Archive for February, 2009

Seven sets

Posted: February 28, 2009 in General

Someone tell me, how the hell is it possible to flop seven sets in five hours and still turn a £250 loss…gahhh! Running red hot, but a distinctly bad start to a marathon day of poker. Home for a quick lunch, then back to the LC for cash followed by a much anticipated HORSE tournament. Yee harrrr, saddle up cowboy!


The early bird catches the fish

Posted: February 22, 2009 in General

Took a second pre-breakfast trip to the Empire Saturday morning to try to catch the snoozing fishies. My first similar adventure last month showed promise but slim results, with a succession of poor cards yielding only a £200 win. I was looking to make a significant improvement on that this weekend.

It’s an interesting take on the London poker scene. Maltese Mike and I were cleaning-up at our usual Friday night Empire session sometime around Christmas, and at 8am were joined by two guys looking fresh as daisies who both sat down at our table and bought-in for the max. We figured that if they were halfway competent we’d better get our asses out of there, to avoid getting stacked by someone refreshed after a full night’s sleep.

As Daniel (Negreanu) says, ‘if you fear someone at the table, learn what he’s doing and become that guy’, so making a fairly simple adjustment to my schedule I did, trading Friday early hours continued drinking for a midnight finish and a Saturday 5am alarm call.

The Empire recently closed their self-deal tables, introducing raked dealer games rather than an hourly rate; with the size of the pots that tend to be played this will definitely improve their margins. You might expect the room to be dying at 6am, but as I arrived four of these dealer tables were going strong, and there was even a short waiting list to play. It took about 30 minutes before I got a seat, but one finally came up on the table I’d hoped for, the one with none of the recognisable regulars seated.

Sitting down with £250 my morning started badly, losing a three figure pot on the very first hand with AQo after a loose aggressive French player made a couple of against the odds calls, rivering two pair with 24o on a queen high board. He had over a thousand in front of him, and was getting involved in almost every hand, most of which he was raising. He had position on me, so as soon as the player two seats to his left departed I made an instant seat change to reverse the situation.

I had another £250 in chips in my pocket, and every so often would pop a £25 chip out to keep my stack topped-up. Playing a tight aggressive game, I wanted to be able to extract maximum value as soon as one of my hands stood-up. That wasn’t to be my next tangle with Frenchie though. In seat 4 he opened to £12, and from seat 6 I made it £30 to go, isolating him with AKo. He called and the two of us took a queen high flop. He checked, and I made an exploratory £30 continuation bet, which he called. We both checked the second queen on the turn, and I made made top pair top kicker when a king fell on the river. His opening raise of £120 left me fairly sure that I was behind to trip queens, but I had to make a crying call to be shown Q8o. Painful to be out-played rather than out-drawn, but once again I topped-up to £150 with the last chips in my pocket.

Very quiet for an hour or two, but I finally won a decent pot with a rather smart call around 10am. Holding black nines in early position, on this loose table I determined to play it for set value, calling £2 rather than raising. Frenchie as anticipated made it £12 from the small blind, and I decided to stick to my plan, allowing three of us to take a flop of 3d 6h 8d. Frenchie popped-out another £12, and having flopped an overpair rather than a set I made it £36 to go, again intending to isolate him. Contrary to my plan though another player with position on me came along for the ride, and we turned a Jh. Frenchie checked, and much as I’d have liked to price the draws out of the hand, if I bet I wouldn’t be able to call a reraise, so I decided to turn my hand into a bluff catcher and checked along for pot control. A somewhat dangerous looking 4h came on the river, completing the back-door flush and the 57 straight. Frenchie checked, I checked, and the third player bet £120 into the £150 pot. Frenchie passed, and I was left to mull over whether I should follow through my plan with a call. Performing a soul-read led me to think that he might not have it, and so telling him that I would have passed if the diamond came in rather than the heart, I called to take down the pot against his mucked hand, running my stack up to about £500 and almost putting me level for the session.

With a few minor moments, I then hit a four hour stint of trash hands and missed flops. I think this test of patience is really the most difficult element of playing a strong TAG game, it’s very easy to get frustrated and start playing outside your comfort zone with sub-standard hands. On this occasion I managed to hold it together, and only really got involved twice unfortunately taking fairly brutal outdraws both times – my small flush being counterfeited by a fourth heart, and my push with bottom two pair being outrun by a short-stack on a flush+gutshot.

