Friday, October 23, 2015

Something I hold onto - Maryland Live! terrible runs

I generally never forget bad memories or confrontations.  I can forgive, but never forget.  I tend to dwell on these things - keep constant reminders, which keeps the fire going inside of me for self-contained rage.

Typically, when I sit down to the poker table, I bring out my iPhone, open up my built-in Notes app, and register the date and time along with how many chips I purchased.  This way, I can have a tally of what I started with and then when the night ends, the time and count of what I ended with.  I also keep any notes from the session in there.  I've been holding a particular note since January of this year and wanted to get it out on the virtual ink for all to see and feel sorry for.  Well, maybe you don't need to read it, and definitely don't feel sorry - it is indeed a multitude of bat beat stories by the same guy, but perhaps writing them out will help me get over what is now going on a year's past memory.

So I'm sitting at 1/2 Live! all the way back in January.  I'm continually abused by the deck there, and I'm finally starting to get cards during my session.  A guy sitting across from me - mid 50's - has been somewhat aggro, opening a bunch of pots, looking pretty smarmy.  As he's been doing, he opens to $7.  One caller and it folds to me.  I'm sitting with $225 and look down at AA. I act / move to fold my hand and then "pretend realize" that dude opened for $7.  I pull back my cards and "think" for awhile.  I carve out some chips and put out $40 - yes, from $7 to $40 3bet.  The act that I was trying to perform was looking at him, seeing who is doing the raising, then trying to bluff 3bet him off his supposed better hand...  He takes the bait and calls the $40 out of position.  Flop comes a perfect JJ8cc and he leads for $30.  Happily, I raise to $100 and he shoves.  I snap call and am shown JTo.  H even has the nerve to say to me "What did you think I had!??!?!??!"  Seriously?  I. hate. this. guy.

Probably 15 hands later, he raises to $9, and Iopt to just call with 9h7h from the BTN - 4 others do as well.  Flop comes A 9 7r and a mid position player open shoves for $52.  He snap calls the $52 and action is to me.  I reshove for $121 more and he again snaps that off.  I'm shown AK vs. A8 vs my 2 pair.  Do I need to tell you that K on the turn seals the deal for me?  Of course!  Like clockwork!  I. now. hate. this. place. and. hate. him.

I keep these two hand histories in my notes as a reminder of three things:
1.  I am not owed anything from poker.  Just because I get my money in (or in the first case, my implied money) as a strong favorite (I also think of Josie's session last week with Tony where she 3bet to $80 with AA and Tony called with 45s whose play angers me by proxy) doesn't mean that I'm the winner.  In fact, if that statement were the case, the fish would not play the game anymore.
2.  Remember the good times and the times when my hands held.  Statistically, those hands occur far more often, but they're far more difficult to remember.  Let those bad beat hands simmer within me and drive me to continue to never be on the opposite end; i.e. be the shark and not the fish.
3.  Don't feel bad when I am on the opposite end; when I'm the one doing performing the suck out.  Sometimes, I'm going to get my money in bad.  When I do, I typically feel dirty about it - as if it's acceptable for everyone else, but not for me.  Get over that feeling - one simply cannot play perfect poker and always get the money in ahead.  So long as it's the exception and not the rule, keep playing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Odds & ends - nothing much to write about

In no order of importance, only items that I'm remembering:

  • Had my biggest session ever last night - a session on the shorter side, but very profitable!
  • Went through a streak of 9 winning sessions in a row (longest streak ever) from around my trip to Vegas through mid-August.
  • Lost 1 or 2 sessions after that streak, and then had a streak of 7 winning sessions.
  • It's pretty cool that seemingly no matter what happens with poker, there's always regression to the mean:
    • 62% of my sessions are winning sessions - 2 plus 2 reports ~60% of sessions should be winners.
    • My hourly rate at 1/2 is ~$19/hr, my hourly rate at 1/3 is ~$33/hr - 2 plus 2 reports ~10x BB / hr is handily beating the game.
    • The hourly rates for 1/2 include a terrible run at Maryland Live! where I average a measly $1.49 / hr.
  • I've put in more hours this year than any other year, with less sessions than the prior years' maximums.  In other words, I'm averaging more hours per session.  If I keep to the pace I'm on right now, I should end the year with the most sessions eve
  • It's pretty cool (or pathetic depending on which side of the coin you're on) that we play and win at a game that requires no formal degree nor education, no resume nor any job interview, yet we can make more per hour than a skilled laborer or degree'd career job.
    • It's a nice fallback plan that if the economy goes to the dumper, there's always gambling and poker!
  • I've been thinking about moving back into the 2/5 games, yet the 1/3 games are so juicy it's tough to justify an additional $200 on the table.
  • I met a few regs that I've seen around the room since I've been playing at the 'Shoe, yet never sat down at the same table with them.  Nice folks!
  • I think I got labeled a 1/3 donk because I called 3 streets + checked a river against an aggro 2/5 player who: PF raised $25 (called with 99), bet $35 on a Ts 7s 2 board (I called), bet $75 on a 5 turn (call) and checked the J river - I was shown AQo.  I was checking for value the whole way and debated betting the river, figuring she could potentially call A high as a bluff catcher against my missed spade draw, but in the end, couldn't find the fortitude to bet it (it would have been for naught since she claimed she would have folded any bet there).
Finally, 3 hand histories for thought:
  •  This one is from last night and deals with a mega aggro (maniac) at 1/3:

    He's at my table for around 14 hands and has straddled at every chance.  He's on my left, so that's nice so far as straddles are concerned, but he's totally unpredictable, and within the 8 hands, he's shown QQ and KK as well as a ton of bluffs and non-value hands.  Outside of me, he's running the table over with his $300 buy in because he's forcing folds out of discomfort from the rest of them - his stack is up to around $360.  I don't remember the details, but I took a pot off him by raising one of his straddles and cbetting which nets him back down to $320 to start the hand (I have him easily covered as this is my all time winningest session).

    He's straddling the BTN for $8 and I'm in the hijack with KQo.  Not normally a hand I'd limp a straddle (that's a raise IMO, particularly from late position like that), but I suspect he'll raise on queue with 3 other limpers and perceived dead money.  Well, this Yogi may be smarter than the average bear since he checks through the option - perhaps thinking one of the limpers is laying in wait to limp / raise him.

    Well, all that said, we see a flop of K 8 2 - rainbow.  All check to the aggro who leads for $20 into the $40 pot.  He gets 2 calls and action is to me - $100 in the middle now.  I'm debating thinning the herd:
    1.  I don't know what kinds of hands the callers have, so I'm not going to be happy with any turn card - particularly a non-King board pairing.
    2.  I think Mr. Aggro will take my move as an indicator that I'm trying to "make a move on him."  He's somewhat scared of me - if nothing else he respects me, and wouldn't expect me to check / raise such a dry board.  After all, "what am I scared of?"
    3.  I don't want to raise too much here; I want action because I'm likely way ahead here - Mr. Aggro and the rest of the field are drawing to 25% hands most likely, since there aren't any draws and very few backdoors (mainly T9s).  I want value out of at least one person so Mr. Aggro is my target.

    $100 is too much to check / raise, from a limped pot - as I think it's too dissuasive for seeing another card if I'm looking for my 2 pair / 3 of a kind outs...  Min raise ($40) is a snap call from all parties, so that's too little.  Therefore, I decide on between $60-70 - I check / raise to $65.  Mr. Aggro snaps it off and lets me know that he "hopes I have better than just 1 pair, because I'm gonna need it!"  Turn is an off suit 4 completing the rainbow.

    I debate going for a check / raise once again, but just go with the most direct route: I lead for $100 and he folds, showing 2 5 and lecturing me that the 4 missed him by a 'pip and how lucky I was...  Critical thought to the hand: Should I be trying for a c/r again, or should I have bet less?  More?  Thought at the time was he can call a c/r to $65 and the pot now has close to $200 - half pot on the turn should be a snap call, no?  Guess not...
  • A few nights ago, again 1/3:

    I'm dealt 88h as my first hand, facing a $15 raise from an early position raiser.  No data on the guy except he's in his late 30's / early 40's.  I call along with one full time player who's always at the 'Shoe.

    Flop comes As 4h 5h - EP cbets $20.  It seems like such a weak cbet - to the tune of nuts or air.  $20 into $45?  Weak sauce.  I call to take one off and take it away on the turn, and the reg to my left folds.

    Turn is an 8s.  EP now checks to me.  It's annoying to hit a nut card on the turn and now "value bet" instead of bluff take it away as planned.  $85 in the pot and I know he's not calling any bet unless he turned a flush draw / flopped a flush draw.  Unless he's extremely tricky (unlikely for 1/3), he's signaled the classic "give up" on the turn by checking the A high board.  How do you get value out of a board that you planned to bluff but now want value?  I felt compelled to bet here, but I don't know if I did the right thing; perhaps checking nets a small value bet on the river - but I bet $40 and he snap folded.
  • Last night, 1/3 - pressing up against my session maximums (winningest session ever):

    Not entirely happy with this hand, though I don't know if I'm going to take a lesson learned.  I'm effectively running the table over by combinations of value and bluffs.  $11 cbets on limped pots (non- Ace high, in position) seem to continually take it down.  These dogs won't hunt without top pair minimum.  Good for me.  Limp more often, bet more often.

    I'm dealt 66 from mid position with a 50's woman (weak / tight) who limped to my right.  I raise to $16 and get a 2-3 callers.  Moves around to a short stack who shoves for $43.  Lady to my right thinks for a while and just calls.

    Action to me:

    Lady has flat called twice now and betting is re-opened.  I want to capture dead money and get heads up with the all in.  I think the lady is always raising QQ+, most of the time JJ+.  I can mostly exclude that from her range.  The part I'm not thinking about is that she's super frustrated with taking a beating the whole night.  I want her to fold, so I put $100 on top for $143 to go which folds out everyone except for the woman (and the all-in).  She thinks for a very long time before sighing and finally shoves her remaining $170 total.  I snap call and am shown 88 (lady) vs. J9.  88 holds to scoop a nice sized pot.  I gave her too much credit that she could fold her hand - she had showed a prior fold for $20 on the turn with a flopped trip Aces, deuce kicker against another player (with $50 in front of her), she had continually folded out of fear of kicker problems, etc.

