Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Three Random Hands For Your Reading Pleasure

I played Monday night at the MGM. Yesterday afternoon at the Venetian. Had a pretty cold run of cards but what felt good was recognizing traps and avoiding them. I also noticed how wonderfully tight I can play when I know I'm going to be seated there for awhile. You know. Folding that ace 10 from under the gun. Folding that ace suited to a raise. The more poker I play, the more hands I will see, the tighter I can be. It's the reason people multi-table on the internet.

Poker is all about hand volume. If I'm only going to play poker for an orbit and see 10 hands, then that ace 10 might be a monster. Kind of like it would be late in a tournament when blinds get real big and your M is real low. But if I'm going to sit at a cash game and see hundreds of hands, I can fold ace 10 faster than Dylan can say "Don't think twice, it's all right."

Anyhow, as promised, here are three random hands for your reading pleasure.

1-Straddled hand at the MGM....
I limp with queen 10 suited. 3 callers. Straddler makes it 20. We all call. Flop comes out 5,5, queen and straddler checks. I fire out 25. Everyone folds except for the player to my right who had checked in front of me. Rag comes on turn. I see his hand hesitate. He doesn't know whether to bet or not. He checks to me. I check behind him. Another rag on river and he checks to me again. Hmmm. I'm sitting here with top pair. As I'm considering a value bet, I wonder what the hell he called me on the flop with. My read tells me he has a real hand. Is he slowplaying a 5? Does he have ace queen, king queen or jack queen? Probably not ace queen but all the others are possible. If I were to bet here I gotta be thinking he has something like small pocket pair. Or maybe queen 9? What other hands can I beat? It's too small of a range. I check and show my queen 10. He shows king queen and claims he was waiting for me to bet so that he could check raise. Sure you were sir. I don't believe him. (Yet far be it for me to overestimate the playing abilities of my opponents.)

Mainly I mention this hand because part of me is dying to bet that river to prove to myself that I'm not weak. Yet I'm glad to follow poker instincts and not bet when something feels wrong. I don't need to show anyone how strong I am at poker. What I need to do is make good decisions.

2- I limp in early position with ace suited at the Venetian. Flop comes queen, queen, 3. Two of my suit. Aggressive kid bets out 10. I call. So does a third player. I'm not in love with chasing a flush on a paired board. I also expect that one of these players already has a queen. However the 3 out there gives me comfort that they probably haven't hit their boat (yet).

Turn is a 9. Not my suit. Kid bets 30. A fold here would be fine for me. But this time I call. I believe that if I can hit my flush I could potentially take his stack on the river.

River is an ace.

This time he checks. I missed my flush but hit top pair. Now of course if I had the nuts I'd bet. Or if I held absolutely nothing I might bet. But with just a pair I'm more than happy to check behind him. If I passed him on the river, good for me. But my read is still that he has a queen. The bigger thing for me here is that up till now he's been real aggressive. So his check here is suspicious.

I check behind him and show my ace. He turns over queen 9 for the boat. Damn I'm happy that flush didn't come on the river. I was playing with fire.

Meanwhile I gotta repeat how much that check on the river really stood out to me. In his case I think he should bet the nuts because it would be real hard for me to tell this bet apart from his other bets (bluffs). If he was a weak player then a check might fool me. But not from this guy.

3- The last hand of interest came pretty late in the session. The table was wild. A few times someone would raise 5x the big blind and still get 6 callers. So when I picked up pocket aces, I limped as you might expect. Unfortunately no one raised and 5 of us saw the flop. Before it even came out I reminded myself that against this many opponents I was no longer the favorite. No need to feel sorry for myself once a confusing looking flop comes out.

Flop was jack, 8, 3. Two diamonds. The same aggressive kid from the hand before bet 10 bucks. If I held ace jack I'd probably feel good here. So even though they always go down in flames there's no need for me to fear holding aces right? I raise him to 25.

Not only does the kid call, but another guy in the blinds also comes along for the ride. This 3rd (older) gentleman I absolutely cannot put on a hand. He's already shown down 4,9 off. You usually don't see that from the older guys. On one hand he is terrible. (He previously paid me off on a 4 flush board with only top pair.) On the other hand he plays any two cards. He's dangerous.

A 3rd diamond comes on the turn. They both check to me and I take my time and peak down at my aces to see if either one is a diamond. One of them is.

Here's where it gets interesting. If I held no diamond I think I'm more likely to bet. I don't want a diamond to draw out on me. I'd want to charge the players to see the river. I'm also happy if I bet and the hand ends now.

However I do have a diamond. The nut draw. So a diamond on the river will only help me. My thinking here is also that if I check the turn and a diamond doesn't come on the river, perhaps one of the players will bet out with weaker holdings since I've just shown weakness.

My other fear (if I were to bet the turn) is that I get reraised and have to make a tough decision. So by checking, I control the size of the pot. I also control my ability to see the river.

River is the beautiful looking 4th diamond. They both check to me again.

I suppose I could have moved all in and made them wonder. But I'm greedy and want to get paid. So I bet a reasonable 50 bucks. It's small enough that I could easily get reraised. Hopefully all in. First player folds but the kid thinks about it for awhile. He asks me how much I bet.

I don't answer. I sit there in fear.

Please raise me.

After a few more seconds he calls. I show my aces. He mucks. I'm guessing he initially had a pair (jack or 8) along with a diamond (queen? ten?).

Mostly, how nice to see a hand where pocket aces wins.

I left the Venetian soon after but not before listening to an obnoxious conversation at the 1/2 table next to mine. Two guys were fighting and one finally challenges the other to play him heads up no limit at 100/200 blinds.

The first guy says he'll play him 25/50.

The 100/200 guy says 25/50 is too small for him. He only wants to play 100/200.

Playing 25/50 no limit is obviously too small for the gentleman sitting at a 1/2 table.

I might need to get me some headphones. Fast.


Check Raise Chin said...

Great Hand History Rob.

Your game seems to be at a whole other level. I don't know if I could check some of the hands that you held.

Then again, those are my leaks. I can't seem to figure out when I'm behind sometimes and I lose money because of that. I'm also a sucker for the check raise sometimes. I guess you'd want me at the table with

Just curious, your reads have been incredible, and you're playing with incredible discipline. Now is it because you've been playing so much that your instincts are in tune?

Well anyway Rob, always a pleasure reading about your exploits.

Keep it up!

Cibulasimon said...


I've been enjoying your blog for a few months, and a number of your posts have really helped my game. I've seen you and many others on 2+2 refer to "M", and I assume it is the multiples of the blind (+antes if applicable) left in your stack. However, I've not been able to find any reference to it in some of the Slansky/Harrington/Brunson etc books I've read. Do you have a reference?

Also I'll be in LV in late March (I'm from the NY area, grew up on LI), and the wife and I would like to see a comedy show. Does SC do any live shows?

I know this blog isn't about arranging others trips, but if you can email me a tip, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for the excellent info.

Robert said...

Chin, I can't wait to check raise you the next time we play. I'm not so sure my reads have been incredible but I have been playing with better discipline. Mostly because this really matters to me. I can't afford to lose.

Cibulasimon, M is a Harrington term. What makes you think this blog isn't about arranging others trips? Second City does live shows at the Flamingo. If you need me to make any dinner reservations or anything else just let me know. Peace.