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...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday night session at the 'Shoe

I had the opportunity to play yesterday, as we returned home from our trip to Williamsburg, VA a little earlier than originally expected.  Both the wife & I were feeling a little under the weather, so we decided to make a game-time decision Wednesday to make the 2 1/2 hour drive back home rather than stay the additional night and return on Thursday.  After a mostly restful sleep and plenty of R&R during the day - and 2 DayQuils later, I found myself in the car driving up 95 on my way to play.

The first decision I faced was whether to opt for Baltimore, where the players are far worse, the action is a lot better, and the games play larger (1/3 - $300 buy ins) vs. stopping at Live! (1/2 - $300 buy in), where it's about 10 miles closer, the room is more player friendly and the bad beat jackpot is a lot larger.  I opted for what I felt was the logical choice: Baltimore.  The driving distance is mostly nominal anyway - door to door, I imagine the distance is roughly the same since you can park on the same level as the poker room in Baltimore whereas it's a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the Live! poker room.

There's just something about playing 1/3 that is just so enticing as a segue from 1/2 to 2/5.  At this point, I've very comfortable with the 50% money jump from 1/2 to 1/3 - the raises are larger, the pots are larger, and the players are not adjusting properly.  My biggest issue with moving up to 2/5 is the money - $500 is simply a lot more money than $200.  Percentage-wise, though, the step from $300 to $500 is less than $200 to $300.  Therefore, I'm hoping to spend a few hours this year cementing myself in at the 1/3 games and then solidly make the jump to 2/5 - with a full 100BB buy-in.

As I start to evaluate myself, part of my problem with prior runs at 2/5 in the past was that I was a "little pregnant" - I'd play a $200 stack at 2/5 rather than buy in full.  That kind of risk aversion is just like playing short stacked tournament poker - and I hate doing that.  Being so short-stacked severely limits play, and I felt very much limited at the 2/5 games by playing 40% stacks...  therefore, I hope I can build up enough of a bankroll to support a 2/5 game at full stacks - I figure around $8-10k will do the trick, as around $3-4k has done the trick for the 1/2, 1/3 games thus far.

Anyway, after a bit of a wait - no more than 10 minutes - I was seated at a fairly easy 1/3 table.  It started off as a slow, somewhat tight table, but then the table started really loosening up.  I chipped up nicely throughout and found myself sitting on around $800 when I got into the mix with a somewhat wild player who wasn't really raising frequently, but was very aggressive and swingy:

I look down at Ad2d and call a $12 raise from the somewhat wild player (sitting on ~$300), along with 4 other players - $60 in the center and a flop of 3d 4c Jd.  Checks around to original raiser who leads for $25.  Player to his left thinks for a while and just calls and I sit & debate the next move.  I feel like I'm going to be paid on my 5 or diamond if / when it hits, but if I raise, I'm reducing the likelihood that either will pay off, so I opt to flat call the $25.  All other drop out.

$135 in the center - the turn is a 5s, completing my wheel.  I once again check and the wild player puts in $70.  To my surprise, the player to his left shoves all in for around $170.  With my wheel and the diamond re-draw, what do I do here?  I have the wild / original raiser covered - he has $200 remaining after the last bet, so I announce all in and he literally takes his time before calling and then asks for a diamond on the river.

River is a 6c and he flips 76o for the higher straight on the turn and scoops a nice pot.

I've been looking at the points of play which I could have done better, but I'm debating the only spot in which I could have changed - the flop.  I don't know whether it would have made a difference, but I think I like check/ raising the flop there to around $125 instead of just calling.  I'm happy to take down the pot without showing down, and if I get a call, it's an auto shove on the turn.  I also think I mark the hand up to a cooler - he had a somewhat oddball hand not really in his range that hit a gutter on me which also made my hand.  Thoughts?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Finally!!! 4 years in the making I finally get paid by Full Tilt!!!!

Yay!  Go me!  It only took 4 years to get it, but I finally got it!  Windfall!  Who's up for hookers & booze?!?!?!

Don't ask why it took so long to finally get the deposit, but I got it today!  Confirmed!  Booyah!

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