Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mountaineer Trip Report, Part 3 - Do you believe me NOW?!

Lunch ends and Tony and I head back to the poker room. I'm pretty sure we'll be separated this time as they seat us into existing tables, but a new table is started from scratch right after we sign up, so we're back in action at the same table.

In the first hand after we sit down, I raise up a limper with AKs. The original limper and one other player calls. I continuation bet on an extremely dry JJ4 flop, but both players call.. Hmmm. Fireworks start on the turn with a bet and a raise, I and meekly get out of the way. The hand shows down to reveal a 44 (flopped boat) vs. KJ trips.

The woman who held KJ lost her entire stack on this pot, but quickly bought back in. Calling a raise with KJ is reasonable (but can be dangerous), and I also take note of the other player who called my raise with 44, setmining.

I get into another pot with Mr. 44 about an hour later - my friends the cowboys show up in my hands again, and both all red again. I raise and the pairmaster calls, with position. We again see the Jacks on the board - Jack Jack Queen, with two spades. I check and so does he.

The turn brings some more danger - a red Ten. Now we've got straights and trips out there to beat my kings (not to mention a big full house or even quads). I check again and my opponent leads out for a half pot bet. I bust out my stick and checkraise him. My goal here is to define his hand. If he reraises, I am confident my kings are beat and can fold easily. If he folds, then maybe his trips are afraid of the straight or fullhouse possibilities. If he calls, I've got some more work to do. After a moment, he calls, and I figure I'm behind now.

The river comes the 9d, which at the time looked like more danger (see below). I checked one more time, and so did my opponent. He waited for me to flip first, and I said "two red kings" and showed my cowboys. He looked surprised by this holding and flipped over AQ - a very reasonable holding considering the betting action. He probably thought he was ahead after the 2 checks but I had squeezed away with a nice pot on a very dangerous board.

Note: as I reread my notes now, I realize that the river 9 gave me a straight! Still, higher straights were out there (AK), as well as full house possibilities, so I don't think I would have had the stones to bet this hand for more value even had I recognized it. I'm also not sure I could have squeezed any more value out of this hand (his AQ couldn't have called another bet, and all of his other holdings that could have called were ahead of my 1 card straight).

I need to thank Tony for this next hand - Tony was dying on the vine with no cards at all. In an attempt to change his luck, he introduced a $4 straddle to the table. I checked my hole cards to find Kc9c - not a stellar holding, but I felt like I was playing good poker and wouldn't lose a ton of money on a bad kicker. I announced to Tony and the table "if it's action you want, then action you shall have" and called the straddle. We ended up in a nice, bloated, multiway pot.

Before the dealer showed the cards, I predicted I would see a king high flop that would put me to the test. I built in a gameplan of playing the flop fast if a King came, but slowing down to any aggression or an attempt to bet big on later streets.

This whole plan went out the window when the cards came. I got my King high flop, but I also hit my 9 for two pair! A ten completed the board. This was a much better hand, of course, but also more dangerous to me. There could be hidden sets lurking out there in the multiway morass, and another ten could counterfeit me. An early player lead out into the board, and I raised right away. Everyone folded but one player, and I was scared to death.

The turn settled me down - another King. I had a boat and was now ahead of every hand except exactly King-Ten. I was first to act, and decided I could go broke on this hand. If my opponent held King-Ten, then more power to him. However, every other King holding would probably pay me off. If the player held a king and a higher off-card (KJ/KQ/AK), then I would have to dodge that other card on the river.

Pokerstove says I'm an 85% favorite against all holdings with a King in them. This surprises me - I thought I would have been a bigger favorite, but this is still well over 4-1, plenty good enough to take to the wall. If you add in other non-King holdings that will also now pay me off (like TT/99, or a badly botched AA), my chances get way higher, more like a 9-1 favorite. It's definitely go time.

I bet $50 into the pot and my opponent called quickly. My heart was racing inside and I wondered if the poker gods were setting me up for the king-ten cooler.

The river bricked under my nine, so I no longer had to worry about KJ/KQ/AK holdings. I had the second nuts and put $50 more into the pot. This didn't leave me enough behind to worry about calling a shove - I was calling and my opponent probably knew it. He flipped his cards away and offered "nice bet" on the end. I found out later he had K5 suited and was taking a shot of his own with a crappy hand on a straddle.

The rest of the day ended up being a back and forth battle between the woman player at the table and me, although I didn't realize this until much later. The action had already begun when I had raised my first hand at the table with my AK and she called with KJ. She never saw my AK then because of the JJ4 flop and her giving her buy-in away to 44, but it must have stuck in her mind that I had raised and then folded.

A bit earlier in the day (before the K9 boat), I had played the low connectors 5s6s on a cheap flop, which yielded 4s8sTd. I had a gutshot straightflush draw. The woman player lead out $10 on the flop, and I semi-bluff raised my strong draw, minraising it $20. She looked at me and said "I really like my hand, but I hate that bet" and folded.

Later I was in middle position with A9o, a bit weak for raising, but I did it anyway after being card dead for awhile and figured I had re-established my tight image. The woman played called from the big blind. The board came a dry QQ5. She check-called my continuation bet. We then both checked the turn and river (since I had nothing) and she showed down 5d8d, winning the pot after hitting her 5. Wow. That's a little weak to be defending a blind with, no? Tony, still card-dead and leaking money like a sieve, laughed and asked her "wow, guess you really don't believe him right now, do you?". She looked a little indignant as she scooped the small pot her way.

