Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I left my mansion at 430 PM and reached the Rio around 4:48. I navigated my way through the concrete desert parking lot, past the mist sprayers and into the air conditioned reality of the World Series of Poker.

I reached my 2/5 no limit table and bought in for the 500 max in chips.

It's now 5 PM and I was ready to get to work. Lets see some flops.

Or even a few too many. You decide.

By 5:45 PM I was down 100 to 400 bucks.

Lots of chances. Lots of draws. Lots of outs. Over and over again. Nothing hits.

I felt pretty zen about it. My calm soothing logic was at some point I will hit and connect with the cards and drag in a big pot of chips and money will magically appear.

I folded for awhile. I hadn't played a hand in around 30 minutes when around 6:15 PM I decided it was time for me to come in for a raise to 20 from early position.

What else could I do with 5,8 suited?

Incredibly I still got 4 callers.

Cause that's how I roll.

Now if I actually had a legitimate hand like a big pair then this is such a nightmare to have to see the flop with 4 opponents. But this hand is suddenly alot of fun for me to play. The best part is since I raised it initially, if I can hit the flop my hand will be very well disguised.

I will also benefit from my display of preflop strength. Since I raised to 20 preflop there is a decent possibility that if I bet an ace flop, everyone will fold.

So I am sort of in a position to win this hand if high or low cards come.

Reality brings a queen or jack high flop with a couple of rags. Can't remember what they were but the two of them were definitely diamonds. It was so wonderful to pick up a draw with my crap hand.

Then things got even better when for some reason the small blind led with a 20 dollar bet.

I paused and acted slightly confused. As if I had my aces and was still ahead of his top pair. I stared at him with a look that said "I'm not going to raise you yet. I'm just going to you call now in position and see what you do on the turn."

I'm not sure if he was looking back at me.

I love that he bet here for me. I got a great draw. He's letting me call the 20 without gaining any information about my hand. All he knows is I raised preflop. And since he is out of position I'm dying to see what happens next. Does he quit if another diamond comes? Or will he keep firing?

Turn comes and it's no help for me. This time he leads out for 30.

I think there's 170 out there.

If you know me, you know I love chasing flushes as much as the next guy. But at this moment in time I think I might actually have the correct odds to call and chase for once!

Can we stop the poker game and give me the deck of cards or something?

Like it only took me 4 years of playing poker to finally get myself into a situation where I have correct flush chasing odds going into the river.

But odds or no odds, who the hell is this guy in the blinds who took over the lead in betting from me on the flop? I'm the one who raised preflop! Who said he could take it away? Doesn't he know who I am? 30 bucks isn't getting me to fold. I bought a bottle of Hummer cologne this week at Target because I thought the yellow bottle was funny. That's what 30 bucks means to me.

Heck we already know I'll spend at least 50 bucks for you guys to see my opponents cards.

30 shouldn't even be spoken about.

Lets forget I even brought it up.

So I call the 30 and the river brings the ace of spades.

I miss my flush draw. I have 8 high. I rock.

But this guy might rock even more than me.

How is that possible?

Because he gives up. He checks.

And I'll tell you what. I don't think he's trapping me. I think he has at best what has now become a middle pair and he's terrified of that ace.

And he should be. I raised preflop. I must have an ace.

And so I did what people do with their aces. I bet $100.

He thinks it over. And lays it down.

Who knows? Maybe he was on a flush draw too. Maybe not hitting the flush saved me money.

Or maybe he was just too good to call a 100 dollar bet on the river after an ace hit. That's a hard call for alot of people to make. Especially from the blinds where you suspect that everyone who raises your blinds preflop has an ace.

That a great challenge at the table. To figure out which guys you call and which you fold to.

Which guys have the chutzpah to bet when they miss.

And which guys are so tight they won't bet their ace high on the flop.

When you bet with the best hand it's not bluffing. Even if you don't know it's the best hand. If you raise preflop with ace queen, miss the flop but still bet, you very well might still be ahead. Yet alot of guys won't make this bet. They can't stomach it. They feel like they missed. So they check. And these are the same guys who make too many good laydowns.

After this 5,8 hand the guy to my left (was not in hand) asks if I had ace king of diamonds. And that is pretty much how I played it. My preflop raise could definitely have meant I had a big ace. My calls on the flop and turn (instead of reraising) screamed flush draw. Obviously I didn't fear another diamond coming. And of course my betting at the end when the ace came fits the description too and provided the perfect ending. I must have the Ace king of diamonds. He read me perfectly.

Betting the river there wasn't that big of deal since it was the only way I could win the pot. This took the pressure off of me. I obviously can't win if I show down my 8 high. Strangely enough betting and bluffing here feels more relaxing than many times when I'm siting there "hoping" my two pair is good. That's way more stressful.

