Friday, July 27, 2012

Home Game - I Winz It

I played in the regular bi-weekly game I play in during the summer months (show choir rehearsals conflict with it during the school year) last night and lets just say it was definitely my night.  After a slow start thanks to poor play from me I was forced to play short stack ninja and came all the way back and won the whole thing.

I lost about a third of my starting stack chasing a nut flush draw very early.  My wife's nephew is a regular at this game and I lost about two-thirds of what I had left in a hand against him.  I limped in early position with pocket 7s.  The flop came out 4-3-2 with two spades. My nephew bet big and I was the only caller. I considered raising there because I just had a feeling I was in the lead, but I don't think he was going anywhere.  The turn was another 4. My gut told me that was a card I didn't want to see.  My read was that he had A-4, A-3, K-4, or K-3. Now I've played a ton against him so I'm comfortable with his play.  I'm rarely surprised when he reveals his hand. He bet pretty large on the turn and river I still just called in case it was A-3 or K-3 even though my gut was screaming to lay it down after that second 4 fell.

He of course had A-4 suited so he had the trips plus backdoor flush and straight draws.  At this point I had about 1200 left from a starting stack of 6000.  I locked it down and played super tight from there on out and only gambled when forced to near the end of the tournament.  I got super lucky several times at the end of the tournament although there was never a time where I felt I made a bad or incorrect play.  I just kept running my good hands into slightly better ones and getting saved.

Lets see...I won with Q-10 suited vs AA when I rivered a straight, AK suited vs. QQ when I rivered the flush, and K-10 suited vs KK when I turned a straight.  I also called all-ins from short stacks holding K-J when I woke up with A-A and 10-10 when I had J-J and had my hands hold up.

I guess I'll take lucky over good.  I'm taking my winnings from last night and going out to the Prairie Meadows poker room tonight to see if I can win a little extra spending cash or even get lucky and hit their $80,000 bad beat jackpot.  Lets hope the run good continues.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

That's So Dank

"The Dank" (fka "The Mookie") is back.  I like calling it "The Dank" because it's just so....dank.  (At least that's the term the kids use these days for things that are cool or awesome and I want to seem young and hip so...)  I really only got in on the tail end of this tournament right before Black Friday happened, so I'm not as familiar with all of the participants as other bloggers. I'd guess that I've interacted with around a third of the people that played last night.

It's always fun to play a little poker and have a little online fellowship, but the nature of a play money game makes it play looser than one where something is on the line.  I know I personally found myself making looser calls than I might have if I had invested even $10 on a buy-in with the chance to win $100 or so.  So here goes some examples of my less than perfect tournament play.

Very early on with blinds of 20-40 I raised to 100 preflop with pocket tens. I got two or three callers. The flop was a lovely K-10-2. I don't believe there was a flush draw on the board.  I bet out about two-thirds of the pot and got raised by Tatude1.  I repopped it to like 1,000.  They (I'm unsure if Tatude1 is a he or she) shoved and I called hoping I just didn't see two kings.  Unfortunately for them they had flopped bottom set with pocket deuces to my middle set and it was buh-bye in 21st place.

I only had one massively memorable suckout. I limped preflop with Q-8 suited. The flop was Q-8-5.  I bet and got raised by Bammer. I reraised and he shoved. I called and was horrified to find that he had me crushed with pocket 5s.  I was saved when my four outer came through on the river with a third queen to boat me up and reward my very bad play.  I was immediately consolidated to another table, but luckily had the chance to tell Bammer sorry.  He was very gracious.

The hand that essentially ended my tournament took place on the last hand before the final table was seated.  I'm a little fuzzy on the preflop action.  I think I raised to like 3X the BB preflop with two black jacks, then Elcee reraised and I elected to just call.  (Elcee is another who I'm not sure is male or female, but I'm guessing female from the very frilly calligraphy LC that was their avatar.) The flop contained an ace and two other insignificant cards, but all of them were spades.  I think I checked and Elcee shoved. I had her covered by about 750 chips. The shove read to me as an ace that was afraid of the flush draw and wanted to end the hand right there. 

Edit: I've since learned that Elcee is very much a guy. So no offense intended by any of my remarks. Now I know better!

