Friday, July 31, 2015

Project 10K Session #5 - The Return of Mr. Green

After a long string of sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays I made it into the Oaks on Wednesday. One of the things that makes Wednesday different is that there is a $185 tournament that night so a separate crop of players comes in for that. I noticed many more $1,000+ stacks at the $2/$3/$5 than normal. I also had to wait close to an hour to get in one of the two games running.

I passed the time in the $1/$1/$2 game. After seeing a few $5 pots get checked down all the way I was not exactly pumped about sitting there for a long time.

I did get some action on one hand. I got dealt QQ in the small blind and made it $11 to go against 2 limpers. The big blind called as did one of the limpers. The flop came down 9 high with two clubs and I bet out $20. The big blind quickly shoved for $100 and I called him without thinking about it too much. The turn and the river were both small red cards and I beat J8 of clubs.

I managed to hold on to that $100 in profit and eventually made my way to table 10 for $2/$3/$5 where I folded just about every hand for 30 minutes. Looking around I noticed 3 players at my table that did not suck, and when I looked over at table 6 I noticed zero players that did not suck. So I put up for a table change and 5 minutes later made my way over to table 6.

When I got there I spotted Mr. Green - the newbie who called me down time and time again in an earlier Project 10K session - with about $900 in front of him. Now it is time for (deep breath) MY REVEEEEEEEENGGGGGGGGEE! I shall slay and flay you Mr. Green!

Unfortunately that shit face Mr. Green got up 15 minutes later. And I started getting sleepy. So sleepy. Folding hand, after hand, after hand, just sitting there doing nothing.

I'd left the house at 8 that morning and had been out all day and I decided that the smart move was to not play when I was too tired to feel really sharp. I did manage to drag a couple of very uninteresting, I raise, get two callers, and no one calls my flop bet pots in my final round that made up for the slow drain of my many folds.

I ended up putting in 2 hours and winning $159. My starting $10,000 bankroll is at $10,019 after 23 hours. 83 cents an hour! What now haters!

My Mom is in town visiting this weekend so I'm out of action until next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Project 10K Session #4 - What do I need to call a $500 dark shove?

I had lunch recently with my friend E.B. who has been playing a lot of $2/$3/$5 at the Oaks and he told me a story recently about playing with this dude who had gone all in without looking at his cards either pre-flop or on the flop for sizeable amounts. I encountered someone who I suspect was the same guy on Friday.

He was an asian guy probably in his 60's and he played fairly normally for a while - I'll call him Mr. X to liven things up!. Then he lost a big hand, bought in for $100 and shoved it all in preflop without looking at this cards. This is not something that is not all that uncommon. $100 is the minimum buy in and every couple of sessions I see someone announce they're going in dark the next hand and then they do.

With that $100 out the window Mr. X put five $100 bills on the table, got dealt the next hand, and shoved them in to the middle. I wasn't sure if he was going all in or not, but the chip runner got there just about that time, and sure enough the $500 in chips went in to the pot before he'd looked at his cards!

I looked down at 87 of spades which is an above average hand when it comes to playing a normal hand as it's a hand that will either win big pots or lose small ones, but it's actually an underdog to a random two card hand (I think J7 is the middle of the road). I folded and it went all the way around to the big blind who did something I have never seen before (keep in mind the ten's of thousands of hours I've played poker when I say that). Wait for it...are you ready? He showed AK and folded! WHAT!? I have never seen anyone ever fold AK to a dark raise before. It's bonkers. He had about $500 in front of him after buying in for $200 and said he didn't want to risk all of his money on one hand. I made a mental note to hit him with big raises until he was broke.

So Mr. X took down that one. On the next one I've forgotten exactly what happened, but I think he made it to the flop and then bet $500 and won.

On the hand after that he put out $10 to straddle under the gun. When it got to me I looked down at KJ of spades and thought "Well, this is plenty good to get it in for $500." I'd been watching Mr. X as the cards came out to see if he was going to look or not and he didn't. I made it $40 to go and when it got to him he paused. I think my table image was so strong at that point that even the nutso crazy guy was hesitant to tangle with me.

Mr. X took a visit to no man's land and made it $140 to go. With zero hesitation I put $600 out there to put him all in. At that point he decided to look at his cards and let out an anguished sigh. But after one more sigh, he called me. I'll leave you in suspense while I tell you about the rest of the night!

I got off to a good start with some well timed bluffs. I won 5 small to medium pots in the first 90 minutes and 4 of them were bluffs. It was simple stuff like call the flop with bottom pair and then when the flush draw gets there bet big, or three bet someone lite and bet big on the flop or bet the turn and river after a check, check flop. That got me about $200 to the good.

