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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Fine Arrival in Vegas

We arrived in Las Vegas late in the afternoon on Thursday.  We caught our shuttle to the Bellagio where we checked in and dropped off our luggage.  We then headed over to the Rio so that we could register for Friday's $1500 No Limit Texas Hold 'em event.  Amazingly there were no lines during any of this process.  Usually the check in lines at the hotels in Las Vegas are notoriously long, but we got very lucky.  We spent a little bit of time walking around the Rio's Convention Center, visiting the Amazon Room, the large room that was now being used as the room that the events move to after their initial starting location, the Pavilion Room.  When we got to the Pavilion Room I just couldn't believe how large the room was.  It had over 300 tables in the room, and there was still plenty of walking space and the tables didn't seem to be too crowded amongst each other, either.

After getting familiar with the new setup of the convention center we registered for the event and got our names on the cash game list.  I was called first, and was seated on the far side from where the board was that contained the lists.  After sitting at this table for just a couple minutes I could tell that this was a good table at which to be.  I played a few hands and then my friend Dan got seated at the same table.  Figures.  I travel 2000+ miles to play poker, there's 20 tables running the cash game we both want to play, and he gets called to my table.  Table change requests can be made, but I had already witnessed too much awful play to consider leaving so I just decided to deal with it. 

Well, this ended up working out very well for me.  Before the end of the night I was up $850.  I got dealt some good hands, having gotten dealt AA two or three times and also was dealt KK twice.  One of the times I got pocket Aces I was against the "perfect" player for the hand.  He was a player who would call a lot of hands preflop, but never raised.  His girlfriend/wife was sitting behind him and watching the action, too.  Well, after he called my preflop raise and then he bet in to me on the flop I knew that I was going to have a chance at a big pot.  We got it all in on the flop, and I never even got to see what he had because after the board paired the turn and an Ace hit on the river I turned over my AA to show the full house I now had.

I picked up another decent-sized pot when I reraised a pot preflop with AK suited.  One of the players on my right called my reraise, and the flop came: 5-5-5.  Once again, even though I was the preflop raiser the other player bet in to me.  Usually when this happens it's because the player is trying to "feel" out where they are at in the hand, so I sent a message by reraising enough to put him all in.  He called, so now I figured he had a pair and I'd need an Ace or King to get there.  What I didn't count on was the 5 that came on the turn.  This actually gave me the nuts!  It turned out he had 6-6, so I now had him outkicked with our quads.

There was one other pot that was sort of fun, and that was one where I had 6-4 offsuit.  I picked up a pair on the flop, where I called a player's bet, and then picked up a double-gutshot straight draw card on the turn, so I raised the player to steal it but got called.  The river got there so when I bet it she really didn't see the straight.  In fact, after she called and I turned my hand over, she had to look long and eventually I had to point out that the 4 in my hand gave me a straight, which disgusted her to no end and she left.

All of these hands got the trip started off on the right note as I finished that session up $850.  We called it quits sort of early knowing that we'd be starting our event at noon the next day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My World Series Trip Begins Tomorrow!

I always get excited at this time of year. I think part of it is because whenever I head out to Vegas for the World Series of Poker I'm brimming with confidence, ready to take on whatever gets thrown at me. I think part of it is being out there with so many other people that all have the same dream while they're out there: to win a WSOP bracelet. I think part of it is getting to see some of the best poker players in the world playing in the highest stakes series of tournaments for that year. I think part of it is knowing that I've got a chance; it may not be as much of a chance as a player like Phil Ivey might have, but I'll be sitting at that table with the best of them, and as long as I am, I'll still have a chance.

Anyway, we head out tomorrow, and I'm real excited to be getting out there. World Series, here I come!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Last Really Good Run at Poto

When I went to Potowatomi on Friday I went down full of confidence, but I was telling myself to not play too reckless just because I was running well. I decided that I would just enjoy watching the Brewers game on the monitors, and was planning on leaving shortly after that. Well, the table I got seated at appeared to have much of the same idea. Not a lot of players were getting involved in large pots, and I spent most of the first three hours that I was there in a range between being down $120 and up $180.

