Friday, September 23, 2016

Bad beat at the 'Shoe!

It finally happened!  After 1610 hours of play, I was finally involved in a bad beat jackpot in live poker!  I’ve never seen a bad beat happen in a brick and mortar casino, and in the millions of hands I’ve played online, I’ve only seen it happen once.  Now, though, I can claim I’ve seen not one straight flush (a rarity in and of itself), but two straight flushes in the same hand; one higher than the other.

I got the chance to play last Friday night.  The wife and I were not going out, as it was my son’s birthday and he wanted to have a sleepover.  After a nice Friday dinner at home, clearing the table of dirty dishes, and getting the kids settled in with a movie I found my way out to garage and was soon traveling along the I-95 corridor headed north to Baltimore’s Horseshoe.  After an uneventful trip, I was seated immediately.

The first hour or two were fairly standard – I was coolered / outplayed in two particular hands:
  • I called a PFR with T9dd, raised the flop $15 cbet to $45 on a J 9 6 dd board and got shoved on for $90 total by 96hh.  Didn’t get there on any of my 1000 outs…  Okay – 16+ outs (counting the backdoor straight), but still – I run good! 
  •  Then, I called a $12 PFR with JTo in the BB along with 6 other players, called a $25 weak cbet on a J 5 7 cc board along with 5 other players and open shipped a turned top two but was called by a (IMO terribly played) bottom set of 5’s for around $120.
Down a buy-in from the aforementioned hands and a few miscellaneous speculative calls, I rebought to a full $300 and sat patiently, waiting for the hands that would never happen…

Mid-way through the session, a 20-something sits down to my left, clearly having a good time during what turns out to be his friend’s bachelor party.  2 hands into his session, he decides to open limp what turns out to be 34ss.  I must have checked my crappy, unmemorable 2 cards in the BB, but the flop comes 5s6s7d.  The action went bet, raise, re-raise, all in for $96 from the BTN.  After a hesitation, my partying friend finally called for the remaining $16 from his re-raise.  I figured the button for the flopped straight, but didn’t figure the kid for the dumb end of it.  Well, they flip their cards, and I realize what bad shape my friend is – not only is he crushed by the better straight, but his opponent has him covered for all but 1 card in his flush outs – he needs to hit a 2s to win the hand.

The dealer doesn’t wait – he immediately throws out the 7s to make both hands straight flush.  I instantly realized – a genuine bad beat!  Booyah!

Unfortunately for the two guys (and the rest of the table), the ‘Shoe does bad beats a bit differently, where they pay $200 for Jacks full beaten (I was on the receiving end of that once, see here, $400 for Queens full (ironically, a player at the table behind me hit that moments before we hit ours), Kings full through Aces full of Tens for $750, Aces full of Jacks+ for $2500, and quads beaten gets $10k divided among the following: $500 to each player, 70% remaining to the loser and 30% remaining to the winner.  So, I got paid the table share, $500, and the loser / winner got $4200 & $1800 respectively.  Anywhere else, we all would have received $10k+, and the winner / loser would have gotten quite a bit more…  Oh well.  Good times at the ‘Shoe!

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Infrequent River Bluff

A bluff on the river

I’ve been going through a somewhat rough patch over the past 3-4 months.  Coupled with being card dead, I’m missing many of my draws, running my big hands into bigger hands, and when I do get it in good, I’m getting sucked out on.  All of that is not to say that I’m dissatisfied with my results; I’m still a winning player over that time span, but I know my historical average hourly is much, much better than the recent past.

Regardless, boredom leads to playing around – experimentation with different lines – or taking new approaches to similar hands.  I’ve been particularly interested in the river lately.  I know I’ve never bluffed the river with enough frequency to make a difference – in fact the only times I usually bluff a river is after I’ve bet 2 streets as a bluff and am shipping the river to complete the 3 street bluff.  The 3 street bluff is usually so transparent; a player’s tendency to bet all 3 streets (if doing it frequently enough) is weighted more heavily on the side of bluffing / overvaluing his or her hand vs. value bets, with the thought that it is much less likely that the player has a monster than a “bluff” (i.e. it’s harder to flop a made hand than it is to miss a draw).

