Saturday, December 22, 2007

One Loooooooooooooooong Game

4:10 PM. Friday afternoon and I arrive to work early at the Bellagio.

4:11 PM. There's a wait. But at least I'm here.

4:15 PM. I'm back in the sportsbook. No, don't worry - I have a system. Using a super computer and an old Princeton Review manual I'm suddenly hitting 58% of sports bets. If I can do that forever, I can retire.

Although if I have to do it forever, isn't that never retiring?

So yeah. The system. Well tonight it "forced" me to take two home underdogs: Philadelphia 76ers and Seattle Supersonics. I'm a big basketball fan yet even I'd have a hard time naming 10 players from those two teams combined. Uh...Kevin Durant.

4:49 PM. I get seated and buy in for the 500. I post my first hand from the cut off seat. I miss the flop and fold. Perfect.

5:03 PM. I fold ace ten and king ten on consecutive hands in early position. I want to get a feel for this table before deciding how fast to play. No need to have to make any tough decisions in these first few hands. Lets just learn everyone's game. That's enough to think about. Ohmmmmmmm.

5:05 PM. I flop trips with jack 8 from the big blind. This hand gets me up to 590. I bet all 3 streets and got paid by a dude with jack 3. The important fact here is that he's in middle position and chose to limp into this hand. I was only there cause I was the blind. And so when he showed the jack on the end I was sure surprised to see that I had the better kicker.

5:12 PM. I limp in with queen ten suited and flop flush draw. I bet 15 and get raised 25 more to 40 by an aggressive player. Of course his sizing the raise to be only 25 more makes it a pleasurable call for me. When I miss on the turn this time he bets a more appropriate 120 and I fold.

5:23 PM. Bunch of limpers and I raise to 35 from small blind with pocket queens. Flop comes king high and I fire out 70. Dude folds and shows me his queens.

A very serious question: why do that? What does that show me? That he's a good enough player to fold queens on a king board? Or that I got lucky to hit a king and out flop his hand?

Seriously? Why show queens here?

To answer your question: Yes. I did show him my queens.

This is a great example of how no two hands are ever exactly the same. Like just yesterday I folded pocket queens on a jack high board. And today I am betting with them on a king flop. That's poker.

Maybe the real comedy is if the guy yesterday also had pocket queens! That never occurred to me till now.

5:24 PM. Minus 15 with the Mean Joe Green. You know it. You love it. You can't live without it. The 7,5 suited.

5:34 PM. I call 20 preflop 4 ways with king jack suited. The first orbit I was folding ace 10. Now I'm calling with king jack because I have a better feel for the table. The flop comes jack high. Preflop raiser bets 25. I call. Others fold.
Turn comes. There are some draw possibilities out there folks. But this guy looks like he doesn't want to protect his hand. He eventually bets 50. I call feeling pretty good. River misses. He bets 50 again. It's just too small. Smells like fear. I call. He shows pocket 9's. Dealer pushes pot my way.

5:36 PM Next hand there's a raise in early position to 25 but I have two good reasons to call. First off I'm about to go on a rush. And secondly I have queen, nine suited and I can't really remember the last time that queen, nine suited didn't win a pot. Maybe sometimes during the Nixon years?

It was a scary flop too. Ace ace ten. If anyone bets I fold. But the preflop raiser checks. And so do the rest of us. The ace of diamonds comes on the turn.

Who's got a flush draw baby? We check it around.

River is a queen. NOW the guy who raised preflop bets 30. Now that I have my boat. I gotta call here. I expect to chop. Or see quads. Instead he says he has nothing. I show my queen for the boat.

If he bets on the flop he wins this pot. Funny for him to wait till the river.

I'm at 828 and about to pay blinds.

I feel a chill and put my sweatshirt hood over my head.

5:48 PM. Minus 20 with ace jack suited. I flop an ace but fold to 75 flop bet because all three community cards are hearts, and I don't have any. Then as the guy is mucking his cards I see him expose a queen.

