Monday, May 05, 2008

Prophet Does Not Ensure Profit.

Early Monday Morning. My first live poker in a week so I take it easy with some 1/2 no limit at the Venetian.

12:39 AM. I'm seated and buy in for $200. Multiple players have over $600 in front of them. What could possibly go wrong?

12:40 AM. Very first hand I raise to 10 with ace jack suited. Get two callers and three of us see a queen,8,2 rainbow flop. I bet 20. With my ace queen. Or king queen. Or whatever it was that I have.

The big blind calls. He's one of the guys with $600 in front of him. Turn is another queen. He checks. Sometimes I fire another bullet here. This wasn't one of those times.

If I had a larger stack I'd bet again. But with only 170 on the table I gotta wonder how much I want to commit here.

I don't have much of a read on this guy. He looks tight and his flop call probably means he's hit and I'm unlikely to put another cent in. One could argue his 600 dollar stack implies he's doing something right. Okay. I respect his flop call and check behind him.

River misses and I expect him to bet so I can fold. I've given up. It's what my check on the turn meant. But he checks to me.

Lets say he has middle pair.

What size bet wins me this pot?

There's around 70 out there. I'm tempted to bet 45 but I can't get past my read, which is when he called me on the flop, it didn't look like he was on a draw. It looked like the call of someone who hit.

So I think the turn and the river haven't really changed too much. I think he's still calling. Unless I can put enough pressure on him.

What if I over bet 75? That's how some players might bet trip queens here since a smaller bet just screams value. Like if I bet 25 you'd think I'm probably getting called.

Or am I? Funny how in some poker games a $25 bet is more likely to get you a fold than $75.

In reality, I checked behind him. He turns over ace 2 and takes the pot with his pair of 2's. Oh dear.

Could I have taken it down by betting the turn or river?



Who knows for sure?

All I know is that if I bet and win the pot I feel great. And if I bet and he calls me down I feel stupid for giving away more money. That second queen coming out on the turn sure didn't help my argument. It made it seem less likely that I could also have one. And if he's putting me on ace king, he knows his hand is good the entire time.

Besides my lack of read, the other reason I shut down here was I still have 170 chips in front of me. 85% of my starting stack. I don't want to bluff off more chips in the first hand. 30 bucks is an acceptable loss for betting the flop, getting to the river and having my ace jack suited miss completely. I don't need to try to outplay an unknown big stack on my first hand. Especially when he could be the one actually holding a queen.

Can't we just move on?

Why do we have to keep discussing this first hand?

Why are you guys being so difficult today?

12:43 AM. Minus 4 with 8,9 suited. I called the straddle. Turns out it was an acceptable move because no one ever raised when they straddled at this table. This fact would continue to amaze me over the next 4 hours. I often found myself calling the 4 bucks with anything playable because there was gonna be a larger (unraised) pot to compete for post flop.

12:47 AM. Minus 15 with Jack,8 suited. I had to. There were 4 callers in front of me.

12:49 AM. I fold king 3 off from the big blind after an early position raise to 15. I only mention this fold because of the king, 9, 3 flop that followed. And if that didn't get my attention, it sure did when the preflop raiser bet out 25 and the other player called.

I could have been someone. I could have been a contender. Or at least a guy holding two pair on a king, 9, 3 flop at the Venetian. There's the Vegas postcard I've been waiting to see.

Preflop raiser has ace king. Looks like I'd be doubling up here.

And then math happens.

A 9 comes on the turn. Pairs the board. And counterfeits what would have been my hand.


I get it...

So that's why you fold king 3 preflop!

(Someday I'd like to discuss how embarrassing it is to watch your hypothetical opponent suck out on your hypothetical two pair while you are are in the middle of NOT hypothetically feeling sorry for yourself).

1:06 AM. A new dealer comes to the table which only reminds me of one thing: the fact that that I haven't won a single pot yet. As the old dealer gets up to leave I wonder what Martha Stewart says about tipping in these situations.

1:10 AM. I miss with pocket 7's but it's still a solid investment. People are completely overplaying top pair. I just need one hand where I can beat top pair and I will double up.

1:14 AM. I call a raise in late position with king 10 suited. Flop comes king high and preflop raiser bets 25. I want to raise. I want to call. Most of all, I don't want to fold. But I'm staring at this guy and my read says ace king. So I fold. He shows me a king and despite not seeing his second card I feel good about the hand. I don't think he raised preflop with king 9 or worse.

1:19 AM. I flop an open ended straight draw but have to fold after the wrong dude leads out with an overbet. By the "wrong dude" I mean "not the preflop raiser." If it had been the preflop raiser I would have reraised. But not against this random guy who saw this particular flop and knew he must end the hand now.