This honked me off a little - why was she defending with 5d8d? As I found out later,
she was angry at me, and felt by now that I was picking on her. Truth be told, I had no such agenda in my head. My plays against her so far were with AK (which I whiffed and had to fold to strong action), and my flop minraise that I didn't show. Was that enough for her to think I was picking on her? I guess so. I suppose that my having to show A9o (after a middle position raise and c-bet) only reinforced the notion that I was picking on her.

I didn't know all of this yet, though, so I was a little irritated at her for defending a blind with 5d8d. I already knew she wasn't a bad player - that this blind defense had some sort of reasoning behind it, but I didn't know the reason at this point.

A few hands after this, we got tangled up again. She limped, as did the guy between us (who limped with everything), and I raised them both up with AK. She called and limpy folded. I whiffed again (no CBet this time) - we got to a fairly cheap showdown - and she won the hand again, this time defending with 99. This was a more reasonable holding to defend against a raise, but now it was becoming clear to me that she was out to get me. Tony kept up his chatter "wow, trying to hit that set, huh?. You do not believe him a bit, do you?".

A half hour later, she came in from first position with a $6 raise. This raise is awfully small for this table (opening raises are almost always at least $8 and sometimes $10), and my radar went up a bit. I looked down at my cards and found my old friends, though - two cowboys. I had the second best hand in hold'em and popped it up to $18.

It folded back around to her, and she called right away. The dealer turned over the three flop cards and I saw them in this order - 3 of hearts, ten of diamonds,
king of diamonds. The king had joined his two brothers in my hand and was ready to either bring me to the promised land or drag me to the depths. I was probably not good enough to fold top set, unless presented with overwhelming evidence that I was beat. That was currently impossible, as I had the nuts at the moment.

My opponent checked the flop. As usual with a big hand, I had to decide whether to bet out now or slowplay for a street. There was a diamond draw out there, as well as a JQ open-ended straight draw. She didn't have JQ, though - she would have limped with this hand, I was sure. My best guess was that she was on a pocket pair - either Aces that she open-raised small with for action, or maybe Tens-Jacks-Queens that were decent but not invulnerable so she didn't invest too much. If I bet now and she had the latter, she would probably have to fold with the king on the board. If she had the bullets, she would probably get it all in now. I couldn't be sure what I wanted to do, but I didn't think the draws were that dangerous to me, so I checked behind. I hoped that this looked like our previous 2 hands where I had bet big preflop but then got meek after missing everything postflop.

The turn didn't help any of the draws. I was still safe with my kings, but not invulnerable. This time she lead out for $20. This bet didn't tell me anything - if my read was good - I
still felt she had a big pair. She could still have queens or jacks and was now betting "safely" on my check of the king.

Should I call again for deception? I had a great hand but was still vulnerable to outs of various holdings, and I wanted her to make the biggest mistake possible. One final thought crossed my mind that sealed my action.

She doesn't believe you.

She was honked off at me for perceived bullying, and was taking a stand here. I needed to keep bullying her, this time with the best hand, and hope her hand was strong enough to go to war with. I bumped it to $50, close enough to a minraise to maybe look like more bullying, but big enough to build the pot with my set.

She did take a moment to consider he options, which lead me to believe she had jacks or queens, but then settled on an action. "I'm all in" she announced.

Hoo boy. I asked for a count from the dealer to stall for time as I checked the board one more time. I did have the immortal (current) nuts, right? Yup, I did. No misread this time. I did catch one hand in this last look that scared the crap out of me - JdQd, which would have given her the royal draw and 15 outs. But I had already discounted all JQs based on the preflop raise, though. Even if she did have that draw, I was currently a 2-1 favorite.

My best guess was that she had aces or tens for a lower set. If either of those were true, she was drawing to 2 outs or one. It looked pretty good.

The dealer came back with the count - it was $87 more. I counted out $90 and made the call, feeling a little faint.

My opponent was standing up, waiting for my call. She asked "you got the kings?" - a nice read on her part. I nodded my head and flipped them over. She let out a hearty "
SHIT" that I'm sure half the poker room heard, and then flipped over the bullets.

The little devil popped on my shoulder again for a second - he wanted me to ask her "do you believe me
now??!??", but that's not my style. Anyway, my brain was going about a zillion miles and hour and I'm not sure I could have spoken at the moment, anyway.

She still had two chances to exact her revenge on me with a miracle ace on the river, but the poker gods did not give her that revenge. A harmless river (that I don't remember in the haze of the big hand) gave me an enormous $310 pot.

What a victory! I had tangled with this worthy opponent several times in the afternoon, and sent her to the rail (with a very lucky flop in an AA/KK battle). I felt very satisfied at the moment, and took it all in as I folded the next few hands after barely checking them to see what the cards were. Another thought had occurred to me, though - I had over $400 sitting on the table - a bit too deep for my tastes on this $1/$2 table. All I needed was to get on the wrong end of a similar battle, or get sucked out on, and drop back down and ruin my great weekend. I checked the clock - it was 6:30 pm. We were scheduled to leave at 8. "Good enough" I thought to myself. I waited until I was one hand before the blinds caught me and stood up.

I went to the cashier and cashed $428. My total victory on the weekend tallied $483 - just erasing the high cost of the $456 T-shirt from my first visit. I was ahead in Mountaineer.

One last footnote - in all the confusion and dizzying pressure of the huge hand, I forgot to tip the dealer. After a celebretory beer at the bar, I went back and exchanged a five-spot for a $5 chip, and then sought out my dealer for that table and rewarded him for my heaven-sent King.

No comments: