KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

No More Free Beer

Last night I played in a home cash game.  I’ve played 4 times previously with this group, lots of fun, and won some decent amounts of money each time.

So I decided to be a nice guest, and buy an extra 6-pack for the host.  I emailed to inquire as to his favorite brew, bought some (and another 6-pack for myself with intention of leaving behind the extras in hopes that some would survive until the next game or two there).  When I arrived and handed him the gift, I smiled broadly and explained this was just a small show of appreciation for being invited to join the game, he and his friends are lots of fun to play with and besides they keep giving me their money.

We had a good laugh.

Then started playing poker.  Not too deep into the night, I got AA, raised to $5 (blinds are $1 and $1) and 3 callers.  The flop was 3h 5h 7h.  I have the Ah, so this is not a terrible flop for me.  Everybody checks and I bet $11.  One caller.

Turn:  Jh.  Bingo!  Now I have an Ace-high flush and the only remaining issue is how to extract the most value.  The remaining villain checks, and I’m concerned he might just go away too easily.  By checking behind, I can represent weakness and hopefully induce a bluff on the river.

River:  5d.  Sure, this pairs the board, bringing full houses into the realm of possibility, but I’m really not so worried about that.  He leads out with a bet of $22.  Looks like the bluff I was hoping for.  I don’t want to re-pop him too hard, so I make a barely min-raise to $45.

Now he tanks for awhile, and says the river cards worries him.  I find this a little odd, as if he’s somehow representing the Ah, which I have securely in front of me.  He tanks some more, and looks to be leaning towards folding.

Then he re-raises all-in.  Huh?  My best guess is that he  has convinced himself that I’m the one bluffing here.  I feel pretty pot committed.  Let’s see… there’s about $180 in the pot and I have about $45 behind.  I’m getting 4-to-1 to call.  Gotta call here, and I do.

He says, “Sorry, but I have the nuts!” and turns over 6h 4h for a flopped straight flush.

About an hour later, I get into a hand with Ks Tc, and the board runs out As Js 6s Ac 2s, again giving me the top flush on a paired board.  The same villain leads out on the river, and again I raise – not seeing any possible straight flushes out there.

This time he calls, and says “I suppose you have Ace-Jack.”  Nope, nut flush.  He turns over A-6 for a full house, and takes most of my second $100 buy-in.

Is there a lesson to be learned here?  Probably so.  I tend to think many players are too tight in playing a flush on a paired board.  The percentage of the time that a paired board actually results in someone having a full house (note that in hand #1 above it wasn’t a full house, but a straight flush that did me in, but I digress) is fairly low.  On the other hand, both of my flushes involved 4 same-suit cards on the board, and I had the top possible flush both times.  It is much more likely that someone has a lesser flush than a full house (or quads, or a straight flush).

According to my math, a single player with a random hand will make a full house less than 3% of the time when the board is paired.  Of course, by the river his hand is no longer random.  With about the widest range I can imagine for hand #1, he makes a full house less than 8% of the time.  I’m not going to calculate for hand #2 but it should be higher due to the paired card being an Ace.  Many aces in his range.

I guess in hindsight, I have no issues with the way I played the first hand.  It was just a cooler, my AA turned into an A-high flush and lost to a flopped straight flush.  I’ll enjoy telling and re-telling that story.  The second hand warrants a call and not a raise on the river.  Much easier for the villain to have AJ, A6 or A3 and hit a full house, although I’m pretty sure he checked the turn.

Both times I could have called and not raised on the river, and saved about $120 +/-.

Is that actually the higher EV play?  I’m really not sure.

Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

Cliff Diving

Last night I was playing small stakes online when I got pocket 9’s under the gun, made a fairly standard raise to 3BB’s, and only one caller – who has a short stack of just 42 BB’s at the start of the hand.  Over 45 hands, his VPIP was 22, and PFR 7.  A bit passive, nothing extraordinary.

The flop was 7h 6h 3h.

I have the 9h, for an overpair and rather weak flush draw.

At this moment I decide that I’ll be willing to dive off the cliff with this hand on the flop.  I’ll make a standard-ish sized C-bet of 4 BB’s, and if he raises I’m willing to get it all in.  If he simply calls, I’ll have the reevaluate on the turn.  But a raise is more likely to be a top pair / top kicker or big flush draw than a made flush.  It’s so nice to be able to think these out so your decisions are easier than your opponent’s decisions.

He raises to 12 BB’s and I quickly shove.

Cliff diving


Tournament Curse

The last three tournaments I’ve played prior to tonight are starting to make me feel cursed.

Twice I lost to a 2-outer on the river and once lost when I flopped a set and the villain flopped a bigger set.

Another tournament about a month ago involved a villain hitting a 3-outer on the river.

