Monday, December 16, 2019

Ace on the River

A tip of the hat to Barry Greenstein for the title I'm stealing from him.

Another session at Ventura, the 2/3 game with the $300 max buy-in.  I buy in for the max.

It doesn't go well.  I am just not quite card dead enough to keep from losing money.  I miss everything. My first pot was when, from late position, I open to $15 with King-Queen of spades.  No one called.

Much later I had pocket Jacks under-the-gun.  I opened to $15.  The lady at the table made it $45.  I call, another guy called.  The flop is Queen-high.  I check and it checks around.  Ace on the turn.  I checked, the lady bet $60, I fold, the other guy folded.  Although she didn't have to, the lady showed us Ace-King.  I wonder if she would have folded to a bet from me on the flop?  But of course, I was out of position.

From the cut-off I decided to limp in with Jack-9 of clubs.  It was four-way.  The flop was 6-5-4, all clubs.  I bet $10, there was one call.  The Queen of spades hit the turn.  I bet $20.  He folded two high diamonds face up.

Well that was it.  It was getting close to quitting time and I was down to $129.  There were a few open seats at the table that they couldn't fill.  The last player to come to the table had been quite active.  Didn't seem like a total maniac but he'd played a lot of hands.  Won a big pot early, then lost a big pot, then won another big pot.  He was putting chips in play, that's for sure.  He had well over the $300 he'd bought in for when this hand happened.

In early position I had Ace-King of spades.  There had been a $6 UTG straddle.  The next player folded and the action was on me.  I made it $20.  In hindsight, I think $25 is a better raise there, but for this hand it made no difference.  It folded to this aforementioned new player, who was in the small blind.  He bet $67 and it folded back to me.

What to do?  With my stack, I couldn't see just calling.  Right?  I mean, it was either fold or shove. A call made no sense as far as I was concerned.

In a tournament, you want these kind of situations (depending on your chip-stack).  With a short-stack, you will get it all-in anytime with Ace-King, suited or not.  You'll gladly take your chances on a coin flip.  But in a cash game, you don't need to chip up.  You don't have to risk all your chips unless the situation is likely favorable.  I searched my memory bank and couldn't think of one time when shoving in a similar situation had ever worked out for me.  I mean in a cash game.  In a tournament, yeah, it's worked many a time. Not enough, but yeah, I've had my decent run outs.  But in cash games, not so much.

Of course I had to consider how my hand fared against his likely range.  I could only guess at his three-bet range.  But if it was only AA and KK, I was crushed.  Even if I throw in AK, I'm still behind that range.

Based on his activity level, I was sure his range was wider than that.  I figured for sure I could include at least QQ and JJ.  Maybe even pocket 10's and 9's.  Possibly (but not likely) lower pairs.  I also thought Ace-Queen was probably in his range, suited almost for sure and offsuit likely.  Maybe even Ace-Jack suited?

So if I was on the mark about his range, my hand was looking pretty good against it.  Now if I had a full $300 stack I could call or even just three-bet, but it was shove or nothing with that stack. I was almost near my last hand anyway, and so if I did shove and lose, well, time to head home for sure.

So I said "all-in."  Fortunately, he didn't snap call.  He actually asked for a count.  As soon as he saw that I didn't even have double his bet, he started counting out his chips to make the call.  It was $62 for him to call and he counted out $62.  We didn't show.

The asking for a count instead of snap-calling told me he didn't have Aces or Kings.  It was likely a flip against Queens or Jacks (or less).  If I was really lucky, it was Ace-Queen.

The flop came Jack-high, with two spades.  I liked the spades of course but I sure didn’t like that Jack.  Pocket Jacks was one of the most likeliest hands I put him on. Sometimes in that situation, if a player hits his set on the flop, he immediately shows his hand, excitedly.  But I didn't figure this guy for that play.  I assumed he would be stoic whether the flop hit him or not.  I just wanted another spade on the turn, thinking I might have to beat a set.  It was a red 5 instead.

The river was not the spade I was looking for.  In fact it was another red card.  But it was a red Ace, and the groan I heard from the guy told me that was good enough.

Before I had a chance to flip over my hand, he said, "Pocket Queens and he gets his Ace on the river." Well, he had my hand read right. And as I turned my cards over, he showed his two Queens. One of those Queens was a spade, for the record.

Damn, I thought this trick never worked!

This time it did.  And I was able to cash out not long after for $250.  It was a $50 loss, but it was almost a lot more. Kind of felt like a win. Nice Ace on the river.


  1. "Based on his activity level, I was sure his range was wider than that." In my mind, that made the decision to shove a good one. If he was really tight, then no way.

    1. Yeah. There were some other players at the table that I would have folded to with a 3-bet that large. But I figured he had lots of hands there that I was ahead of. It just worked out this time.