Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hand on ESPN

I watched a player make a terrible play vs. Daniel last night and I had played a similar hand this past weekend. It concerns playing middle pairs (77 - 99) in the blinds.

The scenario:

You have 32k, blinds are 400/800.
MP limper, Button (or cutoff) raises to 3000.
The MP limper is loose, so is a probable call if you call.
Button is TAG, so he will most probably c-bet if checked to on the flop.
Your M = 26.6
In the SB, you look down at 88.

Now, you have 3 (ok 4) options:

1. FOLD. Folding 88 to a 3.5xBB raise seems weak. Still, I only have 400 invested here and playing this hand post flop will be challenging.

2. Call. You have a pair, you might have a pot of 9k in a minute, and you can evaluate after the flop. You will have 10% of your chips out there though.

3. Raise. Get out the limper and play a bigger pot. Its a raise to 9k, which is now almost a third of your chips and if he re-raises, you will be stuck with an even worse decision for all your chips with a middle pair. A Race at best. If you fold, you are down to 24k, with an M of 20.

4. Shove. Make him fold if you can or call with AK. Of course, if he has TT or better, you are in bad shape and probably going home.

When I encounter this, I called and then check folded on a flop of J35 when the button bet 6k.

In the WSOP hand, the guy checked CALLED the 6k (terrible), then check-folded the turn.

What would you do?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The final countdwon

The family is coming back from their camping summer and I had one last day of poker. I decided to play in a local charity tournament. It was $125 and it 80 players.

It was "deep stack", but now I truly understand why players are now dissing on the "deep stack" label. Yes, it was deep stacked, but there are TWO big issues.

1. The early levels are all donkey levels with bad players willing to shove 10k on a flush draw.

2. The later levels are way escalated to make up for the early ones and thus at the end it turns into a WPT TV type event with everyone shoving or folding.

In this case, both this MTT turned out to be the CASE STUDY for the above complaints.

I made two mistakes in the tournament. The first was making a $1k river call when I flopped a set on a all heart board. The BB bet every street and made a bet big enough on the river, that I knew he had it. I called anyway to see Th4h. No blame on anyone by myself.

I played very well after that and was finally rewarded with an opportunity. I have KK Utg and I make it 3x BB. But its early and Utg+2 calls, MP calls, MP Calls and my KK is looking in bad shape. Suddenly, the Hijack re-raises! I have a stack of like $8k and the pot is now about $9k. I make a grand gesture of counting the pot, re-counting my stack, and then saying out-loud "There is already 9k out there". I move in for $8k. The first called is all-in now (but he was very short stacked and so it almost did not matter). Folds back to the re-raiser who has me covered. He thinks for a while and decides because of my speech that I must have AK and calls with 99. A king in the door and a king on the river and Dem's Quad's Bitches!
99. Gez. Bad.

I bleed alot of chips for the next hour. I had some good starting hands, but not one panned out and I folded them all post-flop. I was just unable to get chips. I was all the way back down to 12k when I raise with AQ and flop the straight. The TAG on my right flopped a set of Kings. They money goes in and I show the nuts on the turn and dodge the board pairing on the river.

Just before the next break, I make my second mistake. I CALL a raise from the SB with 88. Now I have 37k, the raise is to 3k and I call OOP with a middle pair for 10%. A third person tags along (limp-call) and the flop is J34. Here is my problem. This guy always bets out when he hits top pair. And he hits top pair ALOT. I have gone broke in this situation before, and now with two opponents, I got to figure out who has the Jack? The pot is like $9k. What can I bet here? Two checks to the original raiser, who bets 9k. Ugh. I put myself in this bad position. I fold.

I will make no further mistakes.

24 or so left and money weighted to top 3. A shorter stack shoves UTG+1 (a real talked) and it folds to me in the BB with TT. Now UTG+1 is a special donkey place. When bad players have less than average, they feel this need to shove BEFORE the blinds comes up. A9 is an easy hand to put him on here. Still it was $34k and I had $45k. But who plays for 9th, right? I CALL!!! He has AQ and the board is a gut tearing
KQ3... Ugh, this sucks
T... yeah, I made a set

and now I am short stacked.

