Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Double play at the MGM

I had a rare opportunity to play two sessions in a week!  Checking in with my wife, I found our schedule to be open over the weekend.  We spent Friday night together, but I decided to go play some poker after dinner on Saturday.  Each of the kids had an activity planned, and my wife was exhausted, so I figured I'd head on over to the MGM to see if I could continue my streak.

The wait list on a Saturday night was around 30-40 deep for a 1/3 table, but ultimately, I was seated within 30 minutes.  I made my way over to the table and found it to be fairly loose / passive.  The common raise seemed to be around $6, with someone getting "out of line" coming in for $10.  There weren't frequent raises, so if a raise did occur, it meant a player had a hand.  FWIW, I did not follow that trend; if I had a hand, I raised at least $15, but my larger raises did not get the table's attention.  If there were limps, those limpers were absolutely seeing a flop -- regardless the cost.  On the other hand, if I was facing a raise to $6, I generally saw a flop, regardless my holdings, hoping to cooler the AA / KK / QQ / AK / etc.

Midway through, I found myself down about 2/3 of a 100BB stack on the following hands (the third hand kept me from putting additional money on the table, fortunately):

  1. KQo, I raise to $18 after 2 limps; one of the limps, a weak / loose player calls, and the other limp folds.  This guy is in every hand, and by the river has the best of it.  He's getting lucky as hell, not playing well.  Anyway, the flop is K 2 4cc.  I cbet for $25 and he calls; he can show up very often with clubs here and I want to get value.  Best case, he has a worse K, but either way, he likes his hand.

    Turn is an off suit 8.  No reason to slow down; I lead for $55 and he calls once again.

    River is an off suit 9.  My thought is a fairly straight-forward line: if he's on clubs, he's always folding to a bet, but there's a chance of a bluff.  I don't feel like there's too many Kings that call for $18 but beat KQ, and if he slow played a set, good on him, I think I'll have to pay him off if he bets.  I just don't see a huge gain in leading for a 3rd barrel with a 1 pair hand.  Finally, I feel like his body language signaled that the 9 helped him.  I'm watching him while the community cards are dealt, and he definitely sat up straighter in his chair.  Out of concern / pot control / inducement, I check.  He stacks $50 and puts it out.  Perhaps I need to think about calling more in the future rather than just snap calling like I did, because he shows me K9 for the rivered 3 outter top two pair.  Yuck.
  2. I tread water for a bit and am dealt Ks7c in the BB.  I check my option into around 7 players.  The flop comes K Qs 7s - Kings up!  I lead for $15 and get called in two spots; another weak passive player and a new player who I read for tight.

    Turn is the Ts.  I check / call the $30 turn bet from the weak passive player, as does the new player.

    River is the 8s.  I check once again; the passive player checks to the new player who leads for $50.  I think for a bit, with my Ks backdoor flush and finally make the call.  The passive player folds AJo face up, and the new player shows As4s for the nut flush.  Another yuck.  This night is turning out not to be my night.
  3. I'm dealt 78ss on the CO.  I've been experimenting with widening my opening range from late position, so I open to $12 from the BTN with no limpers.  I get both blinds to call, the SB is a mouth breather, and the BB is the guy from the first hand above.

    We see a flop of 2h 5d 6d.  They check to me and I cbet $25.  Only the SB mouth breather calls.  No specific reads; he can have anything here - he's limped KK, etc. the whole night & when he opens, it's to around $6.  I can't really assign him a range at this point, but if I were to guess, it'd be an overpair -- 88+, but 6x is in the range as well.

    Turn comes a 9h and the SB checks to me.  See the nuts, be the nuts.  2 flush draws out there & I have an interested caller.  Continue to build that pot!  I put out $55 and without much hesitation, SB calls.  I think he's solidly on an overpair.

