Sunday, January 24, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #1: Off to a Slow Start

I rolled into the Oaks on Friday with $2,000 in my pocket, full of resolve and looking forward to getting this project underway.

I have to admit that in a few of my late 2015 sessions I walked in the door hoping to get lucky. If that's your plan, you should just stay home. This time my plan was to take my time, think hard about every meaningful decision, pay attention, try to keep to simple, solid plays and take what the table gave me.

There were three $2/$3/$5 games going which is usually a good sign. I recognized about half of the players at my table and unfortunately two of them are among the best players at the Oaks. Happily they both quickly changed tables and were replaced with soft spots.

After folding a lot for 30 minutes I got my first hand of consequence. I got dealt 87 offsuit on the button and we took a flop 7 way for $5 each. The flop came down Q 8 8 giving me trips. My 6 opponents checked to me and I fired out $25. I got two callers. The turn was a K and it got checked to me.

This was a strange spot. There were no draws on the flop (other than 4 out straight draws) and I had a tight image. If someone else had an 8 we were likely going to chop the pot, unless they had Q8, K8 or A8 in which case I was in hot water. The other possibility is they both had QX, in which case they'd almost certainly fold to a bet on the turn given the K, but might check call a small bet on the river if the turn checked through. It felt really strange to check trips last in a small pot, but the logic was clear. I checked it back and the river was a 4. After one check, the other opponent bet $30 into the $80 pot. Again, putting in more action didn't make any sense. All worse hands would fold, and no better hands would fold. I called and ended up beating KQ, which is actually just about the only hand imaginable that I could have made more from. :(

That hand was the sole highlight of the first two hours. I wasn't taking beats, but I wasn't winning any pots of consequence either. Mostly I was folding. At that point I was stuck about $200.

The biggest hand that went against me happened when I called $5 and then called a raise to $20 in the cut off vs a button raise with T9 of hearts. We took the flop 5 way and the preflop raiser bet $60 into the $100 pot on a K 3 4 with two hearts flop. One loose passive player in the field called and I called as well. The turn was a 5 and now the loose passive player bet out $100. There was $380 in the pot and the bettor had about $150 behind. In the moment I was thinking I was getting a little better odds than I actually was and that it was almost certain given my opponent that I'd get the rest of her stack if I hit it. I decided to call. For a minute I was worried about the preflop raiser behind me. But Ms. Loose Passive looked like she made a straight on the turn perhaps so I couldn't see him raising, but I could see him calling which would help my pot odds and implied odds greatly. Sadly, he folded, I missed the heart on the river and folded to an all in from Ms. Loose Passive. Looking back this one is right on the line between fold and call on the turn.

After that hand I was losing about $400 on the night.

On my next hand of note, I got dealt A4 of diamonds. I called $5, we took the flop 7 way and the board ran out T 9 6 with two diamonds. I was in the middle of the field and decided to fire $25. I got one caller. The turn was a black K which was good and bad - It was an overcard to the board which could be scary, but all of the JT, QT, J9 type of hands picked up a gut shot to go with their pair. I decided to keep on firing and bet out $55 into the $80 pot. My opponent called again. The river was a black J which missed my flush draw, but also put a one liner to a straight out there. Normally I'd fire something like $120 or even $140 into the $190 pot as a bluff, but I went for the "make it look like I want a call" size and instead opted for $75. My opponent thought for 20 seconds before making a reluctant fold.

A little later I went for another bluff. I called a raise to $25 with 22 in late position and we ended up seeing the flop 5 way. The flop came down A T 6 missing me completely, the preflop raiser bet $25 into the $125 pot and got one caller. This bet looked like total bullshit to me. There was some small chance it was AA or TT, but more likely this guy just got lost and put $25 out there. I slid $125 into the pot and both players sighed, looked at their cards and mucked them. It's so easy to just toss your deuces and move on to the next hand in a spot like this, but risking $125 to win $175 in this scenario has a huge expected value. I felt really good about that one.

There wasn't much else to report. I got KK and QQ each once and won both preflop uncontested and had one hand where I called $15 with AQ and then folded to a $400 all in, but other than that I was pretty dry preflop all night. I got 12-15 pocket pairs and never hit any sets. It was a slow night.

I put in 4 hours and lost $232. Given that my average win and average loss were both in the $800-$900 range for project 10K (I won twice as often as I lost) this is a pretty inconsequential loss. I'll give it another go next Friday!

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