Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicago Money is Good For the Game

I think that the break I took from poker was exactly what I needed.  Having good recall about poker hands is usually considered a good thing, but sometimes I think that it can go the other way as well.  You have to be able to forget when you get beat in a pot, too, so that you don't focus on it when you get back to playing.  You just have to let time do it's thing when you take a beat down in poker, and although I hadn't completely forgotten the beat I took, enough time had gone by that it wasn't the FIRST thing I thought of when someone mentioned poker to me.

The Brewers were playing the Cubs this past weekend, and lots of Cubs fans make the trek to Miller Park to take in the game.  They also stop at the poker room before and after the game, so there's usually a lot of extra action in the room.  I thought it would be a good time to try and take advantage of that.  Friday night's session went OK for me, and I was able to cash out on the plus side.  I never had to rebuy during the session, and had no hands where my entire stack was at risk.  The only bad thing about Friday's session was the fact that the Brewers lost, so I had to put up with Cubs fans being a little more obnoxious than they usually are.

It was the Saturday session that had some fun hands to talk about here.  I arrived a little bit before the Brewers game, as I figured there would be some Chicago fans hitting the poker room before the game.  They had five No-Limit tables going, and I was told to grab a seat at Table 9.  Sometimes, just getting the right table makes all the difference in the world, and boy, did it ever on Saturday!  I took my seat in Seat 3 and bought in for my usual $400, and as soon as I sat down, I found out who the current table 'captain' was.  The player in Seat 7 was raising just about every hand by grabbing a handful of chips and stating, "I raise this much".  Well, 'this much' was somewhere between $45-$65 and often times he would pick up the chips of the players who only called the $5.  Occasionally, he would get one or two callers, and then he'd try and take down the pot at the flop.  It seemed to be working for him for the most part.  It wasn't hard to pick up on this pattern of play, and after about one orbit of play I decided I was going to try and shut down this style since it was causing me to not see any flops.

I was waiting for the right situation, and found myself in what I thought was the right situation when the player in Seat 1 limped, I limped with pocket 5s, the player in Seat 5 limped, Seat 7 made his raise (to $55 this time), and then Seat 1 folded.  Had Seat 1 called the $55 I don't think I would have been able to pull off what I wanted to do.  Since I only had Seat 5 and Seat 7 to act, I decided to repop Seat 7.  Finding the right amount was the trick.  I had already seen him call someone's all in reraise of $210, and I'll be honest, I wasn't looking for a call here since I'm probably in a coin flip against most of his range.  Well, I decided to raise it to $350.  This also left me with only about $40 behind, but it was sending the message.  Well, Seat 5 thought about it for a while, but he let his hand go, and when it got to our table captain/bully, he thought about it for a long while before folding.  I decided to show it, and announced to him "It was good".  He then decided to get in to it a little bit with me about how could I raise to $350 with just a pair of 5s, and I told him that I would've done it with "7-2 offsuit. It didn't matter, since I wasn't playing my hand".  I had two objectives by doing this: 1) get him to not raise it up EVERY SINGLE time.  If someone plays back at him he's gotta adjust, right? and 2) set him up for when I actually get a big hand.

Well, that hand had no effect on his playing tactics.  He still raised almost every hand, and so it just became a fold fest for me.  I finally picked up a pair of Queens and decided to limp.  He raised to $65, and I came back over the top to $300.  He went all in almost immediately, and I called for my remaining $140 or so.  I asked if he wanted to show, and I tabled my Queens, and he showed a pair of 8s.  The board ran out and he didn't catch his 8, and I was able to double up.  It wasn't too long after that hand that he ended up going broke against a player that flopped top set and had him covered.  In talking to that player, who was seated on my immediate left, I found out that the player in Seat 7 bought in for the maximum of $600 at least 7 times.  He was seated there before the player on my left had arrived, and he didn't know if he had bought in any more before he showed up, but if you include his initial buy in (I'm assuming for $600) that totals $4800!  It was a shame he left, but it was nice of him to leave it at Table 9!!

