  It’s L.A.  But you know, it was a damn pleasurable ride home nevertheless.

And yes, it’s true.  I had only played two hands all day.

Sometimes, you can do really wonderful things with just two hands.


  1. Congrats on the great session, Rob. I'm heading to Vegas August 16th - will probably be staying until New Year. Hit me up if you're coming to town.

    1. Thanks, DWP....Yeah, I should be back in Vegas a few times before the end of the year, we should definitely get together.

  2. u missed out of lots of money checking the ace into his 10-2 hearts. dont expect him to bet with 4 out there, but he will call

    1. True....I was worried about either one of them having a full house, which was plausible the way the hand played out, and if that was the case, I'd be maybe saving money by checking. If he had shown me his hand I would have bet.

  3. Congrats on your win. We all need a good run once in a while. Very appropriate pic by the way.

    1. Thanks Dale.

      Well, yeah, I thought I should the pic I took of all my chips.

      Oh wait....did you mean the second pic by any chance? :)

  4. Great job sir!

    I just had a great chance to visit with our mutual friend Scott (I did not press send but I think he is inclined to agree with you on how I played those Kings) and I mentioned getting on a really hot run when I went to visit Andy in Des Monies.

    That type of run was a first for me (I don't play all that much cash) by running up my rather minuscule buyin to an amount that would be extremely bothersome to lose in one hand. Once I calculated the negative utility I would suffer from losing all that money and how it could affect my play I decided it was time to leave! So I'd say you certainly did the right thing!

    1. Thanks, zourah! Are your sure Scott wasn't studying your strategy with KK to play them that way in his next bracelet event?

      Yes, sometimes you just have to book the win when you weight it against how you're gonna feel if lose it instead.

      The say it's "all one session" but I think if I lose that $$ in my next session (perish the thought!) it still won't be nearly as bad as it would have if I left the Bike empty handed Saturday.

  5. It's possible! I did not press him for details but when the hand came up I mentioned that I wasn't sure at the time that I was under the gun abs he was like, "no, you were definitely under the gun!!"