    Again, don't know if there's a lesson learned here.  Flatting $3, then $43?  Perhaps I need to expand her range even though her range was exactly what I suspected it would be...?
Alright - too long of a post after not posting for about a month...  Hope you enjoy :-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

A hand history from last week - Leaving room for a 4bet

Here's an interesting hand that came up the other day at the $1/3 game at the 'Shoe:  I'm in mid position with TT facing a raise to $10 from a short stack who has around $45 total to start the hand.  I look over and he seems antsy to leave so I figure him for opening pretty wide (new trend at B'more seems to be dump chips when you're ready to leave).  Anyway, I opt to 3bet to a modest amount fully figuring my anxious friend to 4bet shove on me.  The trick here, I figure, is to 3bet large enough to get dead money to call the 3bet but keep it light enough where I can 5bet or reopen.  I raise the open to $25 and there are no less that 4 callers.  As planned, my friend 4bets all in for $45 to go.  Action to me with $125 of dead money and I consider:  I pop it to $125 and [still] pick up one caller!!! I couldn't believe that this guy flatted 5 bets....

Anyway, flop comes 236cc and I lead for $125 - he shoves over for around $73 more which I snap off and he tells me I'm good but he can't lay down his hand...  I'm not so sure about whether I'm good at this point; he probably puts me on qq+...  Tc on the turn and I figure that could go either way and the blank on the river - he shows 99 and I scoop an $800+ pot.

Keys to the hand are:
  • Consider opening bet sizing.  Are you leaving room in your 3bet to reopen the pot? Will your opener shove?  Can you pick up dead money before it gets back to your opener?
  • What is the impact of showing the TT hand on the table?  Keep in mind that the more observant players at the table have you marked as overvaluing your hands.  They're not going to trust your 3bets for the remainder of the session, and perhaps beyond.
  • What is your goal for this situation?  My goal was to get encourage callers on my 3bet and then sweep up the dead money with my expected 5 bet.  If I didn't get the 4bet shove from my anxious victim, I need to re-evaluate the hand ranges of 3bet callers for a "modest" raise of $25...  their ranges are far more narrow than limping, but they're still somewhat wide open to suited connectors and Ax suited hands as well as pocket pairs.
After the hand, one of the observant players I talk about above told me he laid down JJ to my 5bet.  Interesting and noted, sir!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Poker Tells Part 4 - Staring after the bet

I started a series of posts about Poker Tells back in May, and they kind of trailed off.   Although my time constraints haven't loosened, I have a few parts of the series in the queue and wanted to get some out.  Here's part 4 - the stare.

This is a great one!  I love this tell because it's so obviously a strong means weak tell.  In fact, I remember a few years ago I was able to run a play on the sole read that this player was staring me down - I had a mid pocket pair and there was an Ace high board with 2 undercards.  I cbet the flop and he called.  By the turn, if I recall correctly, I checked and he bet big but stared hard at me.  I raised him all in and he eventually called his 2 overcards only to miss the river.  I think I wrote about it, but can't seem to find the post.  EDIT: The post can be found here - "I Terrorized My Table Last Night.Regardless, the above illustrates a common tell that you'll see every couple of sessions: the stare, or the angry stare.

I have seen this tell a lot and it is fairly reliable.  Your opponent will make a point to stare you down as an intimidation tactic after he's made a large bet.  This is the opposite of a hunter / hunted scenario above.  He makes a show and does not hide the fact that he is "mad at you" for defying him and not bending to his will of the bet.  He wants you to fold.  Careful with this tell, though, because some players will just stare after making a bet regardless.  Be sure to baseline his behaviors after all bets to see if there's a change.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mixed signals from a fish... a nice tell to pick up on...

What I came up with after googling "poker tells."  An interesting picture, but nothing to do with the post
I was playing last week with one of my favorite fish, an older gentleman (and I use "gentleman" loosely; he's a curmudgeonly mean fella).  We were sitting at the 1/3 game over at the 'ole 'Shoe - I had long since folded out of the hand, but was paying particular attention since I had raised $15 (AK in EP) and the BTN had called alongside my fish in the SB or BB (one other player between me and the BTN was in the hand as well I think, but that's inconsequential).  The flop was 4 x x - 2 clubs, and I checked because it was very likely one of the 2 or 3 players hit the flop and was going to call regardless my bet sizing.  As it turns out, the fish checked, I checked and the BTN led out for an amount which escapes me (large enough to not be profitable to float), but the fish came along.  I think the turn was a 6c completing the flush 3flush.  The fish checked once again and the BTN continued to bet; the fish called very quickly...

There's a tell right there - the fast call.  One can interpret the fast call one of two ways, but either way, it means he's non-nuts here -- very likely a drawing hand.  Think about it this way: if he had a nutted or formerly nutted hand, wouldn't he take a bit longer time to make a decision?  If he had the flush, he'd surely stop & thinking about check raising, concerned about a 4flush killing the action or counterfeiting his hand.  If he had a set, he'd surely think about how to charge for the draw to the 4 flush and consider the possibility of his opponent having a flush.  Either way, my fish fast calls because he's anxious to see the river.

The river was a blank non-club leaving 4 6 xxx, 3 flush on the board and my favorite fish bet big, as he usually does (one huge hole in his game is he overvalues the hell our of his hands, but that's just the tip of the iceberg of problems with this particular fish).  After he bet, the BTN went into the tank and the fish took his cards readying them for the muck.

As close as I could come to a graphic of the "fold hold"
There's the other tell - the hold the cards ready for the muck / threatening to fold / daring the opponent to make the call.  This call coincides with strength, or perceived strength in my fish's case - and combined with the turn fast call tell, I read that this player has what he views is a strong hand, but it is a non-nut, likely non-flush hand.  Therefore, I read him for a set or two pair.

The fish's opponent eventually calls and, low and behold, as you may have guessed because I somewhat "led the witness" from the hand telling above, our fish shows 4 6 for the turned 2 pair.  Putting it together in reverse, he fast calls the turn, wanting to see the river as quickly as possible with his "drawing hand."  He's looking for the miracle 4 outter on the river, but somehow decides on the river that his hand is strong enough to go with...  By the reaction of his opponent tanking, he becomes very confident in his hand, going into "threatening to fold" mode.

Moral of the story is two-fold:

  1. Always pay attention after you fold your hands.  You're not there to play on your cell phone or watch TV (note my last post about the tale of two regs).  You're there to get better and make money while doing so.  You should have fun, but remember why you're there!
  2. Put tells together and put them into motion in your play.  When you see someone else doing something obvious, not only make sure that you don't repeat their mistake, but also make sure to take note and take advantage of their tell.  For example, I actually was doing the fold hold for a long time until I realized it's a clear tell and forced myself out of that bad habit.  Now I notice when others do it - it's certainly improved my game.
FWIW, the fold hold tell was pointed out to me in Zach Elwood's book, Reading Poker Tells.  I've mentioned his book before in prior posts.  If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and take a look.  It's well worth it!

Side note: I was talking with the dealer very quietly during the hand; we were whispering back & forth speculating on the fish's hand.  The dealer was absolutely convinced that the fish had the A high flush, while I was saying that he has a hand that he thinks is strong, but it is definitely non-flushing.  We both saw the same exact tells, but the dealer took the tells for extreme strength - fast call on the turn, fold hold, etc., while I saw it as a mix of the two.  Make sure that you put the tells together correctly rather than in isolation - and also make sure you read the tells for what they are... i.e. fast calls usually mean drawing hands, fold holds usually mean extreme strength.  And since I've always wanted to say this, but it's finally apropos to the discussion, "I've upped my game, so up yours!"  But seriously, I hope you take something away from this post - learn something about your opponent's game, but more importantly, learn something about your game.

Final note:  Mr. Elwood has a whole series of poker tells online.  Take a look at his examination of the immediate call:

If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and watch his whole series.  It will take about an hour but your game will be enriched to a greater degree.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Tale of Two Regs

Do you fancy yourself a pro?
As I alluded to in last week's post, I was tracking an apparent reg at the table - a Russian chick - while playing a session at the Belagio.  Word on the street (at least from the dealers' perspective) is that she sits there, doesn't say a word, and grinds away.  She's not unpleasant to work with - but I wouldn't describe her as pleasant, either.  The whole time I was there, she was checking her phone, disinterested in anything ongoing at the table.  In fact, when she was checked out of a hand, she was literally checked out - head down, looking at her phone.

In contrast, earlier in the session was a bald younger to middle aged gentleman (thick accent; maybe somewhere former Soviet bloc I'd imagine as well) who was [as it turned out later] waiting on a 5/10 seat to open.  It's not often that I see the 5/10 players showing up at the 1/3 games, but it was an interesting experience.  This guy was totally in tune with the game.  Although he was hyper aggressive and unpleasant [as an opponent] to have in the game, he gave me an opportunity to learn a few tricks.  He made me more alert of my game and what I was doing, and also made me more carefully examine each move that I was making.  He made me and the entire table realize that the money means a whole lot less to him than it does to the rest of the table, and as such, everyone walked on egg shells around him...  The table wasn't sure what his range was (it was very wide as he would open most pots and limp / call almost everything else).  He would frequently float and call cbets, and make large pot-sized cbets himself if he was opening the pot first (most of the time, he'd take down the pot, but if not, he'd barrel again on the turn).  He would carefully and deliberately make decisions rather than snap call or snap fold.  In other words, he was prepared to fight for every pot, no matter size nor action.

All of this glowing review of the 5/10 player is not meant to glorify him; he certainly had his flaws - spots where I would easily fold without a second thought (old guy shoves over with full stacks on a Q Q x board and he called with Q2 to be shown KQ and suckout for the chop), or 3betting me all in for $40 with A4 after I opened for $15 with A7o from the BTN immediately after the Q2 loss.  However, the takeaway for me is selective, hard aggression.  Barrelling twice is significant.  As I alluded to in my last post, floating flops is significant.  When opponents check the turn after taking initiative on the flop, it's usually a sign that they're giving up / pot controlling.  Stealing from the BTN makes sense.

