Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three hands, or maybe four

I'll tell you about two of the hands I played last night that were key to chalking up a W in each of two poker rooms instead of continuing my recent string of L's, plus a bonus one I saw play out the other day.


I'm on the button with 3d-4d. The under-the-gun player raises to $12, and there is a caller before it gets to me. I realize that I have described a fair number of hands in which I have played junk like this--enough that readers might come to think that this is habitual for me. I feel some need to reassure you that it isn't; the circumstances have to come together just right. This fit the bill: UTG raise from a tight player that I can already put on a narrow range of hands, big pot brewing, on the button, and holding a hand that can either hit big or easily be determined to be no good and thrown away with just a small loss. So I call, as does one of the blinds. Pot about $45.

The flop is Jc-3c-3s. Ding! Unless the UTG guy started with pocket jacks, I should be good here. UTG checks. The first caller bets $60. He is one of two other pretty good players at the table. Interestingly, in the hour or so I've been at this table, I've seen him bet good made hands big in an attempt to prevent a flush draw, but been called and had the draw get there. He seems frustrated by this series of events. I have not seen him bet draws that I know of. He's just by general skill certainly capable of it. But this overbet of the pot smells to me like yet another in his series of "give up your flush draw, I've got top pair" bets. I call, not only to help make him think I'm drawing (and hence commit his stack if there is no club on the turn), but to be sure that the UTG player isn't going to do an all-in check-raise, which would make me leery that he flopped a full house. But the blind and he both fold. Heads-up, pot now about $165.

At this point, my lone remaining opponent does something I have not seen him do before. He rapidly puts his chips into a single stack and pushes it forward as he says, "I'm all in, in the dark." It's maybe another $130 or so. I have him covered.

I probably should have waited to see what the turn card was, but I had already decided that he was much more likely to have a made hand--AJ or KJ, maybe even QQ for an overpair--than a draw, so I didn't much care what the next card would be. I figured that even in the worst case scenario, which was him having either JJ or the case 3 with a better kicker, I'm not getting away from this hand, so I might as well call. Nothing the dealer could turn over is going to dissuade me at this point. I announce my call before the dealer turns and burns.

I was surprised and kicked myself when I saw that (1) I had been dead wrong on my read, and the guy had Ac-5c for the nut flush draw, and (2) the turn was the 8c, giving him his flush. Still, though, if I had waited to see the card before making my decision, it would have turned out the same, because I still would not have put him on the draw. The all-in dark move was much more consistent with somebody acting defensively against the draw than somebody on the draw. So I would have called anyway.

Such considerations all became moot, though, when the dealer put down the 4h on the river, giving me a full house: threes full of fours. It's a tiny little house, but it's full! And except in the sewage business, a full house beats a flush. Whew! But I got my money in with the best hand, so it's not like I was saved by an ugly suckout.


A short time later I cashed out my $300+ profit and scooted next door to Excalibur. Mandalay Bay would have been just as close (Luxor is in between them, so I could go either way), and is a much nicer place to play generally, but my clothes were already stinky from cigarette smoke from the Luxor, so I figured they wouldn't get any worse from the relatively smoky environment at Excalibur. Besides, I had not played there since late July, and this would be only my second visit since they canned the electronic tables. I do try to stop in to just about every poker room in town from time to time, and this was as good a chance as any to see what, if anything, was new at Excalibur.

Most of my profit there ended up being from one hand. I had A-Q offsuit in middle position. I put in my standard raise and got three callers. The flop was A-K-3 rainbow, which I thought was pretty good for me. To my surprise, the UTG player, who had limp-called before the flop, led out for $30 into the roughly $45 pot. I thought he most likely had a smaller ace and was testing the waters. I eyeballed his stack as having another $60 behind, which turned out to be exactly correct. I knew there was some small possibility that one of the two players yet to act had a monster like A-K or 3-3, but only one of them had me covered; the other was short-stacked and so couldn't do much damage. I decided I needed to raise or fold, baby. I took one chip off the top of each of two $50 stacks and slid them forward.