The player who replaced him was a relatively decent player, but he found himself on the wrong end of it against me later into the session.  The player had about $850 in front of him, and I was sitting at about $900, maybe $950, when the hand came up.  He had raised preflop to $20, and I was holding pocket Tens, so calling that $20 is a no-brainer for me.  Two other players came along to see the flop, and it was:  K-T-9, giving me middle set.  The player in Seat 7 had to act first and led out for $75, which was about a pot-sized bet.  The other players folded, and I popped it to $225.  I wanted to see how strong his hand really was, and the raise was enough that he would fold anything that was borderline here.  He called.  This told me he had something pretty decent.  I was hoping it wasn't Queen-Jack since that would be a straight.  Well, the next card looked pretty good to me.  The turn was a King, giving me a full house, Tens full of Kings.  Now, I hoped he had the straight, or even Ace-King.  Since he called the $225, I figured maybe he'd call around that same amount again, so I bet $250.  He went all in almost immediately, and I called just about as quickly.  If he had KK, KT, or K9, more power to him.  The King-Ten and King-9 seemed a little unlikely since he raised preflop, and KK is just REAL unlikely since the chances of making quads is pretty remote.  He announced, "I have a full house, sir, 9s full of Kings", and he turned over pocket 9s.  I turned over my hand and replied, "I have Tens full of Kings".  This guy was standing as he threw his cards across the table, and his jaw nearly hit the table when he saw my hand.  I can't say I did anything special in this hand.  When you have two hands like that (set over set), a lot of chips are going to get in to the middle.  I was just fortunate to have the higher set here.  He didn't hit his 9 on the river, and the player left and chose not to rebuy.

The Brewers won that game against the Cubs, too, so my Saturday session was pretty good.  It was a pretty nice way to start things off after my break.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Worst...Beat...Ever...

...or at least that's how I'm describing it.  It wasn't so much the cards that ran out on the board to beat me that makes it bad (although that's a BIG part), it's all the betting and the calling that contributed to making it the worst beat I've taken.

I was invited to play cards with a group of friends over on the north side on a Saturday evening, and I had a good time playing cards there, losing a few bucks, but it was a fun night, and I hadn't gotten together with these friends in a while, so it was good to see them.  I had decided that I was going to hit Potowatomi's poker room on the way home since I was practically passing the place anyway, and I knew that the poker room would be busy late on Saturday, so the action should be pretty decent.

I found myself down early when my two pair got hammered by someone who made their straight draw in a decent-sized pot.  I was working my way back to even, and had $685 in front of me when the following hand came up.  I'm going to try and give you as much detail as I can, and as I told someone as I retold this story, "You may want to draw a diagram".  I'll give you the stack sizes of each relevant player as I mention them below.

I was in Seat 8 of the 9 seats at the table.  There was currently no one in seat 9, and in seat 1 ($690), Seat 2, Seat 3 ($127), and Seat 4 ($94) were four players of Asian descent.  They were all straddling, which means that they were putting out a bet of double the big blind when they would have been the first person to act.  By straddling they also retained the option to raise, so it's like adding a third blind to the game.  Also, when players would limp for the $10 (it was a $3-$5 game, so to limp in a straddle it would be $10) one of those players would almost always raise to try and steal the limper's bets.  Since they were doing this I had made the determination that I was going to limp with the hands I'd normally play, knowing that I'd have to fold some of them, but I was also going to limp with the big hands so that I'd be able to then reraise when they were trying to resteal my limp bet.  If I had tightened up so much that I only played the big hands, they may pick up on that and decide to not raise when I entered a pot, and I couldn't have that, so I was willing to sacrifice the $10 here and there to set this up.  The other players in seats 5, 6(~$400), and 7 were players that seemed to be playing fairly tight and very straight-forward (bet with a hand, check with nothing).

