Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wheeling Trip Report, Part 3 - big hands, big pots

During dinner, Tony and I decide that this evening session will be our last, and we will drive home around 11 pm. Tony will either lose the rest of his bankroll for the trip, or he will make some money and want to leave on winning note.

We get seated at different tables this time. I am in seat 1, next to the dealer. I don't enjoy this seat because I can't see the action on the other side of the table. I decide to come to the table with a couple more bucks - $140 this time. It's a good thing that I do. I start my night be calling reasonable preflop raises with pocket threes and pocket nines, neither of which set up or are playable post-flop because of scary boards.

In the third orbit of the night, someone raises up a straddled board to $17, and I again look down on pocket nines. "Ugh", I think to myself, "is this the session where I fritter away my chips trying to hit sets all night", but there's already a caller and I decide to give it one more try. I call.

Thank God I do call, because I would have kicked myself back to Cleveland had I folded. The flop is a stunning 9-7-7, and I have boated up. I check and pray the preflop raiser or the other caller has pocket aces. Both players check behind.

Fourth street is even more improbable - the case nine hits - giving me quad nines. Now I'm praying for something different - I hope someone has pocket sevens, as quads over quads will qualify us for the bad beat jackpot. A board of 9-9-7-7 is a good board to fire a "bluff" into with ace high, but I check again. We get to the river, and the pot isn't very big yet.

I don't even remember the river card - it doesn't matter much when you're holding the stone cold nuts. The first better checks, and I decide to bet out a weak $12 into a $52 pot, hoping I look scared with ace high. My plan works as someone raises me $30 more. I take a long time to consider whether to minraise again, or maybe shove, and conclude that nobody can really call me anyway unless they have pocket sevens, so I push all-in. My opponent, a very good player, tosses his cards away saying "well, I found out that you have the nine, I only have the seven", and chucks his cards away. "Actually, I was hoping you had pocket sevens", I reply, and reveal my quads. This player shakes his head - he is a casino regular and is always aware of the bad beat jackpot, and realizes we were one card away from a nice extra payday (the jackpot was "only" 23,000 at the time, but I wasn't going to complain).

My big hands continued. Pocket Jacks got a caller, but then I folded to a huge raise of my c-bet, with a king on the board. The raiser didn't show but claimed he had hit a set with pocket eights. It doesn't matter if he had the set or not - I don't usually need to call large bets on a "50-50" read. There are plenty of other spots to make money without guessing.

My stack is about where it started when I limp in the cutoff with 45s. I am rewarded with a flush draw and a slowly building pot, and actually hit the flush on the river, but get some bad news when one of the blinds turns over a higher flush. This one hurts, but it's part of the game. I reload another $100 to keep my stack up.

Soon after the reload, pocket aces arrive, and I raise em up. The board is Ten-Eight-Four rainbow. I c-bet $25 and a decent player takes a long time to think over his options. Then he eyes my stack.
Then he eyes my stack again. Finally he settles on a $50 raise - to $75, which is a bet I cannot call. I either have to shove or fold.

This is a real nasty decision.
There are few draws on the board (79 and J9 for straights), so there's little chance that this is a semibluff. My cards have caused me to splash around at this table quite a bit, so my image is pretty aggressive. He could have jacks or queens here, or even JT, and has just decided that I am c-betting a whiffed flop with AK/AQ, and he's going to put me to the test. In the end, I choose to fold my aces, but I'm not happy about doing so. I think there's a chance I folded the best hand.

When looking at this hand using stack-to-pot ratio concepts, I made a clear error. I had about 120 bucks preflop, and my raise to $12 made the pot about $26. My SPR was 4.15 - the perfect number to commit with an overpair. Sets are always possible, but a player holding an set with an SPR of 4 has already made a mistake - he did not have the necessary implied odds before making his preflop call to call for set value. Had I been running SPR through my head, I would have checked the SPR, and have gladly got all my chips in the middle on the flop, beaten or not - knowing it was a +EV play to do so. Of my entire weekend, I am most angry about my play of this hand.

I got tangled with this same player soon after - I open raised with JcQc, and he defended from the blinds. Once again the board was all low, and two clubs gave me a strong draw with overcards and 9 outs to the flush. The strong player leads into me for $15, and this time it's my turn to go all in on him. He considers his options and then folds, flashing a 6 for a pair. He was temporarily ahead, but I was actually a tiny favorite in this hand, so my semi-bluff all-in was actually a value bet with a slight edge.

Since my table was more aggressive (and more talented) than the usual $1-$2 table, I decided to try a limp with pocket aces when I got them an orbit later. (told you I was getting big hands). The good, loose-aggressive player to my left decided to fold this time, and then the limp-fest continued along, so I got to play pocket aces in a limped pot with 5 players. Botched again.

I took the lead in betting on an 889 board, and someone called me to the river, which brought another 9, so the final board was 8899x, and he lead into me with a $35 bet, and I knew my aces had been cracked again. This time, I allowed them to be cracked, though. I'm not as angry about this hand as the prior one because I made a specific attempt at a play hoping for a preflop steal raise, and it didn't come. That's not a mistake as much as it is a play that just didn't go according to plan.

I only have $80 left, and I'm not planning on reloading again, so if I can't win a pot or two soon here, my night will be over early. Fortunately, the hits keep coming. I get JJ in late position and raise to $15. As someone calls, this time I am thinking more clearly about my stack sizes - I will easily commit all-in if the jacks stay an overpair, or of course if I hit a set.

