Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Be Gentle, It's My First Time

Sir Cedric Willingham: It is far easier to whisper advice from behind the scenes rather than risk its merit at the point of attack.
"King Ralph"

While I am Australian born and bred, I am not silly enough to think that bills passed in the US will have no effect on myself. The new gambling provisions are causing havoc and hopefully some sense comes to those in power before too long. Or perhaps the influence of the brick and mortar casinos are greater than the moral crusaders, and both hope to stop this little bit of fun we share. Either way I think all poker players should join the various groups that are opposing these changes and keep our community alive.

On to more cheerful tales, I had to make a sacrifice on the weekend to satisfy the poker demons. In a pot a few weeks ago, I had an ace in the hand on a board of A56T5. Opponent had T6 for two pair, and I showed my ace as I put my cards face up on the table. Opponent took the pot and we got on with the next hand. But as I was running it through my head I realised that the pair of 5's on the board gave me a better two pair. I said as such, and then another player confirmed that I showed my hand and the "cards speak". It was cruel though, because the other player had already stacked the chips in their pile and the cards were being shuffled for the next hand. We couldn't remember the exact amount of the pot, but he handed over what I thought was about 75% of it before I said that will do.

I felt really guilty about it, even though all things considered I had the better cards and won the pot. It wasn't a massive pot, but substantial enough for our games. I just felt guilty because he had already assembled the chips and then had it taken away. I thought about it more and more later on, and wondered if after mis-reading my hand (and everyone else at the table did the same), if I was actually entitled to that pot. My own conclusion after a few weeks of thinking about it and reading up was that yes the cards speak, but the shuffle had already begun for the next hand so it was probably too late to recall the pot.

To be honest, I was also a little worried about how the hand looked to everyone else at the game. I know the player who handed the pot over was fine with it and had more than likely forgotten it. But for others in the game, I don't want to start a bad reputation for unwarranted reasons. Anyway, even though I had shown the best hand, I needed to appease myself and stop thinking about it. It was also a major bribe to the poker demons as I haven't been running all that well of late.

Before another home game on Sunday night, I told the other player my thoughts and handed back the amount of money the pot was (actually, I handed back a little more so as to not worry about change), on the condition that he tell everyone that I handed it back. That last request was a little bit tongue in cheek, but wasn't at the same time.

Either way, the poker demons now owed me.

It took me until my third buy-in before things started to happen. This also meant I had to break my lucky hundred dollar note, which has been with me for months. I wasn't suffering any particular bad beats, just loosing pots when my cards were not hitting. I think I was making the right plays perhaps at the wrong times. A lot of the small losses were with top pair – I would make an information raise and get 3 callers. Ok, I must be behind or they are on a draw. When the flush or straight possibility came on the turn, I was done with it. At showdown, second pair would beat Ace high. While this may seem unusual to some people, you would think any decent player paying attention would pick up on it. It took me a while to adjust.

But eventually my bribe came good. With a small stack pushing it in pre-flop from early position I peeked down at the Cowboys. I was just a short way into my third buy in (I only carry four as a general rule, and never play on credit) and thought it best to isolate here. I raised it to $40 (out of my $47) confident that no one else would call unless they had…

The player immediately to my left, the same player I earlier in the night returned a pot from weeks ago, re-raised the rest of the way. With over $100 already in there, I had to throw the last $7 in as there is a 0.01% chance that he has the other two kings. Of course he didn't, and we have the classic AA vs KK battle.

One of my two outs was there to greet me on the flop. The turn gave him a flush draw, but no dice on the river.

In situations like this, I often feel compelled to apologise. In reality, it is extremely rare to lay down Kings pre-flop – in fact I never have, and the suck out is just one of those things.

That pot put me back up to over $100, but by the same mistakes I had been making all night I was back down to the $25 mark within the hour. After a raise and call in front of me, I pushed in my last chips with KQh. Not a monster, but maybe I can steel what is already out there and I would be more than happy with that. The original raiser only calls and he has JJ. I'm a slight dog in this pot, and one of the players that had folded turned over KJ to eliminate one of my outs. My second lucky flop for the night comes and now he is left with one out, as the queen of clubs saves me from digging in to my final buy in.

