Friday, September 4, 2009

What would Jesus do - Thursday night DOUBLE STAKES cash game report

So I'm watching Chris "Jesus" Fergeson on the World Series of poker this week. He's in the big blind with a middle king, like K-8 or something, and the board gives him trip kings. He's first to act, and I'm thinking "checkraise".

That's why he's a pro and I'm a shlub watching him on TV. Chris leads right out with his trips. His opponent, with a pocket pair I believe, calls the bet. On the turn, Chris leads out again, and again he gets a call. On the river, one more large value bet, into what is now a rather large pot. I believe (and the details of the end of the hand are admittedly fuzzy) that the villain paid off all three streets of pure value.

Nothing very tricky going on here. Flop a big hand and bet it. Pure, sweet value. Decent players, though, are often expected to NOT being doing the expected - so leading out onto a KKx flop is often interpreted as weakness, not strength. You've got the x, or a pocket pair, and want to see where you're at. Why bet the trip kings?

No revelation to me, certainly, but watching this play gave me my adjustment to the cash game for this week. I think my recent aggressive play has earned me some respect at our cash game table, capable of moves and bluffs. Sounds like a good time to change gears and play straightforwardly!

This week we changed up the cash game and doubled the stakes - to $1/$2 blinds. I also tried to get the game started early by bribing people with free pizza. This move was only somewhat successful - we had enough to get playing by about 8:45, where I was hoping for a 7:30-7:45 start. However, we got to play deep into the night as many people were off starting their long holiday weekend, so we got in a solid 6 hours of poker.

I got a chance to try my new "all value, all the time" theory out in the first hour. I got a free look at a flop with Ace-Five from the big blind, and the board came 556, two hearts. My small blind friend lead right out into me. The tricky player might flat call, represent a draw (he might get himself in a sticky situation if the draws come in, though). I went for value- a big raise. My opponent folded, saying "eh, your flush draw is higher than mine, I'll fold". I replied "what, I couldn't have a five there?". His response was very interesting - "you had no five".

Truly, this newfound plan of mine deals with how to act when you hit a hand. Most of the time in Texas Hold-em, though - you don't flop anything, or not much of something, and so you've got to try and fight for some pots with something besides your cards. I was able to win enough small pots to stay afloat - I bobbed to about $80 above even, and then bobbed back down to just over even on the night. I went through a long string of unplayable hands like K2o and J4 - I even played one or two of these in the right situations, but nothing ever came from it.

Later in the evening, I started to get frustrated. No cards, a few small moves not working, just not getting into the correct situations. I needed some kind of kickstart, which I got with some medium cards and some ballsy play.

In the first, I followed some limpers in late position with 9To. Not much of hand, but I had played nothing for about three orbits. I hit the ten on a TKK board. I wish I had the king to try out my new value Chris Fergeson play, but it was not to be. Instead, I lead out with my pair, to see what was going on. The button behind me raised. My head said "fold" at first - he's obviously representing a king, and even if he has a ten, his kicker is most likely better than mine. (AT/QT/JT). But then I put a few more hands into his range - namely small pocket pairs, and even QJ trying for the straight draw. My stack was still big enough to make a play here - I re-raised his raise. When he didn't fall out of his chair pushing the rest of his chips into the middle, I knew I had him. He folded and I won a decent pot.

I later called a raise, this time on the button myself, and again with 9To, trying to make something happen. This time the flop came 944, and my opponent lead into me. This was a bit of a stickier situation - in a raised pot, a reraise would get me close to playing for all my chips, and of course I could be dead to lots of overpairs out there. But my opponent is one of the more aggressive players at the table, and this lead out doesn't have to mean anything more than a continuation bet. Too strong to fold and too weak to play for all my chips, I called the bet.

The turn brought an ace - a great card for him to keep the lead with, but he checked. I considered taking the lead away from him, but I still saw myself in a way-ahead/way-behind situation. He could have jacks or tens and is now wary of the ace, or he had Ax to begin with and now took the lead, waiting to checkraise me. I chose the path of playing for pot control with a small pot and checking behind.

The turn brought more bad news - a king. Lots more hands took the lead on me, and again my opponent checked. With a small hand, I chose to play a small pot, and announced "I have a 9" as I turned my cards over. He mucked in disgust - I'm not sure what he had (maybe pocket 5s/6s/7s?).

These two hands got my head back into the game, and my stack above the starting mark, when I finally hit a flop hard. We were down to 6 handed now, and I followed two limpers in late position with 6d8d. Some of the aggressive players were gone from the table now, and we were getting more cheap flops. I was rewarded with bottom two pair - a 68J flop. To boot, I got action - the big blind, KC lead out into me.

