Friday, April 28, 2017

Back in Black

It's been awhile since I played MGM.  When MGM opened, I played there for about 2 months straight, moving away from Baltimore Horseshoe.  I figured the benefits of moving my play are twofold: the drive is about an hour shorter, and they give $2 / hour in comps.  The downside is: I give up about $50 in free bets and the players are far weaker in Baltimore.  I wasn't interested in sitting in traffic, and so for the first time in about 2 months, I decided to try out MGM again.

My prior experiences there were the play was very gambly, leading to a higher variance game.  As a result, coming into the session, I found my graph to be a marginal loser; close to break even but still on the losing end.  Just one good session and I'll be in the black... easier said than done, of course; you can't plan winning sessions, unfortunately.

A few consistent observations I've noticed at MGM, which is not necessarily true at the 'Shoe:
  • There's usually at least one "good" player at the table
  • Play is far more aggressive
  • On the aggressive play, there seems to be an unusually high number of floats and preflop raises.
  • The players don't give up on hands as easily as other places.
  • 3bets are not necessarily respected; players will pay incorrect PF odds to see flops.
On a Thursday early evening / late afternoon, there's usually immediate seating.  Last night was no different; I parked, plugged my car into the free car charger (I have a Nissan Leaf EV), found my way into the poker room and within 30 seconds, was dealt into a hand.  It was immediately apparent that there were 2 good players and the rest were just "there" (read: passive, generally fishy players).  Early on, I realized one player opening very wide from all positions.  The first showdown, I saw him river 2 pair with 76o from an UTG $15 raise.  The second time, an orbit or two later, he shows down 89o from a mid position $15 raise.  Now I have the confirmation I need; it's a pattern (obviously 2 times is not necessarily a truth, but it's a going theory as a minimum).  Next opportunity I get, I'm going to bump his raise and take down the easy moneys :-).

I get my opportunity when he opens from UTG and gets no less than 2 callers.  I look down at KQo, a great candidate for 3betting.  I bump it to $55 and take down the $~45.  Easy game.  A bit later, one of the better players (sitting immediately to my right) who'd been raising fairly often, but not showing down, raises to $15.  I look down at AA and 3bet to $45.  Only he calls.  Flop comes 5 6 8, two spades and he checks to me.  Not wanting to slow play, I lead for $60.  He calls again.  The turn is a 5 or 6 and he checks once again.  I look down at my stack remaining: $137, with $210 in the pot.  One move: all in.  He thinks for a bit and folds.  I'm finally in the black for the session.

A few orbits later, the UTG player, one of the weaker players, opens to $7.  Mind you this is a 1/3 table, so this open is basically a non-event for a live game.  Needless, there are 7 or so players who call, including me with 75o.  We see a 7 5 8 ss flop and he leads for $25.  It folds to me and I raise to $55 (accidentally; I meant to raise to $65 but counted out 2 red chips too few).  It folds around to him and he thinks before calling.  The turn is a beautiful 7 and he leads for $90, which makes no sense to me.  I raise to $225 ($65-70 behind), wanting to make sure we get most of it in while/if he's drawing to the flush and he opts to just call.  The river is an off suit 2.  He checks and I put out the rest of my stack.  He snap calls and is mystified that I have 75o.  That's what you get for signalling a strong hand with a weak PF raise!  I'm left assuming he had KK or AA.

A few more hands transpired that I have forgotten about by now, and I end the session up nicely.  Finally in the black at MGM!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Montreal Playground Poker Club trip report: just when I think I’ve seen it all, I realize that I haven’t seen anything

My wife and I took the kids up to Montreal, Canada for an extended weekend so that my wife could see her Canadian cousins. It had been a while since we’d been up there, so I took a few days off of work and we all drove the 10 hours from our house. It was nice; we got to see all of my wife’s family, and met the newest member of our family, a 3 month old baby boy. The weather was nice for the most part, so we were able to spend time outside, walking around and checking out Montreal’s sites. My kids have never experienced poutine, so we definitely had a serving to share. We broke up the trip on the trek home, making a stopover in New Jersey to visit my cousins. My cousin’s kids are close in age to my kids, so it was a welcomed relief from the all-too-long car ride.

To cut to the poker content, throughout the 15 years my wife and I have been married, I can’t recall a single time where I’ve been able to get away and check out the Montreal poker scene. For years, I knew about the Casino de Montréal, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually played poker there – I’ve read the games are bad, the poker room is tiny, and it’s generally expensive. However, I googled Montreal poker and found a place I’ve been reading about over the past few years, the Playground Poker Club. The poker club is a strictly poker room located on the Native American [Indian] Mohawk reservation. Saturday night, I was able to get away for a few hours and check it out. It happened to be around 25 minutes driving from the place we were staying.

My initial impression of the poker room was that it was imposingly big. 78 tables big. Seemingly just a warehouse of poker tables surrounded by TVs. Getting on a table was fairly easy; I needed to first get a Playground card to get on the waitlist. After doing that, I had a short 5 minute wait to get on a table. The place maybe had 30-40 tables running at 10:00 on a Saturday night. I went and got chips; using U.S. dollars, they changed my $200 into $256 CAD. The $1/2 tables were $200 max, so I pocketed my extra $56 and put the $200 on the table when I got called.