The next player moved all-in for his last $61, and the button folded. Back to the UTG guy, who counted and found that he had exactly the amount of my raise left, and he put it in. I flipped over what I thought was the winner. I winced when UTG turned over A-3 for a flopped two pair. I winced yet again when the third guy in the hand turn over ANOTHER A-3! Yikes! I'm beat in both places!

But sometimes the poker gods are kind to grumps, and this time they saw fit to bless me with another king on the turn, counterfeiting my opponents' second pair, and putting me in the lead with two pair (aces and kings) with my queen kicker playing. The river changed nothing, and I scooped.

I think I played it correctly, given the stack sizes, even though I ended up accidentally getting my money in as an underdog. (I was about 30% to win, 7% to get a three-way chop.) I don't mind being the one getting lucky for a change.

Bonus hand!

I had forgotten another story I wanted to tell. It involved the same guy who was UTG in the foregoing, and came a short time before the hand I just described. I had Ah-Jh in the small blind. There were a bunch of limpers. I pushed it to $16, and got only the one caller. I saw that he had just $30 left behind, so I said, "Let's make it interesting," and put out $30 before the flop came. After all, what he has left is less than the size of the pot, so there really aren't any flops on which I'm likely to fold there. It's basically a 100% c-bet situation. He was one of the weakest players at the table, and I thought I might gain a little fold equity with the intimidation factor of the dark shove. I.e., if he read that move as me holding aces, kings, or queens, he might fold even if he hit some small pair on the flop.

The flop was all small cards, two suits, all black, though I don't recall exactly what was out there. Not my ideal, but my chips were already committed. The guy thought for a minute, then looked right at me and said, "All in."

From the look on his face, it quickly became apparent to me that he thought he was being the aggressor here, and was waiting for me to call. It was only when the dealer turned and burned the next card that he snapped to and realized that I had beaten him to the punch. He had not noticed my comment about "Let's make it interesting," nor had he noticed that I had dark-shoved on him!

He had Q-10 offsuit. So he called off the last of his chips with no pair and no draw, mistakenly thinking that he might push me off of a hand with a bluff, when my chips were already in the pot before he did so! Excellent situational awareness, sir!

A-J held up. And you already know the next part of the story: I took his rebuy, too, on a lucky suckout.

Mandalay Bay

I was not involved in this hand from Sunday, but it was pretty remarkable.

Before the flop there was some limping, a raise from the blind, and three callers. The flop was Q-Q-9 rainbow. The original raiser led out with a strong bet--$50 or so. Next guy called. Third guy moved all-in.

This was the most solid, rocky guy at the table, never once even a step out of line. He also had the biggest stack there, some $800 he had amassed by waiting patiently for a monster, then capturing the stack of a weaker hand. With that bet and call in front of him, and him willing to commit the $300 or so it would take to cover his opponents, there were only two things he could have: 9-9 for a flopped boat, or Q with a very strong kicker, king or jack. (Probably not an ace, though, because before the flop he limp-called.) I thought that even Q-10 was probably below his range; he was so conservative that with that holding he would probably just call down an opponent for fear of being outkicked.

I was shocked, then, when the fourth player called off his last $150 or so. The other two quickly folded. The rock, not surprisingly, flipped over K-Q. The fourth player? As-Js. No pair, no draw. He had runner-runner flush and straight draws, but that was all. And no, they did not come to pass for him. Sadly, he left the game at that point. (This was his last rebuy. I had stacked him earlier when I flopped the nut straight and he flopped the low end of it.)

A long time ago I described what I thought was the worst, stupidest call I had ever seen in a live poker game. This one was in that same general ballpark of badness, a couple of orders of magnitude worse than the level of badness that usually prevails at $1-$2 games in town, and he didn't even have heavy drinking to blame it on. I thought it was worth memorializing here.

1 comment:

astrobel said...

I mean, really, what a call !!! Burning chips. I guess the talk at the table afterwards was quite something.
Tilt is evil !