KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “high hand bonus”

Tilting From the Sidelines

NOTE:  This entry was originally posted on a different site on January 25, 2017 and has been slightly edited prior to re-posting here.

It started innocently enough.

At a $2/5 game at Maryland Live! casino, I’m dealt 8h 7h on the button.  No one raises.  Suited connectors like these are an excellent value for seeing a cheap flop, especially multi-ways, especially in position.  I limp in.

So far, I’ve invested $5.

The flop is As Th 7s.  This gives me bottom pair with a very weak kicker.

After a check or two, somebody bets $20 and another player calls.  Is there really any reason to continue here?

No.  Putting more money into this pot is a losing proposition.  I don’t have any draws, other than runner-runner Hail Mary types.  The board is very drawy, I don’t have the right draws (like spades or 98), and I’m not Aaron Rodgers.  So I fold.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll refer to myself as “Player 1.”

I’ve been trying to make more notes on my poker game, partly to force me to pay closer attention to the action (which is necessary if you want to write down the salient points) and partly to review later and analyze key hands.  While this hand is playing out, I’m tap-tap-tapping notes on my phone, which I’m holding on my lap underneath the table.

“All-in,” says the dealer.  Wha—?  Looking up at the table, I see that two players remain in the hand.  The turn and river cards have been dealt, one player has bet $200, and the other has raised all-in for about $600.

It takes a couple seconds to sink in.  Before the showdown somebody tells the dealer, “get ready to call the floor.”  The poker room is running a High Hand promotion today.  Every 20 minutes, the highest hand on any table in the room gets a $500 bonus, and each new high hand has to be verified by a floor supervisor.  I glance at the monitor and see that the current highest hand is quad-something.  It doesn’t really matter what… any quads are lower than any straight flush.  I resist the urge to puke.

The first guy calls the all-in bet and the raiser turns over his cards, and scoops the large pot with his A-high flush.

I only lost $5 on this hand, but it feels like I lost $1500.  Call it the “opportunity cost” of folding on the flop for $20.

Maintain poker face.  Looking calm, disinterested.  Don’t force the table to listen to me whine about what woulda / coulda / shoulda happened.

Feeling #$$J&##@*&>!!  Invisible TILT.  Injustice tilt.  Internal raging fire tilt.  FOMO tilt.  I-could-book-a-nice-win-and-go-see-a-movie-tilt.

 

When the cards are shuffled and cut, the order has been determined.  As often happens in poker, had the same community cards been delivered in a different order, the outcome would change.  Dramatically.

For solace, I turn to the 2nd century Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who wrote:

  • “Begin each day by telling yourself:  Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil.  But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading.”

At the poker table, the other players are my “brothers” in the sense described by Aurelius, and so is the dealer.  In a different way, so are the cards.  As inanimate objects, the cards are the most ignorant of all as to what is good or evil.  The cards never show any gratitude or loyalty.

According to Aurelius, I should not be angry with my brother.  But I was.  I was really, really, really, really, very pissed off.  I still am.  This entry could be a happy-brag-blog rather than a tilt-whine-blog.  The rest of my session didn’t go well either (two lowlights:  AK v 77 on KK7 flop and AK v KK (who flatted pre-flop) on KQ5-A flop-turn.  In both cases, the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train).

What will today bring?  For one thing, today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness…

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Cinderella

My father will celebrate his 81st birthday next month.  He still plays in a weekly home poker game, every Thursday night, which he enjoys greatly.  But theirs is a low limit, fifty cent maximum bet, dealer’s choice game.  Lots of variety and camaraderie, very little poker skill is required, and nobody gets hurt.

No limit Texas Holdem, which I like to play, is different in the sense that you can lose your entire stack, or double it up, at any time.

With this in mind, at last night’s No Limit Holdem home game with blinds of $1/1, there was a player I have never seen before.  For this purposes, I’ll call her “Eileen,” a very lovely and entertaining 81-year-old women who frequently reminded us that she was “just and old woman.”  She also mentioned that her father once played professional soccer in England, so perhaps she has an in-bred competitive nature that isn’t readily obvious.

In this game, there is a high-hand bonus at 1:00 am, paid to the highest hand of the night that uses both hole cards.  The bonus is usually about $100.  On one hand, “Eileen” had pocket 99’s, flopped a set of 999’s, and did not bet aggressively at all, later stating that she didn’t want to run everybody off and miss out on a chance for the 4th nine to arrive and put her in the lead for the high-hand bonus.  (At this point, another player already have flopped quad 6666’s.)

Meanwhile, I am having a wonderful night, having started with $160 and now sitting at approx. $450.

In middle position, I get KK and raise to $6.  Eileen and one other player call, and the flop is AK7 with 2 hearts.  Ba-da-bing!  If somebody has an Ace, I’m going to get paid off here.

I bet $6 again, a small bet to find out who has the Ace.  Eileen calls and the other player folds.  I need to be careful not to overplay this hand, as she seems a bit timid and may be the type of trusting soul who will just believe me if I bet too aggressively.  I’m going to make the kind of bets that can get called 3 times by a hand like AT or A9.  I just don’t know her capacity to call large bets.

The turn is 8h.  Now I also have to be concerned about flushes as there are 3 hearts on the board.  Since 2 of them are the A and K, it is less likely that she has a flush draw, although her pre-flop calling range could include QJhh, QThh, or JThh.  But this is exactly 3 hand combinations, a very small part of her range, and Ax is much more likely.

I now bet $10, and she calls again.

The river is Jd.  Eileen leans towards me with her eyes opening wide now, as if to say “Whaddaya gonna do sonny?  Keep bluffing and I’ll call you.”  It’s actually a little scary looking and I should remember that look for future reference.  A tell, perhaps?

I bet $15 on the river, a very small bet into a pot that is now approx. $50.

She calls again, so I turn over my cards and announce, “I have three Kings.”  Eileen responds, “Well, I have three Aces” and turns over pockets AA’s.

She called pre-flop, called on the flop with top set, called on the turn, and called again on the river.  Never ever ever ever ever ever would I be able to include AA in her range in that situation.  On the other hand, I lost the minimum.  If she raises on the flop, I would cheerfully get it all in there and double her up.  Once again, Eileen explained that she was hoping for a 4th ace to make the high-hand bonus, or alternatively after the 3rd heart fell, hoping for the board to pair on the river so the flush possibility wouldn’t slow her down.

I’ve never felt such a sense of relief after losing a hand.  Flopped KKK vs. flopped AAA!

About 30-45 minutes later, Eileen hits a Q-high straight flush, which easily holds up to win the high-hand bonus.  After making the straight flush, she bet $5 on the river!

After that happened, I realized I was playing poker with a “mature” Cinderella.  While Eileen looked more like the fairy godmother (or great-godmother?), after flopping a set of 999’s, flopping a set of AAA’s (vs. KKK’s no less!), and a rivered gutshot straight flush at a game that pays a high-hand bonus, it became clear that this was her night at the ball.

There were no glass slippers, no pumpkin turned into a fancy chariot or mice turned into coachmen, no fancy ball gown that I could see.  But the handiwork of a fairy godmother was evident all over the place.  She called her prince to explain that she would be home a bit later than promised so she could stay and collect the high-hand bonus.  At 1:00 she left, saying how much she looked forward to seeing us all again next week.

I hope the spell lasted long enough for Cinderella to arrive home safely.

It I see her again at a poker table and she ever makes a truly aggressive move, I’m running out the front door as fast as I can.

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