Well, in this hand Seat 1 was the big blind, and seat 4 was the straddle.  Seat 5 folded, Seat 6 called for the $10, Seat 7 folded, and I looked down and found pocket Queens (Qs Qh). I limped, anticpating the raise to come from one of the players in seats 1 through 4.  Seat 1 also limped.  Seat 2 limped, and Seat 3 made it $30 to go.  Seat 4 moved all in for $94.  It got back to Seat 6, who called the $94.  Now, my plan was to originally just call the $94, or maybe reraise to $160 to put the player in Seat 3 all in, but with the player in Seat 6 calling the $94, he would have for sure called the additional bet, and I wanted to shut him out of the pot.  To do that I was going to have to reraise to about $250.  Since the player in Seat 6 had about $400, if he's calling the $250 he's putting the rest in, and I wouldn't have folded if he put the rest in, so rather than make it $250 or so, I decided to make sure that he'd have an all in decision, so I moved all in for my $685 to isolate the betting.  What happened next was very unexpected.  The player in seat 1, who had about the same as me (it turned out he had $5 more than me) thought for about 10 seconds and said that he was all in!  Well, the player in Seat 3 moved all in, and when it got back around to the player in Seat 6 he still had an option, and he elected to not call for his whole stack there.  Follow all that?

Now, because everyone has different amounts of chips it created multiple pots.  A player can only win from another player an amount equal to what they have in front of them.  So three pots got created.  The first pot, the main pot, could be won be all four of us in the hand (myself, Seat 1, Seat 3, and Seat 4).  That pot totalled $470 ($94 from each of the four of us, and $94 from Seat 6, who had originally called that $94, but then folded when it was reraised).  The first side pot, which could only be won by myself, Seat 1, and Seat 3 totalled $99 (Seat 3 had $127, $94 was contributed to the main pot, which left him with $33, which Seat 1 and I had to match).  The second side pot, which only myself and Seat 1 could win, was for $1116! I had gone all in and had contributed a total of $127 to the main and first side pot, which left me with $558, which was matched by Seat 1.  This creates an unusual scenario.  You can have multiple winners in the hand.  Also, I could lose to Seat 3 or Seat 4 (or both), but still make money by beating Seat 1 since the second side pot was $1116.

It was time to show some cards.  I asked if they wanted to show, since it's not required in a cash game, and I tabled my two Queens.  Seat 1 was initially not showing, and I said to him, "If you're slow rolling me with Kings or Aces I'm going to be pretty pissed."  I was trying to guess what he would call for $670, especially since he only had $10 invested at that point.  At that point Seat 1 showed me one card, a King, and was telling me that I was "good".  That did little to comfort me.  At that point Seat 3 showed his hand, a pair of Kings.  Now, after seeing that, I realized that I had very little chance to win all of the pots, since Seat 3 was crushing me and was eligible to win two of the three pots, but I could still win the big side pot.  The other player said nothing and showed nothing, and the dealer went to work.  He put out the following board:

2s As 6c - flop
Ts - turn
8s - river

I looked, and had made a Queen-high flush with the four spades, but the player in Seat 1 was showing the King of Spades, and had made a higher flush.  It turned out he had Ks Qc.  The player in Seat 4 mucked his cards, but he told us that he also had a King.  So, all the Kings were out.  I only had to dodge the player making a straight or flush with his King-Queen and I would've won at least the side pot.  I couldn't believe he called $670 with King-Queen offsuit, especially with only $10 invested.  I couldn't believe that board.  Any red card on the turn or river and I rake the $1116 pot.  Also, if the player in Seat 1 had folded, there would have been no third pot, and I only would have $127 invested, but in that scenario I scoop both the main pot and the other side pot, totalling $569, because I make my Queen-high flush and crack the Kings (the board wouldn't have changed regardless of the betting).  Either way, when all four Kings are out and a guy's showing you a King I had to feel pretty good about winning the side pot.  I was able to use a program called PokerStove to evaluate the %'s of my hand winning, and with all the Kings out PokerStove ran 1.2 million hands, and in those I won 91.6% of the time versus the 8.0% for the King-Queen offsuit (0.29% of the time we tie), and believe it or not, after the flop my % chance of winning IMPROVES to 94% (red card after that please?).  Unfortunately, poker isn't played in a simulator.  It was an ugly, ugly beat, and I promptly left, and decided that maybe it was time to take a little break from poker.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Aces Gets Everything...

