Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fluctuating Beer Prices

Not exactly the best session for yours truly.

But why make vague statements about it when I can offer you a minute by minute account of what went wrong?

9:28 PM. I arrive at the Venetian poker room and get on the list for 1/2 no limit. I don't exactly feel on top of my game so I reduce the stakes. No need to put myself in a position where I have to make a decision for 500 or 1000 bucks. Not tonight. 200 at a time is fine.

9:30 PM. While waiting to be called, I take a walk over to the sports book to check on a futures price for my friend in New York City. Incredibly, the same item offered right now for 22 to 1 "next door" at the Wynn is somehow only 16 to 1 in the Venetian.

9:32 PM. Back over in the poker room I get called to table number 23. It's already looking like a good night.

9:43 PM. Usually I fly solo but tonight I publicly acknowledge 3 people in the room. CK, Falstaff, and Bacon Bikini Mary. CK was at my table and sat to my right. This seating arrangement would have been a loose aggressive disaster for both of us in 2006. Yet in 2008 we sat there and folded most hands despite playing at the lower stakes. There's maturity for you.

9:45 PM. I flop top two pair, on a king,9,8 board, slow play, get burned. Dude bets 10 on the flop and I should raise but I'm greedy. I want to win a big pot. I don't want to raise here, scare him away and have him fold. So I call. I'm ahead of his pair or draw and I'm hoping he'll put more money in on the turn.

Turn is an ugly 7. Dude bets 40. Now I've only bought in for 200. So it's pretty hard to just call here. It's raise or fold territory. I'm in an awful spot if a 6 or 10 comes on the river. I can't just call with these smaller stacks.

At the moment, the obvious hand that scares me is jack 10. If he's sitting there with the nut straight I'm in trouble. But other than those holdings I felt pretty good. And if he does have the straight I still have my 4 outs on the river to hit a boat. Mainly I just don't want to let him get there, if he's not there already.

So I pushed.

He doesn't call immediately. He thinks about it for a moment. All of this makes me feel pretty good. However the gross part is that he does have a straight. It just happens to be the ignorant end. The bottom end. The 5,6. That's right. He hit the gutshot on the turn.

He eventually calls my all in. He has to. He could be drawing dead at this point, but if he's going to play 5,6 and it hits, how does he fold it?

And like any human, I felt donkish at first when he showed the straight. It never feels good to get your money in way behind. But as I type this now, I definitely feel way more amused by the entire hand.

Dude bet out 10 bucks on the flop with 5,6 on an 8,9 king board. That's awesome for me. The real fun would have been watching what he does on on the turn and river if a 7 doesn't come. Maybe he wouldn't have put any more money into the pot. But maybe he would. Who knows?

And the best part about this game called poker is that if he turns over jack 10 I can feel bad about how poorly I play...but when he turns over 5,6 I can find it highly entertaining. Go figure.

10:11 PM. I'm in limit mode. I call off 15 on the flop, 35 on the turn and 45 on the river with two pair and lose to a set. Part of me wishes I raised on one of the streets to find out where I was at. Part of me knows I've made money in the past year in this exact type of spot by just calling down. I'm genius when I sniff it out ,and a fish when I pay them off.

10:27 PM. I hit top pair and lose to a dude's 7,8 hitting a straight on the river. I've re-bought once am already down 110 on my second buy in. Yuck.

I've played way too loosely this first hour. Too many hands. And showing down too much with moderate holdings.

Although my dropping down to 90 dollars will finally get me to tighten up and play correctly.

I just wish I was starting the session right about now.

10:34 PM. I have 86 dollars and I'm about to pay some blinds. I've started thinking about getting myself something to drink. Sometimes when I fall down a few hundred, I like to order a beverage, just so I think I got something for my money.

The guy next to me is drinking beer. Hmmmm. Not sure what he paid for his, but maybe I'll order me a $314 brew. The math here is fun.

Look how far I've come. Just an hour ago I had $400 dollars and no Corona.

Now I will have $86 and a Corona.

The real irony here is that I could have just gone upstairs to TAO, ordered the same drink and had the same bill.

10:51 PM. I'm up to $146 after I hit jack high flush from blinds and somehow survive a 10 high flush in the hand. The cards could have just as easily been reversed and I'd be done for the night. But instead of being done, the price of the beer I'm sipping just dropped down to $254.

11:09 PM. 129. I'm playing poker tonight like my NY Knicks play basketball. Enough said.

11:16 PM. The Venetian recently opened up a secondary hotel next door called the Palazzo and there are a few Palazzo chips mixed into our Venetian stacks. These Palazzo chips are so new and so clean I can actually lick them. Putting a Venetian chip into my mouth would be gross, but a Palazzo chip is still considered good hygiene.

11:25 PM. Minus 10 with 7's.

11:27 PM. Minus 10 with suited crap. Down to 112.

11:30 PM. Picked up ace queen but nothing good happened after that.

