Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mountaineer Trip Report, Part 2 - back to the adults table

7am came awfully early after falling asleep a bit after 3. A quick breakfast and some coffee, though, and the poker-drenaline kicked in again, and we were all ready for our second session of poker at Mountaineer.

We got to the poker room by 8:30am. There were 3 tables going - all three were $1-2 no-limit. I would either have to play NL or watch from the rail for several hours. Time for a quick decision. I had made it out of the first third of weekend play break-even - my
$500 bankroll was still intact. I had a good deal more live cash game experience since August (the Thursday night cash game started right before my first Mountaineer trip). I feel that I'm a good poker player - not great, but certainly able to hold my own with my modest skills at a frickin $1/$2 table.

There was no reason to be intimidated. I had plenty of money, and if I got unlucky or made some bad plays, I would simply switch back to $2/$4 limit after lunch (when that game would surely resume after the poker room became more crowded).

I was further eased when I got to sit at the same table as Tony - this made it feel more like our home game - and I knew there was one less person at the table out to get me. We sat on opposite ends of the table - out of each others' blind-stealing spots. The general understanding is that if we're coming into a hand for a raise on the other's blind - we have a legitimate hand. Other than that - we're playing it 100% straight - not an ounce of collusion or soft-playing each other. I would expect us both to get it all in with aces vs. kings or set over set, and one of us to take the other's money, as the will of the poker gods decide.

I sat down with $150 and a game plan. Straight ABC poker. Silly-tight. Locate the bad players and outplay them with better cards. Don't go broke on one pair. Easy as pie.

The plan worked to perfection early because I didn't get any cards. Fold, fold, fold. The player to my left commented how I wasn't playing any hands. I smiled and shrugged. No need to tell him I've got bad cards, just let him think I'm a rock. More folds. An hour passed, and I mentally fist-pumped myself for not losing a buy-in yet.

My first quality hand came in the second hour - an Ace and a Queen, both diamonds. I was in middle position and raised it up to $10 - a standard raise for this table. One of the blinds called me - an older player who seemed very aggressive. I had seen him make a large bet on the turn and chase away a player who probably had a pair or less. I knew I had to be careful, whether I hit the board or not.

The flop came mixed news - two diamonds for the nut flush draw, but no pair. King high. The blind checked, and I had to decide between taking the free card and avoiding the checkraise, or the straight continuation bet. In the end, I chose the latter. My reasoning was that I hadn't played a hand yet - this guy didn't know how I played, and he could have simply defended his blind and would now fold. I bet $15 and he quickly called. Uh-oh.

I had already decided to check the turn for pot control when the poker gods favored me with a hit draw - the four of diamonds came on the turn. I had the nut flush. My opponent checked again. Decision time again - do I check here and hope the aggressive opponent bluffs the river (or hits something worth betting), or should I bet here? I went over the hand in my mind. He called the flop bet quickly, like someone on a draw. Maybe he was on a flush draw too (wouldn't that would be swell). Maybe he called with a pocket pair and has a set.

Jump to third level thinking - what does he think I have? If he thinks I'm a straightforward, unimaginative player, he probably puts me on Ace-King or King-Queen (top pair, good kicker). Or, he could think I have nothing and just C-bet the flop (like I did). In either of those cases, my flush is fairly well hidden from those two reads.

I think the right move is to bet. Firstly, it puts money into the pot with the best hand (always a good idea), and second, my opponent is not going to have an easy time putting me on the nut flush. I bet $30 into the $50 pot. My tricky, aggressive opponent thought for a second or two and then pumped it up to $100, which put me all-in.

I must admit, Poker is an easy game when people are betting into you and you hold the best hand. I counted up my chips and called. I figured he either had the lower flush or a set and I'd have to dodge a paired board to win this one. But even in that case, I got my money in as a big favorite.

I called the bet and put my last stack of chips into the middle. My opponent looked over as a I flipped over my cards and then laughed out loud. He meekly turned over JTo - he had nothing! (well, he had a gutshot chance, but that was drawing dead to the nut flush). I didn't need to even sweat the river card and got to start stacking chips from a sweet double up.

Looks like my aggressive, tricky opponent put me on a top pair type hand (AK, QQ), and decided to represent the flush on the turn to bomb me off it. A solid, well-thought out play, but he just stepped into the minefield this time.

