Monday, July 14, 2008

A long night (and long read)

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:21 am A long night (and long read) Reply with quote

Friday I played poker room at the local casino. I arrived there about 12 noon, waited half an hour for a 1/2 table to start and played pretty much through the night until 6:30 Saturday morning. After sleeping a couple hours in my car, I got myself a cup of coffee, sat down at a video poker machine, hit a royal flush, cashed out, got another cup of coffee and hit the road for home, an hour away. By the time I was home, I had given my game quite a bit of thought, yet I was too exhausted to come to any other concrete conclusions than I got slaughtered. I managed to kiss my dear wife and headed upstairs for a couple more hours of sleep.

I had been awake about 10 minutes when the phone rang. It was my poker buddy and mentor Alfonzo. How’d it go yesterday? he asked before I could say anything more than hello.

I left a pint of my blood on the felt.

Ooooo, not good. What happened?

Initially, I was doing great, up about 300% in the first three hours. I was doing everything right, or rather, I could do no wrong, and my hands were hitting: nut flushes, sets, even two pair held up for a change. Then I was dealt rockets under the gun.

How’d you play them?

I bet out $15. You know at the 1/2 table, that’s a minimum raise for a big pair. Anyway, a guy two to my left goes all in with about $100. Up to now, this guy had been playing fairly aggressive pre-flop and he’d just been clobbered by another guy who had tripled up on an all-in. Anyway, everyone folds to the guy who had just tripled up, and he calls the all in. I’m sitting there with over $600 and I’m overjoyed. I go all in. The guy who called the all in says to me: I know you have Aces. I have Kings. I have to call. A king is the first card on the flop. Another player informs me that he folded A9. At best there’s a case Ace but no such luck. I was down to $28.

Sheesh, Alfonzo remarks, tough break. How’d you handle it?

Well, what I didn’t do is ring the guy’s neck for calling. I can’t say I cared one way or the other if he did call as I knew I was way ahead pre-flop. The guy sitting immediately to my left is a regular and plays pretty good. I said to him that maybe I should have just called, but he said no, that I’d done the right thing. Nevertheless, I was sick. 3 hour’s of winnings plus most of my buy-in gone in one hand. Poof! The sick thing though was I was back to even after the next four or five hands. And of course the guy who called me got up and left about six hands later.

What was his reaction after the hand?

How could I remember something like that? I was too stunned. However, a little later after a discussion at the table about position, he did ask why position was important. Then as he’s racking up his chips he said for everyone to take care. And then he repeated it again as he left the room. It was at that point I wanted to get up and strangle him.

How much longer did you stick around?

It was early, and aside from the guy to my left, and a loose aggressive player I knew from another game, the table was soft. I figured I could get my run going again so I stuck it out. In fact, I just got home this morning.

I take it you didn’t do so well.

No, I didn’t. Shortly after getting even, the cards went cold. I saw 92 off about ten times. And when I did get a big hand that actually hit, no one would play. I’d say over the next several hours I made about $100.

Did the table change over during that time?

By about 10 o’clock a few new players came to the table as others left for the night. Then all of a sudden the table went crazy.

How so?

Well, there was the one loose guy who’d been at the table all day. We’d had a run-in earlier in the day and earlier this week, and I’d come out on top each time, so he was staying out of my way. But another LAG comes and sits to his right and yet another LAG comes and sits to Lag #1’s left and the table went nuts. Their stacks were growing and shrinking and growing again at an insane rate. I knew it was time to sit back and watch until I caught a monster.

Finally I looked down to see kings in early position raised $15. I got three callers, the last of which was LAG #2. The flop is 636 rainbow and I bet the pot. That many callers, I want them gone. The first two fold but the LAG re-raises the pot. Of course I call with the last of my stack and he’s got 56 off. That was my first real mistake of the day. And of course, no king was to come on the turn or river. Kings were bad for me, I’ll tell ya.

Well, at least you know you made a mistake. As I’ve told you before…

Yeah, yeah, I know: if a guy comes over the top of you with a bet that says the nuts, then he’s got the nuts, one way or another. The only thing to do is fold.

And you didn’t go home then either.

No, I bought in one more time. The table was so crazy, I just knew I could crack it. Or, at least I hoped I could.

Did you?

I ran into another problem. Now I was just about the shortest stack at the table. Anytime I got a decent hand and flopped a draw, I didn’t have the chips to follow through. I had to just sit there and watch the action. Basically, I just started calling and folding when I didn’t flop the nuts. And everyone knew I was playing tight at this point so when I did hit, I got no action whatsoever. I did manage to hit kings again, bet $20 this time, got called by a big stack and had to fold them when an A came on the flop.

Eventually, the table broke up and a few of us stragglers went to another 1/2 where some of the older regulars were playing. I didn’t win big there either. In fact, one time there a guy who deals at the casino limped in UTG with 27 off. I had 25 suited in the big blind. Two 2’s come on the flop and he took about half of my remaining chips before the river when we both decided to check. I knew it was time to leave then.

Alfonzo asks, How far down?

About $550. Basically, everything I have won over the past 5 times I’ve played. And since this was only my sixth time to the casino, everything I’d won so far.

What’s your bankroll now?

Back to square one, about $1500. If it wasn’t for my aces getting cracked…

Well , I have to say, you played them wrong too.

How so? I got my money in with the best hand.

Well, for starters, with such a small bankroll, that $400 you had won up to that point represented about 25% of your bankroll. You should have cashed in and taken the winnings for the day, or at least not bet with such a large percentage of the money you depend on to play poker. Plus, with three players, you were only a little better than 60% to win against the kings. The guy made the right call.

He knew I had the aces and he called anyway, knowing he was behind. How could that be the right move?

He had the odds.

He did? There was only a little over $200 in the pot when I went all in with another $600. That’s 3 to 1. If he loses, he stands to lose another $500 besides the $100 or so he has in the pot so far. I don’t understand.

Despite Alfonzo’s attempt to make me understand, I couldn’t. Yet I also could not rule out the possibility that he was correct. Certainly I saw the rationale of his argument for me banking early with a large profit. It was just the odds thing that threw me. I ran the showdown calculator provided by Poker Academy. If player #1 had AK, I was 88% to win. If player one had any other 2 cards, I was at about 66% to win. Never mind the KK was only 18% to win at best. It made me begin to think how I could I have played the hand differently.

Mind you, it was only after I went all-in that player 2 said he knew I had aces and that he had kings. What if I had just smooth called? The flop comes with a king. Even if he goes all in at this point, what do I put him on? AK or KK? I suppose if he check raises me, I could put him on KK. Maybe. Doubts abound.

I then began to think about the guy to my left who said I played the hand correctly. What if he knew better but was just encouraging me to make the same wrong move in the future, preferably against him. And maybe Mr. KK, the donk I figured him for, actually knew what he was doing all along, Funny thing about poker: hindsight is not always 20/20.

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