11:38 PM. Here's a strange one for you. I limp under the gun with ace king suited. I'm kind of hoping someone raises and then we can race for the rest of my chips. However a few players just call and I miss the flop. A dude mini bets 5. I really want to fold but I can't get myself to release my cards for 5 bucks. So I call.

I manage to hit a second card of my suit on turn. Now I'm feeling much better with overcards, a gutshot straight draw, and best of all: the nut flush draw. He bets out $10. A raise by me here is common in most countries, but I decide to tell the guy that I'm on a draw and just call. This comment by me might have led to his folding when a king comes on the river. I've miss my flush draw but I do have top pair. The king also made a straight possible. Just not with my cards.

At this point I lead out for the rest of my chips. What makes this decision easy is I only have 50 something left. I don't expect to get a better hand to fold, but since I'm probably going to call a bet here, I decide to bet first. This way it doesn't get checked down behind me by someone with 1 pair.

The gentleman who had mini bet the flop and turn folds. The same gentleman who I told I was on a draw. But then strangely enough, the third player in the hand calls me but then mucks when I show my top pair.

What did he call with? I guess middle pair.

After the hand, the guy who mini bet the flop and turns to me and says "real nice bet."

I ask "you could beat my ace king there?"

He says yes. Had two pair.


I guess that was a nice bet.

Who knew?

And of course if the guy with two pair calls, it's a terrible bet.

That's poker.

11:42 PM. So much for a rush. I get myself into trouble the next two hands.

First I lose 30 bucks with top pair to another gutshot straight. Then I lose 16 bucks raising preflop with ace queen. On this second hand I immediately shut down on a real scary connected and flushed flop. Yet this lack of a continuation bet from yours truly suddenly looked good on this particular hand when one of the players chose to show his flopped set.

11:58 PM. Down to 97.

12:15 AM. Down to 74. Yep yep yep. My beer costs 326 dollars at the moment but if I order another one I can drop the bulk price down to a much more reasonable $163 per bottle.

12:27 AM. This is how hard poker is:

After a few players limp in an aggressive player raises to 15 in position. I look down at pocket kings in the blinds and throw my remaining 74 dollars out into the middle. All the limpers fold. But not the aggressive player. He calls the $59 more.

With 10,6 off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so what happens on the flop?

He hits a 10 and a 6.

Of course he does!

Luckily for my blood pressure we haven't turned over our cards. So I don't know he has 10,6 yet. And here I actually thought it was a good looking flop. Seeing an ace out there would have made me way more nervous.

Yet what ends up happening is the universe throws me a bone and goes runner runner flush. There are 4 spades on the board and one of my kings just happens to be a spade. I survive the hand and double up to 150.

Nothing is easy. But at least the night continues. And now I can choose to keep playing better. I don't have to play poorly. I can make my money back. I can lower the price of beer.

What I'd like to ask myself is why didn't I start out the evening playing like this?

I think the answer might be that I wanted easy money. I wanted to get lucky and hit flops. I wasn't completely focused on playing correctly. On playing my game.

12:32 AM. Minus 15 with ace suited from cutoff.

12:55 AM. 126 and folding.

1:11 AM. I fold my jack 8 from the small blind after a raise to 11 and feel sorry for myself because I wanna gamble. But now that I'm focused on playing perfect poker, I know I can do much better for myself than calling a raise out of position with moderate holdings.

1:29 AM. My comeback kicks into gear. An ace was exposed so I decide not to flinch when my opponent bets out on an ace queen 5 flop. I'm holding king queen. I feel even better when another ace comes on the turn. The board pairs 5's as well on the river and I end up taking the pot from someone with queen jack. I may not have stuck in there without seeing that first ace out of the deck. This hand puts me up to 176.

1:52: AM. I flop the nut flush with ace 8. Aggressive guy bets, two of us call. Aggressive guy bets another 50 on turn. I was going to just call but out of the corner of my eye I see the guy who has to act behind me counting out 50 dollars to call too. If he was going to fold, I don't mind calling and playing the river heads up in position against the aggressive player. And if I thought he was going to push then I'd have just called as well. But with this gentleman planning to smooth call behind me, I don't want to give two players the chance to fill up on the river. I will only have 100 bucks left if I call the 50. So I push out my remaining 150.

It's also a little bit of reverse thinking. A sophisticated player might not put me on the nut flush here because the nut flush doesn't need to push. If I do have a flush, it's far more likely it's something like small suited connectors and I don't want to give a big diamond the chance to draw out on me.

Best of all, by pushing in my remaining 100 now, I don't have to get confused about what to do if the board pairs on the river.

So raising to 150 right now works fine for me.

The guy who was going to call the 50 behind me still calls my all in. (He has less chips than me). The guy who bet the original 50 thinks for a bit but then mucks his cards. Says he had two pair. If this was true then my bet did exactly what I wanted it to. Charge him to see more cards. Of course after the hand he questioned why in the world I would ever raise with the nuts.