I had a nice hand with AA where I just called a raise to $25 and took a flop 4 way. Previously, I'd three bet the guy who raised twice and once he'd folded preflop and the other time he'd check folded on the flop when I rattled my chips so I figured I'd take a risk and just call. The flop came down T T 6, no flush draws. There were two checks to me and one player behind. I decided that if I was up against a T I'd lose less by checking and if I was up against anything else I was so far ahead that I didn't mind giving a free card. The turn was a Q which was a great card and the original raiser bet $65. I called and the river was a 4. He bet $140 and I thought "Well shit! That looks like a ten." But with the way I played it I figured KQ or AQ might just be over confident here. I called and beat Q7! I took some risk here, but if I three bet preflop I think I only win $34 on the hand. If I bet the flop I win $70 on the hand. Instead I won $275. I'm not going to start smooth calling the AA everytime, but it worked perfectly here.

A little later I made a big laydown. I called a button raise to $25 out of the big blind with A7 suited and took the flop 3 way. It came down A A 4 and it checked around. Normally you'd expect the pre-flop raiser to bet here whether they have it or not and I figured maybe he was just giving up or maybe he had a pair and was worried about an A. The turn was a Q and the other player in the hand looked like he was going to bet, so I checked again and sure enough he fired out $40. Now the preflop raiser made it $100 to go! ACK! If he did have an ace, he'd almost certainly have a bigger kicker and there was a chance he'd checked QQ and hit or had 44 and flopped a monster. Either way a raise to $100 there was begging for a call and I dumped it.

Fast forward a bit and I got dealt T9 of diamonds and 6 of us saw a flop for $5. The flop came down J J 8 with one diamond and two hearts giving me and open ended straight draw. Mr. X was in this one and this was before his $500 dark shoves. He checked and this guy who was in the midst of a total melt down bet out $25. I called and Mr. X called. The turn was a black 2 and they both checked to me. I figured this was a good time to represent a J that was nervous about the draws. I bet out $110. Mr. X called and Mr. Meltdown folded. When Mr. Meltdown folded Mr. X looked and him and said "You folded?" I didn't know what to make of that, but I was 95% sure Mr. X was on a draw and my plan was to check behind if I hit 9 ot a T, and to bet again if anything else except a heart came out. The river was the other black 2 and Mr. X checked to me again.

I bet out $155 and he said a heavily accented "SHIT!" and flipped 88 face up in front of him! "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God he flopped a full house!" I thought. I was so sure I was just going to blow a draw away here that I am surprised my eyes didn't shoot out of my head and roll across the table. Also what's up with all of these fucking guys showing me their made hands when I'm bluffing at them? I don't see them doing that to anyone else. Anyway I'm trying not to panic when this guy walking past looks at the situation and says "Shit or get off the pot!" Mr. X mucked his cards about a second later. Then the walking by guy said "I would have called." Ha ha! I wanted to kiss that guy. Not every day someone flops a full house and you get to bluff them off it!

Now that I've made you sweat, let's get back to Mr. X calling my big raise when I had KJ of spades! We've got about $1,100 in the pot and the flop came out T 6 5 with one spade. This seemed below average. The turn was a Q of spades giving me a shit ton of outs if I was behind and the river was a J. I turned over my hand first and said "I have a J." Mr. X picked up his cards and I thought "Oh no, oh no, oh no, he's turning them over. He's not just firing them into the muck! Why is he doing that?!!! This is bad!" He showed 87 and I looked at the board and his hand and the board and counted 5 6 7 8....10? That's nothing! BOO-YA! Ship it!

The rest of the night pales in comparison to those hands. Some were good and some were bad, but I ended up winning $970 on the night. My $10,000 starting bankroll is at $9,860 after 21 hours of play.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Project 10K Session #3 - The Wisdom of Fools

After some rocky results lately I walked into the Oaks Tuesday night ready for some good things to happen to me.

I sat down in a $6/$12 limit game waiting for a seat to open up in the $2/$3/$5 and after about 10 minutes got dealt AA. Hooray aces! I raised a few callers and we took the flop 7 way for $12 each. The flop came down K 4 3 rainbow which looked like a very nice flop for me. I bet out $6 and got 4 callers. On the turn a 2 showed up, I bet $12 and got raised. GAH! In this game a turn raise is almost always two pair or better unless you up against a solid or aggressive player and my opponent was neither. I was getting 12 to 1 on my money to call, so I did, hating it all the while. On the river the king paired, I check called another $12 and lost to A5 who turned a straight. On the turn maybe he could have some awful two pair or KQ or something, but on the river it's lights out for me. I was definitely kicking myself for not folding on the river there.

Shortly after that the guy to my left racked up his chips to move to $15/$30. He wanted to take one more hand on the button before he moved over, but the dealer out of habit saw the racks and dealt past him. "Hey I wanted a hand!" he said. "Oh sorry!" said the dealer. This kind of thing happens with some regularity and we all knew he'd either get two cards off the top or the dealer would collect the cards and deal again. She called over a floor man who told her to continue dealing and give the guy on the button two cards off the top of the deck. Before anyone had acted in front of him he immediately flipped over 23 face up and said "Where did you find these?"

