Sunday, February 21, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #6 - The Odd Behavior of the Poker Gods

I was back in action at the $2/$3/$5 no limit game at the Oaks on Friday. I sat down with $500 as usual and got off to a hot start.

Within the first 10 minutes or so I got JJ, the flop came down a beautiful 7 5 2 rainbow and my lone opponent bet $40 into the $80 pot after calling my three bet preflop. I put him all in for $140, the turn was a 7 the river was a 9 and he did not show when I rolled over my JJ. Sometimes it's just easy.

Other times, not so much. A few hands later 9 of us saw the flop for $5 (9 of us!). I had 99 and again the flop came down 7 5 2 (this time with two spades). Very strange! The player in the big blind who had about $1,000 in front of him bet out $25, another player who had about $175, raised him to $50 and I was next to act with 4 players left behind me. With so many opponents it's really tough to sort out who could have what. You can make an argument for calling, raising or folding here, but I was feeling confident after my JJ win so I decided to go for the raise in the hopes of unloading everyone except the guy with $175. I made it $100 to go and Mr. $1,000 and Mr. $175 both called. The turn was the 3 of spades and Mr. $1,000 immediately went all in! Mr. $175 called and I had an easy fold. Mr. $1,000 turned over a king high flush and for a moment I was wishing I'd raised more on the flop, but then I saw it was K7 of spades. With top pair and a flush draw he was locked in.

I found myself with some more unclear decisions a little later. One player opened for $10, and Mr. $1,000 raised to $30. With about $750 in my stack I called the $30 with 44 in the small blind. We took the flop 4 way and the $10 raiser moved all in for $92 on a 2 3 5 flop. Mr $1,000 called. I had an open ended straight draw and was risking $92 to win about $300 which would be good odds if I could see the turn and river, but not the right price if I was going to get blown off my draw on the turn if I missed. I didn't feel great about it, but I decided to call. The turn was a beauty, a 6 making my straight. I decided to check in the hopes that my opponent might fire at it or in the hopes that he might make something on the river or in the hopes that I might convince him I didn't have a straight. Sadly he checked back. Also sadly the river was a 7 that put three diamonds out there and he folded to my bet of $130.

Happily I was up about $575 after the first hour.

Then I made my first of two sets of 8's of the night. 5 of us called $5 preflop, the flop came out Q J 8 and with bottom set I bet out $15. I got one caller. The turn was a 7, I bet out $30 and he went all in for $80. He showed QJ and I was sad that he didn't have more money in front of him...until the river came and it was a Q! I lost the pot, but felt glad I didn't get burned for more.

After two hours I was ahead about $300 on the night and as I looked around I realized I was in the best game I'd seen in at least 6 months. There were a couple of crazies who were going to spew off every chip eventually surrounded by a bunch of predictable ABC players. It was really ideal.

In hour 3 I got into a couple of big hands against against the same couple of opponents. I'll call them Ms. Think and Mr. Tilt. Ms. Think is about 50, Asian, and whenever she has a big decision she talks it out, out loud. It's great for me because I have gotten a great sense of the way she thinks. Mr. Tilt was also about 50, heavy set  and was someone I did not know. He lost a couple of pots and then it seemed like he committed to seeing every flop for at least an hour no matter what.

On one hand after many $5 callers, Ms. Think raised to $40 and Mr. Tilt called. I had AK in the big blind and seeing that Ms. Think had about $250 and Mr. Tilt had $230, I decided to make it $200 to go expecting I'd unload Ms. Think and get called by Mr. Tilt who would certainly have a worse hand. As you might expect, Ms. Think took some time to think. After about 30 seconds, acting out of turn, Mr. Tilt said "I call" and stared putting his chips in! When you're on tilt you can't be bothered to wait for your turn. Ms. Think seeing that it would be a three way pot, quickly folded. I bet $30 in the dark to put Mr. Tilt the rest of the way in and he called before the flop came out. I turned over my AK, but Mr. Tilt didn't show right away. The flop came down 9 7 6. The turn was a 5 and Mr. Tilt rolled over 54! ACK! Ms. Think starting groaning about how she'd folded 88! And then the river came an 8 and we spit the pot!