Never say die. I play short stack like a monster. I steal, I abuse and I take races. I am back to $35k when there are 14 left and some starts a chop discussion. Its late and the blinds are now ridiculous compared to the stacks (All M=5). One buy does not want to do it, 13 others do.

I make a button steal and get called from the SB. The blinds were 4k/8k and I have $35k. I was stealing with ATC if it folded to me on the button, which it did. In this case, I had A6. I am scared when I see QQ. An ace in the door and now I have $70k with 13 left and he have a break. I take the time to casually explain to the no voter that he also has 90k (much worse than it appears he realized.) and that with the new blinds of $6k/$12k, he really only had 5 rounds of play and his equity was shot. I think he liked my presentation and changed his vote to YES. We return from the break to chop and everyone gets 5th place money.

But hold the phone. The poker room wont allow us to chop?

Discussions start, some bordering on yelling. A guy demands to see the posted rules. We are forced to start playing again and this time I am stealing much less. I am biding my time a bit like a sit n go. One of the managers is reading the ruling to the most vocal player in regards to the chop. Finally, he says, "lets just all go all in and then who can complain?". The room manager was not happy, but decided to tell us not to talk about it. Well, the train had left the station, so next hand all the money went in. (I made a straight with 8T and become the representative from our table.) We repeated the process one more time and 13 players chopped. The blinds when we quit? 7k/14k. Average chips stack? 36k.

I wrap it up with a win and some cash. What more could I ask for?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ceiling cat is watching you be a luckbox

Never in my life had I seen a guy on such a heater. This guy on my right in the course of about two hours...

KK 3 times (all hold up).
Flops or turns 2 pair on four occasions for the best hand, getting action.
flopped TPTK numerous times, all getting action from worse hands.
Folded after the flop maybe 3 times in the entire 2 hours.

We are at a 1-2 table and he is up to $1300.
Me? KK cracked twice (by a non-ace hand). I flopped TP and 2 sets, all to zero action. I won only 1 good pot all night when a guy flopped a set and I flopped a straight. This was 2 hours ago and before the arrival of Heater guy. (but I was up $150 because of that)

Heater gets up to take a phone call. He is gone for 1 hand.

In that one hand, I call a cutoff raise from SB with JTo and an MP limper call.
Flop is JJT (2 hearts). MP bets 17, cutoff calls, I call, hoping for an undercard on the turn.

Turn is black 3 and MP checks now, and cutoff bets 25. I call and then MP calls.

I have the MP on the flush draw and cutoff on a Jack. Turn is the glorious 2 of hearts. I check the nuts. MP also checks? Cutoff bets 25.

I drop into thought. If I call, then the MP will call (I expect) for +$25. If I make it $60, the MP folds and cutoff calls (I expect) for +$35. So I make it $60 to go. MP folds and the cutoff moves all-in!! In a split second I realize he made a worse boat, insta-call and table "nuts". He turns over TT. (MP folded just a Jack.)

Heater guy comes back, immediately in the next few hands makes a ROYAL FLUSH. I decide its time to exit. I tell him to thank whomever called him for me and take my profit to the window.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Evil Columbo

Last night, I was more Rorschach than Columbo??? Anyone who's played with me knows I am about as unemotional at the table as it gets. So how did I become the bad guy?

I sit down at a 1-2 charity poker room table with $200 (max). I flopped top pair a couple of times and it was good. After about an hour, I am at $325 with nothing memorable happening. I did get Aces once, and 2 callers saw a flop that had more draws than an animation studio. I played the hand very cautiously but both players stuck to the end with a pair and a gutshot that did not get there.

and now "the hand".

UtG (2 to my left) limps, folds around to the cutoff, who makes it $15. The button, with $400 sitting in front of him, makes it $30. This is significant. In my entire time at the table, there had never been a pre-flop re-raise. I also know that this guy would normally bring in a pocket pair for raise, never a limp. All the alarms go off in my head, and I figure in the SB I am going to fold almost all holdings. It was then I peeked down at KK.