My double up gave me confidence and I was able to play with creativity and open my game up some. I raised with 66 in middle position and got a caller, and was rewarded with the perfect flop - Ace Nine Six. I bet, hoping the caller had and Ace, he called. Nice. The turn paired the nine - even better (unless he had A9 or 99, I guess) - I bet again and the caller folded. Oops, too fast, but I still won a fair pot.

From my button, I open-raised Ace-seven offsuit and won not only the blinds, but a live straddle as well.

I limped with 6c9c in late position (pretty loose for my style). The board came Ace Ace 7 and everyone feared the ace in the limped pot and checked (or had the ace and slowplayed, I suppose). The turn came an 8 - giving me both a straight and flush draw, but the river bricked. This hand knocked some sense back into me - I thought it was time to tighten up again and not give back my winnings willy-nilly. This reinforced thought came at the right time - because my cards dried up again for an hour or so and I played the folding game for awhile.

While this happened, the table changed over from a fairly tight, one-raise-often-takes-the-blinds style, into a limpy-limperson type of table. We routinely had 5 and 6 to see the flop in unraised pots. This didn't affect me at the time, fortunately, because I had locked back down, but I noticed several players limping into way too many pots.

I got to use this table style to my advantage when I was dealt ATo in the small blind. Two players limped up to me (a small number for the current table style) - both of these players were limping way too often. I decided my AT was good and raised it up to $15, hoping to steal the limps, but one of the limpers (a younger ballcap-type guy) called the raise. I would have to work for this pot.

The flop came T 8 2 rainbow, giving me top pair, top kicker. I thought I was good here, and couldn't decide on either leading out (which represents a strong hand like an overpair), or maybe checkraising. There were risks of checkraising - the opponent in position could check behind and draw at a straight with a hand like J9 or 79 for free, but these were the only two draws out there, so I chose checking with the intention of checkraising. My move worked out as the limper lead out with a bet, and I bombed away with my checkraise, figuring ballcap guy would fold, but he quickly called the bet.

The turn came a small card, putting more straight possibilities out there (wheel draw?), but I still thought I had the best hand, and I knew that many river cards would get over my ten, so I lead out again. Ballcap guy called again. What the hell could he have?

The river got over my ten - a jack. I was out of position and not sure if I was ahead or not. That jack put lots of hands over mine (JT/J9/79), or he could have been slowrolling a hidden set and was ready to drop the napalm on me on the river. I chose a small blocking bet on the river, intent to fold to a raise and lick my wounds playing AT out of position. I was relieved when he just called the bet, and was further calmed when he kind of sighed and said "well, show me a winner...", like he was almost expecting it. He flipped over king-ten, and hung his head low when he learned he had lost a kicker-battle. My inner devil wanted to say "that's what you get when you call a raise with king-ten, beeotch!", but my outer nice guy kept control as I tipped my dealer.

It wasn't all rosy - there are always missteps along the way. I chose to call a raise with JsKs from the blind, and then checkraise-bluffed on a 6-6-7 board. My opponent reraised my checkraise bluff after about .001 seconds thought, and away I went, my hand caught deep in the cookie jar.

I also tried raising 77 from early position, but I had three callers and one of the blinds donkbet into me on an Ace-King-6 board. No need to follow that one through any more.

My last big hand of the morning came with a pair of red cowboys in the hole - King of hearts, King of Diamonds. I raised it to $10 and got 2 callers, both with position on me. The board came all under my kings, all black. I busted out the "I mean it bet" and bet $30 into a $32 pot, and they both called again. Ooops. The turn completed a flush and the action dried up on both the last streets, so I got a relatively cheap showdown without having to make a big laydown. I was up against a pair of nines (top pair on the flop), and a pocket pair of sevens who I guess didn't believe my $30 "I mean it" bet. No matter if they believed me or not - I dragged a large pot with my cowboys. (These same cowboys would help me twice more in the afternoon session).

At about 1pm, Tony and I got up to grab lunch. Nathaniel had bought into the Sunday noon tourney with his winnings (a $200+$20+$5 buy-in), so we went off to the casino grill without him to recap the morning. Tony was card-dead the entire morning, and couldn't get any traction, so he was down $200. I had cashed in $348 from my initial $150 buy-in, and felt pretty good about the upcoming afternoon session.

1 comment:

bastinptc said...

Great read! Will there be a Part 3?