From there, I started playing properly. Maybe it was because everyone else was getting tired and I was just hitting my stride, but everything changed. I was making better reads, better bets and hitting more hands. I did seem to hit a lot of sets with my medium pairs, some after I had folded them, but this area has been really dry as of late. I made a calculated gamble with another player all-in on a Js4d3d flop when I was holding AdQd. I figure he might have a jack, and I have a flush draw plus two over cards (maybe one). It was worth the small price of his short stack. I called, he showed 43o and I made an offer to split the pot right there. He declined, and then dealt the six of diamonds. Someone else suggested he should have offered to run it twice (which I would have accepted), but maybe they had just been watching High Stakes Poker and Sammy Farha too much.

In the next few hands I was dealt 88 in middle position and got to see an 8 high flop with two small spades. There is no need to slow play a hand here, as people will call a raise with two over cards and no draw so I put out a $4 bet. Get two calls before the newly re-bought player min-raises it back to me. There is no need to get tricky here, and since he has just had to re-buy I think he will be reluctant to call to chase a flush. If he has a smaller set or two pair, well he's going to get fucked then. So I re-raised him all-in back. The first two callers make the obvious fold, and then my opponent sitting across the table is left to a decision. Because we are all having fun and mucking around, I decide to show him one card – the eight of spades. The opponent said "Yeah, I have one of those". These means the flush draw is out of play and I have a dominating hand.

If I was in his shoes, when I was shown the eight of spade it could mean one of two hands, pockets eights or A8s. I did it too mostly to make him fold and keep his money, but I guess he saw it as a ploy and called with Q8o, no spade. Since I lost about the same amount to him last time we played, I guess the chips already had my fingerprints on them anyway.

I hit a set of twos later on in the game, when I was only calling the turn to bluff the river. Turns out the river deuce was the case deuce, as it also gave a different opponent 2 pair. Happy days.

Late in the game, I made a call to a big river bluff and another good call with third pair against bottom pair, and left the night up nearly two buy-ins. And with my lucky hundred back in my pocket.

But ladies and gentleman, it doesn't end there. As Monday was a public holiday, I had a chance to play more online and eek out a small profit. Late Monday night I had an amazing SNG.

I managed to get back a few early losses with an Ace-high flush, and then lost a heap on one of the worst beats I can remember. I pushed all-in to a weak raise from the short stack with Ac4c, board showing Ah7c9c. The short stack thinks about it and then calls with nothing but a flush draw, Jc3c. Turn comes 8h, river is the Th which means he has backed into a straight. Can't blame him for the call with his stack, but it was just so unlucky as I felt like I had every base covered.

As my stack had taken a hit, we were down to five players and I was the shortest. I had been folding hand after hand just waiting for something decent to push with. I found JcTc on the button and made a raise. The big blind came back over the top and I have little choice but to call. He shows 9d9c and I think that puts me as a small dog in this hand.

Flop comes 9hQcKc, which isn't too bad. I have the nuts at the moment, but obviously he has hit his set and is looking for the case nine or the board to pair. The turn brings the As, meaning my hand has actually improved, and is still the nuts, only better. He still needs the board to pair. The river does just that, with the Ace of clubs. Yet again, my hand improves to my first ever Royal Flush! If this was a cash game! Funny the way the hand turned out, as he was obviously ahead pre-flop but I held the nuts every step of the way after that and eventually his 9's full was no good. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

I made it down to heads up, where I thought I was playing good but my opponent would call an all-in with any picture card. I never bluffed all-in, but I guess he was sick of it. Whenever I had the best of it, he would out draw me and then I would hit a full house as the short stack and get back to even. Eventually the chain was broken when his J6o beat my AQs, but what can you do?

I went to bed happy that I had seen a fair amount of luck come my way for a change, and that I had finally broke my Royal Cherry.

No comments: