Friday, July 11, 2008

Ace 10 is Whack

Most times I have no plan. I don't go into the casino thinking "I'm going to raise 40% of the hands" or "I'm going to fold all night." My style of play is dictated by what I see at the table and I react accordingly. That's what it says in my pamphlet. I'm happy to play lots of hands, I'm happy to fold. It's all based on what's going on in the moment.

Going to the Rio for an evening session, I fully expected to see chaos. It's what goes on in that room. I was prepared to play tighter than normal. At 2/5 it costs 7 dollars to see 10 hands. Thinking of it this way helps me chill out and play tighter. There's no need to force action to happen.

I came up with an experiment. Sit back and play real tight and fold for 3 orbits. It will only cost 21 dollars for 30 hands. At some point I'll pick up a hand and raise it up. In the meantime I'll fold all those crappy jack,2 hands and move on.

So what happens in real life? The very first hand I see gets raised to $35.
3 people call in front of me. I look down in the blinds at 8,9 suited. Welcome to 2.5 at the Rio.

I call because I have implied odds and by implied odds I mean a blog. The best part about calling is I immediately exceed my $21 budget before I've even seen a flop. Who knew I was this cool? People* trying to put a $21 dollar cap on me and I'm calling $35 dollar bets with 8,9 suited.

* People = Me.

I think I used to have discipline. At some point. Maybe.

Who we kidding? If Steve Wynn called me up and said Robert, it's Steve, I know you're at home but early position just raised to 35 and I'm looking at 3 callers, do you want 8,9 suited? I'd say "Who is this person pretending to be Steve Wynn and why do you keep calling my phone? " But you know a large part of me also wants to go down there and see a flop. I've got a sweet spot for 8,9 suited. What can I say?

And obviously I'm getting older, because I only called with it here. Back when I was younger I would have raised with the 8,9 suited. No question about it.

The flop came out King, king, queen. Not necessarily an ideal flop against 4 players. Then again any time the board pairs things get fun. I check. The preflop raiser, a lady with around 2 grand in front of her leads out for $50 into the $175 that sits between us. Everyone folds to me.

I give serious thought to raising here. I believe she has a big hand, but if that big hand is not ace king, or pocket queens, then she has to be nervous. I think a raise is in order. She can't call me without a king. I start playing with my chips.

Then another voice kicks in. The voice reminds me that ace, king is clearly within her range of starting hands. The voice mentions that I've only bought in for $500, so my raising here to say $150 would be committing 30% of my stack on a bluff on the first hand of the night against a player I have no read on. On an evening where I really wanted to let the game just come to me.

I go back and forth. She has the best hand. Will she fold to a raise? I called with 8,9 suited hoping to flop a miracle. Not trying to outplay an unknown opponent. I muck. And my opponent shows pocket aces.

Wow. I could have stolen it with a raise. Maybe. Probably. Who knows? It's the Rio in July. Anything is possible.

Is she one of those players who says "I can't lay this down" and calls? She has all those chips in front of her. She's doing something right.

The saddest part is this hand was the highlight of my night.

According to my publicist the spin is that we're all proud that I thought about raising. That I almost made the right move. Oh sure I lacked the courage to follow up on it. But my thinking about it means that I'm almost becoming an actual real poker player.

Give me another 10-15 years of living in Vegas and I'll have this whole "playing cards for a living" thing down. I swear to you. That's all the time I need.

Wow I can't believe I just wrote that last paragraph. I sure hope my wife doesn't read this blog. Now that would be really awkward.

So where were we? Oh yeah. The hand I could have maybe won. If I had raised. But I didn't.

I even managed to get sucked out on in a hand that I wasn't involved in. That's how powerful I am. I fold ace 10 off in early position behind an under the gun raiser and then watch an ace flop. I perk up to follow the rest of the hand. I have to know if I would have had the best hand. So that I can know whether or not to feel bad about myself.

As the hand goes on we will learn that the dude who raised in early position, in front of me, did so with ace 9 and got me to fold ace 10! How dare he! Who said to fold ace 10 off? That hand is gold!

We will also learn that the same lady who is up two grand and just won with the pocket aces has called this ace 9 guy with her queen 2. She flops middle pair on the ace, queen rag board. A blank comes on the turn. They both check.

A 2 comes on the river and the ace guy bets and she doesn't raise, she politely calls and her two pair takes down the pot. It was awesome. I would have lost with my ace 10 to her queen 2. And I would have gone completely and utterly on tilt. Absolutely positively.

Who knows what kind of bender I'd have gone on? The whole thing would have ended up with me doing public service announcements regarding safety and starting hands in poker.

Something like:

I always hear people saying ace 10 is fun and how much they love ace 10. Well certain hands aren't fun. Certain hands break up families. Certain hands are gateway drugs to trouble. Ace 10 is one of those hands. Certain hands lead you down the wrong path. That's why you fold ace 10 preflop.


Sean said...

Hi Robert.

This is way off topic, but I was wondering if you could post at some point about earn rate. I'm really curious what an average earn rate at live NL is, because most people don't play enough hands to get an idea, and you've been playing quite a while. What percentage of days do you win? What have the swings been like?

Thanks! -Sean

RaisingCayne said...

Loved the post!

I really think you're onto something with the 'Poker PSAs' idea. I would totally respect seeing a commercial on FSN with poker celebs explaining the potential horrors with certain plays. (Patrik Antonius explaining what nightmares may come from over-shoving on a semi-bluff... Allen Cunningham explaining how limping AJo from UTG just one time can eventually lead to overcalling with suited connectors, ...etc.) Great idea!

"Certain hands break up familes." ... hilarious.

Have a good weekend!

Robert said...

Sean- Even with all the hands I see it's still hard to say what's normal or expected in terms of an earn rate. One big hand (win or lose) often determines the success of my entire session. Thus I'm well aware of how fragile my results are.

There's such a fine line between success and failure in this business. In other words I could have played every hand the exact same way and in a parallel universe have had much different results. Better or worse.

On average I win 2 out of every 3 sessions. My worse run this year was losing 7 out of 9 sessions. My best run was winning 8 out of 9 sessions.

Anytime I have a really bad night and lose a buy in or two I will usually take a few days off before returning to the tables.

At some point, most likely when the Vegas Year ends, I'll go through my numbers and post something more specific related to earn rate.