Some observations:
  •  The room is very strict and rule-oriented; non-players are not allowed to congregate around the table; they must stay behind the rail at all times.
  • Rake is 10% up to $8 + $1 for the bad beat drop!  Ouch.
  • You don’t have to post when entering the game though you can buy the button if you’d like.
  • The chairs and table are very comfortable.  They have 9 player tables, so there’s lots of room as well.
  • All food and drinks are free.  They have an extensive menu of food selections and it appears that they have a fully stocked bar.  The food looked very good; order as much as you’d like and your only cost is the tip for the server.
  • The food and drink service seemed very quick.  There’s seemingly always a server around.
  • The Montreal players seem to like to bet their draws.
  • The play was very poor.

A real quick inconsequential hand history relating to the title of the post:

I’m sitting for maybe an hour – there’s a lady across from me who I’ve pegged as absolutely atrocious. She’s hitting hands right & left; only bets when she has top pair or better (top pair - she’s never folding regardless the action). Anyway, I’ve seen her runner a boat, straight, two pair, etc. Usually, she has no idea that she has the winner, but somehow gets there. Anyway, I’m in the BB in seat 8; she’s in the 2 seat across from me as the second to act. As she’s lifting her cards, she accidentally flashes me the Deuce of diamonds, but also accidentally flips over the Ten of clubs for the entire table to see. She looks at the dealer and asks for a replacement card, but he relents; it’s her fault for flipping the Ten. The whole conversation is taking place in French; I don’t think she speaks any English. Therefore, I’m embellishing a little bit; she may have said to the dealer, “Beautiful weather in Montreal this weekend; what are you doing on Sunday?” while he replied, “Very fine weather – I’m planning a nice Easter brunch,” but what do I know? Body language -wise, it looked like she wanted a new card and was trying to blame the dealer for her folly. Anyway, despite showing the table 50% of her hand and me the other 50%, she decides to limp her powerhouse, throwing in the $2.

So, it’s not unexpected that she limped T2o (I've seen her play 93o to a raise; she's calling nearly every hand she sees), but I don’t get continuing to play your hand when you’ve played half of it face up! This is not a hand that should be too hard to fold! WTF? Have you ever seen that before?  Unfortunately, I looked down from the BB to see T3o, so I had her dominated, but we both totally missed the flop and one of the other 4 or 5 limps took it down :-(.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Delaying a cbet

I've been trying to get away from an auto cbet regardless my hand, when I'm the preflop aggressor.  Last session, I tried experimenting with not "cbetting to take down the pot" when I have the best hand and have little to no chance of getting value on further streets without allowing my opponent to catch up a bit.  The problem, though, is that it seems that every time I try this experiment, it ends up burning me somehow...

I'm dealt AcAx in mid position and raise to $15 in my weekly visit to the Horseshoe.  I get a call from an older guy who has been very quiet up to the hand in question.

The flop comes Kx8c2c.  I feel like I have no hope, heads up, of getting any value by cbetting here.  I think there are very few hands he can have that can call a bet: Kings and club draws.  Since he's been so quiet, I think he'll often show up with a pocket pair -- 22 - TT, maybe JJ, in this spot.  Maybe he'll have a K: KJ, KQ, and maybe he'll have a club draw: KQ, KJ, QJ, QT, JT.  Since I hold the Ac, there aren't too many club draws he can have, though, given his tight image.  So, keeping to the title of the post, I check through.

Turn is Kc, and I haven't defined his hand yet.  However, he leads into me for $10.  Since I hold the Ac, and I'm a bit uncomfortable with the way the hand has played out (as this is an off-norm hand for me), I opt to call, ruling out folding and deciding against raising; I don't know where I am at this point.  Paired board, 3 clubs...

River is a blank and he now leads for $25.  I call and am shown QJcc.  My mistake is in calling here, because what am I beating except for a bluff catcher?  How often is my quiet opponent bluffing on a paired 3 club board?  $25 into a $50 pot - I need to be right 33% of the time in order to break even; I don't think I'm anywhere near right enough to pay that price, but yet I did it anyway.  Why?  I'm married to AA and feel like I'm paying a cheap price to showdown.  Correct; I am paying a "cheap" price to showdown, since I haven't fully represented my hand strength at any point.  If I'm really taking a critical view, I suppose that's why I make the river call - I've underepped my hand the whole way.  However, my opponent isn't really thinking about that; he's trying to get value from an opponent he views as trying to get to showdown cheaply.  In retrospect, I should prefer to check rainbow boards more often to allow my opponent to pick up a draw on the turn, and bet two-tone boards more often to "charge for the draw." 

Ironically, I think I lose less money on this hand played out the way above, vice the way I would "normally" play it: cbet the flop for $25, check through the turn and call a likely larger river bet since the pot is bigger by the river.  However, I probably fold the river so maybe it costs me marginally less?  I don't know; I'll continue to look for spots where I can underrep in theoretical way ahead / way behind situations.

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