With one last full day to play poker in Vegas Dan and I decided to play in the Bellagio's poker room. I got seated in a $5/$10 No Limit game and bought in for $775. I know it's an odd amount, but that was because of some odd chips I had in my pocket at that moment. I'd like to tell you that I had some great hands, or that I ran some awesome bluffs, but this session had to be one of the most uneventful sessions that I can recall having. I did have $1508 to cash out when it was done, so I made $733, but I only had one showdown the whole session, and that was one where the small blind tried to steal my big blind and I called. We ended up checking it down and I collected that $100 pot. That was the only showdown I had the whole session, and I still managed to win that amount. I did pick up AA twice during the session. Overall, I probably saw pocket Aces about 15 times over the weekend. This led Dan to calling me an "Aces magnet". It didn't help that Dan had only seen AA once all weekend, and that was in the WSOP event where Dan had them cracked by someone else's Queen-9 where the guy open shoved with that hand. Dan had called, then watched the board come J-J-8-8-T to give the guy a straight.

Dan was seated at a $2/$5 game, and was trying to get back some of his money from earlier events in the trip. After cashing out I stopped by Dan's table to let him know I was going back up to the room for a little bit. Dan tried to give me a peek at his cards once he knew I was there, but I happened to not be looking when that happened. Dan raised to $20, and 4 players called that bet. At that point I asked Dan to give me the "hole card cam", but as soon as I asked, everyone else in the hand looked right at me, so before he showed me I told him to forget it as I didn't want to inadvertently give anything away.

The flop was: Qx - 5s - 2s. Dan had about $500 in front of him, and had three people in front of him to act and one behind. Of those players, one player in front had about $250, another had Dan covered, and the player behind Dan had almost the same amount as Dan. Well, the short stack in front of Dan led out for $50. The next guy to act, who had Dan covered, called the $50. The next guy folded, and Dan raised it to $200. The guy behind him called the $200. The action was now back on the first $50 bettor, who moved all in for a total of $255. The next guy called that all in bet. Dan tried to reraise all in, but because the all in raise was only for $55 it wasn't a full raise and the betting couldn't be reopened. So Dan made the call as did the player behind him. We had a huge pot brewing at this point already. The turn card was the 9d. The guy who had Dan covered was first to act and checked. Dan moved all in, and the guy behind him called that, although he had slightly less than Dan. At this point, the guy who had Dan covered went in to the think tank. He had already said at one point that he had a "monster" draw, so I was guessing he had 3s 4s, since that was the only monster draw that could be in play. Well, while this guy is tanking, on of the guys who was all in was showing his cards to half the table, including the short stack who was all in already. This is a no-no at the table. I normally wouldn't care, but I figured one of these two already had a set, and I wanted to Dan to win, so I mentioned to Dan that he should get a floor supervisor over here. Depending on his ruling, the guy who showed his hand might have his hand killed, or mucked. I thought that pot was large enough to fight for it like this. Dan got the floor over to the table, and although he agreed that the cards shouldn't have been displayed, he gave a warning and said that next time he'd kill the hand.

Well, eventually, the guy who was tanking finally decided to call. The river was the 3c. Everyone opened their hands. Dan had Aces, which was one of the three hands I thought he had (KK or QQ were the other two). The short stack all in had Ks 8s for a missed flush draw. The guy who was showing his cards to everyone and was all in showed 9s 6s for a missed flush draw along with having missed his two-pair or trips. The last guy, who had everyone covered in the hand, showed KQoffsuit, for top pair, but also missed his two pair or trip draw (Apparently his idea of a monster draw was much different than mine). Dan's Aces got everything!! It was a huge pot. I stuck around for the 5 minutes it took him to stack everything, but it was just over $1900 when it was all said and done. This had to be one of the more exciting hands I witnessed all weekend. Dan was laughing because he thought it was hilarious that I was such an Ace magnet that I could just walk by his table and he picked up Aces, especially considering it was only the second time he got them the whole trip. It was crazy, and I was glad to see Dan win. He needed that one.

Dan also took a break shortly after that. We both ended up back at the $2/$5 game around 3am. In that three hour session, I picked up about $280, which was highlighted by my picking up a decent pot while I was on my second buy in. I had 8d 7d, and on an 8h 5d 2d flop, another player and I got it all in for about a $900 pot. He had top pair with a Ten kicker, but the 7 that hit on the turn ended up giving me two pair and the pot. Dan was also doing well at the table, as he he put in a near $1000 profit in this session to follow up that huge session he had prior. Although we didn't cash in the tournaments we played, the cash games on the trip were very nice for us. All in all it was a pretty good trip.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Venetian!