I’ve been looking for spots to river bluff, but find (as most do) the pot to be so bloated by the river, it’s hard to “safely” bluff… that is, bluff without putting the majority of your stack on the line.  Obviously, the river is always going to be the point at which the pot is at its largest, therefore any bet should be sized relative to the pot size (making the river bet usually the largest bet of the hand).  To date, I’ve shied away from making those large river bluffs with the logic that my opposing player already has so much money in, he feels compelled to call (sunk cost / pot odds) even though it may not be correct for him to do so.  For instance, I’m on a flush draw, but a straight draw gets there - $150 in the pot & the opposing player leads for $75.  Can I really push him off the hand for less than $200, which effectively puts me all in?  If I can move him off the hand for a $75 raise, great, but the majority of players are making an awwfuckit call (at least in my experience at 1/3 1/2).

I had an opportunity to plan a successful river bluff last night – and that may be the key to the situation; planning ahead:

At a 1/3 game, I limp T9hh from MP with $500; villain 1 to my right (called villain 1) has me covered, and villain 3 to my right in the big blind (called villain 3) has $200 and change.

Flop is 8 6 3, 2 hearts.

Checks to me and I lead for $12 into ~$15 pot.  Villain 1 & 3 call pretty quickly.

Pretty sure I’m behind; not too worried about villain 3, as he’s in the BB, just calling, and in all likelihood has a bottom pair looking to hit 2 pair or trips.  Villain 1 is a capable player, and his call has me somewhat concerned.  My thought here is to pot control from here on out unless I hit my heart or 7 gutter.  I also have 2 overs that I would feel confident about value betting.  However, with 2 players, I don’t want to bloat a limped pot without making my hand…

Turn is an off suit 4.

Villains 3 & 1 check to me and I therefore check behind - ~$50 in the pot.  At this point, I’m thinking villain 1 is going to bet any river with or without a hand.  I will have to raise him off his hand, but I want to keep a raise on the smaller side in real money terms, because I’m unwilling to risk a large amount on a nothing / limped pot.

River is an off suit 5 making any 7 into a straight.  Villain 1 checks.  Villain 3, as per schedule, leads for $35 and I go into the tank.

What can I raise that will push him off his hand, but not risk a stupidly large dollar amount?  Obviously I have to raise to at least $70, but I think he snap calls a $35 raise, as per above’s awwfuckit train of thought.  Eventually, I push out $85.  Villain 1 surprisingly hesitates for a bit before finally folding.  Villain 3 starts talking a bunch – about giving me tons of respect in this spot, etc. before finally folding.  I pull off my first successful river bluff in a long while.  I did not feel that this hand was a traditionally played hand.  Usually checking the turn is a sign of weakness… which it was…  I can easily represent 2 hearts with a 7 by my flop lead / turn check.  I can also represent 78, 67, etc. that backed into the straight.  If I bet turn, I represent a made hand, and it’s pretty hard to bet river when a backdoor on such a coordinated board got there.

Planning was key; if I bet turn, I may very well get my opponents to fold, but I’m not so certain Villain 3 is going anywhere.  Plus, it sets up a river bluff bet that threatens at least half stacks.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Never look a gift horse in the mouth...

Long time, no update.  I wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know I'm still alive & kicking...  It's been a busy summer for the Meister family; since I got back from the WSOP in June, the kids have been in camp -- and finally sleep away for the past few weeks.  One would think that without kids, I'd have more time to do things like play poker, but nope!  Mrs. Meister and I have been busy working, traveling, cleaning up the house from the 3 kids, painting, moving furniture, more traveling, etc.  We went to Charleston, South Carolina last week, and we're off to the beach later this week.  It's nice spending time with my wife; I think we both kind of forgot what it's like to be without children.

I'm still managing to put in my ~6 hours / week of live poker, although with mixed results lately.  It's been a rough run ever since Vegas, though things have been looking up as of late.  I'm trying my best to make adjustments, spending time reviewing hand histories, noting key hands, etc. but finding that a lot of the "interesting" hands are largely uninteresting; mostly variance like pair & flush draws not getting there, suckouts, etc.  One point I did notice about my play is that I was getting a bit gun shy with bluffing because for a period I was finding myself running into the top of the range for my opponents.

At any rate, this week I was able to sneak in a Saturday night session which was interesting if for no other reason than there was a guy simply dumping money.  I sat down at my table, received my $300 in chips and started watching my table mates to assess the lay of the land.  No more than 15 minutes in, the player to my right lost (let's call him the tilter, even though it's not a fair assessment; he was not on tilt) a hand and started straddling $15 but also pushing out his newly re-bought full stack of $300 as a blind pre-flop raise.  Interesting...  for how many hands will this continue?  Within the first few hands, a few guys at the table limped the $15 raise and were surprised, and eventually angered when they "found out" that the tilter was immediately raising all in for $285 more.  It took some of these guys maybe 3 or 4 hands to realize what was going - they would limp, then fold after seeing the tilter raise all in.  One guy was visibly annoyed that the tilter was "ruining the game," and what he was doing was "unfair."  Shocked at some of the reactions, I knew what was going on immediately; I folded my speculative hands (i.e. 45s, JTo, etc.) and waited on Ax / pairs / Kx / etc.; in other words, hands that would be decently ahead of the average Q6o hand.  Within a round, I hit and doubled through when I was dealt KK, and then hit and +$300 with ATo.  The other players who were annoyed eventually racked up their chips and quit the game.  I could not believe people were quitting - if the room knew this was going on, there would be a waitlist on the table over an hour long!

Anyway, to the point of the post: the tilter was straddling from every available position.  A player with whom I've been friendly decided to "steal" the straddle from the tilter, over-straddling on his button.  (Side note: the Horseshoe gives straddle priority starting at the BTN and working counter-clockwise.)  At this point, the tilter was verbally annoyed - and announced that he was ending his otherwise reckless money burning party...   The takeaway is this: don't mess with the tilter.  If you find yourself in a situation like this:
  • Don't mess with the mojo.  Let the tilter do what he wants.
  • If you're not interested in taking 60/40 gambles or 80/20 gambles, quit the game.
  • Don't signal to the tilter that you're going to stop him from burning money.
  • Don't signal to the tilter that you don't like what he's doing.
  • Try to be jovial and enjoy the moment.
  • Don't press your luck and insult the tilter.
  • Consider going all in blind yourself to encourage the action.  (Note: I won't do this with $300, but I would do this with $100.)
  • If you see this happening on another table, waitlist yourself to change to that table.
  • Free money!!!!

Friday, June 17, 2016

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times...

I didn't talk about it too much on this blog, but I went to Vegas for what turns out to be the longest trip I've ever taken.  I had grandiose plans on taking down a bracelet (or three), but definitely had intentions to run good (who doesn't have that plan?) and at least score a cash.

My wife bought me a round trip ticket to Vegas for my birthday, working with a friend to research tournament options, hotel accommodations, etc.  Consistent with my arrival date, I opted to play the Millionaire Maker last week.  Mind you this is my first WSOP; I've never seen the Rio during WSOP, nor have I ever played in any non-circuit event.  I arrived at Rio late Thursday night, surveying a mostly filled Pavilion room and lots of action.  Turns out there are 2 other rooms almost as cavernous!  Wow!  Poker in America is alive!  I meet up with a few buddies, and see one of the floor managers from Baltimore.  After meets & greets, I go back to my hotel to get some rest for the 10AM start the following day.

I was a little late to my table to start the morning, so I maybe was blinded off 75 chips - a paltry amount.  I think I treaded water for a few hours with a stack size hovering around 7000 from the 7500 start.  No major hands to reiterate for this blog, but my table was eventually broken and I was seated around 2 tables behind where I was originally.