    The river completes backdoor hearts with the Ah and the SB checks again.  Unless he hit a backdoor heart draw with something like 6x hh, 3x hh, 4x hh looking for a gutter to fill in, I have the bona fide nuts.  I'm 99.99% confident here - how much value?  $180 in the pot, and I want him to have a thoughtful call, not too hard, but not too easy.  I settle on $125, which seems to be right in the middle.  He hems and haws for a seemingly minutes, mumbling about that terrible Ace on the river.  He asks me if I'll show if he folds, and I say absolutely not.  Only way I'm showing is if he calls.  I start to get the sense that he is moving towards a fold, so I start to talk with him.  I tell him, "the Ace 100% did not help me - I swear on my children!"  This puzzles him even further.  I consider showing him one card to reinforce confidence in his call, but I feel like I'd give too much of my hand away by exposing.  I also feel like he & the table would start re-thinking my raises if I show them a 7 or 8 that I raised with, although in retrospect, they could put me on pocket 7's or 8's.  On the other hand, what is my goal in showing a card?  To get him to call.  Does willfully showing him a 7 or 8 induce him to call me, given my aggressive action on all 3 streets with a straight out there?  He can certainly discount a rivered flush, but I feel like showing a 7 or 8 pretty clearly points to A7 / A8, 77, 88, or 78, with a healthy slant towards 78.  Therefore, I decide not show.  Unfortunately, he eventually mucks and we move on to the next hand.
I continue to balance delicately, wondering whether I'll ever pick up a hand instead of a constant stream of second bests...  Close to the end of my session, I look down at 6 6 in the SB and complete to 6 limpers; the BB checks and we see a bingo flop of Kd 6d K [finally!].  I have no doubt at least one of the 7 players in the hand (excluding me) has a King, or, at minimum, drawing dead to a diamond flush.  I want to flush both parties out; see who's betting & who's calling.  Then I can get a grasp for my target audience.  Therefore, I check my flopped boat to a mid position player who leads for $10 into the $20+ pot.  It gets called by the weak / loose player described in hand #1 above; all else fold.  Now, I read one of these guys for a K, and one for a diamond draw...  I think with 2 players in, this is a good spot to check / raise the nuts for the following reasons:
  • I'm getting additional money in with both players drawing semi dead, coupled with a high likelihood that they'll be paying me off.
  • It would be a disaster for the diamond draw to miss by the river, shutting out value, without setting up for stacks by the river.
  • With 20/20 hindsight, if the original bettor is bluffing / feeling out the table and does not have a King, he will likely shut down by the turn, fearing a King by one or both of his flop calling opponents.
  • Raising and getting more money in the pot will push my agenda.
Therefore, with action facing me, I want to put out a bet that's not too much, but not too light.  Somewhere between $30-40 should do the trick; I raise to $40 with about $40 in the pot (excluding my raise).  Unfortunately, the original raiser folds but the weak passive player thinks for a minute before making the call.  Booyah!  He's on the diamond draw... come on diamond diamond diamond.  Come on diamond diamond diamond!
I get my wish when the 8d drops on the turn.  I feign annoyance and check; the weak passive player becomes aggressive, but not over the top.  He leads for $25 into the $90 pot...  Too little for me!  Gotta keep to my agenda.  I again check raise; this time to $75.  Without hesitation, he calls.

We see the Tc on the river and I have a decision: do I go for big value on the river by leading out, or do I try to go for the ego trifecta badge (in the days gone by of online poker, the online tracking website pokertableratings.com would give players a trifecta badge for an online player check/raising 3 streets) by check raising 3 streets?  I'm so tempted to try for the live trifecta (in fact, I've only seen in once in live poker), but in the end, I can't bring myself to do it.  Seeing a nutted hand go to showdown without a river bet would be so terrible, and I can't count on my opponent to bet river after he's been check / raised every time.  Therefore, I count out what I intended to be $175, but someone ended up being $225 with about $60 behind (he has me covered) -- not quite stacks, but not too far away.  Honestly, I did not realize I made a close to pot sized bet on the river; I wanted him to be able to snap it off without much thought.  After much hemming and hawing, and verbalizing that he has a flush, he decides he cannot fold and tosses in the $225.  It was funny to watch his reaction; I could see the light bulb go off - as if he said, "of course, a full house!"

In retrospect, playing perfect poker, if I had raised to $100 on the turn, I could have gotten stacks in by the river.  Also in retrospect, though, I was worried that if I was wrong about his diamond draw and my opponent had trip Kings instead of a turned flush, he'd be very fearful of that I instead turned the flush and he would consider a fold right then & there.  Therefore, I don't know if there was any way in getting the last $60 to double up...

Final hand of note was within my last few orbits of play:
A competent player opens to [if memory serves] $17 from the SB with one limper.  I look down at QQ and 3bet to $55.  Limper folds and SB 4 bets to $120.  At this point, I flat; we're about $800 deep and I don't want to get it in, therefore I flat the $65 raise.  I think I'm set mining here but not entirely sure - but I'm like 80% behind when facing a 4bet.

Flop comes K J 4 ss and he checks to me.  He's not getting another dollar outta me unless I hit my set on the turn... and even then, I'm not sure I'm going to pay him off.  I happily check behind.  Turn is a blank and he leads for $80.  I snap fold.  I can't envision any hand he holds that doesn't have me beat after 4betting PF.  AA, AK (not so much), KK and remotely JJ.  Thoughts?  I probably should fold to the 4bet?  I spoke with him afterwards to discuss the hand...

For what it's worth, the flopped boat hand was the one hand I needed to push me into the black for the session, to end my ~6 hour session with a come-from-behind win.  One hand can be the make or break for the entire day.  Funny how that works.

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