Sunday was going to be another tournament day for me and Dan. The Bellagio was running their Bellagio Cup VI, and they had scheduled a $1000+$80 event scheduled for that day at 2pm. The Venetian was also running their Deep Stack Extravaganza, and Sunday's event was a $560 tournament that started at noon. Since I had rebounded very nicely during my last session I thought I would play a satellite for the $1k event at the Bellagio. If I won my seat there I'd play that; if not, I would go over to the Venetian and play the $560 tournament there. Dan had decided to go over to the Venetian.

I went down about 9am or so to the Fontana Room at the Bellagio to get in to the satellite, but they didn't have enough entries to run one yet. They only had 5 players signed up for a satellite. The satellite cost $240 and it's played as a one-table tournament with 10 players. The final two finishers would each receive a seat into the $1k event along with a small amount of cash. Since they were short on entries yet and I didn't want to pony up for a satellite that might not happen I decided to keep an eye on the Fontana room from the craps tables. I watched for a little over a half hour, but there was almost no activity over at the Fontana room. I cashed out from craps (down a couple bucks), and went back, but they were only up to 6 entries. I explained what I was doing, and they offered to take my cell phone number and call me if they got close to filling the satellite. I went up to the room and confirmed Dan's plans. The poker room manager called at about 10:45 and told me they were close so I headed back down. Satellites usually last about an hour, so if I didn't win my seat I thought I'd still have time to get to the Venetian by noon.

In the satellite, I had a prior WSOP bracelet winner seated on my immediate left. He won a bracelet in Pot-Limit Omaha in 2007. His name was Alan Smurfit, and he was using his bracelet as a card protector. He was a real nice guy. Unfortunately, my opportunity to chat with him was cut short during the satellite. After chipping up a little bit I was knocked down a lot when my K-K went up against someone's A-9 (and all in) after a Q-Q-9 flop. Dan arrived just in time to see an Ace show up on the turn and have a chunk removed from my stack. Since I wasn't out yet and Dan didn't want to be late to the Venetian he headed out. I managed to get my stack all in with AQ and dominated by AK. The board didn't bail me out, and I was down to a single chip. I quadrupled up on the next hand when my QJ got lucky against AA (sure, I can't have a big stack when THAT happens), but went out right after that when my A9 of clubs went up against 8-8, and I made two pair when the 8s made a flush. It was almost noon, and even though I knew I'd be late for the Deep Stack, it was time to get over to the Venetian.

I showed up at the Venetian shortly after noon. They were offering late registration so I went and got a player's club card and got registered. I could bore you with all sorts of hand stories from the tournament, but after getting a set of 6s cracked by someone and getting AA twice and KK once in the span of 15 minutes to get some chips back, I ultimately ended up in a race with AQ v. TT. I didn't win the race and I was out of the tournament.

Since Dan was still playing in the tournament I decided to get seated in the $2/$5 No Limit games. They had a huge room of cash games going so I was seated pretty quickly. The game I got in to had plenty of action. There was one gentleman at the table who was from Witchita that was a blast to play cards with. We even got some Rock-Scissors-Paper going at the table. He was talking about playing a hand he called "Witchita Slick". Apparently, it's 7-4. Obviously, it's not in the top 10% of hands, heck, it's not even in the top half, but our table sure had some fun with it. When he brought it up initially someone got dealt it, and they played it like Aces. Then, every now and then a board would show up where Witchita Slick would have hit it. Well, the topic would come up, and someone else would get dealt it and play it. Heck, even I got it once and reraised preflop with it, got called, and then bet the flop to take down a pot. It sure made the game lively!

