KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “straight flush”

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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2 Straight Flushes in One Hand

I’ve never seen this before.  Last night at a $1/1 home game, two of the players got all-in on the flop.

One of them, I’ll call him “Eric,” has 5c 3c.

The other, I’ll call him “Sonny,” has 76o, where neither of his cards is a club.

The flop was 6c 5d 4c, giving Eric a middle pair + open-ended straight flush draw, and giving Sonny top pair + open-ended straight draw.  At the point, Sonny is ahead with his pair of 66’s beating Eric’s pair of 55’s, but Eric is actually a slight favorite (55%-to-45%) to win the hand based on his many outs (any club, any five, any deuce).

After some posturing and negotiation, they decide to run it three times.  (This means the pot will be divided into 3 equal sub-pots.  The dealer will flip over a turn & river card for 1/3 of the pot.  Then, using the same original flop cards, the dealer will flip over a 2nd turn & river for another 1/3 of the pot, then a final turn & river for the last 1/3 of the pot.  This helps reduce variance when players are all-in before the river.)

The very first turn card is 2c, giving Eric a 6-high straight flush, followed by a meaningless river card. Wow!

Sonny wins the second round.

In the final round, the river card is the 7c, hitting the top end of Eric’s draw and giving him a 7-high straight flush.  Double wow!

Highlight of a crazy night.  During this game, there were 6 hands where someone had pocket AA’s and flopped a set (including Eric 3 of those times).  Triple wow!

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.

In Love with Over-pair

This hand comes from a live cash game in Las Vegas 2 nights ago.  I am playing $1/3 no limit hold’em, and up about $200 at this point.

I was up $250+ (thanks to a straight flush that got paid [put smiley face here] and KK early in the session) but now I’ve been on a run of weak cards for over an hour.

Then I look down at JJ in early position and raise to $11.  Only the button calls.  He is on his 3rd buy-in and I have him well covered.

Flop:  T-7-6 with 2 spades.  I make a continuation bet of $16 and button calls.  Looks like he might have top pair or a flush draw.  I’m confident that I’m still ahead and if a safe card comes on the turn, I’m going to place a large bet.

I’m also tired, having played a very late session the previous night and not slept enough.  I briefly consider that he could have flopped a straight or a set.

Turn:  4d.  The safe turn card I was looking for.  I bet $55, about the size of the pot and he rather quickly announces all-in.

All-in?  WTF?  I wanted a safe turn card and got one.  I call.  Then I find out this is going to cost about $120 more.

Too quickly.  Shouldn’t an alarm sound here.  (see this prior post about danger warnings…)  When the other guy goes all-in, that doesn’t mean he’s always on a draw.  More likely he has made a hand and is more worried about me having a big draw.

Before calling, shouldn’t I at least replay the action so far in my head, and ponder what I’ve observed about the villain?  (Hint:  answer starts with Y.)

This is one of the hazards of playing poker when tired.

Last night on the plane back from Vegas, I was re-reading Barry Greenstein’s excellent book Ace on the River.  He describes when he first went to California to play in the card rooms there, he would sleep until 5 pm, go to the card room at 6:00 and play until they closed at 2 am.  He says, “I won consistently and thought it must be because I was the best player.  But that wasn’t the reason.  I was playing against people who had worked all day and had a few drinks to relax.  Meanwhile, I was resting and training for the event.  I didn’t know the difference until I got a job and tried to play after working all day.  I was a basket case.”

So here I am and the only hands I can beat are an over-played top pair hand (not so likely since I represented strength with my UTG pre-flop raise) and an over-played flush draw (also not so likely as I haven’t observed this villain play that way).

I was tired, enduring a boring stretch of bad cards, got a small jolt of adrenaline with JJ (I also had JJ on the hand the made a straight flush earlier), and spewed away my entire gain for the session.

Villain turns over 8s 5s, for a straight with a re-draw for a spade flush (which hits on the river).  Either way, I am drawing dead.  A loose call from the button – I would not have put 85s in his range at all – but it worked out for him.

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.

Nice Flop!

Playing online today, $0.50 – 1.00 blinds and 6-max table.

Yes, that’s me with the J-10 of spades.

Yes, I won this hand.  I probably could have won a bit more with it, but was overcome with the urge to shove all-in on the river and the only remaining villain folded.

Doesn’t matter.  I feel great!!!!!!!

Nice Flop

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