This means I either made a great fold (to Ace queen) or a less profitable fold (to pocket queens). But say it along with me: there will be better spots than hoping a jack kicker is good or that I'm not already drawing dead to a flush.

5:54 PM One of the Bellagio dealers sits down at my table. Usually dealers aren't always the best players. I've read that some of them are great at reading people from all their experience. But I've sat with plenty of dealers who play poorly. You never know what you're gonna get.

5:58 PM. A limp in on my button with king 8 suited. (It's already a bad story). Flop is a dreamy king high with 2 hearts. This time I got plenty of heart. A little old lady across the table bets 20. I think against most opponents I'd raise here. She only has around 60 more in front of her. I should just raise that amount and put her to a decision but I just call.

She bets 20 again on the turn. Same options. I call again.

She pushes her final 42 on the river. I haven't completed my flush. The board is 4,4, king rag rag. I have two pair with the 8 kicker. I'm not beating her. At worst she has ace king here.

This hand pisses me off because I should fold. I know I am beat. It's not even about the money. $42 isn't that significant. It's about being right.

But I'm curious because she limped preflop so lets all see what she limped with. Okay. I call. For her Grandkids. For you guys. Merry Christmas lady. Show me your ace king. And she turns over her cards to reveal a couple of hidden aces.

I guess it would have been real bad etiquette on my part to crack them right?

This hand puts me back down to 699.

Poker is one long game. Poker is one long game. Ohm.

6:13 PM. Minus 45 trying to make something happen with ten jack on a king queen flop. I didn't.

6:21 PM. File this one under bad timing. I flop a straight from small blind with 4,7 off on a 3,5,6 board. I bet and get called and then a freaking 4 comes on the turn to kill my action. Why couldn't it be an ace? I win the pot yet manage to feel disappointed. There's nothing better than a sore winner right?

6:35 PM. I take off my hood since I've managed to lose around $350 since putting hood on. This hand I get flushed on the river.

6:38 PM. I guess this is a good test of character. Lets see if I can keep it together. It hurts to be up 350 or whatever and then give it all back to be down below even.

One Long Game says it doesn't mater if I have 830 or 480.

(Of course One Long Game doesn't have to pay rent either).

6:49 PM. Back in the black. I call preflop raise to 25. Dude mini bets flop. I raise. He folds.

6:54 PM. At 545 after paying blinds.

6:59 PM. I take down two pots in positions. Up to 606.

7:03 PM. I get up from table and take a walk. Ohmmmm.

7:17 PM. I'm getting in there but not hitting too much. King 10 suited. Pocket 3's.
Pocket 9's. Nothing looks good postflop.

7:21 PM. Minus 20 with pocket 10's.

7:33 PM. Minus 35 with king queen suited. I raise from button, get caller and give up on flop when opponent bet.

7:50 PM. Just got called a suck out king. The truth is the other player didn't bet the hand right. I limped with 6 8 suited and called a raise to 20. 4 of us see the flop.

Flop comes 5,7, king and my opponent continue bets 50. I have my straight draw. But I'm also not convinced my opponent wasn't scared by that king. She could have something like pocket jacks. Just a feeling. I call to see what happens on the turn. Sure I'd love to hit my card. But so much of poker is figuring out how much someone likes their hand. And the only way I can find that out here is to go deeper into it. It's dangerous. But I also feel like I'm getting way better at putting people onto a hand.

The turn comes and I don't hit a straight. I do however pick up my flush draw. So now I'm sitting here with a straight flush draw. Perhaps my energy changed because after I checked, my opponent checked behind me.

River was the 3rd spade. Runner runner. It's better than me hitting the straight in that it feels completely disguised. No way I'd call that flop bet solely based on a flush draw.

I lead out for 100, figuring that my opponent has to call this. It looks too much like I'm trying to buy the pot.

I did get called. I'm guessing by top pair. I'll never know because I showed first and opponent mucked.

