KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Turned Set (but folded at flop)

This happened earlier today, playing $1-2 no limit Hold’em online.

There was a lot of ongoing chatter in the chat box, mostly friendly.  Some was trash talking, some talking about the definition of a nit and comments about players who buy-in at the table minimum.  One of the chatterboxes had bought in for the minimum, gone bust and re-bought a couple of times.  Two others were the players to my immediate right.

Just prior to this hand, the player two seats to my right (“Villain 1”) typed a comment directed at the player to immediate right (“Villain 2”) [Editors note:  starting to sound like the characters Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat] to the effect of “let’s go at each other on this hand.”

I’m on the button and dealt 9-9.  V1 raises to $6, V2 calls and I also call.  The big blind also calls.  The flop is A-6-4 with two hearts, and after the big blind checks, V1 leads out with $13.  I’m thinking about calling here, partly based on the chat box comments about going at each other, which leaves me not convinced that either player has an Ace.  Maybe I can wrestle this pot away from this on a later street.  My image is very good – I have $320 on the table at the start of this hand and have played very smart and tight.  A winning image for sure and I may be able to use that to my advantage.  Or perhaps my pair of nines is actually good, with only one overcard.

V2 raises to $26.  Hmmm… I don’t want to spew away a winning session based on the comments in the chat box.   I ponder a few seconds and decide to fold.  The big blinds folds and V2 calls.  The pot is now $74 (after rake).

The turn card is a 9, which would have given me a set.  Dang!

V1 checks and V2 bets $77.  Double dang!!  Maybe my presence in the hand would have tempered his big bet, but this sure looks like a big one that got away.

V1 folds and V2 shows A-J and types in another chest-thumping comment to V1.

Sigh.

Year-to-date online results:  + $6,734

Month-to-date online results:  + $1,398

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KKings Prevail

This is a simple cooler from last night, playing online at $1-2 no limit.

I had played a session earlier in the day and was down $85.  Now I’m pretty early into another session get A-A on the button.

The player UTG makes a min-raise to $4 and another player re-raises to $9.50.  I make it $21.75 total and the re-raiser calls.

On a flop of Q-8-6 with two diamonds, there is a betting flurry and quickly all the money is in the middle, for a total pot of $392.  It occurs to me that the villain likely has a premium pair to be betting this way, and it’s either K-K or Q-Q.  He would be foolish to shove it all in so readily with J-J or lower.  If it’s K-K, I’m thrilled and will give myself a “you da’ man!” pat the back.  If it’s Q-Q, this post would be all about learning when and how to fold A-A on the flop, which I can never seem to do.  I also consider, very very briefly, the possibility of a lower set and a flush draw.

I have a nano-second of euphoria upon seeing the villain’s K-K, lasting until another K hits on the turn card.  My back remains unpatted.

Maybe this blog is helping though, as I resolve NOT to tilt, do a few breathing exercises, and grind on.

Year-to-date online results:  + $6,427

Month-to-date online results:  + $1,091

Take a Leak (and Fix It)

This was not a very costly mistake, but represents a leak in my game that I need to fix.

I’m playing $1-2 no limit online, about one orbit into the session.

I’m dealt K-Q offsuit under-the-gun (UTG means seated to the immediate left of the big blind and therefore first to act before the flop).  This looks like a really strong hand, but it actually isn’t.  The reason is poor position, which creates multiple problems:

  • at a full ring table, there are 8 additional players still to act, so the chances of another player having a very strong hand is as high as it will ever be
  • another caller or raiser (other than one of the blinds) have position on every round after the flop
  • a raise from UTG represents great strength; most players have a very tight range for raising from this position.  Since my opponents likely know this, their calling range should also be very tight
  • post flop, K-Q can be easily dominated by a hand like A-K or A-Q.  If I hit either of my cards on the flop and another player bets or raises, how will I really know where I stand?