I walk over to the new table to find that I would be sitting in the big blind.  At this point, blinds are 100/200 with a 50 ante.  I look at the table, say aloud "I'm in the Big Blind?  I'm going to take a walk," and continue to take a walk around the room after observing my poor starting spot (I maybe have 6000 chips at this point).  As I circle back around to my seat after the dealer deals the cards, the dealer yells, "Floor!" and tells the floor that I avoided my blinds.  Apparently, that's against the rules - I had no idea.  I've played in all of 3 tournaments and never had to deal with a situation such as this.  Floor calls the tournament director, and tournament director says that I'm supposed to pay my big blind and small blind (with missed antes) to the pot on the next hand, as well as sit out a one round penalty (paying antes).  That's not all.  I'm also supposed to miss my next big blind and small blind (and antes) and can sit back in as the cutoff.  Pretty steep penalty; around 20% of my stack!  WTF.  At this table, though, I eventually recover my chip stack and work back to maybe 8000 before another table break.

I move into the Brasilia Room, which is where I'd finish my tournament with another atrocious penalty / angle shoot.  Guy sitting next to me is a complete fish with a mountain of chips - just trying to give them away.  A few hours pass and I dribble my stack down to ~4000 through blinds and antes.  Guy nearly doubles me up with JJ on a KK7 x 7 board with 22.  I'm sitting on around 8000 chips now and he pulls an angle shoot on me:

In the BB with 150/300/50 blinds and look down at AJ.  UTG limped, folded around to SB (fish) who calls his option.  Dealers starts to deal but I hold him up because I haven't acted.  I take the 3 100 chips and pull them back - putting out a single 1000 chip.  UTG instacalls and SB starts complaining that I just called.  I say "excuse me?"  It was very clear that I was raising.  He says 1 chip = call.  Half the table is like WTF - such a standard thing.  He's insistent.  Calls floor.  In the meantime, he tells me he understood what I wanted to do, but 1 chip = call.  Floor rules in his favor.  Seriously?  WTF?  Same floor person that gave me the penalty before, BTW.  Flop comes 9 9 x.  I lead for 800.  UTG calls and SB folds.  Turn is a blank.  I check / UTG leads & I fold.

I would eventually get all in with angle shooter on my BB with 9 4 on a Qd 9 5 4d board against his 76dd - diamond on the river LDO.  I so wanted to throat punch this douche bag....  Thus ends my Millionaire Maker WSOP run...

I decided to not dump more money into tournament poker - particularly because I was running so poorly.  Switching over to cash games, my whole week would be filled with card deadness & second besting.  At every flop, turn and river, I felt like I was being outplayed, only to be proved that I was being outlucked...  The majority of the time, I would properly fold - I think there were 2 or 3 bad calls that I made in the 45 hours of cash play.  45 hours in 4-5 days and you get pretty sick of building a pot only to have to fold the river...

My last day of cash would mostly make up for my run bad in cash, as I didn't get hit by the deck, but ran pretty darn well.

Final notes:  I played in Rio, Planet Hollywood (briefly, which is a crappy poker room.  I met Tim TheTrooper97Vlog at PH - he was sitting at the same table as me!), and Belagio (my favorite Vegas poker room).  I saw Scotty Nguyen, Doyle, Scott Seiver, Elie Elezra, Johnny Chan and Antonio Esfandiari.  It was a fun time - particularly when I was able to make up my deficit on the last day.  Let me tell you: Vegas is miserable when you're running bad as a poker player.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Saturday's session recap - dealing with bullies and measured maniacs

As close as I could find to an example of a
Crasian: Jerry Yang
As I was writing my last post, it occurred to me that that I think are innocuous to me may be of interest to my readers.  This post is fairly independent of the hands identified in that post, but they come from a prior session.