I hate this type of shit. 13 years ago when I was a dealer, players would poke me sometimes and show me their cards before folding (preflop!) in disgust. "I'VE SEEN EVERY POSSIBLE 2 CARD HAND 100,000 TIMES YOU DOOFS! I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE!" is what I always wanted to say.

Back to the recent past! I picked up the guys cards and flipped them back over and said "Don't do that. Just fold them face down. The hand is still going on. No one cares what you have." What I meant to say was "Why the fuck would you do that? No one give a shit what you have. The hand is still in progress you fucking dick head! It's not all about you, you self centered douche! Just get the fuck out of here before I grab you Irish bouncer style and eject you 75 feet out the front door!"

So here I was, just killing time and I found myself frustrated and worked up over nothing. I've never once - not a single time ever - shown my hand intentionally while there was still a hand in progress and I guess I just have no patience for people who do that type of thing.

I cooled down pretty quickly, but I was stuck $150. There was one open seat in the $15/$30 and I decided to take it. On the first hand I got dealt AT and ended up losing $135 to JJ when the board ran out T high. Boo!

On the next hand I got dealt QT of diamonds. There was a raise and a few callers in front of me and we took the flop 7 way for $30 each. The flop came down Q T 4 with two spades and one diamond. Bingo! Top two!

I was almost sure to have the best hand and some of my opponents probably got some piece of that flop. It got checked to me and I bet. After two calls there was a raise and I three bet it. We took the turn 4 way for $45 each. The turn was a 9 of diamonds which gave me a redraw, but also filled in the obvious straight draw. I bet and we all saw the river for $30 each. It came out a J! AHHHHHHHHH! TOTAL DOOM! Now any K or 8 would make a straight. To my shock it checked around. The first guy turned over J9 for two pair, I rolled over my bigger two pair and the other guys started staring at their cards and the board and back to their cards and back to the board. The both mucked! Ship it!

Now I was up $100 or so and they called me for $2/$3/$5. I was there for 5 hours but most of the action came towards the end.

In the first four hours I made some ~$100 bluffs, most of which worked and some ~$100 calls most of which did not. I did make a one full house and one straight but lost my opposition on the turn both times. The bad outweighed the good and I spent the entire time playing from behind.

I was in for $1,100 sitting on a stack of $800 about 3 hours into my 5 hours when I got dealt KT of spades. I raised to $30 vs two limpers and got called by one player behind me and both limpers. The guy behind me was a guy I'll call Mr. Green because he was wearing a green shirt and because he was clearly inexperienced. He's a key villain of the night.

The flop came down T 7 2 with two clubs and I bet out $90 into the $120 pot. Mr. Green was my only caller. The turn was a 4. I figured Mr. Green for a T, 98 or a flush draw. I didn't think he'd hold back on the flop with a set, wouldn't call preflop with any two pair hand and would have re-raised with any overpair preflop (except maybe JJ). He had $300 left, there was $300 in the pot and I bet out $200. He thought for a moment and then called. The river was a 3 and I figured that if I was beat the last $100 was going in there, if he missed his draw there was no way he was bluffing and there was still a fair chance he had JT or the like. I bet $100 and he just sat there. And sat there. And then he turned over AT face up! And sat there. After two minutes he called, and I lost. Ugh!

Immediately these two other dudes we're like "BRO! What took you so long? How you gonna call two hund'ed on the turn and not call a hund'ed on the river. I mean, shiiiiiiiiiiit." and "I know right? It's like, how you gonna fold ace ten there? You got top pair! Bro, come on, bro." There was discussion of this hand for a solid 5 minutes and how not insta-calling the river was probably the worst thing that anyone had ever seen at a poker table because, come on bro, seriously.

So what happened then? Mr. Green took this wisdom to heart and 2 or 3 hands later spewed off all $800 in his stack in back to back hands of calling down with top pair where it was clear as day that he was toast.

A little later I got into it again with Mr. Green who had pulled out more money. 6 of us saw a flop for $5 and he bet out $20 on a 6 3 2, with two diamonds flop. I was in the small blind with K5 of clubs. I called hoping to hit a 4 or a K or with the plan to bluff if any diamond or card larger than T came out as I figured most of his range was one small pair. Unfortunately the big blind called also which would make a bluff less likely to succeed, but when the Q of diamonds came out I decided to go for it. I bet out $100 and after some thought Mr. Green called. The river was another Q. That looked like another scary card so I decided to go for it and bet out $200. He called and said "If you have a flush you've got me." It turns out that was not true as he had 22 for a full house and didn't realize he could beat a flush! GAH!

I had a brief bright spot when I put someone all in for $270 over a bet of $90 on a J T 9 board. I had 98 and was thinking I had a shot at taking it down without a fight, but I got called, didn't improve and beat what I think was AQ with my one pair of 9's.

