Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I play up or down to the level of the competition.

I start out the night at Caesars. There's a long wait to get onto a 2/5 table so I sit down at 1/2 and seem to forget how to play. No one at the table notices my poor play because it's the norm.

Bad play seems to inspire bad play.

And of course whenever I have a decent hand I play it too weakly and someone hits two pair or something weird to take it down.

Somehow when the stakes are bigger my concentration and attention to detail and correct aggressive play is much better.

Eventually a seat opens at 2/5 and I move up to their big section. Seated to my left is some pro who I cannot name. I never asked him his name but I've seen his face and when it pops up I guess I can come back here and edit this to add the info.

All you really need to know is that he acts like a pro. What does this mean? It means he has over Five thousand dollars in front of him at a table where most everyone else buys in for less than a grand. To give you some perspective, I've bought in for $500. So I'm not exactly gonna force him out preflop even if I raise 10x the blinds to 50. If anything he loves this situation. Because he can read my body language on the flop and maybe decide that I'm weak and shove a couple of hundred out to the middle and see if I fold. This forces me to get real creative when we're in hands together. But despite the fact that I'm intimidated on some level, on another level I freaking love the competition and challenge.

This guy is making moves like raising 100 on the river with nothing and then telling anyone who will listen how great he is. To his credit, he's often correct in his reads. He's calling out people's hands. So to counter I'm purposely misplaying my heads. I raise with 8 10 suited. I smooth call with ace king. Anything to make him misinterpret where he's at in the hand.

The key hand tonight went down as follows:

Someone in early position raises it up to 20. Two people call. I look down and see 8 9 of clubs. A dream hand in this situation. I don't feel comfortable playing hands like ace jack at this table since I have no clue where I'm at when the big stacks call.

But with a hand like 8 9 of clubs, I can make a straight or flush and feel good about getting my chips in there. Or else I can let it go. But at least I know where I'm at. I'm not gonna have to worry if my kicker is good.

Someone behind me raises the preflop bet from 20 to 40. Even better. 6 players including myself see the flop. There's 240 dollars in the middle.

Flop comes 2,3,4 with two clubs. Great news.

It gets checked to me and I decide to take my stand. I bet 120 dollars. I figure this bet somewhat hides my hand. I could have something like pocket 8's and be trying to take the pot down now. And the truth is that I'm more than happy to win the pot now. But I also want to commit myself to putting the rest of my chips in. I want to play a big pot with this hand in this spot. And if I can't take it down now, the next best thing is to get as many callers as possible to come along for the ride.

But something funny happens on the way to my betting 120. I count out 4 five dollar chips and slide it across the betting line in front of my 20 five dollar chip stack. Now I'm not exactly sure what I did but I managed to push the $20 across while sort of fumbling the larger amount. And the freaking guy to my left calls it a string bet.

This was really classless. It wasn't like I put in money and then went back for more. I clearly counted the whole thing out and obviously intended to put the whole thing out in one motion. It wasn't like I was looking for reactions and any of the other BS associated with string bets.

But the guy to my left calls it on me and the pro chimes in that he agrees with him and the dealer rules that my bet was 20. Only 20. Now everyone has no reason to fold. They can all call and get a cheap $20 look at what will now be a 360 dollar pot.

If I had a hand like an overpair I'd have gone berserk. I'd be giving everyone a cheap chance to suck out on me with a straight or flush or overcard. So I decide to play it that way. I start to mildly complain while sitting there shaking my head in disbelief that they're calling string bet on me.

It gets better. My flush comes on 4th street. So everyone checks to me, the preflop bettor, and I respond by checking in disgust. Fuck you everyone. You just ruined my pocket pair and let someone hit a flush.

The danger of making this play is that I let someone with the ace of clubs have a shot at winning the pot if another club comes off on the river. But I took that chance since I assumed I could get paid off if one didn't come. On the other hand if I bet the turn I figure it's obvious that I semi bluffed my flush draw and everyone will fold.

The river misses and my flush is still good.

Everyone checks to me again and this time I angrily announce "two hundred" while shoving just 20 dollars over the line to sort of passive aggressively repeat and relive the chaos of my flop bet. Although this time the bet is indeed two hundred since spoken words are binding at the table.

The pro doesn't know what to do. He announces that I have him beat. First he says I have a straight. Then he says I have a flush. I say to him "What my set isn't good?" He goes on and on about how easy I am to read but the thing is he won't throw his hand away. I love this.

He goes on and on about what I could have. I know he doesn't want to let me steal this pot from him if I'm bluffing. He finally concludes that two hundred dollars means nothing to him and shoves it in the middle. I thank him and pull in the pot.

A few hands later we're in a hand again together. He bets 25 on the flop and I call. He bets 50 on the turn. I announce raise. And shove in 250. Again he says he knows what I have and folds.
(Gee I thought you were folding because you thought you were ahead)

The next orbit I pick up ace jack in the cut off seat. This is the kind of hand I hate playing because I can flop an ace and still not know where I'm at. I'm not gonna play a big pot with it against players who are better than me.

Of course the ace flops. Pro checks. I check behind him. Button bets out. Me and the pro both call. Turn makes a flush. We all check. River blanks. Pro checks. I check. Button checks.

Button turns over ace 8. I show ace jack. Pro slow rolls his flush. And then complains that neither of us bet on the turn or river. He announces that "no one is playing poker here. They only bet they have the nuts."

As if I should get defensive about his criticism.

If he wants to see me put money in when I'm behind he should come play 1/2 with me sometime.

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