Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday night- taking matters into my own hands

8 in the game this week - down to 6 as a few players go busto. The money on the table is increasing as more people are buying in for 60 now instead of 40. Still not "full" 100 BB stacks, but enough to loosen play and stop the game from being a "jam with top pair" game.

I had a few thin river calls on the night. The first was early - I was limping along with A4 soooted and hit my ace on a dry A83 board. The turn and river double-paired, leaving the board A8338. Loose-aggressive Mr. Pietzak made a small river bet, seemingly for value, but he is as capable of representing the 3 or 8 as having it. He also could have a hand like 55. The pot was not big so the river bet wasn't large, either, so I took a shot and called, but he indeed had the 3 from the blind. Limped pots suck!

The second thin call worked out pretty well. I raised up big slick and got a caller, KC, in the blind. KC seems to turn up with pocket kings 3 or 4 times a week, and he will simply call preflop bets (instead of reraising), and check/call with them or play them softly postflop and win pots with you thinking your top pair is good. The board was all low cards, straight-draws possible, but he isn't the type to defend with low connectors. I figured we both whiffed or he had one of his patented hidden, high pocket pairs. When he checked, I checked behind, hoping to pop off one of my overcards, and to keep the pot small. The turn brought more low stuff, and again we both checked. The river stayed low one more time. This time he fired out a bet for $6. I sat and considered his hands. I figured a medium pair like 88-TT would have bet somewhere in there, to protect against the overcards hitting. Maybe he slowplayed AA or KK, hoping to checkraise me, but I foiled his plans by checking behind. A small set could also be played this way, but I was thinking he had to worry about me having low cards and protecting against the straight. (I had shown down a 45 idiot-end straight earlier on the night, too). There were no flushes, and the only straight was with cards I didn't think he could have. My first, second, and third instinct said to fold with ace-high, but with one final thought- I decided the chances of AA or KK were simply lower because I had one of each in my hand, and I couldn't put him on a hand he would have logically checked all the way to the river. I announced "how about a hero call?", and tossed in the $6. KC announced "Queen High", and I think I tilted him off a bit showing down Ace-King.

A fairly new addition to this game, Anthony K, was hitting big hands all night (he ended up the big winner of the night with a $262 profit). In one huge hand, he raised preflop and got a caller. There was a queen-high, all diamond board, and the betting ended up with Anthony being all-in. I read
Anthony as a bit weak-tight in style, so I felt that he had only three possible hands at the moment:

AdKd for the nut flush.
AA with the ace of diamonds.
A set of queens.

Top pair with flush draw was too weak for him to shove all-in on, in my opinion. Anthony got a call to his all-in - top and bottom pair - Q8. This gave him 3 more outs - a nine could come and give him a higher two pair, along with a diamond or an ace. He spiked a nine on the turn and dragged a huge pot. I was pleased that my read was dead on.

In another hand against Anthony, I raised up a pair of nines. Mr. Pietzak called, and Anthony reraised. Again, his style tells me he pretty much has KK/AA here. I think he just calls with queens, jacks, and ace-king. We both call, me for setmining/implied odds reasons (I will almost surely double up with a set against an overpair against this player), Mr. Pietzak for who-knows-why reasons. He even announces that he has no business being in this hand.

Again the board comes Queen high, and Anthony checks. I miss my set for the 567th straight time. Hmmm, maybe my read is wrong? He doesn't strike me as the checkraising type. Maybe JJ, maybe AK? Or, maybe QQ with top set (which anyone would checkraise). I decide to shoot out a bet and see if I can take it down. Mr. Pietzak calls (I'm guessing flush draw), but then Anthony announces he's all in. Ok, then - top set. Well done. I fold pretty quickly, but
Mr. Pietzak isn't ready to fold. He asks Anthony "do you have aces again?". Anthony nods yes. It absolutely could be bullshit, but I actually think the reply is genuine. Mr. Pietzak says "I can beat aces, but I can't beat Queens". Middle set seems to be the best read, but once again there's no telling what Mr. Pietzak is playing half the time. He ends up calling the all-in - with a two-pair Q6 suited!!! (Well, he did say he had no business being in the hand). Once again, Anthony gets it in behind with bullets.

