Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Here's What Happened Before I Got Those Kings....

Remember my post right after Christmas (here) about my success with pocket Kings?  Well, that hand was the last significant hand of a profitable session.  At the outset of that post, I said that maybe I would get around to telling you how I got to that point at some time in the future.  Well guess what?  With this post I get around to it.

The venue was Planet Hollywood and although it started out as a full table when I joined, it thinned out fast, eventually getting down to three players, at which point I said I didn't want to play three-handed.  However, just then a couple of more players joined and eventually the table filled back up.

One of the new players immediately bonded with one of the remaining players over their excessive drinking habits.  The new fellow actually didn't order a beer because "I don't want to get another DUI."  Well, the other guy told the story of how he had gotten a DUI while he was still on probation for his previous DUI.  And he had gotten into an accident and had to be hospitalized that time.  Since he was arrested, they hand-cuffed to his hospital bed.  He couldn't even go to the bathroom because he was cuffed to the bed.

He said he had his license suspended for three years, so he had to ride a bike everywhere.  This was in Vegas.  I believe he had moved to Vegas for his job and his recreational activities consisted of drinking beer and playing poker.  He went on to say if it happened now it would be no problem, he'd just take Uber everywhere—you don't really need a car.

It was all a big joke to him, but I dunno, I don't think DUI's are all that funny.

When we were four-handed I opened to $6 with Ace-Queen on the button.  One caller and the flop was Ace-King-x. I bet $10 and he called.  I checked a blank turn and then bet $15 on a blank river.  He called and he mucked when he saw my hand.

Despite that monster pot, I had managed to drop down to about $120 (from a $200 buy-in) when the key hand of the night took place.  I was in the small blind with pocket 5's and there was an UTG straddle.  A bunch of people called the straddle and then the button made it $10.  I called and it was six of us to the flop.

The flop was a classic case of good news/bad news.  It was 7-6-5, two spades.  So I flopped bottom set on a ridiculously coordinated board.  I admit that I'm really not sure exactly how to play it in that situation.  Especially when it is six-handed!  I checked, assuming the preflop raiser (or someone else) would bet.  Sure enough someone did.  There was a $25 bet and two other players called.  I guess I'm supposed to check-raise there?  But I wimped out.  I considered the possibility that one of them could have 9-8 and I'd be behind.  Not to mention the possibility (probability?) that someone had a flush draw.  Even if I check-raised all-in there, I'm not getting anyone with a flush draw to fold—and I'm certainly not getting anyone with the nut straight to fold.  I know that you actually want a flush draw to call you (and miss, of course), but I could still be behind a made straight and then be drawing to a full house in order to win the pot.  And the math was such that I really couldn't raise anything other than a shove.

I still have a vivid recollection of a bad night a few years back when I flopped and set of 10's and the board had three consecutive cards and sure enough, the guy who took my money had flopped the straight.  I know I wrote about that but I can't find the post. (Edited to add:  Nick found the post and put it in the comments, see below--that post is here) Of course, shit happens in poker all the time.  Cooler hands happen.  But I definitely was thinking about it right then.

The turn card was really bad—a spade (it didn't help the straight but I didn't note the denomination).  A different player bet this time--$25 again.  Again I just called and three of us were left.

The river was a brick and I checked.  So did the other two players.  That was surprising.  I figured a straight or a flush would bet there.  I was prepared to call my stack off if necessary.  So why didn't I lead out with a bet?  Well, I assumed with that board I would only be called by hands that beat me.

I was the first one to show and the other two just mucked their cards!  My bottom set was good.  Phew.  OK, I'm not proud of my play but it was a rather nice ~$235 pot and put about $300 in front of me.

So tell me folks, how should I have played that hand?

Later, I called $10 on the button with Ace-4 of clubs.  It was five-ways.  I flopped the flush draw and called $25 and we were now heads up.  I hit the flush on the turn.  This time he checked and I bet $35.  He folded.

With pocket Queens I made it $15 after a few limpers.  It was four ways to a flop that was King-high.  I took a shot and bet $35.  Amazingly enough, no one called. 

And that's how I got the $370 I had when I got the Kings.  After that Kings hand, I played another orbit or two and decided to call it a night.  I booked a $340 win. I didn't play well, but you know, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.


  1. Hi Rob. I fully understand the way you played that hand with the set of 5's.
    I would play it the same most times, although, after the weak turn bet by villain, it became apparent, you probably have the best hand.
    Well, heck, who am I trying to kid, I'm just here for the pictures!

