Archive for March, 2008

Controlling the pot

Posted: March 30, 2008 in General

An interesting hand came up at the Empire Saturday night cash game last night. Fresh from a £160 cash-game win at the Loose Cannon that afternoon, and having run my Empire starting stack of £250 up to £600 after getting a fair run of two-pair hands, I tangled with a Chinese lad who later let slip that he was a pro.

We’d only butted heads once previously in the game, where from the button he’d called my mid-position raise pre-flop, I check-raised top-pair on the flop knowing he’d take the lead after I showed weakness, and he folded.

In the hand in question I picked-up KK from the small blind. Five limpers to me, and I made it £15 to go, which in retrospect was a little too small for this loose £1/2 game.

Three callers, including the Chinese guy from seat 4. He and I were both playing off of big stacks, the other players had under £200 each in front.

Flop: 567 rainbow

Now that’s not a great flop for Kings against three opponents, but out of position I think I have to make a significant bet here to get rid of any gutshot draws (I know in this game that open-ended draws will call regardless). I bet £50 into a £65 pot, only the Chinese guys calls.

Turn: (567) 2 with two clubs

That’s not a terrible card for me – anyone playing 34 flopped the straight already, so it really just puts the backdoor flush draw out there. I now have a bit of a quandry. With both of us playing off of £450+ stacks, and £165 in the pot I elect to bet again to see where I am, figuring a check may just induce a semi-bluff and leave me none the wiser.

Chinese guy fairly quickly makes it £250 to go. Oops. I’m now fairly convinced that he’s either flopped a straight or two-pair, and I somewhat reluctantly fold, flipping-up my kings in the hope that he’ll also show. He does, tabling T8 clubs for the huge draw. A great play on his part, picking a nice spot to take-on the other big stack in position, and correctly judging my ability to lay-down a big hand.

Despite making a mistake in a potential £1,200 pot, I was actually quite happy with the way this played-out. His semi-bluff was a class play, and I think I learned a good lesson about targeting opposition.

Mike and I managed to waylay the guy on the way out for a bit of a chat. We talked the hand through, and his view was that I should have checked the flop to keep the pot small. Out of position it seems counter-intuitive to me – letting three players see a free draw-heavy turn feels like a mistake with a big hand. But perhaps by sweating one card I can successfully then avoid losing a big pot. If a scare card does come on fourth street (any ace /3 /4 /8 /9) I can throw away my kings with impunity. If it’s checked behind me and the board pairs I probably feel safer, as two-pair or a set is likely to bet the flop for me. Any other card and I can make a big (relative to the smaller pot) bet that a draw with one-card to come really can’t sensibly call.

Would welcome thoughts from my meagre readership on the topic, may also post this to for discussion.

Anyway, one good result of the hand was a chance to prove to myself that I didn’t let this throw me off my game. Buckled down for ten minutes, but was quickly back to playing strong for the remainder of the night, finishing a net £250 in profit after missing a big draw with the nut flush in a £200 pot in the last thirty minutes.


Return to form

Posted: March 27, 2008 in Tournaments

Despite a three week vacation to Thailand, it seems I haven’t quite slipped the noose of my 2008 bad run just yet. Last night played a £30+3 NLHE tournament at the Loose Cannon, finishing 13th out of 18 runners.

Russian Michael and myself were slightly late starters, filling the last available seats on the two tables. Michael look slightly baffled at my offer of a £10 last-longer as we sat down into our respective seat 9’s, but accepted nonetheless. Was a well timed offer as it turned-out, as he only survived about ten hands, and was the first player eliminated!

In first round of the match, I limped from late position with J7o after three others players flat called the 50 big blind.

Flop: J97 with two diamonds. BB bet 100, one caller, I raise to 400, BB calls, other folds.
Turn: (J97)K. BB bets 500, I call.
River: (J97K)K putting three diamonds on-board. BB checks. I check. He shows AA.

I could have bet the turn, but when he flat called my flop raise and bet-out on the turn, I suspected he may have picked-up one of the straights or a better 2-pair, so elected to keep the pot small. Knowing his hand in retrospect I should have moved-in, but he was asking for big trouble checking his BB with aces and four other players in the pot, and I believe it’s likely he’d still have called me with just the overpair. I guess I was just lucky to lose the minimum after being outrun on the river.

About 90 mins later, rather short-stacked after a long stint of tight play and just one or two well timed steals, I picked-up JJ on the button. Managed to get it all-in pro-flop against Mike Conway’s 66, but am outdrawn again and eliminated to the third 6 on the flop.

C’est la vie, I guess all I can do is to keep plugging away and trying to ride-out this run as the year progresses.

Anyway, thankful that I had only done £20 rather than the usual sorry 2008 three figure story, I decided to invest some of my funds saved in a couple of new poker books. Should make for a good weekend study session.

Almost a holiday from poker

Posted: March 17, 2008 in General

Currently having a rather good time on vacation. Spent the best part of two week’s touring Northern Thailand with Kat, and we’re now settled in for the last week of the trip on a Phuket beach.

