Saturday, February 16, 2008

Overplaying Pocket Tens and Other Sordid Tales

2:44 PM. I'm back at the Wynn. The most entertaining part of playing in their poker room is no max on buy ins. So even though I'm sitting down at their smallest no limit game (1/3 blinds), some people have over two grand in front of them. Normally I'd buy in for 300 here but my thinking is a short buy in ($120) will allow me to play more fearlessly against these oversized stacks.

Embrace the race. Look to gamble.

I don't want to give myself a hard time with close decisions.

If I get beat, I get beat. That's what rebuys are for.

2:46 PM. Minus 12 with ace jack suited.

2:50 PM. I bet 9 preflop. 15 on the flop. Everyone folds.

2:57 PM. I lay down ace 7 from the small blind on an ace king 9 flop after I check and an older guy bets 18 into a 9 dollar pot. Good for him. I suppose that's the way to handle weak calling stations like myself. Having just sat down, I have no idea what that double pot sized bet means.

He didn't raise preflop so there's a decent chance I'm ahead here. Yet I'm not that worried about getting outplayed at a cash table in a hand that I didn't raise preflop nor lead out with when I hit. An easy fold for me. A call gives me no new information. If anything, my best option would have probably been to reraise. But I'm more than happy to give him the 9 dollar pot and see if he overbets the next time we're in a hand together.

3:01 PM. Wow I misplayed this baby. My small suited connectors hit a flush on turn, but I have to fold after a 4th diamond comes on river and a gentleman leads out with a pot sized bet. Damn I'm bad. I should have pushed turn. It was the whole reason I was going with small stack! If I'm not going to push on the turn, I may as well have started with $300 on the table. We're only 15 minutes into the session and I'm down 53 bucks and steaming from my poor play.

3:08 PM. I'm on the button and join a limping party with suited connectors. Big blind raises 9 more. Bunch of us call. I flop a pair and flush draw. Dude who raised preflop continue bets 15. I reraise 69 all in. He calls the $54 more with ace high. I'm ahead AND have the flush redraw. No flush hits. But an ace sure does. And just like that, 33 minutes into the session, I'm all out of chips.

"Rebuy 180."

3:11 PM. What's up with the worst hand always winning? After just losing the previous all in pot where I was ahead, I manage to win one where I'm behind. I flop a pair, hit two pair on the turn and get called on the river by a guy and his pocket pair. This gets my rebuy (300 total) up to around 220ish.

3:14 PM. The bad vibes get passed around. The gentleman who I sucked out on, goes on tilt, overplays a draw and rivers a straight against a gentleman's two pair. That's 3 wins in a row for the worst hand at this table in the past orbit.

3:20 PM. I'm down to 200 after I flop open ender, hit pair of 5's on turn but lose to pocket 7's.

3:30 PM. I raise to 9 and the guy to my left miniraises me to 18 with ace jack off. I'll file that one away in my brain for later on.

3:33 PM. Minus 15 six ways with pocket 9's.

3:40 PM. I fold ace,2 off in late position. Flop comes 2,2,4. Before I get the chance to whine to myself about folding, two players go all in! One has pocket 4's. If I were still in the hand, I would have given him what remains of my stack. Whew.

3:42 PM. Minus 15 with 9's. Again. Down to 156.

4:02 PM. 147.

4:08 PM. 143 after paying blinds. I think we call this bleeding. I've been sitting here for 90 minutes. My best hand(s) thus far were the pocket 9's twice. Ohm.

4:15 PM. Down to 119. I raise to 12 with king jack suited and get 3 callers. It's kind of amazing that I can sit here, fold 90% of my hands and still get action whenever I raise. Flop gives me the open ended straight draw. I continue bet to see another card. I get two callers. The turn pairs the board (queens) and I fold my draw to a 75 dollar bet. I believed him.

4:21 PM. Stack down to 107. That's minus 193 if you're keeping score at home.

4:27 PM. Bathroom break. My stack is 140 after I hit two pair on a four card flush board. I probably fold to a river bet but no one had the courage.

