Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Game Continues

Friday night.

I arrive at the Bellagio at 8:30 PM.

On the ride over I wrote a new poker joke:

"Your momma is so tight, she's gotta check the river to get paid off when she's got the nuts."

Thank you very much.

I'll be here all year.

The list for 2/5 no limit is long. I'm probably around 15th in line waiting to play.

I finally get seated at 8:52 PM. They start up a new table with 10 of us. For some reason in the past I've gotten off to slow starts in this scenario. I've found better success when I enter a game in progress. Something about a game starting out fresh sometimes makes it harder for me to determine who is who at the table.

And by who is who, I mean who I am going to win money from.

There is one loose aggressive guy to my left but other than that everyone is playing pretty tight.

I get off to my usual slow start winning no pots in the first hour.

In fact my 500 buy in is down to 333 after losing a moderately sized pot with king jack suited. My initial read was correct but then the guy hit 2 pair on the river to pass my kings.

With 333 in front of me I flop top two pair from the big blind with 5,8 suited on a 4,5,8 flop. The early position raiser bets 50. He gets two callers. I push my remaining 300+ into the middle. I was going to raise smaller but there were too many players in the hand and I didn't want to start giving everyone attractive pot odds. There was a flush draw out there as well and I really thought I was ahead.

One thing that definitely factored into my decision here was my stack size. If I'm sitting on a large stack I may play it differently. But knowing that I was putting full pressure on my opponents while also only risking 333 dollars definitely made the move easy to make.

Much to my chagrin the preflop raiser had hit a set. But I gotta say he deserved my action. He was the loosest player at the table (on a previous hand he had reraised all in with ace jack suited!) and so I really thought my two pair was good.

Now down 500 dollars, I look inside my wallet and see two remaining hundred dollar bills. I place them on the table.

This will be it for me on the night. I will lose 200 more and take a 700 dollar loss. Or I will begin my comeback.

A couple of hands later I pick up king queen suited on the button. Someone in early position makes it 40. This is a real expensive call when you only have 200 in front of you. How can I put 20% of my stack in on a smooth call?

But the woman to my right calls. And I can see the blinds to my left reaching for chips. So I call too.

If the flop comes king or queen high I'm just going to have to lose my remaining 160 if anyone has ace king or ace queen.

Flop comes with two aces. Preflop raiser checks. So do the rest of us.

If he continue bets here he takes the pot. But he gives us all a free card.

The turn is a queen.

He checks again. A woman to my right (regular player who I see all the time) bets 40. I call. Everyone folds.

River is a rag and she checks. I check behind her. There's no value here. She's folding if she's behind. She's raising if she's ahead. I take the pot with my king queen.

Maybe 15 or 20 minutes later I pick up pocket queens. A guy in early position raises to 20. Same woman from previous hand calls. I call in position.

I often give up winning small pots with hands like these in an attempt to win the occasional bigger pot. And this is a good example.

If I reraise preflop and take down the pot then I win 40 dollars. If I reraise here, get called and then overcards come it's a difficult hand to play. But smooth calling in position and hiding my strength seems to work well for me. And then once they figure out that's how I play big pairs I start raising with my big pairs for value to keep them guessing.

For what it's worth, twice last night I bet out on the flop after hitting trips. To mix them up. Everyone expects me to check the trips. Sometimes up is up. Sometimes up is down.

So back to this hand I get the dream flop. Ace, queen, rag. In Doyle's book he talks about this exact situation. That with pocket queens the way to really make money is to flop a set with an ace on the board. That guy might know what he's talking about...

Preflop raiser bets 50. Woman to my right calls. I can slow down and call here if I think the raiser is going to bet again on the turn. But I'm not so sure. My read is that he was firing a continuation bet. And that he was going to check and fold on the turn. So I raise right here.

As expected he folds. The woman calls me. She must have an ace. But we'll never know because the Bellagio changed their rules regarding showing hands when players are all in. Now you no longer have to show the cards. Oh well.

