Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nightmare on MY Street

I chided Brett for leaving a bad beat story in the comment to a post below - I am at the point in my poker career where although I do not EMBRACE bad beats, I recognize that what I'm trying to do at the table is make the correct decisions, and that bad beats will happen with regularity, and through no mis-play of mine. Falling victim to a bad beat is a sign that you got your money in with the best of it, which is different from losing with a big hand, as I'll explain below.

After a particularly tough session back in February, I remember the wise words of The Chairman Jay Greenspan, who told me, "You should be prepared to lose 3 buy-ins in a NL session." Lately, I've been taking those words a little too literally, by sprinkling buy-ins all over the table as I continue to hemorrhage cash. When I go to Vegas, I take a sizable cash bankroll, which, if things don't go poorly, becomes my cash-on-hand poker stake for a long time to come. I was slightly annoyed that my recent cold run had left me down to the final two buy-ins of my cash stake from April - I'd have to actually go to the bank if I got busted. Unheard of.

Kid Dynamite does not go to the fucking ATM. The poker table is his ATM.

So after a busy day at work on Friday, I still manage to make it to the 1-2 NL game by 5:05pm. The game is good, with multiple players with big stacks who will gladly redistribute their wealth. Greg is in the one seat - a jovial guy who is capable of playing any two cards: he will play Ace-rag for $60 preflop. He will play K-J suited for $110. Greg is sitting on a $2,000 stack. Ivan is also there, in the 5 seat, with about $1800. I take the 7 seat, to the left of the dangerous Joe Israeli. I'm whittled down to about $400 when I play this pot with Greg:

I'm UTG + 1 with J-J, and bring it in for a standard pot-sized raise: $7. In this game, I could make it $7, $15, or $25 and get the same action - so I keep my raises consistent, especially with a hand like Jacks (aka: FRIDAY IN VEGAS!) - since I don't need to play a bigger pot with them out of position multiway, I have deception value if I make my hand, and I'm willing to re-raise if someone plays back at me preflop.

I get 4 callers, and the flop comes:

J-9-3 all diamonds.

I bet $30, and only Greg calls. I have not played a ton with Greg, but this call means very little. He will probably call here with any diamond.

turn: K of hearts.

I bet $100, and Greg thinks for 10 seconds, announcing "All-in."

Now, this bet has a little more meaning... It could easily mean: K-J, K-T, K-9, J-9, 9-3, K-Q with a diamond or some similar hand, A-9 with the ace of diamonds, etc. Of course, Greg could have a made flush.

I'm getting slightly less than 2-1 on the call, and I figure I'm either a 3-1 dog if he has a flush, or a big favorite if he doesn't. I call. He says "Are you there yet?" and shows me 8-5 of diamonds. "I have outs" I shrug, and turn over my set. See - I told you I had deception value - he never saw it coming! The board failed to pair, and I rebought for $500.

I'm then left to wonder - did I misplay this hand? Can I lay this down here? I don't think so. I'd have to know my opponent very well to make this laydown, and I simply do not think Greg is a player who only makes this move with a made flush.

My new stack quickly gets whittled down to $350, and I'm pretty miserable - trying to figure out what I'm going to do, as the game is very good, and my pocket is empty. I rebound to $550, and then really screw down and play solid poker. I take A-Qs against Ivan and make a flush to get up to $800, and we then play this very interesting hand:

After one limper, I find A-Q offsuit, and make it $15. One caller in LP, and Ivan calls from the button. Limper folds.

Flop: Q-J-4, rainbow. I bet out $45 and Ivan min-raises to $90. I have $220 left.

Now, I talked with Vortex this week about how I think that this play from Ivan FREQUENTLY means he has a draw - but it seems lately tonight he's been making this play with a piece of the flop too. A hand like Q-x or J-x. I carefully consider my options - smooth call or raise. I somehow come to the conclusion that an all-in raise is best, as I want Ivan to commit his chips with the worst of it, or fold. What I fail to consider is that if he indeed has an open-ended draw, he is getting the right odds to call, and he will do so. Ivan mucks a weaker queen, and we discuss how I probably misplayed the hand - I probably should have made an intermediate raise, which would lead to me playing for my whole stack anyway on the river. The upside of this is that I am positive EV, and will get paid off - the downside is that I'm vulnerable to a suckout which will bust me.

I have now ground my stack back up to $1150 - I'm out of the black hole and actually up on the day - cruising, and playing solid, tight poker. I may be one of the few guys who can really TILT himself by WINNING a pot - but when I have the chance to liquidate a big stack and do not take advantage of it, I KNOW I've made a serious EV error, as in the next hand:

We are 7 handed, and I'm UTG+1 with 7-7. The UTG player mucks his cards and they flip over: 7-2 suited, which leaves me in a little bit of a jam: I'm reaching for raising chips, but now do I just want to play this hand passively and try to nail the miracle 1 outer for a set? Or do I want to make a raise and try to win un-improved? I raise to $7, Kenny calls, Markus re-raises to $15, Ivan calls, I call, Kenny calls. Markus's re-raise means very little, and everyone in the hand is capable of holding a very wide range of hands. All 3 of my opponents are also quite capable of bluffing and semi-bluffing this pot.