I worked my $400 buy in up to about $700 over a couple hours, and got caught bluffing once to have my stack dip back down a lot. The big hand in the session came when my stack was at $455. I was in middle position and was dealt Tens. Mr. Witchita Slick had raised to $20 and the player to my right had called that, so I called with Tens. The player on my left also called, and the next player reraised to $125. When the action got back to Mr. Witchita he called; the player between he and I folded, but I decided to make the call. The last player to act folded and off to the flop we went. The other two players in the hand both had me covered in chips, so I figured that if I hit my Ten I'd be able to double up my stack. Well the flop was very kind to me. It came T-8-3, giving me top set. Both Mr. Witchita and I checked to the preflop raiser who bet $275. After some thought Mr. Witchita called, and I moved all in for $330, knowing that both players would have to call that, which they did. They both checked the turn and the river, which came 5 and Jack, respectively. I turned over my pair of Tens to show my set. Neither player decided to show what they had, and I had just tripled up! My session lasted a little while longer. I left when Dan found me after busting when his JJ was cracked by someone else's 8-6 (all action preflop). I had just over $1600 at that point so even though I hadn't cashed in the tournaments I played in earlier I still had a profitable day.  I came, I saw, I conquered!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Playing for Some Larger Stakes

Well, I was hoping that I got all my "bad" poker out of my system on Friday, after having not cashed in the WSOP event and then going "on tilt" to a certain extent in my cash game session afterwords.  Dan and I got up early to hit the Bellagio's breakfast buffet and made our way over to the sports book to watch the USA play Ghana in its World Cup match.  What a disappointment that was!  It was a shame since we had a really good atmosphere in the sports book.  Every seat was taken in the room, and the people had lined up about 5 people deep just watching the game on the giant screens.  The game itself was exciting, it was just a very disappointing outcome.

I had brought a larger bankroll to Vegas for playing in cash games and tournaments this time thanks to how well I was doing back home.  It was now time to put some of that to the test so I decided to sit down in the Bellagio's $5/$10 No-Limit Hold 'em game.  Aside from the blinds being higher than at the $2/$5 game, the rake is done differently.  At every dealer change, which occurs every half hour, the dealer collects $6 from each player and that's what the house gets instead of raking a percentage of the pot.  I like this format since every player is then equally paying the rake, and not just the person winning each hand.  The range of buy-in amount is slightly different for this game, too, having a range of $400 - $1500 for the initial buy in.  The $2/$5 game has a range of $100 - $500.  I decided to buy in for $700, and I was seated.  They actually had a good number of tables that were running $5/$10.  They also use orange $10 chips at the $5/$10 game, so the stacks don't look too much different in size from the ones at the $2/$5 tables, but those stacks add up pretty quick!

The action started slow for me, since I really wanted to have a good feel for the table before getting too many chips involved in a large pot.  Once I had won a couple hands and dragged a couple smaller pots I started to feel in my comfort zone.  It was around this time that I picke up 8-8 and raised it up to $40 preflop.  I was called by three other players, which is almost never good when you're holding a middle pair like 8s.  The flop helped me out tremendously:  6-7-8.  I decided to lead out at this board since it was a pretty coordinated board and even though I had top set I was vulnerable to a couple of draws.  After I bet $90, the short stack at the table called, and another player reraised it to $240.  Once the action was back on me I decided to reraise it to $560.  Even if I'm behind (and I'm only behind to T-9, 5-4, and 9-5) I still have outs to catch the full house, and this is the type of hand that I'll play strong because of its combined strength and drawing potential.  Well, the all in called for his remaining $200, and after some serious thought, the guy who raised to $240 folded.  I never found out what either player had, but the all in lost, and the other guy said he would have lost, so I dragged a very nice pot there.

It wasn't too much later that I picked up the 8c-6c and decided to raise it to $40 from late position.  The player in the small blind called, and the big blind folded, so it was heads up to the flop, which came:  J-6-4.  Now I wasn't crazy about getting called preflop, but now that I've hit a piece of the flop I decided it's worth a bet so I bet $50.  I was called immediately, and I already had it in my mind to be done with the hand.  The turn card changed all that as the dealer put a 6 out for me on the turn.  It was checked to me, and I was now hoping that my opponent had a hand with a Jack so I could squeeze a few more dollars out of him.  I bet $110, and he raised it to $260.  I put on a little show to think about it, plus I was trying to figure out an amount that I thought he might call, and decided to raise it to $510.  He moved all in for a total of about $820, and I called that.  I turned out he had pocket Aces and was slow playing them.  Well, there was no Ace to save him on the river, and now I had dragged another really nice pot.