    1. Thanks, Phil....I was wondering if maybe the guy who bet the flop had the straight and then on the turn he checked, and the next guy bet weak because he had a small flush, not the nuts. Still would have beaten me. But yeah, that was a pretty weak bet.

  2. So on that set of 5's and seeing that flop you need to ask yourself a number of questions. First and foremost: are you willing to go to war with 555? If you are willing to go Von Clausewitz with 555 are you willing to get all of your chips in regardless of the turn and river?

    Next you need to make the decision about whether or not you want to attempt to play the hand headsup? If you do, will a shove on that flop only produce one caller?

    And finally, do you want to try to slow-play 555 and live with only a 12% chance of making your boat but maybe taking down a truly monster pot against multiple villains who all whiff on both the turn and river????

    The cooler hand 9-10 is a monster under the bed you can do nothing about so don't worry about it....

    1. Pretty sure he is better than 12% to boat up

    2. @Lester...some great feedback, thanks. I think the main thing for me was that since the pot was so big preflop ($60 w/ everyone only putting in 10 bucks) and my stack size, there was no way I could bet the flush draws off the hand and I might be already losing to a straight. I wanted to get to the showdown cheap if I could (unless I boated). Probably not the best decision--as I indicated, I'm not proud of my play.

      The monster was 9-8 as I stated, 10-9 would be a gutshot.

      @Anony--you are correct. I'm about 35% to boat up (ore get quads), about the same as the flush draw. So I guess I should have just shoved which was certainly a thought. Based on the result tho, I would have gotten everyone to fold and won less money. Poker, huh?

    3. Oooooops.... two mistakes (at a minimum in my reply) in my previous reply. I think that 12% number was if you flopped two pair and not a set to make a boat.

  3. Tuesday, december 16, 2014. Blog post titled "Brutal". Check that one for the flopped set of 10s hand. Only remember because i was in the room that night, and knew which trip it was from, so it wasn't too hard to find.

    1. Awesome, Nick, thanks! Yeah, I found that post when you gave me the reminder and added the link to the post. I do now recall you were there, along with AC, Lightning, and Prudence.

      Reading that post over, I had a much different attitude about that hand than I had with the set of fives in this hand. I played the set of 10's much better....but got felted.

  4. Regarding the hand with the set of fives. I have a friend at my local brick and mortar casino who is a more profitable poker player than I am who chides me when I play too meekly on the river with the following catch phrase:

    "If you're willing to call a bet on the river, why not make a bet instead?" (Might be something he stole from one of Phil Gordon's books.)

    His thinking is that there are basically four possible outcomes if you bet: a better hand folds, a worse hand folds, a worse hand calls, a better hand calls. Three of the four are outcomes you're pretty okay with. If you check there are really only two win or lose...or in fewer cases chop. So anytime I'm on the river and I have that inner dialogue that goes like, "If he bets X, I'm going to call," I consider betting myself instead.

    1. Good Advice, Jeff. My thought at the time was, no one would call me with a hand I beat. But thinking about now, that's not quite so obvious. A person with a straight might have folded thinking I had a flush. Even a flush might fold there if it was a very weak flush.

      In this particular case, I'm probably not getting a call except maybe by an overpair and only then if I bet really small.

  5. There is two problems in the way you played this hand:

    The first one is the absolute loss of value because of the "monster under the bed syndrom" that you have, and that can be found in all your hand histories.

    The second one is the sentence "I was prepared to call my stack off if necessary", where the flush draw already hit, 3-way to river on ultra.connected board. Basically you are afraid of everything when you are probably ahead, and willing to call your whole stack when you are likely behind? (if somebody bets your stack on the river on this runout, 3-way on the river, you can probably throw your set away).

  6. Planet Ho was very evil to me in both tournament and 1/2. Don't think I'll play there again. Some places are just unlucky it seems. That was a hard hand to play with the flop and turn. Not sure I'd call off my stack if someone pushed the river myself.

    1. It's funny but for the past few trips, I've done better at PH than any other room. It's actually becoming my favorite room.

      I started that hand with $120 and by the river I had put half my stack in the pot. With the size of the pot, not sure if makes sense to fold under any situation.

      However, I probably could have found a fold if there was a bet and a call (or raise) in front of me. But a single person in the pot? I think they have to show me....again for that price, for that size pot, and for that little of my money.