Friday, May 1, 2009

Thursday night Blood Bank

The Thursday night game was held in a new spot this week. The owner of this house actually holds a regular Wednesday night game, but had a conflict and pushed to Thursday. This worked out because the host of our own game was out of town this week anyway.

Tony, Fred, and I headed over to this new game. Matt Pietzak was there as well, but all of the other players were new. We ended up with 12 players - playing a pair of 6-max games on two poker tables that barely fit into a snug basement.

The early going did not go too well. I lost my first buy-in on a board that ended up with two Queens and two Aces (last ace on the river). I had a Queen,
Pietzak had the ace. I thought a great deal about whether he had the ace or not before calling - his play to that point had been very aggressive at the short handed table, and I figured he would have raised any ace preflop, but he had just limped this time. I also knew he was capable at firing with air or a counterfeited two-pair at a scary river. When he turned over Ace-Ten, all I could say was "nice hand, sir". He had outdrawn me with a two outer, and outwitted me with his play.

There were 3 new players at my table, and I got my bearings on them rather quickly. One was a gentleman named Barry who seemed to know what he was doing. His bets were the right size, he knew how to fold, he showed down decent hands. I don't think I got tangled up one time with Barry.

New guy #2 was a rather large man who went by the nickname "CallZilla" at this home game, which wasn't really an accurate nickname. Yes, he played way too many hands, but often played them aggressively. I saw him make a $15 bluff on the river with a whiffed draw on one hand, and bet all three streets on another with nothing (only to back into a straight).

I gave Callzilla most of my second buy-in on two hands. In the first, we were blind vs. blind. I had Ace-two and hit my ace. I bet it out of position and he called. The turn put a second spade on the board. I bet again and Callzilla called, this time after thinking a few seconds. The river paired a 5. I made a small $5 blocking bet and he raised me 10 more. On this particular hand, I very clearly pictured that he had a 5 and a spade flush draw and announced this as I folded. I impressed both the table and myself as Callzilla flipped over the 5 of spades.

On the second hand vs. Callzilla, I raised up queens and he called my raise. The board came an uncoordinated A85 and I bet, which Callzilla called. Knowing that he was aggressive enough to bet anything if I checked, I decided to check-call both the turn and the river to regular size bets, hoping he would show me a middle pair 8-9, but instead he flipped over A8 for a flopped two pair. Ugh.

I toppped up my stack with my last $20. I was down $65 and having no luck. My mistakes were due to bad reads rather than poor poker play, so I could live with those outcomes. I also had two huge hands earlier - both well-disguised full houses - but didn't get paid much on either one.

Fortunately, the third new player at my table helped me out soon after my top-up. I got dealt AA and raised up 3 limpers to $5. Only new guy #3 called. New guy was studying his hands hard, calling bets to the river then folding. Or he was calling bets to the river and showing down second pair. I was going to get all my short stack in by the river in unless the scariest board imaginable came up.

The board didn't scare me or anyone else - something like king-eight-4 rainbow. I was out of position in the blinds, and figured the chances were small that he had anything worth chasing. The best I could hope for was that he had a pair (and no set, God Forbid) and would pay to see showdown. No sense checkraising this player - I bet out and hoped he could find a call. He did.

The turn helped nothing, I needed to bet out again - I bet $15 this time, a somewhat hilarious number considering that I only had $7 back after this. I didn't want him to hear "I'm all in", though. He wasn't the type to look over at my stack, so he called the $15 bet.

The river blanked everything but a weird gutshot draw. I sighed, sounding as sad as I could, and said "ok, I'm all in - $7 more." I almost laughed out loud when he folded this last $7 bet into a $54 pot, but was relieved that he didn't flip over an undetectable, unplayable two pair, or the hit gutshot. Finally, a decent pot!

I got into one more hand with Callzilla - I limped in early position with KQo (not a usual play for me - my plan was to get in cheap against the bad players if possible and fold to a raise from Tony or Pietzak), and got both bad players in the hand with me. I hit my king and bet it, getting Callzilla to call. On the blank turn, it seemed to me that Callzilla would fold if he didn't have a king and I bet, but bet anything if I checked, so I checked-called my top pair. I attempted the same move on the river but he checked behind, and he showed down KTo. I had him outkicked, and probably won as much money as I could (looking back, he would have called with his king anyway, so my check/call move didn't yield anything more than a bet would have, but I like the play anyway).

I won a few more small pots and was back to around $70 (still behind) when the two tables combined into one 10 man table. This table featured two drunk players who had plowed through a bottle of bourbon during the night, and I was itching to take some of their money, but they both busted out in the first hour of full table play.

