Friday, April 17, 2009

A tale of 8 Aces (one too few)

Thursday night game, and I've obtained perfect table position. I am to the immediate left of the bad, needlessly aggressive, and oh-so-frakking-lucky CS - a regular in our Friday night social game who is trying the no-limit Thursday game for only the second time. I missed his debut last week, but Tony gave me a full recap, and his tale of Q6 two-pairs and bottom pair suckouts for trips was one I could have wrote before hearing it.

At the start of the night, I am to the right of solid, but tighter players who might give me a few cheap blinds. (though Mr. Pietzak squeezes in to my immediate left as a late arrival, and his game is gives me fits).

My cards are ok for the most part - I don't end up with any big postflop hands, but I play enough poker to hold my own. The night really boils down to the 4 pocket pairs of Aces that I'm dealt.

Bullets the First. CS has brought it in for a $3 raise. He usually starts off the night playing "normal", but he either gets bored or builds up his stack so that the money doesn't mean anything anymore. His opening range includes any 2 suited cards, or any one face card. Literally. I have already seen him show down K2 offsuit
tonight (and flopped quad kings, natually). Later in the night he plays K2 sooted and hits trip twos. I've got the bullets so I bump it to $10, CS calls as I was 100% sure he would, and off to the flop we go.

Flop is Jack Nine Rag. He bets $5, I raise to $15, he calls. There is $50 in the pot.
Turn is a low brick, 2 flushy cards. He checks. I bet $15 more, He calls. I've got him on a jack or a flush draw now (probably a pair and a FD since he lead the flop). If he's got a jack, his kicker could be any card - literally J2 through AJ are all in his range. Pot is $80.
River is a Ten, and he fires $20 into the pot, which puts me all in. Uggggggh. He played JT, right? Or TT just hit a set. Or he's got a set with one of the two rag cards. I think I'm beat, but I'm not folding an overpair with 5-1 odds. I call and flip over the Aces. He shows J8 for top pair, no draw. As I drag the pot, he says under his breath a bit "I played that one wrong".

Bullets the Second. I raise up KC and CS's limp to $5 and they both call. The board comes low, with two hearts and somewhat coordinated.
KC leads out, CS folds (a rare occurance - it means he has no piece of the board whatsoever, and no hope for a draw). I check KC's stack - it's small enough that any raise commits him, plus it's not big enough to worry about a big drawout. Finally, KC has a weakness at the table that I've known about for a long time - he takes raises as a personal insult, as his ego gets in the way. He has spite called me enough to know I could make some money here if he's got a smaller overpair or even a top pair Ace-rag type of hand. Finally, his leadout leads me to believe has a piece of this flop as opposed to a pure draw. I raise and he does go all-in, giving me 2-1 odds.

I call and he shows my one read was off - he's on a pure draw but a strong one - a very dangerous 8hTh - he's got a gutshot, and a flush draw. The turn pairs his ten, giving him a few more outs, but a meaningless 2s hits the river and I drag another pot.

Bullets the Third. My favorite hand of the night. KC raises and I reraise to $10 with my Aces one more time. He calls. The board comes 775, two diamonds. The standard move would be to check here and shoot for a checkraise, but KC isn't the C-Betting type if he just whiffed with AK/AQ. Plus I would like to protect against the flush draw, and possible straight draw (KC just played soooted connectors against my last bullets, if you'll recall). Finally, I've got the KC ego to help me, maybe. I shoot $15 into the pot.

KC staightens up. "You didn't hit that board" he says with a bit of anger in his voice. "You've just got me on high cards and know I missed that flop. Well I've got a pair", he says, staring in my direction. He's looking for information, and I'm trying not to look back. One thought crosses my mind - his speech might be a total fake out. What if he's flopped a monster (A7/77/55) and he's trying to lead me to believe my overpair is good?". Now that would be something. In the end, I conclude that his slight angry tone is natural and his reaction is geniune rather than a great acting job. He's got a pair and is thinking of calling me, meaning I'm ahead and he has 2 outs to improve.

He ponders a minute more. CS is chirping in his ear, breaking the one to a hand rule - he puts me on the overpair (funny he couldn't do that before with J8 offsuit). Finally, KC's voice softens. "Will you show?", he asks me, smiling. I am impressed. If he's got a pair on this board and folds, he is reaching out and finding some discipline I wasn't sure he had (not sure I would have it either vs. many players). I don't answer the question, but he folds a pair of tens face up. I am even more impressed now - an overpair, no less, and I reward him by showing the rockets. He slaps the table down and says "again!", impressed by my luck and probably even more so of his great fold.

Bullets the Fourth. End of the night, only 5 players left. CS is long gone, having called an all-in on a TJA board with K9, drawing dead to an already-made QK straight (oy vey). I see my bullets one more time in the small blind. KC limps, and for once in a very long while I decide to limp as well with Aces. My stack is $130 - I had to buy in twice for $80, so I stand to make a decent $50 profit on the night. My plan right now is to check/call, payoff a better hand if needed as long as the pot stays small, and then sheepishly show my Aces one more time for a good laugh.

FA foils this plan by raising to $5 from the big blind. Hmmm. Well, he's got something, and the pot has just grown. KC folds. FA's line - decent player, but can't get away from top pair or overpair even on dangerous boards. Plus I limped preflop, giving my aces a bit of deception. I shoot it up to $15. If he calls, we're playing for stacks, and he has my $130 covered.

He doesn't take much time to think at all and bumps it to $25 more. His right hand has barely left the chips when I blurt out "I'm all in". I am positive that I have just told him I have aces, and to be honest I don't want him to call.

He looks incredulous. "All in? Really? How much?" I count it out $90.50 more. Will he take the bait with QQ/KK/AK? That's all he can call with, I figure. He counts out the bet to see what that leaves him with if he loses. The answer is $70 - still a profit on the night. Once I see this, I know he's calling - FA will look at the final $70 won on the night rather than the bad $130 loss on the hand and call it losing the battle but winning the war. He calls and turns over Kings. The small table collectively expresses shock when I flip over the aces for the fourth time.

Fred is already justifying his call "No way he had aces again. I thought you were just bullying me off the hand. I can't believe it. Well, what can I do, do I really fold kings there?"

There's still the small matter of running the board out. I see a clean flop, but I'm not too shocked when the king of spades hits the turn. Fred just says "wooooow". Still, there are now 3 spades on the board and I have the ace of spades, so a spade or the last two aces will make me a winner. The river is a black nine but the wrong shape - clubs - and the suckout is complete.

The game ends but we discuss that hand and others for another hour afterward.

A fantastic night of poker. Great reads, great work of "playing the player". I had bluffs that both worked and failed, and a ton of value extracted from those eager to pay.

In the end, I was 2 outs away from being up six buy-ins, but instead ended up down two. That's poker.

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