Fast forward to the last 20 minutes of my day. I'm losing about $500 or so, get dealt AT and raise to $20. I get 3 callers, the flop comes down A Q 4 with two spades and I bet out $60. The next player to act shoves for $320! The other players fold, it's back to me and I stop to think. There is $460 in the pot and I have to call another $260. I don't know this guy other than he's a 20 something guy with a baseball cap who talks a lot, just came from $1/$1/$2 and bought in for $300 20 minutes ago. I don't think someone would flat call AA or QQ preflop and then do a big shove with two players left to act behind. If it's A4 I would at least have two shots at a Q or a T to win. If it's AJ I could chop with a 4 or if the turn card pairs on the river. I'm cooked against AK or 44. If it's a worse A than AT I'm in great shape. I'll win 2/3 of the time against a flush draw, unless it's KJ or JT in which case it's a little worse, but I'm still a favorite. Is this a 'big bets mean big hands' spot or an 'over bet means a draw' spot? In the end I landed on there was a good enough chance that it was a draw or worse A that I should call. I was cooked by AK.

At that point I decided to play to my blinds and leave. I had a $100 chip in my pocket and threw it on my stack so I had $350 in front of me and was in for $1,200.

On my last hand before the big blind I pick up 66. There is a $10 straddle on the other side of the table and 5 of us call the $10. The straddle raises to $20 which is really weird. We all call and the flop comes down T 7 4.  It gets checked to the straddle who bets $35. This is a really small bet into a $120 pot and feels weak to me. I call. Everyone else folds. The turn is an 8 meaning that now a 9 or a 5 makes me a straight and a 6 makes me a set. I consider betting out but decide to check and see what happens. My opponent bets $60 which again seems small. Thinking I could easily have the best hand and if not 10 outs, I shove my last $300. After 10 seconds my opponent turns over AT faceup! Holy shit, not again! Why do you people keep having AT and making me sweat with the worst hand and big money in the pot!? This time thankfully he let it go.

After that small victory I decided to play one more round. On the very next hand I get dealt Q8 of spades, there is a raise to $20 and 3 callers in front of me so I call. The flop comes down T 9 7 with two diamonds and the preflop raiser goes all in for $100. They villain from the last hand calls and I call with my straight draw thinking it could easily go check check on the turn if a blank shows up. But it's not a blank, it's the J or diamonds! This is a really interesting card as it makes me a Q high straight and I could be up against another 8 with a worst straight or I could be cooked against a flush. I decided to bet $100 and if I got put to the test I thought I might be able to fold depending on how much exactly he made it and the read I got. But he just called. The river was a black 3. I wasn't totally convinced I had the best hand so I bet $100 again. I got called by a worse 8, beat the all in player and took down a nice pot. I definitely missed out on some value here, but was happy to win the pot.

At that point I was only down a couple hundred bucks which was a nice comeback from down $850.

The very next hand I got dealt AK in the small blind. 4 players limped in for $5 and I made it $35 to go. All the limpers and the big blind called meaning we had $180 in the pot. They were all sitting on $300-$500 and I was hoping for a slam dunk flop. Instead I got T 9 8 of spades. I had the K of spades which put me in an awkward spot. Normally I love to semi-bluff for big bets with good draws, but this wasn't the nut draw and I just didn't like my chances of unloading 5 other players on such a wet board.

But it was just too weak to check, so I bet $140. Only Mr. Green called me with about $300 left in his stack. I hate you Mr. Green! Get out of my pot! The turn was a red 2. Shit! I had two options here - shove or check. I thought some hand with the A of spades was a likely holding for him and from past experience I thought there was a 95% chance he was calling no matter what he had. With what I thought was no fold equity I checked. He checked behind. The river was a red 3. Double shit. My options were the same, check or shove. There was $460 in the pot and I figured if I checked I might lose to a hand like A8 with the A of spades of 77 with the 7 of spades or J9 and I could possibly get rid of them with a bet. Also if he did have Ax with no pair he might bet and I'd have a really hard time calling with AK. So I shoved and he snap called me with QJ with the Q of spades. Fudge!

I ended up losing $719 on the night: -$155 at $6/$12, + $265 at $15/$30, -$829 at $2/$3/$5. After 16 hours of play my $10,000 bankroll is at $8,890.

Things are not really going according to plan, thus far, but when I look back at these hands at least I'm playing aggressively. What I'm missing out on this far is the standard hands where I flop something like a pair or two pair and very simply have the best hand and win. That's so much easier than 'I think he'll fold half the time if I shove here and I'm getting 1.5X to 1 on my money so I guess I'll shove.' I've had very few no brainer wins. All I can do is keep on playing my best.

I'm back in action Friday.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Project 10K Session #2 - The Minus $900 Anti Power Hour

I was back in action at $2/$3/$5 at the Oaks Club on Friday night and was involved in a large number of hands where I had tough decisions.