Now comes tonight.  Again I flopped a set (of 4’s) in a pot where 5 players called a pre-flop raise to 3 BB’s, including me on the button.  It goes check, check, all-in for 10 BB’s, another all-in for 11 BB’s, and I shove for my last 15 BB’s.  The other two players fold, one of them announcing he had AK.  Angelo, the second to go all-in, turns over KK, and the case K comes on the turn.  A 1-outer this time.

I started that hand with 18 Big Blinds in my stack.  Not great, but definitely not desperate.  Winning would have put me up to 51 Big Blinds, making me one of the chip leaders and in position for a deep run.

So I did some research on curse removal, and found several interesting approaches, including these (enjoy!):

Option 1:

  • Establish a gold idol of Nāga and worship him according to the rituals followed in the native’s house.
  • Cow, land, sesame and gold should be donated according to one’s capacity for the expansion of one’s clan.

Option 2:

Get a piece of wax paper or another kind of strong paper.

Write on it carefully what you know about the curses/hexes, like who cast them, or where they came from, and/or when this started (the date). If you don’t know any details, just write “My two curses or hexes” on the paper so that we all know what this for and what it’s going to do.

Place three spoonfuls of salt (rock salt, or sea salt, or just ordinary table salt) into the paper and make a bundle out of it that you can tie to a piece of string.

Wear it over your heart for three days and three nights.

The salt will draw out the curses or hexes and take them into itself.

On the morning of the fourth day, open the package, and let water wash the salt away. You can do this in a river or by an ocean shore, scatter it outside when it is raining hard, or simply in your sink if you have no access to flowing water elsewhere.

Burn the paper and the string.

Wear a rose quartz pendant or a healing or lucky charm you already own over the heart for 9 days after that, so that whatever was damaged by the presence of the curse or hex gets healed and restored, and your defense systems grow strong again.

Option 3:

Be sure that nobody else can see you (close all curtains, doors, windows, etc.).  Now, get a bowl full of water and put 3 drops of green dye in it.

Now that you’ve done that, slowly tip the bowl over each candle allowing them to be extinguished while at the same time chanting:  “Juina Shelt Fonsed.”

You must do this very slowly and imagine the spell being lifted from your body and all the good luck and fortune that will soon come to you and the evil that will go to the person that placed the hex/curse upon you.

Love/Hate This Game

Last night I played in a live tournament with a private poker league that I joined during the summer.  The winner – whoever earns the most points over a span of 22 tournaments – will get his buy-in paid for the Main Event at the WSOP next summer.

I started poorly, then doubled up, then won some more to get to a stack over 49,000 chips. We start with 30,000 chips, and at this point there are 21 players remaining from the original 24.  In other words, I’m in good shape.

Or so I thought.  My pocket 7’s made a set on the flop, and I’m heads up against John (the same John from this prior post about a live cash game), and he’s on the button, so his pre-flop calling range (I had raised to 3BB’s, and he called) is pretty wide.  I’ll keep this short… he flopped a set of Q’s and barely had me covered, so the tournament is over.

I hate this game.

So I waited an hour for a cash game to start.  During the cash game, I knocked out a short stack who shoved pre-flop when I had AA, and later made a K-high straight flush (only had one of the cards in my hand; the board was a real action killer).  But overall played too loose and lost a few dollars.

Not terrible, but I still hate this game.

When I came home, now after 10:30 pm and I’ve been playing poker for several hours in the tournament and cash game, I still felt restless, so I logged into my online account and joined 2 tables.  On one of these tables, the following sequence occured:

First 12 hands… not much, lost 4BB’s in blind postings

Hand 13… AA, short stack has KK, win 36 BB’s

Hand 14… 88, flop a set, all-in with flush draw who misses, win 65 BB’s

Hand 15… 22, flop a set again, no action this time, win 4BB’s

Hand 16… I fold pre-flop

Hand 17… Ks Qc in small blind, flop KQQ and everybody checks, turn T, pre-flop raiser has AJ and my boat crushes his straight.  Win 98 BB’s.

Log out, go to bed.

I love this game!

Same Same, but Different

One of my daughters spent most of the last two years living in Cambodia.  They have a saying there, which translates as “same same but different.”  I guess the closest comparison here is “same shit, different day” but using that in the title for this post might violate the family friendly (?) orientation of this blog.

But I digress.

On Thursday I played in a no limit Hold’em tournament in a local pub poker league.  There were about 30 players.  In the first 3 levels, I kept getting awesome cards (AA twice, KK, QQ that flopped a set, broadway straight, among others) but very little action.  A couple other moves I made backfired, so my stack didn’t grow like I wanted.