Let me set up the table for you:

On my left, I have what I would call a "measured maniac," and for the purposes of this entry, we'll call him "Crasian #1."  He is the Crasian type who spots weakness and/or weak/tight play and jumps on it.  He'll raise random average hands (i.e. K4hh, A5o, etc.), but he'll also raise air when he feels that he'll be able to take down pots without a fight.
  • I complete my SB and he raises to $100 with 3 limpers (including me).  All fold and he scoops.
  • He straddled for $6 UTG and I complete my BB option with A2o - just me and the BTN.  He raises to $70 with KQo and the BTN ($22 behind) calls.  I fold.  BTN shows QJo and he scoops.
  • I'd seen him raise flush draws continually, usually getting paid when he hit, and usually getting folds when he missed.
  • He pushed me off a hand where I flopped bottom pair and a straight draw with 4c2c on a 2 3h5h board when he turned 8h - action went he bet $20 flop (I'm the only caller and consider shoving $200+ effective or at the minimum raising).  Turn 7h - he bets $70 and I fold, thinking my open ender is only good to 6 outs now, if I'm not already behind -- he shows me the K8hh that he raised to $10 in early position and priced me out of the hand on the turn...
Other  player sits across from us, also a Crasian, so forth named "Crasian #2."  Not as measured as the one to my left; he's less patient and more maniacal.  As one would expect from that kind of play, he went busto fairly quickly, but not before this fine gem when Crasian #1 raised to $20 with KK in the BB and got limp / shoved on for $120 by Crasian #2 with A8ss PF - A on the flop, A on the turn sealed it for Crasian #2.

Anyway, at this point, Crasian #1 is aware that I'm an okay player; he probably views me as weak / tight, as I've limped into a host of pots and folded to his raises each time.  He's straddling my BB (which is fine by me, since he's UTG when he does it).  I think he's somewhat targeting me, but we have a good rapport between the two of us.  In this particular hand, I straddle the BTN for $6 and he immediately throws out $20 as a blind raise in the SB.  LOL.  It folds around to Crasian #2 who limp / calls for $20.  It continues to fold around to my option on the BTN.  I am aware of my weak / tight image and look down at A6o.  $43 in the middle, I decide to jack it up with what very likely is the best hand: $71 to go.  Crasian #1 thinks for a long time before folding.  Crasian #2 insta-mucks and says "your Ace-King is good, sir!"  Read confirmed; they believe I'm only raising premo's.

I didn't get the chance to toy with Crasian #2 since he busted shortly afterwards, but Crasian #1 moved seats across the table a bit later when the following came up:

3 open limps and I'm on the BB with 88: I open to $20 and Crasian #1 is the only caller.  I hate the flop: A Q 7, two tone.  I check and Crasian checks.  Turn is an offsuit 3.  I opt to bet $45, realizing that Crasian #1 is afraid of my slow played Aces, etc., and therefore did not want to bet into what could be perceived as a weakness flop check.  He just calls my out of position delayed cbet.  River is a 5 and I decide to check / call a bet if there is one.  I've gotten decent value for a middling pair, if I am indeed ahead.  FWIW, I'm calling all reasonable river bets from him (save for a shove; we're around $500 deep).  He checks and waits for me to show - I show and he mucks.  If he bets flop, I likely fold to the 2 overcards and think nothing more of the hand.

The purpose of sharing these hands is to make a point of how to deal with table maniacs and watch game flow.  A bully will bully until he becomes afraid of his opponent, or at the very least, wary of capabilities.  If you make him or her think you're capable of something, or put the thought in their head, they'll start making decisions that they wouldn't ordinarily make against other players.  You want this - you want to get them off their usual game.  Game flow -wise, watch for tilt.  Crasian #1 is tilty because he loses with KK vs. a junk Ace.  He's calling wide and a bit steamed.  Press your advantage, read him for upset and loosening up, or tightening up trying to get back to even.  Be aware of your own image, and what you project to him.  If you project tight / weak, then raise more frequently... even 3bet more frequently, since he'll respect your bets more frequently than another maniac.  Put the pressure back on him; don't become a calling station unless you're trapping.  If you're calling, you better be prepared to call down, otherwise you're burning money while also emboldening your maniac opponent.

In the end, I can't say for certain whether I won the money war between Maniac #1 and myself (although I'm pretty certain I walked away ahead).  However, I know by the middle of the session that he stopped targeting me, moved away from me (table-wise) and definitely respected [if not feared] my play.  He stopped trying to walk all over me when I started playing back at him.  If you find yourself in a similar spot, where you have a tight image, start exploiting it!  Raise on the turn, raise on the flop!  You'll get respect and folds from a player such as this...

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