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.