Sunday, May 21, 2006

Kowboys -- I can't quit them

Sat at a very aggressive NL table today for four hours. I won maybe five or six pots and showed down only twice. Here are those two hands.

1) 88. I'm first to act preflop behind a $4 straddle, and I raise to $15. The player next to me calls, as does the straddler. The straddler checks in the dark before the flop comes down.

Flop: As Ts 3h. Pot $48.

I check. Guy behind bets $10, and both of us call. The bettor and the straddler had very loose starting requirements. Another possibility was...

Turn: 8s. Pot $78.

Straddler checks. I take about five seconds before acting. I figure the flop bettor would've bet a little more on the flop to get a free card on the turn if he had a flush draw. I bet $30, looking to reraise if he raises. He calls, and the straddler folds.

River: a blank. I bet $50, he says, "Alright, I'll give you $50," and calls. He sees the set and says he had AT, top two pair on the flop, but he does not show it. He does say, "I should have bet more." Amen.

So that hand wasn't anything special. I raised with the best hand preflop, thought there was an average chance I still had it on the flop, and didn't outthink myself when I turned trips. By the way, I welcome critiques of how I played these hands. Here's the more fun one:

2) KK. Yup, I got 'em again, in middle position. One limper in front, I raise to $15 and get FIVE callers -- four behind plus the limper. Yikes; visions of straightable and flushable boards haunt me already. Until...

Flop: K88, two hearts. Pot of $93.

I'm over the moon. This is the first time in four sessions at the boat that I have flopped a made hand, a full house. It's not the nuts, but if someone has 88, good for him, he'll be taking all my money.

I have a stack of about $330, most others have $300 or $400 and the limper has $135 left. He bets $20, and I do the only sensible thing: I look nervous and call. To my dismay, only one player behind me calls. Come on guys! It's only twenty freakin dollars.

Turn: a black 6. Pot of $153.

The limper has $115 left and he bets $110 of it. I take a good minute to look him over for theater's sake, hoping somehow to induce the guy behind me to think he's up against two bluffers or something, I don't know. I was really hoping to string the guy behind me along, but there's no chance of that now. I call, and the other guy folds. The limper looks puzzled, and he looks downright demoralized at the...

River: the last K. Pot of $373. I have made four of a kind for the first time at a live table, though I've hit a couple straight flushes before and about a dozen instances of quads online.

He bets his last $5 and I call. He says, "Your king is good," as he flips 98, having hit three of a kind on the flop, the poor bastard. For a split second I consider doing one of two things:
a) only showing one king;
b) saying, "Which one?" as I show both.

But I'm not that kind of player, so I just flip the KK and let everyone else hoot and holler and marvel. I tip the dealer $3 and take down a $380 pot, a profit of $230.

So I've got some kind of thing going with KK. That would be more surprising if I weren't playing very, very tight at these tables, but it's crazy anyway.

After getting a rare bluff picked off by another guy's monster hand (that he showed me after I folded), I leave up $171 for the day and $811 for the weekend. Had some fun and met some people.

More importantly, we might be starting a softball team at work and joining a league! That'd be awesome.

Rock the boat (don't tip the boat OVER)

Interesting session at Caesar's Riverboat Casino, 20 minutes from my apartment. Bought in to $1/$2 no-limit with $400 and played for 9 hours. The four biggest hands were KK, KK, JJ and JJ. In both cases w/ KK, I made kings up on the turn, and in both cases w/ JJ, I hit a set on the flop. But that is only a wee bit of the story.

In order, descriptions of the hands as best I can remember:

1) JJ. Had about my original buy-in, and raised to $15 preflop from middle position, getting two callers. Lest you think 7 and a half times the big blind is excessive, it was the same size or smaller than 90% of the preflop raises at my table.

Flop came AJ6 rainbow. Here's where I became an idiot. I bet $20, hoping either to get called and check-raise the turn, or to get raised and to reraise big. I got called and the turn was a 9.

I checked (oy vey) and the other two guys checked along. Oy.

The river was a K. So the only hands that could beat me were AA, KK or QT. I could not fathom either of the first two, and the third was unlikely for having called a 7.5X preflop raise.

I bet $60. Next guy raises to $120. I'm fully planning to call when the other guy raises all-in, $377. Fantastic.

I hem and haw, not really intending to call but mostly kicking myself for a ridiculous flop bet and a ridiculous turn check. After a solid two and a half minutes of hemming and hawing, I fold. The $120 guy calls the all-in, and both show QT off-suit.

2) KK. I'm at about $350 here, several hours later, and in late middle position. A straddler is in for $4, and the guy to my right makes it $15. I make it $30, and to something much less than my immense pleasure, the two people immediately to my left -- one a solid player and one a neophyte on her honeymoon -- call it cold. Everyone else folds to the $15 raiser, who calls, so we have four to the flop, with me to act second.

Flop: Q85, all of clubs. Neither of my kings is a club. First guy checks, I bet $100, leaving me with $220 in my stack. The solid player folds, and the honeymooner raises another $30 all-in. Guy to my left calls the $130 cold, which I don't particularly like (he has another $800 or $900 in his stack), and I call the $30.

Turn: Q. Both check.
River: a non-club. Both check.

