Sunday, October 7, 2018

It Wasn't a Win But it Kinda Felt Like One

This should be a quick post to both write and read, which should be nice for those of you who kvetch about the length of my posts. 

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as much lately as I used to.  There's a few reasons for that but the main one is that my enthusiasm for writing blog posts has waned a bit lately.  I mean once I start writing I enjoy it, but getting myself off the couch to actually start is the issue.  And there is a lot going on that seems to have diminished the time I have to write.  I dunno where the time goes.  It seems like I used to have the entire evenings to write, but lately I don't seem to get to the PC until about 10 pm.

Even though I haven't been to Vegas since June, I still have plenty of material from that trip for you—in fact, I'm not even half way through my stories.  I'm not dragging it out on purpose, it's just happening naturally.

Anyway, before getting back to a story from that trip, I figured I would tell you about the session I had yesterday in Ventura.  Again it was 1/2 with a $100 max buy-in.  I got stuck early with a hand that went wrong with the dreaded pocket Aces.  No!  Don't worry, I'm not going to start calling pocket Aces "dreaded."  At least not yet.  But I got them twice and…well, you'll see.

Early on, I got them and I think it might have been the first hand I played other than the blinds.  There was a single limper and I made it $8.  At this game, that seemed appropriate.  Sometimes you can bet bigger but from what I was seeing that was the right size.  The limper was the only caller.  He had just swept in a huge pot when I was sitting down and he had me covered.  The flop was Queen-9-8, two spades.  I didn't have the Ace of spades.  He donked out $20 which perplexed me.  Was he betting more than the pot with just a Queen?  I suspected not, but obviously couldn't be sure.  I had never seen this guy before. 

Now from my years of playing poker, I've come to realize that if you see a board where a straight is possible with Jack-10, it's more likely they have that than almost any other combination that makes a straight.  That's my observation anyway.  People just love to play that Jack-10.  So I tend think it's at least 10% more likely that a player has the straight if Jack-10 is needed than any other hole cards.

I decided just to call.  I think in retrospect the play might have been to just shove there since I only had about $85-$86 left.  The turn was a blank and he bet again, but only $20.  Hmm, the first bet was an over bet but now this was an under bet.  It was a small enough bet for me to call again.  The river was a very interesting card.  It was the Ace of spades.  So now a flush was possible and I had a set of Aces.

This time he checked.  Well, well.  My gut told me he would have bet the flush if he had been betting the draw up until then.  He couldn't count on me to bet for him.  Yeah, maybe he had the straight and the flush scared him.  But I also thought he could have two pair and the Ace (and the flush) scared him.  Now my normal play there is to just check behind and play it safe.  But I swear I'm trying to force myself to start value betting more on the river.  So I forced myself to bet my set.  But my nitty nature prevented me from shoving, I just put out $20 matching his last two bets.

He shrugged and said, "Call."  And flipped over Jack-10.  Ugh.

Well, I did play the hand badly but in reality nothing I could have done would have made a difference.  Not that I'm taking any credit for my playing saving me a few bucks.  Actually, I think bad play on the flop and the turn saved me some money, and a bad value bet on the river cost me money there.

I topped off my stack to get back to $100.  Much later, I limped in with pocket 8's.  There was a raise to $5 (very common in this game) and I called, there were a bunch of us in the hand.  The flop was 8-4-2, two spades.  I checked and the raiser bet $10.  Another guy called.  I made it $40 with the check-raise.  The first guy folded and the other guy went all in for $42.  I threw in the two bucks and we didn't show.  A spade on the turn was scary, but the river paired the turn card making the flush worthless.  However, he didn't have the flush.  He flipped over pocket 4's for a set.  Set over set is so nice when you're on the winning end of it.

I won a small pot when I raised with Ace-Queen, hit a Queen and didn't get a call on my flop bet.

Then I limped in with 10-9 of hearts, not sure if limping was the right move there. I think there might have been a subsequent small raise that I called.  The flop was Ace-8-6, rainbow.  The 8 was the 8 of hearts, so in addition to the gut shot I had a back-door straight flush draw. There was a $10 bet and a call.  I thought it was worth seeing one more card.  Good decision.  It was a black 7, filling in my straight but putting a second club or spade out there.  After I checked, the same guy bet $12 and then the other guy called.  Both of them had me covered.  I made it $35.  Not sure if I could have bet any less.  But the first guy folded instantly and the second guy tanked for a bit—but then folded, saying, "nice 10-9."

I got Aces again, under-the-gun.  I opened to $8.  No one called.  Well, that's better than the last time I got them.

It was time to cash out and I had $180—which was exactly what I had bought in for after the rebuy.  I dunno, it felt liked better than a break even session after the bad start with the dreaded pocket Aces.


  1. The power of the J-10 is when a flop has broadway potential and your opponent has ace-something where they end up with two pair or top top while you have made broadway. But making that play with J-10 can leave you with a gutshot draw for the beloved broadway in many cases. Oh do the sparks fly when I call too small of a flop bet when I am gutshot and hit broadway and then smooth call the turn and reraise the river!

    1. Thanks Lester. I remember one of the first poker tidbits I ever read in a poker book was that if you have Jack-10 and make a straight, it is always the nut straight.

  2. I had a hot streak of five winning sessions. My biggest loss was with pocket aces. I three bet and had one caller. The flop was Q-J-10 of clubs. The villain went all in and I folded. I don't care what he had. I didn't want to call. I figured he had A-K off with a club in his hand.

    1. Interesting, Darryl, thanks for sharing.

      Aces can be tough. It's only the best hand before the flop!