When the blinds were up to 1,000 / 2,000, I have 23,000 chips in the Big Blind with A-4 offsuit.  No raises pre-flop, so I checked my option.  The flop came down J-4-4 with two clubs.  Bingo!  SB checks, I check, a middle-position limper checks, and the button bets 5,000.  SB folds, and I check-raise all-in for 16,000 more.  I debated smooth calling here, but consider the possibility of button being on a flush draw and decided shoving was better.  After some thought, he calls and turns over J-T off suit.

He has only 2 outs.  On the river, another J hits, giving him J-J-J-4-4 to beat my J-J-4-4-4 and knock me out of the tournament.

One night later, I’m in a private tournament with a similar format, starting with 25 players.  Early on, I get AA but no action.  Then a steady slide to a short stack.

With blinds at 800 / 1,600, I have 6,800 chips in the Big Blind with As Qs.

Now if you’ve read my blog much at all (or know me personally), you know that I hate playing AQ.  It’s a cursed hand.  For me, the “Big Chick” is more like “Anna Quornikova,” who looks good but never wins anything.  But I have to make an exception to my rule of always folding this hand in tournament play when my stack size reduces me to shove-or-fold mode.  Even then, the results have been bad.  At a WSOP Circuit tournament last spring ($365 buy-in), I shoved with AQ suited, a smaller stack also shoved, and a larger stack called both of us.  Turns out the smaller stack also had AQ suited and the last guy had AJ suited.  Of course you know how that ended, as a J appeared quickly on the flop to send both of use to the rail.

Anyway, Tony (yes, the same Tony from this prior post) has a big stack now and limps in from UTG and the SB calls.  I decide to shove, otherwise I’ll be down to 5,200 chips and one hand later down another 800 after posting the Small Blind.  This is as good of a time as any. I shove, Tony hesitates then says he “has to” call and we end up heads up.  He turns over Kc Qc.  Looks good for me.  The flop and turn are all low cards, and the turn is a second spade, giving me a flush draw thus canceling the Ks as one of his outs.  He is down to only 2 outs for the river.

Kh hits on the river.  Time to head to the cash game.

Same same, but different.

Married to Big Slick, Part II

To understand my angst in making this post, please check out my immediate prior post here.

Last night I’m playing in a live cash game, with my regular Friday night crowd.  We play $0.25 – 0.50 blinds, no limit Hold’em, with $50 buy-in.  Note this is not the same crowd that was involved in the prior post.

We’ve been playing for awhile now.  I was up to about $65, then card-dead for a prolonged period during which my stack slid down to $50 again.  Then lost half of that in one hand when my JJ ran into Tony’s QQ.  Tony has the biggest stack now, courtesy of several good wins, including one very large pot when he held KK, ran into AA and spike a third K on the river.

Now I’m at $19.50, and considering whether to play with a short stack or buy more chips.

I get 99 in the UTG seat and raise to $2.

Tony calls.  John calls.  Then Terri re-raises to $6 and Alex calls.  Terri’s raise does not represent a huge pair (other than AA) as she tends to overbet pre-flop with KK-JJ, and not 3-bet at all with TT or smaller pocket pairs.

I decide to ship it all-in here.  Maybe everybody will fold or I can get an isolation with one villain and some dead money in the pot.  Now seems as good of a time as any.  I shove.

Taking some time, Tony calls.  Jeez, what is good enough to call $2 but not re-raise, and still good enough to call $19.50?  Either a pair higher than mine or AK?  Now John tanks for a bit, then announces “re-raise!”  WTF?  He only called the original $2.  I know he’s capable of some very unorthodox plays, and eventually we’ll find out ’cause I’m already all-in.  He raises $25 on top, for a total bet now of $44.50.  Did I mention the blinds are $0.25 / 0.50?  I guess he wants to isolate with me and some dead money.

Terri squirms and reluctantly folds.  Alex folds.  Now it goes back to Tony, and incredibly (to me at least), he calls again.  Call $2, call $19.50 with the 3-better live and still to act, and now call $25 more, but never a raise.  I make a mental note about his calling station tendencies and pledge to make more notes after the hand is done.

Flop (main pot $71, side pot $50):  Qd Jd 4s.  No set for me, but two over cards.  I’m sure one of these guys just made a set of JJJ or QQQ.  Tony is first and bets $25.  John tanks again then calls.

Turn (side pot now $100):  Kc.  Both Tony and John check.  I lean towards Tim, who isn’t involved in the hand and ask if he thinks there is any way I can win here.  Assuming I have AA, he answers that maybe an off-suit T will hit on the river.  I laugh.

River:  (still $100 in side pot):  2h.  This card changes nothing, and Tony checks again.  Now John goes all-in for his last $38.50.  This is a very big bet for this game.  I have no idea what he has.  Maybe a set and checked behind on the turn to give Tony another chance to hang himself.  Hard to tell with John, and remember he originally called my $2 pre-flop after Tony’s call.  AA would re-raise right there before allowing a 4-, 5- or more multi-way pot.