We fold and he shows his set.

Logic knows it's been a couple of good folds for me. This should feel better than it does. I'm proud I haven't lost more money. Yet it's also disappointing to keep having the second best hand.

1:24 AM. I have jack 4 suited in the big blind and hit two pair on a jack, 9, 4 flop. It's the king 3 hand all over again. Except this time I didn't fold preflop.
I check and an overly aggressive player who I've been waiting to trap bets. I smooth call because he will fold at the first sign of aggression, but seems to keep firing away otherwise. I want him to bluff off more on the turn. However when the board pairs 9's on the turn, he checks behind me.


This passive move can only mean one thing. He has a 9. I check the river. He value bets 20 bucks and I call to see his 9,7. Mainly so I can write about it. You readers need to know he had a 9. And not ace jack or something. If he has ace jack then I'm the fish. But if he has 9,7 I can sit here and think well at least he had to get lucky to beat me.

Meanwhile guess who feels sorry for himself that he still hasn't won a single hand thus far? I'll give you one hint. He has a blog.

1:26 AM. I win my first pot of the night reraising in late position. Ahh. So that's what it takes to win a pot. I forgot. I just have to get everyone to fold! Hey it's forgivable I didn't remember. I haven't played live poker in a week.

1:29 AM. I win a pot when my queen jack hits top pair. The guy to my right pays me off on the turn and river with God knows what. He's amazing. You haven't heard me mention him yet but let the record state he's bought in for 600 dollars in the first 50 minutes I've sat at the table. And he was here when I got here. So it could be more.

His game is phenomenal to watch. He goes down in flames with bottom pair. Calling the whole way too.

How nice to finally win one from him. I was starting to think there must be a larger cosmic reason I'm sitting at this table tonight. It can't be to make money.

1:31 AM. Minus 16 with ace suited. This was an iffy preflop call but I was mostly trying to play the rush.

1:38 AM. Interesting play by the same guy who called me down with ace 2 in the opening hand. He bets $20 on the turn. The board is 10 high and I'm sitting with only 70 dollars left. I raise it to 45. 25 more.

This bet is stronger than an all in. My small raise screams value. Screams "please call me." I'm trying so damn hard to squeeze another 25 bucks out of him. Yet we both know it's really a 50 dollar bet because my remaining 25 is going in the middle regardless of what comes on the river.

So I kind of expect him to fold here. Or raise back all in.

Yet after some deliberation my opponent calls.

Here's what's really strange: He has top pair. He's not on a draw. So he's either trailing or beating me. But it's not like he's hoping to improve by drawing a specific card on the river.

The river brings out another rag. I throw my final $25 in the middle and incredibly my opponent pauses.

He shows me his 10 for top pair and then folds for the final 25 bucks!!!!!

Completely shocked me.

How does he not call 25 to win over 100 bucks with top pair? When the board hasn't paired? When there's no flush out there? And after he's just paid 45 bucks on the turn!?!?!

It's so suspicious it almost feels like he's dumping me chips. In case I didn't have him beat. Who knows? Maybe I'm starring in the stage version of ESPN's Tilt.

Meanwhile I guess we finally have our answer from the first hand. I should have bet 25 on the river. Apparently that makes him fold.

That's what's so great about poker. That the same guy who called me with bottom pair on the flop of the opening hand, now folds top pair on the river of this hand. It's such a "depends" game.

1:44 AM. I limp with pocket aces. No one raises and we see an 8,9,9 double suited flop. Aces on amazing that way! How do aces make the board pair every time? And if that's not bad enough lets make sure we put the flush and straight draws out there too. If I had raised preflop from early position this would have been a nightmare flop. I'd bet, get raised and have to fold. But since I didn't raise preflop, I made a pot size bet and everyone folded. I guess it was believable that I had a 9.

1:54 AM. I'm at 149 after paying blinds. I've played way more hands than normal tonight. There hasn't been much preflop raising so it's real easy to see cheap flops. Maybe too easy.

1:58 AM. I flop top pair queen with my king, queen. I bet and get called by a non believer with ace, ten. Then I lose this hand when an ace comes on the turn. Cause that's how I roll.

2:01 AM. The guy to my right (who keeps buying in) has bought in twice more. He's now in for at least one grand. That's amazing for 1/2.

2:16 AM. Mr. 1k loses another buy in and finally leaves. He was a real treat to play with. I'll give him credit- at least he had a great attitude. Played like he was just learning the game and seemed to be able to afford his lessons. I can't tell you how many times he showed his bottom pair at showdown. Too bad he's gone. He will be missed.

2:28 AM. I'm not connecting with anything so I've tightened up. Down to 105. I just folded ace suited to a button raise and my opponent showed me kings.

