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...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Optimal play, misreads and the rare trifecta (continued)

This post is a continuation of my last post.  To recap, I played Thursday night, winning a mini bad beat jackpot, Friday afternoon, sharing a mini bad beat jackpot, and finally playing on Saturday, detailed below:

Saturday's session was more of an impromptu dalliance with the pokers.  Mrs. Meister and I usually have plans Friday and Saturday nights, but this was one of the rare occasions when we had nothing planned at all.  After eating family dinner and getting all the weekend errands and chores completed, I had time to get in a decent session.  The wife was exhausted, so why not?

On the way up, I got bad beat-ed by the State of Maryland, receiving a speeding ticket - gotta pay my taxes and share the wealth...  I was upset, but determined not to let this affect my play, and I think I contained it pretty well.  I may need representation...  though my understanding is that there's a certain lawyer available for hire - who has offered representation to TBC?  I'll want a better hourly rate than what was offered to Tony!

Side note: The Horseshoe is running a promotion for Baltimore Orioles home games, where when they score runs, a random seat is drawn for varying amounts of money depending on the runs scored.  Also, when an Oriole hits a home run, a random seat is drawn for varying amounts of money depending on how many runs were scored on the home run.  For what it's worth, a grand slam is worth $1000.

Upon sitting (actually I don't even think I had taken my seat yet) at my table at the poker room, the Orioles were rallying, having runners on all bases; i.e. bases loaded.  I can't say I know who was batting, but the Orioles hit a home run: a grand slam home run!  Well, I started asking the table at large if they were interested in sharing action on the seat drawing; i.e. if we all can agree, if one of us is drawn, all of us share an equal amount of the $1000.  I was able to get 5 out of the 6 players at my table to agree, so we were set for a $200 chop if one of us was called, with a grumpier older gentleman (a regular) sitting it out.  Another player joined our table shortly before the drawing and wanted in on the partnership: 6 of 7 in on the deal.  I guess peer pressure got the better of the old guy, 'cause he succumbed on his own volition and opted in: 7 of 7 in on the deal.  If our table is drawn, we all win!  Well guess what happened?  Yup!  Table 960, my table, was drawn!  Without even waiting for the seat number, we're all jumping up and down like we hit the lottery.  The rest of the room sat kinda stunned; why would we all be so happy before they even drew a seat?  Needless to say, old man was picked as the winner (Murphy's Law, thank you very much) and he paid us out $140, keeping $160 for himself (I worked that deal out for him 'cause he did the "hard work").  He was very upset that he agreed last minute...  bitter old guy!  +1 Peer pressure, 0 Old guys!  Third "leg" of the trifecta complete: Meister :$440, House: $-440!

Now for 2 quick hand histories from Saturday night:

  1. I'm dealt Js5s in the BB.  There's a host of limpers (3 to be exact) and the BTN raises to $10 (LOL!).  I call out of sheer curiosity, fully expecting the 3 limpers to come along.  To my surprise, they all fold (WTF?).

    We see a flop of J J 8.  I check to the raiser who checks through.

    Turn is a 3 putting a flush draw out (not spades).  I lead for $20 and the BTN raises to $50.  I call.

    River is an offsuit 5.  I check to the raiser who puts out $65 with around $110 behind.  I obviously knew I had a Jack, but was not thinking about my kicker; all I was concerned about was that I was outkicked, without realizing that the 5 paired my kicker giving me a rivered boat!  UG FACEPALM.  I quickly threw out the "call" red bird and was shown QJo for the better kicker.  I started to muck my hand, thinking I was beat.  When I'm beat, I'll often take a second look at my cards and the board - it's something I learned to do after watching Phil Ivey muck a winner during the WSOP.  I took a look and realized that I have a full house for the better hand!  Rookie rookie rookie mistake - I should be stacking all of her chips by raising all in but since I just called, at least I didn't fold it and forfeit the hand...  As soon as I realized my error, I flipped my hand and apologized for the perceived slow roll; I guess I got what I deserved for playing crap cards for a cheap raise...
  2. 6 limpers, and I'm dealt 2s4s - "The Grump" in the BB.  I check my option and we see an A J 6 monotone, spades board.

    6 players and I know I'm getting at least one caller with an Ace, but I'm sure someone has to have a spade -- if not a Ks!  Therefore, I lead for nearly full pot: $15, not worried about lack of action.  I get one caller, a guy who clearly fancies himself "pro," wearing a hat and headphones.  My plan for this hand is to bet twice and check all rivers, giving Mr. Pro a chance to swipe at the pot, while I plan on folding all spades on the turn or river.  If Mr. Pro flopped a better flush, so be it; I'm going to pot control the river, but I don't want to go broke with my baby flush on a limped pot.

    Turn is a J, pairing the board.  I lead for $40, pressing, feeling like Mr. Pro is not going anywhere.  He snaps it off, instantly.  I'm not thrilled with the paired board, but I think if he turned a full house or has a better flush, I'd have heard about it with a raise on the flop or turn.  Maybe he's not raising the turn in position, with a boat, but certainly better flushes are trying to get more money in.