So this was the hand I sucked out on. Sure my flop call was questionable but you can't be whining about my hitting a draw if you don't bet the turn to protect your hand. Like take that same 100 bucks that my opponent used to call me on the end. If that same money is bet on the turn then at least I have a decision to make.

7:55 PM. I get into hand with the dealer. He bets 7,9,jack flop and I call.
Turn is another 7. We both check. River is a 10. He checks, I bet 30 and he angrily open folds his ace jack. Disingenuously tells me nice catch. I disingenuously say thank you. There is something pretty funny about getting attitude from a dealer. Like these poor people have to put up with so much crap from jerk players. So in a karmic sense I was happy to let him express his frustration. I'm sure the poor guy has had cards thrown at him.

For me the most interesting part is more talk about what a card catcher I am.

"Whatever he needs he catches."

I think about their comments. It's natural to get defensive. As if I wanna defend my game. But you know what? Who cares? If this guy is scared to play a hand with me because "I'm the guy who always catches cards" then more power to me.

8:05 PM. I'm at 725 after paying blinds.

8:10 PM. Minus 5 limping with tens and folding on ace king flop. I'm more than happy to donate 5 bucks here limping and crossing my fingers that I hit a set. So many players overplay these hands. "Well I had pocket 10's, I had to raise." Yes. Sometimes.

8:16 PM. Dealer dude just raises me to 60 preflop. This is his way of telling me as loud as possible he has aces. I'm so tempted to call and give him a heart attack with my 8,9 suited but I fold.

8:18 PM. Now everyone really thinks I'm the sucker here. I raise a few limpers to 35 with my ace king. I get two callers but then the gentleman who earlier folded his pocket queens to my pocket queens (on the king high flop)pushes all in for 300ish.

When I first sat down this kid had over 1000 in front of him. I don't think he has aces here. I think two things are way more likely. 1- Small to medium pair. 2- Big ace.(Which could be something great for me like ace queen). I decide I am willing to bet him his stack that his bet was not aces. It's a feeling. There's enough extra bets in there that I don't mind racing a pair.

Now where this gets tough to play is that there are still two people behind me. I don't want to smooth call the all in and give them any kind of pot odds.

So on this hand I do a crazy thing. I go all in. For over 700.

But my thinking is clear. The two hands behind me cannot call this bet. I have to have aces. What other hand raises, gets raised all in, and then reraises back???

I hear the dealer tell the person next to him that I'm about to win 400 bucks. He knows that my move means aces.

Both players behind me fold.

I turn over my cards and turns out that we both have ace king and chop the 140.

One of the folders was all pissed off because he would have hit a set of 9's.

So the aggression somehow saved me (us) from him hitting.

Yes it was crazy play. But there was method to it. In terms of reading the hand of the raiser, and then in terms of isolating him. But all anyone at the table noticed was that I'm the guy who pushed all in with ace king.

So once again, to the players who think they're real good, I'm a maniac who will push with ace king. I know they think they can trap me.

A few minutes later I hear a guy to my right saying how he would never come over the top of an all in with ace king. As if there is a cold hard rule rather than it being situational.

Never is a strong word buddy. I was about to participate in the discussion but I did not. No point. My reputation is gold here.

8:27 PM. I finally win an all in race against a small stack! There had been 3 in a row that I'd lost. On this hand I limped in early with pocket jacks. There were a few callers behind me (it really just becomes antes) and then a woman who has played pretty recklessly raises it to 40. Just like the hand before, I don't believe her. I think her best case scenario is a big ace. She was an "any two cards will do" kind of player.

So once again I wanna isolate. Just like before, I completely over play my hand. I raise her back and make it 140. I like this bet. If a big stack reraises me I can still get away from it. But no one does. Once again it looks like I have aces.

Everyone else folds. She calls. I show my jacks at the end. Never see her cards. And my stack is up to 877.

8:38 PM. Minus 20 with pocket 2's against steaming player. If I hit the set I'd have his stack. Actually if I just reraised his flop bet (with ace queen high)I probably could have won the hand. But sometimes it's just easier to fold the 2's and move on. Down to 848. 11 minutes away from 4 hours.