Actually for the first 90 minutes I had zero tough decisions and amazingly I was between -$25 and +$100 for a 60+ hand stretch. Then I had a rough downswing.

On the first hand of note I had QQ and raised one limper to $25 from the cutoff. The button called as did the limper and the flop came down K J 5. I bet out $50 and just the button called. The turn was a blank and it went check, check. The river was another blank and I decided to check again. I was either beat, against a jack that maybe could call a small bet or against a hand that might bluff, but couldn't call a bet so checking was the clear play. My opponent bet out $75 and I insta-called. She had AK. I felt fortunate only losing $150 with QQ vs AK with a K on the flop. We could have gotten it all in preflop and I would have been out $500.

A few hands later 6 of us saw a flop for $5 each. I had 65 and the flop came down A 8 7 giving me an open ended straight draw. I checked, one opponent bet out $25, I raised it to $75 and he called. The turn was a blank and I made a mistake - I checked. I was kind of expecting to win the pot on the flop with my check raise and when we got to the turn and I missed I was kind of hoping my opponent would check behind me. If I bet out $125-150 I could maybe unload an Ax type of hand and instead I think I gave that exact hand confidence. I check called $100 on the turn (which is also suspect), missed the river and check folded to another bet of $100.

Those hands both sucked but I go majorly squashed on the next one. I had 85 of clubs on the button and 7 of us saw the flop for $5. The flop came down 8 6 5 with two spades making me two pair on a draw heavy board. The big blind bet out $15 and after 3 people called I raised it to $75. Then to my surprise the big blind went all in for $370! I took a second to think it over. I was totally screwed against 86 or a set, but given that I had an 8 and a 5 both were a little less likely than normal (blockers!). It could be an over pair like 99, but anything much bigger would have raised preflop. It could be an ace high flush draw? A7 of spades would make sense. 87 would make sense. A pair and a flush draw might shove here. In the end I decided that I didn't think a set would be likely to bet out and would be much more likely to go for a check raise. On the other hand a big draw would be likely to bet out and make a huge all in. It was just such a draw heavy board. I called and lost to 74 - a flopped straight. BAH!

I found myself in another tough spot a bit later. I had 7 5 with the 7 of hearts in the big blind. 6 of us saw a flop for $10 and after a 8d 5h 3h flop the guy just to my left bet out $40. The button called, I called with my pair of fives and the turn was the 4 of hearts. I checked, the guy to my left checked and now the button bet out $100. I was really torn here. I just wasn't buying that the button had made a flush. He just kind of grabbed a stack of $100 and put it out there without much thought. Those bets of $100 are lazy bets - they're often not well thought out. If he'd carefully cut out $85 or $115 I would have read it a little differently. I had a lot going on with my hand. I had a pair, I had a gut shot straight draw, a shitty flush draw, a 1 card out to a straight flush, and some chance that I had the best hand. But still calling $100 when two players have put it aggressive action on a scary board is usually not smart. Fuck these tough decisions! In the end I called and we lost the third player in the pot. The river was a q of hearts making my shitty flush. Now that I'd sort of gotten there I had to get to showdown. I check called $100 and lost to AQ with the ace of hearts. 

Thinking back on that last one, I'm not sure I win the pot even if neither of us improved, I might be faced with a $200 bet on the river if it's a brick. I may have needed a 5, 6 or 7 to win that one.

Those hands all happened over the course of an hour and I was losing $900+ at one point. "Fuck all this losing!" I thought to myself.

Then things turned around a little bit. I three bet a guy with A5, bet the flop and shoved all in on the turn and got him to fold QQ on a J high board. I was shocked that he was so strong! I turned a set and picked up $200. Someone raised to $100 against 5 players who were in for $10 each, I read it as a steal, made it $400 to go with 77 and picked up $150 without a fight.

I went up and down a little, but after 6 hours of play I was stuck about $650. I decided to play one more round and then rack up.

In that final round I got dealt Q9 off suit on the button and 6 of us saw a flop for $10. The under the gun player bet out $45 on a 9 7 2 flop and I just called. The turn was a 7 and I called $100. The river was a Q and I called $150. My opponent said "Good call. I missed my straight draw." and I took down a nice pot. Hooray!

On the the next hand 5 of us saw a flop for $25 and I had 75 of clubs.The flop was K Q J with two spades and I was all set to fold when it got checked around. The turn was a 5 and everyone checked to me. I still had the button behind me, but I figured if he had anything at all he'd have bet the flop and if these guys were all going to play weak as shit I figured I'd take a shot at them. I bet $75 and only the button called. I was hoping maybe he had a small flush draw or a bare T or something, he'd miss and my 5 would hold up. I was really praying for miracles. The river was the 7 of spades completing the flush draw, but also making me two pair, We both checked and he showed AK! It was a miracle! If he three bet preflop, or bet the flop or I decided to check the turn I would not have made it to showdown.