All of the disdain I hold for the Russian chick is absolutely meant to chastise her.  If you fancy yourself a pro, stop screwing around on the phone.  Stop being distracted.  Stop being unfriendly at the table.  Use the tools you have to your advantage.  You're missing out on valuable information by not paying attention: how people play, their tendencies, why they play, what they're saying.  Identifying what motivates your opponent goes a long way to beating your opponent.  Does he play to win money?  Is she uncomfortable with the amount of money on the table?  Does he want the social aspect of the game?

Look, you consider yourself a pro.  If you work at a professional job, do you drink on the job?  Then why are you drinking at the table?  If you work at a professional job, do you play on your cell phone in between answering emails of phone calls?  Then why are you playing on your phone at the table?  If you work at a professional job, do you neglect your customers?  Then why are you ignoring your customers at the table?

Just some thoughts I wanted to put down...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting more comfortable with bluffs and picking spots - a Vegas recap

A critical part of your game should be adjusting to the type of game you're playing.  If you're playing in a tight game, play loose.  If you're playing in a loose game, play tight.  That's the adage at least - and I'm sticking to it!  As with the prior posts, I'm experimenting with expanding my game in the correct situations, and was able to pull off a few more bluffs this week.  Skip to the end if you don't care about the blah blah blah Vegas vacation recap.

The games in Vegas are an interesting breed - unlike that of the DC area.  Here in DC, people tend to not give up very easily, floating cbets and looking for spots to re-bluff.  Perhaps it's simply a factor of Vegas bringing in a more international flavor with a varied range of wealth types, versus the super competitive dog-eat-dog area that is known as the nation's capital, but the Vegas games seem extremely passive.

I got a decent amount of seat time in, all at odd hours (12am - 4am, 2pm - 7pm, 12am - 2am, etc.) but all told, I got to play 18+ hours throughout my Friday to Tuesday trip (while not playing a single hour neither Friday nor Tuesday).  My wife & I stayed compliments of Caesars Corporation at the Linq hotel & casino  (formerly the Imperial Palace).  The hotel room was decent enough - it was on the scale of a Hampton Inn or similar.   Everything was fresh & new, and the bed was comfortable.  We stayed in a room overlooking the Harrah's pool (which, BTW, is shared with the Linq for the under 21 crowd to use; the Linq has a 21 and older pool only).

Nice butt from the Linq

Decent looking chick at the Linq

Unfortunately, the Linq doesn't have a poker room, so I was forced to go elsewhere for my play.  Across the street from the Linq is the flagship casino, Caesar's Palace, where I got in 3 sessions of 1/2 poker.  Not only was it the most convenient - a mere 5 minute walk, but also I could receive Total Rewards credits for my play, as I attempt to achieve Diamond status (I should be there within 3 months).  The 3 sessions I played there were laughable - the tables were very loose passive, arguably the most desirable type of game: raise and they fold, or they call and fold the flop cbet, or they call and fold the turn / river overcard.  Easy peasy, even though the game selection wasn't that great; it was 1/2 poker but only had 4-5 games going on a given night.  Some interesting things I saw were a guy open shoving a 3 flush river on a double paired board (T T 7 5 5 I think), and his opponent folding face up with Q T, not realizing that he rivered the boat as well.  I saw another guy call down Ten high for no other apparent reason (and actually won the pot).  One other notable was where I freerolled a flush on a 4straight board (I shoved on a turned 2 heart board and my opponent called for the chop only to river the 3rd heart for the flush for me).  I'm sure there were a host of other egregious errors, but I can't remember any at this time.

I played a session during the day at the Wynn while my wife was buying at the ASD wholesale show with her parents.  This setting was a bit more of a challenge than Caesar's - there were some Vegas grinders - 3, in fact.  I was able to take advantage of one of the regs, which is detailed below in the hand history section.  It was during this session that I was able to play with the [in]famous Tony Big Charles.  He and I mixed it up for one footnote of a hand: I limped J9o and he limped AJo (questionable to limp MP with that hand, but what do I know...) and we gutted a turned straight (8 T K -- Q) to get it all in for $80 (I led $25 into the 2 flush board and he raised to $50 or something; I shoved and he called for his remaining dollars).  I don't think I'm ever folding the second nuts for $55 more...  Anyway, despite my play with Tony, I walked away a winner.

EDIT: According to Tony's post, this was a "big pot."  I don't know what his thought was, but he was certainly questioning me on the hand afterwards, wondering what hand I put him on that he would raise the turn - ummm...  sets, 2 pair, AK, any host of hands, but I digress.  A note on Tony for future reference: he does not like to slow play, seemingly ever (the hand above happened fairly early on) - even when it's a blank, draw-free board.  He'll only raise a very small range, and bet the shit out of it when he knows he's ahead.  An example is flopping top set with KK - he pots the flop where he should have checked to let others catch an Ace or a backdoor draw.  Instead, he pots $45 on a board where rarely anyone can have a solid hand.  Tony, if you're reading the post, please take the comments as advice, not as criticism.  Learn from it if you choose to.  Also, it was fun playing with Tony - I don't think I've ever played against him at a table though I've met him 3 times now.

Just Johnny 'n me!
After the Wynn, my in-laws took my wife and I to Bazaar Meat in the SLS casino.  Great eats - just like Jaleo, but classier and more expensive.  The two restaurants share similar dishes, but the Bazaar Meat is centered around steak and different cuts of meat like Wagyu beef and whole suckling pig.  The vegetables dishes are excellent (brussel sprouts, croquettes, asparagus, peppers, mashed 'taters, etc.), the 2 1/2 lb. ribeye was cooked perfectly, and the desserts were out of this world!  We got a bit of a special treatment, since my brother in-law's brother-in law is the head chef over at the Bethesda Jaleo.  For me, though, the coolest part about the whole visit was the fact that we ate at the table behind Johnny Chan (yes, that Johnny F*CKING Chan!!!) and Minh Ly.  Ho hum... rubbing elbows with celebrities and pros are what I do everyday...  I bothered Mr. Orient Express for a picture, and he obliged, as you can see.  It was kinda cool - and I guess I shouldn't be awe-struck, but he's on the phone with someone, ordering something and he's like "yes...  my name is John Chan..."  Who the hell is he talking to?  Shouldn't he be like "yes, it's me - you should know who this voice is!  I'm the man!"  Regardless, Mr. Chan is indeed the man, and he was very gracious to allow a pic with me!  Mr. Ly is pretty cool himself - he seemed like a fun guy as well.

The back of Doyle Brunson's head, wearing a red shirt and tan baseball cap
Scott Seiver in blue, seated
Final session of note was played at the Belagio 1/3 tables where Doyle and the gang were playing 1/2 mix...  oh - I mean 1 THOUSAND / 2 THOUSAND mix.  There was probably $1m + on the table.  I wasn't able to get a good pic of anything, but Scott Seiver was there, as was Jon "Pearljammer" Turner (I think it was him), Patrik Antonius, and a few other players I didn't recognize.  Anyway, my table at the Belagio had an international flair, as described below.  I found the general feel of Belagio to be similar to that of the Wynn, but the room was far more accommodating to grinders.  First, they serve Fiji water, which I think is more expensive than the standard fare.  All alcohol is free, and they'll bring you whatever you want.  The servers and dealers are super professional.  The only other items worth mentioning are that new players must post and new players can post behind the small blind, in between the small blind and the BTN.  That rule is totally weird, FYI - you wind up effectively with 3 blinds: BB, SB and the new player blind.  IMO, stupid rule, but again, what do I know...

Final item before we go into hand histories: it seems universal to Vegas that the they have a modified Mississippi straddle where only the UTG & BTN may straddle.  If the BTN straddles, there are a few rules: first to act is always the UTG, if the pot goes unraised prior to action to the natural BTN position, action jumps to the SB, then the BB, and finally the BTN.  If the pot is raised prior to the natural BTN, the BTN acts and then SB, BB.  Strange rules, but once again, what do I know...

The Hand Histories

Wynn 1/3:

Aggro has a newly doubled stack of $160 raises to $15 and I call with QJo along with 2 others.

Flop comes K K 6 dd.  Checks to aggro who leads for $20.  One caller in between and I raise to (I think - no notes) $50.  Instamucks all around and I scoop.

Belagio 1/3:

I'm sitting at a truly international table; 3 Italians (the Italian to my right is a poker coach and professional Stars grinder on Stars Italy), a girl from China, a Brazilian, a guy from Denmark and a Russian who I'm pretty sure fancies herself a pro (I'm going to write a post devoted solely to this chick later in the week / next week).

I call AQo out of the BB to a $15 raise from the Russian who's been playing fairly tight / aggressive.  Notably, she's frustrated because lately, every time she opens, she's getting 3bet and shut out of pots.  This time, we see a 3 way flop (I think the Danish guy calls): 3 5 6 rainbow.

Russian cbets $25 into the $45 pot and I just call to see what materializes on the turn.  Turn is a 4 completing the rainbow.  I lead for $45, repping 77 and after a long time, she opts to flat.

River is an 8.  I pause for a bit, thinking about bet sizing and put out $125  (I wanted to say - "if you're calling $45 on the turn with a bit of hesitation, I put you on a solid overpair and want you to call, but I don't want to make it an easy call for you.  Therefore I put out a roughly 3/4 pot bet.", while I'm thinking, "I've seen you fold hands, and I know you can fold this hand.  I'll make it easier for you by betting more than a stack of red.")  This stops her dead in her tracks - she tanks for about 5 minutes before finally opting to fold.

Belagio 1/3:

Same table as above, $6 raise from UTG+1, called in 5 spots ($30 in the pot) and I'm in the BB with KQo.  I look, think, and 3bet to $38.  Folds all around and I scoop a decent pot.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Again... trying new things at the table

I've been posting some oddities / things I'm doing off-norm to experiment with live play and see where it takes me.  Last week, I posted a hand where I decided to flop / squeeze a wet board with blanks, into what seemed like a weak cbet, scared of flopped trips...  It backfired in my face :-).  However, I did get a cool comment out of it: I have "balls of steel."  Nice!

