Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wheeling Trip Report, Part 2 - curse the bad players, love the bad players!

Day 2 of our poker road trip starts around 11 am. Tony and I both lost last night, so we saw no reason to wake up with the chickens and start playing the regulars at 7am. Instead, we slept in, ate a decent breakfast, and got fully woken up for a day of poker.

Tony and I get seated at the same table - he is two to my left. First hand after I sit down, I open raise in middle position with ace-queen offsuit. Two players call the bet. I hit my queen on the flop as top pair, make a 2/3 pot, and get two folds. Simple game when it works like this. It rarely worked like this yesterday, so an early, simple top pair win boosts my confidence and comfort level immediately.

An orbit later, I raise up KQo in early position and get a caller from the blind. After hitting my king, the blind leads out, and I raise him. He folds. Another easy win.

Pocket jacks - I raise to 10. Three callers this time. On a board of 267, I lead out with a pot size bet - $30. Nobody is interested, and my third pot win in two orbit makes things seem so much easier than they were yesterday. No overcards to my pairs, no resistance, no hidden sets coming at me. Yet.

I'm feeling powerful now, so I raise up two limpers on the button with JQs. Both of these players have been limping into way too many pots - this is basically an attempt to steal, so my mediocre hand doesn't matter much. I miss the flop, and bet $20 into a $36 pot. Both players call. Okay, then, one or both of these guys like their hand. Nobody puts their money in the pot on the turn and river, so we get to showdown. Bad player #1 shows Ace-eight. He had ace high, and had called a $12 raise and an $18 c-bet to get to here. Bad player #2 shows deuce-four suited, and had bottom pair. This was better than anything I had, so I mucked without having to show.

Nothing fundamentally wrong with my play here - a nice, aggressive move in position to win some money. But I obviously did it against the wrong players. If guys are going to call preflop raises with A8 and 24, and then call a big flop bet with ace-high or bottom pair, then they are calling stations, and you don't bluff them. This was not part of my ABC plan for the bad players, and it cost me $30 to find out. It also told the observant players at the table that I'm capable of firing a big bet onto a flop that can't beat bottom pair. Way to trash my image.

After the hand, I hear bad player #2 mention to bad player #1 that he feels like he often has more luck playing small cards than big ones. Good luck with that, buddy, because from now on, if you're in a pot with me, your small cards will be against my big ones.

Soon after, bad player #2 limps into another pot, and once again I isolate - this time with ace-jack. I hit my top pair on an ace-six-seven board, and bet the pot. He calls. The turn pairs the six and he checks. I check my pair behind for pot control. On the river, he comes out firing, and my check might have induced bluffs from plenty of weaker hands, so I call. Bad player reveals "I have a six" and shows six-three-off. Great-Googly-Moogly. I can't contain my astonishment - I call out "Six-three?" I am shocked at his ability to play 6-3o against a raise, but I am not tilted. In fact, I nearly break a sprint across the cardroom to reload my chips - this guy just took a big pot from me, and I plan on getting those chips back.

When I get back, Tony silently tells me "calm down". He thinks I look tilted, but I am not. Just determined. I continue to fold the proper garbage and raise with the good cards.

Many times, you don't get a chance to get revenge on a bad player who takes you for a ride, but I got lucky this day. Pocket kings in the hole, and 6-3 has already limped into the pot. I raise to $15 this time, he calls. No ace on the board, I bet pot again. He calls. The turn is a jack - he checks and I move in. He thinks quite a bit, then decides to call. He has ace-jack and just hit top pair, and I win my chips back and then some. He tells me he figures I might have been on a draw and maybe his top pair was good enough.

Helpful hint, buddy - if I know that you're willing to call pot size bets with bottom pair, and now with ace-friggin-high, why would I bloat up the pot with nothing but a draw?

15 minutes later - I limp along with the other limpers with 78 in late position and catch two pair on the flop. I bet it out, and Mr. 6-3o comes along for the ride again. A fantastic 8 hits the turn, floating my boat, and I turn up the bet-o-meter again, until he's all in by the river, with two pair (counting the two eights on the board, of course). He decides it's time for lunch and leaves the table.

This player is replaced by a much better player. He has just been moved from a table that's breaking up, so he comes fully loaded with a $600 stack. My stack is up around $250 now, so I plan on avoiding huge confrontations with this player if I can. As I mentioned earlier, I'm don't have much experience in deep stack poker - I know the basic concepts, but my lack of playing time would surely lead to some mistakes. Potentially big mistakes.

Things look like they might get testy early. I limp in early position with pocket threes and get a cheap flop. I hit my set but the board is not ideal - 3 4 6. The solid player leads out for $13, and I immediately reraise to $30. I am thinking I will fold if he moves in or raises to $100, but he ends up folding while telling me "your set is good". He says he had pocket fives, for an open ended straight draw, but my raise made it too expensive to chase. Sooooo glad I didn't smooth call with my set there.

