Monday, January 18, 2010

It's not my birthday, but I'll cry if I want to anyway

Saturday I wrote about a difficult hand at Caesars Palace in which I arguably could and/or should have folded a set on the flop, and lost all my chips because I didn't. (The most common reaction from commenters seems to be approximately, "Yeah, maybe you could fold, but I would have gone broke, too.")

I went back to Caesars yesterday (Sunday) and tried again. Here's how that session ended: I'm sitting on about $250 in a $1/3 NLHE game. I've had a long dry spell, so when I find Ks-Js one off the button, I put in my standard-for-the-day raise to $13. The big blind calls, as do two of the previous limpers, making a pot of about $47 after the rake.

Flop is J-9-5 rainbow. It gets checked around to me. I bet $35. The only caller is an older, quirky gentleman that I've played with a few times before. He could call here with any piece of this flop, so I'm not worried. Turn is the jack of the fourth suit, giving me trips with a king kicker, no straights or flushes, no flush draws, and only minimal straight draw potential. The guy checks. This time I bet $95. He calls. This greatly narrows his range. He either has the case jack--almost certainly with a worse kicker--or a full house. The river is a blank--a deuce, I think. He moves all in. I have only a little over $100 left, and the pot is effectively about $305. I believe that he would make this move with a jack with any kicker, thinking it's good. Since I have no way to distinguish that from a full house, and I'm getting 3:1, it's an easy call. He turns over 5-5. He flopped a set, turned a boat.

Today I was playing at Planet Hollywood, playing $1/$2 NLHE. It was the first time I've made a point to get there during one of their aces-cracked promotional periods (Monday, 2 to 4 p.m.). I was curious about the flow of bodies into and out of the room around the time that the promotion begins and ends. As it turned out, my back was to the podium, and Holly Madison was doing a photo shoot just to my right (see immediately preceding post), so I was kind of distracted and didn't pay much attention to the ebb and flow of the room. Can't tell you anything about it.

There was an odd series of hands in which I had pocket pairs four consecutive times, and each time the guy on my left raised to $10 after I had limped. He was a very typical tourist--not horrible, but making the most common mistakes that are endemic to the species (playing too many hands, making too many loose calls, being predictable). On the first of these four, I correctly called him down with pocket 9s when he continued betting small after missing the flop. On the second and third, I had to let go (but with only the $10 pre-flop loss) after flopping overcards and other players seeming to like what the board gave them more than I did.

On the fateful fourth of these in a row, I had the red 5s. Mr. Tourist raised to $10 for the fourth consecutive time. This sequence was highly unusual for him. He had not had good results with the previous three, so I didn't think he was raising with air, but he could have just about any pair, any half-decent ace, any two Broadway cards. I called.

Flop was K-8-5 with two clubs. I checked. He bet $15, I think. There had been one other pre-flop caller, who now folded. I just called. I wasn't worried about him holding two clubs. He tended to c-bet once on a missed flop, then shut down or bet very small on the turn. I thought he would bet small if a blank came, big if he got a card he liked, and either way I could go for a check-raise.

Turn was the ace of spades. If the king wasn't the money card for me, that ace very likely was--especially if I were lucky enough for him to have had A-K to start with. I checked again. He bet $20. I was a little disappointed in that, because the weak turn bet suggested, from his previously established pattern, that he was not very strong, and therefore might not put any more money in. So I did just over a min-raise, making it $45. I thought that amount would be irresistible if he had any piece of the board, and a call would get him feeling sucked in for a big bet on the river. (I had started the hand with about $350; he with about $300.)

To my surprise, he responded by moving all-in. But that was fine with me. I thought it was most likely that he had made two pair, especially with A-K. Sadly for me, though, this time he had A-A, making his bigger set on the turn, and there was no one-outer rescue for me.

(The anti-climactic end of the session's story was this: I was left with about $50. That went away when I followed a bunch of limpers on the button with K-8 of diamonds and flopped the second nut flush. I called a small bet on the flop, then raised all-in for only a little more than my opponent's turn bet. She had just the nut flush draw with the ace of diamonds. A fourth diamond hit the board on the river, obviously.)

The long and short of it is this: in three days, I have been felted twice and very nearly so a third time with and/or by sets--twice with the bad end of set-over-set situations, and once with strong trips losing to a set-cum-boat. Total damages from these three hands: about $825. Twice during that three-day stretch I have flopped sets and won with them--both times just a small pot, with everybody folding immediately.

Combine all that with the still-recent memory of my biggest-ever loss with a flopped set last month (to C.K.), and you may understand me harboring this sentiment: I never want to see another set as long as I live, not in my opponents' hands, and not even in my own.


Grange95 said...

Variance is such a strange thing. Last summer, I had 7 straight sessions where I flopped the nut straight and lost to flopped two pair boating up. You can imagine how I felt about straights (the cards, not the fashion-challenged folk) for a couple of months.

Anyway, since you won't be needing your sets, would you mind shipping a few my way?

Anonymous said...

Must be going around.....FTOPS satty online I watched my chips flow to the shorty when I flopped trips and put him all in only to watch runner runner flush get there two hands in a row....Of course I bubble, he sqeaks in...damn game will drive you nuts.

Shrike said...

Please don't take this as results-oriented analysis, but I much prefer the bet/3bet line with a set of fives on flops like that, since it will often get bad players to stack off with AK and AA. And usually that will be a significant part of their range. If they aren't that strong, you weren't likely going to get much more money out of them anyhow.


Glenn said...

That hand from Caesar's is such a tough one. You really can't stop betting there because so often he will be paying you off with worse then when he finally tunes makes an aggressive move it's pretty much impossible to get away from.