Friday, December 2, 2011


The only major complaint I have about my Thursday night cash game is that it's too short. It's hard to set up an image and then take advantage later.

Last night I got myself caught bluffing into a monster. We were in a multiway limped pot - me on the button with nine-ten. Too many limpers to iso-raise, passive players in the blinds where I don't fear a squeeze, I feel like I can limp behind on the button with a pretty wide set of hands and try to hit something. Or make a move if I don't The board was nasty - ace-ten-four, all hearts. I hit middle pair and had no heart to back it up. The big blind opened with a small bet, and the table folded around to me. I felt like it was a good spot to make a move. I have position, and donk bets into big fields are often weak hands. I also knew there was a good chance I would have to fire three barrels here - if the big blind hand an an ace and a decent heart in his hand, we wasn't going anywhere. I was ready to give it a shot. I raised his $2 donk bet to $7. He called.

The turn brought nothing, he checked to me. I made it $11, and he instantaneously checkraised to $22. Ah-ha. I mentally thanked him for saving me my third barrel and quickly folded. He showed a flopped flush - 7h8h. Whoopsie.

My hand was caught in the cookie jar, but that was ok. I'm not only looking for the cookies in the jar - I want the cookies in the package under the counter, and the cookies that fill the aisle in the grocery store. I want all the cookies, and I knew that getting caught in a bluff now might help someone make a mistake against me later.

On this night, like others, though, players started to announce their intent to leave around midnight, and I felt like I wasn't going to get my chance. One player said he would play one more orbit, and two others agreed that was a good time to leave as well, which would knock our 7-handed table down to an unplayable 4. My time was short.

Soon after, I got dealt pocket 4s in early position. Usually a raise for me at a 7 handed table (maybe a fold at a nine or ten handed table) - but I didn't want to get reraised off this hand. My stack wasn't deep enough to flop sets against a 3bet. I put on my set-miner's hat and limped the $1, hoping to start a chain of limpers. We got to the button who decided he needed to make it $5 to go. The button is a semi-regular to my game - a competent player, fairly straightforward, didn't make huge mistakes postflop. When one of the blinds called the raise before me, I had what I wanted - a chance to see a flop. I flipped in the $4.

I didn't watch the flop as it was dealt - I watched the original raiser to see if I could pick up a reaction (I don't do this often enough, but did this time). I heard the dealer say "and the flop is a whole lotta junk", which I took to be a good sign, since I was holding junk myself.

four-five-six was the board. Two spades. I knew that the poker gods had helped me in every conceivable way with this board. Not only had I flopped my set, but there was virtually zero chance I was beat by the original raiser here. He wasn't the type to raise limpers with pocket fives or sixes - he would have followed the merry band. No way he had two-three (lol) or seven-eight for a straight, either. Most probably, he had an overpair to this junky board, or two high cards like ace-king or ace-queen that whiffed, and even then I could hope for an occasional flush draw in his hand to keep him in the pot.

I checked. The button made a sizable bet - one I read to be for value. Smelled like an overpair to me, or a total whiff taking one last shot at the crappy board.

Flopping my set on a board where I was sure I had the best hand was only part of the reason I felt like the poker gods had given me the perfect board at the perfect time. Part two was the fact that my opponent appeared to also have a good hand. And part three was the most important reason of all - this particular opponent was skilled enough to be watching my previous shenanigans - betting hard on scary boards, only to fold later to increased pressure. He was one of the few in my game that would remember that hand, and link that past hand to this one, if I were to play it the same way.

So I did. I checkraised his $5 flop bet to $17. Would he think I was messing around again? Would he step into the bucket? How many of his cookies would he give me?

The answer was fifty cookies as it turns out. He slid a stack of $5 chips into the pot without a word. There was some question whether he was raising to $50 or $50 on top of my $17, so I sat wordlessly as the dealer asked the question and they sorted it out. Once I was sure he had made his intended bet, I announced I was all in.

"Damn, I can't call that bet", he replied, even though it had pretty much tied him to the pot. He flipped over pocket tens - a nice fold by a decent player, knowing he was beat.

But the information cost him most of his cookies, and I was happy to have them.

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