Saturday, May 26, 2007

Raise to 25

I hadn't played since last Saturday night so when I bought in this evening at the MGM I felt sort of rusty. I didn't raise too much. I didn't really try to make anything happen. I just sort of sat back and hung out and folded while waiting for spots to compete against comped maniacs killing time in between their pit game adventures.

I'm a pretty small fish on the Vegas totem pole. Picture a guy who gets comped to come to Vegas. They fly him in for free. A limo picks him up at the airport. He stays in their nicest suite. Everything is paid for. His room. His food. His booze. Who knows what else. And in between his dropping tens of thousands of dollars playing games like craps and black jack, this gentleman wanders over to the poker room.

This guy doesn't care about the money he's about to lose playing poker. He really doesn't. 500 bucks is nothing to him. Poker is just something to do to cool off until he decides to make his next dice run. This guy doesn't think twice about raising every single hand he plays preflop to 25 bucks. He doesn't care that we're only at 1/2. He just wants action.

Meanwhile in my first two hours at the table I'd only won one pot. I was playing pretty tight though and was only down 100 bucks.

I finally win my second pot to get back in the black. An ugly 4 way hand where I held trips on a flush board and watch the first guy to act push all in for his last 34 dollars on the river. The funny part though was that all 3 of us in the hand called. None of our hands were good enough to raise. Yet all 3 were good enough to call.

I suppose it was good for me. I sure didn't want to have to call a raise. And with 3 other players I wasn't sure I held the best hand. Having the first guy go all in on the river sort of took away the chance for anyone to bluff here because you'd be betting into a dry side pot and still have to show down with the first bettor.

Winning this pot gave me some ammunition to play pots with against the maniac. He was still raising the hands he played preflop to 25. And for the most part I couldn't really find anything to play against him with. Finally around a half hour later I limp in with king queen suited (diamonds) fully expecting him to raise it to the usual 25. I figured there was no need for me to do the betting for him. Why scare him away with a raise?

I get a pretty decent queen jack rag flop. One diamond. I check to him. He reaches for a finger full of chips and tosses them out there. This was the other fun thing about his post flop play. He never really counted out his chips. Just grabbed a bunch and threw. This time it was 35. I called.

Turn is the ace of diamonds. Very interesting moment. It's a scare card. But I don't think he has an ace. I really don't. I've seen him just call an all in preflop and show down king 7. And even if I'm wrong and he does have an ace this one time, I still have (royal) flush and gutshot straight draws to save me. Not to mention that a queen or king possibly wins the pot for me as well.

Basically I got me some outs.

And like I said, I'm not so sure I'm behind here.

Now I can bet out like I have an ace. But here's why I check. If I bet and he doesn't have an ace I might make him fold the worse hand. But if I check I am giving him a chance to bluff at it. And since I also have the flush draw going I'm more than happy to let him name the stakes. A free card doesn't scare me. Neither does a bet.

So I check.

And our maniac responds by pushing all in for 135.

I guess I got what I wanted Although it's still a scary moment. If I call and he turns over an ace I'm not going to be too proud. On the flip side, I said I checked so he could bluff. And now (if I'm right) he's doing exactly what I wanted him to do.

So all I gotta do is call. As I'm counting out the 135 I also decide that he bet it too quickly. It was one of those frustration all in moves. Where someone goes all in basically because they're hoping the hand will go away. And going all in can often seem like the best way to do that.

So I call. Neither of us turns over our cards and so I hope to see a diamond on the river to complete my flush and end all doubt.

Instead I get the 2 of spades. Than hand is over and all I have is a pair of queens. King kicker.

Since he bet the turn and I called, I sit back and wait for him to show first. If he has an ace I don't need to show everyone what I had. But more than that, I want to get my money's worth. I want to see what cards this maniac was playing. I paid 135 dollars to see them. Lets not discount the entertainment value here.

He turns over king high.

This guy is the entire reason I'm at the table.

He buys in again. A few hands later I call his raise to 25 with ace king. I gave some thought to reraising preflop but the benefits of flopping an ace or king and him betting far outweigh winning just 25 bucks if I raise and he folds.

I miss the flop. He goes all in. I fold.

I go back to waiting. 30 minutes later I pick up pocket jacks against him. I hit a set on the flop but it was a scary board. Ace, jack, 10.

I check the flop. I'm waiting for him to go all in so I can call. But he does something very strange. He checks too. It's pretty funny. If he goes all in I would beat him into the middle with my chips. But his check actually scares me. I decide he could easily have king queen.

Turn comes. I check again and give him another chance to bet. He checks again.

River comes. I know he won't check here. If he has king queen he wants to make money. And if he doesn't have king queen and has missed completely he probably needs to make a bet to win the hand.

And he obliges, firing off a 55 dollar river bet. Damn. I'm so tempted to raise him here. I think I have the best hand. And like I said on the flop if he pushes all in I probably call. Yet the 55 dollar bet stinks like a value bet. Isn't it the bet size he would make if he has king queen? He wouldn't want to go all in here in case I folded. But to bet 55 screams "please call me." And he has to have the better hand sometimes right? He can't always be bluffing.

So I decide to just call. And he throws his hand into the muck. Perhaps I over thought the entire hand. Or maybe it made no difference. Since he mucked his cards he obviously had nothing. So maybe he just folds if I bet the flop or turn and there was no more money for me to be won. But my play on this one sure did feel weak.

The other thing I struggled with tonight was how often and with what range of cards to call preflop against a player constantly raising it to 25. At a 200 max buy in table that's a decent size raise. It's too large for me to just be calling him preflop and then folding to his continuation bet on the flop.

Twice I called the maniac's raises to 25 with suited connector hands and twice I had to fold on the flop when nothing connected. And immediately afterwards I'm feeling sorry for myself for giving away 50 bucks so easily and decide to tighten up. So what happens of course?

I tighten up and fold my ace 10 suited in the blinds after the maniac raises to 25 and a decent player calls in late position. I decide not to get involved with a drawing hand from the small blind (out of position). I also figure I won't know where I'm at if an ace flops. Strangely enough this hand might be easier to play if it's 7,8 suited. The ace causes me confusion. So I lay it down.

And of course this one time I don't call his preflop raise to 25 the flop comes 3 hearts and gives me the nut flush. And to add to my misery bets come flying out. In some ways dealing with this hand is just as hard as dealing with a bad beat. I know my stack size didn't get smaller but since it didn't get larger either it sure feels like I've just lost a couple of hundred dollars.

This is one of those moments where I'm pleading with the universe to please pair the board or do something to let me know that I would have lost the pot and somehow confirm it was a good fold.

Damn I flopped the nut flush.....I suck.

Wow the board paired on the turn....I could have lost a huge pot.

Then they flip over their cards on the river. If someone has a full house I'm a genius for folding preflop. If the winner only has two pair then obviously I need to work on my game.

In the moment my mind isn't concerned with whether or not this is a good play over millions of simulated hands. All I care about is what would have happened here.

I get all black and white.

Results oriented.

That's the bad news.

The good news is I didn't let it effect my play.

I didn't go on tilt.

I just went back to folding.

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