Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Solid Play, Pleasing Results

Marv: This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war.
”Sin City”

We’ll skip all the Christmas talk for now. I hope everyone enjoyed theirs, mine was great thanks for asking. Much drinking and merriment was had by all.

Friday night however was my triumphant return to the Turkish game. This game is filled with loose players willing to gamble it up – and it is extremely rare for any one of them to fold pre-flop to a raise or even re-raise unless it is an all in. Last time I was down about $40 and out of my depth, so this time I was prepared and ready to come out punching.

We get underway, playing NL Holdem, 10c/20c blinds with $20 max buy in. I am getting cold decked from the get go, and drop my first buy in about an hour into it. On the flop I had the nut flush draw and a small stack – I push and get called once by a middle pair, and my flush doesn’t come. That’s one down…

I continue to be amazed by hat people will see a flop with after my Big Slick pre-flop raise to $2.50 (or 12.5 BB) fails to scare off 35o. Anyways, you go into these games knowing that so when it happens you have nobody to blame but yourself.

I keep making my pre-flop raises regardless, and try to limp a few hands out of position with suspect cards also. They miss and I drop, and the play continues. We are into the second hour, I am half way through my second buy-in and still yet to pull a pot. I loose my second buy in when my jack high flush is trumped by a king high flush. Re-buy!

Before long, the numbers grow and grow and we end up playing 12-handed for a few hands before it is decided to split the table in two. This can only be good, because 12 handed was far too slow. I was already down 2 buy ins and eating into my third, but I kept thinking with this action just one pot could get me back to even. Every hand had 7-8 runners, and a bet of $2 on the flop would get nearly the same number of callers. Rarely would a hand be won without showdown, I just needed one hand to pay off. It never came though. The best starting hand I had was pocket 7’s, which I dropped post flop (the hand was won by pocket nines regardless).

After 3 and a half hours, I pulled my first pot, a whopping $1.50. I stood up and applauded myself. 5 minutes later, I won my second and had my third buy in back.

My major problem was AK. A few times I felt that laying it down on the flop was the right move, when it turned out to be wrong. If I called the three times this happened instead of folding, I would have been even already. But oh well, that’s poker right?

I start getting some cards that match the board, and slowly move up in chips – even taking out a few players. After the 6th hour, we have had enough people leave the game to reform back into one table of reasonable size. I nearly have my second buy in back.

The remaining players have changed the game slightly, and my pre-flop raises of $2 are met with groans. Good – I want people to feel uncomfortable playing against me. I did so with good hands only though, usually ace plus paint. I get my best starting hand for the entire night, 99, and fold it post flop when it comes out with paint all over it. I guess some nights you have to do without Aces.

It was frustrating having all these bad cards, when someone sitting across the table had their pocket pairs hit sets 3 times in the one orbit! And one of those times the pocket fours turned into quads. Alas, the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

One of the hardest hands for me came at about this time, 8 hours into the session. With AsKd, I raise it my usual $2 pre-flop to get a few callers. Flop comes rainbow Kxx, no flush and no OESD are apparent. I bet out in early position for $4. The one player at the table who is notorious for being tight starts counting out his chips, and pushes all in for a farther $17 plus change. For the size of the game, it’s a pretty big bet from the tightest player at the table.

I go into the think tank as everybody else folds. My initial thought is to fold, but I decided I have to milk it for a moment just so they know they can’t go over the top of me all the time. I do have a decent hand, but I have to respect the rock.

And then I get thinking, what if he is making a move here? Sure, he is the tightest player ever, but he is aware of this and has been trying to correct it. He has even been taking pointers from other players about it during this game and others before. Could this be his first bluff?

I go through all the actions in this hand and the previous 8 hours. He hasn’t been seeing every flop like most of the players, and he has been raising/calling only with strong hands. I have folded AK three times tonight and been wrong about it, do I want to finally make the call and be wrong?

I count out the $17 just to see his reaction to it, but he isn’t watching. Could that be strength masked as weakness? Or is his attention genuinely distracted?

I hate big slick. I loose more money on that hand than on any other. But in the end, it is a TPTK hand really. It’s that kind of flop that suits AK really.

I’m taking much longer to think about this than I thought I would. I was just going to pose for a few seconds before folding, putting him on Aces or a flopped set. But for some reason, after never convincing myself that a call was the right move, I fling my chips into the middle – “You got aces?”

“No” he replies, “But it’s still pretty good”.

He has AdKs, and there is no cards in the deck that stop this from being a chopped pot. I made only a few dollars on that hand, but it really helped me focus again in the early hours of the morning.

I start stacking my chips up to see how much I have, and find out that I am about $1 over even. I keep my chips stacked in $20 piles, so I know where my profits are. I know how some players like to exploit this – for example, an opponent has $103 late in their session, and you bet out $4 just so they have to break their neat stacks and go under that $100 mark. Even though the bet is still only $4, the fact that it makes them dip below that $100 mark makes the call that little bit harder for some people. Even though I had stacked up my initial investment, I convinced myself that if I needed to re-invest it I would.

The game is getting into the wee hours, and I am still getting groans for my pre-flop raises. I make sure to comment every time someone groans, which makes it seem like I’m doing it far more often than I am.

One player, the rock, has counted out $30 even in chips and wants to cash out. The other players say he should hang around, we’ll only be playing for another 15 minutes or so. He’s thinking it over, and I chime in “You’re on the button, play the hands for free and see what you get.” He decides to do this, and groans as he is made to call my pre-flop raise the very next hand. I make a semi bluff on the turn, and he mucks it. Now he has broken his $30 stack. The host calls for one more orbit before we call it a night, since we are past the 9 hour mark now.

I made a bit of a blunder about this time. Early position with the board showing AKQx, I have A9. There hasn’t been too much action and I still think even a naked ace might have most of the field covered, and only another piece of Broadway would have me worried.. The river comes 9, and I think a small value bet might get one or two callers. I bet out for $4, about pot sized, and get one caller. “Two pair, kings and queens”. I call back “Top and bottom pair” and show my cards. He sighs, and then says “What two pair?” I say I hit it on the river, then re-check my cards. I’m gladly showing everyone my A7 and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Shit. I had A9 about 3 hands ago. I apologise, and tell him I really thought I did have A9, otherwise I wouldn’t have bet out on the river. He doesn’t care, and I think takes more satisfaction in ribbing my mistake than he does in raking in the pot.

On the final hand of the night, the majority of the players have already started racking up. I think I can take this one for a cheap win and do so on the turn when my hand is still unimproved. I show my hand and say “Yep, I definitely had it this time” and fling my A9 face up into the muck.

In the wash up, I cashed out at $85.90 for a grand profit of $25 – I left a 90 cent tip to the house because there was no change left. From not winning a pot in the first 3 hours and down nearly three buy ins to up a buy in and winning the very last hand on a bluff. My bets hand for the night was 99, and it never got past the flop.

It was a good solid night of poker and reminded me why I love playing live poker so much.

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