Anyway, ignoring these healthy thoughts and sitting on a stack of $192, I raise to $6.  The button and small blind both call, and the big blind folds.  The pot is now $20 (less rake).

The flop is J-7-2 rainbow (i.e., all different suits).  The small blind checks and I decide to make a continuation bet, hoping both players completely missed the flop and neither has a pocket pair.  This is a very dry flop, with no flush or straight draws and no pairs on the board, but the button has not acted yet.  I bet $16, which is 80% of the pot.  This is a little large for a continuation bet, but I rationalize that based on their being two players remaining and the button hasn’t acted yet.  Besides, my pre-flop action might suggest a very big pair such as Q-Q, K-K or A-A.  Hopefully I’ll be representing one of these premium pairs and both villains will fold.

The button calls $16, and the small blind rather quickly check-raises all in for $70.50.

Now this is totally gross.  I fold.  I’ve wasted $22 on a hand that very, very rarely will win a big pot.  If my continuation bet had worked, I would have won $13 (after the rake).  Instead I lost $22 by wandering around in no-man’s land.

The kind of hands that will call an UTG raise are going to be much tougher to fold out on the flop than a later position raise, where the opening range is much wider and therefore so is the calling range.

As it turns out, both villains had A-J and they split the pot.  If I really did have a premium pair, I probably would have called and won a very nice pot.

I really need to think about folding K-Q when UTG and wait for better position.  It’s a recurring leak (also with A-J offsuit UTG) that’s probably costing me much more value than I realize.  Acting last after the flop presents so many more stealing opportunities.

Year-to-date online results:  + $6,206

Month-to-date online results:  + 870

Timeout!

This happened yesterday at a casino, playing $3-6 limit Hold’em.  Normally I prefer to play no-limit cash games, but I decided to pay at the limit tables for 3 reasons:

  1. I was up until 2:30 am Saturday night playing in a home game with some ancient buddies, and hadn’t had the best night of sleep.
  2. Several of my buddies were going to play poker at the casino for their very first time ever, and after Saturday night’s session they clearly weren’t ready for no-limit poker.  I wanted to be able to sit with them at the same table and watch them play.
  3. The max buy-in at the $1-2 tables was $500, making this a very deep stack table.  I like to be prepared to buy in at the maximum amount and have 2 buy ins available, and this was too much, especially given #1 above.

So I made a bankroll management decision to play at the limit table.

This casino uses PokerPro electronic poker tables.   Each player has a touch screen monitor that shows the cards and decisions that need to be made and there are no live dealers.

For the most part my session was going poorly.  The cards weren’t great and I’d already made several bad decisions and bad plays in a generally loose game.  On one hand, I read the Villain as hitting a nut straight on the turn that beat my two pair, but decided to call his raise anyway in case I hit a long shot full house, one of the perils of limit poker.  In no-limit it would have been an easy fold.  Anyway, I missed the river and he bet again.  I meant to call despite reading the situation correctly – another bad play – but accidentally pressed the raise button on my monitor and he promptly re-raised and I called that too.  Had I gone with my read at the turn, it would have saved me $24.  Over and over I tell myself that I have to trust my reads.  They are usually right.  Despite the lack of sleep, a good read this time, but totally wasted the goodness of it.

Later on comes a hand where I have 8-7 suited on the button, and I call.  The flop is K-4-4, with two of my suited cards.  Villain checks and calls my $3 bet.  The turn is an offsuit 2, and villain checks and calls my $6 bet.  Since I have position, I want to try to push him off the pot, and if my flush comes, all the better.  The river is a 5 that completes my flush, and now the villain quickly leads out with a $6 bet.

WTF?

Now I’m wondering if he was drawing to a flush too, as his flush would certainly be higher than mine.  One the other hand, I was semi-bluffing a flush draw and my flush came in, so I should raise.  On the other hand, there is a pair on the board.  Could he have a full house?  Naaaah.

