Project Flying Panther kicked off in earnest last night at The Oaks Club. After locking in commitments from my backers, coming up with a plan for the next 3 months and collecting the cash I was ready to put part of my $10,000 starting bankroll into play.
I rolled in to the Oaks with $2,500 in my pocket planning to play $15/$30, but ready to play $30/$60 if the game looked good. Both games were full, and the $30/$60 looked tougher than normal so I opted to play '200 Max' while waiting for the $15/$30.
200 Max plays effectively like a no limit game, but technically it's a spread limit game. The blinds are $2/$4, the most you can buy in for is $400, and the biggest bet you can make is $200. Since most players have around $400 or less in front of them and with one $200 bet and one $200 raise you can get $400 in the middle, it's easy enough to get it all in when two big hands collide. It might seem stupid to have this $200 cap - and it is - but it's actually a matter of The Oaks Club license specifying that bets in all poker games can't be larger than $200.
A new 200 Max game was starting as I walked in the door and I bought in for $400. My first hand was in the big blind and before the cards were dealt the player to my left put out an $8 live straddle - meaning he'd put in $8 blind for the right to act last before the flop - which is a generally bad play, but creates more action for that hand.
I looked down at K6 of spades. The button, the small blind, and I called, the straddler checked his option and the flop came down A Q 3 with no spades. Total miss for me right? Wrong!
The action got checked around to the button who bet $20, the small blind called the $20 and it was up to me. Thinking "Did this guy on the button really just call preflop, in position with a ace? I doubt it." I decided to put my opponents to the test. After a short hesitation I pushed $80 in to the pot and they both quickly folded. Huzzah! One hand in and I was up $67. After that I picked up my chips, paid off all my backers a .67% return on their investment and canceled Project Flying Panther. Just kidding!
I had a few other noteworthy hands come up in short order. On the first I open raised to $12 with AJ, got 3 callers and had the big blind go all in for $29. I made it $129 hoping to blow all the callers off the hand and go up against the short stack. I got one stubborn call from a stubborn old man somewhat foiling my plan. The flop came down KT4 and I bet out $100 with nothing but a gutshot. The old man paused, then folded and I added his $100 to my stack. After a turn/river of T and 4 I split the rest of the pot with the short stack who also had a bare ace.
Shortly after, I picked up KK and made it $16 to go. A very loud, boisterous 30 something man to my left splashed out pile of chips that looked to be about $90. When it got back to me he started saying "OOOHHH Put me all in! Put me all in. Let's go. Do it. All in, let's go." Happy to grant his wish with my big pocket pair, I put out $290 which was just enough to get him all in. He quickly called and the board came out J 2 2, king on the turn (ZING!), and a 5 on the river. My opponent hopefully rolled over AK, and I squashed that hope with my full house.
I took another $100 off the stubborn old man (who was now short stacked) when the flop came down J 8 7 and I had KJ. All the money went in on the flop, the turn was an 8, and the river was a J.
After an hour and 45 minutes they finally called my name for $15/$30 and I made my way to table 18 with $617 in profit from the 200 Max game.
I bought in for an even $1,000 and spent the first hour mostly folding. By mostly I mean, almost nothing but folding. I saw a couple of flops and won 1 small pot. This wasn't any type of thought out strategy; it was just a matter of getting shitty cards. As I started the second hour at $15/$30 I had about $750 in front of me.
But all that folding gave me a very tight table image and I took advantage of it. Over the course of the following hour I successfully stole the blinds 4 times with marginal hands and chopped out a few other small pots post flop with bluffs or semi bluffs.
I had one hand come up that I think I played especially well that brought me back to a hand I played in February 2007. I was at the Commerce Casino and it was the first time I ever played $100/$200. I raised to $200 with AK, got one caller in the field and the big blind called as well. The flop came down K 9 3 with two hearts. The player in the big blind check raised me, I three bet it, he four bet it, I called and thought "Oh shit! I put in $200 before the flop, $400 on the flop, and by the time I call the turn and the river, this hand is going to cost me $1,000 and this guy looks like he loves his hand! AHHHHH!" Sure enough my opponent bet the turn and the river (which were both small non hearts), I called both bets, and he rolled over his hand like it was the fucking super nuts. He had KT and I took it down.
At the time I thought, "What the hell was that? Why would he cap in on the flop with a one pair and marginal kicker?" Later I realized that he figured that if I had a hand that was strong - like AK or AA - I would have called the flop check raise and waited for the turn to raise and that by three betting on the flop that must mean I was on a draw or a marginal hand looking for the turn to go check, check. This hand always stuck with me because it was a bit of an epiphany when I figured out his reasoning.
Back to the present at $15/$30! I raised in early position with 99 and got called by the button and big blind. The flop came down 872, all hearts. I had the 9 of hearts in my hand and fired out $15. The button made it $30, I made it $45 and he made it $60. This is where I thought to myself "Ah ha! That is probably a draw, if he really had a flush already - or something else that could beat my over pair - he'd likely just call and wait for the turn to raise." So when the turn came out a black 5, I bet out instead of checking which would be the standard thing to do when you have one pair and someone just 4 bet it on the flop.My opponent just called, the river paired the 2 and he folded to my river bet.
It sounds simple enough when you break it down, but I can tell you it's not easy betting one pair, on a suited board into a guy that just 4 bet you.
In the end I booked a $268 win at $15/$30 after playing for 2 hours, bring my total for the night to +$885. Project Flying Panther is off to a solid start! Session 2 is going to be a trip to Bay 101 on Tuesday night for some $20/$40 action.