As I type, am lazing on a secluded cove of Kata beach. Have a few spare batteries for the laptop and a wifi signal from a conveniently unsecure connection at a nearby house on the cliffside (I think – it got stronger when we moved chairs due to the 30C sun and lack of a parasol where we were). Following a dip in the sea and a bit of a snorkel around the rocks (saw a starfish of the non-chocolate variety) am just fresh off of a 30 minute $1/2 NL session on Poker Trillion where I won the grand total of 92 cents, which just about paid for the mango smoothie I had for lunch.

So all in all, a rather marvellous holiday.

Not getting away with it

Posted: March 2, 2008 in Game Write-ups

Good grief, it’s been a bad 2008.

After another horrific run this evening, I’m £1,338 down for 2008. This follows four consecutive winning years since I started keeping records, but it’s only 2nd March and I’ve already blown a third of my cautiously built bankroll. To be fair, since late last year I started playing much bigger, and am now regularly paying £200 a week in tournament entry fees. However failing to cash even once in any big field events, and dropping £300+ in cash games on more than one occasion has wrought havoc with the poker accounts.

Now I’m not going to blame bad luck for this poor run, and after some deliberation I’ve realised that the few pints of Guinness I’ve had at the table mid-evening this year have probably cost me significantly more than the few quid I paid for them. It’s a foolish trap to fall into, as in previous years I was rigorous about not drinking while playing. I’m pretty sure that this new bad habit stemmed from a single winning session over Christmas, where Mike the Fish pointed out that the pint I had over a break in the £75 Empire freeze-out contributed to slightly looser play and a subsequent good run and a chopped first place for £500. Probably this led to me misleading myself into thinking that I play better when my natural tight aggressive style is loosened around the collar.

So, it was with a renewed determination and steadfast soberiety that I joined Alb and Davidski for another shot at the £75 Empire Saturday night game.

Taij and Duns were in attendance, but just kibbitzingj after quite a few cocktails while waiting for us to show-up. Mike the Fish was playing the cash game, his natural territory, and before we started the tournament he’d already doubled his buy-in to a healthy £200.

Davidski and I drew table 4, Alb sat behind us on 1. With 3,000 chips and 25/50 blinds on a 25 minute clock, the structure was reasonably fast from the get go. The table was relatively tight, so on the third orbit I found myself putting out a raise to 200 with QJo from seat 5. Only one caller, a girl opposite in the small blind. Flop was a rather nice JT2, giving me top pair and an overcard. She checks, I bet 400 into a 500 chip pot, she calls. The turn is a second jack, giving me top trips. She checks, I bet 750, she raises to 2,000 total. This looks grim, and it’s a pretty prolonged think through the hand to determine that she either has a flush draw, or a set (probably 2’s) that just turned into a boat. She looks the tight type, but some basic poker instinct tells me that she’s trying to buy the pot, however having made a big decision, I make the mistake of saying CALL as I push the remainder of my chips forwards. I have to pull back the remaining 950 to sweat the river. It’s a blank, she checks, and I relax realising that she must’ve been drawing. I push, she folds, telling the table “I thought I’d put him to a decision”. Well she did, and good on her for it, but with a pretty good read I’ve decimated her stack and taken the lead on our table.

Some short while later we’re broken, and Davidski and I have the bad luck of both moving to table 1, I luckily sit straight into Albert’s left, as he seems to have a reasonable stack himself. My first hand is KK. From seat 7 on a full table I make it 500 to go (the blinds are 100/200 at this point). My only caller is an inexperienced looking guy in the seat directly to my left. I put him on a random ace, but when the flop come AA6 that just feels much less likely. He only has another 1,250 behind, so I push on the flop, and low and behold, he shows A5o for top trips. The turn and river are blanks, and he takes a healthy chunk out of my stack. Having a rather ungracious moment, I congratulate him on his “nice call pre-flop”, but he takes it well proclaiming his beginner status. The next hour goes by fairly quietly, the blinds step up to 200/400, and we’re joined by an incredibly drunk looking Irish fellow, who for the sake of argument we’ll call Paddy. Well, Paddy is a mess, his chips are sprayed everywhere in front of him, and he can hardly hang onto the bottle of Corona he’s clutching. He tells us he’s a builder, I lament at the likely quality of his work based on the disorderly pile of chips he has in front.

Time passes uneventfully for me, however Davidski’s JTs misses against 44 even after flopping an open-ended straight flush draw, and sends him to the rail. Alb also triples up, eliminating two players with AQo against 77 and AJs. In the meantime behind us the tables have consolidated again, and eventually we’re down to the last ten (final table is last nine, they’re paying top four). I’m studying the table well, and have stolen a pot or two in position when I find myself with KK in the big blind. We’re in the last minutes of 200/400, and I have about 5,000 in chips remaining. Paddy (on the button) and Albert in the small blind both limp, and not wanting to trap Albert I make it 1,500 more to play. A good result, Paddy inst-calls, Albert gets the message and folds.