I look at my friend Mike at the far end of the table and mutter some inane comment.  I stare at the villain.  There is no way I’m going to fold, and I still think I’m ahead and should raise.  This is limit poker, I’m down quite a bit for the session, and there are only going to so many chances to make it up.

Once again, I have to trust my read, which is that I’m ahead here.  Maybe he has a 4 for trips, and is afraid I’ll shut down due to the flush draw.

I glance down at my monitor and see the timer going 2… 1…  Shit!  I forgot about the timer at these damn PokerPro tables.  You get 30 seconds with no warning beeps, and unlike online poker sites, there is no time bank.  I scramble to hit the call button.  “FOLD.”  Too late.

WTF?  Did I really just time out with a made flush at the river, at a live casino game?  (Yes.)

Ouch.

My best decision of the day was the bankroll management decision to stay away from the no-limit game.  That probably saved me a huge bundle.

Year-to-date online results:  + $,5,625

Month-to-date online results:  + $189

Seven Habits (… of Highly Ineffective Poker Players)

This is a story about an accumulation of mistakes that started innocently enough but eventually created a TILT and the loss of my full table buy-in.

Mistake #1 – Playing poker when I have more important things to do.  I suppose we could say this about nearly every poker session, but that is not the point.  Here I started a session a little before 8:00 a.m. on a day that I needed to focus on several projects for paying clients.  I’m not a full-time professional poker player, but a self-employed business consultant of sorts, working from a home office, so I should start the workday by working if I have actual paying work to do.  Anyway there was a full ring 1-2 NL table with a seat open at my online poker site and I was only going to play for a little while, as I was well aware of other work awaiting my attention.  This is an important mistake, as I’m much less likely to bring my “A game” (to borrow a phrase from Tommy Angelo (Note:  Tommy is a wonderful poker player, thinker and writer.  See www.tommyangelo.com).

Mistake #2 – Over-betting a marginal hand.  After about 15 hands of being mostly card dead, I got J-9o on the button.  (OK, I know, still card dead.)  After one limper, I raised to $7, and was called by the SB and original limper.  On a flop of J-4-3 rainbow, both players checked to me.  I bet $13, the SB check/raised to $28 and the other guy folded.  I interpreted this min raise as a sign of weakness, hoping to bluff me off the pot with minimal risk.  Frequently this would work.  But because of Mistake #1, I was eager to make a quick profit so I could move on to other stuff I had to do.  I 3-bet to $51 and the SB calls after a few seconds.  The turn was a 10, completing the rainbow.  He checks and I shove.  Really.  I shoved in my last $134 with top pair and a very modest kicker, hoping that I had effectively represented much stronger and he would fold.  Which he did.  At the end of this hand, my stack was $256, a gain of $56 over my initial buy-in.  Even though I won this pot, it was still a bad play.  I risked my entire stack on a one-pair / mediocre kicker hand.  Way too impatient, further amplifying Mistake #1.

Mistake #3 – Not quitting.  Clearly this is the time to quit.  I have other things to do (for which I will get paid – did I already mention that?).  I feel impatient.  I just got away with a terrible play.  While I bullied the SB off of that pot, there is no way a weaker hand is going to call.  Being the SB, he could easily have called my pre-flop raise with 4-4 or 3-3 to go set mining.  Or overplay a TPTK (top pair, top kicker) type of hand.  I know all of that, so I should take the $56 gain and quit right now.  I even thought about quitting, which is part of what led me to this post.

Mistake #4 – Out of position and don’t know where I stand.  One pattern I am aware of lately is playing too loose when I am ahead in a session.  I spend the next few hands practicing being very tight with a healthy stack.  I even check the option in a limped pot with A-Qo in the big blind (folded the flop, but would have won this pot when an A hit on the river had I stayed).  Then I get to another hand where I’m in the BB, with 7-6s in a limped pot.  I check the option and the flop is 6-3-2 with two spades.  Both of my cards are clubs.  I bet $4 and there are two callers.  The turn is A clubs and I decide to fire a second barrel of $13.50.  The button calls, and the river is A of hearts.  I check and the button bets $14 into a pot of $43.  Duh!  He has an Ace, right.  This just screams value bet here and I know I’m beat.  Yet for some reason I cannot explain – other that my head is just not in the game at this moment and really hasn’t been this entire session – I make the call.  He shows A-2s for a full house.  I now have $220 remaining on the table.  I should quit.

