Saturday, April 6, 2019

"You Are the Tightest Player in Ventura"

This is about my most recent session in Ventura.  Before I headed out there this particular Saturday, I had already decided that I was going to play 2/3, not 1/2 as I have been playing lately.  Originally, I started playing 1/2 because I noticed how poor the play was at that game.  The players were just so bad I thought it would be like taking candy from a baby.  And truth is, I did have some success at that game when I started. 

But I couldn't build on that success and then it all kind of went south.  And I started thinking that between the low cap for the max buy-in ($100) and the rake ($5+$1—taken off the top, no matter how big or small the pot is), it just was too hard to actually beat the game long term.  I was wondering if my early success was just me being on the right side of variance.

Then I had that session where I was bet off my pocket pairs preflop by ridiculous raises and would have hit sets three times (one time turning into quads) if only I'd made really bad calls.  I wrote about that session here.  And in response, the excellent blogger persuadeo posted a long comment explaining the flaws in this game in detail.  I was heading there on my own but his comment really crystallized it for me.

So I decided to go back to 2/3, where the buy-in is $100-$300, much more reasonable, but the players are a lot better and a lot tougher to play against.  So it's a trade off.  If I could only play that game against a tableful of that room's 1/2 players, I'd be set.

If only we could always pick our opponents, huh?

I bought in for $300 and noticed immediately that this was an action table.  There was one guy in particular who was making the game play big.  Not surprisingly, he was Asian.  Even as I was settling in, I heard one player say (after a hand I hadn't seen), "I only played that because he was in,"  The "he" was the Asian fellow in question.  There was another Asian guy on my immediate right who also liked to mix it up.  I kind of pegged as a semi-maniac who seemed normal only when compared to the other guy.

Every hand when I first got there was raised, often three-bet and the first Asian I mentioned was never not involved.  But after an orbit or two, before I had even gotten a hand to play, he took off.  Good thing. If he had still been around when I got the hand I am about to describe, he would have in all likelihood bet me out of the pot preflop.

Anyway, I was in late position with pocket 7's.  There was an early position raise to $10.  This was the first time I'd seen anyone open that small at this table.  Before this, it was anywhere between $15-$25.  And perhaps because the opening raise was such a reasonable amount for a change, almost everyone called.  Of course I called and seven of us saw the flop.

The flop was favorable, as they say. Jack-7-4, rainbow.  The preflop raiser checked, and then it went check, check, check.  It was beginning to look like it would check to me when the guy on my immediate right, the nitty-maniac, if you will, counted out chips and bet $50.

Hmm…..I have gotten burned more than once slow-playing sets.  It was of course, a fairly dry board.  Still, there were possible gut-shots there and even an open-ender with 5-6.  And didn't I want to get the money in the middle there if I possibly could?

Now I knew the guy who bet wasn't a total maniac like the guy who left but he seemed to be on the loose side.  I recalled that preflop, when it was his turn, he hesitated before calling.  My read was that he was seriously considering raising but decided to just call. And to me, I thought that, while it was possible he thought his hand was strong enough to be worth a three-bet, it was just as likely he was thinking of trying to steal all those $10 bets with a big re-raise even if he didn't have much.

So I was thinking there was a good chance he was trying to steal the pot now, seeing all the checks in front of him, including from the preflop raiser.  Of course he could have a hand too.  And my thought was the odds were it was going to be heads up between us.  If he was trying to steal, I wasn't going to get any more money out of him.  But if he was betting with a hand—if he had top pair and a decent kicker—he was likely to call, or actually come over the top and that was just fine with me.

I dismissed the thought of him having a set of Jacks.  I would have bet anything he would have three-bet with pocket Jacks preflop—and probably big. So many people freak out over pocket Jacks (much like I freak out over pocket Kings). I've seen so many people betting huge with them trying to take it down preflop. So a set of Jacks wasn't much of a consideration.  Besides, if someone has a set of Jacks there, well, that's poker, right?

His stack was probably similar to mine.  I think he probably had a little less, but it was hard to tell since he was stacking his chips funny.  Regardless, we weren't far apart and I knew my entire $300 buy-in was on the line, more-or-less.  I hadn't really played a hand, just posted some blinds since I sat down, so I was close to the buy-in I started with.

Thus, I wanted to raise.  I figured 3X his bet was about right.  However, somehow I miscounted and actually put out $160 instead of $150.  Oh well, that couldn't make much of a difference, could it?

It folded quickly around the table until one guy hesitated a bit.  He seemed pained, but he folded.  Back to the guy on my immediate right.  He tanked.  And tanked.  And tanked.  OK, so he had something, he wasn't just trying to steal.  But he didn't have a set or he wouldn't be tanking.  It was obvious I had given him a tough decision.  He was talking a bit, asking things like what could I have, and "You have the Ace?"  I remained silent of of course.