And once again, he catches up - this time with an ace on the turn. Another giant pot.

I win some of this money back a bit later. Mr. Pietzak makes a standard raise. I am not looking at my cards preflop anymore - instead I'm watching the action go around the table. Anthony looks indecisive on whether to call or fold. In the end, he chooses to call. At this moment, I decide the time is right for a squeeze play, regardless of my hand. If I can get
Mr. Pietzak to fold, then I'm pretty sure Anthony will fold too.

It folds around to me. Time to check my cards - maybe I have bullets and my squeeze will be for value. Uh, no, not quite. Queen-three-offsuit. Ooof. Well, I had already decided I was going to give it a shot no matter what my cards were. I looked over at Mr. Pietzak - the key was getting him to fold. If his stack was too low - I figured he would gamble for a quick double up with an enormous range - connectors, suited aces, etc. In other words, if he had $30 left, my play wouldn't work.

But this wasn't the case- he had something like $50-60. This was perfect. A raise to $15 would be really difficult for him to call with lots of his (wide) range - I would be shutting off his implied odds on the hand, but wouldn't be enough to feel like he could take a shot at a quick double up. I made it $15. Pietzak dutifully thought over his options, and then folded. Anthony folded instantly, as my observation hinted he would, and I took down $9 with nothing.

Later, I win some more back from Anthony. He raises preflop and I defend my blind with AQ. I consider reraising, but
Anthony's raising range is pretty tight - I don't need to build a big pot out of position with AQ. (but it's also too strong to fold).

I whiff the flop, but there are two clubs. I check, and when
Anthony bets, I decide to call the bet, and come out firing if the club draw comes in. I am rewarded with the 8 of clubs on the turn. I "Johnny Chan" right into him for 13 dollars, but he calls right away. Oops. I figure now he has top pair/overpair with a club (though I've already learned that he is capable of re-raising with Aces and a club draw, so I figure maybe TT-KK). In any event, I'm done putting money into this pot. The river pairs my queen, but puts the fourth club on the board, and I have no club. I check and so does Anthony. I call out "I hit the queen" and get a groan from Anthony as he flips over pocket jacks, with no club. Ha! The sucker-outer can be sucked out on himself!

That was the last large pot that I was involved in. I got very aggressive late and it paid off with some smaller pots. I continued my recent practice of playing more hands in late position, thinking my position can win me some pots even if my garbage cards don't hit the board. I played J7 on the button and hit top pair on a 7 high board, and raised someone's lead out bet in position - I got a fold. I open-raised in the cutoff with Kc9c, and again hit top pair on a nine high board. This time I was out of position, though, so I won a smaller pot as nobody caught me (someone had 88). From the big blind, I got K6 and hit bottom pair on an AQ6 board. The small blind lead out at me, I raised representing the ace, and got a fold (he said he had QJ, nicely done by me). I called a raise with AK (again against Anthony, playing carefully preflop against his tight range), and hit top two pair - AK4. Anthony lead out and I raised to 20 right away. I was protecting against broadway draws, a flush draw, and figured
Anthony would pay me off with a smaller ace. Plus, I had been so aggressive recently, I figured perhaps this was the time someone would look me up. All sound, valid, logic, but Anthony didn't have the hand to butt heads with me, he folded.

Next to Anthony's huge haul, I ended up the second winner on the night with a profit of $90+. I won lots of medium pots and also lost two or three. I also played very aggressively, and am now taking some advice I received a few weeks ago to not show my cards if I don't have to - ever. I can see this paying off in the future - I got lots of "hmmms" and guesses as to my hand as I raked in chips with my aggressive play.

I also felt like my handreading and table reading is ever-improving. I pegged one of Anthony's pairs of bullets dead-on (even though I wasn't in the hand), and was able to pick off a bluff with ace-high. I also took advantage of a situation with a nice "squeeze with air" play based on reading the table. These little victories are enough to turn a break-even night into a winning night, and a solid player into a good one - winning hands you're not supposed to win based on what the cards say. That's good poker.

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