Obviously, folding is a horrible play. So even if I think he has Aces, I am not going to fold pre-flop. If this is a tournament, this is an easy 3-bet. But at a 1-2 table with a raise and a re-raise and the bet at $30 (the largest yet). I do not intend to drop $350 on a pair to a weak table. I am thinking Deep-stack cash poker (or so I hope). The "correct" raise here is about $90, forcing all hands but Aces or stupid morons to fold. And that is a large and insane bet at a 1-2 table I felt, when the button could very well have AA here. Why get $90 in pre-flop when I am winning the hands I showdown? (that is my thinking at my time.) So, I decide to make a marginally incorrect play and call here, seeing the flop 3 handed and put pressure on any flop without an ace. The original limper surprises me and calls. Now the original raiser has a must call and 4 people see a flop with $122 in the pot!

The flop is 9s9c4c. The UTG immediately moves in for his remaining $115. The cutoff insta-folds. The Button makes a relatively quick decision and CALLS. Oh what a tangled web we weave. If I had raised pre-flop, then the decision would have already been made. I sit back and mutter "Wow". It takes me about 30 seconds to work through that the EP limper either had 44 and flopped the biggest hand of his life, or that he simple had "some pair" and decided to move in because of the pot size. I make a mental note that I don't think he moves in there with 44 and that is that. I am no longer thinking about the UtG player at all in my decision. So now back to the button. I start calculating the odds that he has AA. He did not raise here, nor did he really consider folding. I am thinking about AA and if I would call here vs. raising. I count out the $115. About 2 full minutes has passed. This is a long time apparently, since a guy at the end of the table starts muttering to make a decision. I then realize, late in the process I know, that I can NOT call here. Either I am playing for my stack here or I am not. I am not going to face another bet on the turn and fold. So, the entire $350 is at risk.

Then he gets louder to insure everyone hears his discontent. I look over and say "Do you have somewhere to go?". To which he replies, "Yes". Normally I wouldn't have said anything, but now the engagement has started. I say, "Well go then. I have an important decision to make." At this point the BUTTON jumps in and says something to the affect of, "you can call the clock if you don't like it." This guy immediately does that. This did not go over big at the table, but what's done is done. I say, "fine" and I fold. (I actually am still torn at this point, knowing I am probably the best hand yet knowing that this fold is only a small error. I am obviously uncomfortable with my decision or lack of one.)

UTG tables 33, button shows 88. ARGH. Everyone could tell when I saw the cards, I was ahead. It was written all over my face. The turn was an 8. Wow again.

There was much discussion now about the hands and some of it directed at the guy who called the clock. I chirped in "You were out of line." "Hey, Don't blame me for folding." "I do blame you." He bolts out of his chair. There was some sort of exchange now that seemed like I was back in high school. "You want to take it outside?" (really, he says this. The guy is 50 easy too.) I say "Com'on, how old are you (using a tone that indicating I meant we were too old for that, not that he was weak old guy). Then, Something about it being my fault. Then me saying that I am not the asshole here. Then him saying "are you calling me an asshole?" and I said "I am not the asshole here." Finally it comes to an end, somehow. Mostly, because having seen this SO many times in my life, I know the answer is to simply not stand up. That usually ends the escalation. When the second guy stands up (*cough* Motor City *cough*) its shouting.

The game moves on. The button and I continue to talk about the hand, much to the annoyance of the UTG player in the hand. He especially did not like the fact that we both thought he had nothing. The button and I discuss this for the next two hands among ourselves.

At this point, the clock guy gets up and leaves. That's right, he had to leave anyways and wanted to get a few more hands in, thus his complaining. He called the clock to get in 2 more hands. And I am the evil Columbo? He walks over and from over my left shoulder offers his hand and says, "Are we good?" Aghast, I shake his hand not meeting his eyes. Actually not even turning to look up at him. But I am not one to refuse his "closure".

Later on, not too much later on though, we (the button and I) start discussing the hand again. Now, the cutoff guy in the hand chimes in and says, "You are obviously a good player. You were taking a long time to make a decision." I reply. "It was a long time, but it was a big decision for $300 and 2 minutes is just not that long of a time when you think about it that way." I could tell he not only did not agree, and additionally thought I was some asshat.

