Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Post Christmas Miracle with Pocket Kings

Maybe I'll tell you how I got to this point in the session somewhere down the road (and maybe I won't).  (Edited to add:  Well I now have told you about the earlier part of the session and you can find it here But for now, let's talk about last night's hand at Planet Hollywood where I looked down and saw the oh-so dreaded pocket Kings staring me in the face.  I had about $370 in front of me (up from my $200 buy-in).  There was an under-the-gun straddle for $5 (at PH, that's what the UTG straddle is—the button straddle is $10 and they start the action UTG—ugh) and a call.  I made it $20 with the dreaded hand.

A fairly new player to the table re-raised to $70.  He was a middle-aged Asian man and I don't think he had a played a hand to this point, but then you couldn't draw any conclusions from that as he had been there for such a short time.  Still, he was older than the typical "Crazian" though I have certainly seen maniacs of his particular ethnic persuasion (not to mention every particular ethnic persuasion) his age and older before.  He had about $240-$250 when the hand started.  In other words, he couldn't stack me but if I did lose to his all-in I would no longer have a profitable session.

It is well-documented here that I have my issues with pocket Kings.  My own personal Kryptonite hand, as it were.  A lot of people have problems playing them, I've learned.  Most non-readers of this blog refer to them as "Ace Magnets."  But they seem to haunt me more than they haunt everyone else (or maybe I just take it more personally).

I have to admit they have me spooked. I swear I've been burned by them more often than any other poker hand.  And part of that by now no doubt has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy.  Because of my past results, I seem to automatically play them badly, always make the wrong decision, always make things worse than they need be.

Is that my imagination?  Maybe.  But it's like a baseball player who hasn't had any success against a particular pitcher.  At a certain point, his confidence is shot facing this pitcher, and he strikes out before he even sees the first pitch.  I'm freaked out when I get into a tough situation with those damn Kings….and that always makes the result worst than it might have been.

Sometimes I overcome the fear of them, and play them aggressively (too aggressively?) and that turns out to be the wrong move at that time.  Other times I play them way too passively, and that costs me too.  I can't seem to win.

So…..I hesitated and tanked.  I couldn't find the re-raise button.  Just couldn't do it.  I choked.  I barely found the call button.  But find it I did…hoping that somehow, someway, a King would appear on the flop (two would have been even better).  And if not that, certainly not an Ace.

The flop was ridiculously low.  It was either 3-3-2 or 3-2-2.  All the cards were red (my red King matched the suit of only one card on the board).  I checked and waited to see what the villain would do.

Well, what he did was put out a stack of $100.  And that sent me into the tank.  I didn't exactly see my life flash before me.  It was more like seeing every single time I've lost big pots with KK flash before me (not really, but give me some poetic license). 

I knew if I just called I was committed for everything anyway, so that was never an option (actually, that should have been my reasoning preflop, of course).  It was either fold or shove.

There was little likelihood of that flop hitting anyone who had put in $70 preflop, so it was basically a pre-flop decision.  So basically I was losing to exactly one hand—pocket Aces.  Is that what he had?

What was his range?  Could he have done that with Ace-King, Ace-Queen, Queens, Jacks…10's?  Or was this guy doing that only with only the one hand that beat me?

Somewhere, despite those dreaded Kings staring me in the face, I found the intestinal fortitude I needed to make the move I needed to make.  "Certainly," I said to myself, "He can have Queens or Jacks or even Ace-King here."  And I said the magic words.  "All-in."

When the villain didn't snap call, I knew I was in good shape.  Again, he's not worried about that flop hitting me.  If he had two Aces, he's responding "Call!" in a New York minute.  Instead, he asked to see how much I had, and seemed surprised that I had so much.  Apparently he didn't even realize I had him covered.  But when he saw that I did, he froze….and eventually meekly folded his hand.  Phew!  I guess when I saw him fold, I kind of belatedly wished he had called.  And honestly, since he had put in more than half his stack, it was probably a bad play on his part.  I have to believe he was totally shocked by my move.  And to some degree, so was I!

And when I finished stacking my chips, they looked like this:

So have I finally conquered my fear of pocket Kings?

I wouldn't bet on it.  But I'll take my victories when I can get them.


  1. Nicely done sir! Hope it helped you get closer to making peace with the Dreaded Kowboys.

    1. Thanks, KKing David....I think I'm a long way from that, but we'll see.

  2. Hey Rob. On a different note was fun watching you play on the 360 poker vlog. When I first saw you you Looked familiar from picture you had in your blog post once. Then Trooper confirmed it when you both were chatting. Looked like you were mostly card dead.

    1. Guilty as charged, Dale. Yes that was me in Trooper's latest 360 vlog. I will of course have my own blog post about that night in due time.

      And yes, I was obscenely card dead that night.

  3. You have a New Year's resolution? Dreaded Pocket Aces or Dreaded Pocket Queens? Best of poker luck to you in 2018!

    1. thanks and you too, sir.

      NY's Resolution: Thinking of resolving to not play poker this year!

  4. I don't understand why you didn't call and see a turn card? He has zero of that range and if he is bluffing (and crazians usually do), why not let him try to catch up and get the rest of his stack?

    1. Well, you make a valid point, Anony. But actually I was thinking he was basically pot committed and was likely to call anyway. If he had total air he's likely not going to bluff again when I call him on the turn.

      But yeah, I suppose that would have been a valid way to play it.