Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wheeling Trip Report, Part 1.

Tony and I take the three hour drive to Wheeling Island Casino and arrive around 3pm Thursday. The casino is already hopping with the weekend traffic.

I like to go into a poker game with a plan. My plan this weekend is to buy in reasonably short for the 1-2 table - $120, or 60 big blinds. I know I will be nervous due to my inexperience in the cardroom, and want to mitigate my mistakes by buying in a bit shorter. 60 blinds is also the depth I start at in our Thursday home game, so there's a comfort level there.

The second part of my plan is to play tight-aggressive, ABC poker - especially against those that I identify as bad players. My home game doesn't have any bad players anymore - I'm usually against 5-7 solid players, and winning money is often a chore. In this game, I will raise my good hands, bet the flop when I hit. I will try a few limps in position and hope for monsters. I will setmine. No need to get tricky - I have more experience than the average player, and I need simply execute and I should win money, at least in the long run.

My nervousness manifests itself immediately. I post the big blind in middle position, and then fold 9-5o when it comes around to me! Whoopsie. The dealer says "ooo, honey, you could have played that one for free". I attempt damage control with a reply "those cards weren't worth a play, even for free". I hope the table is watching and thinks it's the first time I've played poker, perhaps I've earned some "donkey equity" or something.

In the first orbit, I fold A8 and A9o. A8 would have flopped 2 pair - that's ok, I tell myself. That's the right long term play.

My first win is limping with a suited king on the button - King-Eight of diamonds. Not a stellar hand, but I am confident enough in my own game now that I won't end up with all my chips in the middle if a king flops and nothing else. "You don't play K8s for top pair", I remind myself as the dealer shows the flop - which is a king, a three, and an eight! Two pair looks good on this board. The blind leads out "to find out where he's at", and I tell him with a raise. He folds. Could I have won another bet with a smooth call? Possibly. But this wasn't part of my ABC plan. I most probably have the best hand, and I'm going to put money in the pot. If he's got ace-king or king-queen and wants to come along, great.

A hit a bit of frustration with pocket queens. I raise them up to $15 (with a live straddle on the table) and get a caller. The caller is a gray-hair, "cadgy codger" type. Plays solid cards, a bit conservatively. The board comes king high and I continuation bet 15 more. He calls. There is now a 100% chance that he has a king. I give up on the turn and he bets 30, and I fold. He shows the king. "Yup, I was pretty sure", I reply, and return the favor by flashing the pocket queens to the table. I want them knowing I'm playing normal cards in a normal way at this point - this can help me loosen up later.

You don't play solid all the time, every time. Your "rules" can get you in trouble. I called a raise with A7 on the button. Ace-rag is a hand that gets you in trouble, but as I said before, I'm not going to go broke on top pair. Of course, the ace comes on an ace-three-three board. I call the leadout bet of $10, from a young player. (note to self, "why not raise here?"). I call another bet of $15 on the turn, which is an 8. Yup, I'm putting a bunch of money in the pot with one pair (although the threes on the board increase the likelihood of a chop - if another high card comes - it will counterfeit many kickers). The river is another eight, so the board is A3388. The bet is now $50, and that's just way too expensive for three pair. I fold, and the player can't help but show his quad eights. Great, I let him get there by call/call/calling, when a flop raise would have potentially won me a fold. Donkalicious play by me.

Fortunately, I don't play all my ace-rag hands this badly. I check my cards in the big blind and find ace-ten. Too weak for me to raise up at this point - the poor players will call anyway. I check my option, and we see a AKQ flop. This is the true "find out where you're at" type-hand, so I lead out on the broadway board and get one caller. He's a blue-collar guy who has limped into just about every pot, so his range is just about any two. I decide to check a blank turn, and then bet small on a blank river. He calls the small bet, with king-three. Nice. Also nice that I didn't get wacked by a nutty two pair.

Another button play - I call a raise with QJs. Again, more trouble, but I'm not playing for top pair, I treat QJs more like suited connectors. The board comes A24 and the raiser, another tight older gentleman in a cowboy hat, checks! I think I know exactly what he has here - a pocket pair below the aces (JJ/QQ/KK), or maybe KQ. That's about all his raising range. I shoot out a bet with nothing, but he calls. This tight guy didn't open raise with anything that hit this board hard (A2, A4, 35), except for maybe pocket aces that he now decided to slowplay. I think there's a chance I could move him off this hand, but I basically chicken out after the flop. On the river, he says "an ace is good" and shows down pocket kings. Damn. A lost opportunity.