A couple of hands later I called a raise with AT suited. The flop came down Q J 9 giving me an open ended straight draw and two of us called a half pot sized bet from the preflop raiser. I was thinking to myself "How sweet would it be if a K came on the turn and someone else had a T. I'd be sure to get their whole stack. Give me a king! Give me a king! King, king, king!" The turn was a king! And the first guy to act shoved for $275! He said "Do you have the nuts?" and I said "Yep!"

After that run of sweetness I walked out the door +$104 on the night. My $10,000 bankroll is at $9,609 after 10 hours or Project 10K.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Project 10K Session #1 - The Minus $1,000 Anti-Power Hour

I have a new project in the works that I'm calling "Project 10K" (I was on the fence about calling it Project Gutsy Lobster, but decided to keep it simple). I've put together a $10,000 bankroll to play $2/$3/$5 and I'm going to try to book 100 hours at the tables by October 31st. My first session was yesterday and it was a struggle.

I have not been properly bankrolled for these stakes lately so I felt a little more relaxed sitting down this time knowing I have plenty of cash in reserve and thinking about this in a longer term way. Unfortunately I had 5 hands go against me in the first hour.

In the first I had KQ, raised to $20 and got two callers. On a K T 8 flop I bet out $40 and the player to my left who is a total goof went all in for $225. I thought he might do that with any K, T or draw and would just call with anything that had me beat so I snap called. Turns out he had T8. The turn was a A of hearts putting 3 hearts out there and I had the K of hearts so I had 9 outs to the nuts, 3 more to make a straight and 7 more to make a bigger two pair, but the river was a brick and $285 disappeared from my stack.

A few minutes later I got T8 suited on the button and 6 of us saw the flop for $5. The flop was K J 9 and the cutoff bet out $20. I called and the turn came out a 9. I didn't make my straight, but this was a great card for me. If the cutoff had a K or a J I might be able to blow them off their hand. She bet out $40 and I put her all in for $160. She couldn't get her chips in fast enough and I knew I was in trouble. I missed the straight and she took it down with T9. That was another $185 down the drain.

A little later I had a red QT in the big blind and the flop came down Q high, all clubs. 4 of us were in for $10 preflop, I bet out $30 and got one caller. I figured a big part of his range was a flush draw, but I also thought he could have me beat and I was planning to check the turn. But then a T came making me two pair and I had to fire again. I bet out $110 thinking to make a draw pay big to get there. My opponent just called. The river was a brick and I checked. He only had about $125 left and I thought there was a chance that a busted draw might take a shot at it. Sure enough he pushed it all in. With over with $450 in the pot and only $125 to call with my top two I wasn't going anywhere. Sadly my opponent had flopped a flush with KT of clubs and I'd blown off another $270.

I had a couple of other hands where I lost a little over $100 in pretty standard ways, and didn't have anything go my way. Before I knew it I was stuck $1,000 an hour into the session! BAH! I tried to play these hands back in my mind and really think if I could have done anything different, and looking back now I feel OK about them, but it's hard not to doubt your play when you get it in bad 3 times.

I spent the next 2 hours folding garbage, but then had two more hands of note come up.

On the first I called a raise to $20 out of the small blind with AT of diamonds. We took the flop 4 way and it came out A 7 5 all spades. I checked, the big blind fired out $65, the original raiser folded and the button called. I wasn't really sure where I stood at this point. It was likely I was up against one other ace and one big spade, but I wasn't sure who had what or if my ace was any good. I decided folding would be too weak so I called as well. The turn was the 2 of spades and I gave up on the hand planing to check fold.

But it got checked around. Maybe no one has a spade? The river was a red J and I fired out $120 thinking it would be hard to call with no spade. To my amazement the big blind said "Maaaaaan, God damn it!" and flipped over the 93 of spades! There was still another player in the hand so it was not cool of him to show his hand, but I figured once he showed it, he wasn't calling. He bitched for about 15 seconds to the dealer and players at other tables and everyone at our table about his horrible luck and then folded. The button folded A5 (two pair!) face up and I took down the pot with the worst hand. Boo-ya!

A little later I got dealt TT, raised to $25 and got two callers. The flop came down A T 3! Bingo! Normally I like to bet big hands early so I can build a big pot, but in this instance the small blind looked like he was going to bet out and then checked. That looked like a weak ace to me and I figured if I checked once I could convince him I had a hand like QQ or JJ. When it got to me I checked. The turn was a 7 of hearts putting two hearts on board and like clockwork my opponent bet out $50.

From across the table I can tell you how many chips are in a stack that's 45 or 50 chips high plus or minus 1. This guy had put out two neat stacks of 5, but I meekly asked "How much is it?" as though I couldn't tell in a tenth of second that it was $50 and as if that piece of information mattered to my decision. I just called and the river was the 3 of hearts. This made me a full house, but I was worried the third heart might kill my action. My opponent messed with his chips like he was going to bet $100 or shove for $225, but then he checked. Trying to make a bet that a bare ace could call, I slid out $75 chips.