2:38 AM. I raise in late position with ace queen. Get called by the blind. Flop is ace, jack, jack. I bet. He calls. I shut down. He has a jack. I'm relieved to say I only lost $25 on this hand.

It used to be real hard to get away from this kind of hand. Ace queen heads up on an ace, jack, jack flop. Especially when you only have 100 bucks in front of you and you've raised preflop.

At other points in my poker life I'd have made that call.

Just so I could complain about how unlucky I was.

These days I fold.

Because I've learned that complaining is free.

2:41 AM. Another hand, another lay down. I raise to 10 with ace 9 suited. Dude goes all in for 50. I usually talk myself into this call. Knowing that I can gamble AND have a stop loss of only 50 bucks usually feels too good to resist.

But here's the thing I can't ignore. My opponent is really trying to tell me to fold. And I don't think it's false bravado. Lots of guys like to buddy up with you at the table. They play ABC poker. They think the best hand should always win. They want everyone to fold when they raise with aces. They DON'T want action. Action means you don't believe them. They want respect. This is one of those guys.

So I review the situation and decide that I don't need to spend 40 bucks for the excitement and thrill of seeing if I can randomly flop a flush draw or hit trip 9's to win the 60 bucks that's out there. I fold and he shows ace king.

Another good fold that doesn't feel so good.

But what really doesn't feel good is running into better hands over and over again.

2:43 AM. I fold ace 5 which wouldn't be noteworthy if not for the ace, ace, 5 flop that followed. In case I didn't notice my full house, the universe added another ace on the turn.

Mucked quads for seat 9.

What happens next? Oh just a bet and raise from a couple of "minor full houses" on the river. How dare they! A lady leads out the betting with her pocket 2's. A man in late position raises her with his 5.

Oh and the guy in seat 9 grits his teeth and stares at the muck.


You know.

The guy with the blog.

2:50 AM. Table has tightened up tremendously. How tight? On this hand there were two early limpers. I raise to 8 and everyone folds. That's too tight.

2:54 AM. Am I playing too many hands? Or not enough? You decide. This time I fold 7,8 preflop and watch 4,5,6 come out. This combined with that recent ace, 5 hand are way worse for my health than all the red meat I eat.

3:01 AM. Down to 63. How did that happen? Waiting for the hand to double me up or send me home.

3:06 AM. New dealer. What's the GRE word for when a dealer sits down, deals for 30 minutes and then gets up without your having won a single hand?

3:14 AM. Up to 54 dollars. That's right. I'm up to 54 dollars. It was even worse for a few minutes. Jealous?

3:21 AM. Early position raiser makes it 10 bucks. I look down at pocket 9's in the blinds and throw my remaining stack out there as fast as I can. He's gotta call 40 more bucks to win 60.

He asks me if I have a pair. I say "Yes and I want you to call with your ace king."

And then for some reason I added "And fast!"

Not sure why I added the fast part. Maybe I was doing psychological testing.

Does someone telling you that they want you to call fast make you want to call or fold?

Looking back on the hand I misplayed with my table banter. Why? Because he's sitting there with ace jack suited. And by my telling him I wanted to race ace king, I was telling him his hand was good enough to race with. I gave away some folding equity. Like if I could have convinced him that I held ace king or ace queen he may have folded without the race. But once I convinced him I actually held a pocket pair he had to call.

Of course the reason I told him I wanted the call was that I embraced the small edge my pair held versus his cards.

After my hand somehow held up, I was back up over 100 bucks.

3:29 AM. Up to 135. I check raise on the flop with a flush draw and take down a pot with 3,7 suited on 6,8,10 board. It was against the same guy from the ace jack vs pocket 9's hand. I mention this because I think this is part of why he folds here. No one likes to double the same player up twice. Especially a tight small stack like myself.

3:32 AM. Minus 10 trying to flop a set with pocket 3's. Raiser shows aces afterwards. Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do, except for reality not putting out a 3 on the flop.

3:37 AM. 169 after paying blinds.

3:39 AM. Ugly. I can't seem to win a pot against the player to my left. This time it gets folded around to me on my button. Lots of players will raise here with any two cards. I have ace 3 suited. Somewhat of a real hand and make it 10 preflop. My nemesis calls from small blind. Big blind folds.

Flop comes 2,3,8. Seems like a great flop for me. I actually have middle pair. If he doesn't have an 8, all should be good. He checks. I bet 15. He calls.

Turn is a jack. He checks. I want to keep the pot small so I check behind him. Lets see what happens on the river.

6 comes out. He bets 20. I call. Expecting to see an 8.

And he shows pocket jacks. He hit a set on the turn!

See how easy poker is.

For him.

I told you I can't beat this guy.

