Thursday, October 6, 2016

A very very deep run by a friend of mine...

Congratulations, Ryan!

A friend of mine, Ryan Belz, (one of the guys I went out to Vegas with earlier in the year) satellited into WPT Maryland! World Poker Tour Main Event at Maryland Live! last weekend.  I was playing over at the 'Shoe, while he was grinding away, ending the night with a ticket to the main event.  Between family time, holidays, and work, I was trying to keep tabs on him all this week.  Wednesday night it became real; he worked his way down to the final table!

Last night, I couldn't get up to Live! to go rail him, but fortunately, some of my friends were able to root in his corner as he worked his way to heads up against Zachary Smiley.  Unfortunately, he couldn't stick out the win, but he definitely scored big with his runner-up finish!  Awesome work, Ryan!

This is the first of my little poker group to make a big score.  Hopefully, this is the start of something special!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Killing the Golden Goose (or Geese?)

The opportunity to play on the weekends has been increasing lately – I suppose my wife is nervous about paying for my son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah, so she’s been “agreeing” to send me out to play.  Effectively, I feel like she’s my pimp and I have to bring her back some moneys or she smacks me around a bit…  Maybe that’s what I tell myself – maybe she just doesn’t want me around all that much…  That notwithstanding, I find myself at the ‘Shoe late on a Friday night.

Things are break-even for the first hour or so when I see my favorite ATM machine walk in the door with her boyfriend.  A little background on the girl: she’s very loose preflop, and has an ego problem where she’ll rarely lay down a hand in spite of action that says she’s beat.  It’s almost comical; she pays off every. single. time.  Her boyfriend plays more conservatively, but I’d rate him as around average; capable of making a move from time to time, but mostly ABC.  He just watches her dump money, and continually replenishes her with additional buy-ins.

So, I see them walk in, and immediately request a table change to their table – a new table.  Yes.  I’m a bum hunter in this case.  I have my few favorites who I will bum hunt and they are certainly on my hit list.  So, I sit down at the table and fold a few hands (an orbit or two) as I get the lay of the land.  I immediately take note of the hyper aggro guy to my right, raising (and raising big) almost every hand, playing hard post flop & usually taking down the hand before showdown.  It seems he hasn’t run into any powerhouses, so he’s getting away with it.

So, aforementioned dude opens UTG+1 to $20.  I look down and see JJ.  I 3bet to $60.  Everyone else folds and he snap calls.  Flop is A Q 8 dd (around the worst flop EVER!).  He checks and I lead for $45 (he has a bit over $100 behind – maybe $160.  He beats me to the pot with his call, acting very nervously.  Strange.  Turn is a blank – maybe a 3.  He checks.  I decide to check.  River is another blank – 2?  5?  This time, he thinks for a long time and sloppily shoves his chips while saying “all in.”  WTF – around $110 or so…?  He’s stoic, sitting back in his chair and not saying anything and not moving.  I try to piece all of this together, and come to the conclusion that my turn check showed him weakness so he thinks he can push me off my hand.  I’m not really concerned about the Ace, but I’m concerned he has a hand like QJ or QT and turned his Qx into a bluff.  This kind of player doesn’t really think about what he’s doing or why; just acts on impulse.  I eventually make the sighing call and wait.  He’s still in his chair after the dealer says I called.  He waits for a good 30 seconds and flips over KT for the missed gutter.  I flip my JJ for the winner and say nothing.  I scoop and flip the dealer 4 white chips.

My aggro is visibly shaken – angry almost – and asks how much he can buy in for – he wants to get $1000.  The dealer says $300 max and he buys $300 or so.  After a hand or two, I ask him if he’s waiting for the $2-5 game.  He looks at me and says, “I don’t know what you just said, but you’re acting like an a**hole.”  I’m dumbfounded, but before I can even respond, the dealer says, “He’s not acting like anything; he’s trying to converse with you.  He’s asking you about the other games in the poker room and trying to be nice.  Furthermore, your language will not be tolerated here.”  Wow.  Just wow.  Kudos to the dealer for keeping the game under control.   The whole table (including me) is staring at him now after his outburst of uncontrolled behavior.  Now he says to me, “Don’t even look at me.  Don’t look this way.”  What do I do at this point?  I just shake my head and look away from him, wanting to end this potentially violent confrontation.  A few hands later, he gathers his chips and storms off.

Now to the crux of the post, even though the above story could apply to the title as well:
I’ve played with the couple mentioned above for a few months now.  I’ve become a bit friendly with both; sharing personal details (both ways) with the boyfriend.  He’s a nice guy, as is she, though she’s a bit of a brute when it comes to ego and getting her way.  I’ve put some really bad beats on her, but she’s also made some horrendous mistakes.  I’m never getting it in bad against her, and she’s almost always calling me as described.

I raise UTG to $15 with TT.  I get called 5 way ($75 in the pot) to see a flop of 2 5 6 dd.
With so many players in the pot, and a vulnerable overpair, I lead for $60.  She (2 seats down) raises to $120.  It folds back around to me and I tank for a bit.  There are a number of hands she’d do this with: mainly top pair good kicker, I saw her raise a flopped set earlier, and bluffs.  She plays a wide range of hands, so TP is more likely than sets and two pair hands.  Bluffs are less likely, but still in her range.  I figure calling here is useless; I’m just going to get it in on the turn anyway if I call the flop and believe I’m good, and I can’t really put her on a hand but a possible diamond draw or straight draw bluff.  I look down at $250 remaining and shove.  Action is back to her, but by the time I look up, the dealer has already put out the turn and the river – a K and A.  However, she has yet to call!  Alright…. Now what?

I know what’s going to happen: the turn and river cards will be shuffled back into the deck, and pending action, will be dealt anew.  The burn cards stay as the natural burn cards.  However, she’s putting up a huge verbal fight.  Arguing this isn’t fair…  Arguing the burn cards to be shuffled in… etc.  I’m not sure what she’s trying to get out of it, but finally she asks me to chop the pot.  Now, ordinarily, against any other player, I would tell them outright “no” without even a second thought.  I know I have the winning hand here, and I don’t want her to have a sour taste towards me because she’s an ATM.  What do you do?  Do you accept half the pot despite having the winner?  This is more of a meta game move than the actual hand at stake.  However, this is not a small pot at this point; there’s $250 in the pot + my raise + if she calls, another $130.

I decide to tell her that I can’t accept that offer; I have the winning hand.  Optimal or not, she winds up talking herself into a call with K7cc (WTF??????).  Now I realize why she fought so hard; she had turned the winning hand.  She was fighting based on an angle on false hope.  Pretty sneaky; noted.  I will not ever chop with her if the situation arises again.  In the end, the second turn and river flip over harmlessly and I scoop a nice pot!

What would you do?  Given the information at the time – that you didn’t know she was angling for the K to stay – what would you do?

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.


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