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...


  1. On that first hand, you identified your error. I like all of your thinking until that flop. No tell is 100% accurate, but if a player looks like they are going to bet but they ultimately decide not to, it is because they are weak. They either want you to think that they are likely to call OR they were considering a bluff or bet but decided against it.

    As for being card dead and dealing with a string of second best hands, I cannot feel too bad for you. That is the way of poker.

    1. Totally agree Jordan. I hate pissing & moaning about being card dead but eventually I reach a breaking point and write about it here. I tried keeping it constructive by adding the 2 hand histories. During my history of poker playing, I've always seen that I'll run good until I talk about running good - then I run bad. I'll run bad until I reach frustration and talk about running bad - then things seem to turn around and I'll go on a good run. Perhaps history will finally teach me a lesson and I won't talk about the good run when I'm on it. So, if I hit that stride, expect radio silence from me until the next downswing.

    2. Its better to talk about running bad or being card dead here, than at the table. At the table, it usually just results in a death spiral.

  2. First hand -- having little info on the newer player makes things tough. What kind of players are you playing against when they don't call the additional $18? And then the new guy calls your additional raise? With a crap hand? Sheesh!

    Sometimes being card dead seems to go on for weeks. Very frustrating and certainly not fun playing when that happens. I try to keep from slowly bleeding away money, if at all possible.

    I had a good session at Par-A-Dice a few nights ago, partially because I changed up how I was playing there. Poor players were calling with almost anything so I greatly minimized any bluffing. I got lots of value when I had a decent hand like two pair, knowing that they would keep calling. If I had gotten some really great cards I could have easily really cleaned up. Ahhh ... poker!

  3. When I get frustrated with being card dead I take a good look at my range and see if I am missing spots where I should be opening it up. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. It is easy to get in a rut waiting for good cards and end up playing mechanically and miss some spots where you should be taking a shot with mediocre cards.

  4. if a player looks like they are going to bet but they ultimately decide not to, it is because they are weak.

    Agree with Jordan.

    1. So Mojo & Jordan - I want to investigate this a little further about someone intending to bet but ultimately deciding not to... I've seen people do this - but my read here was that his actions were genuine; he definitely wanted to bet. Perhaps my read was off, but this felt like he was planning on betting but decided against doing so rather than faking intending to bet with no intention.

      I guess what I'm asking is this: is there a difference between genuine truth of intending to bet but deciding not to vs. faking an intention to bet - where I'd agree that I should be betting because that's exactly what my opponent doesn't want me to do? Clear as mud, I know...

    2. First of all, there are no tells that are 100% accurate, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Even so, looking at the two scenarios, we have (1) the player who is faking an intention to bet and (2) the player who genuinely was considering a bet. In the first group, we can assume they are faking to appear strong, despite being weak. In the second group, we either have a player who (a) decides his hand is too weak to bet, or (b) decides his hand is too strong to bet, so he wants to give others the opportunity to bet into him. Of the two, I'd assume group (a) is more common. So, while it would be great to know what is truly in the player's mind, I would generalize that in either scenario, it is likely that your opponent fears your strength, so betting is the best course of action. Of course, if he re-raises you, then you can fold with a bit more confidence.

    3. So I've definitely seen the "intend to bet, decide otherwise" tell before, and never thought anything of it. I agree most of the time it's the "you better not bet into me / feigning my hand's strong" or the "my hand's weak / better not bet" camp. It's akin to a move I make on the bad players sometimes - which, given the wrong player is a very strong weakness tell - of grabbing chips to feign a call when a player is lining up chips to make a bet.

  5. get me a TV???????? #BALTIMORERIOTS

  6. Being Card Dead: While you're waiting for variance to calm itself down, you may as well pick on weak players or players that make good candidates to double-barrel. Due to the fact that you can straddle from anyway at the Horseshoe, including the button, why not print yourself some money by raising large against some loose passives and then double barrel? You'll get called down sometimes, but since you won't be better most rivers except for value, you'll turn a profit anyway.

    Hand 1: I got into a similar situation recently where it was $80 in pre-flop and I had JJ. Basically a shortstack raised over and I was playing super deep with another guy that flatted the $80. It was also a Q high flop and when he checked to me I fired $100, assuming he always had AK or hands like 9's or 10's. He open-folded showing AK. So in your situation, yes I would have fired at least $100, if not just shipped the flop, assuming your villain had AK. You have to think about it from his perspective too; if he really had something that nutty, he would have gotten it in with you instead of just calling. In fact, I have trouble putting him on any other hand. Now as it turns out he had a random 56ss and reminded you that you're playing 1/3 in Baltimore, so it's cool that random stuff like this still happens. But as played, this is exactly the type of flop that i'd be getting 99 in with.

    Hand 2: I think the turn was a good semi-bluffing card for you, since it's hard for him to connect with it. If he bets the flop, it's really hard for him to take heat on the turn unless he really did turn a second pair with the queen. Otherwise, you're making him hate life here. Given that he raised pre-flop it's just so hard for him to have 2 pair with Qx. So with that said i like using the turn to rep a higher pair, but still having a decent amount of equity to the nuts or making a better pair if he is that stubborn. I prefer something like a min-raise on the flop for a few reasons: 1) players at 1/3 will be terrified of your raise either way and you'll get them to slow-down and possibly score some credibility for double-barreling the turn, 2) you can elect to check behind on the turn if say an Ace peels off which is generally a bad card for your range and good for his and 3) checking behind allows you to reduce variance/pot control/ add deception by showing weakness. But as played I like how you got aggro in this spot and collected some non-showdown winnings.


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