Shortly after this, I picked up pocket Kings.  A player in early position raised to $30 and there was a caller, so I repopped the bet to $110.  When it got back to the first raiser he thought for a minute before reraising it to $220, which was almost a  minimum raise.  This caused me to go in to the tank.  He only had about $700 when the hand started.  If I raised to $450 here, which would be normal (3x the bet), there's almost no way I can fold for the remaining $250 so it would make sense to put him all in.  But if I put him all in and he snap calls I know he has Aces and I'm dead.  Now, I don't think I'm going to fold Kings here no matter what, but I wanted to make sure I had that option in case he put in a 5th raise.  I ultimately decided to raise it to $330.  That way if he went all in I would still have the option to save the $370 it would take to call that.  I might still call anyways, but I wanted to give myself the option.  Moving all in takes that option away.  Well, he thought for a minute before folding and I was now dragging another very nice pot; this time without any board being put out.  This might be one of the few hands where I've ever even considered folding Kings preflop.  I still don't know if I'd have done it, but I certainly would have put some thought in to it, that's for sure.

There was one more significant hand that I got this session, and that was pocket Aces shortly after those Kings.  The guy whose Aces I cracked earlier had raised to $40 from early position.  There were two callers before it got to me, and when I saw I had AA, I pushed it to $150.  The original raiser thought for a moment or two, and pushed it to $400.  The other players folded, and I went in to the tank again.  I wasn't sure if he had a hand or was making a play because I had gotten him earlier, but he had just put in about half his stack, so I set him all in.  He chucked his hand at that point, but that was still another healthy pot to drag in to my stack.

After it was all said and done, I had $3208 in front of me, for a nice little profit of just over $2500 for the session.  It wasn't bad for the 5 hours I put in there.  I was really looking forward to some more action on Sunday over at the Venetian.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Nut Low!

Playing poker while your irritated is something you shouldn't do, and one of these days I'll learn that lesson.  After being eliminated from the World Series of Poker Event #45 I decided that I'd sit down at one of the cash games in the Rio's spacious room.  I signed up for the $2/$5 No-Limit game, and it took about 15 minutes for me to get a seat.

My cash game session turned in to a quick nightmare for me as in the first three hands I was dealt two pocket pairs that turned in to sets (three of a kind) and an Ace-Ten hand that made two pair with the board.  The net result of those first three hands:  -$650.  Yikes!  I spent the next hour trying to recover some of that and was doind a decent job of that when the following hand was dealt.  I looked down and saw the 5d 3d.  I often times will play suited connectors like this as they play very well against big hands of players that don't look for these types of hands to be played.  Well, when I limped and three others limped I thought I was going to see the flop cheaply, but the player on the button had other ideas.  He raised it to $25.  I knew that at least one of the other three players was calling so I got my $20 in to the pot.  The flop hit:  K - 4 - 7, with two diamonds.  Now I didn't have anything, but I was drawing to a flush with my diamonds and a gutshot straight draw, needing a 6 to complete the straight.  I checked, with the plan of check-raising the preflop raiser.  The next opponent checked, and the preflop raiser bet $60.  I moved all in for $325, and the player squeezed between those two bets called the all in.  This got the original raiser out of the hand and showed his QQ as he folded.  The turn was a 9, and the river was a 2.  Neither was a diamond.  My opponent looked at me and said, "You're good.  Your hand is way good."  He was also waiting for me to turn over my hand.  My only response was, "I don't think so.  I've got the nut low."  In poker, the best possible hand in combination with the board is referred to as the nuts and the worst possible hand is referred to often as the "nut low".  Well, I had the nut low, so the +$700 pot went to the guy holding 6-high!!   Ironically enough, that was the 3rd nut low for that board.  The original raiser just commented on how "sick" the two of us must be to be playing the way we were.

My session didn't have much rebound to it, and before the session was over I found myelf down $1061.  The trip was taking a turn for the worse, but it would be the last time I would leave a cash game down for the remainder of the trip.