    River is an offsuit 8 and I think about checking or betting.  As per my plan for the hand, I opt to check - a check / call is in order; I don't want to face a raise on the river to decide for stacks.  I also want to give him a chance to bluff at the hand with the Ks if that's what he's after.  My plan is executed to precision, because he does indeed bet: $50.  It's a small "What would you do?" moment; do you check / raise in this spot or just call?  I think just calling is the optimal play; you catch all bluffs, catch all "value" betting Aces, and limit your downside against boats and better flushes.  I simply don't think there's a ton of value in raising here, and there aren't a lot of hands that can withstand a river check / raise.  Moreover, the ranges are wide open here since it's a limped pot, so there's always the likelihood of a better flush (I have the nut low flush) or a turned boat.  Therefore, I just call.

    My opponent shows QsJx for trip Jacks - one of the hands I think could have withstood a check/raise on the river.  I'm still comfortable with the just call since that's such a small part of his range, along with KsJx.  I scoop FTW.

I wish I could say I'm "poker-ed out," but I only want to play more...  Chips were for sale after all, far below its book value!  I was getting value both on- and off- the table.  Save for a speeding ticket (this is an official plea for PPP's help), it was a great poker weekend!

Side note - a little Karmic value: I realized while playing on Saturday that I never tipped the dealer who dealt out the bad beat.  By the time I was paid out for the bad beat, the dealer had moved on to the next table.  This is on my mind as I'm driving up to the casino, so I asked around only to find out that the casino does not track that type of data.  I asked a few of the dealers who were working that day, and was eventually able to figure out who it was.  Lo and behold, I asked the dealer who I suspected it was and he said "I don't know."  It was weird; he was clearly being evasive and coy with me.  After insisting and asking very precisely: "Just say yes or no, did you deal me the bad beat on Thursday," he finally admitted to it.  I gave him the tip I owed him and started asking why he wouldn't outright admit whether he was involved.  He said the casino has a policy to not answer whether they received a tip - and that my question put him in an awkward position.  Upon talking with him a bit more, I came to find out that he dealt 3 high hand / bad beats that day, where none of the winners tipped him.  At least I could give back a little for my share of the beats and buy back a little Karma...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Optimal play, misreads and the rare trifecta

I have a lot to cover since my last post from my regular Thursday night session.  I had the rare opportunity to play 3 sessions in a row during this past week / weekend.  I played the regular Thursday session, as described above, I played on Friday during the day (got a free Kindle eReader which I'm donating to my religious organization for a raffle event) and culminated my streak in a Saturday night bender!  Lest you think that the "rare trifecta" as described in the title of the post is the 3-in-a-row session, it is not.  Do not jump to conclusions.  The rare trifecta I am alluding to is far more rare than back-to-back-to-back play.  I could do that in Vegas, or I could do that during an extended vacation.  The trifecta I speak of is likely far more uncommon than any of my readers have experienced...  keep reading:

To set the story up, recall that Thursday's session had me winning a mini bad beat.  You likely already have the details on that session, as posted in the recap; if not, refer back to the link provided in the first paragraph.  Let's move on to Friday's session, though.  I don't have any hand recaps to detail during my Friday session, though I do have an interesting story which plays into the trifecta as the second "leg."  I'd been towards the end of a middling session where I was bouncing back and forth between up $100 and up $150 when a new guy - youngish, appeared to be a grinder - sits down.  In conversation, I came to find out he plays regularly at Maryland Live! and was checking out the 'Shoe.  A few orbits into his session, he gets involved in a raised pot.  I wasn't paying close attention to the events of the hand; it was fairly mundane given the action until the river:

Flop was A A Q (checked through I think), turn was a blank (checked again, or maybe a little bet), and the river was a King.  Somehow, (raise, re-raise, shove - maybe?) the two players (the original PF raiser and the young grinder) get it all in by the river (around $300 effective), and the grinder is shown AK for Aces full of Kings for the nuts and the scoop.

I'd been watching the grinder since he sat down, and had determined (in all of 30 minutes) that he was likely a solid player, maybe a bit ABC, but solid nevertheless).  I did not peg him for the type to be shoving / calling light, and was likely smart enough to call or fold trips to the significant river action.  Therefore, I determined from the play that he likely had a boat.  There were a few boats that he could hold: Queens full (a bad beat worth $400), blanks full (worthless), Kings full or Aces full of blanks (a bad beat worth $750), or Aces full of Queens (a bad beat worth $2500!!!!).  The most likely candidates given the up front action (i.e. he called a raise; no 3bet) was he had either Aces full of Queens or Aces full of blanks.  Moreover, the grinder looked forlorn, as if someone just told him his baby was ugly and he knew it was the truth...  I'm sure we all know the look, as we've all been on both ends of the bad beat.  Anyway, he's staring at his cards, trying to will himself to muck his hand, but is pausing ever so long.

Side note: There is a strict "one player to a hand" policy adhered to at the 'Shoe, and most casinos I've ever played.  Furthermore, I can't recall a single event where I've ever gotten involved in a hand where I'm not an active participant.

With the above disclaimer, I went against the rules and decided to get involved with the hand.  I sized up the situation (remember that he's coming from Live! and not familiar with the 'Shoe's rules and bad beats).  I said to him, "Do you have a boat?  There's a bad beat jackpot if you have a full house!"  His reaction gave away his hand - he did indeed have a full house.  I said, "Show your hand!  If you have Aces full, you won a lot of money!  Show your hand!"  Reluctantly, the grinder revealed his hand: AQo.  Bad beat declared, floor came over and promptly paid out the $2500 top prize for the mini bad beat!  He gave the dealer a tip of $100, and shipped me $100!  Second leg of the trifecta complete!  For those keeping score at home, Meister: $300, House: $-300!

