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.