Anyway, your hero joins the fracas this week with a hand from last night:
Straddled to $8 from UTG, who is a Iranian guy - crazy, hot headed who just loves to get loud and grouse about anything and everything.  He also is in love with the raise; he's got a wide range from all positions and is not afraid to "ship it" with weak holdings.  So far, he's made correct reads and worked his stack up from $300 to $500.  I'm on the BTN and I overlimp 3 players to my right with QJhh when it gets to UTG who pops it to $25 on top.  Folds around to the player immediately to my right (weakish player, plays hands face up, etc. - generally non-thinking) who thinks for a bit then calls the $25.

Action to me and I pump it up to $100, having had the plan all along.  Thought is that I can see a flop cheap for $8 with suited connectors / premiums if it checks through or I can squeeze the UTG if / when his bet comes as somewhat expected.  There's a ton of dead money (around $35 plus the UTG $25 + the guy on my right's $25) and UTG is rarely ever showing up with a hand.

Thoughts?  Thoughts on bet sizing?  What about the overall execution?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vegas, baby!

I'm headed out to Vegas on Friday morning...  plans are for a 5 day trip.  I'm looking to perhaps mix it up with a few tournaments since I'll have the time to put in.  Here are the "major" guaranteed tourneys going on while I'm there:
  • Venetian 8/1 12pm $300 $15k guaranteed - 12k chips, 30 minute levels
  • Wynn 8/1 12pm $225 $25k guaranteed - 10k chips, 40 minute levels
  • Venetian 8/4 12pm $150 $10k guaranteed - 12k chips, 30 minute levels
So, having never played a wide field tournament, how long do these events last?  If it starts at 12, will I be playing into the dinner hour?   Are they one-day events?  Would any of the above be considered "good value?"  Do the weekly guaranteed at these places carry an overlay (which would be nice)? 

Likely, I'll play the Wynn 8/1 and the Venetian 8/4 from the look of it.  The rest of the days and time that I have will be filled with 1/3 cash games.  Best I can tell, the places for cash games are the Venetian, Belagio, ARIA and Wynn - and based on Rob's latest details with Orel Hershiser, I'll probably go with the ARIA primarily.


Friday, July 24, 2015

My night last night...

I played poorly - and have minus one buy in to show for it.  In light of the poor play and sucky cards, I think that's not a bad result...

As evidenced:
98o <  99 - Top two vs. top set... live poker is rigged
AQ < 89dd - should have gotten away from that on the flop but paid off ~$100
KK < JT - just stupid play on my opponent who flopped 2 pair but should have never called pre-flop
57hh < 46o - Turned straight runs into rivered boat

I realized that I'm having a problem playing off the mid-stacks (~$150) when I have a good hand.  I need to break myself of that habit - despite my raises pre-flop...

In good news, I played $100 worth of promotional chips and won back a $70 return at the blackjack tables!  That feels good, even though I'm convinced I'm playing wrong.  Does such a small sample size really matter when I'm playing for promo chips?  I don't really care to take the time to print out the algorithms and "correct play."  I just went by gut - I guess I did alright last night :-)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interesting "reg" hand from 'Shoe - what would you do?

I'm settled into a nice session, around $800 deep at $1/3, playing against two regs with $300 each.  These are competent, thinking regs.

Tight reg 1 in EP raises to $15, gets called by thinking reg 2 and me (5h4h), in addition to 3 other players - we see a Td9dTc flop with $90 in the pot.

Original raiser leads for $30 and gets called after some thought by reg 2, when action lands on me.  I think about what I'm going to do.  While I'm thinking, I get the 3 strap hangers to folding out of turn, returning whatever action I take back to reg 1, but I still have yet to act.  Yes, that's right - they folded while waiting for my anticipated raise...  My decisions are a bit easier now, having knowledge that I'm against 2 regs and no Tx hands by the 3 folders.  Reg 1 rarely has a Tx hand because she opened EP - she's rarely (if ever) opening AT, let alone a lesser hand baring TT.  Moreover, TT is not likely to lead this flop - drawing hands can really only call (i.e. no Tx hands available).  Reg 2 is most likely that drawing hand - he paused for a good long time before making the call - likely deciding between raising and calling but barring raising because of the paired board.  I come to the conclusion that I should put in a healthy pot sized raise here - I raise to $115 - it will fold reg 1's [expected] JJ+, and should fold reg 2's draws.  If reg 2 doesn't fold on the flop, then although I sweat a whole bunch of bad turns, I can possibly push him off the turn but I do think it's likely he'll fold my large raise on the flop.  Thoughts?

Click to see results

I wound up putting in $115, only to be shoved on for $300 by reg 1. Reg 2 folded and I was left wondering in amazement before folding. Ouch! After a bit of table talk, she let on that she flopped 9's full and was fearful of being sucked out on by Tx, exactly what I was representing... Oh well - sometimes you succeed in a clever move, sometimes you fail. It seems I fail more often than not - maybe I should stop bluffing :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mohegan Sun Pocono trip report

Not much poker to report lately; I've been vacationing (vacating?) with the family in the Pennsylvania hills of the Poconos!  As is typical for me, I'll experience a good run followed by a series of bankroll destroying sessions (with quotes, because they actually don't destroy my bankroll but mentally destroy me).  Overall, I make money and average out to a decent hourly rate (~10x BB / hr, which is considered beating the game handily) but it's till frustrating to ride the downs of the game.  Coming into PA, I'm riding a downswing of about 3 sessions.

Anyway, since Pennsylvania (PA henceforth since it's annoying to type out the whole name of the state) recently added gambling to their sources of revenue / taxes, pretty much anywhere in the state, you're reasonably close to a casino.  In this case, I was about 30 minutes from Mount Airy Casino Resort and 35 minutes from Mohegan Sun Pocono.  I opted for the latter because of the game selection; Mount Airy had 2 tables going and Mohegan had 4-5.  I wound up playing a sum total of 2 sessions with 1 interesting hand to discuss.  Before I get into the hand in question, let me set up the Mohegan Sun room:

This is very much a locals casino.  The poker room is located far away from the main parking lot, in a subterranean area underneath the live horse racing track.  No windows, but decently lit room - however, it feels like a basement, which it is.  The room maybe has 15 tables, spread out, with 3-4 $1/2 tables operating at any given time, in addition to the low buy in tournaments that run daily with buy ins of $40-$125.  The room is comfortable, reasonably clean (the chips are filthy though), and the floor staff and dealers are friendly.  I found the locals to be welcoming, but they are definitely locals - they know one another and know how to play one another.  Fortunately, they're mostly awful players, save for a few exceptions - 3 players to be exact - who know how to maximize and seem like they would be consistent winners.

The room has magazines 'a' plenty, offering back issues of Card Player and Ante Up! magazine.  They also have some interesting promotions.  Instead of the bad beat jackpot, they have a roughly 12 hour high hand which wins all the bad beat drop money that was collected during that 12 hour period.  Typically, the high hand wins ~$400.  Yes, high hand is anything from a flush on up - you must use both cards in your hand and a pair in your hand for quads to qualify.  Another, even better, offering is the hot seat promotion that runs from 10pm - 2am and 3pm - 7pm on Sundays and Mondays through July.  Every 20 minutes during those times, they pull a seat out of a hat and award the winner $100 cash.  Given the limited tables in play, this is an awesome promotion with each player having a very high chance of winning at least once!

So, going into the room, I'm running on a down streak which continued for my first session.  I've been card dead for those prior sessions, and I could feel my cards starting to pick up - I was dealt KK, AQ, and some other premiums as well as hitting 2 pairs a few times.  One hand, I limped 67s and flopped 6s7sTd beauty 7 way.  SB leads for $10, I bump it to $30, call, to my left raises to $85, flat, flat, SB folds, I stop & think for a long time before folding, fold, raise all in, re-raise all in, and the rest fold - turns out to be a set of 7's (live poker is rigged) vs. the flopped nuts with a re-draw (8s9s).  6 on the river (live poker is rigged) and the 7's full takes it down.  I pat myself on the back and silently curse the poker gods.

However, I still got hit by the cooler stick on a later hand that I'd like to discuss:

I'm dealt 22 in EP and limp / call a $7 standard raise by a bad player.  6 way flop of 7 6 6 rainbow - a good flop for a small pair like mine, but 6 way?  I check and it checks through to a turn 3.  I lead the turn for $15 and I get called by one of the competent players who thoughtfully called (as opposed to snap called).  2 falls on the river (nice!) and I lead for $60 - hoping he has a 7 or 45 or something worthwhile.  This guy hasn't said anything to me all night - but he takes off his sunglasses, and asks me why so much - and why the flip of the chip at the end?  (I'd been putting out a stack and then flipping the last one in all night, just as I bet this pot.)  I answered that I'd been doing that all night - and after careful thought, he announces all in for about $100 more.  I snap call and am shown 77 for 7's full besting my 2's full (live poker is rigged).  Down a buy in+, I walk away an hour or two later down less than a buy in.  Thoughts on folding the hand?  I keep thinking this is a straight cooler, but wonder if I can be folding to a competent player in this spot.  At that point in the hand, given the paired board and the sudden interest in the pot, is he ever shoving worse than a boat?  In other words, is he shoving 6x or 45?  Overpairs?  I don't think it's a big leak calling that bet - (I don't think betting the river is wrong ever) but thoughts on how the hand played?  I go back & forth on my being coolered vs. overplaying my hand.

Next session I played on Monday night.  It was a 180 turnaround from the prior session; I hit every draw (including a hot seat for $100!) and walked away a huge winner.  One funny hand:

My image is very aggro, but showing down every time with the winning hand that no one is giving me credit for.  I sit on $800 vs. my opponent with $250.  Host of limpers and I raise KQo to $15 on the BTN.  3 callers - $60 in the pot and a broadway A J T rainbow (just the nuts ho hum) flop.  Middle to late aged man bets into me for $30 and I call, hoping I get at least one other caller - no such luck.  Turn is an 8 or something.  He continues to lead for $60 and now I stop and think - he's committed to the hand!  He's got $150 behind or so.  I think for awhile and finally shove - he hesitates for a good long time before finally stacking his chips and calling.  I don't hesitate to show the nuts immediately, and he shoves his high stack over, throwing his cards down in disgust and walks away.  In writing this, it was funnier to witness than read, but the whole table was amused...  Poor guy.