This is turning into an epic post, so I will break it up into two parts.  Stay tuned for the third "leg" of the trifecta!

Friday, May 13, 2016

A good beat, a bad beat & a little Zeebo Theorem

I rarely call when I'm beat.  That's the way I've been since I started playing 6 years ago.  I like to be correct, and hate burning money, so my preferences fall strongly in line with my overall life outlook.  Sometimes, however, logic gets the better of me.  This time, at least, logic didn't cost me too much money.  Let me explain:

First, a bit of background.  This had been a mostly sideways session.  I'm sitting on about $110 above my original buy in, $410 total (or thereabout).  I'd seen some very poor play from my table mates, but since earlier in the session, my table had tightened up quite a bit.  One hand that particularly pissed me off was when a short stack called my $12 raise with 9d5d with $32 behind as first in, (I had AQo in the SB), saw a 7 5 4 flop and jammed.  I called after all folded around ($60 in the pot), and did not improve.  That set him on a heater from $48 --> $500 by the end of the night.  Total fish that got lucky!  I guess if it happens to him, it can happen to anyone.  It was that kind of table, though... and up & down night.  Now back to the title and point of the post; the setup:

EP raises to $10 and it gets called in around 4 spots when action turns to me with JThh in the SB.  I of course call (again, sitting on $410) and we see a decent flop: JsTcQc.  Not thrilled, as my 2 pair are behind a lot, but the hand has some potential.  I check to the raiser, who in turn checks... in fact, the whole damn table checks around!  Interesting...

Turn kills my hand a bit more: Kd.  Great - 4 straight out there, and undoubtedly, someone has an Ace.  Original raiser [finally] leads for $15 and gets called in all 4 spots; I come along, getting odds to boat my 2 pair.  I remember thinking at the time, though: "I'm beat here - he has KK, KJ."  I can't raise because I'm only getting called by better hands.  I just come along for the ride by calling.

River is where it gets interesting: Jc.  Scared of the prior thought: original raiser has KJ, KK, I once again check.  He carves out $60.  It folds around to the button (terrible player) who just calls.  Action to me.  I say to my neighbor before I even see the bet: "I'm beat here," and show my JThh.  He's surprised.  I think for a bit, wanting to fold, but logically am unable to do so.  In other words, I Zeebo'd myself.  How can I fold for $60 when I'm going to be good some percentage of the time?!?!?!?!?  Well, I call and wait for my opponent to flip his hand.  He's hesitating for a bit so I decide to show, hoping that given the delay, my hand is good.  Nope!  He shows K9cc for the flopped straight, rivered straight flush!  FWIW, the button claimed Axcc for the turned straight / rivered nut flush (like I said, terrible player; how does she let the hand continue on the turn without a raise).

I honestly did not put him on a straight flush, even though I thought I was beat...  It was a good misread, though...  saved me a bit of money.  After pausing for a little, I started piecing the hand back together and realized that I hit a mini bad beat!  Horseshoe pays $200 for Jacks full getting beaten!  Technically, I won $125 on the hand!  A good beat, a bad beat, and Zeebo, all in one!

Side note: After the hand, my opponent was so tilted that I didn't raise there - how could I just call?!!?!?!?!?  How did I not ship him all of my chips!?!?!?!??!  I had a small heater after dropping my profit down to $35 on the night after that hand - walked away up $200+ not including the bad beat.  Ship it!

Update: One interesting note for the session was that on my very last hand last night, as with my prior session, here, I was dealt AA.   This is becoming a pattern.  Moreover, I open to $15 and get raised to $40 by a short stack!  Folds around to me and I raise to $100, which more or less covers him.  He calls and we both have AA!  Runout is 3 diamonds by the turn (my opponent holds the Ad), but the river is clean and we wind up losing a few $$$ each...  Oh well...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Belated Mother's Day and Big Macs

Yes, I went up to play on Mother's Day.  I have my reasons or excuses...  Let me explain first, lest you judge me:

It all started because the Horseshoe was giving away a nice personal blender and my kids wanted it.  In addition, Horseshoe was offering me money in free promotional chips, so while I planned on being there anyway, I may as well get that reward.  Finally, I planned on hosting my brother-in-law, his wife & kids, as well as my in-laws, to a nice Mother's Day dinner.  I don't know how to cook (nor do I care to even try), so what should I plan?  BBQ, of course!  The final part of my plan was to take some of the $400+ in comp rewards that I've accumulated from my play at the Horseshoe since I rarely use the money, and pick up a little Guy Fieri's BBQ catering while I'm up there.  I got a few pounds of pulled chicken and pit beef - and it was great!

Well, while I'm all the way up in Baltimore, I may as well get a little play in, no?  It would be a waste to drive all the way up there only to turn around and go home!  I decided to play for an hour and a half... no one would notice, would they?  (Side note: of course my wife noticed.  She let me hear about it, no doubt!)  It was an interesting session, if, for nothing else, the craziness of the seat to my right.

So as you may or may not be already aware, I'm the talkative guy at the table.  If I'm winning, if I've had caffeine or sugar, or if I'm bored, I start up conversations.  Seldom are the conversations about poker, but most are about inane things - [basic] economics, cars, sports, etc.  People are usually interested in those things, and it helps me pass the time when I'm card dead (which is my real angle for doing it).  When I got to the poker room, there was a 10 minute wait - management decided to open a new table.  I immediately got dealt high card and was awarded the button.  (The process for opening new tables is the dealer will deal out cards corresponding to the amount of players at the table.  High card takes the button, and in the event of ties, first high card clockwise from the dealer wins.)  I'm already ahead in my short session!  Free poker for 8 hands!