I show the KK, guy to my left mucks and honeymooner shows AQ offsuit. No clubs, but trip queens takes it down. I can't blame her flop all-in if I'm willing to put in $100 there without a club myself, but facing a raise, a reraise (to 15 times the big blind) and a call before the flop, I don't know anyone who's ever played who wants in there with AQo, one of the biggest trouble hands around. So anyway, that takes me down to $190.

3) JJ (the very next hand). I'm in middle position and open the action with $15. I'm sure I'm visibly peeved at this point, and the honeymooner calls, along with the big blind.

Flop: JT5, two diamonds. Pot is about $50, and I now have $175 remaining. I bet $65, and both players call immediately. I have no idea what to think. But they probably don't figure I have anything particularly special.

Turn: a black Q. Big blind checks to me, and I think for about five seconds about AK, then I remember I have 10 outs and I also remember that I'm trying to price a potential flush draw out of a pretty big pot. I go all-in for $110, and both players call within seconds. Fan-frigging-tastic. Solid player turns to me and says, "Nice hand." I whisper, "We'll see. I think I have 10 outs." And lo and behold...

River: a black T. Ballgame.

Both other players check and I flip jacks full of tens. The honeymooner shows K9 off-suit for the losing straight, and the big blind mucks. I did indeed have 10 outs, and that gal did indeed call on the flop with nothing in the same universe as the correct pot odds. But obviously, when the dude two seats to my left starts jabbering about her strange flop call, I quietly shush him. No reason to correct her kind of behavior if I'm trying to win her money. So that triples me up to about $570, with a small blind and limper thrown in there somewhere.

4) KK, about two orbits later. I'm in the small blind with $530. Several limpers to me and I make it $15. Three callers follow, including the guy immediately to my right, who has played marginal hands all evening and never attributes even a very strong play to an overpair; he has about $900 left in his stack, the biggest at the table by a couple hundred. Pot's about $70.

Flop: 953, two hearts. I have the king of hearts. I bet $100. Two folds to GuyOnMyRight, who thinks for a minute, then asks how much I have left. I tell him about $400. He calls.

Turn: a black 3. I think for 30 seconds. This guy plays some mediocre cards, but I really don't think he played with a 3, even A3, even suited, after my raise. He just hadn't been into that, and he was mostly aware of kickers. And I am nearly positive he did not call $13, and especially the next $100, with merely a flush draw. Hands that have me crushed are AA, 99 and 55, but equally likely to me are A9 suited, K9 suited, QQ through TT. Maybe even a worse 9. Plus now, 95 is no good, and any two pair he makes other than aces and nines is no good. I think I have him, and I check with the intention of raising.

He thinks for 15 seconds and bets $200, half my stack. I don't think he bets that much there with a set; he knows, and he knows I know, that calling half my stack fully commits me.

I raise all-in with my last $200. He shrugs and calls immediately.

I'm pretty sure I played it right, but I'm still crapping in my pants just a little. He says, "I think you've got me but I had to call. What, did you hit a set or something?"

I breathe a little easier and turn over KK. He reveals T9, unsuited. The table kind of gasps, but I don't really know whether they thought it was a bad play by him, a bad play by me, or simply saw a $1,000 pot and gasped. I was kind of aghast, to tell you the truth. I'd been playing tighter than all but two or three people at the table ... all he'd seen from me in the previous hour was KK and JJ. Why'd he want to get more than half his big ol' stack involved with a middling top pair with a middling kicker? AA-TT and A9 through J9 were reasonable things for me to have had, too.

ANYWAY. He had two outs, the other two nines. I stop breathing easy and just hold my breath.

River: a beautiful, beautiful ace. It's almost never that a player w/ KK does a mental cartwheel at the sight of an ace on the felt, but this was an exception. $1,090 (approximately) was the biggest pot of the evening for anyone. I tipped the dealer $10 for making the turn not a 9.

...So that was it. In four hands of pocket pairs, I lost a chunk, then I lost another chunk, then I tripled up, and then I doubled up. I left a half-hour later with a little less (I played maybe two more hands, and threw away AJs in a perfectly good spot without a second thought), but I cashed out for $1,040, $640 up.

I'm not normally into posting results of poker sessions -- it's no fun to post losing sessions, and it's disingenuous to post only good ones -- but this one just seemed interesting because of the symmetry. KK hits two pair on turn and wins. KK hits two pair on turn and loses. JJ hits set on flop on wins. JJ hits set on flop and loses. One hand loses on the turn, one hand loses on the river, one hand wins on the river, and one hand is good the whole way.

ANYANYANYWAY. Coming back to D-town on Wednesday for wedding festivities through Monday. That's much more exciting than the rest of this post. Hope everyone's doing really well, and I'll try to post more once June starts.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Burnt arms, bad bets, big fun

hwong and I and three friends did Derby today. More specifically, we did Derby in the infield, which is a big mess and very memorable. Brought in lawn chairs and pre-spiked Fla-Vor-Ices. Bet a few horses and none of them sniffed first place, except Barbaro (above), who did, in fact, win race #10 of 12, also known as the 132nd Kentucky Derby. However, we bet him as part of a box and a trifecta, so no payout.