Friday, August 17, 2012

40 to 740 in nothing flat

I played at Planet Hollywood last night. I started with $200, and within 15 minutes or so was down to about $50. I was playing horribly--as badly as I ever do. Apparently somebody had slipped a drug into my water bottle which transformed me into the world's worst calling station. I was playing every hand and calling every bet when I had any piece of the board, under the misguided impression that everybody else was bluffing. These weren't huge bets, but I frittered away the money $10 and $20 at a time. It was embarrassing and not at all my usual style.

The first thing I did was make a firm determination not to rebuy. On the rare occasions that I play that badly, at least I have the good sense not to keep at it until my wallet is empty. I recognized that I was being a doofus and had no business throwing good money after bad.

With that decision made, I told myself that I had three options: (1) Give up now, preserving the last $50 against further awful play. (2) Keep playing badly for one or two more hands, at which time the chips would all be gone and I could drive myself home feeling stupid and miserable, with a giant "L" visible on my forehead in the car mirror. (3) Buck up, play right, and see if I could turn things around. If I could find good spots to put in my short stack, then even if I didn't grind my way back to a profit, I could at least go home feeling good about having played smart with my last couple of bullets.

#3 being clearly the best choice, I mentally slapped myself for having stupidly given away $150, then let it go and settled in to play the best that I could.

My first opportunity came with an A-J offsuit. Raised to $10, three callers. Missed the flop completely. Out of position against three people who all see me as wounded, vulnerable, and possibly desperate is not the spot for a continuation-bet bluff, so I check-folded. Down to $40.

I no longer remember any of the specific hands, but I slowly worked that $40 up to $91 over the course of an hour or so, at which time came a remarkable series of three hands.

1) Three seats to my left was a fast-and-loose player. He played every hand, called light, bet at every orphan pot, straddled every opportunity, etc. He was doing a button straddle of $10 every time he was dealer. Surprisingly, nobody had ever tried to raise him when he did this. I had Q-T offsuit. The big blind and one other person had called the $10 straddle. To my left I could see both of the players between me and the button with their cards cocked, ready to fling into the muck. By this point, my table image had been adequately rehabilitated, so it seemed like a likely spot to pick up the dead money. I declared myself all in. Mr. Fast-and-Loose called, the others folded. Flop was 2-2-2 (oh, to have my beloved 2-4!), turn 7, river queen, miraculously turning my trashy hand into deuces full of queens. It was good for the pot. I never saw the other guy's cards. This put me up to $200, plus or minus a few bucks. Back to even, which was in itself something of a victory. But I was feeling good about my ability to play well, the table was soft and juicy, and so I decided to keep going.

2) A short time later, I had 8-8 under the gun, limped, and then became the last of five players paying $25 to see the flop. It came 8-3-4 rainbow, which was the loveliest sight I had seen the whole session. I was first to act and checked, knowing that there would be plenty of action that I could check-raise. Sure enough, there was a $30 bet and two calls before it was back to me. Raising all-in to about $175 from $30 is a big leap. I very much wanted at least one call, and wasn't sure I would get one if I went all the way like that. I considered a smaller raise, hoping to lure in two or three callers, who might all then feel pot-committed to my inevitable push on any turn card. That might have been better, but in the end I went for shove-and-pray, hoping that at least one would look me up. And one did. I never saw his hand, but when another 3 hit fourth street, giving me top full house, he must have been drawing dead, or nearly so. That put me up to about $530.

3) On the very next hand, I looked down at Ad-As in the big blind. Practically the whole table limped in, so I raised to $17. Three callers. Flop was 7-8-10 with two clubs. I bet $60. The player two to my left moved all-in for $90 more, followed by folds. Of course he might have me beat here with a flopped set, straight, or two pair. But I thought it more likely that he was semi-bluffing with either a pair and a draw (straight draw or flush draw), or some sort of a combo straight/flush draw. Against such a hand, a call should be mathematically correct. My read was right; he had 9-10 for top pair and an open-ended straight draw. It was a good move on his part, given that he should have decent fold equity against my range, and, failing that, an excellent chance of improving to the winner. Sadly for him, he caught no help with the last two cards, and another pot was pushed my way before I had even finished stacking the previous monster one.

When I finally got the chips straightened out, they looked like this:

I never did an exact count, but it must have been right around $730. Over the course of the next couple of orbits, I won one small pot with a pre-flop raise, peaking at about $740, then lost about $20 before deciding that I had probably gotten as lucky as I was going to get, and cashing out for $718.

Of course there was a hefty dose of luck here: an all-in steal shove that turned into a full house, then flopping top set in a bloated pot and managing to find somebody who had caught enough of the ragged flop to call my all-in check-raise, then dodging 13 outs twice to have my aces hold up. But in spite of that nice streak of good fortune, I was proud of having started off playing so wretchedly and yet finding the discipline to snap out of it and play smart.

It won't be every day that making that kind of mental turnaround will be so richly rewarded, but I'm happy to pocket the results when it does.


sevencard2003 said...

maybe id have done the same thing, but my rolls so low i was scared to rebuy there and risk it, instead i lost more money later on at ballys and riviera machines, and more at poker too

angerisagift said...

good job dude. had a similiar day online i was AT&T finally knucked down played some ABC poker. turned it around . need to bcuz later that day blow my head gasket so money when to repairs lol. tc grump

grrouchie serge said...

Good Turn around man!

Shuffle up and deal said...

great comeback bro! you gotta love those days the drives home are always awesome. I just started up a poker blog you should come check me out man, Thanks

Vookenmeister said...

nice turn around... it tilts me that you are creating stacks of $50 instead of a $100 there. Don't you need the space for more chips ;)

Rakewell said...

I've explained here several times before that I can't handle stacks of chips higher than 10. I'm so clumsy that I'm always knocking them over.