Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Ace-King Doesn't Raise Like That, Buddy"

I don't know why it is, but for some reason I seem to be more sensitive to criticism at the poker table than in most other aspects of my life.  I know intellectually that if someone criticizes me at the table for how I played a hand, I should just laugh it off, perhaps say, "I'm sorry, as you'll find out, I'm a really bad player," and use the fact that the critic thinks I don't know what I'm doing to my advantage.

But for some reason when someone suggests I played a hand incorrectly, I take it way too personally.  I always want to defend myself by explaining why what I did was correct.  Now, I always stop myself from doing that, but the frustration of holding back my response makes the annoyance with the original comment last longer.

This was a night where things were going decently until four Queens (but not The Four Queens casino) and an obnoxious jerk put a damper on things.

In the small blind I had pocket Jacks and someone opened to $5 and got a couple of calls.  I made it $31.  The original raiser was the only one who called.  The flop came 7-2-2 and I bet $50.  He folded.

The very next hand I had pocket 6's and limped in with a few others.  The flop was 10-9-6, the first two cards were diamonds.  A guy bet $15 and there was a call.  I made it $60.  The first guy shoved for his last $65 total and the other guy folded.   The turn was a blank and the river was an Ace—no more diamonds came.  The guy who shoved showed 10-8, so all he had was a pair of 10's (and a missed gutshot).  Here's the crazy part.  The guy who called the flop and then folded said he had King-Queen of diamonds.  Huh?  He had the second nut flush draw and a gutshot to a straight flush?  How does he fold that?  I wasn't sure I believed him.

I opened to $6 with pocket 6's but there was a raise to $19 and then a shove for $49.  I folded.  The other guy called.  Of course there was a 6 on the flop!  The guy who made it $19 had pocket Queens and the guy who shoved had pocket Jacks.  The guy who won with his Queens left a few hands later and I told him that I would have had a set if I had stayed in.  He looked to the sky as if thanking god.  What about me?  I'm the one he should have thanked.

I opened to $10 with King-Queen of diamonds and only had one caller.  The flop was pretty nice: Jack-10-9, rainbow.  I bet $15 and he made it $30. I made it $65 and he shoved.  I had him covered and of course I snap called.  The turn was a Queen, and the river was a Jack.  I was worried about the paired board but it turns out he had.....pocket Kings.  Yeesh.  Damn Queen on the turn counterfeited me and made it a chop.  But I did find it interesting that he didn't three-bet with his Kings.  Could have gotten rid of me preflop with a three-bet.

Then I got the dreaded pocket Queens.  Yes, I said Queens.  It's been awhile since I've referred to them like that but you'll see why.  I opened to $10 and got two callers. The flop was low, two diamonds.  I bet $20.  The next guy shoved for $67 and the other guy called without any hesitation.  He had me covered. Well, I had to figure my Queens were no good there—they sure didn't seem to be worth another $47 against two players who really liked their hands.  I folded.  The turn was a King and the river was a blank—no diamond appeared.  Well, the guy who called the $67 had King-4 of diamonds and took it with a pair of Kings. Someone commented on his calling such a big bet on the flop and he said, "I had a monster draw."  The other guy shocked me by saying he had a straight draw.  I hadn't seen him bet a draw all evening.  BTW, he was the same guy who hadn't three-bet his pocket Kings in the previous hand.  That's one of the reasons I was so sure he was really strong there. 

Just several hands later I got pocket Queens again.  A new player had taken over for the guy who busted out with his straight draw a few hands earlier.  He was, well, "rough" looking.  I mean, I wouldn't want to run into this guy in a dark alley.  Or even a bright alley.  He bought in for $160.  And this was either the first or second hand he'd played.  He was under-the-gun and straddled for $5.  Two players called the straddle and now it was on me.

What am I supposed to do there?  I've mentioned before, I'm never quite sure what to raise when there's a straddle—how do I take the straddle into account? I mean, if it was three limps in front of me, I'd make it $14.  But that's too little, obviously.

To me, you can look at the straddle in one of two ways—as a small raise, or as a third blind.

If I look at it as a small raise, well I'm three-betting so I would normally triple the amount of the raise (the total bet).  So that would be $15—but I would also add the amounts of any calls.  Two calls, $5 each, and I come up with $25.

If I look it as a blind, well, I'm raising usually 4X, plus the amounts of any calls.  So 4 times $5 is $20, plus the two $5 calls and I come up with $30.

Does anybody think I should have raised less than $25?  Or for that matter, more than $30?

I was using the first method so I made it $25.  It folded to the new guy, the straddler, and he thought about it for a bit and then called.  Everyone else folded.  The flop was King-high, rainbow.  The other two cards were something like 8-3, 9-4, or similar.  He checked.  I c-bet $35 and he immediately announced "all-in."

I know, the over-shove screams of a bluff, and I was sure thinking that.  On the other hand, I didn't know this guy from Adam.  Did I really want to risk most of my stack with Queens on a King-high flop?  My answer was, no, I didn't. I folded. It was late, this was already going to be my last orbit so I didn't really have time to get it back if I lost

I'm sure some (most?) of you will think that's too weak.  But against an unknown opponent, I didn't feel like making the call.  If I was planning on playing longer, I might have been more tempted to call, if only to see if he was really bluff-shoving for $160 on his first hand.   That information would have been useful.  But under the circumstances, I'd likely never get to use it.

Anyway, here's the payoff.  When the pot was pushed to him, he said to me, in a pretty nasty tone, "Ace-King doesn't raise like that, buddy."

That irritated the hell out of me.  I didn't say a word, but I so wanted to set him straight.

I wanted to tell him, "I would have raised to $25 with any hand that I thought I should raise with, including Ace-King, buddy."

I wanted to say, "Since you straddled and there were two callers, that $25 was the least I should have raised to, buddy.  What would you have raised to in my position, buddy?"

I also wanted to say, "Don't call me buddy, buddy.  I'm not your buddy.  And I never will be."

Yeah, I don't really like it when someone I don't know calls me "buddy."  We're not buddies.  It always sounds like an insult to me.  Note: It's totally different when someone I know—someone who is my buddy—calls me that. I have no problem with that at all.  It's only when it comes from a stranger.

But again, I said nothing.  I hated that I couldn't explain the logic behind my raise—as if it would have made a difference.  But like I said at the outset, I took the criticism of my play personally.

And what did his comment suggest?  In my annoyed state, I initially assumed it confirmed my suspicion that it was a total bluff.  He was pissed at me for raising "so much" and so he would get his revenge by bluff-shoving to steal a pot off of me.

It was only later, when I was discussing the hand with my poker buddy pal Don that I considered another possibility.  Don heard my story and immediately said that for sure he had a King, just not a very good one. But that he wasn't worried about me having Ace-King because "Ace-King doesn't raise like that."

Well buddy, what does raise like that?  Pocket Aces?  In fact, a lot of folks raise bigger the bigger the hand.  But if he put me on Aces, he wouldn't check-shove against me—unless he'd gotten really lucky and caught a set.  Even then, he'd likely slow play it, at least on the flop.  And if he did put me on Aces, is he gonna bluff me there?

Or, people tend to bet bigger with pocket Jacks, everyone hates those.  Would he shove there if he put me on Jacks and he had a crappy King?  I'm not sure why he would have.

Well, I'll never know what he had.  As I intended, I left a few hands later, having lost a few bucks.  It wasn't Kings this time, it was Queens that did me in.

Queens and my new buddy—the guy who gave me instruction on how much not to bet with Ace-King.


  1. Obnoxious poker players abound, Rob. Something about the game attracts assholes, myself included. If you let people get to you at the table, maybe you should not play? Poker is a game of decisions...and if you are so easily irritated may I suggest needlepoint or a quilting bee?

    1. You're right, Alysia....but at least I'm getting better. I used to just take out my gun and shoot assholes like this. But I started a blog so I could just blow off steam and just bitch about them instead.

      Actually, thinking of switching to one ever gets upset at that.

      Know where I could get tips on that game?

  2. You should have thrown a stapler at him. Smack right to the side of the head. That would have taught him a good lesson...

    1. Hmmm....if only I'd thought of that!

  3. Other players telling me I misplayed a hand doesn't bother me. Realizing that I misplayed a hand after it's over, bothers me. Rob, how can you be mad/irritated without knowing what exactly the guy was trying to tell you? Technically, during the whole hand, only he raised. You bet pre-flop and on the flop. If he knows poker, his statement meant that he had better than A,K...right?

    1. Actually he never raised....he straddled. I raised preflop and then he checked the flop and check-raised me.

      Not sure what he I said in the post, my pal Don thinks it means he had a King that couldn't beat Ace-King, but he knew I didn't have Ace King because I wouldn't have raised that much with Ace-King. Is that right? Who knows?

      The thing that bugs me is when someone things my play is bad and I have a perfectly good explanation for it, but I have to refrain from telling him.

      It appears he made a read on me based on his making a poor assumption of what my bet meant. My bet was fine, but I sure couldn't tell him that.

      As for whether I made a bad laydown, I'll never know. USUALLY a check raise is a pretty strong move, not made with a weak hand. That was my original take. Thinking about it later I wondered if I had been bluffed or maybe he had something that wasn't as good as my Queens.

    2. Right, pre-flop he straddled and you bet. You bet the flop and he raised. Maybe he knows the difference between bet and raise, maybe not.

    3. Umm....he straddled and I RAISED. Betting more than either big blind (if there's no straddle) or the amount of the straddle if there is one is a Raise.

      I raised preflop, and then bet the flop, where he check-raised me.

      I am sure his comment was in reference to my preflop raise, not my bet on the flop.

  4. Thought you played the Queens about right, Buddy, But look, Bro, don't let no jerk get ya down. Hear what I'm saying, Pal?

    1. Thanks, Grange. And you can call me "Buddy" any time, mi amigo.

    2. Thanks, Amigo. You're my compadre!

  5. Didn't put you on queens there. Thought you were folding all kings except AK.

  6. I think your pal Don is right. He decided your big preflop raise definitely wasn't AK. I'm guessing he thought it was something like Jacks. In that case the perfect retort would have been, "Hey thanks, BUDDY, for teaching me exactly how to successfully play Ace-King against you next time."

    1. Haha. Thanks, Jeff. Never come up with the right line at the right time....although honestly even if I thought of it I wouldn't have said it. I prefer not to engage that way.

  7. this is why I don't play $1/2. Annoying table banter from generally bad players. I think you played the straddle hand fine. There is no difference effectively between $25 or $30 in a $1/2 game. In a $2/5 game with a $10 straddle, I will open to $40-50. I would think he had better than a K-rag, to call, likely a 10 or better.

    For the other hands, I think you played fine. Folding the overpair to the raise and call was fine. Even a flush draw with an ace has good equity against you

    1. Thanks very much for the comment, genomeboy, really appreciate it!