8:42 PM. Minus 15 with queen jack suited.

8:47 PM. Minus 20 in blinds with ace suited four ways. Down to 808. One sign that it could be time to go is I don't want my stack to drop below 800. And trying to keep your stack over a certain amount is not how you play poker.

8:57 PM. I'm up to 828 after taking down pot with 9.10 on 8,9,jack flop. The desire to stay above 800 is at least forcing me to play tight. Having 28 dollars to spare is 4 orbits of blinds. 40 hands. That's alot of action for 28 bucks.

9:01 PM. Up to 842 after I take down straddled hand from a regular who just sat down to my left.

9:03 PM. Regular leaves table.

9:05 PM. Minus 30 for being stupid. Really. A tax. I called 15 bucks from the button with ace jack. I didn't want to make that call but I had the button...and then the big blind mini raises it to 30 and so it was 15 more for me to win 105 but when I miss the flop the whole thing feels like "asfjasdfjasdfjaspdf."

9:08 PM. Minus 5 with 9's. One of these days I'm gonna hit a set. I don't even care if I get paid off on it.

9:15 PM. That woman who I felted before with my jacks wants to straddle. However there is disagreement over whether she should have to still add 2 bucks to the middle since she missed her small blind. They let her. I raise it to 45 preflop and she calls. She's looking to gamble. I bet 100 on flop. She folds.

9:21 PM. 839 after paying blinds.

9:29 PM. Down to 709. I lost 130 bucks on this hand and boy am I sort of proud. I raised 20 bucks preflop and was called by an older white guy. I mention the race part because of stereotypes. Most of the older white guys play pretty tight. They bet top pair but they don't give their stack away with it. They're solid.

Flop comes 2,3,5 and I continue bet. If I had a pair of jacks I would bet 45. So that's what I bet. This guy to my left calls.

What could he have?

Hmmm. Maybe he's the one with the pair of jacks. Heck even if he has ace high he's ahead here. Unless a queen or jack comes on the turn I'm probably done with the hand.

Or so I thought.

The turn brought a 4 making the board 2,3,5,4.

Wow. I raised preflop. I continue bet on the flop. It's completely legitimate that I have an ace. More importantly, if he doesn't have an ace (and we're assuming he doesn't have a 6) then it's real hard to call a bet here with an overpair. All I need is an ace in my hand for the straight.

If I had an ace I might bet 65 dollars. That's what I do here. There is around 130 bucks in the middle

He reaches for chips and calls. Okay. Now I'm really done.

But it was this 65 dollar bet that I was proud of. Even though it didn't work out, it still made perfect sense to me. It was the only way I was going to win the hand. It had to be done.

9:36 PM. 697 after paying blinds.

9:41 PM. Okay. An update to my previous evaluation. The older white guy to my left has made some questionable calls. So questionable in fact that I'm now no longer sure he even held an ace on that 2,3,4,5 board. I want to play another pot with this guy.

9;47 PM. Ask and ye shall receive. I call a raise to 25 preflop with ace king. 5 of us including the white guy call too. Flop comes king high. Preflop raiser bets 25 which seems sort of small and means he's missed or is at best on a draw. It's my turn to act next but before I do the white guy acts behind me, says raise and sticks out 100.

It's still my turn.

What do you do?

Half of me is like "Just fold it Robert." All you have is top pair.

The other half is "This guy overplays top pair. It's very likely he has something like king queen."

But how do I handle the part about knowing he's about to raise?

Being me, I do the strangest thing possible. I call.

That's right sir. I know you're about to raise me. And yet I'm still donating you 25 bucks.

I notice a few strange looks from my table mates but it makes perfect sense to me.

I don't want to raise and scare away the white guy. I think I have the best hand. If he was poker savvy he may actually fear my call.

He isn't and he doesn't. He still raises to 100.

He bets 100 on turn and I call. He checks river behind me and shows king 10.

