Such Fantastic Hands, So Little Time for Blogging

phantasmagoria poker night

Phantasmagoria (from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary):

  • a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined
    • a scene that constantly changes
  • a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage

Nearly six hours at a phantasmagoric poker game last night… rather than a deep dive into one or two spots, here’s a quick (?) rundown of the highlights and lowlights.

value bet flopped straightValue spots continue to backfire.  First, with Qc Tc, the flop is J98 rainbow, giving me the nuts.  I made a short speech about the villain’s – for purposes of this blog I’ll call him “Josh” – ridiculously small flop bet, then raised him.  He called me out for making a speech, so I used the old reverse, reverse tell and told him I have the nuts.  I said everybody knows that speeches usually indicate the nuts and I’m no exception.  He called.  The turn was the deuce of hearts and brought a flush draw into play.  Josh check-raised after I made a ridiculously small turn bet – the same size as his flop bet – saying now he knows I don’t have the nuts.  I asked how much I’d have to re-raise to convince him again, but just called.  The river Kh completed the backdoor flush and he bet again.  Now he looked rather confident and thankfully I thought better of shoving and sure enough, he flushed my nuts down the toilet with Jh Th.  I could write a long post about this hand.

turned set of jacks loses to broadway straightLater, with JJ, the flop was QTx.  The only player who called me pre-flop – for purposes of this blog I’ll call him “Andrew” – checked behind my check.  The turn was a J, giving me my first and only set of the night.  I bet and Andrew calls.  The river is a K, and he looks at me as a friend and says “please don’t bet again.”  His AJ gets there with a broadway straight.  I could write a long post about this hand, notsomuch the play of the hand itself as about the emotional wreckage piling up as so many recent value hands continue to get steamrolled.

Then there was the hand where one guy – for purposes of this blog I’ll call him “Ray S.” – check-called bets by Josh on the flop and turn as the board came out T96-7.  Then Ray S. put out a large river bet and Josh, looking agonized, flashed his A8 so I could see it and mucked, figuring only the nuts would take this line and his 2nd nuts were no good.  Josh looked like he was going to pop a vein when Ray S. then revealed 97 to show his 2-pair and successful bluff.  I could write a long post about this hand, about which Josh sent me a message saying he was “terrified” it would appear in this blog.

The stunner of the night was a 400+ BB pot where one player bet on a flop of 952 rainbow – for purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Dave” (and yes, this is the same Dave from this recent post).  Another player – for purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “K. Pete”) made a large raise (to 50 BB) and Dave called.  The turn was 7h, creating a flush draw.  Now Dave led out with a 75 BB bet, and looking far less than 100% confident, K. Pete announced “all-in.”  Dave fairly quickly called.  The river was a non-heart 4 and everybody is sitting up with ears pinned forward like racehorses expecting to see a flopped set-over-set showdown.  But no.  K. Pete sheepishly tables 52 (but they were suited!) and looks as surprised as the rest of us as Dave pump-fakes his cards towards the muck pile two or three times before he actually releases them and concedes the monster pot.  Double-U, Tee, Eff?  I could write a very long post about this hand.

Soon after that I see a cheap flop with Jh 9h, and the flop is Ah Qd 8h, giving me a flush and gutshot straight draw.  An early position player, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “Adam,” makes a curiously small, blocker-ish bet.  K. Pete calls and I also call. The turn is a low diamond, putting two flush draws on the board, and both Adam and K. Pete check.  If no one is betting here, no one has a hand worth protecting against the draws, so I make a nearly pot-sized semi-bluff.  Only Adam calls.  The river is another low diamond and Adam checks again.  The only way to win this is with another bluff, so I slide out about 80% of pot amount.  Adam calls and tables 8d 6d.  He later acknowledged that he mis-read the board on the flop, thinking he had bottom pair and a flush draw already, then backed into the flush.  His betting line made no sense, which is why I considered it more likely that he was also chasing hearts or had a hand like JT for a double gut-shot straight draw and my river bluff should work.  How am I supposed to narrow Adam’s hand when he doesn’t even know?  He also said he almost snap folded to my river bet, as his mis-read of the board carried over to the river and he thought there were now 4 diamonds on the board.  Just as he was about to muck his hand, he realized his error and made the call. I could write a long post about this hand and the misdirection that happens when a villain takes a betting line based on mis-remembering his own card or mis-reading the board.

Gotta mention some hands I folded pre-flop, like Q9 when the flop came out Q99 and there was an aggressive bet on this flop.  Or Kh 2h, when I over-limped in late position, but folded to a large raise by one of the blinds?  I would have flopped the flush draw and got there on the river, instead watching bets (by Adam) and calls (be Dave) on every street.  Or K9s, when I called a pre-flop raise from K. Pete, but folded after a 3-bet?  Dave called the 3-bet, and I decided that I would call if K. Pete also called, but he folded so I folded.  The flop was KK9.  I could write a long post venting about these missed opportunities.

On the last big hand of the night, I raised to 6.5 BB pre-flop with As Qs and got three callers.  The flop was 654 with two spades.  As much as I hate FAQ, also known as Anna Kournikova, I’m not going anywhere.  A strong C-bet should take this down often, as I’d expect the villains’ ranges to include mostly higher cards that miss this board.  But the player on my left – for purposes of this blog I’ll call him “Vinny” – goes all-in over the top of my C-bet (he only had 36 BBs left, not enough for a full min-raise over my 20 BBs C-bet).  Vinny was the same player whose raise caused me to fold Kh 2h as noted in the prior paragraph.  Then another player – for purposes of this blog I’ll call him “Jason” – calls Vinny’s bet.  Jason was the same player whose 3-bet caused me to fold K9s as noted in the prior paragraph.  If Vinny’s raise didn’t scare me, Jason’s call certainly did.  The math dictates that I call and Jason and I end up checking it down with no side pot as the board bricks out with no spades, aces or queens.  Vinny tables 32 off-suit and triples up.  Did I mention there was a pre-flop raise to 6.5 BBs?  Jason says he had top & bottom pair on the flop.  Did I mention there was a pre-flop raise to 6.5 BBs?  I could write a long post about this hand.

Shout-out to our dealer, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “Chuck.”  Nobody gets left out of this one.


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