I'm down quite a bit for the session when I get king-queen. I have been a bit aggressive lately so I decide to limp along with this one, and I hit the board hard with KQx. A solid player bets and I decide to smooth call this time, with no huge draws on the board. The turn is gin - King for the nuts, and the villain bets again, clearly for value. He's got a king too, nice. I smooth call one more time, then raise his river bet slightly, hoping for a shove from AK. He calls with KJ, and I nearly double up.

The killer hand of the night for me - a solid, friendly player to my right raises to $7. I feel like his range is pretty wide, so I re-raise to 20 with AQs. I would like to play him heads up, in position. Before I can execute my plan, though, a red-faced fellow cold-calls my $20 from the blind, and so the friendly guy calls too, now with some odds. The board comes QJx, and the red-faced guy announces all-in, for $32.
Friendly guy calls the all-in, and it's now to me. Top pair/top kicker, with nearly 4-1 odds? Ok, I call.

I like the turn a lot - an ace, giving me top two. Friendly guy checks, and I start counting out chips.
Friendly guy warns "let's not get crazy now, I like my hand a lot". It's not a threat, really, it's a friendly warning. Earlier in the evening, he made a decent sized river bet, and a bad player was contemplating calling. Friendly guy says "if you have to think this hard, I warn you that you should fold, I have you beat". I checked out the board again - there was a broadway straight out there, and I knew what he was saying - "I can't beat that straight, but I can beat just about everything else". Bad player ignored Friendly guy and called with two pair, and lost to a set of jacks. Friendly guy appears to tell the truth.

Remembering that hand, I thought I might be up against a set of jacks here, so I decided to check as well.

The river bricked, and
Friendly guy checked. I felt like he would bet the set, and probably wouldn't call with anything worse than top two, so I checked into the empty side pot as well, expecting to drag an already sizable pot. It was not to be, though- bad cold-caller was in the pot with king-ten. The flop gave him an eight out straight draw, and he decided this was enough to go on. The ace on the turn gave him the win, and whacked a giant chunk out of my stack.

It was 10:30pm, and I counted my stack. I was up one dollar. Delightful.

By 11pm, three guys sat down at our table that knew each other and played in the same home game. They didn't strike me as particularly good. One called a clear river value bet on a four flush board with the jack of that suit, and looked somewhat surprised to see the ace.

I tried a rare blind steal from the button with a hand I already had success with - K8s. Both blinds called, and then checked. I had whiffed but fired out $16 anyway. One guy called. The turn didn't help me, but remembering how I had given up against the old guy with kings, I double barrelled thirty into the pot. Home game guy moved in on me, and I had to bail. I also had to top up my stack another $80, as I wasn't gaining much ground.

I think my luck is about to change when I get my first pair of aces, but I bet and get one caller, and he folds to my flop bet, so I win very little. Damn.

I bleed a bit more off on some nowhere hands - once is a straddle limp with 88 (raising seems wrong because of so many cold callers). I give up on the AKQ flop. Once I raise up KJs to $10 (five times the blind) and get 4 callers, the winner of that hand is the home game guy who wins the pot with 35s and a flush. Oy.

It's 12:30 and I've got $30 in my stack, and I'm not planning on reloading again tonight. I find KQ and raise to 12, committing myself on purpose. Someone calls, and then the blind re-raises to $55. I call. The cold-caller thinks for a bit and says "I'll sit this one out", and flashes king-queen also. Uh-oh. Re-raiser's got the aces, I've lost two of my outs, and my night is over.

Discouraging, yes - but overall I played ok, I think. I lost my biggest amounts on aggressive play with good hands, or attempts to buy pots without cards. That won't work every time.

Net for the session (and the trip) - minus $200


bastinptc said...

Here's hoping for a better Part 2.

Memphis MOJO said...

I return the favor by flashing the pocket queens

Good move in this situation. I love it when people say 'I never show.' What's that all about? (I am skeptical when any poker player uses the word 'never.') They are just repeating something they've heard without giving it any thought.

"donkey equity" haha funny

Nice report. I'll bet a lot that part 2 is much better! You're way better than your competition.

bastinptc said...

Matt, although your connection to PA is limited these days, have you given any thought to coming out to LV for the March meet-up?