At this point I realized I was not leaving until this guy did. If he was willing to stack off with 54 no amount of good luck would save him and any chips he had would go to the rest of us.

Then a different guy also decided 5 high was good hand. This guy called $5 with 53 off suit. I made it $40 in the big blind with AJ facing many $5 calls and he just went ahead and moved all in for $101 with his 53. I've talked in recent posts about the levels of thinking in poker where level 1 is "what are my cards" and level 2 is "What does my opponent probably have." This guy was at level 0. He didn't even get to what are my cards. He just decided to do some shit. The board ran out 2 3 4 5 Q and I won with a wheel.

Then Mr. Level 0 pulled out a stack of 7 or 8 $100 chips from his pocket! He only put one on the table, but my eyes got wide with greed just seeing that he had a fair amount of money with him.

I thought "If these guys stay here I'm never leaving. I will stay all night and all day tomorrow. I am never leaving this game."

My second set of eights arrived around this time. I called a $15 raise with 88 and 6 of us saw the flop. The board came down 8 6 4 with two spades and everyone checked to me. With a wet board and 5 opponents I was not going to screw around. I bet $75 into the $120 pot. When it got back to Ms. Think she moved all in for $425! Yowza! And now it was on Mr. Tilt. He'd blown off the short stack he had, bought back in for $500 and won a couple of pots so now he was sitting on $800. I had him covered. Get in there baby! The longer he thought the worse I figured his hand was. Eventually he folded, I called, and making it clear she had gotten out of line Ms. Think sadly asked if I had two pair. I showed my set and she sighed. The turn was the worst card imaginable - the 5 of spades. Mr. Tilt pounded his fist on the table and we all knew he'd folded a flush draw. Ms. Think still looked sad. The river was a 9 and she mucked her hand. Mr. Tilt said he'd folded T9 of spades! How the hell do you stack off with 54 off and then later fold a straight flush draw? If Mr. Tilt had just stuck to his tilty ways I would have lost $800, but instead I won $500. The Poker Gods really spared me on that one.

On my last hand of consequence I got involved with Mr. Level 0, Ms. Think and Mr. Tilt. I had J9 off suit and after a $5 call from Mr. Level 0, Ms. Think raised to $20 and got called by Mr. Tilt who was back on tilt. Normally I'm not calling a raise with J9 off, but against these folks I wanted to play as many hands as I could in position. I called and the flop came down J 6 2. They all checked to me and I was like "Oh great! I have the best hand." Against better players you have to worry about check raises and slow plays and bluffs. But against these guys I was 99% sure I was ahead. I bet $60 and Mr. Level 0 and Mr. Tilt both called. Normally if two players call a 3/4 pot sized bet on a board with no draws and you have a weak top pair, you're in 3rd place. This time I was still sure I was ahead. The turn was a T, they checked to me, I bet out $140, and Mr. Level 0 called off his last $70 with Q6. Mr. Tilt seen enough and folded. The river was an 8 and that was the end of Mr. Level 0.

Soon after Mr. Tilt blew off his chips an left as well. Both were replaced by toughish regulars and in no time other soft spots picked up and were replaced by less exploitable competition.

After 4 hours I picked up with a $1,002 profit! Whoop whoop! After 22.5 hours I'm ahead $2,070 for the project.

I might break with the Friday only plan and play sometime during the week as this win has given me a bit of poker fever. I'm a little worried that I'm going to go in, play well and still get beat and feel some regret about deviating from my Friday plan so I'm considering going to play a tournament which would give me a chance to play while eliminating any chance of a big loss. We'll see how I feel when the time comes.








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