Monday, May 17, 2010

How to make $250 in three hands--plus, an announcement

Hand #1

I had just taken my seat at the MGM Grand this afternoon. I played one hand, then got a call from my friend Cardgrrl (about which more later).

When I got back to the table, the blinds had just passed, so I had to post. I was dealt 9-10 offsuit. Guy two to my right raised to $17. Obviously I had no idea who he was or what he was capable of, nor what this rather large bet size represented. About 99 times out of 100, I would toss this without a second thought. My usual approach to a new table is to sit back, play tight, and observe until I have a better feel for my opponents' tendencies and skills. It's not the time to be splashing around with speculative hands.

For some reason, though, I decided to take a flier here, and called. I'm not defending this as being smart; it's just what happened. Part of it, I'm sure, was that he was the table big stack, so he had plenty of chips to double me up if the stars lined up right, and it also gave me the suspicion that he was trying to play the big-stack bully--which, if true, might mean that he would push too hard if I luckboxed my way into something good. But this was far more speculation than fact on my part, admittedly.

The flop came K-9-10 with two clubs. Bottom two pair for me, but it's nowhere near a lock on the hand in this situation. That flop is too coordinated for me to relax.

He bets $15. I raise to $45. He thinks for a while and calls.

Turn is a red 10, giving me a full house. Now I'm pretty dang comfortable with my hand. Unless he had KK, I'm good. He checks. I decide that I'd like him to think that I was just trying to steal, so I check behind. Of course, this risks him making a better full house if he has a pair bigger than 10s and hits on the river. On the other hand, he might hit a straight or a flush that will make him overconfident in his hand--or, if I'm super-lucky, he'll have something like 7-7 and hit a lower full house.

The river is 2c. I hope with all my heart that he just made his flush. He bets $40. I raise to $120. He folds, and I'm up $100 on my first hand. Not quite felting him, but good enough for starters.

Hand #2

A few minutes later, I had to leave the table again for another phone call. This is highly unusual. It's probably less than once a month that I either get or make a cell phone call while I'm playing, and this is twice within the first short bit of one session. Once again, when I came back I had to post. I have Kh-2c. I'm one of three or four limpers. Flop is Kd-8s-6s. I check. Button bets $10. It's folded back to me. I think that he could have a king, could have second or third pair, could be on a flush draw, could have complete air just trying to buy it. So I call to see what happens.

This is where something unusual and unexpected happens. I'm watching my opponent to see how he reacts to the turn, but the turn doesn't come. I look down and see that the dealer has just swept the board cards up and tossed them onto the muck. I ask, "What are you doing?" Somebody else at the same time points out that the bet had been called.

The dealer is horrified. He asks, "Does anybody remember what the flop was?" I do, of course. But in a flash, I concoct a crazy plan for how to manipulate this situation. Instead of just naming the cards in a neutral fashion, I spin it: "Six and eight of spades, plus a king. I don't know what suit the king was. I think it was red. I just know it wasn't another spade." Somebody else volunteers that it was the king of diamonds.

As you might infer, this is fiendishly designed to set up my opponent to be absolutely certain that I called him because I'm on a spade draw. I had had ZERO time to think through the consequences of this. It's not like I had planned it in advance. (I do have a few sneaky plans in my head ready for deployment to exploit some unusual situations that occasionally come up at the poker table, but this was not one of them.) The obvious upside is that if another spade comes, I'm in great shape to represent the flush, and I'll just have to hope that this other guy isn't on a real spade draw. The downside is that if a spade doesn't come, it's going to be hard for me to represent anything else.

The dealer confirms that the three named cards are, in fact, the ones sitting on top of the muck, and reconstructs the flop. He picks up the stub, and continues.

Burn and turn: Four of spades. Bazinga!

I quickly check. The other guy looks like he's not thrilled with this, but I can't tell for sure if that's real or if he's throwing off a fake tell because he actually loved that card. He bets $25.

I'm uncertain whether this is going to work or blow up in my face, but I decide that I set it up, so I might as well follow through. I check-raise to $75. He cuts out the $50 for a call, thinks about it, rechecks his hole cards, but finally mucks.

That's another $40 or so profit for me.

I have to admit: I was and still am ridiculously proud of that spontaneously invented bit of trickery.

