Saturday, January 30, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #2 - The Universe Won't Let You Cash In Bad Luck

The universe won't let you cash in your bad luck. You're never due for a win in poker. Every time you sit down your chances of getting any distribution of starting cards or good hands and bad hands during a session is the same. You can't save up your losses for a win. But you can save up your wins for a loss. After all you have the cash in your hand. While this little bit of universal unfairness is comforting when you've been winning, it's really annoying when you've been losing.

I saw down Friday night at the Oaks in a $2/$3/$5 game with $500 in front of me facing a group with two soft spots, 3 players who were solid, but predictable and 4 new faces (which is usually a good sign). The chips were moving and in the first 20 minutes I saw three or four guys get stacked in pots in the $700-$1,000 range.

In one of those pots the guy just to my right who I'll call Mr. Basic got dealt KK, ended up getting it in for about $375 pre-flop against AJ and lost. He bought back in for $500 and maybe 2 hands later got KK again and doubled up through the player to his right who I'll call Mr. Tilty.

"Damn it! Why can't I get KK and get action?" I lamented.

One or two hands later I looked down at KK. Mr. Tilty called $5 and I raised it to $25. Two players called and then the big blind went all in for $65. "Ah ha!" I thought. I wasn't thrilled about a 5 or 6 way pot with KK, but now I would have the chance to pop it again and get it down to 1 or 2 opponents. To my delight Mr. Tilty who was on tilt after losing a few big pots called the $65 (an abysmal call with just about any hand). I decided to go for a healthy raise and made it $200 to go. I figured I'd lose everyone and go heads up with the all in player, but Mr. Tilty being true to his name came along for the $200. The flop came down Q 5 3 which looked beautiful. Mr. Tilty checked, I moved all in for $286 and after some thought he slowly called. At this point I was about 99% sure I was good, but my heart was racing and so was my mind thinking of every possible way I could get fucked in this hand. Happily the turn and river bricked out, I showed my hand and both Mr. Tilty the all in player quietly mucked their cards. Huzzah!

Calling $5 preflop, and then a raise to $65 and then a 4-bet to $200 is just insane. It's a flat out awful play with any hand.

Now I was up $600 sitting on $1,100 which was enough to cover everyone at the table.

About 30 minutes later I was on the button with Q8 of diamonds and called a raise to $25. We took the flop 5 way and the board came out T 3 2 with two diamonds. The player who had been in the big blind - who I'll call Charlie Day because he looked just like the actor Charlie Day - came out firing with a bet of $100 into the $125 pot. I didn't think he'd do that with a set or over pair so that left a T or a flush draw. Everyone else folded to me and I considered my options. Charlie Day had about $500 left in front of him. He seemed like kind of an OK, but not great player. I thought about making it $250 to go as a semi-bluff, but decided it would be better to see the turn and either hit a Q or a diamond or at least get some more information. Unfortunately the turn was a 4. Fortunately Charlie Day checked and I knew I had him. I pushed $220 into the $325 pot. This was too much to call with a draw or a T. Part of the power of this bet is not just the $220, but Charlie Day knowing that if I have a strong hand, I'm going to put him to the test for his last $300 on the river also. After about 30 seconds he folded later saying he had a weak ten.

About an hour later I got dealt AQ, called a raise to $15 (I should have 3-bet here) and took the flop 6 way. The flop came down 8 6 4 with two diamonds and it checked around. The turn was a third diamond, but it was also an ace. Now the preflop raiser came out betting $60. I figured he had an ace, but more often than not my kicker would be good. The river paired the 6 and he bet out $80. Again I just called feeling like I should have the best hand, but any worse hand would likely fold to a raise, and many better hands would call. He proudly rolled over AT and I crushed his hopes and dreams with my Q kicker.

At this point I was up $950 and starting to have dreams of my own about a $2K+ night. Mr. Basic still had about $1,000 in front of him and I had such a good read on him (because he played so straightforwardly) that I figured I'd find some spots to take pots away from him or take him to value town.

Over the next two hours things very slowly went south. I won a few pots and lost a few pots. The game got a little tougher. I started to feel a little tired. Still winning about $750 I decided to play one more round and then pick up.

On my second to last hand I got AQ with the A of spades. Mr. Basic raised to $25 and I just called (again I think this should be a 3-bet, in position, especially against a player I want to target - this was a significant mistake). 3 other players called and the flop came down Q T 4 with two spades. This was a pretty strong flop for me, but Mr. Basic fired out $125 into the $125 pot which looked like a serious bet. There was no way he'd bet so strong without something good. His M.O. was small bets with misses, big bets with good hands. But I didn't think folding AQ there made sense. I called and everyone else folded.

The turn was a really interesting card - the J of spades! Now the flush draw got there, and I picked up 9 outs to the nuts, and 3 more to a straight. Plus I still had top pair working for me. Given that turn card I expected Mr. Basic to check and he did. I also expected him to fold if I bet. Given that the Q and the J (along with the 4) were spades and I had the A of spades, he couldn't have a flush. With those cards accounted for there were just no hands in pre-flop his raising range that made a flush. He couldn't have AK because he wouldn't have bet so much on the flop. In the moment I was thinking if he can't have a flush, and he can't have a straight, and he can't have the A high flush draw because I have it, then he can't call here. He can't put all of his chips at risk to call down two streets when I could easily have a flush. He's Mr. Basic! Get out of there Mr. Basic!

I bet $175 into the $400 pot. This was a little lite, but it's how much I'd probably bet with a flush and it left enough behind that I could put in a big bet on the river as a follow up. To my surprise he called leaving him self about $475 behind. "SPADE, SPADE, SPADE!" I thought. The river was the A of clubs. Huh? Now any king would make a straight. I was trying to decide if my two pair were good or if I should shove for $475. My two pair might be good, but it would be really, really tough to call $475 in this spot without a flush, and certainly if he didn't have a K or a flush, even if for some reason he thought I was up to no good, it would be a sick call. While I was thinking this through and just coming to the conclusion that betting $475 was the way to go as he could easily have a set, he bet out $300! WHAT THE FUCK! HOW THE FUCK CAN THIS GUY BE BETTING INTO ME!? Didn't he clearly put me on a flush? How could he bet here?

With only $175 left he just didn't have enough left for me to buff him off a K. I considered the possibility that he was on desperate bluff and that maybe I should call, but quickly thew that out as there were no legitimate preflop raising hands, that would bet the flop hard that I could beat on that board. I showed the A of spades and folded. He said when I bet the turn he knew I didn't have the flush because if I had it, I would have checked? What? WHAT!? You don't have a clue what you're talking about you basic bastard!

Looking back I'm almost positive he had KK with the K of spades. Maybe he had KK with no spades or KQ, but I'd bet it was KK with the K of spades.

Looking back I'm not really sure what I should have done on the turn there. Maybe a bigger bet would have worked, or maybe a check was in order. I don't know.

I briefly considered staying, but I was all worked up and decided to just pack it in and book a win. I won $430 on the night over 4 hours which isn't a bad result.

After 8 hours of play I'm up $198 for the project. I'll be back in action next Friday!

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