Still later on, the button and I are talking about the hand again. This time the UTG chimes in rather exhaustively, "You guys are still talking about the hand? Let it go." I am already out of my shell... "If you want to be a good player, you need to think about these types of hands." He then says, "If *I* want to be a good player? You don't think I am a good player??". Oops. I realize the box I am in, so I just say "I don't think anyone here is in the November 9." and that is that. But now he too has me labeled as an asshat. And NO, I did not think he was a good player. He was the worst kind of player, who floats out of positions with marginal hands and marginal draws. Now he has targeting me, and this will be VERY profitable for me as he will continue to call my raises with marginal cards, flop just enough to call a flop bet, then fold on the turn to a huge bet, losing chips in $35 chucks.

Moving on. I am in a hand with a player and I flop TP. I bet 65% of the pot and he folds his flush draw. Now HE makes a comment that I did not bet enough. (um, but, you folded.) I say, "No, I bet enough to give you -10% equity on your draw." This statement shocked him that to the point that he never said a word the rest of the night to me. It did not hurt then now I am accumulating chips at an alarming rate.

I take a flop with AK and the flop is Ace high (like A47). My UTG friend cant let go of yet another hand and the Button wanted to play again too~ More chips for Columbo. The River was a King, but I was already ahead. No one called my river bet.

Another hand I have QQ and the flop is Ten high with 2 spades. The UTG bet, the button Calls, and I make it $100. They both fold.

I am up to close to $500 now and I am about to get into another hand of interest. I take a flop (there was a small raise) with 77 in the SB. The flop is T73 with 2 spades. The raiser moves in for almost $100 and I have second nuts. The button CALLS. Sound familiar? For the only time all evening, say "all-in". Now he knew I folded a BIG PAIR last time he was in this soup. He also knows I have shown down all monster hands. He also notices I have him covered. He asks if I have a big hand and I, noting the 2 spades, say "Oh yeah" with confidence. The button eventually, after much pain, folds the Ts. (No he did not have 2 spades). The turn and river (they rabbit hunted) were both spades. The giant bet was not what pushed him off the hand. It was the fact that I was practically telling him I had a set. I did everything but state it.

I am sitting now on $800 in chips and hear from the two newer guys who sat down in the 8 and 9 seats. I limp from EP with 7s6s and call a small raise to stay in the hand. The flop is 5s9sTd. I check, he bets, I call. The flop is the 2h. I check, he bets, I call. The river is the 8s. I just made the immortal nuts. I check, and when he checks behind, I casually as you say "oh high" say "Straight flush" and turn up the cards. The 8 seat already thinks I am an asshat. He also makes a comment about about my play and "keep doing that", like he is going to stack me. Then he tells the 9 seat about "the hand". Now the 9 seat thinks I'm an asshat. I don't know how the 8 seat even knew about it. He was correct for the wrong reason. My calls were correct (I could even raise the flop, but I put him on a weak holding), but my check on the river is bad in retrospect.

I played another rotation and the button is now involved in a new hand with a player on my left and the infamous UTG guy (who is UTG+1 in this hand). I am NOT in the hand. The flop is KK5. Guy on my left moves all-in for $300. Famous UTG guy (if I want to be good?) CALLS and the BUTTON (yes, that button) calls, Proudly stating that he knows he's behind! All three all-in. It does not take a detective to know what the hands are. 55, AK, AA in my opinion. Turns out it was 55, AK and KQ. That KQ call may be the single worse 1-2 call I have ever seen. The button just called $350 with the THIRD BEST HAND. (now do you think losing $30 with KK is bad?) They both go broke.

I play a few more hands and leave, saying, "Sorry for the drama guys". In the end, I made great decisions with the potential exception of the KK hand. But it was quite a night. Columbo the asshat. Up 350% for the night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

interesting hand...