I did back into a nice pot against one of the other players from the new table. I raised his limp from the blind with AQ offsuit. I whiffed the king high flop and checked, and he bet $2 into an $8 pot. I had a vague rememberance of this player from one of Crane's Thursday tourneys - and I was pretty sure he was bad. I called the tiny bet with the intention of leading out big on the turn. The forth street card even helped me out by coming the Ten of Clubs, putting three clubs on the board. I bet $8 into the $12 pot. He looked at the board for a long time and I thought I had him, but he called the bet anyway. Damn! Well, there was just about no way I was winning this pot....

And then, an unexpected river - the Jack of spades, giving me the unlikely straight. It was on a flushy board, but this guy didn't have a flush - I was 100% sure. It also didn't matter much if he did - he had about $12 left in his stack. Could I get that last $12? My best hope was that the Jack gave him a broadway two pair - I could bet anything and he would put the $12 into the pot then. I settled on a $10 bet - not enough to put him all in, but of course enough to have him raise his last $2. Sadly, he didn't take the bait and folded (folded what? 88/99?), but I had built up a decent pot with a bluffed turn and backed into a win.

People dropped off quickly in that final 10 man table. Callzilla got busted, and the two bourbon brothers dropped out (one on a badly botched K2 offsuit that pushed all in with a gutshot straight draw against a made flush, whoopsie), the dude who saved his last $12 on my straight gave it to someone else. We got back down to a 5 man table quickly. Pietzak was deepstacked and causing his usual trouble, but I was able to win 2 decent sized pots from him with medium pocket pairs.

The first was Jacks - I raised under the gun and he called. My Jacks stayed an overpair, but I wasn't going to push them to the wall against "I'll play any two cards and bust you" Matt. I did bet for value and got a call, however. I also bet a fourth undercard on the turn that looked safe, and got a second call. The river brought an ace, and I made a safe check.
Pietzak said "of course you check, you finally hit your pair", putting me on AK or AQ, I assume. He checked behind and exclaimed "even better" upon seeing my Jacks, and mucked his hand.

My last played hand of the night could have brought major fireworks (I always seem to get into those kinds of hands late), but once again Pietzak escaped major danger. I raised up a pocket pair of nines and he called as usual. I was out of position. I bet a queen-two-three flop and he called. I figured he would raise any queen, so I was more on the lookout for a baby pair or a tiny straight draw. The turn paired the three and he flat called again, and I figured he was going to come out swinging on any river and put me to a tough decision, which of course I wasn't looking forward to...

...until the river hit my nine, giving me nines full, the third nuts (to queens full or quad threes).

Now what to do? I have to bet here, but what number? He doesn't have a queen, and he might have a busted draw, so there's really not much he can pay off here. I elect on a straight half pot bet - $11, and I'm delighted to hear Pietzak say - "I should raise you, I have trips" - meaning he somehow has a three in his hand. Now that is music to my ears - he won't be able to put me on nines full in a month of guessing my cards. I nod my head in approval to his trips, not really knowing how to react, so I react naturally, with surprise that he could come up with a three here.

I'm not sure if he can read me like a book, but he starts off on a speech about how I might have pocket queens for queens full of threes, and in the end decides to just call my $11 value bet. His shocked face as I turn over my nines is a welcome one (I was right in that there was no way he could put me with those cards), but I'm ultimately disappointed as his ability to escape more damage with trip threes.

(An alternate ending - what if I had done this? When Pietzak was wondering if I had pocket queens, what if I made the offer "I'll tell you right now I don't have pocket queens. And, if we continue the hand, and I DO show down pocket queens, I'll let you take back any money you've put into the pot after this point". Then, if he raises me, I push all in. Of course, I look like a complete moron if he turns over pocket queens, or quad threes, but I've never seen Pietzak outright lie about what he was holding. I believed he had trip threes. Could I get him to think he was freerolling, when in fact he was freerolling against just one hand?. Could I get him to focus so much on me not having queens, that he might miss me back-dooring into nines-full? I actually briefly considered making an offer like this, but Pietzak made his decision to call before I could fully formulate it).

After folding the last hand of the night, I counted up my stacked chips - $102.50. I turned a $2.50 profit! Woohooo! Sounds like nothing, but after giving blood to the turn of $65, I'll take pride in my comeback and ability to climb just over the profit line.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

" His bets were the right size,"

People always say the biggest mistake donks make is playing bad starting cards, but I think that their bet sizing is just as poor.

When I'm in a tournament and don't know the players, I find that's the most likely way to figure out who can play and who can't. You don't always get to see their hole cards, but you do see their bets.