As we're getting settled in as a table, adjusting to each other's tendencies, etc., I start developing an aggressive image for anyone who's paying attention.  After folding the first 2 hands, I flop a set on a PF raised pot with 4's on an all spade, Ten high board.  5 ways, I donk bet for $50 and take it down without a fight.  The PF raiser was an older black man with whom I had played previously, so I imagined he would not auto- cbet into that many players without an overpair, but was capable of PF raising a reasonable range including broadway.  My thinking was that I don't want to let my opponents see a turn card and catch up for free.

A few hands later, another opponent raises to $10 and we see a 4 way flop of 2 T Q, 2 spades, except this time with 78ss.  PF raiser checks to me and I lead for $22.  Older man from prior hand flats and turn is a 3(?) of spades.  I bet $40 and he fiddles with his chips as if he's going to raise, though eventually folds.  Bummer.

The payer in the seat to my right finally sits down after "forgetting" where he was seated.  I welcome him to the table and he looks me in the face and says: "Who the F* are you?"  I'm taken aback, but say "Welcome to the table, sir."  He's bought in for $100.  He turns about to be a bit of an a-hole, chips up to $170 in about 2 orbits, gets up & leaves to another table.  I know exactly what he's doing - going south; pocketing the $70 and starting at a new table for $100.  I don't even have to look.  Low and behold, I turn around, and there he is at the table behind me with $100.  The rule at the Horseshoe is that you cannot "go south."  Now ordinarily, I would not care about what other players around me are doing.  In the direct sense, I am not affected by the action at another table, nor do I work at the poker room and enforce the rules.  I will, of course, bring rule-breakers to light to the management when it directly affects me, but I will also occasionally call out egregious offenders of the going south rule when I've seen them do it as a habit.  This guy, though, is a dick.  I presume he also know the rules, since I saw him playing with his iPhone, tracking his poker play through the Poker Income app (and he had numerous logged sessions).  I let the management know about the issue - and the rule-breaker is quickly brought to justice...  my table genuinely applauds me, as the guy was a dick to everyone there.

Next guy who takes the seat arrives as I'm talking with the guy to my left about the Big Mac Index.  Now I've played with this new guy before, not too many times, but I definitely remember he's a loose, bad player.  While we're mid-conversation (the guy had also folded), I look up to see action has completely stopped on the new player.  The dealer points out that action is on him, and he says - I kid you not: "I'm waiting until The Poker Meister is done with his conversation.  I want to hear what he's saying, because everything he's saying is absolutely wrong.  It couldn't be more wrong."  This guy just. sat. down.  I stop my talking immediately because I, as well as the whole table, would like to move the game along.  He finally folds.  I continue my conversation.  At the earliest opportunity, he chimes in and "corrects me" by using a different country as an example of how the Big Mac Index works, rather than the broader "Europe" that I used...  Claims he's spent 2 years in a higher degree program, and "he knows."  The whole table, including my conversation mate, are trying hard to stifle laughter, as they realize "isn't that what the Poker Meister just said?"  Anyway, dick #2 proceeds to donk off $300 in $100 buy in increments in the span of 20 minutes.  I got none of it, but was quite amused - clearly he didn't master probability nor game theory within his 2 years of higher education...

I digress, though.  Final notable hand of the day:  I steal from the cutoff raising A8o to $12.  SB & BB call - SB is the older black man from above who's now re-bought and is sitting on around $200.  Flop comes J 8 6 rainbow.  Checks to me and I lead for $20.  SB calls, BB folds.  Turn is an offsuit A, completing the rainbow.  Checks, I lead for $35 and SB calls.  River is a 6.  I lead for $40 hoping to get a little more value out of my Aces up, pretty certain SB would call down with a 6.  SB tanks.  SB says to me: "Either you got an Ace or you got nothing..."  This could not be closer to the truth.  I tell him exactly that: "Sir, you are 100% correct."  He's surprised when I respond, and confused.  I clarify that he's 100% correct; I have an Ace or I have nothing.  This tanks him even further.  He finally folds, and says he had nothing, but thought that his nothing beats my nothing - he was considering calling.  I made the correct read; put him on KQ, QT, perhaps a gutter and remotely a Jx hand.  I wanted him to look my up light, but in the end, he nor I could talk himself into calling...  Oh well - a lot to write about a one and a half hour session...

Friday, May 6, 2016

How to not play Aces

I can't really complain about the session I had last night.  I had a lot of suckouts against me, but also got good value for the hands I was dealt and generally played well up until the very last hand of the night.

In my ~8 hour session, I got my AA cracked by KTss when I opened to $16 from the SB against a single limper.  Flop comes K 4 2 - 2 spades.  I bet, he raises / I shove he calls off for $126 total and spikes a King on the turn.  A bit later, I'm dealt QQ, raise to $25 in the SB, get a loose player to limp / shove $65 from the CO and I snap him off.  I'm up against AT - Ace on the turn and I'm now 0 fer 2 with my premiums.