Full Tilt Poker Game #14092061522: $34,000 Guarantee (103658629), Table 86 - 60/120 - No Limit Hold'em - 15:18:16 ET - 2009/08/17
Seat 1: SteveS2005 (2,360)
Seat 2: chadster96 (2,780)
Seat 3: jimbo1308 (5,423)
Seat 4: Dark-Knight100 (2,390)
Seat 5: GOOORiLLAAA (3,190)
Seat 6: vwchadw (6,260)
Seat 7: columbo (10,100)
Seat 8: eDude_The (4,097)
Seat 9: Business Man (6,728)
Business Man posts the small blind of 60
SteveS2005 posts the big blind of 120
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [6c 4c]
chadster96 calls 120
jimbo1308 folds
GOOORiLLAAA has reconnected
Dark-Knight100 calls 120
vwchadw has 15 seconds left to act
vwchadw folds
columbo calls 120
eDude_The has 15 seconds left to act
eDude_The calls 120
Business Man folds
SteveS2005 checks
*** FLOP *** [2h 7c 5c]
SteveS2005 checks
chadster96 checks
Dark-Knight100 checks
columbo bets 480 (as opposed to just being a shove-monkey)
eDude_The has 15 seconds left to act
eDude_The calls 480
SteveS2005 folds
chadster96 folds
Dark-Knight100 folds
*** TURN *** [2h 7c 5c] [Kd]
columbo checks
eDude_The has 15 seconds left to act
eDude_The bets 720
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME

Considering stack sizes, I cant see getting away from this. (It seems to me he hit the King.)

Friday, August 14, 2009


I have been very hard on myself as of late, in regards to "putting players on hands". I always work like a detective, and focus on the WHY instead of the hands. Maybe this is why I have so many issues in a cash game (or perhaps not). But WHY is an important question. Why did he check, Why did he bet? I have always been less concerned about his holding.

But now, that is coming back to possibly haunt me. As I reach the precipice of being really good at this game, this has become my glass ceiling.

I noticed it when I played 1-2 cash for the last couple of weeks and was not a factor. Other than suckouts and bluffs that got called, nothing remarkable at all. Which is NOT a good thing.

Now is the time. To paraphrase the intellectual (Steiner) in La Dolce Vita, I am stuck between amateur and professional, living a sheltered existence of sheltered risk. Now, my focus has to be on correcting this through fixing my weakness while playing for higher stakes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

OMG, NL O8B???

I played a small 2 table SNG last night at a VFW hall. No big deal. But after the tournament, they all sit around and play NLO8B. Really!

It was very strange at first, and I dropped $40 trying in vein to protect top set. After that, I adjusted and went with the flow. Here was the idea. Everyone would call any raise pre-flop, so betting was pointless and everyone knew it. 11 players would see a flop. Here is the funny part. If someone flopped the immortal nuts, they got paid off by multiple players! It was just a matter of flopping a big hand or draw. So you spent a dollar prospecting, then folded or started betting. I ended up only about $20, but one guy started flopping nut straights and when the draws failed to get there, was up $600 bucks. Re-donk-u-lous!

I have got to try this again...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10% to the 456

OK, so its an obscure reference (Torchwood). But I hear myself saying it every time Mrs. Columbo complains about someone doing something stupid. It was all I could do to not scream it last night when someone called $44 in a 1-2 NL Game with 72 soooted and the flop was A72. He broke the Ax hand player. It was at this point, I decided I was going to see flops and fold until I hit HARD. I finally, after 3 days, flopped a set and against 2 players that had me covered. I checked, let them bet $50 and a call, before moving in. One of them STILL called me and it was a profit for the evening. The problem is that it isn't very fun, and it isn't challenging like a tournament. But as luck would have it, I ran into a player I used to play with in a league a few years back and they have a Tuesday private tournament going again, and I'll play in that tonight.

Off to other notes: Face the Ace.
Yes, its a 30 minute Full Tilt infomercial. Yes, the first episode was VERY bad. The second one was a bit better. But more importantly, the second one shows why I should NOT play poker at all. I am not a lucky person. Gus Hansen is the Run-good god. If I had the time for such efforts, I would photoshop a headshot of GUS on a tiki pole, complete with worshippers bowing down and bringing gifts of fruit whilst he hold aloft some obscure 2 native cards, say the 2 of bananas and the Chief of coconuts and a board with all 2s and coconuts.

Next post: A return to betting lines...

Monday, August 03, 2009


It's been a long time since I have been stacked in 1-2. Last night, after the player on my left rebought in a third time, he went on the most heinous heater. He hit every flop he played and quickly moved his stack to over double. To make matters worse, he decided to straddle my BB. I have 55 and I call his inevitable straddle raise.

Flop is 773 and he bets $50. I am incredulous. Fast forward to him showing AA on his straddle. Doesn't get any better than that folks.