Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweatin' with the oldies

Most people think that poker isn't an aerobic exercise, but it can sure work you up a good sweat.

Tonight I was playing at the Flamingo. We started a new table, and about 30 minutes in, I found two red kings in the big blind. There were two limpers, followed by a young man on the button raising to $10. First decision: Call or reraise? A reraise might earn me only $14 if everybody folded. The limpers were two retirees, who had a tendency to limp-call any normal-sized raise. I thought they would fold to a reraise, but stay in if I just called, making for a nice pot. Also, if an ace were to come on the flop, I could get away with little loss, because odds were that at least one of these guys had some ace-rag hand. So I went with the call, and my prediction about the oldies (sorry to use a slightly disrespectful term, but I have to justify the post title I picked--besides, I consider myself one of them, being eligible for the WSOP seniors event next year) proved to be correct. Four of us to the flop, pot about $35 after rake.

Flop: 5h-6h-2d. Though I thought the button would continuation-bet anything if we all checked to him, I didn't want to take the chance of it being checked all around, because there were too many potentially scary cards that could hit the turn. Also, going for a check-raise was not ideal here, I thought, because I was first to act after the likely bettor (the button), so if one of the retirees had hit a set, my check-raise could get really expensive. Better, I decided, to lead out, because the flop was coordinated enough that a set would probably raise to protect against draws, so I could get away, if necessary, with the cost of just my opening bet, rather than having to face a likely all-in from a slow-played set after having put in a large check-raise. I bet $30. Our senior citizens folded fairly quickly. When it was his turn, the button instantly shoved for $181. I had him covered by less than $10.

I didn't have a ton of information on him. This was the first time he had made any move this large or aggressive. The most salient fact here was the size of the reraise--six times my bet. I thought that a big overpair would be more likely to raise smaller. Would he do that with a set? Possible, given the consideration of the draws. But in my experience, most $1-2 players just LURVE to get cute with sets, and shoving doesn't give them the satisfaction of the trap. The size of the bet seemed to me to be either a big pair not wanting to get drawn out on, or a strong draw (e.g., A-Q in hearts) that was semi-bluffing. He had taken no time at all to decide on the push, and I thought that a set would take a minute to consider the options for how to play it.

I thought about it a while. I decided that I had most of the big pairs beat and was a substantial favorite against a draw. I have a really strong distaste for putting in my whole stack with just an overpair, but this seemed to me like one of the occasional places where I likely had the best of it with nothing more than unimproved kings. I called and showed.

My opponent flipped over 8h-9h, for a gutshot straight-flush draw. I was indeed a favorite, though not by as comfortable a margin as I would have liked. To be exact, it was 57% me, 42% him.

The ol' apocrine and eccrine glands went into overdrive on the turn, which was a black 8, giving him a pair. He gained more outs, but, of course, was left with only one card on which to hit, so I improved a little statistically: 64%/36% now. Still, I could just hear Mike Sexton, in that overexcited voice that he gets when all the money is in and it's down to one card: "He can hit a heart, a 7, an 8, or a 9. Vince, Grump is going to have dodge a lot of cards here!"

My sweat was extended when the dealer put out the river, but I couldn't see it, because his hand hovered where it blocked my view. (This was not purposeful on his part.) I could see a flash of red on a face card, but that was it. He actually announced the winner before I could see what had happened: "Kings." He moved his hand, and I finally saw that the jack of diamonds had joined the board. Whew!

Score one for us old guys.

Oh, and admit it: You had to look up "apocrine and eccrine glands," didn't you?


Josie said...

Yeah, I had to look them both up. :P

Tic_Tac_Buccinski said...

I really like the way you played the hand and obviously like the results. Your definitely playing at higher level than me and so many other $1/$2 NL players. I'm amazed that all your reads were right on.

I would of played this completely different. I would of thought the old timers that limped would not of called even the $10 raise so why not put a min raise to $20 that's likely going to be called by the initial raiser and get the same value preflop that you would if the older timers called the $10. Also this way it's only two to the flop instead of 4. Against 4 players your only a slight favorite on the flop heads up however it's more likely that your ahead. Also my thinking is on the flop the only way you’re getting more money in the pot from of the old timers is if there ahead.

The problem I think with the way I would of played it is by doing the min raise I'm advertising my range against the other players and I likely don't get the opportunity like you did to have the young guy push all-in on the flop with just draws.

Well played.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grump,

Enjoy your posts and regular blog. So many try to make it with Poker in Vegas and give up Vegas and blogging after a few months to a year. Yours is the gift that keeps on giving.

Had a question for you... Without getting into numerical details, does Poker really pay for all you bills or do you have some external sources of income like investments, annnuities or some other sort of pension? Because every now and then you'll report some sort of downswing where you are stuck a few hundred dollars but withing a few days of that post where you are disgruntled with Poker, you will be back in the saddle again. So just wondering, how do you deal with the streaks? External income? Income from this website?

Just curious...

Grange95 said...

I did not have to look those words up. Have to get up pretty early in the morning to slip something scientific past me!

BTW, I think this is a great example of the "it depends" and "trust your reads" rules of poker. I hate riding an overpair to the river, but sometimes, you just have to do it. Great write up.