With a few late position steals however I managed to hold my stack around the £400 mark, and finally came good with two massive hands in the afternoon.

2pm: I raise to £8 with KsKc in seat 6, flop an overpair against two other players, one of whom I have marked as a gambler who’ll make poor calls when drawing. I open for £22, player in between us makes it £44 and the drawmaster calls. This gives me a perfect spot to squeeze the middle player out of the hand, and I do so by moving all-in with a rather big overbet. Middle player passes, and drawmaster makes the call with a bare flush draw. For once my hand holds-up, and I stack him running my pile up to about £750.

3pm: I open to £10 under the gun with Chinese aces, 8d8h. Only a single call from the small blind on a stack of £370, and I flop big with 852 rainbow. Beautifully, he opens the betting for £32. I elect to play the hand trickily and for his whole stack by making a raise to £82, however my chips fall a little funny and he tries to call a string bet. We argue about it for a minute, but the bet goes, and I sense he’s pissed off, excellent! He grudge calls the £50 and we turn the 6d, putting a flush draw on board. He checks and I tank for about a minute. I’m certain I’m still ahead with top set, but I don’t put him on a draw, his opening raise smells more like one pair. He’s a very aggressive player, and I need to give him a chance to hang himself.

Having raised the flop, betting the turn looks too strong. I decide to check behind, which will disguise my hand when I bet the river, which will hopefully look like a missed draw as long as the board blanks. The river is better than I could have anticipated though, as I make top house with the 5s, and if I’m lucky he’ll also perceive that as improving his hand if he previously had middle pair. Unfortunately he checks, and so again I tank. I don’t want to take the play away from him, so have to make a bet that looks like I’m stealing and will pass to a raise, inducing him to bluff. I try to put on a nervous display, fumble with my chips for a little, and then aggressively throw out £92 into the pot of £200 and give him a glare, hoping he’ll interpret that as ‘strong means weak’. Luckily enough I’ve played the situation just right – he shoves for about £200 more, and I slam call. His A5o is no good, and I’ve broken the four figure barrier getting up to £1150.

I play along for another hour or so, but the room has filled-up with Saturday afternoon players, and around 4pm I retire on a healthy profit.

Having used a TAG approach to beat the morning game two for two, this could become a regular occurrance. It certainly works better in terms of being able to keep normal hours, allowing a proper albeit slightly tired Saturday night out, which I did in celebratory fashion for Laura’s birthday last night…

Folding the nuts on the river

Posted: February 1, 2009 in Cash games

Donkey!Only a £2 pot, but I should have known it was going to be a mistake laden session when I threw in my rags on the river in an obvious split pot where myself and the other blind were both playing the board in a checked down hand.

After a Saturday putting my hand to some satisfying DIY at home, I thought I’d spend a few hours of the evening at The International. Turned out that it was a £300 freezeout festival warm-up night, so the club was rather busy. Nonetheless they were opening a new table as I arrived and I fairly quickly got a seat in the 1/1 NLH game. Opened aggressively, often three betting when in position with prospective cards. The trouble with this style though is that after a while you have to figure your opponents are onto you, and will start playing back at you with weaker hands. Correspondingly that causes you to need to tighten-up and start showing down some real hands, and during the back and forth you’ll often find yourself in a quandry holding a hand like middle pair against an otherwise tight opponent. This was the source of my first ‘proper’ error of the night, my three bet in the cut-off with A2s being called by a tight button. Flopping top pair no kicker and no draw, I put out a blocking bet with the plan of passing if he raised. He did – all in, and then it started to occur to me that he might make this play with a range that didn’t necessarily include bigger aces. Thinking about the situation the next day as I write up this entry, I’m not sure how I convinced myself it was worth calling for the last £60 of my first reload, but at the time I guess hopeless optimism and a sense that he was trying to get one over on me prevailed. Of course he had A8 for top two pair.

A different sort of error, but on at least two hands in the subsequent hour I failed to get full value for a couple of big hands: Flopping a king flush I bet out too strong and drove away what turned out to be two people drawing to second best hands; rivering the nut straight, I put an opponent on a smaller straight and overbet the pot, looking for a big call but failing to find it.

As for today’s post title, and probably my most ridiculous playing error of the last five years of poker – folding the nuts on the river? Well how else are you going to play your pair of tens when there are four overcards on the board and the button has bet every street..?! D’oh, definitely time to go home methinks…