Finally, the last hand of the night.  I'll set the stage.  I'm in the UTG sitting on $625 and all I want to do is go home.  I'm tired at this point, and am done playing around.  I open to $25 from UTG.  UTG+1, a very tight, unimaginative, ABC player who overalues overpairs 3bets to $65.  He has me covered.  Folds around to same player from above that spiked the Ace - he shoves for less - ~$52.  Action to me.  I think for a good while - I distinctly put my opponent on KK and absolutely nothing else.  What to do?  The normal play is to raise to $160 or so...  I think this may have been the second best option, but I have to choose this option if I want to get full stacks in.  The good play here is to just call his raise and mask my hand strength - and check / raise or check / call a non-King (or non-Queen but I'm 99.99% sure it's KK here) flop.  The worst option is to open shove the $600.  Well, as you can probably guess, I open shoved.  I didn't want to deal with a flop / turn / river decision and I was tired.  I know... no excuse for the play, but still, this was my thinking coupled with being sick of the suckouts (which is an even poorer excuse since I know my opponent's cards and I should be folding to a K board).  Well, he thought for what seemed like 5 minutes before finally folding KK and I scooped against my suckout buddy's KTo who couldn't spike 2 of his 5 outs or so.  My honest thinking was that my opponent could never fold KK and would likely happily get KK in PF...  Oh well...  still a good session, though coulda shoulda woulda...

Friday, April 22, 2016

What's the definition of insanity? Oh yeah... right...

I once again had the pleasure of playing against my new favorite whale last night... the one featured in my prior post here.  Now I'm admittedly not much of a table selector, but tonight I became a bum hunter extraordinaire.  I'm not above turning down a free meal because the pickins' are too easy, so I requested a table change immediately upon sitting down.  When I saw a seat become available, I jumped on it only to find out that the floor had inadvertently sat someone new at my requested table.  I talked with the new player, tried to convince him to switch with me, and bought him a beer to swap.  He happily accepted and just like that, I had the Jesus seat on our whale.  Needless, last night did not disappoint - this guy has predictably not changed his game at all, hence the title of the post.  The purchase of a beer was money well spent because the whole table was very profitable.

I was going through the hand history that I mentally filed away last night, because there were quite a few interesting spots:
  • Hand 1: I call an EP raise to $8 with 77 in MP, as do around 2 players including the whale.  We see a flop of 7h 9d Qh.  Checks to me and I lead for $20.  Whale insta-raises to $55 and folds the table back around to me.  I hesitate for a bit before calling the raise.  Turn comes a blank and I check to the raiser.  He leads out a smooth $100 on the turn and I flat.  River is an 8 and I decide to check.  He checks through and flips over AA.  I feel a little sick that I should have stacked him for around $400+ but got 0 value on the river.  I was half-afraid of set over set given his aggression, but I was also thinking he'd bet the river - but I should have thought about it more and perceived that he would be afraid of JT.
  • Hand 2: I wind up calling [smallish] flop / turn / river bet from a fishy player with JT on a K 9  x T 9 board.  When I call his river bet he hesitates for a while, looks at me and asks "Do you think you're good here?"  When I say "I sure do hope so," he flips over QJ and scoops.  I think he was just a fish and didn't realize he held the straight, intending on just going for a gag bluff, but still - what an ass.
  • Hand 3: Our whale got involved in a hand where his opponent shoved the river on a Q 9 T x Q board.  Our whale (I'm guessing he was tilting majorly since he claimed to be in for $1900+ AT A 1/3 GAME!!!) shook his head and claimed "I can't believe I let you get there on me..." before waiting 30 seconds to call with the nuts - QT vs. his opponent's KJ straight.  Really?  He knows better than that...  WTF?
  • Hand 4: I raise to $15 with 88.  Our whale and one other see a flop of K 9 4.  We check to whale who bets $15.  Folds to me and I call, not believing.  Turn is a blank.  I check again and he bets $20.  Call.  River: 8.  I check again expecting a bet (theme of title of post), yet he fails to bet and I'm shown KT vs. my river suckout...  Again, 0 value on the river.
  • Hand 5: Tighter player raises to $10 (a very small bet) and I look down at KK.  I raise to $35.  Folds around to original raiser who puts out $100.  Uh oh!  I start thinking about AA and try to stifle those thoughts...  I'm like 1 and 1 for laying down KK correctly - last time I did it I was up against AQ and would have been way ahead.  That memory is still burning in my head so I just call the 4bet.  He shoves in the dark for $140 on a 3 3 6 or so board.  I even say, "This is a HUGE cooler," but somehow can't find the fold button - I call.  Board runs clean and I'm up against AA.  Bummer.  Do I get extra points for being very very close to folding pre flop or flop?
  • Hand 6: I raise $15 with KQo and get called in 2 spots.  Flop is Q 2 4.  I bet $25 and am called by a nittier retiree.  Retiree fiddles with his chips a bit - looking like he's deciding between raising, calling or folding.  The tell I had was deciding between calling / folding.  Turn is an 8.  I bet $35 and nit again fiddles with his chips before raising to $75.  Was my read wrong?  I wind up folding.  A few hours later,  I ask him about the hand and he stares at me without blinking - eyeballs fixed - and says he had 33, claiming he put me squarely on AK.  He was planning on shutting down if I called the raise.  Not quite sure what the fixed eyeball thing was all about, but had the distinct feeling of being lied to while trying to appear truthful.  I felt much more like he had 22 or 44.  Maybe I tell that to myself to escape the bad laydown...
  • Hand 7: I look down at AQo on the BTN, facing a $15 raise from the best player at the table - TAG Asian dude who knows what's up.  One caller between us & I 3bet to $45.  Asian guy flats and monkey-in-the-middle folds.  Flop comes J high.  He checks and I cbet $60 (he has about $200 behind).  He raises $100 to $160 to go.  I think for a while and can't help but put him on QQ, JJ so I fold.
  • Hand 8: I raise to $15 with AKss in EP.  2 callers between aforementioned Asian dude and me.  Asian dude raises to $55 and it folds to me.  I flat, all else fold.  Flop comes K Q high.  I check to aggressor and he bets $65.  I call.  Turn is a blank.  He bets $150 and I try to shove but wind up calling because I didn't put enough of my stack out (I miscalculated the size of villain's bet).  River is a blank and I check since I gave away my check/raise.  He winds up betting after a long pause - $60 all in.  I snap and am shown AKo for the chop.
  • Hand 9: I raise to $15 with 88.  Get called in 2 spots and have position.  Flop comes 8 9 4 - 2 clubs.  I lead for $35 and get called in both spots (one is the fishy player from Hand 2, one is a decent reg).  Turn is a Qd putting 2 diamonds, 2 clubs out there.  Checks to me and I lead for $75.  Fishy player folds and reg thinks a bit and calls.  River is a 2c completing the flush draw.  Reg checks to me and I weakly check through.  Reg shows TT (oddly played, sir) and I scoop.
  • Hand 10: I limp / call $10 with K2dd as do 4 other players.  Flop is K 2 3 with 2 spades.  The fishy player mentioned in Hand 2 leads for $15.  I raise to $45.  Fishy player calls.  Turn is an off suit 9.  Fishy player leads for $100 with $70 or so behind.  I shove all in [correctly this time] and am snapped off my fishy player.  River is of no consequence and fishy player proudly flips over AKo.  I flip over K2 for the flopped 2 pair and scoop.  It was nice getting a bit of karma.
Overall, I had a solid session.  These kinds of sessions are nice because the cards fell into place, rather than me playing well.  What I beat myself up about is the lack of value obtained on the river in multiple spots.  I hit a miracle set and got nothing for it.  I  should have stacked the whale with my set of 7's but only got around 1/2 stacks...  Towards the end of the night, I became more fearless and tenacious, but I definitely missed opportunities for stackage.  I don't know why earlier in the night I was so gun shy.  I kept on feeling like I was going to be set over set - and ironically, I was KK over AA and didn't shy away when I should have!  Get 'em next time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