Now...this is definitely a situation where I played differently because I didn't have anything other than pride on the line.  I figured I had my 9 spade outs plus both jacks to have the best hand by the end.  So if my read is correct I'm about a 60-40 dog there.  In most cases I would reluctantly, but in my opinon correctly, fold there. I would have still had 10-12 big blinds left and could have made it into the money with smart play and a little luck.  My messed up rationalization last night went, "It's only play money and it's almost my bedtime, so who cares if I lose this hand." I called and discovered my read was exactly correct.  Elcee had AQ of diamonds. I didn't catch a spade or jack and was down to 750'ish chips when the final table was seated.

The very first hand of the final table I was dealt Q-10 off suit.  I shoved and got called by K-J.  I don't remember if they paired up or if neither of us improved, but it was GG me.  I logged off without saying any goodbyes or good games because I was kind of pissed at myself for being such a donkey.  So I'm sorry to everyone that was still around.  I should have at least said good night and been friendly.

I'll probably play in future Danks just because I'm a poker junkie and I need my fix.  I just wish it started even one hour earlier.  I have to be at work at 6:00 AM and I'm guessing the tournament went on until around midnight my time. My carriage definitely turns into a pumpkin about 11:00 PM Central Time.  So if you find yourself at my table and the clock is approaching that time, you should probably try to play hands with me.  I'm very likely to do something stupid and dump a bunch of chips because I can hear the call of my pillow, or better yet the clang of the very early alarm clock.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Couple Quick Poker Stories

I've been continuing my limit poker sessions.  This weekend had mixed results.  I won $100 on Friday night, but lost about $80 on Saturday night.  I had fun playing both nights and have a couple of interesting stories to share.  I won't be detailing a bunch of hands because I honestly find that very tedious when reading blogs.  I'm including one just to get to the payoff to the story.  Tonight's topics are improbable probability and confrontation.

I usually do my very best to be friendly, or at the least not unfriendly, at the poker table.  On Friday night I had only been at the table for maybe 15 minutes when there was one of those common moments of confusion about who was supposed to have the button as one dealer was leaving the table and another was sitting down. The guy to my immediate left in the ten seat claimed he should have it, but the dealer departing and the guy in the two seat both said it should go to the guy in the one seat.  The consensus seemed to be that it should go to the one seat, so that's where they put it.

The older guy to my left was quietly explaining to me that he thought he should have it because he swore he acted first on the last round of betting in the previous hand. He wasn't arguing or even upset about the decision, but the guy in the two seat was pissed that his recollection was being questioned. He angrily and condescendingly said from the far end of the table, "I was definitely the big blind in the last hand, sir!"  The old man replied with the same explanation he was trying to give to me and the two seat got even more agitated and even started to get out of his seat. I finally interjected, "Look! Nobody really cares.  If it means that much to you I'll give you three bucks out of my stack. Okay?" He sat back down, but looked a little bruised.

The next night I had another rare moment of conflict.  I had completed from the small blind with A-2 of diamonds.  I flopped a diamond flush draw and bottom pair. The guy two seats to my left bet and pretty much the entire table called the $3 bet. The turn didn't improve my hand so I checked.  Same guy bet $6 and this time everyone folded but me and one other player.  I figured any ace, deuce, or diamond would be enough to win the hand and figured I had like 14 outs.  The river was a third deuce. I bet out and the aggressor sighed loudly and called. I turned over my cards and just said, "I have a deuce." He very snottily said, "Very well played, sir." I stopped stacking chips to say, "You're critiquing my play?  Really? Have you played $3-$6 limit before?"  Oh yeah...forgot to mention this.  About 5 minutes earlier the same guy had won a hand by catching trip deuces on the river when he called all the way with a flush draw holding 8-2 of spades.  Well played, sir.

The improbable happening of the night happened on Friday. Not once, but twice that night the final board was a royal flush. The first time it was a royal flush in spades saving a guy who was all in and way behind for the entire hand to that point.  The second time there were like 6 of us in the hand all meekly and passively checking it down Both hands were dealt by experienced dealers who claimed they didn't remember ever doing that before.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Limit Poker Drive By

Just a quick update on my new limit poker obsession.  I've now played a total of seven sessions of limit poker since I decided to back down from the no limit game.  I've had six winning sessions where I've averaged between $80-$100 profit and one losing one where I lost $100.

