Friday, August 20, 2010

In my mind's eye

Pocket Kings for me. Raise it up. Call by a bad player - the worst player perhaps in the history of recording the quality of poker players. Flop Jack-rag-rag. He checks.

I ask "How much do you have over there"?
He replies "About 80 bucks"
I come back "I bet eighty five dollars"
"I'll call", he declares, defiant.

He shows jack-ten, top pair, meh kicker. It's not so much that he doesn't know he's beat - he probably does, but he puts his whole stack in hoping to hit his 5 outer and victoriously crack the overpair. This time, his hopes are dashed and he does not improve. I add about $88 to my stack early.

That's how kings should win you pots. Sadly, I inserted myself into the story above as the hero. This exact hand happened at our table, but I was not involved. The bad player had his 5-out dreams dashed and pushed his entire stack over to someone else at the table. I had pocket kings twice in the same night, and their outcome went a bit differently:

We've just sat down with the first five players to arrive to the Thursday game - A double stakes $1-$2 extravaganza, featuring pizza and an earlier start. I don't have to work tomorrow, and we can play until the cows come home. Life is good.

I'm under the gun, and the poker gods smile on me with two red Kings. Life is good and has suddenly improved even more. I think in my mind "$3", but once again we're playing double stakes. That's not the right number. "Six", I croak out, trying not to think about the absolute size of that number (and the subsequent size of pots that will be generated), and just focus on the number of blinds.

One caller, from the blinds. MH, a new coworker of mine. I've played with him only once before - last week. I know he has studied the game, and seems decent. He at least knows more than some of the players at our table (like the value of position, for example). I didn't see anything too crazy from him last week, except for maybe some garbage hands played on the button.

MH leads into the board with a pot sized bet. It's a seven-six-three board, all black but not monotone. I've got an overpair. It seems odd for this player to donk into an under-the-gun raiser, but I figure he hit the seven and he's chasing away ace-king. There is a lone straight on the board, 5-6, and I don't think this player plays 5-6 from the blinds. He could also have a smaller overpair like pocket eights or nines. Always the flopped sets you have to be wary of. I decide that I'm probably ahead, and if so then I'm way ahead. If I'm behind, then I'm way behind. No need to bet yet and chase away smaller pairs. I call.

The turn is a jack. MH gives a pause, and then fires out another pot sized bet. Pot sized? What the hell? I'm not sure he liked that jack, but he's blasting away again, anyway. Now I seem to be in a pickle. If I raise it up, I'm playing for my stack with a pair. If I fold, there are about a million ways I'm folding the best hand. His bet size has confused me, and when players are confused, they usually call. I'm no exception here. I call.

The river pairs the jack. MH doesn't think much this time. He bets $65, about half pot. Hoo boy. That smells like a value bet to me. It's almost all of his stack - he didn't buy in for 100 blinds. He has left himself no room to fold. This could be a mistake on his part, but I'm leaning towards no. He likes his hand and he wants to get paid. That means he either flopped a set (now boat), or he called a raise with 5-6 and flopped a miracle. I consider the idea that he's value betting with pocket tens, but I also know that he is at least giving some thought to what I have, and this player is smart enough to know that his tens are no good by now. The only way I can have him considering that his tens are NOT good is if he thinks I'm chasing a flush with AK/AQ. I suppose my hand looks that way.

A GodAwful spot. What to do, what to do? In the end, I give him credit and fold an overpair. And life is now less good than it was a few minutes before.

MH goes on to win 4 of the next five pots as well, with pot size bets and aggression. Now I hate life more. He's either on a heater, or more likely, he's decided to come out of this game blasting away like Rambo, and I just folded the best hand.

If you ever want to bring out the weak-tight in me, just push me off a pretty good hand. Stewing over this hand causes me to make a mistake on another hand soon after - an Ace-Queen flush draw + overcards that I should have pushed to the hilt. And I didn't. I called a flop bet in a multiway pot, then faced a raise from a shorter stack that committed himself to the pot. Even then, I probably should have pushed all-in and gamboooled with him (maybe running the turn and river a couple times to reduce our variance), but I just folded again, figuring I had no fold equity - in a hand where I probably had enough regular equity to play a big pot.

Life was pretty good an hour ago, now it sucks syphilitic ass. I've been (possibly) pushed off an overpair and I've pussied out a big draw. Time to regroup.

Fast forward a few hours. I've had my run and I'm about 50 blinds ahead now. Top set turns a boat but the villain doesn't like the board pairing, he bails. I still win a decent pot. KQ value bets the flop, turn, and river against the awful player, all the way down. The turn and river are both aces - thank GOD - he had two pair K8 the whole time and slowplayed it, but the running aces counterfeited him. He didn't even understand why he lost the pot, God love'em, and had to be shown how we both had 2 pair Aces over Kings, but my queen kicker beat his eight kicker. He was not happy at all, and would drop his last twenty bucks a couple hands later.

Red pocket kings come again. PC raises up some limpers. PC seems extra-aggro preflop tonight - limper punishing, 3 betting with pocket nines and weak aces - playing solid LAG poker. I'm impressed, and irritated - because PC simply isn't that good. I'm not sure where it's coming from. Maybe he thinks Ace-ten is worth a three bet.

Anyway, I've got the kings and I pound the pot again, but not too big. He made it $15 - I make it $18 more. I want him in the pot. He comes along.

The board is all low cards with two spades. and PC bets $10 into a $64 pot. I am not impressed by this bet size, and would like the pot a bit bigger, so I raise it up $50 more. PC calls. Uh-oh.

Sure as shit, the third spade comes, and PC shoves all in before the card hits the table.

I believe that "FUCK FUCK FUCK" is my reaction. I disgustedly toss my kings face up into the muck, cracked again.

My mood sours. The good players at the table of course see this and start playing back at me. Wiley calls my preflop raise with 69s (from the blinds), hits a six, and takes down my unimproved ace-jack. He also makes a move on my two pair from the blinds after the turn brings a flush and the river pairs the low card on the board. I fail to make the call, and he scoops up a pot with a probable bluff. Players are calling all my raises thinking that my steam will either cause me to shove some weak draw (unlikely) or play too fit-or-fold poker waiting for some hand to hold up (very likely). My mindset is shot.

People start to leave soon after. I make a bit back after Tony raises up a pot to $11, which smells like medium pair to me, and I've got ace-king suited. I make it $35 more. I'm ready to get all in and gamble it up, but I don't think Tony's going to come along, unless (maybe) he's got pocket jacks. He declines and folds.

That's the last hand of consequence I raise up. Stealing is worthless now because everyone wants to play pots with me, and my cards aren't good enough to get into a pot with.

My final tally on the night is not the end of the world - I end up down 33 big blinds. No big deal in the grand scheme, I didn't even tap out of my first buy-in or reload. I'm not even sure I played poorly overall - a couple hands here and there. Maybe I'm getting pushed around even more than I know, but going broke on the first hand of the night with one pair against a solid player doesn't feel like sound poker. Winning one of the pocket kings hands puts me in the black, so as usual, one hand swings the pendulum one way or the other in a hundred hand sit-down.


MorningThunder said...

Nice post.

Interested to know on the second KK hand why you did not just shove? Did you think he had a set? If you put him on a flush draw, why not stop it there? Or is he one of those players that call flush draws no matter the cost? Considering how you were running, take the $75 bucks.

matt tag said...

I didn't put him on a flush draw until AFTER I raised his ass $50 and he called it.

He's the type to made piss-ant bets every hand, every street. It infuriates me when he bets $3 into a $21 pot and 3 people fold. He bet $10 into $60. I raised it up, he called. That's when I knew he had a spade draw.