After a slight delay there was a very satisfying sequence that took about 1.5 seconds. My opponent moved all in, I called, he proudly showed 65 of hearts (a flush), and I crushed his hopes a dreams with my full house. The boom, boom, boom, boom of the shove, call, he shows, I show was so satisfying! I'm glad I checked that flop.

After 4 hours I started to feel really tired and left a $495 loser on the day. Not the best way to start out my 100 hours, but after that first -$1,000 hour I'm glad I didn't book a huge loss. I'm back in action hoping to put in 5-6 hours on Friday.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Give Me Back My Cupcakes!

I remember when I was 22 years old and just started beating the $6/$12 limit games regularly I asked one of the $15/$30 game regulars about the best time to play the bigger game. "Holiday weekends" was his answer. In the time since, I've found that Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fourth of July weekends are the absolute best time to play as a lot of people who only play once every few months take their shot.

I was hoping for a soft lineup and instead I got one of the worst games in recent memory. For a while we were playing 7 handed and two of the other players were not tough exactly, but capable of making advance deceptive plays, big calls and big bluffs. This is quite a change from the standard field of total cupcakes I'm used to facing.

Worse than that I kept finding myself with tough decisions or having not awful, but just unfortunate stuff happen to me.

Early on 5 of us saw a flop that came down 5 5 2. After the rake there was $19 in the pot and the small blind bet out $30. This seemed like too much for a 5 and I figured he had something like a pocket pair 33-88. So I called planning to pop him on the turn as if I had a 5 when in fact I had nothing. The turn was a 9 and he bet out $65. I made it $200 figuring I'd get a lamenting fold. Instead he shoved for $400! Gah! I folded and he showed 53. I made a read and I trusted it, but it just didn't work out.

A little later I called a raise with TT and when my opponent bet $30 into an $80 pot on a 6 high flop I made it $100 to go. There were two other players in the hand who quickly folded and the villain slowly called. The turn was an 8 and he check called his last $50 with AK. After an A came on the river and he won the pot he explained that he put me on AK. I resisted the urge to tell him that this was the worst read in the history of poker.

I had 5 or 6 pots including those two where $300-$500 pots got shipped to my opponents. On one I called a $150 all in on the turn with a pair and a flush draw and missed. On another I raised the flop and made a big bet on the turn with one pair against a flush draw that called and got there. On yet another I had a pair against a flush draw that missed the flush but made a bigger pair.

I had long stretches of shitty cards coming in one hand after the next.

In the middle of all this mess I did drag a big pot with top two pair and that was the only thing that kept me from sinking. After 5 frustrating hours I was down $550 when my friend E.B. came in to play.

Normally I like to play from about 5 pm - 9pm and he plays starting around 9 or 10 so we don't play together that often, but I agreed to play longer than normal so we could sit in the same game for a while.

Things turned around right away.

By this point the solid players were long gone and the table was filled with cupcakes. Hooray cupcakes!

In one big hand I got dealt KT of diamonds, made it $25 to go and got 4 callers. The flop came down T 8 4 with two clubs and I bet out $100 with about $325 left in my stack after that bet. The next player to act started counting out chips. He was actually an OK player and was making plays with some thought behind them. After 15-20 seconds of deliberate counting he pushed $400 into the pot.

It's rare that someone in this game will put in so much without a big hand, but something seemed fishy. He was trying to represent a set, but a set probably wouldn't want to blow the other players out of the pot. This was a super draw heavy board and I quickly came to the conclusion that this must be a draw. I took 10 seconds to make sure I was sure and then I called. The board ran out red 5, red Q and my opponent showed J7 of clubs! Ah ha! It was a draw! That pot got me back to even on the night. I think if that draw had come in and I would have lost that pot I would have left.

Then I just totally wrecked this one dude. I took his $300 stack from him with KQ on a king high board. He bought in for another $300. I took that $300 when I flopped top 2 with AK and we got it all in on the turn. So he bought in for another $300. I had AQ on a K Q 5 flop and called a small bet on the flop and the turn. The river was an A and I got his whole stack for a third time! Boo-ya!

Bingo bongo I was up $1,000!

I ended up playing a few more hours until about 1 in the morning and left a $1,060 winner on the night. It's so much fun waking up the next day when it hits you that you had a nice win the night before.

As for E.B. he lost $500 with AK vs AQ all in preflop, another $400 with KK vs AK all in on an A K X flop (ace on the river!), and another $400 with A4 vs AQ on an A 4 X flop with a Q on the turn all in the first 15 minutes he was there! ACK! This was a truly epic beat down. But I got a text from him at 8:30 am saying that he was still there and not just back to even, but up $1,700 on the night/morning!