Tonight I was out at Prairie Meadows sitting at a table 7 and I glance over at table and 8 and spot none other than Grange95 and almost his whole Ironmen of Poker crew. They were at a table with a bunch of white $1 chips, so I thought they were playing $3-$6 limit too but the dealer at my table informed me they were playing $4-$8 Limit Omaha with a half kill. It sounded like they were having a blast playing their usual splashy brand of poker. A few of the comments overheard from the table:

"I better be nice. I'm going to be sleeping with him later. Well...near him."

Dealer to the one pushing into the game: "You won't get many hands out, but you'll have a good time."

Grange95 to a player joining the game: "We all just put a bunch of money in the pot and then she tells us who won at the end."

Later in the evening they converted the table to a $1-$2 No Limit Holdem table. Everyone had to reduce their stack back to the max buyin for that game of $300.  One of the guys from my $3-$6 game was moving to that table. I told him, "Have fun! If those guys play like they normally do you won't be starved for action."

Edit to add: I forgot to mention that I do have one TBC like habit. After winning sessions I always put ten dollars in the video poker machine and play $0.25 Jacks or Better. I play til I either lose it or double the ten bucks and then I go home. Just a dumb little superstition, but I love the video pokerz.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seeing the Low Limit Light

I used to be a strictly no limit poker player. I used the past tense there because I think I may have seen the limit poker light.  I used to look down my nose at the limit players thinking, "Oh look at the nitty old men. Too scared to play no limit...a real man's game."

Last night I played my fourth session in a row at Prairie Meadows of 3-6 limit holdem with a full kill and each time I've left with somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 profit.  Every time I go the table dynamic is pretty much the same:

2-3 decent players
2-3 loose-passive nits just chasing straight and flush draws
1-2 classic calling stations
1-2 no limit players killing time waiting for a seat who are tilted by all the draw chasing

Almost all of the players are positively leaking tells and might as well be playing with their cards face up. Most players only bet when they have something and will call all the way to the river with any draw or almost any pair.  The majority of players only bet when they have a made hand of some sort and don't see the value in betting their draws.  I've made the majority of my profit betting on combo flush/straight draws and getting paid off when I hit them.  I also try to play as many hands in position against the nits and calling stations as possible while avoiding the players that are at least a little tricky.

I have to fight the urge to limp from early position along with 7-8 other players with weak cards.  It's so easy to get in the mindset of "everybody's doing it, so I will too."  At first I worried that people might catch on that I was playing tighter than others at the table, but most of them don't seem to be able to see past their own two cards.  The ones that did notice that I was betting draws and not necessarily made hands were just that much more eager to play with me when I had big made hands like flopped sets or full houses.

My tactics are pretty simple:

* Avoid the good players
* If the nits bet, fold unless I have a really solid drawing hand
* Call or raise in position with pairs, suited broadway cards, and connectors
* Bet any made hands or draws to build pots worth winning and punish the calling stations
* Encourage people to play with me by being friendly
* Sooth the wounds of the nits when you snap them off on the river (oooo sorry, I got lucky)
* Don't bitch when they hit their 3 or 4 outer against my made hands

I have to admit I enjoy seeing the no limit players go on super monkey tilt when their big over pair gets run down for the third or fourth time in the session and they can't push anybody out of the pot. That used to be me.  It's for sure a different game and you're not going to get rich playing it (unless you hit the bad beat jackpot), but I'm having fun playing and slowly building up my bankroll.  Maybe once I get it up to a few thousand I'll jump back into the no limit game, but I promise to no longer look down on my low limit brethren.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No Fold Em Fun

My poker playing gets greatly curtailed during the summer since my income from show choir dries up outside of the school year. This week I was able to make it out to play twice.  Tuesday afternoon I played the $30 buy in donkament at the Prairie Meadows poker room. It's a tournament with a structure that quickly becomes a shovefest after the second break. Because of this it takes a little skill to make it deep, but only luck will get you in the money because you just have to take your chances shoving or calling all-ins once the average stack gets to be about 7 or 8 big blinds.

