Saturday, March 12, 2011

Home Game Notes

Thursday night home game moved to Friday night, which allowed us to play a bit longer. Not sure we'll do it every week, but I like the flexibility.

I was feisty and ready to play some poker. The poker gods were interested in messing with me instead. Pocket Queens, raise to 5x, and get reraised to 15x by the most passive player at the table. He has exactly one hand in his 3x-3betting range, and I made the easy fold. I didn't have to wonder if I was right, either, this player is a show and teller - he flipped over the aces I didn't have to see.

Later the same player punished limpers to 5x, something not in his repetoire, and I looked down at pocket kings in the blind. Were they going to do it to me again? For Pete's sake. I called this time, pretty much setmining with kings. The board came jack high and he bet. I called. The turn stayed low, brought a 3 flush and he bet again. I had the king of the flush to back me up, and I just laughed to myself at the irony. I knew at this point he had either aces or queens (or the other two kings, pretty unlikely) - I beat half his hands, and had a redraw to the other half. The worst possible outcome was him having aces with the same, higher flush redraw as I did. But he wasn't making large bets and I felt like I had to call, with my ass centered exactly on the middle of the fence on whether I liked my hand or not.

The river didn't change the board - he made the same size river bet as his turn bet. A mandatory call - I figured I was ahead exactly 1/2 the time, and only had to be right about 1/4 of the time for a call to be correct. And... I was! Queens for him. Whew. Nice sized pot, too.

Most of the rest of the game was characterized by me making moves into strong hands over and over. It got kind of humorous, really. I would represent trips into the player who had trips. I raised 72o, mostly as a goof, and got reraised. I raised some low connectors and got reraised. Mind you that the 3bet percentage in our home game is probably 3% total - but on this evening I got reraised 5 or 6 times in one night. I laughed, because the alternative was to stew and get frustrated. I did not get frustrated.

I also got a few made hands caught on the river. One I played correctly, so the opponent was definitely incorrect to chase, no problem there (except for dealing with the short sting of losing). The second hand was more of a judgment call - we were playing 4 handed for the last hour and I played king-ten and hit top pair. PC lead into me from the blinds. PC had some pair - maybe top pair with me, maybe second pair. I decided that any king bigger than king-ten would have most likely raised the limped pot at a 4-way table (KQ definitely, KJ a judgment call), so I wasn't terribly worried about my kicker. I also knew that PC would bet his pair for three streets - not big, scary bets, but small, callable bets that would lead us to showdown. Since showdown is what I want with top pair in a 4 handed pot, my plan was to simply call him down 3 times and flip over my pair.

The board never got scary, and PC executed the plan I figured he would. $3 flop bet, $3 turn, $3 river. Fine with me. Call, call, call. PC reveals two pair at the end - King-Three, with the three coming on the river.

These types of hands can drive you to drink - if I raise preflop or on the flop, PC floats away and I win the pot. I contend, though, that my passive style against this player wins more money in the long run. On the flop I decide I'm most likely ahead, and PC has between 3 outs and 5 to catch me. He has between 20 and 25% equity in the hand. If I let him bet $9, (3 streets of $3), I win between $6.75 and $7.20. If I raise the flop, I win his $3 100% of the time. Which is better?

I'm getting better at reminding myself of this in-game. When PC announced "two pair" and showed his king-three, I smiled a broad smile and tossed my second-best king into the muck. I was happy with my postflop play and knew, against this player, it was a successful long-term winning line.

I won this money back and more in one of the last orbits. I flopped the nut straight with KQ and PC bet into me. I raised and he called. The turn gave me a higher straight with an ace and PC bet into me yet again (guess he didn't remember I had been the aggressor both preflop and on the flop just seconds ago). PC was going to pay for his set, two pair, or club draw this time, I busted out the "I mean it" raise - to $40. I actually thought there was a good chance of him calling, but he folded his top pair, straight draw, finally getting the message. His range was pretty strong overall there, I like my raise size even though he was at the bottom of his range and had to fold.

There's the recipe for winning poker - let 'em snag the occasional showdown-size pot - then whack 'em hard with your big hands and big pots. If you avoid the suckouts (which you will in the long run), profit will follow.

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