Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Know That Feeling

It was Wednesday night at 11:30 PM and I was sitting at home reading.

You know. Minding my own business.

I wasn't that tired and it suddenly occurred to me that I live in Las Vegas.

Within minutes I could be at the Bellagio. I could play a few hands. And then come back home.

I got dressed and ran out the door.

Driving down to the strip I amused myself with the thought that if I was about to lose money then in a few hours I'd be saying to myself "Damn why couldn't I just have gone to sleep?"

And of course if I won money then it would be a great way to have spent a few early morning hours.

By Midnight I was seated at a 2/5 table and bought in for 500.

It was a wonderfully crazy table. Typical action was a 10 dollar straddle followed by an over raise preflop to 50. And then like 4 callers.

Money was moving fast. And so anytime I got playable cards in position I was happy to come along for the ride.

The only problem was that I couldn't win a hand.

I was trying real hard to get into a pot with this one particular guy who fired out 50 dollar raises from any position with any 2 cards. Lets call him the Maniac. I was prepared to pay the Maniac off if he could beat anything real.

But I just couldn't hit.

By 1:30 AM I was down 200 bucks but it really wasn't that horrible considering that I still hadn't won a single hand. This despite being on my 4th dealer.

There's something funny about a dealer coming in for their (30 minute?) shift and then leaving without pushing a single pot in my direction. But it gets even more amusing when it happens 3 or 4 times in a row.

Around 2 AM I limped in under the gun with 5,7 suited and flopped two pair.

There were two other players in the hand. One was the Maniac who kept raising to 50 preflop.

The other guy was a pretty poor player who kept winning pots. This guy played any ace. And he would actually make moves like put in a huge river bet with his ace rag (after hitting an ace) because he wants to see if he can get the better aces to fold.

He was all about putting in additional money when he might not have the best of it.

Sure it's fine to bet your nuts for value. Or bet big (bluff) if you think it's the only way to take down the pot. But this guy was constantly betting his medium stuff which is dangerous for him because he would usually only get called when beat. And not make any additional money when he's ahead.

Back to the hand - when I flopped two pair I checked to the maniac. He obliged and bet 50. The poor player called of course. But he was cold calling all night. This call meant nothing.

Now normally I'd raise here. I'd reach for $200 and shove it out there. I'm happy to take it down if they fold. I'm also happy to let them gamble and chase draws.

But after watching this maniac play for the past two hours I got greedy and just called. I wanted to give him the chance to bet the turn too. I knew I was ahead and didn't want to show strength and risk his folding.

What I didn't know was that the poor player called the 50 flop bet with 5,9. He had a pair of 5's with a 9 kicker. Now he might be right to think that he's ahead of the maniac. But he isn't ahead of my two pair. Or at least he wasn't until a 9 came on the turn.

Now this poor player fires out 100. Like I said, I've seen him bet his top pair weak kicker many times so I immediately call. So does the Maniac.

River is a king. Now the poor player checks and says out loud "You both called me on the turn so I gotta check the river."

At this point I genuinely think I have the best hand. I don't fear the Maniac. And if a king on the river scares the poor player then he probably can't beat a pair of kings.

So I value bet $100.

Maniac folds. Poor player calls and shows me his 5,9.

I guess I could have saved the 100 on the end but I really thought I was ahead. It also occurs to me now that maybe I could have won this hand by checking and perhaps inducing the Maniac to make a huge bluff bet. It would have to be huge enough to get the poor player to fold his two pair. And then I could have called.

Of course the best part of this hand was the poor player calling 50 on flop with middle pair 5's and his 9 kicker. These are the people I want to play with.

The other thing that stands out to me here is that it was like we (me and the poor player) were both playing the hand solely against the Maniac. We were both ignoring the fact that each other was also there. All we both knew was that we were each beating the maniac.

The poor player probably folds if I reraise on the flop. But then again if I could actually see his cards on the flop, I like having him still in the hand. Many times I win lots of money slowplaying like this. So I'm not about to whine when I get sucked out on.

This hand cost me 250.

Down 450 I took out 3 hundred dollar bills and placed them under my remaining $50 in chips.

The very next hand I'm in the big blind and the Maniac raises preflop to 50. I called with queen 10 suited but missed the flop. I checked and folded.

I've now sat here for two hours. I still haven't won a pot. I'm down 500.