4:36 PM. Minus 12 with ten jack. Flop is jack, 5,6. I hit top pair but fold after a bet and a raise in front of me. One of them is likely to be on a draw but not both. In fact if the second guy had folded, I may have put in the exact same raise. I don't mind being the aggressor here, but I sure as hell ain't calling a bet and a reraise in a multiway pot with top pair, ten kicker. I can think of better ways to invest my remaining 122 chips.

4:40 PM. I get pocket kings! I win a 7 dollar pot! 6 bucks after my tip! Still, much better than losing.

4:46 PM. Down to 70 after I lose consecutive hands with top pair and second best kicker. Yuck. I was the aggressor in both hands so that part feels good. If I'm gonna raise preflop, and flop top pair, I gotta bet it. To lose hands like this is frustrating for me because deep down I know I shouldn't even be in there to begin with.

I kind of admire how the universe keeps me in line. Always seems to make me lose when I get out of hand with my aggression. It's kind of like:

"Hey Robert. As long as you play correctly we'll take care of you, but if you start raising with any 2 cards we're going to let someone else flop a better hand. Every time."

If I limp in position with a hand like queen 9 and hit a queen I'm ahead.

Yet if I raise in position with a hand like queen 9 and hit a queen somehow I'm behind.

This can't always be true. But that's sure what it feels like.

4:50 PM. Critical hand. I get back up to 164 after I double through a guy on tilt. It was a three way pot. I had ace king which was good enough for top pair. I also had a flush draw that missed on the river. I pushed my final 48 at the end since I was going to call any bet here anyway. The initial aggressor folded but this second dude on tilt called me down. I never saw his cards.

5:01 PM. I raise to 9 preflop. One caller. I bet 12 on flop and he folds. This hand gets me thinking about how much fun it would be to raise every hand to 9 bucks and then bet 12 on the flop regardless of what comes.

In other words, the poker doesn't really begin until we've all paid our $21 "ante" to get to the turn. Not necessarily the best strategy (since other players paying attention would start reraising me in position with any two cards) but it would be fun nonetheless.

5:10 PM. Up to 277 playing my brand of ugly poker. I flop top pair with my queen 8 suited. (I would have raised with it preflop but I wanted to be ahead if a queen came. And we all know how the universe feels about me raising with queen 8 suited).

On the flop the old guy to my left over bets again. This time it's 15 into a 12 dollar pot. I've folded the other times but this time I decide to take a stand.

So does the guy who paid off my all in with the ace king 20 minutes earlier.

The older guy must have been bluffing because he checks the turn and folds when I bet 21. But not that 3rd player. No, he reraises all in. Not a bad bet. The only problem for him is he has only 80 dollars in front of him. $59 more to me. A larger stack would be tough to call.

Also, the board is double suited so he could be on a draw. It's the kind of desperate move I see all the time from small stacks.

Turns out this time he wasn't on a draw. He had jack 9 for a middle pair of 9's and just like that I take down the pot with queen 8. I'm suddenly down only 23 on the afternoon.

5:33 PM. Table only has 4 players and Wynn is only charging $1 dollar maximum rake per hand! Like the beer commercial claims: it doesn't get any better than this. I'm absolutely loving it but two of the guys keep saying that they don't want to play shorthanded. Yet they're not physically getting up from the table so we keep on playing.

5:40 PM. It couldn't go on forever. The two guys finally find the courage to end our game. I have 286 and head to my new table with renewed life. Less than an hour ago I was down to 70 chips so clearly 286 feels like plenty. It's also good for me to be honest here and say that if I had been up a few hundred and was now down to 286 I'd feel frustrated for giving it back.

Yet right now, only being down 14 bucks feels like I'm way up.

5:50 PM. Minus 15 with king queen suited. After folding for the first orbit I finally see a playable hand at the new table.

5:57 PM. Minus 15 with ace queen. I'm down to 252 but at least I'm showing patience.

6:04 PM. I win my first hand at this table to get up to 350. The preflop raiser continue bets the flop but shuts down after two of us call. All 3 of us check the turn. On the river the preflop raiser checks, second player bets $18. I'm not that strong but the pot is too big to fold. So I call. Preflop guy folds and then the gentleman who bet the $18 on the river mucks his cards without needing to see mine!