A quick brag post...

I played Thursday night 1/3 at the 'Shoe and then was able to come back and play a session today, Friday.  Both sessions were very successful.  One hand was a particular standout as one of my opponents so poorly played their hand that I was just stunned.  I guess I have so many hands under my belt at this point that nothing should surprise me, but still, I'm always amazed...

A little background: 65-75 year old gentleman, always well dressed, likes to splash around a bit and does not have a fold button.  Usually, if he calls for $3 and someone raises, so long as there's money in the pot, he's calling the raise.  I've hit him up a number of times where he'll limp and I raise to between $20-25 eliciting a call followed by a check / fold.

A bit more background on our fish of the day:  I played with him last night where the board turned a 4 flush with me holding the Ace.  I lead out a monotone flop for $10 or something (limped pot) and he called from one of the blinds.  Turn completed my flush and I led out for another $10 or so - he c/r'ed me to $30 and I thought for a bit --- called.  River was another flush card so the board was a flush.  It was something like Q 2 3 6 9 so a straight flush was possible with the 4 5, buy I wasn't too worried.  Any who, our friendly scamp leads out for $100 with like $90 behind.  I raise all in and then he starts talking about how I have the Ace and how bad he runs, etc.  He ends up calling and I stack him.

Fast forward to today: I raise A Q hh from EP.  I get called in about 5 spots and we see a flop of... ho hum...  K J 3 - all hearts.  Easy game, I know...  Well, old man in SB checks, BB leads for $35 and my read is precisely that he flopped a flush too.  Action is on me and I waffle between check and raise - the last thing I want to see on the turn is another heart so he can be scared away, after all.  I come to my senses, though, thinking about the pending 4 other players yet to act and decide to call the $35.  Alas, it folds around to our lovable loser in the SB who decides to execute an ill-timed check / raise... except he c/r's all in for about $170.  BB thinks for about 5 seconds and verbalizes a call.  The whole time, I'm thinking: "I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I'm really think'in about it Vegas and the fuckin' Mirage."

Action to me and I have the BB covered (he has around $350).  Is there any point of screwing around with so much in the middle already - he's committed almost half his stack and the last thing I want is the board to pair or another heart to drop?  I do my best Matt Damon and verbalize all in.  BB is now in a panic... he wasn't thinking I had already flopped the flush, and went through the stages of grief right before my very eyes in the span of about 10 seconds: surprise, then disbelief, then finally acceptance with the call!  Well, what do you think old man holds?  Go on!  Take a guess - what do old men have when the c/r all in?  AA of course - drawing nearly dead to runner runner with 1 Ace and / or running trips on the board.  Needless to say, my hand holds for the 98% favorite and I scoop a nice pot!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Beware the Ides of March... into April?