After the turn and river I show my queens. She mucks. Dealer shoves pot to me and I'm back up to 687. Down 13 dollars after 2 hours of play. And it feels great.

Most of the action at our table was now coming from a guy who described himself as a tournament specialist. Kept saying how much he hated cash games. And it made sense. Because his terrible style of play (pushing all in or over betting anytime he hit the flop) might work in tournaments. But in a cash game eventually someone is going to have a real hand and take his stack.

Perfect example: 4,5,10 flop. A guy with pocket kings who raised preflop bets out. And our tournament specialist comes over the top all in with 10,6! Top pair. Bad kicker.

The way life works the tournament specialist hits a 6 on the river and takes a huge pot. He then gives everyone at the table 10 bucks and leaves.

At 11:42 PM after almost 3 hours I switch from seat 2 to seat 6. I find it easier to play from seat 6. It also gave me position on the biggest stack at the table. Seat 5. At this point I'm down around 50 bucks on the evening.

My notes say "11:53 PM. $642 after paying blinds. Nothing has happened since I hit set 83 minutes ago."

At this point "Lou" from "New Jersey" came and sat down. Lou was clearly a novice. Although he was so comfortable in his "I have no idea what I'm doing" routine that at times I thought it could be an act. But after seeing him call all ins multiple times with bottom pair I decided it definitely wasn't an act.

Lou was a nice guy, having fun, not caring if he left the table with chips. The thing was he kept hitting flops and winning pots. I knew I couldn't leave the table until Lou did.

I must have not looked like I wanted to be there. Because at one point Lou turns to me and says "You don't look happy."

I look back at Lou and do my best Larry David.

"You don't look happy" I say back at him.

"If you had to live with my wife you wouldn't be happy either" Lou says to me.

Fair enough.

12:15 AM. Down to 578.

12:28 AM. Up to 877 after I flop set of 4's on a 4,5 queen flop. 4 and 5 were diamonds as well. A fellow bet 100. I made it 200. He goes all in for 20 more. I call expecting to see his draw. He shows queen, 8. Gulp.

12:34 AM. I lose 25 bucks with 3,4 suited after I flop bottom pair and a flush draw but something smells fishy after one guy bets and 2 others call. With 3 other players expressing interest in that flop it's just too likely that someone has a better flush draw here.

12:46 AM. Minus 180. Ugh. I hit top pair and pay a guy off who chases and hits his straight. What grossed me out about this hand was that if he has a bigger stack, I let it go. But I had that moment where I stared at his stack after he called my flop bet of 20 (leaving him with 160 in front of him) and thought to myself that if I'm wrong here it only costs me 160. But that's not good poker. Good poker is figuring out if I'm ahead or behind. I let his stack size completely dictate my decision.

1:02 AM. I'm at 617 and down 83. Feeling frustrated that I'm back down after coming all the way back. However it's these moments where I kick into the poker is one long game mindset and it genuinely helps.

1:14 AM. 607. Down 93. I'd leave and go home but Lou keeps firing insanely large bets into insanely small pots. Like there will be 20 dollars in the middle and an innocent looking flop comes and Lou bets 100. I know one of these times I'm going to have a hand and take his stack.

1:34 AM. 601. Down 99. Waiting.

1:44 AM. I lay down my pocket 10's on a jack, queen, king board. I actually think there was a good chance the other guy was bluffing here and that my 10's were good. But I don't need to try and outplay this guy with Lou at the table.

1:56 AM. Bleeding. 539 in front of me. Down 161. The problem with keeping notes is I can see that I've won absolutely nothing since hitting that set of fours 88 minutes ago.

2:05 AM. There's a raise to 15 from early position. I look down at pocket kings and make it 45. Lou calls the 45 from blinds. Early position guy calls too. Flop comes queen high. Early position bets 75. I raise to 200. Lou folds. Early position guy moves all in. I call. He shows ace queen. And just like that I'm back to 879. Up 179.