9:55 PM. 1013 after paying blinds.

10:07 PM. It gets folded around to me in the button. I look down at pocket kings.
I raise it to only 15, looking to stimulate action. I don't want to raise to 25 and steal the blinds. If I thought the big blind would call 25 then I'd bet it. But the big blind is the same dealer fellow and he plays pretty straight forward..

Dealer guy looks down at his cards and grabs a random stack of chips. Not sure how much it was. Must have been like 80 or 90 bucks. Throws it out there.

This is sort of a dream come true right? I have 1000 on the table. This dealer guy has been on a crazy rush and has like 2000. If I can double through him it might be a Merry Christmas after all.

Do I reraise? How much? Do I smooth call in position?

While I'm considering my options, the dealer guy, who we already know thinks I'm a luck box and that I hit every flop, looks me dead in the eye and says "I have a monster."

Hmmm. Well so do I sir.

Then I try something I don't think I've ever done before. I ask him if I can see one of his cards.

He says yes. Either one.

I choose randomly and turn over an ace.

Okay. Good enough for me sir.

I fold my kings face up.

He shows the second ace.

How strange is this hand folks?

This gentleman is so sure I will out flop him and hit my two outer that he goes out of his way to let me know he has aces. Like here I was pondering a reraise until he opened his mouth. And he was happy just taking my 15 bucks! That's how scared he was to play against me. I really could have just lost 1000 bucks on this hand. Easily.

10:10 PM. I'm down to 993 although I should be grateful right?

10:18 PM. Wow. Was it just my destiny to lose some chips right now? After only losing 15 with the kings versus the aces, I pick up kings again and raise 20 preflop.

I get two callers. Flop comes queen high. I bet 20. Get called by one guy.

Harmless turn comes. I'm out of position and actually consider it to be "mixing up my game" to sometimes check in this spot. It's the check of weakness. I tried to beat you on the flop but you hit so I guess I give up. I sure don't do this every time. But I do like to randomize my game occasionally and make a move like this. Just so opponents don't always know I'm weak when I check.

So I check here and he bets 50. I call. River is also safe. No straights. No flushes. No paired board. I check again and my opponent fires out 150.

Damn it. Too much. This is a problem.

I don't know what to do. I want to fold. His bet is definitely confusing. It's not a scared under bet. It's healthy and pot sized. He's either got a monster (set) or absolutely nothing and betting this big to take away the pot.

I go back and forth on what to do. It makes sense to me both ways.

I finally decide to call the 150. Although what I hate about my call is I don't think he bets 150 here with ace queen. So what hand am I beating? It has to be a set. Or a bluff. But probably a set.

And it was. That call dropped me down to 756.

10:20 PM. The very next hand I flop top pair with flush draw. The kind of hand I'm not scared to put alot of chips in there with. Little do I know that once again my opponent has flopped a set.

By the turn he has a full house and I get away from it. On the bright side, it only cost me 65 bucks. Could have been much much worse. Down to 696. Wow poker is tough.

10:29 PM. 686 after paying blinds.

10:43 PM. 674 after paying blinds.

10:49 PM. I've just hit the 6 hour mark. I'm at 684.

10:52 PM. I'm under the gun and limp in with my 2,5 suited looking for a miracle.
The dude who hit the set to beat my kings raises to 30 with his pocket 10's. This is an easy fold. Until three others call. Now it's 25 to win 125. And we can all agree that I'm probably the only one here with 2,5.

Trying to create mischief in the universe, I look at the preflop raiser and say "I'm sorry sir. I really wanted to fold here. But now I gotta call."

He responds with "Well you hit every flop."

That's right. I almost forgot.

Losing the last two hands to flopped sets made me forget that I'm the one who hits every flop.

Didn't happen this time. I fold, get up and cash out.

It hurts a little bit to have been up over a full buy in, and yet now only be up 154.

My psyche prefers to leave before I give the rest of it back.

I can come back tomorrow and start over.

1 comment:

Check Raise Chin said...

Great Story Rob.