Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thing's I'm doing lately... an update

Things are meh at live poker.  I can’t seem to get my hands to hold up; last session I had KK, raised to $20.  Got shoved over by a short stack to $36.  Got 5 callers!!!  Couldn’t re-open so just called.  Beautiful flop of T 4 3.  I bet $125 and everyone folds.  Heads up with the short stacker who holds A T.  A on the turn and I lose the pot.  Another hand: I open to $25 with JJ against 2 limpers; I get one of the loose callers who snaps off my raise.  K x x.  Checks to me, I cbet $30.  He calls.  C/c turn & river and he flips Kh4h.  WTF?

I did make one really nice call with AK against my opponent’s AQ on a 3 spade Ace high board where I read his read of me (i.e. leveled him).  Action went something like I raise PF (~$15).  He calls.  A x x ss flop.  I lead for like $30.  He calls.  Turn is a spade.  I check, not sure whether he hit his spade flush & he leads for $70 and I call.  To me, that bet is very suspicious; a “go away” bet if you will.  I feel like if he wants value against me, he knows he has to bet around $40-50.  However, he’s almost potting it.  My thinking is on the river, I have to call all non-spade bets here (it would be a 4flush board on the river if there’s a spade river); if I don’t believe him for a flush or 2 pair on the turn, the hand will have not changed textures by the river.  River is thankfully a blank and I check again.  As somewhat expected, he shoves for $153 effective.  I think for a few and eventually call – he shows AQ and I scoop.  He says after the hand exactly what I thought during the hand: he put me on AK and thought he could get me to fold it.

Anyway, I’ve been occupying some of my time with online play.  A couple of buddies of mine have been slowly increasing their online play, which started me hankering for a bit more poker than my once-a-week routine.  So, I started back up a few days ago with around $10 in my account, and have been fishing around at the very lowest levels ($0.01 / $0.02).  I’m playing without a HUD, but I’m playing almost solely 6max, so there’s not as many players to track.  It’s a fun game; I’m finding that without a HUD, I’m not playing fully optimal (i.e. not picking up on loose stealers and 3betting them, and not picking up on wide 3betters against my steals), but I’m paying much closer attention to game flow and player types.  Granted the players at these stakes are absolutely terrible, but it’s fun to play with no pressure of “serious money.”  I’m handling up to 6 tables comfortably.  My goal is to run my bankroll up enough so I can play the $0.25/$0.50 games.  That level seems to be the sweet spot for the site I’m playing (  At any rate, it’s good to be back in the mix online.

Although online blogging has slowed down over the past few years, I’m only writing when I have stuff to write about.  I’d imagine with the re-boot of the online poker, I’ll start to have more content / “what would you do’s”.  It’s nice to be writing semi-regularly, as it exercises my poker brain.
I think that’s it for now; I’m not promising anything, but I think I’ll have more frequent content updates coming.  Strap in for a little super low, low stakes hold’em!

Monday, November 28, 2016

And sometimes, you just back into it…

This post is a little out of order; this session happened about 3 weeks ago, prior to the last post (What would you do – A blatant violation of the rules).

I had a mostly uninteresting session last week; kinda standard stuff: AA, KKx2, QQ, JJ – all cracked.  AA on my very first hand of the session and I paid off a flopped set for $180 on top of my preflop raise of $20.  Not a good start.  I didn’t show, so I suppose I could have an image of loose aggressive with my immediate stacking.