Hopefully, I can continue the run into tonight's session at the 'Shoe now that I'm back in town.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#18 in chips in WSOP event #22!!! GO JOSH!!!

Just a quick update that my former co-writer, Josh, is currently #18 in chips in the WSOP #22 event!  Good luck Josh when you start in an hour!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A quick good luck to all those playing the WSOP events

I missed a post on the poker tells series that I've been doing each week - that took a back seat to the real world work.  I've been so slammed between my job & starting the next semester of school that I haven't had much breathing room.

All work and no play makes Poker Meister a dull boy, as they say...  Therefore, I was able to get in a session last night.  I took what was shaping up to be my best session ever - I hit all sorts of improbably BS from the blinds - J4 boated, a concealed QJ straighted, a 34ss backdoor straighted and called a river c/r all in bluff, etc. - that I was running on God mode, until it stopped.  It was a bit deflating after crushing for the first 2 hours, but I came off my peak in the ensuing 3 hours, nevertheless turning in a solid session.

Anyway, I wanted to wish all of my friends - online & off - a quick good luck out there at the tables in Vegas this week!  Good luck to Josh, [I think] PPP, MOJO, Lighting36, Brian, [looks like] edgie, Rob, GolfPro and any others who I may have forgotten!  I hope each of you can bring home a bracelet!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thursday's session summary

Nothing much to talk about from last week's session.  I was playing well, but variance was certainly my enemy.  I had a bunch of stupid hands where they should have held and / or won, but suckouts got the better of me.  I'm going to post them as whining, just to get them off my chest.

Hand 1: Terrible player limps and it limps 5-way with a Q Q 7 flop (I hold KQ from mid position).  Checks to BTN who leads for $10 and calls around to me - I raise to $25.  BTN calls as does 1 other player.  Terrible player raises to $110 and it folds out the field; I just call.  Turn is a 4 and he shoves for $160 - I call and am shown QJo.  River: 4.  Puke - we chop.

Hand 2:  Same terrible player as above calls a raise for $10 as do I with KJo on the BTN and we see a Jc8c9s flop.  Original raiser plus others check to me & I lead for $45 into $55.  Terrible player calls.  Turn is a blank and I lead for his remaining stack, $110.  He snap calls.  River is a Qx and he shows Qc5c for the winner.

Hand 3: Limps 8-way around to me in the BB and I look down at JJ.  I raise to $30.  UTG calls ($12 behind - yes $12!!! behind), folds around to another shorty who calls ($35 behind - yes $35!!! behind) and finally competent player in SB calls.  I love how a limp is worth the same as a $30 call, but standard - whatevers...  Anywho, flop comes AcTc5 and I'm basically checked out of this hand.  SB checks, I check, shorty shoves for $12 ($12!!! - yes $12!!!), other bad player just calls, as does SB - I decide to call and pray for my J.  No such poker luck - 9s on the turn and it checks to the remaining short stack who shoves for the remaining $22 - check / raised by SB, and I fold.  River a Ten and SB shows Ts9s for the boat, first shorty doesn't show - he had a small pocket pair (which idiot should have shoved PF), and second shorty shows Ad4d.  Facepalm - these are idiots who have to actively manage breathing on a regular basis...  It just pisses me off that not only did A4 get there on me, but T9 who I have crushed totally nutted on me.  No fault of the T9 guy, but still - the awful play is just... well... awful!

Otherwise, there was one hand of note which wasn't even really an eye raiser:
I'm sitting at the table with a favorite fish of mine.  At this point in the night, I actually just moved tables to be with my fish, who invited me over to his table.  This guy loves to bet bet bet and push the table around.  You can sit on a set with him and he'll bet it for you.  I've taken to flat calling him more often than raising him and getting aggressive with him because I feel like he bluffs far more frequently than bets his draws / value hands.

Regardless, he leads UTG for $15 and I flat with AKo after the competent player above flats.  I think 5 see a flop of 5c6cKd.  Now my friend the fish is not dumb enough to try to bluff out 5 other players unless he has a significant hand, but he checks the flop.  Competent player - who I read to be a serious player in all of the 3-4 hands I have on him at this point - leads for $25 into the $60 pot - weak sauce.  I raise him to $75 which folds out the table back to him.  He shoves over for $165 more.

Thoughts?  FWIW, I folded.

Oh yeah - as I'm cashing out, I found a $25 green chip on the floor!  Woot woot free moneys!!!!  And, to add free money to free money, I got my $25 weekly bet promotion bonus (the 'Shoe is giving me $25 / week for May and [at least] June) PLUS a one-day offer of a $25 promotional chip on this past Friday.  I wound up playing until around 12:30 AM and picked up my free money - on the $50 in bets, I won a whopping total of $15 at roulette :-(.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Last Friday's summary

I took a 5 day weekend culminating in Memorial Day this past Monday.  With no family plans (kids are in school), I decided to go & play in Baltimore on Thursday and Friday.  Unfortunately, I was card dead for the huge majority of the time; I was fighting being in for a buy in until I finally hit a cooler against a kid who considers himself a pro.  As played, I feel I could have gotten away from the hand; it likens back to the hand that played out a few weeks ago against the drunk kid who bet 2 buy ins on the river.

Again, this is against a self-titled pro:

1/3 - Deep stacked $800 effective stacks, I'm dealt AA in mid position, I raise to $20.
Called in 2-3 spots and we see a flop of Ad Kd 3s.
I lead for $25 and "pro" raises to $55.  Note: pro hasn't gotten out of line since I've been at the table, quietly going about his business and not getting aggressive unless he shows down the nuts.
I size up the situation, realizing that he's never folding my next bet, so I raise to $165 - he snap calls.  I put him on a set of 3's.

Turn is 2c - I lead for $300 and he raises all in for $565 remaining - I obviously snap call and he never shows his 3's.

River runs clean and I scoop a huge pot.

Next day, I'm playing during the day with $365 effective - I call a $15 raise with 4 4, as does an annoying woman to my left.

Flop comes K Q 6 and it checks through (I'm ready to check out if there's a bet).

Turn is a 4 putting out 2 spades and annoying woman leads for $45.  I raise to $120 and she insta shoves.  I call and am shown KK.

Nice no 3bet and nice flop check.  I'm outplayed and I'm done for the second session in as many days :-(.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poker Tells, Part 3 - Quick Calling

I've seen this tell quite frequently - particularly among the lesser experienced players.  If the board is a drawing board, players will act quickly and without thought to call a bet when facing one.  For example, on a board like Ts 6s 2c, if you see your opponent quickly call a bet, it's very likely that they're on a draw - be it spades or the gutshot(s).

Inexperienced players have little to think about when they're drawing; the consideration is never there to get out of line (i.e. raising, etc.), so they'll already know their one move is to call.  Why Hollywood when you're anxious to see the next card off the top?  On the other hand, and examining the hand by contradiction, let's say you have a set or top two on that board; wouldn't you be considering raising?  Wouldn't you at least stop to think about what actions you should take to get the most money in the pot while you think you're ahead?

In other words, the quick call is almost always a drawing hand.  This tell should be cautioned, though, because a player can sometimes show up with a weak top pair, or even second and third pairs hoping to catch up on the turn.

As you become a more experienced player, you should recognize this tell fairly easily, and be aware that you may be doing it yourself.  Try to spend the same amount of time on all decisions, so as to not give away timing tells such as the one described above.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Poker tells, Part 2 - Flipping your hand and looking for a reaction

Continuing with my series on poker tells, the next tell requires a little prompting on your part.  How often have you been a tough situation like the following: you're on the river, action is closed to you, and you're pondering whether to make the call.  You know you're not going to raise, but this guy is either full of crap or has a better hand than you.  This case most likely arises when there's a 3 flush on the board, or you're holding a pair-type hand.  Have you ever thought about getting additional information, rather than just sitting in your seat

When you flip your hand, look at their reaction.  Is their face totally dropped from a moment ago's look of confidence?  When you do something unexpected to your opponent, they don't have time to collect their reactions and stuff them deep down inside.  What you're seeing in that first second of reaction is a truly genuine response.

What I usually see is the face drop, followed by the posture of confidence and head-shaking; i.e. a "sympathizing" with the you that you have such a tough decision to make...  Sometimes, I've seen the nervous tension met with laughter - which, while strange, is another way to break the suspense for your opponent.  However, you need to pay particular attention to that initial gut reaction - it's genuine!

In my opinion, this is a very reliable tell, but you should really minimize its use to once or twice per session (or less).  I've found it to help me out a TON in really tough spots!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Short review of Reading Poker Tells & tells I've noticed at the table

There are hundreds, if not thousands of poker tells, and most likely enough books to cover each tell individually.  I have probably ready 2 or 3 of those books - most recently Zach Elwood's Reading Poker Tells.  FYI - He keeps a great blog, complete with video footage and discounts on his book.  It's a worthy read if you find yourself playing live poker regularly.

Anyway, his book details (around a page or so per) the different tells he's seen throughout his career.  It's quite useful - a nice update to the other useful book I've read which is quite dated at this point, Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells.  Mr. Elwood goes through the tell, reasons behind the tell, reliability, things to look out for, etc.  I took notes on the book awhile back, because there were some key takeaways in there.

  • Acting ready to muck

    I used to do this myself, having resigned to see my opponents ready to fold.  It's true, though: when I knew I held the winning hand, I would signal mucking my cards prior to my opponent's completing action when facing my bet.  The way I looked at my action was as a challenge or a dare for my opponent to call me.  That's exactly what it is, unfortunately.  It's strength on a dare.  I've since stopped using this tell for my own actions, but I definitely watch out for in when my opponents do it.  Quite honestly, though, I rarely see it done by my opponents.
  • Aversions to lying

    Mr. Elwood points out that people have an aversion to lying.  Unless you're a pathological and actually enjoy lying, you try to tell the truth.  After all, it's easier to tell the truth than to make up a lie.  Therefore, most players will tell the truth when announcing their hands - specifically when they're announcing a precise hand.  An example succinctly shows this point:

    The other night I saw a guy announce to another player that he flopped a set of Kings – after the action had been 3bet by his opponent PF.  His opponent, in disbelief, went ahead and open shoved all in on the flop only to be shown a set of Kings (it was a semi-interesting hand, but that’s outside of the scope of this post).  Although I’m very familiar with this tell, it serves to be pointed out as a prudent tell for other players who are unfamiliar.  When a player precisely declares his hand, he usually is telling the truth.