Flop is a very safe looking TT6, I move in for my remaining 2,600, and to his credit Paddy does give it at least a moment’s thought, before calling me all-in. I flip up my Kings, he somewhat sheepishly shows 33 for an under pair to the board. He’s made a terrible call, leaving himself only two outs, but true to form for 2008, a third 3 comes on the turn to send me packing.

BAD BEAT 1 statistics:
Holdem Hi: board Ts Th 6h
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Kc Kd 911 92.02 79 7.98 0 0.00 0.920
3c 3d 79 7.98 911 92.02 0 0.00 0.080

Somewhat exasperated, I leave Albert to try to win me back a refund by cashing (we have 10% of each other), and head over to the £1/2 NL hold’em cash game. I buy in for £100, which is about the average stack (min £50 / max £250). My first table is full of nits, so as soon as a seat opens on Mike’s table I shift over to sit on his immediate left. A great seat to be in as it turns-out, as by now he has the table wrapped-up, and has run his initial £100 up to over £400.

Play proceeds in an orderly fashion. Releating my bad beat story to Mike this is the moment that I’d normally reach for a pint of the black stuff, but true to plan I call for a latte and sandwich, and dig-in for the long haul through to closing time, which in this joint on a Saturday night is around 4am. Now James is right to point out that it’s usually inappropriate to blog about cash game hands, as one cash hand is much like another, and it just gives away too much value to discuss your thought process publicly. However I will share two other significant hands, as they both involved my buddy Paddy, who fresh from taking my chips to a fourth place and £200 cash had joined our table. If anything, looking even more worse for wear, and yes still clutching a Corona.

With about £160 in front of me, playing 9 handed, I open to £8 with AKo. Paddy calls, and there are three other callers creating a rather large pot. The flop comes A84 with two hearts, I’m not holding a heart, but it goes check check to me, so I put out £30 to see where I am. Paddy calls, the checkers fold. The turn is a 6 of clubs, putting a few straight draws on the flop, but still leaving my top pair top kicker looking solid. Paddy’s down to his last £40 of mess, so I put him all-in, in anticipation of revenge for the suck-out earlier. Paddy calls, and the river is dealt 7 of spades. “Oi lov dat card”, Paddy tells me, showing T9o (no hearts) for the straight. Good grief, he’s done me again.

BAD BEAT 2 statistics:
(on the flop, which is where Paddy effectively commits himself to the hand) Holdem Hi: board 4c Ah 8h
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ks Ac 927 93.64 63 6.36 0 0.00 0.936
Ts 9c 63 6.36 927 93.64 0 0.00 0.064

Despite the hit through Paddy was short-stacked, and I still have a decent stack of around £90. A few well timed steals and a few value bets, and I’m back in the black, despite paying a bunch of tips for more coffee and sandwiches, and also for ten minutes of table-side rub-down from the resident masseuse to try to avoid the impending tilt.

Mike’s running good, and has turned quads twice in the session. We’re getting towards 3am and he’s up to nearly £600, despite donking off £150 trying to run a bluff with AKo against a Frenchman with pocket 77’s who honestly was never going to lay them down. By the same late hour, my stack is holding tight around the £130 mark, for a modest cash game profit.

My last hand of the night is from seat 5, holding JJ. It’s Viv’s big blind, and there’s a straddle from the Frenchman. One caller, Mike the Fish folds, and I make it £15 to go. Predictably, Paddy calls. Priced-in, Viv and two others call; again making a sizeable pot.

The flop comes T74, with two clubs. It’s check check from Viv and Frenchie, I have the jack of clubs blocker and bet out £40 to try to win it there.

Paddy min raises to £80, fold fold, and it’s round to me for another £40 to see a turn. Now, Paddy has been calling with rubbish, but despite his erratic and rather drunken style, he’s playing well. It’s really only me he’s sucked-out on big time twice, he doesn’t seem to be paying off the rest of the table in quite so wild a manner. However, I really can’t put him on QQ / KK / AA; with three players to act behind him, he’d have to raise pre-flop with any of those hands. So really, just as in the much earlier tournament hand I’m most likely facing either a set or a draw. With this board, two pair is just too unlikely, even for Paddy.

I’m feeling beat, but he’s staring me down like he doesn’t want a call, and after quite some deliberation I put him all-in for my remaining £37. “Oi’m a long way behoind on dis one, but oi call”. He’s right, it’s only another £37 into a few hundred pounds pot, and Paddy’s makes the first +EV call of the night against me with K6 of clubs for the flush draw. I’m quickly put out of my misery on the turn when the 8 of clubs comes to finish me off. It’s a terrible call pre-flop with insufficient implied odds, but the raise on the flop is a solid play with fair fold equity against a lot of my possible raising hands. Once he’s committed £80, the hand plays itself, and I’m only 55% to win it against his flush draw and overcard.

So, another rather grim losing session. However at least one where I felt in control of the game throughout. I commented to Mike in the cab on the way home (that he was paying for!!) that I didn’t recall ever getting to a river with betting still to go and losing a hand through the whole night, and that’s got to be good poker. So, despite the loss, it’s with a positive committment to solid sober play that I’m looking forward to my next foray over the felt. City 100, bring it on.