Mistake #5 – Overplaying suited connectors.  Five hands later, I am UTG+2 and raise to $7 with 8-7s.  My feeble rationalization for this bet is that I’m balancing my range by raising with suited connectors in a middle position.  To my delight, everyone folds except the blinds, who both call.  Throughout the rest of this hand, I’ll be last to act and now I’m confident I can outplay these guys and take down the pot.  The flop is K-9-8 with two hearts.  Well, at least I caught a part of this flop.  Both blinds check and I bet $17.50 into a pot of $19, hoping to take it down right now and discourage any flush draws from continuing.  The SB calls, and the turn card is the 4 of hearts.  SB checks and I decide that I must represent the flush myself, as surely he will recognize my flop bet as a semi-bluff.  I bet $29 and he rather quickly raises to $58.  Shit.  I fold.  Now I can see on the hand history that he held A-5 of hearts for the nut flush.  So my for my representation.  This story was pathetic given the pre-flop raise and over-sized c-bet.  Now I have $164 remaining.  Double shit.  I could have quit when I was ahead by $56, and now I’m $34 down for the session and my other work is still waiting.

Mistake #6 – Not quitting again.  At this point I can feel the TILT coming on.

Mistake #7 – Not slowing down when something seems awry (a/k/a TILT).  About 35 minutes later, I’m down to $123 mostly due to sloppy play including a lot of very loose called with unsuited connectors and 1-gappers hoping for a miracle flop, and a few C-bets that didn’t work out.  I get Q-Q in the SB position, and ahead of me there is a limp, a raise to $6 and a call.  I pop it up to $26.  The original raiser folds, but the caller calls again.  Calling station?  What might his range be?  I give very little thought to that, essentially decided to shove almost any flop, including… K-7-2 with two spades.  Not an ideal flop, but only one over card and generally worse if it were an Ace.  So I just shove, and Villain calls with K-Qo.  OK, so his call of my pre-flop 3-bet was awfully loose, and he should have thought for more than 2 seconds about whether I might have A-A, K-K or A-K here.  But that doesn’t matter now.  I think the pre-flop play was OK, but the shove on the flop was just totally spewy.   I actually had him covered by about $23.
I shove my last $23 with pocket fives on the button on the very next hand, after 3 limpers, and get two calls.  Both connect with the flop and now I can get on to my other work.
Year-to-date online results:  + $5,559

Month-to-date online results:  + $223

Aces full loses to quads at final table

This actually happened last Friday night.

I was playing in a tournament in a local private neighborhood clubhouse.  I’d been hearing about this game for several months.  The buy-in is $60, which includes $50 to the prize pool and a $10 bounty.

My buddy Greg called me Friday afternoon to ask if I knew the details of this game.  I suggested he call either Mike or Larry as surely one of them would know.  And please let me know what you find out… I might be interested and don’t have any plans tonight.  Greg dutifully called me back, said to show up between 7:00-7:15 and I decided to play.

The setup was pretty good, with 47 players to start.  The noise level was pretty high, as they had rolled up the carpets to protect from spills, and had a bunch cheap plastic top folding tables with no covers on them, so the chips made quite a bit of noise when splashed into the pot.  But rookies should never complain.

I started off pretty well.  (There were a couple of hands I would describe in detail if this was a place to brag or provide poker instruction and coaching, but that is not the point of this blog.  This is my place to vent and to try to learn from my mistakes, which are many.)  They formed a final table of 10, and the chips moved around pretty fast but without any quick knockouts.  I played really tight there and the blinds were getting to me.