As the game ended I noticed a couple players getting ready to rack up and leave, and that a couple players that were waiting for a table were regulars that I feel play loose. Well, two of those players got seated at our table so I decided to hang around for a while, and I was glad I did. The first big hand that came up after that point was one where I was dealt Q – J in one of the blinds. There was a raise to $25, one of the loose players called, and I decided to make the call. One of the things to note about the loose player that called in this hand is that he likes to make a move where he calls a bet on the flop, and then will try to raise big on the turn to take down a decent-sized pot. I recalled this when the flop came Q – 5 – 2. The preflop raiser bet $55, and the loose player called. Now, I could be beat there, but I looked at it like this: if the preflop raiser is continuation betting and the loose player is setting up his move I very easily could have the best hand. With the bets that were in there the pot was $190 and it was $55 to call, so I thought it’s an easy call here, and I can reevaluate on the turn. Well, the turn was a great card for me. It was a Jack, giving me top two pair. I checked, the preflop raiser now checked (confirming the continuation bet theory), and now the loose player bet $200. I check-raised for the remainder of my stack, which was about $415, and after some thought, the loose player made the call of the remaining $215. He stated that he was on a draw, but it didn’t get there because the river was a Jack, giving me a full house. I raked in a nice pot there.

I had a hand that came up that I have to talk about just because it was such a rarity. I was dealt the 3s – 4s in the small blind. Two players limped (the two loose ones), so I limped as well. The flop was: 7s – 6s – 5s. This gave me a straight flush! Now I’ve made a straight flush before, but I’ve never gotten one with just the flop. I didn’t get much action on the hand, and I only got paid a little on the river because one of the players had the Qs and the turn card for that hand was the Ts. It was still pretty neat to see.

I wasn’t done raking pots, though. I picked up the Ah – 2h in a hand where the preflop betting was all limps. The flop there was: Th – 9h – 7h. I had flopped the nut flush. The betting after that was very weird. The early position player bet $15, the next player called that, the next player made a minimum raise to $30, the next player called that, and finally the action was on me. Usually there won’t be four players that would all want to put bets in to a one suit flop, especially since none of them could have the Ah with another heart! Normally, I would have slow played this, but given all the action I figured a raise was appropriate to try and get this hand to at least heads-up play, so I raised to $120. This drove out the first three bettors, but the last player was still thinking about it. I told him “If you’re thinking about it you better have the 8h” (for the straight flush draw). He actually turned over 8 – 8 with one of them being the heart. He decided to fold, and I showed the flush, which I don’t think surprised anyone.

I had one last hand in this session that I can go over. I was dealt 6 – 5 and decided to raise because I was in late position and thought I could steal the blinds and limps. I bumped it to $25 preflop and got two callers. This is not what you want when you’re raising with garbage so now I needed to hit something. Well, the flop was nice enough to oblige me by putting out 9 – 8 – 5, giving me bottom pair with a gutter-ball-straight draw. I didn’t say it hit me a lot, but it did hit me. This was good enough in my opinion to follow up with a continuation bet, which I made for $55. Both players called, so I decided to be done with the hand, but everyone checked on the turn when a 2 popped off. Well, the river was very kind to me, and brought me a 7 to complete my straight, but one of the tighter players at the table led out for $90. I actually took some time to contemplate this, especially because of the player who made the bet. He never really bet the river without having the nuts, or near nuts. Now, Jack-Ten actually fit the betting for everything in the hand, and although I don’t play “afraid of the nuts” all the time, I didn’t like the river bet. If I raise and he has me beat, he’s going to reraise since J – T is the stone cold nuts here, and I’ll have lost the extra raise chips. I decided calling was best. Folding really wasn’t an option. It was either call or raise. Well, unexpectedly, the player behind me also called. It turns out the first player had a set of 8s that were no longer good, and the other player had two pair (which makes sense why he also called), so my straight was good and I picked up a healthy pot! It doesn’t seem like there was a lot of betting there, but because it was a 3-way pot the pot ended being over $500! It was a nice way to wrap up the session.

My confidence was still riding high, and I felt ready to take on Vegas. Time to bring on the World Series of Poker!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Can Dodge Bullets, Baby!

I have some greater detail about the last two sessions at Potowatomi. I decided to jot some notes down to put some hands in the blog. My run these last couple of weeks has been incredible. I ran off at least 10 consecutive sessions without reporting a loss. Not all of the sessions were huge, but to have that many consecutive sessions without losing was pretty nice. No matter how hot you’re running, you expect that at some point you’re going to take a loss. I kept waiting for that shoe to drop.

