Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thar' she blows! Off the starboard side!

Like Moby Dick, you scan the 7 seas (or the cash game tables, stay with me here) looking for your prize - the white whale.

With forced "use it or lose it" vacation this week, I'm spending a quiet week alternating between poker, StarCraft ][, and a bunch of not-much-else. This afternoon I sat down at my first table, and in my second orbit of the table, I saw a three way all in between Ace-King, Queen-Five offsuit (hmmmm), and King-Seven suited (double-hmmmm). King-Seven took down a 130 big blind pot on an 8J878 board. Sadly, the Queen-Five offsuit left the table after that hand, his 14th in my company. He had played 13 of them.

But Mr. King-Seven suited remained, immediately to my starboard, uh, right side. I studied his play closely, which was easy to do because he ran with stats of 75/0/1.2. His M.O. was to call to the river and then bet just over the pot size. Of course, by then, the board would be nice and scary with flush and straight possibilities, and/or paired up, and most of the TAGs would fold their one pair hands or their nothings. One guy figured out the whale's plan quickly, he called with a slight overpair of tens, but the whale had himself a sevens over nines full house this time. He was playing almost every hand, and making large river bets whether he had a hand or not - making him a dangerous foe.

By seventy hands or so, others had figured out what he was doing, and were making some rather gutsy calls against him. One player made a pot sized call with pocket jacks on a board with a king and two tens. He was right, the whale had ace-high.

Other players adjusted by making a solid river bet themselves, to which the 75/0 whale (which rarely had a hand), would have to fold. Or would he? The whale soon re-adjusted. He started raising these river blocking bets. A board came 57TTK, and a villain bet half pot. The whale raised it 4 times that amount, which left the villain only 5 big blinds left. He put the rest in. The whale was stuck calling with 6.5:1 pot odds, which he did. He had queen-five off, and lost to pocket aces.

The very next hand, I got to make use of my knowledge of the whale's play. Pocket Nines, under the gun+1. The whale limps (big shock). I raise to .40 and start the "pleasepleasepleaseletmeflopasetjustthisonetime" chant, over and over.

The table folds around. The flop, from left to right...

King... Ace... NINE. Rainbow.

Good news, I flopped my set. Bad bad news in that this guy is playing so many hands, that an ace and king might scare him away from all his crap holdings. Not sure I could win a big pot this time.

If there was any time in the world to slowplay a set, this was the time. I've gotta hope he's got King-three or somesuch and a three comes on the turn. I've gotta hope he's got something, or decides to play his "call-call-call" game and bet the river. I won't be folding, that's almost for damn sure.

The turn looks innocuous enough - a seven of spades. Now the ace and seven are both spades. He checks, and I make a two-thirds pot bet. Then something unexpected happens - he min-checkraises me. Hmmm. Haven't seen that move before.

I check out the board one more time, looking for straights and flushes. There are none. So my third set is currently behind pocket aces and pocket kings. Most players would raise these hands preflop, but who knows what a 75/0 would do. Those hands make up 6 combos, and since he's playing 75% of hands, which makes about 995 total combos of hands, I'm going to err on the side of the chance of him having aces or kings being pretty remote. If he has them, then this blog post becomes a 2 page bitch session about the utter unfairness of this God-Damn-Awful crap game we play.

So I've made up my mind to go broke, and now I've got to decide what move to take. If I raise now, he'll fold a bunch of bluffs, he'll get it in with some subset of aces, kings, and pocket sevens, and some two-pairs, and he'll fold a bunch of other stuff. Since his signature move seems to be a pot sized river bet - I finally opt to see the last card, and hope that he makes this move. My plan is to shove over his pot sized river bet, on just about any card.

And I get an interesting card, too - a king. The final board is KA97K. I have a full house, and he just picked up a bunch of kings that tripped up to pay me off (and maybe a couple more hands to beat me, but I've already decided I don't care about those few hands here. I am paying off this donkey with a full house). He also picked up a nice bluffing card, which fits his river personality perfectly.

All my observations for 84 hands pays off. The white whale bets $3.35 into a $3.35 pot. He has $6.56 behind. I shove, and he calls, with 2.5:1 pot odds. Then I wait to see whether his cards are revealed (meaning he has me beat) or whether they slide down into oblivion, meaning I've got him. The 1 second seems like 10. Finally, they slide down! Victory! I have harpooned the whale and doubled up.

What did he call my all-in with, on the KA97K board? Ace-ten.

At least he had top pair...

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