Sunday, March 24, 2019

Still Dreaded, Still Pocket Kings

This was a Sunday evening session from December.  It took place at MGM when they had a football promo going.  They had different promos for different days.  The Sunday night promo was drawings after certain events in the game, like scores, turnovers, etc.  But it wasn't just a random seat draw, you had to have a ticket to win.  You got a ticket by getting a full house or better in a cash game.  They actually started giving out tickets at like 1pm to encourage you to play there a long time. The game for the promo was the SNF game, and I managed to get there after the game started, just missing the kick-off by a few minutes.  There were no empty seats in the 1/2 game, but they opened a table soon after I arrived.

There were a few interesting characters as the game began.  There were a couple of Norwegians. I had played with one of them two nights earlier.  He was on the aggro side, but frankly, not as aggro as the typical Scandinavian player I've encountered over the years. 

The guy on my immediate right was really annoying.  He played a lot of hands and I don't think he ever raised.  He got real agitated when his hands kept missing the flop and he had to fold.  But what was annoying about him was that he was watching some soccer game on his phone.  I guess his team was doing well, because a couple of times he would just stand up and start cheering.  At the top of his lungs.  In my ear. It didn't matter what was going on in our poker game, or on the real football game that was on the TV's throughout the room, if something good for his team happened in that damn soccer game, he'd let everyone within a five-mile radius know about it.  When people gave him dirty looks, he'd explain, "It's the finals."  Oh.

So while he was watching the game, I got a voice message from my pal Woody.  I don't carry earbuds with me but based on the conversation we were having, I was eager to listen to this message.  So I turned the sound down on the phone so that (hopefully) by holding the phone right up to my ear, I could hear the message and no one else could. I mean, I knew it would be a message that I didn't want anyone else to hear, if you catch my drift.

Well, I kept holding the phone wrong or grabbing it wrong and so that every time I tried to listen, it got cut off in mid-message.  And I had to play it again from the beginning.  Finally one time everything was going perfectly.  And just as I was about to get to the part of Woody's message that I hadn't heard yet, this idiot next to me jumps out of his seat and starts screaming, "Goal!  Goal!  Goal!" and cheering at the top of his lungs.  Of course I couldn't hear the rest of Woody's message over all that.  Yeesh. 

And then there was the total maniac in seat 2 (I was in seat 9).  He bought in for $100 and just went all in on the very first hand of the table without even looking at his cards.  He said, "Yeah, one time…try it."  No one called.  Next hand he looked at his cards and shoved again. No one called.  I don't recall if he tried it again on the very next hand but it didn't take him long for him to lose his entire stack.  He rebought and toned it down a little.  But he entered most pots, entered them with a pretty big raise, and made it difficult to play the game.  Keep in mind a lot of the players were there for the football promo, and wouldn't have minded limping into a lot of pots hoping to make a big enough hand to get a drawing ticket.  And he made that impossible.

I wouldn't have minded a quieter table, but I figured he was giving me the chance to make a big score if only I could make a decent hand.  There was, of course, no way to bluff this guy.

So early on, with this guy raising most of the hands preflop, I got pocket Kings.  Someone in front of me made it $12.  I just called because I assumed the maniac would raise and then I would come over the top.  But he only called.  It was four way.  The flop was low and I led out for $30 and didn't get a call.

Then a bit later I got Ace-King off and there was a straddle.  I just called, thinking I'd re-raise the maniac's inevitable raise.  And he did raise to $17.  But there were three callers before it got to me.  I decide to just call because there were too many callers, I didn't want to put that much money into the pot preflop.  The flop was Ace-7-6.  There was a check in front of me and then I checked.  The maniac made it $35 and was called by two other players.  This time I stayed with the plan and re-raised.  It was a shove, nearly $200.  No one called and I took down a nice pot.

I lost some chips when the maniac was away from the table with pocket Queens.  Turns out they're not as good as pocket Aces.  But I didn't lose that much cuz the guy with the Aces didn't play it overly aggressively.

Then my old pal Michelle pushed in to deal.  Since she now works days I rarely see her, and I almost didn't recognize her.  She's the one who never pushes me a pot—at least that's the gag between us.  The maniac had returned to the table, played one or two more hands, and then left for good.  I was in the big blind with Ace-2 of spades and no one raised.  The flop was Q-8-2, all clubs.  No one bet.  There was another deuce on the turn.  I meekly put out $5.  I got one call.  The river was another Queen, giving me a boat on a double-paired board.  In other words, I was losing to a Queen.  I put out a $10 bet.  The guy folded.

But I remembered to show my hand, as the boat qualified me for a drawing ticket for the football promo.  It was my first ticket.

Sometime later, late in the football game, a touchdown was scored.  That means they pull two tickets and give each winner $150 each.  And wouldn't you know, with that one ticket, mine was pulled.  Sweet.  I took the $150 payout and pocketed it.

It was still in my pocket when I got the hand that ruined my night.  It was, of course, the dreaded pocket Kings. I was down to about $130 or so in front of me.  The Norwegian guy opened to $12.  And for reasons I can't really explain, I just called. I mean I usually do three-bet KK despite my incredible lack of success with them, but sometimes I guess I just freak out a little bit and just freeze and just make the call.  That's what I did here.

The flop was King-high.  The other two cards were clubs.  I didn't have the King of clubs.  The Norwegian was first to act and he checked, which surprised me.  So I put out $15.  He checked-raised to $30.  That also surprised me.

I mean, how could he count on me betting there in order for him to spring a check-raise?  I would have expected him to c-bet most flops, seeing as how we were heads up.  But the check-raise made no sense.  One of the few good things about my not re-raising pre was that he had no idea about the strength of my hand. 

I had the nuts.  If there hadn't been two clubs out there, I might have just called, but I felt I had to bet so I bumped it to $60.  He didn't take very long to announce, "all-in."  I took me less than a nano-second to say "call!"  He said, "You have a set?"  I said yeah and showed my Kings.  But he didn't return the courtesy by showing his hand.  I assumed he had a flush draw.  BTW, he had me covered.

The turn was a blank.  But the river was a club—and there was no pair on the board.  He flipped over King-Queen of clubs.  I'd been flushed.

I did not rebuy. I had that $150 in my pocket and I cashed it out.  The hand left a bad taste in my mouth.

Just another disaster with pocket Kings, right?  Well, of course I blamed myself.  Not three-betting preflop was inexcusable.  So it was my fault.

Well, I must admit, I'm like 97% certain if I had three-bet preflop, he would have called, and the result would have been the same.  I mean, the way he played, he wasn't going to fold that hand (or a lot of worse hands), to a three-bet.  He was there to gamble.

None-the-less, I don't want to think about it like that.  I want to think that my bad preflop play cost me my stack.  It's a lesson that way.

So even though I don't really believe it, it's much better for me to think I cost myself my stack by not three-betting those damn Kings.

I spent the rest of the evening thinking about it.


  1. Hi Rob. Enjoy your writing as usual. Your history with pocket Kings seems to be a continuous irritant that is effecting your play. Yes I think raising would have been best before the flop. You are just expecting to loose and your play is effected negatively. You need people to play a lone ace incorrectly to come out ahead over time.

    1. Thanks, Dale. I do win with KK sometimes, maybe more often than sometimes. But the losing times really stand out in my mind and haunt me.