It's become my favorite moment in poker. Nothing gives me more satisfaction at the table than winning a pot without having to show my cards after I've CALLED a bet on the river.

However the preflop raiser doesn't like this at all. He immediately asks the dealer to turn over my hand from the muck. He wants to know how I can win the pot without showing my cards. Well sir, it has something to do with my being the last player in the hand.

6:07 PM. I play ace queen passively and win a pot versus a preflop raiser holding ace 10 who had the courage to fire 3 straight (but small) bullets. Bumps my stack up to 403.

6:17 PM. I miss with 3,5 suited from the button.

6:33 PM. Stack at 392 after paying blinds. Around twenty minutes ago a woman and her significant other sat down together in seats 1 and 2. They're obviously a couple and some of their behavior is questionable. On a previous hand I see her flash him her cards as she folds. I don't necessarily think she's trying to give him an edge. If that was true she'd probably be more discreet. No I think she just wants to show him what crappy cards she had. But obviously this shouldn't be done, with him still getting to look at his cards and act behind her.

He's also taken on the role of table captain, even though he never seems to know what's going on or when it's his turn to act. He really slows the game down. Two different players have made comments about wanting a table change. Personally, I'm just hoping it's going to a profitable experience sitting with this guy. That somehow someway it will have been worth it to put up with all of his B.S.

Every single hand there is a moment when he asks who the action is on.

And the answer is always HIM.

They play like loose players who will eventually give their money away. They're clearly there to gamble. It's rare they fold. They're either absolutely terrible. Or the perfect con team. And I'm still figuring it out.

Most times when she enters a pot, so does he. And what has happened a few times post flop is that she'll bet and then he'll raise. This usually gets others to fold.

Now these moves could all just be a random coincidence, but it also looks slightly suspicious to me.

6:41 PM. I've been real tight against them and my moment finally comes. The lady in seat 1 limps and her man limps in behind her. Another guy calls.

I look down at pocket kings on the button. I haven't seen either of them fold to preflop raise once they've already put chips in. So I decide to do something strange. I raise the 3 dollar blind to 33. It's an absurd raise. 11x. No one should call that. I'm hoping that maybe it will seem like I have a medium pair and I'll get reraised. Mostly I'm just curious to see what my favorite couple does.

She acts first and calls! Wow.

He takes a little longer. He asks me why I bet so much. I tell him it's because I'm up to something. He calls too. Other guy folds.

Me and my kings will see the flop 3 handed against this couple.

I have a sinking feeling that there's no way I can win this hand.

My cards are too good.

Flop is a scary thing. I clearly see 3 diamonds out there and I have no diamonds. But a further investigation reveals that one of these 3 diamonds happens to be the kind of diamonds. Look at that. I flopped a set.

The lady in seat 1 leads out 15 bucks. Her beau in seat 2 makes it 30.

I don't think they're necessarily bluffing. One of them could have a pair. One of them could have a big diamond.

In my worst case scenario, someone has flopped a flush. But I ain't going anywhere. If I'm trailing a flush I'll just have to get lucky and pair the board. How hard can that be?

This is also a good reminder of how important it is to play within your bankroll. If I had too much money on the table, this could be a terrifying moment. Determining how fast or slow to play it. Yet with only a few hundred chips at stake, it's really not so bad.

Well other than the bad beat story that you'll have to listen to me complain about.

So I raise it up 90 more. I don't need to see another diamond. She folds but not him. Nope. He reraises all in. Luckily for me he didn't have that much more remaining beyond my 90 raise. I insta-call him.

Usually players don't show their cards on cash game all ins, but this time I did not hesitate. I turned over my kings to reveal my set. He reciprocated and turned over his ace jack.

Yep. That's the ace of diamonds in front of him. As expected, I'd have to survive his draw. Another great example of how hard poker is.

Think about it. I wait hours for pocket kings. When I get them I make an absurd raise yet despite playing tight still get two callers. I flop a set but have to somehow survive the flush draw!