Anyway, a few hands later, I limp K6hh alongside 6 others.  We see a 2 heart, 9 high flop; I think it was something like 9 3 7 hh.  Facing an early position $10 bet, I call along with a host of others – 3 or 4.  Seat 9, a youngish hoodie wearing kid in the BB (going off a week-old memory here, so details are a bit fuzzy) opts to check / raise to $45.  Given the money in the pot, I call again; not sure whether anyone else called the check / raise, but now we’re heads up.  Turn is a 6 and hoodie guy opens for his remaining $120 or so.  I look at him; he looks very uncomfortable.  Clearly, the 6 helps me, but my read is my 6’s are good – at least on the turn – so I make the call.  Now I wish I could remember whether the 9 was the 9h, because it makes a difference to the hand, but I definitely don’t.  He is definitely not happy that I called, confirming to me that my 6’s are good.  The river peels a blank – no clue what it was, but it wasn’t a heart.  I wait for him to flip, and he motions for me to flip first.  I wait motionless, doing nothing but stare at him.  He starts to flip, then decides to muck, conceding a $300+ pot to me without showing.  I immediately muck my cards as the pot is being shipped, and he storms off.  Wow.  The table is puzzled, as am I.  To summarize: ye went broke on a limped pot, with a semi-bluff (or maybe full bluff) into a handful of people, and capped it off with not wanting to show at showdown even though he’s leaving the table.
Now, I have no doubt my 6’s were good there, but I can’t envision any time where I will concede a pot without showdown, especially when I’m leaving the table if I lose.  I’m not keeping my opponents from future information because they won’t see me again after this hand if I lose it.  If I win it (with Ace high, for example), I can opt to leave the table regardless the result.  I’m still scratching my head about this one; JThh?  He can’t have 56hh because I had the 6h.  24hh?  What hands are c/r’ing the flop and shoving a heads up turn?  Moving on…

The one interesting hand of the session involved a complete noob.  Although she claimed the last time she played poker was in grade school, this young chick was somewhat aware of hand strengths and aggression.  I believe that this was her first time playing poker in a casino (she almost folded 6’s full on the river to a big bet, not realizing that she had a full house), but had an extreme case of beginner’s luck.  She proceeded to get quad Aces (she had pocket Aces twice during our session together), hit 2 or 3 boats, and always had a strong hand to go to showdown.  She simply amassed chips.

I find myself in mid position with KK in a $6 straddled and 3 limpers to my right.  Action rolls to me and I decide to raise to $40 to narrow ranges down to more predictable cards.  Well, that was a huge fail to say the least; I get 5 callers including the noob.  The pot has around $240 and we see a flop of Q Q 7 ss.  Action checks to the noob who gets real quiet.  It should be noted that prior to that moment, she’s been completely sociable – we’re all having a good time at the table.  Now, she’s dead silent.  She puts out a $100 bet.  Action is immediately to me.  What do you do?  $100 is a sizable bet for her, I have 2-3 players yet to act, and my KK is looking pretty marginal at the moment.

I thought for a bit and eventually came to the conclusion that she’s not bluffing here; her physical tells of silence combined with the sizing of the bet leads me to believe she hit a Q; I let the over pair go.  I just can't imagine she's thinking to bluff in that spot.  Everyone else folds and we’re on to the next hand.

In retrospect, I feel like the silence is such a huge huge tell.  Between Zachary Elwood's books and Mike Caro's older stuff, I feel like the silence, especially from a new player, is the instinct of not wanting to scare the prey.  A basic instinct of a non-thinking / irregular / noob player is to get very quiet when they're going for value.  It's the hunter instinct in all of us; we silently tiptoe through the forest in order to catch whatever it is we're after.

At the poker tables, situation dependent (i.e. playing against a more experienced player, trying to use a reverse tell, etc.), I've found consistency to be the best line of defense to counter any tells I may throw off.  In other words, instead of acting silent when I have a big hand, I try to continue the same conversation I was having prior, or try to continue acting as I was acting.  I'll occasionally stare down a more experienced player as a reverse tell of a strong means weak, but I find that rarely works; the more experienced players are able to make decisions in isolation, valuing their relative hand strengths regardless the tells they're receiving from another experienced player.  Anyway, I hope this little diatribe helps you with your game.

Monday, November 21, 2016

What would you do – A blatant violation of the rules

The setting: My typical Thursday night session at the ‘Shoe

The scenario: A dealer flouts the rules

The question: What would you do?  Would you speak up?  Follow up?

