Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sometimes, It Just All Works Out

I know that some of you may have noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately. Sorry about that. I haven't been playing online as much, so I'm not getting nearly as many hands and stories to talk about. I've been enjoying the game down at Potowatomi Casino. They started offering a decent promotion during the football season that enticed me (and lots of poker players) down to the poker room on Monday evenings, and the action was pretty good so I decided to apply my poker bankroll toward playing some more live poker.

I had a very interesting session recently, and it involved one of the largest pots I've ever played in a cash game. The session started pretty quickly for me, with me going from my $400 buy-in up to $900 in the first 15 minutes I was at the table. The "big" hand being a hand where a player had straddled. To straddle means that the player that would normally be in the position to act first puts a bet of double the big blind out on the table. In order to play the other players need to call or raise that bet, but the player who straddled gets a chance to raise as well, so it's almost like having three blinds. Also, it's important to note that often times when a player straddles, if no one raises, the straddle will often raise regardless of the cards that he/she is holding. I had observed this particular player do just that the first time he had the opportunity to straddle. This was his second opportunity to straddle, and I had limped holding the Ac 7c. He raised his straddle from $10 to $50, and I elected to call with my moderate hand. Three other players also called, and five of us got to see the flop. It was: Jd 7d 2s. Now, because of the straddle's early position he often times will have to act first. This player immediately bet $75 in to the pot, and quite frankly, I didn't believe that he had anything. I didn't have much myself, but I had already seen two players already pick up their cards and were just waiting to fold, so I decided that a raise would probably take the hand down right then and there. I raised to $250, which was pretty much committing my stack. Everyone else folded except the straddle, who moved all in. He had me covered, and it was only going to cost me my remaining $100 to see the $800 pot so I called. It turned out he had nothing but a couple diamonds and was chasing the flush. He missed, and my measely pair of 7s took down the $900 pot.

Shortly after that I was moved to the main game, and that's when the fireworks really started. There were three players at the table that would raise almost every pot to anywhere from $30-$60 preflop. Now, no one can get that many good hands to be able to raise so often, so it was pretty clear that they were just trying to pick up the pots with pure aggression. We had a stretch of hands over a 45-minute period where no pot was under $500. I managed to avoid the "landmines" and worked my stack up to just under $1200 when the hand of the evening came up.

I was holding the Qc Jc. I just called the $5, but one of the three aggressive players was on my immediate left, and he raised it up to $40. I will just call him the villain for the purposes of this. He was actually a very nice guy, and I had enjoyed talking with him over the course of the evening so far. He also had around $2200 when the hand started. Everyone else folded, which was unusual, and since I felt his raising range of hands was very wide I decided to call with my hand. The flop was very uneventful: Kc Kh 9d. I really had no piece of this board. Since I missed I checked, fully expecting the villain to bet at which point I would fold and let him have the hand. Well, he checked behind me. The dealer put out the turn card: 9c. Once again, this didn't really help me, but because of the villain's check I didn't think he had much here and I had decided that I would call a smallish bet in an effort to chase down the flush. I checked, and once again the villain checked. The river changed everything. It was the 10c. Combined with my hand I now had a straight flush (9c 10c Jc Qc Kc)!! Unfortunately, the pot was SOOO small and I didn't think the villain had anything. I can't just check there since I have to act first so I fired a bet of $40, just praying that I would get called. Well, the villain thinks for a second then asks me, "So, you flopped the King, did ya?", to which I answered (truthfully), "Honestly, I didn't flop the King." He then paused for another couple seconds before asking, "Well, can I steal it from you?", to which I answered (truthfully again, mind you) "No, you can't steal it from me." You might be wondering why I told the truth. Most people don't ask a direct question about your hand, they'll ask questions similar in meaning like this. I find that telling the truth at a poker table works very well in these situations. No one ever believes what anyone tells at a poker table anyway, right? If he had asked me if I had quads or a straight flush I would have just said nothing, but when someone asks indirect questions like this about my hand I will just always tell the truth (OK...not ALWAYS, but I can't recall the last time I lied in that situation).

He paused, and then said "$120". This meant he was raising it to that amount. I now sat back in my chair. At this point I wasn't sure what he had. I knew I was winning, but I had to hope he had a King here. A King would be something that he almost certainly couldn't fold. I can tell you that I thought he was just trying to steal it, and that when I put out the next raise the hand would be over. I even went back to double check my cards to be sure I had the straight flush. After pausing for about a minute I said "$300". Before I finished getting that out he said "All In.", and just as he finished saying that I said, "I Call!" and immediately turned over the straight flush. My opponent had King-Ten for the best possible full house, but that wasn't going to win the hand. I had just won a pot of just under $2400!! Everyone at the table was going nuts talking about it.

I played for about another hour, I made a couple more bucks, and it ended up being a very nice session for me. That hand was the single largest hand of poker I ever won. Even I was shaking a little bit after playing a hand like that, and I've played plenty of poker, but....WOW...Sometimes, it just all works out.