flop: 7-9-9 with two diamonds. Holy cow - what a dream flop. The case fucking seven, and NO ONE could put me on 7-7. Now lately I've been playing a very UN-fancy form of poker - take the best hand and bet it. Somehow, in this hand, I elect to make the 10% of the time Fancy Play:

Ivan checks. With Kenny behind me, as well as the preflop re-raiser Markus, I check. Kenny and Markus check.

turn: offsuit 5. Ivan bets $25. Again, I normally raise here a HUGE percentage of the time - but I think that Kenny and Markus will call at the very least, or maybe do my raising for me - I also don't have reason to believe Ivan has a hand, and I want him to make a straight or flush and pay me off big, so I just call. Kenny and Marcus fold. Hmm.. This isn't working out as planned. Actually, if I put Ivan on a straight/flush draw, I should probably raise here, and go after Ivan's stack instead of Kenny and Markus's. Ivan will pay to draw.

River: offsuit 8: Ivan bets $40. Now I wonder if it's best for me to come over the top with a huge raise - like a pot-sized raise which Ivan will read as me trying to buy this pot. I elect to raise to $120, and he says "Ok, I deserve to lose the way I played this hand," and makes a crying call... Showing me.... ACE NINE! As I realize what I've done, my eyes widen and the steam begins to build inside of me: Ivan and I "trapped" each other into playing a $250 pot instead of a $1500 pot... MY FUCKING $1500 POT!

If I had bet the flop, Ivan either check-raises or calls and bets then turn - at which point I raise and he re-raises, building a huge pot.

If I had raised the turn, Ivan re-raises, and we again build a nice pot.

My worry, I guess, was that I'd actually managed to make some big hands against Ivan recently, but had blown him out of the pots in those hands by pushing too hard. This time, I tried something different, and ran into the one hand that WOULD HAVE paid me off. Fuck.

It's now about 11pm, and Greg, who had left about 3 hours ago with my chips, returns from his dinner. Let me put Greg this way: when he cashed out earlier, he said "How do I cash out? I don't think I've ever left with chips before," and he was only half kidding!

So Greg comes back, and within two orbits we play this soul-crushing hand:

Markus opens for $25. Greg calls, Ivan calls, I call with 5-5 in the BB.

flop: 3-4-8 rainbow. I check, Markus checks, Greg bets $30. Ivan says "no one plays the 8-3 like you Greg," and mucks. Greg chuckles, as he's been showing down any hand with a 3 in it to match the board all night long. I think I have the best hand, and with this small bet into a $100 pot, I take a card off for $30. Markus folds.

turn: 5. GIN! Vengeance will be mine. This is so sweet. I check. Greg bets $25. I raise to $100. He nods "One hundred?" and thinks for 10 seconds. "I'm all -in." Greg announces.

Wow. I can't believe this is happening again! Same guy - same type of hand! But this time, He is staring me down, and I have the best hand! I think for 8 seconds and call. As if in a slow-motion car crash, Greg says: (you have to imagine this slowed down and blurred/slurred, like when Rocky throws the knockout punch at the end of Rocky III, and you can imagine Greg kicking me in the balls at the same time)

"I have six-seven." (I haaavvveeeeee siiiiiiixxxxxxxxxx seeeeeeeevvvvvennnnnnnn)

Aiiyah! I cannot believe it! Fuck me! Deja Vu all over again. I jump to my feet, "You have GOT to be fucking kidding me! PAIR THE BOARD!" as Ben the dealer confirms, "I'm just going to run it once."

"PAIR IT!" but the ten of diamonds doesn't help me.

Bad beat? Of course not - pay attention rookies: I got all my money in with the worst hand. The question is - could I have avoided it? Hmmm... This is a tough one.. Greg Raised $410 more, into a pot which contained $100 preflop + $60 on the flop, + $200 on the turn = $360. Again, I'm getting almost 2-1: I think the call is mandatory.

I still had $500 left, and Greg and Ivan were still in the game, so again I tried to screw down, focus, and get my chips back, but I was unable to make anything happen, and I eventually left at 12:30 in the morning after 7 1/2 hours, down $619. The roller coaster session was a heartbreaker - bookended by me getting stacked off by the same player TWICE, and fighting to get all of my chips back in between. I've never had a session where I lost a full buy-in to the same player twice before - especially not an assassin like Greg.

So, we have 4 hands where, by definition, I made a mistake:

1) J-J on a 3 flush board against Greg
2) A-Q on a Q-J-x board against Ivan
3) 7-7 on a 7-9-9 flush draw board against Ivan
4) 5-5 on a 3-4-5-8 board against Greg

If I were to rank the hands in order of WORST played by me to BEST played by me, I'd say:

7-7, A-Q, 5-5, J-J --> I played the 7-7 worst. The JJ and 55 are both odd - as I don't think I could have gotten away from either of them, but I could have mucked the 5-5 on the flop, or bet it out... or check-raised. The result would have been the same, but that's somewhat irrelevant.

I'd be eager to hear other opinions on the order of the misplays.

until next time,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

as my good friend Alex once said:

"bet the nuts esse" !