Over the past few sessions, I’ve become accustomed to my strong hands no longer being winners by the flop, turn or river.  This session was no exception, where, within 3 orbits, I saw my KK go down in flames when:
  1. I get it in pre-flop to action where EP raises to $10, older guy raises to $30.  I look down at KK and 4bet to $85.  EP thinks & shoves for $310 effective.  Older guy pauses for a good minute before finally making the call for around $200.  Action to me.  I decide I can’t fold KK and make the call.  I ask if EP has AA – I’m sure given the pause – that older guy has QQ, JJ.  EP says no, leading me to believe I’m ahead until a Ten hits the turn and EP flips TT for the win.  Older guy shows QQ and I just shake my head.  LOL 5bet shoving TT FTW!  It's always good there, amiright?
  2. I get in on the turn for $150 to a gambler Asian guy who doesn’t seem to understand hand strengths, as he turns a gutter and 2 pair draw with T9 vs. my KK on a T 7 x 6 board.  The action, BTW, went PF raise to $20 after 2 limpers – he calls with T9o.  He c/c’s $45 on the flop.  He snaps the turn gutter for a slight overbet of $150 into the $135 pot.  8 on the river, easy game.
I find myself down ~2 buy-ins for the night.  My session, however, is not the focus of this story.  Dealers rotate through and one of my two most despised dealers pushes in.  To be clear, this dealer represents himself as a pure rules guy.  Now, I can definitely appreciate a rules-oriented dealer; all I ask for is a set process, and even-handed application of the rules to all parties continually.  This guy is inconsistent.  He’s moody.  He’s monotone.  He doesn’t give people a chance to act before telling them it’s their action.  He’ll call out for blinds to be posted as said blinds are reaching for chips.  He represents himself as a rule follower and insists on all players following rules to the letter of the law.  All of this sounds pretty innocuous, but he's a real miserable prick.  He tilts me ever so slightly, but I tend to ignore him as a defense against my tilt.  Lately, I've been considering sitting out during his downs.

2 people limp and there’s a raise on the button.  The blinds call and one of the limpers call.  There’s a lot of talk at the table, and I, of course, am involved.  FWIW, I folded my hand, but I’m following the action as I follow the conversation.  Action has yet to close, pending the final limper’s call, a middle aged lady.  There’s an unusual delay between her action, and the dealer proceeds to put out a flop.  The flop is out and action is still pending the lady, who opts to call after seeing the flop.  No one says anything.  I ask the dealer what’s going on; action is still pending yet he put out a flop.  He replies “no problem; she called, so all is good.”

All is definitely not good, however.  I point out that she called only after seeing a flop.  He stays fixed to the point that she called, so the pot is good – move on.  I don’t move on; I continue to point out that she got to see a flop first, before calling pre flop.  That is an unfair advantage, and against the rules.  In the meantime, post flop action continues and the button lines up a sizeable bet.  Finally, the dealers pauses the action and calls floor.

The dealer tells floor, since The Poker Meister has a complaint, he can explain what happened.  “Floored” (pun intended) by the dealer’s lack of wont to own the mistake, I’m forced to become the villain at the table, breaking up a hand where I’m not even involved.  (The flop was JJx, and the BTN was clearly happy with that flop.  The lady got pissed at me for "ruining" the hand that she changed tables after the incident.)  Even after explaining in clear terms what happened, the dealer does not recognize his mistake, only offering that it was noisy and there was a lot of background conversation ongoing.  Totally inexcusable in my book.  First, I should not be explaining what happened; dealer is the keeper of order at the tables.  He should not only be paying attention, but also recognize issues that may arise, and own his or her mistakes.  Second, mistakes are bound to happen.  Depending on the size of the mistake, either rectify the situation yourself (i.e. something minor like incorrect change, or out of turn action) or call floor (i.e. something major like dealing a card out of turn, or clarity of a particular rule).  Third, don’t try to cover up your mistake by bullying your customers.  Not that he was trying to intimidate me, but he definitely pressed me pretty hard to move on – something I was clearly not going to do.

So I ask, in summary: You’re in my seat.  You’re watching (in my opinion, an egregious) rules violation.  You’re not involved in the particular hand, but you see someone who has a clear advantage over the rest of the table – and the dealer wants to overlook the situation.  Do you speak up?  What would you do?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

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

Congratulations, Ryan!

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Killing the Golden Goose (or Geese?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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