KC is a preflop slowplayer. He already buried someone tonight by limping in with kings and flopping a set (the opponent, Mr. Pietzak, had the misfortune of hitting his own smaller set on the turn). KC could have aces right now, which would be pretty good for my two pair. He could also have a set of jacks, which would be pretty bad, or a higher two pair in this limped pot. I knew he had something - though - KC isn't really the type to go firing into a multiway pot with complete garbage. I don't like playing bottom two pair slowly - lots of ways to get counterfeited, lots of straight draws available, as your cards are usually connected (or pseudo-connected). All this, plus my new "all value, all the time" style, made my course of action clear. I raised his leadout of $6 to $21.

KC didn't look like he was ready to lay it down. "I've got a big pair", he exclaimed to the table, which I knew was entirely possible based on his style. My reply was something stupid, but I'm not sure he caught it. I told him and the rest of the table "I know". I had to watch out for that jack pairing, or any card higher, as my strong hand would wither up pretty fast.

The turn brought a home run - the 8 of hearts. Now a flush was on the board, and I was floating in a big boat. I took him at his word when he said he had a big pair, so I discarded the made flush, though I hoped maybe he had the Ace of hearts and now had the nut flush draw to keep him in the hand. After he checked to me, I had a brief consideration of checking my strong hand for deception, but chased that idea out of my mind right away. Stay with the Fergeson rule - value/value/value. I needed to try and play for my entire stack with a full house, and there was no way I could get my whole stack in if I checked the turn. I bet $35 - just under half of my $80 stack - if he folded, then more power to him. To my delight, he called. He was on the hook now - I was pretty sure he wouldn't call this bet and then fold to the close to the same size bet on the river.

I was right. I still had to worry about a higher boat coming in with any Q/K/A, but it didn't come. I had the nuts except for JJ. KC checked to me and I shrugged and put the rest in, $46, like I just realized that I didn't have that much left. KC called as I expected, then mucked at my announcement "I have a full house". He noted later than he had pocket queens, and had put me on a hand like AJ the whole way.

One final hand with AK ended my winnings for the night. Tony raised it up, Mr. Pietzak called, as did I, from the big blind, with big slick. I hit my Ace on the flop, along with a ten and a four. For the first time tonight, I strayed away from the value/value/value game and went for the checkraise, since Tony fires on most flops. He did not disappoint me and made a sizeable bet, but then Mr. Pietzak surprised me and smooth called himself. Mr. Pietzak loves to play ace-rag, and plays them very well. There was no real straight out there but there was two spades, so I needed to try and end things here. I brought out the bazooka and checkraised to something like $32. Tony folded, but Mr. Pietzak considered his options and then smooth called again! I didn't like my top pair/top kicker as much now.

The turn brought a jack. I had to act first, out of position with a decent but certainly vulnerable hand. And now there were gutshot straight draws to protect against (I had one myself if a queen came in). A check here keeps the pot under control but opens oneself up to all kinds of bluffs. I decided to fire big one more time. Mr. Pietzak thought a long time and then folded, saying "I hated that jack", then turned his cards face up - Ace-Four! He had folded two pair, the better hand. We rabbit hunted the river, which actually had brought my straight with a queen, so his fold ended up being very good for him. I was impressed, though - even though the fold was not technically correct, he sensed enough danger and avoided a nasty situation. Most players would play an A4 two pair for their stack, even on a board that end up A4TJQ. What exactly are they beating now? A2/A3, and A6-A9. That's it.

In the last orbit, I made one unusual play (for me) that ended up not working out in the short run, but may help in future visits. I played QJ in a limped pot and got a nice draw with 9T and two diamonds. Mr. Pietzak lead out the betting and I flat called, seeing if my straight might come in. We both checked the turn, giving me a free shot at my straight. It did not come, but a diamond on the river brought in a flush draw. Mr. Pietzak bet the river - fairly small again, and it was my feeling that he didn't have the flush. I decided that my betting line looked very much like a flush, though, so I raised the river bet to $18. Mr Pietzak thought a bit, then exclaimed "well, I got my wish for a small pot, so I'll call you", and turned over two pair - 9T. Drat! I think he folds a single pair there, but he played his hand perfectly, keeping the pot small enough to avoid being blown off the hand on a bluff. As I mentioned, I think raising the river on a bluff, even though I got called, might bring some dividends later.

That last loss knocked me down a bit, but I ended up with a $210 profit on the night. I think I lost only 2 or 3 showdowns, and won plenty of pots without showing down. I didn't hit many big hands, but got maximum value from the one or two I did hit. A strong, strong night for me.

1 comment:

diverjoules said...

Sounds like a really god night for you. CONGRATS!!!