Monday, September 20, 2010


Guy raises in early position to 300.   He's the same human who pushed all in holding ace 8 in the hand I described in my prior entry.

My pocket queens inspire and require an immediate response, so I bump it up to 850.

As I wait for his next move it becomes apparent that this time around he's much stronger.  From across the table I can see a vein pulsating in his neck.  If he's acting, then this guy has talent. I am fully convinced he has a top 5 hand.  I am desperately hoping it is ace king.  Unfortunately his aura may also indicate kings or aces.  Yes I have queens.  However I may need to get out of his way.  

He asks the dealer for time, then sits in silence with his arms crossed. I'm not sure what I've looked like when making important decisions in my life, but I cannot confirm that I have ever thought as hard as this guy is thinking right now.

I take in the behavior and decide if he comes back over the top with a reraise, I will fold. I've seen this display of adrenaline at the table before. The guy is nervous because he anticipates he is about to experience action. Not because he is bluffing.  I am watching a civilized version of fight or flight.  

He apologizes to me for taking so long.  I try to help him work through his decision by encouraging him to take as much time as he needs.  By now I figure he is going to raise.  Any second I expect to hear the magic words "I'm all in."  Yet for whatever reason he does not say them.  For some reason he just calls.  Maybe he is trapping me.  Looking ahead, I am not sure what I will do if he checks to me post flop.   

The universe bails me out with a queen high flop.    

Then, as if things couldn't get any better, the gentleman across from me acts first and pushes all in.  

See how EASY poker is?  

People saying you need to read books and practice playing the game to get better.  Not true at all.  All you need to be successful at poker is to flop top set every time. 

I call and turn over my cards so the table can see what a luck box I am. 

Mr. Ace 8 turns over his hand as well.  

Pocket kings.

Well at least he bought himself a good bad beat story to tell everyone back home. 

My set holds and my stack grows to somewhere in the 10k range.  

Have I mentioned how well I've been running lately?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Random Hand From Level 2

Guy in early position raises to 150.  

Action folds around to me in middle position where I appear to have ace jack.  

(How are you ever really sure?)  

If you're familiar with any of my poker books then you already know pretty much any response is defensible here.

Folding is acceptable.  It's a three day long tournament and all I have is ace jack facing an early position raise.  If I were a betting man I'm not sure I would bet I have the best hand at the moment.

Raising is acceptable.  I would quickly find out where I stand.  Perhaps I can get ace queen to lay down or ace king to shove.  Either of these actions by my opponent could benefit my ace jack.  

Calling is....well it's probably the worst of the three options.

Lets consider the positives to calling:

-I am in position.  I will get to act last throughout the hand.  Always a good thing.

-I can get away cheap later on if I don't flop well.  150 chips means very little to me with a slightly over 6k stack.

-I might flop lucky.  Not a very good reason to call.  But I'd be lying to you if I said I've never thought this way.     

Okay.  You talked me into it.  I'd much rather fold or raise but since you guys play such loose poker I will call and risk 150 chips to see if I can flop ace, jack, jack.  

The big blind joins our dance party.  Damn.  Maybe I should have raised to get him out of the picture.

Remember how I wanted to raise but you wouldn't let me?

You know what?  It doesn't matter.

Forget about it.

I'm not sure how it benefits us now for me to blame you the reader for this call.

Even if it was your fault.

The three of us see an ace, rag, rag flop.  

I told you I've been running well.    

At least that's what I thought until the big blind led out for 300 followed by the early position raiser pushing all in for around 1500 more.

Action returns to me.  Suddenly I have absolutely no idea where I stand in this hand.

I guess this is why you don't call raises preflop with ace jack.

Now it wouldn't be a disaster if I call the all in here and double up the early position guy.  I'd still be above average in chips and I may actually have the best hand.  I am here to accumulate chips and heads up I probably talk myself into making this call.

However when I look to my left I really have no clue at all what the big blind has.  And unfortunately he has a healthy stack.  What if I call here and he pushes behind me?    

While mulling this over I also recall it was the early position guy who raised preflop.  He could have ace king or ace queen.  Nothing he has done in this hand suggests otherwise.  If he has a pocket pair he probably folds to the blinds bet.  Instead he raised.  With two other players in the hand.  He must have an ace.

I chastise myself one last time for calling the raise preflop with ace jack and fold.  

The big blind calls the all in.

Whew. I am glad I folded!

I've obviously got mad skills, laying down ace jack on an ace high flop.  

Where is ESPN when you need them?

The cards are turned over.

Big Blind has..................................middle pair.  Wow.

Early position raiser has.................... ace 8 off.  Ouch.

I folded the best hand.   The hand that someone thought was good enough to call 150 with preflop, yet not good enough to stick around with after hitting top pair.

What kind of hand is that?

There was a point in time when I wasn't a good enough poker player to lay down top pair.

Have I mentioned lately how good I am?