That ain't easy.

"Pair the board" I say.

A non-diamond queen comes on the turn. It seems like a good card although the truth is it gives him additional outs. Now he can also beat me with a straight if a 10 comes on the river.

"Pair the board" I tell the dealer for the second time.

She doesn't. But a safe ace comes out on the river. I survive and jump up to 531.

Wait a minute...

Lost in all the excitement...

Did this guy really call my 11x preflop raise with ace jack off?

That my friends, is a gentleman who wants to gamble.

His lady friend makes her exit after this hand. He leaves too although he says he's going to the ATM and will be back shortly.

6:56 PM. He actually returns. They always say they're coming back. They usually do not. But this guy meant it.

7:06 PM. This same guy continues to play 1/3 no limit like it's the final table on the World Poker Tour. He's making moves like pushing all in on the flop for 200 bucks with 30 in the middle.

Yeah. I think that's drool you see on my sweatshirt.

7:08 PM. He raises it to 60 preflop. I look down at suited connectors but he doesn't have nearly enough cash in front of him for me to call. I tell him that "I definitely would have called you here for a reasonable raise like 55 bucks. But 60 is just slightly too much for me."

7:10 PM. Same loose guy calls a raise to 15 preflop from the blinds and then pushes all in on an ace high flop before the preflop raiser can even act!

I'm sitting there of course thinking what if preflop raiser is the one with the ace king? (And by same token, if it's the loose guy with ace king, why not check and let the preflop raiser make his continuation bet?)

7:16 PM. Straddled pot. I call $6 in early position with pocket 10's. Two or three players call behind me. Action gets back to the straddler. He makes it $27. I'm not excited by the idea of calling here and hoping to flop a set. If I held pocket aces I would have limped, hoped for the raise and then come in for a reraise.

So I play my cards just the same. I reraise him to $90. I expect everyone to fold. I'm the same tight player who everyone saw raise big with the pocket kings. It's not crazy to think I have them again.

By raising to 90 I'm trying to find out right here right now if that straddler actually has something like aces or kings. If he insta-pushes I can lay down here. But if he has to mull it over, I'm probably about to play a big pot with him.

When the action gets back to straddler I can see he's unsure what to do.
Great news!

The only thing I'm not in love with here is that the loose guy in seat 2 is telling the straddler that I have ace king. Obviously he shouldn't be speaking at all. However I don't want to complain or act like it bothers me because I don't want it to appear that I'm defensive at all about his calling.

(Which brings up an interesting thought...might I say something to him or the dealer about "one player to a hand" if I actually had aces? Like a reverse tell on my part? If I held aces might I complain to feign weakness? If that's true then I absolutely should have acted defensive and said something here.)

I'm sitting still. I see the guy mulling over the decision. Thinking about the ace king comment. This looks like it could be trouble for me. He's taking awhile. He could easily have something like jacks or queens, and if he does, he certainly won't mind racing my ace king.

After a minute or two he decides to call the 90. Hmmmmm. This rules out aces and kings. He could have a hand like ace king and hope to outflop me.

More likely the opposite is true. He has a medium pocket pair and is calling to see if any over cards come on the flop. If no ace or king comes, he can push.

Regardless of which hand he's holding, I don't like his call out of position here. If he's not going to fold, I think he should push. If he has ace king he'll guarantee seeing 5 board cards. A push might also get me to fold a medium pair.

If his hand isn't strong enough to push with, then a fold isn't terrible. He's only put 27 dollars into the pot. Calling the 63 more is potentially getting himself pot committed. And if he's going to play for his stack here, he should reraise me and put me to a decision. Just like I did to him with my 10's.

Flop comes out small. 7 high. He's first to act, and he pushes.

Damn. This looks like the medium pair.

Lets review:

I'm losing to pocket queens and jacks.

I'm beating ace king. I'm beating pocket 9's.

I'm pushing with pocket 10's.

I don't think he has a set. If he had a set he would have just checked the flop.

Yep. From the way he's played this hand, the hole cards that make the most sense here are a medium pair.