With 9 left, and knowing only 5 would get paid, it was clear that I had to make a move.  Starting stacks were 10,000 chips, or 50 big blinds.  At this point, blinds were up to 2,000 – 4,000 and I had 17,500 remaining.  After posting and folding the BB, blinds went up to 4,000 – 8,000 and all-of-a-sudden I was down to 9,500, barely enough to cover a single BB.

Three hands later in the hijack position, everyone folded to me and I looked down at A-7 off-suit.  Easy decision to shove, only the blinds called.  I flopped another A and tripled up to 28,500 chips.

On the very next hand I looked down at A-A.  What a great world we live in.  I haven’t seen A-A all night and here it is at the final table just after tripling up.  A younger guy under the gun goes all in for about 40,000+.  He was a pretty good player, aggressive, and young enough to wear his baseball cap backwards.  At my age, I’d just look silly doing that.  Obviously I’m going to shove and everyone else gets out of the way.  The pot is 69,000 chips – my 28,500 plus his 28,500 after pulling back the excess of his bet plus the 4,000 & 8,000 blinds.

He flips over 6-6, and I flip over my aces.  The first card turned over is another ace.  Cha-ching!  Then a king and a six.  The dealer comments that both of us made sets.  The turn is a jack and someone declares that there is only one out remaining.

Mathematically speaking, there are 52 cards in the deck.  8 of them are now turned up, including his 6-6, my A-A, and the board of A-K-6-J.  That leaves 44 cards that we haven’t seen.  The odds are 43-to-1 in my favor.  Yeeee-hah!  Start the par—   uh oh.

When the dealer lays the last six down on the table for the river card, half the room is stunned and the other half is going crazy.  Much to the other guy’s credit, he didn’t get up and dance or strut or yell or whatever, but was humble and apologetic.  Since this is my first time playing at this game, clearly a neighborhood-oriented social game, I have the good sense not to pitch a hissy.

One second I’m starting to calculate the chip average and thinking that first place pays $1,000 tonight.  Bam!  The party ends abruptly and I’m driving home.  Before leaving I take a picture on my iPhone of the kid with my chips and tell him it’s going on my bulletin board.

Went home.  Didn’t sleep well at all.  Decided to start a blog.

A blog about bad poker

Greetings!  First of all thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope you like it.

Secondly, are you crazy???  What are you doing here?

(Oh, sorry.  Not supposed to offend the readers.  I take that back.)

My goal here is to chronicle some of my own very bad poker play, including bad beats, bad plays and missed opportunities.   A little bit of definition:

A BAD BEAT is when you play a hand of poker, end up with something really, really strong, and yet still lose the pot to an even stronger hand.

A BAD PLAY is simply a costly mistake, such as bluffing when I shouldn’t, continuing a bluff when I really shouldn’t, raising when I shouldn’t, calling another player’s bet when I shouldn’t, and any similar action that should have been obvious not to do, but I did it anyway and ended up losing a lot of money.

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY is a large pot that I would have won but I was too cautious, or too conservative, or folded too early or failed to bet aggressively enough to build the pot to its full potential.

A little bit of poker background:

I’m an avid recreational player, currently playing $1-2 no limit Texas Hold’em on one of the few poker sites that still accepts U.S. players for real money games.  I’ve been playing online for about 4 years, and also play in a monthly live tournament (private game with about 20 players) and a pub league, plus about 2-3 casino trips per year for live play – both tournaments and cash games.  I started playing poker in high school (1970’s) when everything was “dealer’s choice” and nobody had ever heard of Texas Hold’em.

Lately my results have been pretty good.  I set up the online account with an initial deposit of $100 in January this year.  My year-to-date (YTD) results are + $5,395.  Month-to-date (MTD) is + $60 which is pretty flat following three really strong months.

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