The only other big hand I played was with 3,6 off from the blinds. Flop was 2,3,6, so my hand was probably good. If someone has 4,5 they'll probably get money from me. Like all poker players I'd love to see another 3 or 6 clinch the deal.

Me being me, I check the flop. I haven't been playing aggressively so I don't want to scare anyone away. Also how am I supposed to be called a weak player if I don't play weak?

Truth is, if a card comes that counterfeits my hand I'm fine with folding. (In a tournament I'd bet here. But in cash games I'm way more patient.)

Guy in bad mood bets 25. I call. So do others.

Turn is an ace. I check. Bad mood guy bets 75 dollars. I can't fold two pair to a guy who has been arguing with every dealer. He an "expert" on everything. So he certainly knows how to fire bullets at pots.

River is a king. I check. I had a hand similar to this one yesterday where I said how I like to check here on the river to give people who have missed their draws a chance to bluff. An added benefit is that it avoids me betting and getting reraised and facing a much tougher decision. The only way I'm really losing money is if he checks it down. But that's okay with me too. I don't need to play for all my chips with bottomish two pair.

He fires out 100. I think it through. I don't think he has the straight. I don't think he has more than a pair. If I'm wrong then I'm writing this call off to the I called because "he has to bet, it's his only chance to win the hand" school of showdown poker.

This is also a great example of playing within your limits. For 1000 bucks I'd have a hard time calling. But for 100? Easy call. Pot is too big.

He immediately mucks. I didn't even have to show it.

And that was that.

My only two decent pots of the evening. And I held 5,8 suited and 3,6 off.

Whatever profit I made off of those two hands I gave back seeing a whole bunch of flops with an assortment of small pairs, suited connectors, etc.

I came 9 to 15 outs away from a few huge pots but never got there.

I did get aces one time. I raise to 15 from the cutoff. Hopefully it seems like a steal from late position. Please someone make it 45.

Instead my small raise entices both blinds to call.

Uh oh. Here I go again with the aces...

Flop is queen, queen rag. Yes. Again. I laugh to myself. How many times do we need to watch this rerun? I'm stuck in poker groundhog day.

Is it just me you do notice how every time I get aces the flop comes out with paired queens?.

Maybe this is all part of something larger. Like maybe whenever I get pocket aces, someone types 4,8,15,16,23,42 into a computer located down in a hatch on a deserted island, the board pairs queens at the Rio and an angel gets its wings?

It could happen.

So both blinds check to me on the paired board and I don't fool around. I throw 5 red chips out into the middle and both guys fold. That's right. I take down the pot with pocket aces!

It's good to be back!

After 3 or 4 hours I'm treading water, fluctuating back and forth around 500.

I'm up to 552. Down to 468. Back up to 522. Down to 472 after multiple preflop calls with my small pairs trying to hit a set and take away a big pairs stack.

But I can't hit. It'll come sooner or later. I watch yet another guy call off his entire stack with pocket kings on a jack high board after a guy with pocket jacks goes all in. The guy with kings is shocked. But he shouldn't be.

One interesting hand I witnessed: board is ace high with 3 clubs on the turn. Young guy in blinds checks. Old guy on button thinks about betting, decides not to, and turns over his pocket queens.

Yes, the river hasn't come yet. But he made a mistake. So now we all know what he has.

Action continues. Dealer turns over the river, some rag.

Now our young kid in blinds has to act first. He seems really disturbed to have seen his opponents queens. This surprises me. If anything queens look weak on this board.

And incredibly, the young guy mucks his hand and quits the pot, his action acknowledging that he couldn't beat queens.


As a poker player I think you have to bet there. You have to make that guy with the queens figure out whether you not you have the ace or two clubs. You have to put him to a decision!

Going all in might look suspicious. But fire out 75 or something. Make some kind of value bet.

These internet kids today....when I growing up in Texas in the 1950's the question wouldn't have been whether or not we'd bet that river. The only question would be if we'd show the bluff afterwards.

Anyhow later that evening I hit two pair with my jack 10 suited and won a pot that put me back at exactly even. 500. It seemed like a good time to exit.

Not such a great evening in terms of if I'm trying to save up money to buy an NBA basketball team. But I was really happy that I hung in there and didn't go broke trying to make a profit on a night when the cards weren't really falling for me.


jeckyl said...

is it so hard to slip in a product placement shout out when referencing the misters?

Berg said...

Hypothetically, if someone offered you the chance to play in a high stakes cash game (max stack $5,000, for example), and you had to forgo 4 WSOP tourneys to do it, would you?