With approximately $200 in the middle, I ask for a count of his remaining chips. It's not much more. Only around $110. So I'm getting roughly 3 to 1 to call. Like I said before, if he had repopped me preflop I might have folded. But he didn't and now it gets way tougher for me to let go of this hand.

And of course if I'm going to play pocket 10's this aggressively preflop, how do I fold them on an undercard flop? No matter how often I claim to get outflopped.

I tell myself that it's okay to lose to a bigger pair. It happens.

I check my remaining chips.

-If I call and lose I'm back down to around 300 bucks.

-If I give up and fold I'm in the low 400's.

-If I call and win I'm way up to 748.

When I had asked for a count to confirm that his stack was as small as it appeared, he started to taunt me. Told me how I was priced in. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut because after he started to antagonize me, I decided to listen to him.

I gambled. Neither of us showed our cards. Turn was a rag. River was the 10 of diamonds, putting a flush out there and of course also giving me the set.

How awful for him.

I looked across the table and guessed out loud "I got you on the river."

He showed his jacks and told me how bad I played the hand.

I said "Thank you. You too."

And to think people are always giving poker players a bad rap.

Saying we're not polite.

7:22 PM. I fold ace queen preflop after a reraise to 27.

7:27 PM. I bet 12 with pocket jacks on a 10,4,6 flop. My good friend and nemesis from the previous tens vs jacks straddled hand raises me to 24. Tough decision. Instinct says fold and move on.

Yet with this guy I'm not sure if it's personal. Which makes it hard to tell if he's trying to outplay me, or if he has actually out flopped me. There is also a flush draw out there so anything is possible.

Turn is a 2 of hearts, completing the flush draw. I've seen better cards.

I check and he bets 30. Again, a wonderful opportunity for me to fold. He easily could have semi-bluffed me on the flop by raising to 24 with his flush draw.

Yet 30 bucks seems reasonable. If I call this and he doesn't have a flush I'm thinking he has to check the river behind me. He could have something like ace 10 and think his top pair is still good. I talk myself into calling.

River is a queen. I check and this time he bets 39. If he had a pair of 10's then the queen should have scared him. So he's probably stronger than 1 pair. And with the flush showing it really seems like a value bet.

The flipside of course is that if my hand was good on the turn, it's probably still good after the river. I'm either still ahead or still behind. Nothing has probably changed. And for 39 bucks I gotta see it. If not for me, then for you. 39 dollars isn't going to come between this guy and my readers!

I call. He shows 3,5 off. He he. He had hit the straight on the turn! Not even a flush!

I looked back at my cards and said "Wow I didn't even see the straight out there!"

(Translation: I can't believe you value bet your straight on a flush board.)

Then I said "Well I guess a straight still beats a flush. Nice hand sir" and threw my cards into the muck.

(Translation: I can't believe you value bet your straight on a flush board.)

So interesting that he didn't fear the flush here. If I held two hearts I probably would have played the hand exactly the same! I certainly could have semi-bluffed the flop and then called his raise with my draw. And obviously I'm gonna call his bet on the turn once the flush comes.

What nerve he has value betting the river!

What I really wanna know is whether or not he folds if I raise his river bet.

7:31 PM. Loose guy from seat 2 just called an all in preflop with pocket 6's. Gotta love it.

7:34 PM. Loose guy from seat 2 flops a jack with his ace jack, pushes and runs into pocket queens. It was bound to happen.

7:47 PM. I leave the Wynn after 5 hours of poker.

I got real lucky in that pocket 10's hand. Yet results aside, what felt best about it was how aggressively I played the 10's preflop. Forcing him to a decision. It's nice to see me mixing my game up, even if I happened to pick the wrong hand to do so.

I came into today complaining that I always seem to lose when I get too aggressive.

Thus I genuinely want to thank the universe for bailing me out on a hand that I completely overplayed preflop!

Thank you.


Poker Rookie said...

As I've heard a few times myself Robert - 'that's poker'.


Great detailed journal entry yet again.

Check Raise Chin said...

Sometimes it's making the wrong decisions at the right time.

Great Job Rob!!!