    Mr. Elwood goes on to point out the example of particularly reckless or aggressive players who play a lot of hands.  On occasion, they’ll declare their hands (i.e. a flop of 7 7 2 and they tell their opponents that they have 7 2, or if they suddenly declare they have AA after raising all day and night on prior hands).  It is usually true when they declare these things; the declaration is so far from the truth that they’re proud to announce and believe they’re tricking their opponent into making a bad decision.
I've also seen some commonly repeated, highly reliable tells on my own.  I wanted to catalog them and share with my readers.  Therefore, I'm going to start a segment (trying to make it weekly) on poker tells; one tell per post.  Of note, these are the tells I've noticed at the low stakes 1/2, 1/3 games - so not necessarily reliable at higher stakes (because of purposeful miscues as players become more intelligent and aware of their actions).  I'll leave you with the most common and useful of all the tells I've ever noticed:

Heavy / deep breathing or high heart rate

This is such a reliable tell for all players.  Most players cannot contain the excitement when they've just smacked the board.  If they're betting, look out!  Take a second and look at your opponent.  Can you see his chest moving up & down with each breath?  Are the veins in his neck pulsing like crazy?  Sweating?  He almost always has a monster here and can't contain the adrenaline rush that he received from knowing that he has the nuts (or close to it).  I've used this time & time again to fold my better hands that can sustain heat, after realizing that these guys have top set or better.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Another good session, but a really tough deep-stacked decision - WARNING, LONG POST!

I had the opportunity to play Saturday night, so I jumped on it.  Lately, I've been able to get in no less than one session a week, and sometimes 2 sessions during the week.  Things are rolling along at the 'Shoe - the players are back, but the room was not full.  Baltimore Horseshoe's poker room has approx. 25 permanent tables, and they probably filled around 15 of them, including the remnants of a $350 buy in / $20K guarantee (which they had enough players to cover the guarantee).  My buddy Josh was up there playing during the day, while we had family things in the Poker Meister household - soccer for one of my daughters, a weightlifting event for one of our family friends, etc.

By the time I was free to drive up to Baltimore, Josh was on his way home.  We were discussing his session and he started talking about some of the players; one particular player was a fish and dumping money by the fist full.  He told me the table to look for, and wouldn't you know it - there was immediate seating at the very table.  Moreover, it turns out there I sat in his very seat.  Armed with information on the key players, I knew this would be a huge jump start to my session - and I wasted no time in getting to work.

The very first hand, I looked down and saw 89o and decided to limp from mid position, along with a host of 3-4 players (including the fish described above - from the BB).  Flop comes 3 T J.  Looking around the table, it appears there's little interest in the flop, so I lead for $10 into $15.  The fish calls as does one other caller.  Turn pairs the board with a J and I lead for $30 - I get a fold and the fish calls.  River is a 3 and the fish is doing the "fold hold" as I start to carve out chips - I bet $55 and he flashes AK for the missed gutter and mucks.

A.  Nice no-raise from the BB.
B.  Nice no-bet from the flopped gutter + 2 overs.
C.  Nice showing your cards.

According to Josh, this player calls any and all raises - you can value bet the crap outta him.  I saw him make all sorts of weird plays - raising Q8s from the BB, throwing in $8-11 raises with 5 limpers, etc.  Just comical mistakes that leave me shaking my head.  I almost busted him when I 3bet his JJ open to $12 with my KK to $55.  He called a Q 3 3 $65 flop bet but folded my $155 turn bet after about 5 minutes of hesitation :-(.

I built up a significant stack throughout the night, busting a different fish when the table started to die down and become a rock garden.  I was close to packing it up when a drunk guy (or who I perceived to be drunk) came to the table with $500.  I'm sitting on around $800 at the time, FYI.  Before even hitting the chair, he threw out 3 red chips to Mississippi straddle to $15 (the rule in the 'Shoe is you can straddle between 2x the BB and 5x the BB).  So there he is, first hand, throwing in a straddle for max, and I'm to his right as last to act.  I think he had 2 or 3 callers and bumps it to an unreasonable amount - $85 or something.  They quickly fold and he scoops up $30 - 45 first hand!

He continues to do this with differing amounts throughout the night, probably raising about 80% of the hands to unreasonable sizing - and words his $500 up to around $700 without going to showdown.  The bets would get heavier on the flop and turn, FWIW.  I had tried adjusting by limping my premiums and laying in wait for his raises - he disappointed me when I had KK, limped for $3 and he overlimped.  Another fish, though, failed to let it go and raised to $18 with his whateverhehad...  I trapped one caller in there and pulled the 'ole limp / re raise to $75 (I think if memory serves me...).  The drunk realized what happened, and chastised me for laying in wait for him and quickly folds, while the original raiser just calls and the mid caller folds.  Of note, this particular fish and I have lots of history.  He knows that I'm a value bettor - I value the shit out of my hands, and he's found out the hard way quite a few times in prior sessions as well as this current session.  Also of note is the fact that he considers himself "life up" on poker since he's won and been involved in numerous bad beat jackpots - I was a few tables away from him the last time he hit the losing end of one a few weeks back at the 'Shoe for a $~4K payout.  Anyway, this guy plays like he doesn't care about the money - he gets off on bluffing pots and stealing, and would rather call a bet and be wrong than fold a pot and be bluffed.  All of that said, the flop comes 2 2 5 or some such garbage and he checks to me.  I carve out $100 and he raises me all in for $120 more (or something like that).  I obviously insta call and flip my KK - the board runs out clean (I don't know what "clean" is in this case, but there were no Aces) and I scoop, bringing my stack up to over $1K.

Meanwhile, my drunk friend to my left is continually aggro'ing it up - and the players are all in fear (including me) with his unreasonable bet sizing.  The final hand I'll share is the title of the post, which is where I couldn't pull the trigger:

I'm in the BB with his UTG straddle to $12 - I complete (as did the SB) and the drunk raises to "this much," which is 5 red - $37 total.  SB drops and I call with KcQc.  Flop is an awesome 8c9dJc and I check.  He leads for $30 and I snap, not wanting him to get wind that I caught a monster draw.  I feel if I hit the any of my draws I can get paid.  Turn is a 3d putting 2 flush draws out and keeping my gutter.  He leads for $66 and I call again.  The river is a Ks. giving me top pair with QT being the flopped nuts.

Josh and I discussed this hand afterwards - and he suggests that I bet an "anchoring bet;" i.e. $5-$15 so if he raises here, it's in increments of whatever i bet.  I think that's a great suggestion for future hands - but in the hand I checked once again to him.

He tells me he's all in for $559.  [GULP].  I hadn't seen him *EVER* do this, especially against a player that has him covered.  W....T.....F....??!??!?!?!?!?!?

Let's review: I have top pair / good kicker on a draw heavy board with a crazy / erratic player on my left.  He's not folding, only betting, and at this point I'm not sure he's truly drunk though he is drinking.  Now, I've made hero calls like this before - but not for such a large amount of money.... sure, 1 buy in, 1.5 buy in... at 1/2 - and more times than not, I'm good in those spots.  But this is 2 buy ins, more than 2x the pot, and it's at 1/3 for close to $600!!!!

GAWD I WANT TO CALL AND WIN A $1500 POT!!!!  So, I started talking with him.  Since you can't flip your cards over at the 'Shoe, I verbally told him what I had (mistake on my part, but measured mistake - now he knows he can push me off future hands because the dollar amounts are so big I won't call my top pairs).  On the contrary, though, I got the reaction I was looking for.  His face completely dropped and then went to a light, confident air.  Now, the problem with my read is that he's drunk, and exacerbating the situation, he's gay (I think).  His mannerisms are sloppy to begin with, but adding in the effeminate affects confuses me and compounds his "drunk vibe."  Tough to describe - but I have to deduct points from the confidence in my read since I'm not sure how drunk he is and what is baseline behavior for a drunk - if he is indeed drunk - or baseline behavior for a gay man with a potential flair for the dramatic.  In other words, my read says 100% yes - call - based on body language - and I almost called immediately.  Then the other shoe dropped, so to speak...  my logical brain kicks in and says "HOLD ON A SECOND POKER MEISTER!!!!  WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU DOING???  I KNOW YOU'RE THE ONLY REASON YOU'RE STILL HERE AT THE TABLES AT 1AM ON A SATURDAY IS TO BUST THIS FISH.  [Caps off, because 1, I don't refer to myself in third person when thinking, 2, I don't call myself Poker Meister, and 3, I don't think in terms of caps lock] - You're going to call of for DDDDDEEEEEEPPPPPP stacks with a pair of Kings, second best kicker.  No 2 pair, no set, no straight, no made hand.  There are so many hands that his wild player can show up with which have you beat.  What are you doing?  Are you seriously going to call here for $600 when you have $130 committed?  Aren't there better spots?  Yeah - there'll be better spots to get your money in when you're WAY good!  Wait for those spots!"  After about 5 minutes of thought, I fold - and he flips up 62dd for a turned busted flush draw.  I throw up a bit in my mouth.

I couldn't get anything to stick within the next hour, and compounding that misery, the fish bled off all $800 of his stack to the table.  Some dumb lady who sat down with $100 in seat 1 lucked her way into a double, then another double, and a final double for $800 from this guy.  It killed me to see that - and it killed me to see that I should have been done at 1am after busting the fish for $600!

If there's any light at the end of my friggin Rob-sized post, 'Shoe is giving me a promotional $25 single bet chip each week.  I had a nice shiny yellow chip burning a hole in my pocket and I threw it down on Blackjack - one hand - one $25 free bet.  No clue what I'm doing.  I didn't even know where to put the bet - I had to be helped by a cute chick to my right!  I don't think I've played Blackjack since I was 22 which is close to 20 years ago!  Anyway, I was dealt AKcc and hit a Blackjack straight away!  Got paid $37.50 - tipped the gal the $2.50 pink and walked away with an additional $35.  I think that was more exciting getting free money like that than actually winning during the poker session!