Tony is still at my table and isn't faring any better than yesterday. He has been put into two impossible situations with two pair and calling river bets with both, only to be wrong and behind both times. We get involved in our only encounter of the weekend - I limp on the button with king-nine. By the turn, the board is 7-8-T-J, so my nine has hit a straight. Tony checkraises me, so I'm worried about queen-nine for a higher straight, but I call the checkraise anyway, with position, and a redraw to a king high straight if a queen hits.

Tony bets out again on a harmless river, but it's a callable bet with a straight on a non-flush board, so I look him up. He asks "you got the nine?". I'm about to answer "yeah, I suppose you have it too", but when I say "yeah...." he looks up to the sky and mucks, with another brutal two pair decision.

Sometime later, I get my first pocket aces of the day. A nicely-dressed gentleman with a pony tail has limped into this pot (and tons of other pots too), so I raise it up to $1. He calls. The board is the super-scary TdKdTh. I don't mess around and I bet $30. He calls and the pot is officially big, and I'm officially shitting my pants. The turn is a 3 - he checks and so do I. The river pairs the three, and he checks again. No flushes, no straights, I'm good unless he's slowplaying trips or a boat. I decide to find out and bet $32, planning to fold to a reraise, but he folds, showing JdQd. Woah! He had an open-ended straight flush draw (although I had one of his keystone cards, the ace of diamonds). I'm surprised he didn't reraise or shove on this board - I would have had an awful decision. Fortunately, he played it meekly and waited to hit before deciding what to do.

As I am taking notes on this AA hand in my notebook, I have to stop and check my hole cards for the next hand. Pocket aces again, twice in a row! I quickly stuff my notebook away and raise it up one more time, to the identical $13, and once again ponytail call cold-calls. The board is much less scary this time, and once again I get maximum value on a pot size flop bet. On the turn, I check out his stack, which is $42, and exclaim "I'll put you all in", to which he throws his cards into the muck like there are fire ants crawling on them.

My favorite hand of the weekend - I call a tiny $5 raise with Ah4h in the small blind. The raiser - the good, deep-stacked player that replaced the 6-3o guy that I stacked earlier, has used this small raise several times before, and had to show down a couple times. Once, he showed pocket eights - which lead me to believe that this bet is a
"pot pumper" raise, designed to build the pot up preflop so that, if he hits his high-implied-odds type hand later, the postflop bets and final pot size will be bigger. With Ah4h, I have a high-implied-odds hand of my own, so his small raise serves my purposes beautifully.

I am rewarded with a legitimate flush draw and two hearts on the flop, on a rather disconnected board. I check-call a normal flop bet. We both check the turn - a non-heart. I am of course singing the mantra "heart
heartheartheart" as the river card is dealt, but nobody is apparently listening. We see a black king.

My first inclination is to give up the hand, but then I remember that my opponent is a good, thinking player. Hey, you can bluff guys who are paying attention! I decide to pretend like the king hit me, and dial up a number to value bet. I count out 4 red chips, and at the last second I add one white one, and announce "$21" as I spread the chips over the line. My opponent exhales. "Oh, man, you've got a king, huh?. Damn. Because, you, know, I have a king, too. My kicker is garbage, though. Twenty-one? You had to get that extra dollar in there, didn't you?" I am inwardly beaming with pride that the number I chose for my bet has had the exact, intended effect.

He contemplates a few more seconds. "Will you show if I fold?" he asks. The classic give-up. I promise him that I will indeed show. He folds, turning over king-deuce-of hearts. We were shooting for the same flush, and he might have lost a rather large chunk of money had the fourth diamond come!

I show my busted flush draw as well. He studies my hand and board and realizes what I've done, and then pays me a compliment. "Wow, nice hand, sir - I didn't think you had it in you. Very nice." He seems sincere.

I play for one more hour, but no cards come for me. We break for dinner.

Session total - +254 dollars
Trip total - +54 dollars


Memphis MOJO said...

Nice job.

Forrest Gump said...

Well done Matt.

Just one thing, against a 'good thinking player' this is a common bet sizing tell.

$21 usually indicates weakness, $19 usually indicates strength.

One other little thing, odd sizings sometimes frustrate weak/loose players and they're a little more inclined to muck rather than cut out the chips. So a bet of $18 or $23 is a good size for those players i find.

My first inclination is to give up the hand, but then I remember that my opponent is a good, thinking player. Hey, you can bluff guys who are paying attention! I decide to pretend like the king hit me, and dial up a number to value bet. I count out 4 red chips, and at the last second I add one white one, and announce "$21" as I spread the chips over the line.


matt tag said...

thanks for the advice, I will try these adjustments in the future.

Memphis MOJO said...

but he ends up folding while telling me "your set is good".

Remember some players say never show. It's ok to show once in a while if you aren't giving an info that they can't (usually) figure out for themselves.

But it's not good to say what this guy said. You already pegged him for a good player, but his comment just proved it, in case there was any doubt. Players give away info by talking too much, imo.