I was able to get off to a quick start when I was able to double my $400 buy in when I was dealt Aces and took it up against a player who’s very aggressive and plays drawing hands very strongly on a regular basis. Things slowed down for me a little, and even took an unexpected turn for the worse when I made a set. Here was the scenario: I was dealt 3-3 and limped before the flop. The player on my immediate left made it $25, and at least 3 other players had called that bet so when the action was back on me I decided to call. The river was a complete brick for me (K-J-7). The action was checked to the preflop raiser, who now bet $30! This was a very small bet in relation to the size of the pot (the pot had $150 in it). Everyone folded around to the player on my right, and he called. After some brief thought I also called that bet. You might be wondering why I did that. Well, after the bets that were out on the table the pot was now $210. It was going to cost me $30 to win that, and if I hit I’m likely to get paid a lot more than that. So the 7 to 1 that the pot was laying me in addition to any other money that I could get would make the call worth it, and if I don’t hit it’s a pretty easy hand to throw away if I don’t hit. Well, the turn was a 3, giving me bottom set. The player on my right and I both checked to the preflop raiser, and he checked as well. The river was a heart, putting three hearts on the board. The player on my right now bet $75. I decided to raise with my set to $150. He then thought about it for a while and raised it back to me another $150. I thought about reraising, but after going through several scenarios I thought it was better to call. The scenarios I thought about were: Scenario #1: He also flopped a big hand, possibly a set, and was slowplaying the flop and turn. The way the betting went that made sense. Scenario #2: He has two pair, and thinks it’s good. I can beat that. Scenario #3: He somehow made a flush. The betting fits the story, but the cards don’t seem to fit that story. Well, my hand was too good to fold, but I didn’t think it was strong enough to raise here. I was right, but it still cost me. He had a heart flush. It turned out he had the Kh Qh, so he flopped top pair, and the 3h on the turn picked up the flush draw. He and I had similar stacks, so looking back on it it was probably good I checked the turn because he wasn’t going to fold there, and I would have just lost more money at the river.

Things continued the downward trend when I was dealt the Ah Kh a little while later. We had a new arrival at the table who had about $2100 in chips and had everyone covered. He was also raising and reraising almost every hand, so when I was dealt big slick (AK) I decided to limp and wait for him to raise. He obliged by raising to $30, and then I repopped it to $105. He called. Once he called there I knew he had a legitimate hand so I felt I needed to hit the flop. The flop was K-6-4. I bet $185, leaving myself $200 and was prepared to get the rest in if he raised. He called, and before the turn card was dealt I put my remaining chips in “blind”. He also called that. It turns out he had picked up a big hand, pocket Kings, and after the 6 on the turn gave him a full house I was now drawing dead going to the river.

I bought in again for $400, and since it was getting late in the poker room I started to get a little more aggressive. I limped with 2d 6d from under the gun, and as the action went around the table the tightest guy at the table raised it to $25. This guy was soooo tight. He hadn’t raised all night. Another player was already calling, so I threw my $20 in there, too. The flop was pretty good considering the trash I was holding: 2x – 8d – Jd, giving me bottom pair and a flush draw. I checked, and when he bet $75 at the flop I shoved all in for $350. He thought about it for a while, and I was almost certain he had Aces, so I said to him, “I had you on Aces or Kings.” He continued to think, and so I asked him if he’d like to see a card. He didn’t turn me down, so I reached down and turned over the 2d, which I knew was on top. I actually would have had no problem if he called, since with my flush draw I also had a two pair draw and a trips draw, for a total of 14 outs, making the situation about a coin flip (49.8% to 50.2% to be exact). He showed Aces and folded. I then showed the 6d just to rub it in a little. He said he thought I had a set of 2s.

Well, that got me some chips, but I still had a ways to go. I picked up 5-4 offsuit shortly after that, and after a 6-5-3 flop, got all my chips in against another player. He called, and he tabled 6-5 for top two pair. I spiked my 2 by the river and made my straight to double up. It was shortly after this where I absolutely got away with one that I shouldn’t have gotten away with at all. I was dealt T-T and limped before the flop, as did 3 other players. After the flop was 9 – 8 – 3 I was pretty sure my overpair of Tens was good. The early player, who was also the guy who folded the Aces earlier bet $15 in to the $20 pot. The next player called the $15, and I bumped it to $75. It got back to the $15 “bettor”, and he made a comment about how “sick” I was. I think he thought I had two pair or a set of something. He only had $175 left, and I would have called if he put the rest in the pot. Well, he shows the player on his right his hand before he folds, and I noticed that the player to whom he showed his cards nearly had his eyes bug out of his head. The last player folded, and then I was told that he had Aces…again!! I almost couldn’t believe it. I never put him on it because he limped with them preflop, and since I had the overpair I thought I was good. Usually if you limp with Aces preflop you’re trying to trap somebody. Well, the guy did everything he was supposed to…except put the rest of his stack in the middle. It was unreal. I was thankful to have him at the table, since he obviously thought the nuts was always in play.

I quit shortly after that, very thankful to be on the positive side of the ledger for the evening. Apparently, to quote Phil Hellmuth, "I can dodge bullets, baby!"