I get the good news and bad news - I hit a set of jacks, but the board is all hearts - Ace-Jack-x. My opponent checks and I push all in. He thinks for a few minutes and decides to call with a black ace-queen, and I double up. The aggressive friend to my left is lamenting that he folded two small hearts. That's what my preflop raise is supposed to do - fold out weak hands that occasionally hit powerhouse flushes and straights.

A third pair of nines - this time under the gun. I limp, and we actually get an 8 way, family pot. I hit a set yet again, and bet out. One player minraises me, and I put him all in. He calls with the nut heart flush draw. He hits the seven of hearts on the turn, then I hit the seven of spades on the river to boat up and knock him out. He storms away to reload, and I can barely keep my head on straight with all the crazy action flying around this table.

There's still more to come. I raise up a straddle and a limper to $18 with pocket kings, and get a single call from an older man. This guy isn't the typical "cagey codger" type - he preflop range has appeared to be pretty tight, but I have seen him make some pretty wild bets post-flop. I pretty much stop thinking about this range, though, when the flop comes King-King-Queen. Yes, I have flopped quad-freaking-kings, for my second quads hand in 4 hours. Unbelievable.

I'm sitting around wondering how I might get paid off here, when my opponent leads into me for $25. Fine, I'll take your free money, as I'm holding the immortal, no-doubt-about-it nuts. I call.

Before we see the turn card, I once again consider what he might be holding. Many players often lead out into a paired flop when they hold the other card to see where they are at. In this case, if my opponent were doing so, he would be doing so with a queen. Since he's a tight preflop player, I start thinking about hands in his range with a queen. AQ, KQ, certainly, but the the obvious thought enters my mind - pocket queens. If he's got pocket queens, then are we about to hit the bad beat jackpot? Sadly, I don't think we are. I think this casino has the minimum losing had as aces-full-of-jacks, so we would be just under the necessary required hand. I can always hope for the case queen to appear on the turn...

It doesn't come. We check the turn, and I make a callable value bet on the river, which the older guys pays off. I get to show down my quad-freaking-kings, and the table collectively shakes their heads again. I am now the table luckbox.

My head is spinning so much on the hand after the quad-freaking-kings, that I fail to notice that it's my action - not once but twice. Preflop, I fail to notice it's my turn to act, then decide to limp along with jack-ten offsuit. Then, a few seconds later, I am looking down, playing with my chips, when I realize that everything is quiet around me, and the dealer is looking at me waiting to act after an opening flop bet. I had not even remembered that I was in a hand! I fold meekly and apologize to the table for being so distracted.

I knock the old guy out of the game a bit later. I raise up pocket queens and he calls in position. The board comes ace-two-four and I lead out to show strength. Old-guy reraises me all-in. I figure he most obviously has an ace, but some of his earlier wild postflop play makes me think there's a chance that this is a move. Anyway, his stack was small enough that a call was fine, even with an ace on the board. He declines to flip his cards over as the rest of the board is dealt, but turns away from the table shaking his head as I flip over the ladies.

Two more smaller hands complete my night. My stack is around $400 now, so I'm playing with a wider range. I limp in position with ace-nine, then raise up a weak player who leads out on an Ace-Queen-Ten board. When he calls, I figure I'm behind, but he checks both the turn and river, and I get two free cards to beat his two-pair queen-ten. I fail to do so, so I lose a medium pot, but I love the way I played it - calling three bets would have been more expensive than raising one, and left me much more sure of where I stood.

I also played 7d8d and hit my flush on the river, and again won a medium pot when a solid but aggressive player paid me off with a set of tens.

As promised, Tony and both got up from our tables at 10:30pm, had a drink to cool off from the poker high, then drove home.
Tony's miserable trip continued into the third session - he was not in much of a mood to hear my tales of quad nines and quad-freaking-kings, and I don't blame him one bit. We discussed his game - we came to the conclusion that he needs to play with a deeper stack than I do, as his postflop skills are more advanced than mine, and he needs room to maneuver in tricky spots. He was also simply unlucky this trip - making good-but-behind two pair hands and getting put in impossible decisions, where folding and calling had a 50% chance of being right or wrong. In the end, sample size and variance are a bitch, and you can't take the results of one poker weekend as a sign of how bad you're playing. I also reminded him that he lost a huge pot in the first session with a set of queens that was behind a set of aces, where he held a hand that was clearly too strong to fold - those are the types of hands where losing a ton of money is the correct play. What can you do in those cases?

I am pleased with my play. I suppose it's not too difficult to win a few bucks with some of the huge hands I had, so I'm not using a weekend as a sign of great skill. But I'm definitely better than the limp-with-everything, call-with-any piece guys out there, and I should have no trouble extracting their money over the long haul.

I also need to work on my emotions during and after huge hands, and when I first sit down.

Total for the third session - plus 133 dollars
Total for the Wheeling trip - plus 187 dollars


Memphis MOJO said...

Good write-up. Nice going.

bastinptc said...

Well done Matt. I situations where I feel emotions are getting the best of me, I wait until the button and then take a walk for a round. That seems to help me refocus.

Forrest Gump said...

Yeah, lots of detail. How do you keep notes during the session?

What was your position with the AA hand you laid down?


matt tag said...

middle position, called by the button.

I bring a little memo pad and pen that I can stuff in my left pocket. My notes look like this:

AA 1 limper to $12, btn call. 2 8 T r, me $25, him $75, me fold.

diverjoules said...

Great recaps Matt. Good job. What did you think about the casino vs Mteer?