I thought I was happy the month of March was over.  I played 7 sessions and had my first losing month since June of 2015.  I guess I shouldn't complain; it's bound to happen that I'll run bad over an "extended" period of time - and by extended, I mean 5 out of 7 losing sessions with 4 in a row.  I was very happy to break that aforementioned 4 session loser on the 1st of April, when I settled for a modest 1/2 buy in plus up.  It served to restore a bit of my confidence in my game, but I wasn't feeling 100% healed.  Stuff was still going south on my at a rapid rate, though I did not feel like my play was suffering.  Worst part was I had a killer start to the year, but March pretty much undid all the winning - my hourly rate dropped to below 1/2 levels!  I know... I know...  sample size - 21 total sessions is too small of a sample size to really make judgements and get upset.

Needless to say, I played last night and felt like April had become more of the same that I've come to expect from my sessions lately.  The night started off well enough; I spiked an open-ender with the "Grump" - 2 4ss (his favorite hand).  Mind you, I've never won with that  hand - but I called a SB $15 raise while in position with 5 other callers to see a flop of 3 5 T (one spade, rainbow).  The original raiser had $50-60 left and open shoved the flop.  I was the only caller and saw a spade on the turn and a 6 on the river for the nice, early $160 winner.  I chipped up little by little on my way to +$300 before the doomswitch got turned on.

Note: Skip to below if you don't want to read about whining and bad beats

I went on to flop a set of Aces on an all hearts board only to be shown a JT flush by the river (-$300).  I 3bet to $55 with JJ and flopped mid set only to be shown a 46hh flush on the river (he had $~200 to start the hand, called one bet and then called the 3bet LOL... -$200).  I flopped a 53 flush only to be shown a 95 flopped flush (-$100).  I flopped top 2 pair (T8) only to be 4 straighted on the river (-$65).  I flopped top 2 pair (QT) again only to be flushed on the river (-$65).

Note:  End of whining and bad beats

Despite my string of nauseously poor luck, I found myself out no more than $200 on the night and continually working my way back into the game.  As you can probably gather above, the table was juicy and primed for the pumping if only I could get my hands to hold up.  There were a few guys on total tilt, with the key player sitting on a peak of around $1700.  I could only watch it dwindle away drip drip drip when I finally caught a hand at around 2:30AM:

As I said, I'm no more than in for $200, so in this hand, I'm sitting on approx. $400.  Facing a mid position raise to $15, I look down at 55 on the BTN and opt to just call.  I actually consider 3betting here, but figure with position, sitting on a decent stack, and the looseness of the table, if I hit I can really get paid without giving the strength of my hand away pre-flop.  The player mentioned above is now sitting on around $1100 and is involved in the hand, as are around 5 others.

Flop comes 5 6 Qr, and action checks to villain.  Before we get into it, I want to provide a bit of background on our villain.  He's very active, frequently continuing with hands where he's clearly beat, only to have sucked out continually on the river... and get okay value.  A few examples are calling a turn $75 bet on a 7 A x x board with K7, betting $150 on the river when he hits his K and getting paid.  He'll call $75 on a turn bet with $60 behind when he hits his flush.  You know the type.  He's a middle-aged Asian dude who likes to gamble gabol!  He obviously will not lay down a draw... like EVER.  Finally, I'm seething from this guy - he's the most rude, inconsiderate and questionable rule breaker I've seen in a LONG time.  He'll talk about the hand whether he's involved or not - for example, he bet into a small flopped set and got raised, and starts talking about hands that he puts the raiser on while other players are still involved.  He'll regularly fold out of turn.  He'll act inappropriately like laughing at other players, berating them, slamming his hand down when he folded a flop that he would have hit.  This guy's a regular, and has clearly been warned for his behavior before, but the dealers nor the floor have taken any action against him.  In other words, he couldn't give two craps about the hand or the game if he's not involved.  In one word, he was an asshole - I almost felt sorry for him because I thought he may be on the spectrum (that's how poorly behaved he was).

Anywho, back to my flopped bottom set.  His pattern du jour is to bet smallish (~$15 into $60) with probing bets on hands that he has some equity, but continually will bet 2 or 3 streets as a bluff when other players just call his bets.  Contrary to prior action, this time he bet $47, a large bet for him to be bluffing or drawing.  Another player calls his largish bet and action folds to me.  Around $75 + $47 + $47 in the pot and I'm sitting on $385.  I read his hand as clearly - NOT A BLUFF.  I don't think I want the mid position player just calling - and I'm not sure where I'm at with our villain; he's betting so often that he's very difficult to read.  In fact, with our villain, I've opted to take a straight forward play-my-cards-face-up approach with him, because he's paying off so often and/or bluffing so often that I get more value because he so infrequently likes to fold.  Therefore, I decide I will raise large - and spike $175 into the $~170 pot.  He thinks for a few seconds and calls.  Our monkey-in-the-middle player folds.  Turn is a 3 completing the rainbow.  He checks to be again - actually I bet out of turn but realize that I incorrectly did so - and he check / calls my shove of $210 after some deliberation.  I don't remember the river, but he shows down KQo and I scoop a nice and much needed double up to end my night to the decent positive.  After a whipsaw night, I'm pleased with the results.

Friday, March 11, 2016

It's like kissing your sister...

I had a "long" session last night - played until about 2:30 AM.  I was having too good of a time, playing with the young'ins whom I've become friendly with at the 'Shoe.  A 7 hour session yielded a $50 gain...  puke.  I'm happy with the turnaround from down $300 early on, but still - breaking even for all those hours is a crappy result.  Breaking even is like kissing your sister.  I guess there's something to be said about the entertainment factor of having fun conversations the whole night.