Since I've returned from Vegas and the WSOP I've played 9 sessions, won 8 of them and made about $4,000 in 40 hours of play. Who needs tournaments?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Bluffs Need to Tell a Believable Story (Part 2)

I played $2/$3/$5 Tuesday night and got involved in a lot of big pots.

There are four hands from the night worth noting. On the first, a player who was the best among my opponents and about $1,500 deep opened for $30 which I'd noted was his standard raise. I've instituted a plan to three bet whenever given the chance with JT and 66 in order to methodically balance my three bet range a bit so it's not all TT-AA, AK and AQ. So when I looked down at JT I made it $80 to go as if I had a very big hand.

My opponent called fairly quickly and the flop came down 8 5 3, with no flush draws which is about a dry a board as you'll see. I bet out $125 hoping my opponent would put me on the big pair I was representing and fold, but after some thought he called. The turn was a 10 which was a great card for me if I was ahead and an awful card if I was behind at that point. Now that I had something, I wanted to get to showdown, and I figured if I checked I'd be facing a bet on the river and give my opponent a shot to potentially catch up, so I fired out $200. This was a misplay. I should have realized that this guy wasn't calling $125 on the flop out of position with overs and there were no draws out there.

I got check raised all in and folded to save the $400 I had left in my stack. If that wasn't an overpair or a set of 8's this guy did an amazing job with an elaborate bluff and I believed his story. This hand was the opposite of "well there was nothing I could do." About the only thing I really like that I did with this hand was bet the flop. The rest was a real cluster.

A little later I again got check raised on the turn, but this time it did not compute. I raised to $20 with AJ on the button and got called by both blinds. The flop came down A K 9 with two diamonds and I checked it back when it checked to me. I was very likely to have the best hand, but so much so that I figured I'd lose them both with a bet and might get some action if I checked. Checking back with top pair about 20% of the time is also a balancing my range type of play.

The turn was a Q and again it was checked to me. I bet out $45 expecting two folds, but instead I get check raised all in to $250! Normally, big turn check raises are a sign of complete and total doom, but in this instance I played the hand to look weak (and got what I wanted) and more importantly a raise to 2.5X what's in the pot is a massive over bet. A big hand wouldn't make it so much. It looked like a flush draw. After thinking it over for 15 seconds I called and it was in fact a flush draw. I was rewarded for my good call by the flush coming in and my opponent scooping in the $560 pot. Grrrrr!

The next hand is some set up for the last hand. I'd recovered from those debacles and had a little over $800 in front of me and was roughly even on the night when I got dealt two black tens. The guy just to my right was new to the game and I'd never seen him before. He bought in for $500 which is usually a sign of strength, but he'd posted $5 to get a hand and almost folded even though he was already in for $5 and didn't need to put in any more money to see the flop. This was surely a sign of weakness.

Mr. New Guy made it $30 to go, I just called with my TT, and we took the flop 4 way with the blinds. The flop came down 9 6 3 all clubs and Mr. New Guy fired out $100. Big bets usually mean big hands, but with an overpair and a club I felt I had to call. The turn was a 4 of spades and Mr. New Guy bet out $200. Big bets again usually mean big hands again. It's hard to fold an overpair with a flush draw, but I thought I was likely against an even bigger pair with an even bigger club. That was a hard fold to make but I did it.

A hand or two later I got into it again with the same guy. This time he just called $5 and I made it $30 to go with QQ. I also got 3 callers and the flop came down K J 8 with no flush draws. I didn't love the king, but I bet out $100 because checking is just too weak. Only Mr. New Guy called. The turn was a 7 and it got checked to me again.

I was not sure what my opponent had. I thought there was some chance he might have a J or a K or a draw, but I didn't have a good read on him. I decided to go with the "When in doubt fire!" strategy and put $200 out there. Mr New Guy called not right away, but pretty quickly.

The river paired the 7 which I felt almost certain didn't change anything. After the call on the turn I figured my goose was cooked and it was time to check it and hope I somehow had the best hand. I was waiting for Mr. New Guy to check so I could turn up my hand. And I kept waiting. He just sat there fiddling with his chips.

After about 10 seconds I thought "This looks like he missed a draw and now he's stuck and doesn't know what to do." This was odd though because there weren't many draws that made sense. On the flop T9 was a possible, but it got there on the turn. QT was possible, but I had two of the Q's so it wasn't all that likely. AQ or AT wouldn't call $200 on the turn. J9 was maybe in there. After maybe 30 seconds he moved all in for $400. Normally calling a $400 river bet with a hand that can only beat a bluff is a bad idea. I took 10 seconds to make sure I was sure (or at least sure enough) and then called. In this case though I was right - he tabled QT and I took down a $1,500 pot.

I was $700 to the good after that hand, but I spewed a good bit of that off and left a $266 winner on the night.