Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day poker

I woke up today feeling like I needed a dose of poker, not another day of my usual work. So I drove out to Harrah's Cherokee and played for about four hours, taking home several $100 bills that had not been mine when I arrived.

In one hand, it really paid off to have been keeping track of my opponents' patterns. One older gentleman across the table from me just adored under-representing his big hands, then letting another player do the betting for him. I lost about $50 to him in a very early hand because of that. But once I adjusted to what he was doing--i.e., the fact that if he stayed in a pot he usually had a significantly stronger hand than he was letting on--it was pretty easy to handle him. And about two hours into the session, it led to an opportunity to double my money.

I had Q-9 of diamonds on the button. Several limped in ahead of me (it was a chronically passive limpfest), so I raised to $8. (All dollar amounts in this post are approximate; I did not take notes.) Mr. Passive was my only caller.

The flop was Qh-8c-3h. He checked. I bet $11 into the $21 pot. He called.

The turn was another queen. Excellent. He checked again. I bet $22. He called. This mostly ruled out the possibility that he was on a flush draw. He might pay to see one card, but he was too tight to pay to see the river if he had nothing but a draw--even a good one. There were no hands that would have flopped two pair that he would have played from early position, especially after my raise. So I could pretty much narrow his holdings down to an overpair (A-A or K-K, and yes, he would play them in this odd way) or a queen. If he had a queen, he had me beat, because I was confident he would not have called my pre-flop raise with anything less than a jack kicker, and probably not less than a king kicker.

This meant that I would have a potentially tricky decision on the river: Do I assume he has an overpair and will pay off my trips a third time, or do I assume he has a queen with a better kicker, and hope to just check it down?

Just as I was wrestling with this problem, the PokerPro table flashed the nine of hearts for our final board card, giving me the nuts. It was perfect. He probably wouldn't put me on a flush draw, and if I had been wrong about his drawing propensity, he had just gotten to the hand he wanted, not knowing it was now a loser. If he had an overpair, it probably didn't change anything. But if he had been slow-playing a bigger queen, he was sunk.

He checked again. The pot was now about $85. I had about $160 left, and Mr. Passive had me covered by just a few bucks. How much would he pay off?

Well, another factor came into play. I had twice gotten lucky after playing speculative hands aggressively, with the hands shown. Once I raised a short-stacked opponent all-in on the flop with just a baby flush draw and got there, besting her top/top. Another time I did it with my suited connectors having only flopped second pair, and the other guy called me with top pair, only to see me hit trips on the turn. So I knew that Mr. Passive might be looking to catch me trying to blow him off of a decent hand with an all-in bluff. That was the deciding factor: I was going to go for the gold and hope that he read me as being out of line again. I can no longer remember who it was, but a blogger I used to read, who played mostly online, loved the phrase, "Overbet for value," and that was screaming inside my head. It's pretty rare that I'll shove double the size of the pot on the river, but this seemed like a damned good time to make an exception.

I tapped the "all in" and "confirm" buttons, and less than two seconds later he had registered his call. He had A-Q, and had been well ahead until my lucky three-outer on the river.

Maybe the surgeon general should issue a stern proclamation to be posted in poker rooms around the country: "WARNING: SLOW-PLAYING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH."


Short-Stacked Shamus said...

I don't think I'm the blogger who liked to say "overbet for value," but this post reminded me of one I wrote years ago which in fact solicited that very phrase in a comment. The hand in the post is also kind of hilarious:

Rob said...

Good story and congrats on the big score.

BTW, where you say "But if he had been slow-playing a bigger ace, he was sunk." I think you mean QUEEN there, not Ace, no?

I'm curious as to how you like--or don't like--those PokerPro tables. I'm sure you probably tried them when Excalibur had them, so you can probably direct me to a post or two about them. Any different thoughts now that's it pretty much your only way to play live poker these days?

Also, now that you're play so rarely, do you feel "rusty" and that you're not playing as well as you did when you were playing daily?

Rakewell said...

1. Yes, thanks--fixed.

2. You're right. See here:

3. Yes, definitely less sharp than I used to be.

Andrew said...

Pretty sure "overbet for value" was Fuel.

Tony Bigcharles said...

a dealer at the Palms has heard of the Poker Grump before, and u missed seeing the light and PPP