At risk of becoming a Rob-like post, the first table featured a regular who was totally drunk.  He was the chattiest I've ever seen.  There was one lady, an older - maybe late 60's woman - who was mixing it up with us in the conversation.  The conversation started out as folding out of turn and the rules (whether or not you can call after you've folded out of turn but pulled your cards back) spawned from my "brilliant" call down of AJ high vs. AQ high on the river for $100 when the AQ threw his cards towards the muck in a forward motion but did not muck the cards.  Long story, about the latter, but regardless, the conversation quickly turned to "what would you do for a million bucks."

It stayed within the poker realm at first - would you mis-call your hand to illicit a fold from your opponent for $3k, then $1M, then $10M.  There was a particularly honest individual who would not do it.  Then it turned to - well, what WOULD YOU DO for $1M.  Apparently, there's a Facebook post trending about this - and the question was would you step on puppies for $1M or more.  I said I would, and my end of the table started talking about it.  The dude to my left claimed he would step on 10 puppies...  hell, for the money, he'd step on his own dog's puppies!  The dealer, who's an animal lover, was telling us to stop it, but the aforementioned lady got so upset she called floor over to us for a reprimand while also requesting a table change.  I couldn't believe her reaction / outrage at what I felt was a silly hypothetical conversation.  The dude to my left continued to talk about how he puts his lhaso apso in the dog ring ala Michael Vick and watches him tear the fur off of random poodles.  This sent her over the edge.  I think we all made an enemy for life last night.  Some people can't take a joke I guess...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Raising out of turn... a lesson in how not to play

As I was watching Tim "The Trooper 97" 's vlog, I was reminded of a hand I played in the other day.  Playing in my usual Thursday night session at the 'Shoe, I'm sitting on a pretty good session.  There's a guy to my immediate left who's straddling every hand from every position (which I'm loving, because I'm almost always acting second to last).  Action [in]frequently gets to him and he'll shove his stack of almost a full buy in.  It seems to be a random occurrence.  I'm fairly certain he's not drunk, but he seems to be pushing his stack to get a rise out of everyone else at the table.  One hand, he took down a $400 pot with 85dd vs. KK when he flopped trips, but he'll take down other hands when he raises the limpers (who haven't learned) all in.  Again, it's random, so he's not doing this 100% of the time -- making limping a premium hand somewhat dangerous.

To date, I raised KQo to $26 against 1-2 limpers and he open shoved / 3bet me to $250.  Action folded to me and after a long pause, I folded, not wanting to commit stacks with KQ high.  I realize there's a lot of hands I'm ahead of - a TON of hands, in fact - but I just can't logically call in that spot with that hand.

A few orbits pass before the following comes up:

My Huckleberry straddles from the cutoff, and his neighbor calls the $6 from the BTN (he's sitting on roughly $80).  They start talking as action arrives at me.  I have AQdd and am considering a raise when the conversation between the two guys leads the guy to announce (to the table, directed at the BTN limper), "I raise you to $100," without realizing that I have yet to act.  Looking over, I think he became sort of mortified, realizing his mistake of acting out of turn.  He had the look that he did not realize I was still active in the hand (I think it folded around to me for this particular hand, besides the BTN who he intended to raise).  Mind you, I've been in this spot many many times before - wanting to raise myself but getting raised ahead prior to my action.

With no straddle, the rule at the Horseshoe is that out of turn actions are binding assuming there have been no changes prior to action (i.e. if I announced raise instead, it would void his raise and he could act anew).  However, this hand had a straddle element, so I was unsure whether that rule would apply.  Wanting clarification on the rules, I asked the dealer, who called floor and would not give me an answer on the ruling.  The floor, echoing the dealer, simply told me action was to me.  Floor would not give me an answer as to the ruling for the out of turn player.  Action was to me, and reasonably certain that the rule would play whether the hand was straddled or unstraddled, I decided to call the straddle bet and see what would unfold (pun intended?).  As soon as I called, floor announced a raise by the cutoff to $100.  BTN hesitated and called, unhappy with me still being in the hand, and kinda realizing what was going to happen when I called the straddle: I shipped all in over his $100 raise, which amounted to around $275 effective.  Cutoff called without much hesitation, which did not mean a lot to me, since he didn't seem to care about the cards he held.

I have no idea what our table maniac held (he didn't show, but I think he had 97o) but the BTN held JJ for a 42/43/15 for the main pot and a ~65/35 flip for the much larger side pot.

To me, there were 2 takeaways from the hand:
1.  The goal of poker is to get others to make mistakes that you wouldn't make.  Make sure to use those mistakes to your advantage.  Acting out of turn... especially raising out of turn... opens up a world of possibilities that would not have ordinarily been there.  When you have guaranteed action ahead of you if you just call, you have a pretty golden opportunity to get a nice check raise in, with the advantage of trapping all that dead money that isn't thinking about you check / raising.  Punish the players who make mistakes against you!
2.  Wait for good spots to get your money in.  Take those bets that put you at a greater than 50% advantage!  Who knows what would have happened in the KQ hand?  I'm a better player than the maniac who can be shoving a wide range, but includes a ton of Ax hands.  Why not wait for a spot until I'm fairly certain I'm ahead or at least a coin flip?  I do think about whether I would have been ahead with that hand, and whether that was the correct fold, but I'm far more certain about AQs than KQo!

Oh yeah!  Q in the window sealed the hand for me!

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