K - that's it for this post.  It's ridiculously long (that's what she said)!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Inelastic hand ranges and 2 interesting hands at the 'Shoe

Ever had a read so strong that you can't possibly get away from that read regardless what logic dictates?  I was having a good session at my first session back at 'Shoe since they've listed the curfew in Baltimore - all the hooliganism has settled down - and the players were as fishy as always.

Late in the session, I look down in my BB (I think) and see A2o.  I knuckle letting the dealer know I check my option and he deals a flop of 2 4c 6c to the ~6 limpers.

Looking around the table, I see no interest in this flop - so I lead for $20, 75% sure my 2's are good.  It folds around to a girl who had been having a break even night, who looked continually disappointed and bored (a look I've seen on my face a lot lately...) who immediately calls - no thought, just throws in her $20 instantly when the action turned to her.  The SB also comes along and I realize that maybe my initial read isn't good; I need help.

Turn is the Ad, and now I'm certain I'm good with my Ace's up.  Checks to me and I lead for $50 into the $75 pot - again, girl insta calls and SB thinks, then calls.  Of note, the girl has $75 remaining.

River is the Jc - $~220-230 in the pot.  A club or a 5 is the worst card to see IMO.  The girl based on her no-thought snap call on the flop has me ABSOLUTELY convinced she's drawing to the flush which just got there.  It checks to me and I check to the girl who instantly shoves her $75.  After much thought, SB folds and I think for a bit before mucking.  I'm getting 3 or 4-1 on the call here; I was [and still am] sick to my stomach having to lay that down.

I think the takeaway here is twofold: don't 100% stick to your read; consider other hands that are reasonable that could have the same action, but also, when you're beat on the river, you're BEAT ON THE RIVER.  Paying off $75 when you're beat is only exacerbating the problem.  Given the action, the snap call on the flop and turn (when players are making plays without any hesitation, they're almost always on draws), she's on a flush draw.  Fold whether it's $75 or $50.  $25, I can be convinced to call and "donate."

Second hand (which involves a little revenge later on):

Before I get into this hand, I believe I've come up with a new stereotype for a player: the guy who's sitting in a 1/2 or (in this case) 1/3 game waiting for a 2/5 spot to open.  His thought process is usually, "I'm too good for this table; I'm going to sit down & bet all these fish off their hands and take their money while I wait for the 'challenging game' at 2/5."  This player was one of those kinds of guys - Asian guy with spiked hair, late 20's, knew the dealers by name, etc.  He sits down and starts making larger raises, had 3 bet at least once, and indeed started dominating the table.  It's hard; you have to adjust to a player like this really quickly or he'll be out of there before you finally catch on to what he's doing.  I am basing my play and read on all of perhaps 15 hands here...  like I said, need to adjust quickly.  In this hand, I unfortunately did not adjust quickly and made an incorrect move, which cost me implied earnings plus immediate earnings...

I raise $15 with AQ, Asian guy flats and we're heads up to an Q 6 7 rainbow flop.  Not seeing ways to make money on this pot without giving him rope, I check and he throws out a large $35 bet.  I call and we see a turn of 8s, putting out a 2 flush.  $95 in the pot and he leads for $120.  What do you do?

I was not happy in this spot for many many reasons, mainly my hand strength is FAR underrepped.  That isn't a mistake; that was my intent on the approach to this guy.  However, this guy is either far overrepping his hand, bluffing, or wants to value pwn me.  The bet sizing just completely throws me off; overbetting $120 into $95?  I wound up folding my top / top and he shows me an 8 - tells me he was open ended + pair.  Goodbye, $55.

A few hands later, I raise AQdd yet again, and this time, emboldened from our prior dance, he 3 bets me to $40.  We're about $400 effective deep (he's up $100 from a mix of hands prior).  Odd small 3bet.  Undettered,  I 4 bet him to $120 and he [surprisingly] flats.  6 6 2 dd come out - I'm drawing to the nut flush + potential overs.  I lead for $175 and he auto folds.  My thought with this hand, now that I've seen him get all sorts of aggro and overvaluing hands, is that he wants to treat me as a fish, then I'm going to play my hand face up - like a fish.  What would AA / KK do in this situation?  4bet!  So I 4bet!  What would AA / KK do on a flop like this?  Lead!  So I lead!  Sometimes you gotta play fishy to win...  So he may have drawn first blood for $55, but I took back $65 additional.

Friday, May 1, 2015

No play at the 'Shoe (thanks, Baltimore rioters) leads to funky play at MD Live! - and a poker rules question

I got in a decent session at Maryland Live! last night.  My records show that the last time I played there was exactly 1 month ago.  Of note, I've moved my preferred poker room from MDL to the Baltimore Horseshoe due to the 1/3 game, Mississippi straddles, looser / easier action, etc.  It's interesting; I talked with the wifey, negotiating working in a poker session during a busy family weekend - full well knowing that I wouldn't have time to play Saturday or Sunday.

After watching the hooligans on TV, I saw that the 'Shoe was closing their poker room at 9PM in order to comply with the city-wide curfew - for those who don't know or watch the news, there's been significant protests and rioting in the city leading to a 10PM curfew shutting down the ENTIRE city.  Since I had "late" meetings - reference to Pete P. Peter's crazy work schedule that "late" is a relative term, I knew I wouldn't have much time to play and started thinking I would just bag the session altogether.  Then, I remembered that the DC area has a choice of poker rooms and I could go to Live! instead.  Good call, Poker Meister (pat on the back for my own stupidity and not thinking out of the box).

Before I get into the hands, which were kinda unmemorable from a strategy / challenge perspective, there was an interesting rule / issue that happened while I was there:

New dealer sits down and begins to deal (as dealers are expected to do).  As he's dealing, he asks if anyone received a cracked card - he explains that he felt something funny as he dealt the cards, as if it were a cracked card (the cards are plastic - but I've never seen a cracked card, only bent cards).  No one owns up; to be honest, I don't think anyone really heard him / processed the request.  About 20 minutes later, a player to my left sends in the card saying it's a fouled card - 5 of spades - an otherwise meaningless card.  Action continues with the hand, the guy to his left raised to $12 and picked up 2 callers.  I had limped my 45hh and refused to act until they expose the card.  The dealer explained that the card should not be exposed until after the hand because it doesn't affect the play.  I argued that it definitely does affect the play; other players potentially know the card since it is marked - no different than playing with a fouled deck / marked card.  Floor is called, the situation is explained and she says that the MDL policy is to replace the card after the hand.  I disagree with the policy verbally, explaining why the card needs to be exposed and she complies, flipping the 5s.  FWIW, I fold my 45hh and we move on.

So here's the question: with a marked deck that had been in play for AT LEAST 2-3 hands, shouldn't play be voided?  Some players are playing with potentially biased knowledge of the deck - I doubt that anyone knew about the marked card, but it opens up the hand to unfair play.  Play could have been influenced based on the knowledge the 5s was dealt; it in fact would have modified my decision had I known (I would show the card ASAP, like the guy turning in the card, rather than cheat / angle shoot).  However, is this a standard rule?  Don't show the card and replace it after the hand?  What is the rule here?

Anyway, so there I found myself, sitting at the 1/2 Maryland Live! tables, seeing a bunch of the regulars at the 'Shoe who also had the same thoughts.  No sooner than 2nd hand in, I flop a set of 4's turned King's full, only to get it in against a flopped set of Q's turned King's full as well.  Puke!  Easy $200 gone.

8th hand in, I flop KQ top two vs. AA all in on the flop which held - WTF???  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???  And I find myself +140 with $550 in front of me.

A little later, I make an egregious mistake with AK, calling a 4bet, flopping A XX, turning a K and getting it all in for $300+ and I find myself down $200 once again with $200 in front of me. 

I later get into the mix with who turns out to be the huge whale at the table, flopping Aces up with A7hh on an Ad7d3d board after 5 callers call a $7 raise from UTG.  I lead $25, got the fish (BB) caller, lead a 7x turn for $50,  and raise the fish's $25 lead on a Jd river (i.e. 4 flush board).  Looking down, I see a $100 chip on top of some greens and move the stack into bet position.  Realizing my mistake, I put out a total bet of $225 - oops!  I thought the stack was ~$150.  Well, the fish hems & haws, complaining about how he has a really good flush and that he can't lay it down - I thought I was sunk here and he was auto-folding only to have him shove over for my remaining $17.  I obviously snap it off an show the 7's full for a really nice double through.

This was my night, repeated over & over.  Good news is I got AA a few times (one time against the fish, he rivered a backdoor 4 straight which was just a stupid stupid hand - 6 9 with the flopped pair and backdoor straight & I shoved river for ~$150 after around $225 in the pot), spiked a K on the river against the same fish after 3betting from the SB with KK to $45 ($100 behind) from a $10 3-way pot, having him call with AQ only to flop an A and see me shove into him (don't care about the board; I'm always shoving a 3 bet pot - he has 2-1 implied with his call; whatever...).

In the end, I wind up with a decent winning session - a relief - but I wasn't too happy about the roller coaster that I had to experience to get there.  I guess we'll all have days like that...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frustration... or a hand that I'm happy about and a hand that I'm not so sure about...

The last 4-5 sessions at the 'Shoe have been mostly sideways - I'm probably net losing, but not much more than a buy in or so.  It's been a really rough run - my AK misses, I haven't seen AA,KK in those sessions, and the one time I saw QQ (the first time in the 4 sessions - this last session) I lost vs. A6s (i.e. raise $15 PF, cbet $23 on turn of an A high flop and check through river).  The decisions are not difficult, but it's a death by a thousand knives scenario - raise my good PF hands that miss, call / raise my draws but miss, fold my too expensive draws that wind up hitting, etc.  Not that it's difficult to keep motivated, because it isn't given the awful play I'm continually seeing, but it's frustrating to sit for hours waiting on anything only to see nothing - no draws complete, just complete card deadness.

Crap like spiking trip Kings with KJ vs KT all in on the turn only to have the board pair again and lead to a chop.  Puke!

