Friday, March 13, 2009

yucky night part 2

Thursday night game - more of the same strangeness. It seems recently that my hand is face up when I play. These players aren't good enough to be picking up constant tells off me (at least I don't think so), so I'm not sure what it is - but I cannot get myself into a hand.

Raise ATo from middle position, get reraised. Have to fold.
No way I'm ever limping into a pot. Raise by them/fold by me.
Take a shot with some low broadway connectors (JT) in late position. Both blinds call - flop comes AQ9 and they start betting at each other. Buh-bye.

I think my cards and the situation allowed me to "play poker" only one time in the early hours - I got a rare free play with 44 in late position and saw a flop of JJ9.

It checked to me. I considered firing but nobody believed a thing I did right now, so I checked behind, coming up with another plan. The turn was a 7 or 8 and Tony came out betting. My only shot at this pot was to raise right now - representing a slowplayed Jack. Tony would be hard-pressed to call, out of position, with no Jack himself. I raised up to $11 and earned a well-played pot.

A lone pair of bullets in the later hours gave me enough action to keep my stack respectable, but the rest of the night was the slow drip-drip-drip of bad cards or small pots with second-best hands. I probably played too loose for my cards and these stack sizes - but when the big aces and strong pocket pairs aren't coming, you're trying to make money in other ways, and as I've mentioned already - none of those other ways were panning out.

I should have lost the last vestiges of my buy-in last in the last half hour. I was nursing a $10.50 stack (too stubburn to buy back in) when I got 22 in early position (only 7 left at the table). Someone limped in, and I made it $5. I was hoping this looked stronger than a shove, since I just put half my chips in the middle. But since my hands are apparently visible to everyone, or perhaps because it was after 1 am and nobody was paying much attention, my screaming strong bet got 4 callers.

I hit my first set of the night with a dry Ace-seven-deuce flop, and began cursing the fact that I hadn't bought back in for more money. Then one of the callers, from the blinds, moved all of his red $5 chips into the middle, and matter-of-factly announced his bet of $45 - into a $22 pot. This made me curse some more. I called off my last $5.50 and we turned our cards over, and it looked like the perfect end to another perfect night - he had 77 for the set-over-set. My mind got all gray and grainy - to the point where the case deuce coming on the turn barely registered that I had just one-outed this poor sap to triple up.

It was the last playable hand of the evening for me, and I ended up with $28, down $13 on another miserable night.

On a brighter note - I was able to lock in my handreading radar much better last night than in recent weeks. A player I'll call JJ is a recent bring-over from our Friday night social game - and he is the most straightforward, weak-tight AceMaster you'll ever have the pleasure to come across. It's not brain surgery to read this player - but his presence at the table has provided me with the necessary focus and challenge to keep attempting to put people on hands.

A sample - JJ limps into a multiway pot. The flop comes A67 and he bets $3 into a $12 pot. JJ has some kind of ace here - there is no other possible hand. Kings and Queens (maybe Jacks) would have raised preflop, and JJ would almost never bet on smaller pair with that Ace on the board, so I can all-but discount 22-TT. His bet would be bigger if he had a set of sixes or sevens, or A6/A7 for two pair.

The only question left is what his kicker is. AK is a raise preflop to JJ, but any other Ace is probably a limp preflop from this player. I've currently got him on A8-AQ.

JJ's small bet doesn't chase away the other two players and the turn comes a queen, with no flushiness possibilites (two clubs though). JJ now wakes up and bets $10 into the $21 pot. I now know with near certainty what JJ has - he has AQ. Any smaller kicker would be a $5 bet, now afraid of being outkicked. I don't think he has AK, but even if he did, JJ wouldn't put $10 into this pot without 2 pair or higher. Nope, he has AQ.

Then the action gets goofy behind him. Nathaniel calls the half pot bet (his second smooth call in a row, which screams "Set of sixes or sevens" to me), and then KC raises to $25. KC is another Friday convert and this is only his second time at the Thursday game. KC has been playing backwards all night - he has been dealt pocket aces three or four times and played them slow every time, without once getting burned for it. Aggressive players have been putting big bets in the middle with top pair and getting cracked by check/call aces, over and over. (It's infuriating, truth be told). I don't know what to make of this raise - my first guess is that he either has QQ, or the same AQ, but this doesn't fit his current "backwards" playing style. Perhaps he has AK himself, and he's putting JJ to the test (they're good friend and I could see KC messing with his buddy). He might have nothing at all.

JJ looks scared now, and even announces "I don't want to lose another big pot to you" (JJ lost to KC early in the night with a boat-over-boat special), but he calls the bet. Repeat: CALLS, with top two, on a board with both straight and flush possibilities. God love'em.

The river bricks everything and they all check it down. I'm shocked when Nathanial doesn't bet his "set", but instead he reveals a naked flush draw (an uncharacteristic moment of draw-chasing for him). JJ shows his AQ, ticking up my pride a bit. KC flips over Ace-Deuce - he was just trying to push JJ off his hand - the funny thing was this actually had a shot of working.

Anyway, as I said, it's no brain surgery to read JJ, but he's the one guy I can usually pick off - and his presence at the table keeps my radar up - at least while he's in the hand.

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