Hand #3

A few hands later, and after yet another break from the table for a phone call (hang on, explanation is coming) I'm in the cutoff with the red 10s. The same guy I tangled with in Hand #1 open-raises to $25. This is absurdly large. I still have virtually no idea what range of cards he plays. I have been at the table for only about 30 minutes total, and half of that has been away while texting and making calls. (Don't you hate people like that? I sure do. But it's rare as hen's teeth that I'm one of them.)

The woman between us also calls. This is significant because the only hand I've seen her play ended with a terrible call into the nuts with just one pair, giving me hope that her stack is extremely easy to get. $25 is a lot to pay to go set-mining, but the raiser still has me covered, and this woman nearly does, too, so there's huge potential.

The potential grows even better when both blinds come along. We have us a $125 pot pre-flop. I'm thinking, "Oh please please please please please please please please please please PLEASE give me a 10, and I'll never ask for anything ever again." I might have even had the words "One time!" flash through my head, though if so, I would never admit it.

Flop: 10s-8s-2h. Could it get any more perfect than that? I think not!

Original raiser bets $20. Hard to know if this is as weak as it looks, or if it's an A-A/K-K type hand trying to look weak in order to induce a big raise, to be followed by a pounce on that seemingly safe board. The woman called, making the pot $165 now. I'm not in the mood for pussy-footing around. With that many people in the hand, there are too many turn cards that could turn my stomach and leave me with an expensive and difficult decision to make. Besides, if the first guy was trolling for a raise, I wanted him to get what he was looking for.

So I raise to $100, and all four opponents fold like dominos falling.

Those three hands totalled about $280 profit. I had spent $30 or so in other hands that didn't end up going anywhere favorable, giving me a net uptick of about $250 in a little more than half an hour. I wait until the blinds come my way again, then rack up and leave.

Why not stay when I was running so good? After all, I had been planning on being there for several hours. Well, that has to do with the phone calls.

One of Cardgrrl's best friends--one that I met on a previous visit and like very much--is getting married Saturday. I had tentatively been planning to head east for a visit centered on that weekend. But the horrendous run-bad I hit in April kind of put the kibosh on that idea. I felt like I needed to stay and rebuild the money supply, not take time off and be spending extra on luxuries like trips.

Poker has been going very well since then, however, making me feel a little more comfortable about life. To boost the incentive, Cardgrrl's call was to tell me that she had found that she had a bunch of frequent-flier miles that she could use for a free ticket for me, if I could make a last-minute trip.

One of the most advantageous aspects of my lifestyle is the degree of flexibility I have. I can pretty much work/play when I want, take time off when I want, with nobody to be accountable to, nobody to ask permission of. I had made a couple of appointments and commitments for later in the week, but nothing that couldn't be rescheduled. That's what some of the phone calling was about, and I needed to make a couple more calls and get home and check my computer's calendar to be sure I hadn't forgotten anything.

So we haven't quite clicked the final "purchase" button on the tickets (we need to chat one last time later tonight), but it looks like I'll be leaving Wednesday for a trip out to D.C., coming back home the following Tuesday. That will mean yet another hiatus in blogging about poker (sorry, all you complainers who feel like I owe you uninterrupted content), but I'll try to sneak in some general life updates with whatever adventures might be in store for me out there.


bastinptc said...

Have as great a trip as that nice little run.

BWoP said...

I hope all the deets work out okay and that you have a fabulous time with Cardgrrl!

Maxwell said...

At the risk of being guilty of one-upping. Last week I made ~$260 in my first two hands at MGM. Bought in for $200, called a $10 raise with 99. Caught my set against raiser who had AK for TPTK got it all in and doubled up. Second hand, 10,3 off. Flopped a 10, called a small bet, turned a 10 and took it down with a check raise.

It does feel good to start off strong ;-)

voiceofjoe said...

Does hand #2 get a Tag of Angle Shooting ?? - or is that just when the bad guys do it ??

Rakewell said...

I don't see how it constitutes angle-shooting, assuming that that term has its usual pejorative connotation. Angle-shooting involves trying to somebody to do something outside the course of normal play, e.g., to act out of turn, to muck the best hand, etc. Trying to get somebody to take a particular action in the ordinary course of play (e.g., bet or raise or fold) is not angle-shooting. Nor is speech designed to manipulate an opponent's thoughts about what you are holding. I can't see that this is angle-shooting any more than if there were no dealer error and I had said, "I'll call you, because I might get another spade on the turn." That would have approximately the same effect (though he might be more suspicious that it was a lie). I can't imagine that anybody would call that angle-shooting or say that it was in any way unethical.