Friday, September 11, 2009

Hollywood denied

Tough sledding in the Thursday night game tonight - none of the 8 players who showed up were those who I considered more likely to make big mistakes. Any profit tonight would be well-earned, or simply lucky.

Perhaps sensing the need for a fish at the table, I started off poorly. I made a button raise with Ah9h, and Mr. Pietzak behind me three bet from the small blind. Conflicting thoughts swirled into my head about what he held, what he think I held, position, etc, but in the end I called the three bet, really without a plan. I hit the ace on a board with no draws, and Mr. Pietzak shoved the rest of his $26 stack in.

I was torn right down the middle on whether he had the ace or not. He could easily do this with smaller pairs - merely banking on the fact that I have no ace and cannot call. It would be a hero call to snap off jacks here, but it would also pretty donk-ish to call a three bet and go broke on top pair, weak kicker. I folded in disgust with myself. As it turned out, I was dead to AQ, so my fold was correct - but calling the three bet with A9 sooted is more the "hope and pray" style than good poker.

After this hand, I got a bit too preflop limpy and trickled away some more money on digging for big hands with connectors and weak broadway hands. To nobody in particular, I said out loud "I'm playing like a donkey". Tony heard me and cocked his head, allowing me to elaborate further, but I didn't have much more to add. I had summed it up pretty well.

The Hollywood ending would be me resolving to play aggressively and tearing up the table, but that didn't really happen. For the most part I played very straightforwardly, and my cards ended up being good enough to win back my money. I raised while 6 handed with KJo, and hit an open ended straight draw with a Queen and Ten on the flop. I check/called, check/called, then hit the beauty nine on the river. I thought carefully about the perfect callable amount to bet, but missed it as my aggressive opponent folded the river. My guess is he hand an uncallable small pocket pair or ace-high, and I wouldn't win more no matter what I bet.

One nice call - after two limpers, the small blind shoved his small $16 stack in. I hadn't looked at my cards yet, and of course figured my fold would be an easy decision for almost any two cards, but instead I looked at pocket tens. yikes. The first thing that popped into my head was "do I really have to race here for $16?". But I soon recalled a recent conversation I had with my study partner. We were discussing my famous QQ hand from last month's tourney. His advice was "shove preflop!". I was scared of aces or kings because of a 2x preflop raise, and I also didn't want to have to race AK. Concerning the "racing" part - he reminded me that QQ is actually a 56% favorite over AK - which is a bit more than a 50-50 "race". The casinos in Vegas are built on the kind of 6% edges that one has when he holds QQ over AK.

The dynamics of that hand might have been a bit more complex because it was a tourney situation, but my TT hand here was not. This was a cash game - one makes money over the long haul by seizing every known edge. Basically, if he turned over AK or AQ right now, I would be making a significant mistake by not calling. Add to that point that I could put many more hands in his shortstack shoving range, plenty of smaller pairs than my tens, AQ/AJ, maybe even KQs. Finally, I felt like I could take pocket aces and pocket kings out of his range, since most players want to make sure they get action with their big preflop hands.

Take those two dominating hands out of his range, and now a call is mandatory. I call, expecting a race with AK/AQ, but instead I get... pocket fives! Nice. I avoid the suckout and stack a nice pot.

More garbage - I followed limpers from the button with Ac6c. I got my flush draw on a non-broadway board and it checked to me. Free shot at a nut flush? Ok, I'm in. The turn added more fun cards to my draw as my 6 contributed to an open ended straight draw, and once again it checked to me. Here I considered a bet, hope one or more of the three villains calls and get the pot built up. I wasn't sure if I call could a big checkraise, though, with a hidden set or a 68 straight, so again I checked behind.

The river brought the flush, and nobody seemed interested. Check, check, check to me. Sigh. Well, it didn't look like my free flush was going to win any money. I bet a "beg for a call" $3 and got three folds.

Tony did consider calling - he even said "I think I should have bet this earlier" as he folded. For reasons unknown, I showed my ace-rag flush, to which he replied "I wouldn't have gotten rid of you anyway". I said to him "nope, I think I might have even tried your famous overbet with that hand". Tony is capable of overbetting the pot with strong draws or strong hands, and he often gets paid off as opponents guess wrong. I told him that I always wanted to employ his own overbet on him, but cautioned that I was willing to do it with a lock hand, or a strong draw, or nothing at all.

Another potential Hollywood ending - later in the same hour I check out pocket aces in the hole. I was under the gun so I knew my raise would be given some respect no matter what, so I made it $3.50 instead of my usual $3.00 to help build the pot up. Tony reraised me, $15 on top, from position. Tony is not one to 3-bet light - I put his range on TT+, AK. So how could I win the most money here? I think many players would call here, knowing you're heads up, hoping AK hits top pair and can't get away. Tony probably won't go broke on top pair, though. Remembering my warning about trying the overbet "someday", I decided this might be the time. I just shoved, hoping he felt obligated to call with KK, or he remembered what I had said an hour earlier and hoped I was making a play with something like AQ or 99. Apparently, he didn't give a thought to our earlier conversation, though, he said out loud "I guess you have aces", and folded his pocket queens, face up, with barely a second's thought.

I made two plays without the hands to really back them up, so I guess I was playing some real poker. I raised KQo and got a caller from the blind. We both checked an all-small board, but then he lead out on another rag turn. I couldn't put him on a big hand that he wouldn't have reraised with preflop, and I didn't think this was the type of player would would have called a preflop raise with a 46s type hand from a blind, so I raised his bet with king high. He folded, saying "your pair is obviously bigger than mine".

In the other hand, I had AcQc and lead out on a turn with a flush draw that hadn't arrived yet. Mr. Pietzak raised me, correctly sensing that my bet was more of a stab than anything. I felt like he would have merely called this bet with any draw, and the straight out there was very unlikely, so at best his raise was some pair that might not be able to stand the heat of a re-raise. My stack was healthy enough to find out, so I re-raised and got a fold. I'm not one that often re-raises a turn with air, so this bet had to look like it had some teeth behind it.

In summary, a little bit of poker, good enough cards to squeeze out a 30 BB profit.
It beats a sharp stick in the eye.


bastinptc said...

30 BB profit at a home game, especially with your tough crowd, is a great night.

Memphis MOJO said...

Sounds like you played just fine, and caught a few cards, too. that would work for me everytime. Good recap.

diverjoules said...

Good Going Matt.