2:30 AM. Lou quits! Oh no! I never got to play my big pot with him. This might be my last orbit. Then again 3 new players just sat down so there's some fresh blood.

2:33 AM. In the blinds with queen, jack suited. I flop top two pair on a queen, jack, 10 board. I bet flop and get called. I check call 35 on turn. And check call another 50 on river. And then watch my opponent muck. I love winning pots without showing my cards after calling another player's river bet.

2:41 AM. I'm either a genius or donk but it's gotta be one or the other. I do not raise preflop from the small blind with ace queen. There are 5 of us seeing the 3,4 queen flop. At this point I should lead out with a bet but I decide to trap. It gets checked around to the button, a large stack (with over $1200) sitting to my right in seat 5. The gentleman fires 85 dollars into the middle! A complete overbet! A bet that is screaming fold! A bet that clearly doesn't want to see a turn or river!

Now here I was waiting to trap someone. And he completely took the bait. Unless of course he's ahead. If he has a couple of hundred bucks in front of him (like the 180 I lost with top pair) then I'm probably not going anywhere. But with over 800 in front of me, do I really want to play a big pot, potentially for my whole stack with top pair?

I can't call him here. I think I gotta raise or fold. What am I going to do? Raise it to 200? What if he smooth calls in position? Many scary cards could come on the turn and there are still 3 players to act behind me. One could have been slowplaying. Or have a draw. I don't want to call him here and then have to decide what to do on the turn when he fires another 150 or 200 into the middle.


I know. It's utterly insane. I'm the weakest player ever. I folded the best hand.

But if I play a big pot and he shows me his set of 3's or 4's or even two pair then I couldn't forgive myself. And he didn't raise preflop. These hands are definitely possible.

Most of all he's a tight player. I don't think he's making a move. I think he thinks he genuinely has the best hand. He ain't making this move with pocket 10's.

Yes the big problem for me is that he could make this bet with king, queen. Or queen, jack. Two hands that I'm dominating.

But I'm doing this for a living. I'm not here to gamble. So I fold.

I also decided that if I was right and I was ahead in this hand then he might not put any more money into the pot. I might only win the cash that's out there now. Which is not too much.

However if I'm wrong, I could lose over $800 here. So I fold and wait for a better spot.

Look at me. Laying down ace queen on a queen, 3,4 flop. Go figure.

Poker is funny like that. Sometimes you got a feeling and you just gotta trust it. No two situations are exactly alike. I certainly don't always lay down top pair here. But then again I don't always call with it either.

And life is funny. Because 25 minutes later this same tight player in seat 5 raises to 20. I smooth call with ace 5 suited. I'm not in love with calling raises with ace suited hands but as you can see our stacks are large enough that if I somehow hit a miracle flop it will be worth it.

I'm thinking "clubs" but instead I see a 2,3,4 flop. That works too. I hit a straight.

He bets 70. I call quickly. Everyone else folds.

Turn is another 2. The 2 and 4 on the board are clubs. I think I'm already ahead with my straight but I suppose it's nice to have the flush draw there too. Then again another club on the river might scare him and hurt my action more than help it. Who knows? He bets 100. I call again.

River is a blank. This time he checks.

I bet 100. Small enough for him to call. He's folding if I push. He might call a bet larger than 100 but I know he'll definitely call at least 100 here.

He does call and mucks his big pair when I show my straight.

After the hand he couldn't help himself. He made a comment about how I had the nerve to call him preflop with ace 5.

My response?

I told him I had ace queen the hand he bet 85 and that it was a great bet and that he got me to lay down the better hand.

3:15 AM I call an all in with ace king. Opponent has jacks. I win the race.

3:21 AM. I call a raise to 15 with pocket 3's. Miss the flop. Decide to go home.

Tomorrow the game continues.


Check Raise Chin said...

Personally, I think we should have more Momma jokes in this blog.

lj said...

did he have a reaction when you told him you folded AQ on that previous hand?

Robert said...

He was silent.