Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Laying it down

A bit on the tired side, I went to PAO last night with the idea that I’d play a little NLHE without risk to my Stars roll. There was a $200 table open but it was full and there was someone waiting for a seat. My buddy Stan was there, and when he typed into chat, “8-Game?” I said let’s go. Maybe the Stars bugs wouldn’t find me in a game I rarely play. (Hey, it’s my paranoia and I’m going to milk it just a bit longer, if that’s okay.)

The night before, I had joined Stan in a game and managed to take a sizable pot down when I rivered a higher straight to a maniac’s rivered straight, but last night I couldn’t get any traction, losing a few small pots and bricking when I opened with Aces in the hole in 7-card (my first hand at the table). I was down a few bucks when the room started to empty, and when Stan suggested we move, I was more than ready.

It generally takes me a while to warm up to a game, and I do not find it surprising that I lose more than I should when I first sit down, just like when I’m ready to leave. I have to tell myself to get the feel for the table and then figure how to play it, for the micros aren’t completely filled with donkeys, or at least players worse than I. Aggression may very well mean that an opponent has the goods.

The first game we sat down to at the new 8-game table was NLHE. The second hand in I was able to limp late with K 10 off after an EP limp. The flop came 10d5s6h. The EP checked and I bet the pot, which he called. A 10h came on the turn and again he checked. I bet 2/3 the pot and he doubled my bet. I called. The river was the Qd and he led out for about 1/3 of the pot. Value bet?

Quite often when Stan and I play together, we Skype and discuss strategy. It helps because I don’t have a lot of experience in more than three or four of the eight games, and, having played poker most of his life, Stan does. After some discussion, we decided that there were just too many hands that could beat me here, including A 10. Plus, I didn’t have any read this early in the game.

Still, there was some lingering doubt. I take a player’s level of aggression into consideration when sizing them up. Are they in every pot? Do they come in with a raise from any position or just late? The usual stuff one is supposed to look at. This guy was doing all of it, so I was inclined to put him on a wide range. But could just seven hands more give me a good enough read to risk my stack?

From UTG in PLO the villain bets the pot. This generally means one of maybe three things: one helluva good rundown, good suited Aces or Kings. More often the first two. Admittedly, I called light on the button after three callers. I had 7hKsAs2h, yet I figured my position gave me some wiggle room to see a flop of 4dKc7s, top two pair. The villain checks, one caller makes a 1/2 pot stab and I pot it. The villain re-pots.

Yet again a check-raise. What would you do? Stan was leaning toward pocket Kings or a set. In that I had a King, I tended to discount that portion of possible hands, yet Aces and fours or sevens might be in the mix. Yet, for some reason I jammed. He called. Turn was a 2s, river a 9s. He had the Kings. There is a reason I have been avoiding PLO this last week or so, at least without the proper program update.

I played for another sixty hands or so, bouncing around a dollar or so, ending with more than double my buy-in. I’ll take it. Yet, within that time frame I watched my worthy opponent rebuild by playing solid, aggressive poker with enough discipline to lay down his raised hand when I flopped the nut straight with a flush redraw.

As I left the room, I told him that I enjoyed playing with him and wished him good luck. I am quite certain he owned that table the rest of his session.

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