Crap like flopping A6 boat of Aces full of 6's and know my opponent never folds trip Aces, get most of the money in on the flop and turn and see the river pair the 6 on the board, leading to a chop.  Puke!

Crap like rivering the straight flush with Ax9d on a 2 8d Td Jd Qd board on a limped pot, getting lead into for $15, hoping / praying dude has the Ad, raising to $100 only to see him fold the Kd.  Puke!

Anyway, to the point of the title, I'll share 2 hands that occurred last Saturday.

Hand 1:  I'm in early position and limp 99.  Short stack ($30 total) limps behind and ABC player raises to $12.  Gets called in no less than 5 spots (including me) and shorty decides to jam $18 on top.  Original raiser [shockingly] folds as does the rest of the table to a newer guy to the table wearing a cabbie cap, cargoes and a somewhat open shirt revealing a huge chest tattoo - kinda punkish looking but super quiet.  Seeing the action that just took place (i.e. this guy just called not once but twice), I figure my 99 is ahead and decide to pull the 'ole limp / raise to $130 (I have $250 behind).  To be honest,  I was shocked that not one person called the $18 raise with so much already in the middle - prior to the shorty shove, there's $72 in the middle.  After the shorty shove, he's looking at putting in $18 to win $102.  Anyway, without missing a beat, my tattooed friend calls - probably took him all of 5 seconds to throw in the extra $100 with a look of "meh... whatever..."

Flop comes Q 7 3 rainbow.  He fiddles with his chips, looking like he's going to bet, but decides to check.  Here's where I'm not too happy with my play; I check behind.  What am I expected to do here?  Anything I bet other than a shove is pot committing regardless - so is this an auto shove?  Again, there's $338 in the main and side pots, and I have $250 behind...  I feel like he hit this flop though - based on my read that he wants to bet.  Again... is this an auto ship the flop regardless the texture?  Rarely do I feel like a deer in the headlights at a poker table, but this was one of those rare moments.

So we see a turn As, putting 2 spades out.  Again he checks - and my check is a lot easier now; I'm just looking to get to showdown cheaply - any AK, AQ is certainly there; I don't know this guy and how he plays.  The river is a non-spade 4 and he checks a 3rd time.  I happily check through and he shows me the gutted nuts: 56ss.  The guy who was all in PF has A6cc which would have taken the main pot anyway...

I'm not making a judgement on this guy's calling off $100 extra PF with 56s, but seriously?  I blame myself for "letting him get there," but this hand could have been WAY worse - I could have bet the $250 behind at any point, definitely he's calling off the turn with a gutter + flush draw.  I also waffle as to whether I bet anything on the flop he's auto calling his gutter; after all, if he's willing to take a $130 gamble with 56s without seeing a flop, of course he's going to pay now that he has a draw!  But, as a poker player, I'm not supposed to take the turn and river cards into account when I'm playing out the hand post-mortem.  Is the right move to shove the flop?  What kinds of hands do you have him on that cold call 3 raises?  To me, I have him on JJ+, AQ, AK - which, by the river, all have me beat.  Then again, I guess I'm WAY wrong!  And my read on the flop about him wanting to bet is wrong - or perhaps it isn't.  Maybe he thought better of betting his gutter on the flop, but he's calling off.  I don't know.  The hand is definitely in my head, though - that's for sure!  The best part about this all is that he took a $130 bet and won nothing additional - he effectively played 56s vs. my 99 vs. shorty's A6o for $130 to win $200 in PF money.

Hand 2: Same joker who originally raised above raises to $8.  I call (98o) with I think 2 other people see a flop of 2 6 7 rainbow.  I contemplate leading here, but opt to check - he leads for $20 and I'm the only caller in the growing pot.  Turn is a Qd putting 2 diamonds on the board.  I check once again and he leads for $28.  I check raise to $100 and he considers carefully before folding.

I don't' make big bluffs very often but given the way things are going, I think I may need to start bluffing bigger more often.  Perhaps I'm doing it wrong, but I give up on my bluffs way too easily and/or don't make large enough bluff raises  / bets.  I come from a mindset which may be changing: poker players who are bad players are not sitting there to fold their top pair no matter how bad their kicker or no matter how bad evidence tells them they're beat.  Bad players won't fold their bad Aces, so no point in putting in a ton of money trying to bluff them off the best hand.  Best wait to value bet them to death when I'm ahead and they won't fold.  Perhaps that mindset needs to change...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mama said they'll be days like this, they'll be days like this my mama said!

WARNING: Some whining & bad beats

I had the rare occasion to play back-to-back days at the 'Shoe last night!  Woot woot!  You ever have one of those sessions where you do everything perfect, but still lose for the night?  Yeah...  I'm sure we can all agree that we've had nights like that - this was one of those nights.  I'm still sick, though I'm getting incrementally better - my head is still cloudy and my ears are still clogged, but when does that stop me from playing a little live poker???  My family went to dinner at a friend's house in Baltimore and my lovely wife agreed to take two cars so we could part ways afterwards.  Happy wife, happy life!

This is now my 7th or 8th session at the Horseshoe, and I can firmly say I like playing here.  I like the Mississippi straddle - regardless whether I take advantage or not.  I like the 1/3 instead of 1/2.  I like the convenience.  Finally, the players are much easier.  I've become familiar with the floor people, and they with me, which is a nicety that I don't believe I was afforded at Live - perhaps too many tables, but I knew some of the dealers and that was where it ended.

As evidenced, there was a problem with a dealer last night - he burned and turned a card prior to action closure and didn't call floor.  As a result of his hesitation, a player folded his cards because he believed the turn card to be the actual turn.  I was not in the hand, but got involved (probably shouldn't have, but dealers need to learn this) - I told him to call floor.  The floor ruled the correct procedure - declared the folder's hand dead - took the turned card out of the deck, burned and turned the would-be river card as the turn card, played out the street and finally shuffled the dead turn into the deck to re-deal the new river.  It was a learning moment for the dealer, but the floor was immediately on it, ruling properly.

Anyway, the night started with a fairly loose passive table, where I rivered 2 pair to a gut shot straight and paid him off - Rebuy!  Note:  This was the first time in all my sessions at the 'Shoe where I've ever had to fish additional money out of my pocket after my first buy in.  I consider myself fortunate that I've run that long and that well where this situation has never occurred, but it did occur for the first time last night, and I took note!  The villain on the particular hand was a drunk who was becoming more cocksure with every sip.  The hand ended quite miserably with him slow rolling me when I made the call on the river.  Whatever - there was a lot of slow rolling and literally slow playing last night.

Anyway, I'm in for a buy in and sitting on around $230 when I'm able to extract revenge against the same player with my AKo all in vs. his A7dd.  The board ran blanks and I double up to get to near starting.

A few hands later, I limp KJo (thought was that drunk was sobering, but started back up again and was becoming more loose / raising more often and I don't want to facing a 3bet with KJ so I'd rather limp / call and somewhat contain the pot prior to the flop) from EP and aggro drunk from before raises his BB to $18.  Calls around and the flop comes KcTc7d.  He bets $30 and it folds 3 spots to me who calls.  My thought is that he's been barreling with blanks and I don't want to discourage him to continue to do so.  I'm not sure, but I may have even hesitated a few moments prior to calling, acting "unsure" what to do next.

Turn is a 2s and he leads for $35 - I again hesitate / call.  River is another non-club blank and he bets out $50.  I just call, feeling that a raise at this point is worthless and he shows 83o for complete air - as I had expected.  I think I played this hand perfectly, FWIW.  Any raise / hint of aggression and he likely folds.  Showing the unsure / cautious approach allows him to continue to bluff.

At this point, I'm up to $700 (up $100 off my original 2 buy ins) late into the night / early morning.  I'm feeling pretty confident that my winning session streak at the 'Shoe will continue in tact.  Note: since I started playing at the 'Shoe, I have yet to experience a losing session.  Alas, all was not well with the poker Gods last night...  I must've pissed someone with influence off, because within an hour, the ugly bitch named variance reared her ugly head:

Hand 1: KJo again, mid position against a MP $7 raise, different drunk on the SB calls along with 2 other players.  This particular drunk is a regular, LOVES to gamboool and is an overall terrible player.  In the time he was at my table, I saw him make numerous errors, relying on hands like a backdoored straight (J2) calling a flop with just the backdoor (no overcard, no nothing) to make his money.  He was getting lucky and he knew it...  Anyway, we see a flop of Kd Qd 7  and the drunk leads for $20 into the $35 pot.  It's called by the original raiser (competent player, and would raise with protective hands) so I pop it to $60.  Drunk calls and original raiser folds.

$175 in the pot and the turn is a 6o.  Drunk pushes all his chips in fro about $135.  I obviously snap call and wait for him to flip.  He waits - and we see a 5 river.  He flips over Q5o for the rivered 2 pair and I'm licking my wounds.  From +100 to -100 in the blink of an eye.  I throw up a little in my mouth.

Hand 2: Probably 10 minutes later, I look down to see 2 red Aces.  Button [drunk] straddled to $6 and new player in the BB calls along with the competent player.  I raise to $30 and drunk folds.  New player just calls (he has $170 behind) and competent player folds.  Flop comes Qc 4c 4d.  I think I make the mistake of leading here with Aces far too much - what can my opponent possibly have with this flop?  I am so way far ahead of him on the flop that betting will only cause him to fold, killing my action, so I check through.

$~70 in the pot and the turn is a Kd.  This raises the new player's eyebrows and he leads for $25.  I raise to $75 and he just calls after thinking for a little while.  He's got $100 behind.  Thinking back to the flop delayed cbet, I'm happy I didn't bet the flop - and I'm hoping that he has KQ.  I'm actually not believing KQ since I think we'd get it in on the turn here if he had top two, but KJ, KT, etc. are possible.  Again, this is a new player who hadn't really given me much information in prior hands.

River is a 3d, which, in all honesty, I didn't even look at.  To me, it didn't matter what the river was - if he ships, I call, if he checks, I shove.  So, he ships and I call my AdAh, only to be shown 2d5d for the backdoor low flush.  Facepalm....

So, there's the story of how my first losing session at the 'Shoe went down.  Spectacular, I know...

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