This was another one of those hands where I was just grateful not to have lost more money.

3:53 AM. I hit top pair king with my king 9 suited from the big blind and lose to a guy playing king jack off from early position. For me this has been the evening of second best hand. Losing this type of pot feels like a mistake even though it's not necessarily a mistake. Much closer to a mishap. Or perhaps we can call this loss the cost of doing business.

3:59 AM. Down to 91. I hit top pair and a straight draw with my queen jack on a queen, 10, 9 dreamy flop. I bet the pot and get 3 callers! Heck if I knew they'd come along I'd have put it all in.

The turn is a 10 and one of the blinds fires out a small bet. I'm trailing trips but I come along with everyone and call.

The river is a Jack. Yuck. I've upgraded to two pair but obviously I'm more concerned with the 4 card straight that's now out there.

And we're four handed. Which means I don't have the best hand anymore.

That's what you call a rough turn and river.

And I'm starting to sound like a broken record....(I mean a music file skipping).... but this was just another hand that I could have gotten all my money in on the flop and then not have had it hold up. There's something in the air tonight.

4:20 AM. We're short handed. I just hit top pair jacks with king jack and lost to ace jack. I lost money but at least my antennae is still working. I got away cheaply again for a headsup pot at this hour of the morning. (And with this little money on the table.) In so many ways it would be easier for me to just go all in here and lose so I could go home.

4:32 AM. Still here.

4:41 AM. About to pay blinds. I have 50 dollars on the table. To have played these hands over the past 4 hours and only lost 150 bucks feels pretty good for tonight. I gave myself lots of chances to win some big pots. I got away from many hands without too much damage.

In fact some say I won 50 bucks tonight. Since it appeared that my destiny was to leave this table with no chips remaining.

I was definitely rusty in terms of my aggression. Overall I called more than I should have. I've got to get back to raising more hands preflop. But it felt like a pretty good session in terms of my reading the other players.


RaisingCayne said...

Nice recap of the time at the tables. Enjoyed.

Sean said...

Rough session, even though you made the right decisions.

Question for you though:

You spent most of the night with a short stack (between $100 and $50). Why not reload so you can better take advantage of post-flop mistakes? I would expect that'd be where most of the profit is in a live $1-2 NL game.

Mr Subliminal said...

It's such a "depends" game.

That's why I always wear them at the table.

Robert said...

Sean- Good question. Usually I would reload when I get that small but in this session I wanted to force myself to play with more discipline. If my opponents had raised more preflop I probably would have reloaded to compete. But there was so much limping going on I got away with seeing flops for a few bucks with my small stack. Finally, by not reloading I made sure I'd only lose 200 max on the night. I didn't want to risk a big loss on the first night back. There will be plenty of nights that I make more than 200 at that table. So by limiting the loss on a bad night to 200, I stay in business. Peace.

andrew said...


sounds alot like my last few nights at the venetian except without the blow, strippers and whiskey...sorry we couldn't meet up, maybe next time I'm in vegas...


genomeboy said...


I really enjoy these posts. I don't seem to recall why you've moved back down to $1/2 from the $2/5 at the Bellagio...

Robert said...

Drew- I never thought of you as an Andrew before. Makes you seem smarter or something. Sorry we missed each other. It would have been much better to see you than be sick for the week.

Genomeboy- If I was willing to play fewer hands I could still sit at 2/5 and do what I was doing.

But I wanted to take my game to the next level. Which required my playing looser and more aggressive.

Which means I suddenly have much greater variance. So I've been sitting more often at 1/2 to protect my bankroll while I work on improving my game. I'm getting 2.5x more buy ins at 1/2 than I'd have at 2/5.

1/2 doesn't play that differently than 2/5 but at 1/2 I obviously have much less risk. The hard thing in this business isn't not winning enough money. It's losing too much on the bad days. This is a preventative measure.

Instead of 2 bad beats costing me a grand, now it takes 5.

I still love the 2/5. That's where I'll be next month when the circus comes back to the Rio.

genomeboy said...


Thanks for the explaination. Makes complete sense with regard to bankroll management.

While your variance is higher, are you still seeing your return at the same level, or have you not played enough hands to know yet?

Check Raise Chin said...

Nice post Rob.

It's always tough to ease back into the battle when you've had time off.

Hope you're feeling better and I have a feeling that next month will be your best ever!!!

Robert said...

The return has been much better percentage wise although not necessarily better in terms of actual dollars. However, what's so wonderful is when I lose a buy in at 1/2 I walk away down 200. Yet I still have nights where I can earn as much or more than I would at 2/5. So I still have unlimited profit potential without facing nearly as much risk. That said, I still do play 2/5. It all depends on who is sitting at the table.