Friday, September 3, 2010

Money out the Yin Yang - part 1.

I bought these two poker card protectors as a set a few months ago. (got 'em on eBay here if you're interested). Whenever I'm getting ready to play a cash game, I stick them both in my pocket. Sometimes I start out with one or the other based on a feeling, sometimes I cut the deck of cards and pick red or black based on the color of the card showing. Last night I went with black, for no real reason.

The first 2 hours of the .50/$1 Thursday night cash game were a major snoozefest for me. I did have pocket kings early, and they did hold up to win a medium sized pot, but other than that there was nuthin'. Fold, Fold, Fold, and fold a bit more. It was supremely frustrating, too, because there was all kinds of action at the table! Raising, re-raising, all-ins on set vs. nut flush draws. I was a spectator. I even began crafting the structure of this very blog post - I was going to work in the angle of railing a wild cash game, while actually sitting down, or somesuch.

To switch up my luck, I swapped out my black card protector for the red one. Dumb superstition, I know. But every card player I know does things to change his luck. Some might straddle the blind, or stack their chips a certain way. I swap out my card protectors.

An orbit or so after swapping for the red card protector, I got a free play in the big blind in a nice, multi-way pot. I had an ace and a three, both hearts. I patted the table and took a 4 or 5 handed flop, which came all hearts - a nine, a jack, and a queen.

Flopping a monster after 2+ hours of folding can be a jarring experience. I felt the blood start rushing around and my brain click into gear. What to do next? Who's in this pot? Should I lead out or check? I chose the latter - a checkraise was my best bet to get some money in this sucker - the broadway cards probably hit a bunch of people in some way or another. I was hoping a 2 pair or pair + straight draw might stick around, or a bare king of hearts.

Note that I don't have the nuts at this point even though I flopped the nut flush. King-Ten of hearts and Ten-Eight of hearts have flopped straight flushes. I would like to say that these two hands are unlikely, but at this table, which features plenty of limped pots, anything is possible. Am I good enough to fold the nut flush here? Should anyone consider folding the nut flush here? These two questions were also running through my head as I checked and watched the action behind me.

Someone did chuck out a decent sized $8 bet into the pot. With the action back to me, I checked the stack sizes. The bettor had less than $15 on the table. There were still others in the pot also. I settled on a $15 raise. This chased out one player, but one other player sat and thought hard and then called the $23 bet cold. I watched his thought process carefully - he looked as if he was working through something in his head, and he didn't exude confidence or excitement as if he was holding the stone cold nuts. I decided he had the king or ten of hearts in his hand, but not both. Finally, the initial raiser called all in as well!

The next card was going to be very interesting for me. If the straight flush Kh, Th, or 8h came, I was going to be in trouble....

Another heart DID come, but it was a seven. So the board read 7 9 J Q, all hearts. This is a decent card for me in that it doesn't change anything - I'm still ahead of everything I was before, and behind the same two straight flushes. In addition, it improves players holding a single heart to a flush themselves, and in some cases, the second nut flush, with a straight flush redraw.

The $23 cold caller had about $35 bucks left in his stack. There was no need to play scared now. I was pretty sure he had a flush already and a big redraw and couldn't go anywhere. Another player was all in and no further trouble to me. I stuck my entire stack in. The cold-caller called.

We sorted out the stacks and then turned over our cards. Cold-caller had pocket tens with the ten of hearts. Shorty had 56 of hearts. So many hearts out there! I had to avoid two cards - the king of hearts and the eight of hearts. If the latter came, I would come in third place in this hand and lose to two straight flushes!

I dodged the two outer. A black seven (or something, not 100% sure, was awash in poker-drenaline by this time) awarded me a gargantuan pot and stacked two players, who called it a night right there.

That was just the first hand of the poker rush of my life.

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