Now it’s Tony’s turn to go into the tank.  I’ve given up all hope of winning this pot, with my 99 and K, Q and J on the board plus over $200 in chips out there.  Tony finally announces that he’s pretty sure his hand isn’t good enough to win, but he just can’t fold, so he calls.  I’m screaming on the inside:  “TONY, IF YOU ARE BEAT, FOLD!  HOW CAN YOU ANNOUNCE THAT YOU KNOW YOU ARE BEAT AND STILL SHOVEL THIRTY-EIGHT MORE BUCKS INTO THIS POT?  DON’T KILL YOUR GOOD NIGHT!”  Externally I maintain my calm, or so I think.

Showdown:  Tony shows AK off suit, for top pair / top kicker.  Now for the kick in my stomach, John flips over 88.  Yep that’s right, 88.  A pair of eights.  Snowmen.  Had his bluff worked, either pre-flop or on the river – both times would have made sense for Tony to fold and save his Big Slick for another day – I would have won the main pot and increased my stack from $19.50 to $71 in a single hand.

Instead I reach for my wallet…

Married to Big Slick

Last week I was playing in a short-handed live cash game, no limit Hold’em with blinds of $0.25 / 0.50.  For awhile, I was having my way with the table, and ran up an initial buy-in of $20 up to about $70.

Then a new player, “Mike,” arrived.  On this hand, I had the button and dealt myself AK off-suit.  Mike raised to $2.00, I called, then Dave in the small blind 3-bet up to $6.  Jim called, Mike called and I called.

Flop ($24):  K-J-T, giving me top pair / top kicker.  Everybody checks, so I drop in a bet of $11.  I do this by grabbing a stack of $1 chips and plopping them in front of me without bothering to count them.  At the time I wasn’t really sure if the bet was $10 or $12 or $13 but it didn’t matter.  I wanted my bet to appear more like a challenge – “I dare you to call” – than a carefully measured value bet.

Dave and Jim both fold, but Mike check-raised to $33… then after counting out the chips realized he only had $1 more behind.  Let’s just treat this as an all-in bet of $34 when we get to the math.

Whoops!  I didn’t see that coming.  Mike and I have played a lot together, so it’s important to get to the right level of thinking here.  He could be calling BS on me based on the way in which I bet.  Normally I’m more of a careful measurer of chips and like to slide them out slowly.  Mike knows that.  But I like the effect of doing the opposite, especially when I actually do have a hand.   Plus I had the button, so I might be simply attacking weakness.

On the other hand, Mike isn’t that reckless.  His confidence level is higher in tournament play, so he tends to play cash games more cautiously.  Except when he doesn’t.  Once he raised all-in pre-flop early in the evening of a cash game, after an initial raise, one call, and a very large 3-bet by me (holding KK, I raise about 6x the original raise).  It was the only time I’ve ever folded KK pre-flop in a cash game.  He showed me his AK suited and I was quite surprised.  But tonight, he’s just gone all-in with a check-raise not very long after joining the game.  I have him covered.

He could also have AK and we’re going to chop the pot.  Although in hindsight, his check-raise wouldn’t make much sense with only AK.  I could easily check behind on the button and give everybody a free card.

He could have flopped a straight.  Then I’m totally screwed, with only 3 outs to chop if he has AJ, or to win if he has J9 (in which his pre-flop raise and call of a 3-bet makes less sense).

He could have flopped a set of TT or QQ.  With KK I’m sure he would re-raise again pre-flop.

He could have two pair, with KQ, KT, or QT.  With KT or QT, I have quite a few outs.  A Jack give me a straight, another Ace makes a better two pair, and pairing the K or Q on the board also helps vs. QT or KT respectively.  My equity isn’t terrible here.

Or he could have KJ or QJ or JT and flopped a pair plus open-ended straight draw.  Then I’m ahead.

I count the pot.  There is $24 from pre-flop, plus my $11 and Mike’s $34 makes a total of $69, and it will cost me $23 to call.  I’m getting 3-to-1 pot odds, with no further betting (sans Mike’s final $1, but I’m treating that as already in) and two cards to come.  For this to be proper mathematical call, I need to have at least 7 outs.  Against KT, I have 10 outs (3 aces, 3 queens, 4 jacks).  Against QT, I have 9 outs (3 aces, 2 kings, 4 jacks).  Against KQ, I have 7 outs (3 aces, 4 jacks).  Against sets or higher, I do not have enough outs.

I call.  Mike shows KT, so my call is theoretically correct.  But I miss the turn and river, lose the pot, and proceed to lose ALL of the rest of my stack within the next 20-30 minutes.

Mathematically correct, until factoring in some TILT control.  Then it’s clearly a mistake.

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