Honestly, I expected him to eventually call—or more likely shove.  And it appeared he was going to do one of those two things.  But he hesitated some more and finally folded.  However, he did show his cards as he folded.  It was Ace-Jack.  Wow.  So a bit of  a misread on my part.  I would have bet anything he would not have folded TPTK.  Surprise.

He kept saying, "Nice hand."  He must have told me that half a dozen times.  I could tell by the way he was saying it, he was really asking me what I had.  Of course I said nothing.  But it really disturbed him.  He left the table an orbit or so later and I was sure it was due to losing that hand.  I wonder if he felt he folded the best hand there?

Anyway, that guy who hesitated to fold to my $150 bet piped up.  "You saved me money.  I had Jack-10.  I was gonna call the $50."  Ok, so that's fifty bucks I missed out on.  Maybe some others would have called if I had just called and it would have been a huge pot?  Still, I'm not thinking I played it wrong.  Agree?  Disagree?

Here's the other thing.  That was the only pot I won all day.  I was ridiculously card dead.  I got two or three other small pocket pairs and whiffed.  The 7's were the biggest of the pairs I got.  No Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  I got Ace-Jack suited and raised in early position.  I got about five callers and couldn't c-bet when I missed the flop.  Nothing else was really playable.

So I ended up being a folding machine for the rest of the session.  That did lead to one rather unpleasant incident.  After awhile an off-duty joined our table. I've mentioned him before, he was the same guy who insisted on seeing "both hands" in the story I told here.  He had his head buried in his phone most of the time.  But when he wasn't staring at his phone, he was bitching about something.  He even talked very disrespectfully to the floorman (room manager, I think) when he didn't get the table change he had requested.

He was now sitting directly on my right.  And there was a preflop raise and he folded. But he was very careless in letting go of  his cards and they both flipped over.  It was 7-2 offsuit.  Now in this situation, I often make a particular joke.  So I said to him, "You play too tight, sir."  This almost always gets a laugh or at least a chuckle. Especially coming from me, as I am usually one of the tightest players at the table. That's kind of what makes it funny, right? But for some reason, this guy took offense to it.

He snapped, "No….you play too tight.  You are the tightest player in Ventura." It wasn't in a friendly tone, either.  It was kind of nasty. "I wouldn't have said anything but you brought it up"  I think it's possible he had his face buried in his phone so far that he might not have even seen his cards flip over.  But I was surprised by his attitude.  I started to explain, "You folded 7-deuce, it was obviously a joke."  I don't think he heard me.  He just repeated that I was the tightest player in Ventura.  Well, on this day I probably was, but he was missing the point.  I gave up trying to explain my obvious joke.

Anyway, they had four games going and they all got short-handed, but not quite short-handed enough to combine.  Our table had gone from the action table to the nitty table.  And judging by all the people who were trying to get table changes, all the games were like that.  Rather than wait it out, I just took off after a couple of hours.  I managed to hang on to some of the only pot I won, and left with a $40 profit.

I guess I can live with that.  After all, I am the tightest player in Ventura.


  1. Rob, nice to see you finally changed games. I don't know if many of your readers played or liked that $100 capped game. I do think that you misplayed pocket sevens.

    Calling would have been OK but making it $100 would have been my play probably. All the players who checked the flop, now would have to call $100. It is very unlikely anyone would call except the guy who made it $50. By making it 3x or a bit more, I think that you are telling everyone that you have a monster. Two pair or better would be the only callers after you 3 bet, IMO.

    If you wanted everyone to fold, you made a good raise but it seems like you wanted a call before you made the raise.

    1. Thanks, Ace.

      I did consider the min-raise. However, from my experience, a min-raise shouts monster much more than a bigger raise. I rarely see min-raises where the min-raiser doesn't have the nuts or the near nuts.

      But it was something to consider.

  2. I tend to agree with Ace that the raise you went with was too big for the situation. As soon as I read your selected raise amount in my head I thought, "He's gonna fold."

    I personally think calling is the better play in this situation. You're really only behind pocket jacks at this time and like you said, he probably would have three bet with jacks preflop.

    As a general rule I don't like to slow play sets, but I think it's the most profitable play here. Pause...make it seem like it's not a snap decision and call. You bring along the other guy and unless a really scary card comes on the turn you're probably getting another barrel from the AJ guy and can spring the trap on the turn.

    Always enjoy your posts though, Rob. Thanks for being so faithful in posting.


    1. Thanks very much, Jeff. Always appreciate your input and i love getting a mix of opinions on the hands.

      Certainly the guy saying he would have called with Jack-10 made me reconsider (in retrospect) the raise, but of course, we'll never know how it would have played out if I just called. Maybe there was someone with a gutshot who would have stayed in, thinking he had better odds after a couple of calls? Monster pot or monster suckout?

      That's poker.

    2. Hopefully we will both wind up in Vegas at the same time one of these days and we can grab a bite to eat or play together and compete for tightest player at the table.

    3. I'd like that too, Jeff.