I went out in 15th place.  It folded to me in the small blind and the blinds were 1000-2000.  I had about 6500 and shoved with K-4 off suit. The big blind thought for 30-40 seconds and called turning over A-5 off suit. I caught a king on the flop, but he got a four flush in clubs to match the suit of his ace and I was out.

Last night I went out to Prairie Meadows again and only took along $100 to play some cheap limit poker. I got to the room about 11:00 PM and got shown straight to the ten seat of a 3-6 limit holdem game with a half kill. I played much more conservatively than most of the limit players since I was still playing like I was at a no limit table. I tried to play in position as often as possible and only played against the players on whom I had pretty reliable reads.

The table went like this:

Seat 1: Harmless old Asian guy who was playing almost every hand and getting lucky.
Seat 2: Serious old dude who seemed to know what he was doing.
Seat 3: Middle-aged guy who fancied himself a pro. Got pissed whenever somebody ran him down.
Seat 5: Typical loose passive limit player.
Seat 6: Young Mexican guy who quietly complained whenever he lost a hand.
Seat 8: Young Persian guy who was trying to play way too tricky for a limit game.
Seat 9: Uber calling station.
Seat 10: The hero of our story.

I ran my $100 buy in up to close to $200 just by winning a few $20-$30 pots mostly off the Persian guy because he was playing very predictably. The nice little Asian guy declared that he was going to leave and started to rack up his approximately $500 in white chips. The dealer asked him if he wanted to play one more hand. He agreed and won a small pot, but it was his second in a row activating the kill pot, so he asked if he could play one more. Our table was situated very close to the cashier and the front desk, so the floor wandered over and said he could keep playing out of the rack if they colored him up.

Now typically at this room they'll only let you play one hand out of the rack after you declare that you're leaving, but if you decide to play past that one hand they make you unrack to stay. Since the floor had ruled he could keep playing I assumed nobody at the table was upset about the decision.  Nobody spoke up and asked to have him unrack so he played "just one more hand" about four times when the following hand occurred.

I was on the button and was dealt K-J off suit. I called the $3 big blind along with all but one other player. Little Asian guy raised to $6 from the SB and all but one player called. The flop was Kd-Jd-6d. I had top two, but given the penchant for flush chasing in limit games I wasn't thrilled about all of those diamonds.  Little old Asian guy bet and everyone called. The turn was an inconsequential 3s. Asian bet again and the whole table called. River was the 9s. Asian bet and the 3 seat 2 bet.  Everyone called and the Asian just called too. As the hands were revealed it turned out the Asian had hit a set of sixes on the flop and nobody had the diamond flush.  The 3 seat also had K-J off suit, but he was not happy about losing with his two pair.  I quietly mucked.

Then the 3 seat started ranting LOUDLY. "That's fucking bullshit! One more hand! One more hand! One more fucking hand!" He scooped up his remaining chips and spun around to the cashier to cash out, but continued his rant. "Complete fucking bullshit! That little asshole shouldn't have even been in the hand!" This obviously drew the attention of the floor who came over and very calmly told the guy that he needed to calm down and stop cursing. His response shocked all of us when he pointed right in the floor's face and screamed, "FUCK YOU!"

The floor didn't say a word, but walked over to the desk, picked up the phone, and said, "Yes, I need security in the poker room right away please." The guy from the 3 seat started pleading, "Oh come on, I'm already leaving. I'm sorry I cursed. I was angry." The floor escorted him out of the room into the hallway to meet security.  The floor that works late Friday and Saturday night is the most no shit guy they have on staff. I turned to our dealer, Lance, and said, "I had K-J too, but you don't see me freaking out. Why didn't that guy just yell I NEVER WANT TO PLAY POKER HERE AGAIN."

The little old Asian guy started hurriedly racking up with a terrified look on his face. Everybody at the table told him that he didn't do anything wrong and not to worry about it and he seemed to calm down.

I played about another hour and quit when it got down to four handed.  I left with about an $80 profit which I consider a success at 3-6 limit holdem.