He was implying that perhaps I cost myself the 100 bucks by not letting him hang around on the river. Yet if I don't raise here and he fills up his boat on the river, the mental damage of that will be far greater to me than my winning or losing 100 bucks.

And of course the flip side here is that if he's going to fold on the turn when he can still improve by filling up his boat, why would he then call my $100 on the river when his hand HASN'T improved?

I think the short answer is he wouldn't have called me on the river.

Which for me was another good reason to raise on the turn. I really don't think he takes another shot at the pot on the river after two players in the hand have smooth called the turn behind him on a flushed out board.

After the hand when he saw my cards he asked me why I bet the turn with the nuts.

I think I gave this guy the best answer I've given anyone at a poker table who has asked my about my play in the past year.

I just shrugged my shoulders.

I really gotta do that more often.

Just shrug my shoulders when players ask me why I do stuff.

It's so much easier than speaking.

And it ends the conversation real quickly.

2:04 AM. I win with ace jack on a jack high board to get up to 457. It feels crazy to be up 57 bucks after the first couple of hours. Imagine if I didn't lose that 300 first. I might have actually made some money tonight.

2:18 AM. Bathroom break. Working on my second beer. The more I drink, the tighter I play. I'm up 30 bucks on the night which is just another way of saying that I get paid 15 dollars for each beer I drink.

2:28 AM. I limp with aces from early position and it all goes wrong when no one raises. However there were two players at the table raising enough pots to take a chance on them doing it again here. Plus I was out of position.

As for the rest of the hand, I called a 10 dollar bet on both the flop and turn, but folded to a $45 bet on the river. By this point there was a 4 card straight out there. If you read me regularly you know I can handle losing 22 dollars with aces. Many times that's like making money.

2:42 AM. I bluff a gentleman out of the hand with my 9 high by betting 45 on the river. He had raised me preflop and bet the flop, but then quit on the hand. He looks across the table at me and says he has a small pair but just can't call me here with 3 face cards on the board. I sit silently. Then he says "I thought this was a friendly game." I pipe in and say "Hey you were the one who raised preflop! I wanted to see a flop for 2 dollars. Like a human being. But you had to go and raise." He smiles at me and mucks his cards.

2:44 AM. The same gentleman gets me back winning the pot on a 2,2,7,5,2 board. I had pocket 6's. He had ace,7. We both checked the turn and river after he called my flop over bet of 20 into a 15 pot. This hand shows that an overbet with trips on the flop is not necessarily a horrible play.

2:53 AM. I make a poor read and fold the best hand to a guy on tilt. He raised preflop to 10. Guy to my right called from cutoff. I called on the button with pocket 7's. Flop came jack high and he bet out 30. He had around 75 total. He hadn't raised any hands preflop so it was reasonable to think he had a pocket pair bigger than 7's. And of course he could have hit the jack as well. So I convinced myself this was a good fold. And then he showed me his king 3 suited.

Then again, for all I know he hits a king on the turn or river and I lose the hand anyway. I point this out only because I never consider this a possibility whenever I beat up myself for getting bluffed.

I never consider the fact that I will still lose this hand 15% of the time. Even when I'm right and call down a king high on the flop.

2:58 AM. Our table breaks. I've dropped down to 344 yet I'm grateful to leave the Venetian tonight with only a 56 dollar loss.

Turns out my beers were only 28 bucks a piece.

Well, plus tip.


Check Raise Chin said...

Nice post Rob.

It always suck to play from behind and then have to fight and claw yourself back to basically even.

I guess old adage, money saved is money earned is paramount in poker. It's something that is probably the hardest thing to remember.

Funny you mention the Aces hand. This is the type of hand I seem to lose a lot of money on (although I'm trying to fix that leak). It seems like when you're playing tight and you get Aces I seem to think they're invincible.

Great read any Rob, keep up the good work. Everyday can't be a big winning day, at least you're not losing super big like some people I've witnessed.

Poker Rookie said...

Rob - long time reader, first time poster. Just wanted to say thanks for the this wonderful blog. You really do a great job with it.

I started my blog tonight -

I'm just starting out and going slow, but feel free to stop by and say hi!

Scott said...

How exactly do you take notes at the table? Do you mark the time at the start of each hand, leave a blank space for your hole cards, write in the board cards and the amounts bet, then fill in the hole cards later? What's your technique for being able to accurately map out exactly which cards, bets etc there were for each hand? Thanks!

Robert said...

Poker Rookie- good luck with your blog.

Scott- the biggest issue for me is noting what time things happen. The rest of the stuff (cards on board, bet sizes, who did what, knowing how many chips I have on the table, etc) is usually easy to remember because these details helped me decide how to play the hand.

Or to put it another way, when I listen to people tell me their poker bad beat stories and NOT KNOW these details, it means they're not doing this for a living.