WSOP Event #45

Dan and I arrived at the Rio early enough to get breakfast, and we were both very pumped up about the event we were playing.  I had never started a World Series event with as many chips as I was going to be starting with today.  The way the events are set up you get 3x your buy-in in chips, so for our event each player would receive 4500 chips.  Blind levels last an hour each, and our event started with the blinds at 25/50.  In 2006, the year that Dan and I both managed to cash, we actually started our $1500 event with 1500 chips.  In 2007 they changed it so that you received double your buy-in in chips, and starting last year they changed it again to triple the buy-in as it is now (last year Dan and I got in a $1000 event). 

I found myself seated at Table 132, seat 9 for the start of the tournament.  There were no recognizable pros at my table, and things started slowly for me.  We did have two empty seats at the start of the tournament, with one of them being not sold yet, and another seat just being a player who was late.  It was when this late player arrived that I got in to some trouble.  Early in a tournament I'm usually going to try and only play premium hands for raises and play smaller hands for limps and hope to make monsters.  Well, I was dealt pocket 8s on the hand when the player in seat 2 arrived and I called a raise of 150 from a player in the 6 seat.  The player in seat 2 raised it to 425, which wasn't even 3x the first raise, but seat 6 folded.  Since this was the guy's first hand I didn't want to just let him run over the table, and I just didn't believe he had sat down in to a big hand.  Not that it can't happen, but it's unlikely, so I called.  The flop was: K-9-7 of three different suits.  He had to act first and he led out for 625.  I thought about it for about 30-45 seconds, but I decided I thought he didn't have anything and raised to 1825.  I left myself with about 1850 chips.  He thought about it for about 2 minutes.  I was just getting ready to call a clock on him when he moved all in.  You can call a clock on your opponent at which point he has 60 seconds to make a decision.  If no decision is made the player's hand is then folded.  Well, he was now putting me to a decision for all my chips, and I didn't want to go broke with a pair of 8s while looking at that board so I folded.  I then watched him raise and/or reraise the next 7 hands he played.  I know that he couldn't have gotten good hands on all of them, so I really don't know if I made a good fold or not, but I figured I'd have opportunities later on to double up and get right back in it. 

Over the next hour plus I ended up being all in four times.  I only got called once, and it was when I had Ace-King.  The player calling was the same player from the hand described above and he had Ace-Queen.  My hand held up, and now I was back up to 3750 in chips.  It was about one orbit after this when I was two seats to the right of the button and was dealt the 5h 4h.  Because the aggressive player (seat 2) was in the big blind I decided to limp and then reevaluate if he decided to raise.  Well, the small blind in seat 1 limped and seat 2 decided to check and see the flop.  The flop was:  Ac 2h 3c. Combined with my hand this was a straight.  It was also the best possible flop I could have seen.  Both of the blinds checked to me, and I bet 400 chips into the 450 chip pot.  If you're wondering why I bet here it's because I often find that it's very difficult to improve a straight, and often times when you hit a straight your opponents may have hit the board since none of those cards will be in your hand when you flop the straight.  Also, in this case, I knew that seat 2's aggressiveness might pay off for me if he decided to try and take it away from me by raising.  Well, seat 2 never got that chance as seat 1 moved all in.  Seat 2 folded, and I snap called the all in.  Seat 1 was holding As 2c for two pair.  With the board as it was I was a 77% favorite to win.  The Ah on the turn changed all that, giving my opponent a full house.  I wasn't drawing completely dead though as I could still catch the 3h to make a straight flush.  Alas, my card didn't get there.  I had my opponent covered, and it left me with 525 chips while the blinds were at 75/150.  I then went out very shortly after that as the blinds hit me, with me being unable to improve the QT that I was dealt in the big blind against my opponents Jacks.  I found this to be very reminiscent of my 2008 WSOP, when I took a beat that was pretty bad very early in the event.  After discussing it with Dan, we did determine that this beat was slightly worse, although I certainly couldn't fault the other player for thinking that his two pair was good in that situation.  So another World Series was done, but once the World Series is done it's now time to focus on the cash games, of which I did plenty.