But think of all the money I'm saving in tips.

A few hands later I finally pick up something strong. Pocket jacks.

There's a raise in front of me to 20. A couple of callers.

I think about reraising here. I can take down 60 bucks if they all fold.

Two things slow me down.

1- Initial raiser was tight. So when he raises in early position he certainly could have something that isn't scared of pocket jacks.

2- I'm greedy. I don't want to win just 60. I want to flop a set and double up. I have no problem with folding and donating my 20 bucks here if the flop comes out with overcards. So I call.

There's another call behind me and then a pretty loose player in the blinds raises it to 200.

The big moment for me comes when the early position raiser FOLDS. He was the one I was scared of. I do not fear the big blind and his overbet.

I quickly shove out the rest of my chips. I expect to see ace king. I'm not stressed here. If I lose the race then I get to go home.

Dude turns over pocket 9's.

I really don't like the reraise by the big blind with pocket 9's here. He may as well save this move for when he has 2,7 off. In other words he's only getting called if he's beat. And if everyone folds he wins regardless of his cards. So it seems wasteful to me to try this big raise move in a cash game with a medium pocket pair. Do it with the nuts. Or nothing.

My jacks hold up. I'm up to 676.

A few hands later a similar situation came up. I called $20 preflop with pocket 10's. And the same guy who raised to 200 with his 9's, mini raises the 20 to 35.

Everyone smooth calls and as it gets back to me I'm SO TEMPTED to push my 10's.

I'm pretty sure all the folks who just called the 35 will fold. So it's all about the big blind guy. I assume he's got something like suited connectors and his miniraise here is just building a pot in case he flops a draw. There's a much smaller chance that he has a big pair and is trying to trap if someone else reraises.

But I'm in position so I decide to just call and see the flop.

I was probably right about the big blind's hand because he checked and folded on a king jack flop.

2:22 AM. I take a bathroom break. I have 614 on the table. I'm down 186. I'm now on my 5th dealer. I've still won only 1 hand.

2:45 AM. I am playing poker to the sounds of vacuums moving across the Bellagio. This reminds me of living in New York City and playing Madden with friends all night. At some point we'd start to hear the early morning garbage trucks from outside the window.

2:53 AM. 582 on table. Down 218.

3:03 AM. New dealer. One winning hand in 3 hours. Uh maybe I should switch seats???????

3:12 AM. 470 on table. Down 330.

3:16 AM. Pocket queens under the gun. I limp (of course) because someone is going to raise behind me. The raise comes. We go all in. I stack him. I'm up to high 600's.

3:20 AM. I have 663 on table. Down 137 when my table breaks. I go to new table and immediately flop two pair in big blind but lose the pot to a guy who rivers a bigger two pair.

3:38 AM. 574 on table. Down 226. I still think it's pretty amazing to only be down 226 when I've now won exactly 2 pots in over 3.5 hours.

I lose 30 bucks with ace queen vs queens.

I lose 20 bucks calling with 6,7 suited on button in 4 way pot.

3:48 AM. I have 519 dollars on the table. I'm down 281.

3:52 AM. I pick up pocket aces. Two limpers for 5 bucks. I limp too.

Guy to my left raises to 20. Everyone calls.

Action gets back to me and I make it 125 total. A raise of 105.

Guy to my left is thinking about it. After a minute or so he reraises me 200 more!

I reraise all in. He calls.

I'm expecting to see kings or queens. At worst ace king.

Instead he turns over pocket 2's.

And so what happens?

Dealer turns over the flop and sitting in the window as the first visible card is a 2.

Gulp.

That mo fo hit a set.

Luckily, gratefully, thankfully, an ace came out as well.

We both flopped sets.

Somehow he doesn't hit quads.

And just like that I win my 3rd pot in almost 4 hours. I'm up to 1058.

Afterwards as I was walking out of the poker room the pocket deuces guy was standing there smoking a cigarette. I've seen him play before. He's a good player. So it was sort of strange to see him make that move. Perhaps it was 4 AM tilt.

We made eye contact so I stopped to acknowledge him. Although I couldn't really think of anything to say.

The best I finally mustered up was "So I guess you put me on ace king there?"

He says "No. I put you on aces. I wanted to get up."

And you know what?

I believed him.

I know that feeling.

1 comment:

Willy's World said...

excellent post. No wonder they call it "grinding"