Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lord I Was Born A Rambling Man

Hmmm... of which topic to speak of this day? How about Crazy 8's? Old Maid? No? Poker? Oh, okay. Be warned, I feel babbling coming on.

So, since last week I've been on a weeeee bit of a downturn. Playing the role of donkey, drunk, or just unlucky bastard. Played cash games and lost my stack. Played tournaments and went out in the middle. Guess it's karma for my $2,600 in slot wins in Vegas... except that all went to pay for the trip. Or maybe it's just that my volume of play has dropped a bit in the last week, so I'm not seeing the wins.

In response to watching my various online bankrolls drop precariously (and in some cases get reloaded), I've dropped to cheaper cash games... at least losing $10 doesn't sting so much. Maybe I'll get the time to play in some qualifiers again this weekend.

Last night I was back at the club. Guin was there with his guest from Noo Yawk. However, Kat was not -- something about have to pick up her vagabond husband from the airport or some crap like that :). Good turnout tonight - 34 people for the tournament, meaning 4 tables, and 5 paid places. We assume it's because Guin was back after his hiatus. I played my usual game of sitting around average stack size, pushing when needed, and raising when I had a hand in my range... and finished 8th when my short-stacked (M=2.25) all-in with KQo ran into the tightest player at the table calling with AJo. She got her Jack, I didn't get my straight. Oddly enough the table stayed at 7 players for a good 30-40 min after I was knocked out... and in fact it was easily 1 1/2 hours before the winner was finally declared.

Lucky for me, there were two cash games going, and a seat open at one of them. I sat down, turned my ten $20's into a couple stacks of red chips, and went to work. Long story short, amazingly my Aces and Kings mostly held up throughout the night, and I went home with $220 more than I walked in with ($240 for cash and tournament, $460 when I left). I think I can pull some stories out of these.

First - the Aces. Got them twice. 1st time was a doozy, 2nd time didn't work out, but also didn't cost much. This is a story of the former. I'm in EP (possibly UTG) with Bullets and raise to 5x the BB ($10 on a $2 BB), which is somewhat out of character for me in that position, but I wanted to get people out. Guy next to me (solid player) calls, guy next to him (average player) raises all-in for $26 total. I'm happy, thinking this will scare out everyone else. Not so much. Fold, Call, Call, Call, Call, Fold, Call... wha?? So I call the $16 more because with all that activity, I figure the other 2 aces HAVE to be out there, but I only have about $50 more behind, facing bigger stacks who are obviously loose as hell and will call an all-in from me. Solid player beside me folds.

Flop comes 9hKhxh. Great. I check my Aces, and see one of them is, in fact, the heart. Checks to me, and I put in $25. Fold, and all-in for $58. Fold, Fold, Fold. My turn. Fine, $33 more, leaving me with about $5 or $10 left. I know the flush is there, but I'm hoping for the heart.

The cards are flipped. First all-in has KJo, giving him the pair of Kings. Next all-in has 67h, giving him the flush. I, of course, have my Aces. Turn is a 9. I'm begging for a heart or some miracle Ace that I know isn't there. River comes... a THIRD 9! We all stop for a second... and it dawns on us that the hand just changed big time. No nines out there... the flush suddenly dies to the 9's full of Kings, and MY 9's full of Aces! So I take down the whole pot, and look lovingly at my stack that is finally bigger than what I started with. Holy lucky, Batman! Oh, and two people admitted to holding an Ace, so I was right about that.

Now, the real fun in this was the commentary from the guys at the other side of the table, who called the initial all-in. "Why didn't you push all-in pre-flop with Aces??" I gave my reasoning, same as above. "I had crap! I just called because this guy called. The odds were good!" Ummm... okay... right, a 1/2 NL game, with $101 in the pot and $26 to call a raise, call, all-in re-raise, and 2 calls is GOOD odds? 4-1 when you know at least one person has cards before you and you have crap? I guess it depends on your definition of "crap", or what you figure the implied odds are.

Now, the commentators had very little respect from me anyway at this point. The main speaker had been spouting advice to people after a hand all night, and none of it rang as solid to me. It seemed like he was coming from a half-read book instead of any experience or observation. When I took out one guy later when my rivered Aces (holding AKh) beat his mid pair, the same guy chastised him for not going all-in when he got his pair to scare me away. Dude had about a 5th of my stack... I wasn't running with the crap that hit the board after my 7.5x BB raise pre-flop. What he SHOULD have done was fold when I put him all-in on the river. The other, quieter guy, had built a huge stack from a few loose-weak plays that hit, and then he passively bullied for a while. Occasionally he'd put out a big raise, but more often than not he'd call anything to see what happened. He seemed confident, and was definitely pissing off one guy, but he was obviously out of his element. He was nervous, shifty, and scared he was going to get caught. It took one long, hard, make-him-sweat stare-down from me before I folded to a raise to stop his game. After that, he sat back... he folded to just about anything I raised, and became very weak-passive... and his stack slowly bled away.

As for the guy who was getting pissed off? I can't help but think he's the same jerk Kat speaks of in her blog. We'll compare notes. He's the best kind. He' s convinced he's the best player at the table, is easy to tilt, and really isn't that solid. I've played him before, when he was playing just about any two cards, and telling everyone what he had. Last night, he was going with a much tighter approach, playing only what he thought were premium hands... and losing. Why? because he was scared. He'd make a good scare-away raise pre-flop, and everyone would call him and suck out. So he'd slow-play, and lose. The biggest problem was when he HAD a hand, got to the flop, and would get scared off by a raise. He was CONVINCED that whoever was in the pot had just flopped the nuts... the phrase "re-raise" didn't seem to be in his vocabulary anymore. So he lost it when big chip-stack was playing everything, and switched to the other table, where he continued to lose. Oddly enough, he would respect you if you played a solid hand... but not a solid bet. He seemed to be under the impression that poker was a card game... not a betting game.

I love the group I play with. It's a fantastic mix of players and styles, and it keeps me on my toes and analyzing. It also allows for a lot of experimentation -- I can try out a couple ways to play hands and see how people react. The best part is, the loose players assume everyone is a loose player, so a solid hand can take you far.

So, barring something better coming along, tonight I'm playing in an $80 super-satellite (SnG) to the upcoming Niagara WPT event. Worst case? I make it home in time for the Not. Wish me luck :).

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