Friday, April 14, 2006


Yesterday's session hurt. Thinking back about the session, I was very happy about my play in general: I took one vicious beat, missed a big draw, ran into one pretty cold deck, and was beaten by a better hand in another pot. The fourteen hundred dollar loss sucked, but I felt good about my play. I vowed to keep my composure, get back on the train, and start fresh today.

Today, I ground my stack up early, and then quickly got stacked by Chris on his first hand: I raised to $10 UTG with Friday in Vegas: JJ. Chris called, as did JD and one other, and we saw a 6-7-8 flop with two diamonds.

I bet $50 and was called by both players. On the turn, the jack of diamonds came. Aiyahh... speaking of cold decks. Chris has been playing ridiculously fast and loose lately, so I'm not planning to check-fold here. I bet $150, and he moves all-in for $180 more. Fuckin'A. I call and he has K-3 of diamonds. The board doesn't pair on the river.

Can I get away from this hand? Perhaps. This is one I can complain about all I want, but I didn't need to lose $330 more here on the turn. Indeed, the jack of diamonds was the worst card in the deck for me on the turn, but it's also conceivable I can give up on this pot against two opponents. The bottom line was, against these two opponents, in this game, I wasn't prepared to do so.

I rebought, and really focused. I played some of my best poker: managing to dodge bullets in difficult situations while fighting to stay afloat and maintain my discipline.

I raise to $15 in EP with KQ, and 5 players called me. I bet $75 into the flop of K-T-6, and Billy R on the button thought for 20 seconds before moving all-in. I had about $550 left, and he had me covered. Now, Billy was the one who stacked me a while back with AA vs. my KK, making a similar overbet which I called preflop. We've talked at length about that hand, and Billy knows that I'm a thinking player. So while I'd normally have to muck this KQ without hesitation, Billy is deep inside my head: I know that he knows that I know he's done this to me before... Does he put me on AK and expect me to call here? In any case, Billy is not the type of guy who puts his money in the pot in a situation like this drawing dead. At best I'm up against an open ender, or a flush draw. At worst I'm drawing almost dead to a set. I muck. Feel good about it KD.

I gained a lot of confidence when I beat my nemesis, Billy R, in the following pot:

Larry raised to $15, and Billy called. I was in the SB with JJ again, and made it $55 to go. Both players called. The flop came: 8-4-2. I checked. Larry checked. Billy bet $65, I called and Larry mucked. The turn was a nine, and I checked. Billy makes a comment about my subtle pinky finger check, and checks behind me. The river is a deuce, pairing the board. I check again. Billy bets $140 and I call, raking the pot when he shows 3-3. I like the way I played this hand: Billy is a very tough player, and I maximized my value here.

I was in for $1000, with about $950 in my stack, when I made the biggest mistake of the past two days - and it cost me. I can make all the excuses I want, and try justify my play, but the bottom line is, this was one of the worst calls I have made in recent memory. I can only hope this play is a lesson to someone reading this. Here's what happened:

I was in the SB with AA. There was a straddle, and two callers, before Ivan on the button made it $35. Now, Ivan is a big donater in the game: he's loose and wild, and will call down big bets with marginal hands. The strategy for beating Ivan is simple: make a hand and bet it.

I raised to $85, and everyone folded to Ivan, who said "You want $50 more of my money eh? Ok." and called.

The flop was Q-6-4 rainbow. I bet $100, Ivan called. This could mean he has a queen (he may frequently raise a queen here, but will also smooth call), or any pair between 6's and Q's.

The turn is a 3, and I bet $250. Ivan says "I'm all-in," and I jump up from the table. Fuck. The dealer burn a card and goes to deal the turn card and the whole table yells at him to stop - as I haven't acted yet.

Now, the easy reasoning is "It's Ivan - he could have anything, I call," but I'm smarter than that. More importantly, I know Ivan's smarter than that. Ivan is very difficult to put on a hand, but the bottom line is, he's extremely unlikely to raise me here with A-Q, K-Q a weaker Q, or any other hand I can beat. I don't think he has KK, but I do think he'd play KK like this. Ivan is not stupid - he usually has a hand like two pair or a bigger made hand here. I know this - it's an easy laydown.

I look at Ivan. "I have aces." I tell him. "That's not the hand I put you on," he responds. Muck. Muck!. Muck the hand KD - the voices in my head are screaming. You cannot be winning. But it's IVAN! I respond to the voices. He could have anything! You know that's not true - come on - you're plenty good enough to release these aces.

The table calls the clock on me. I ask Ivan "If I fold will you show me?" "No," he answers. If he says yes, I'm calling in a heartbeat. But he said "No" - of course he did - he has a monster and wants me to call! This is such and easy fold I can't believe it. I count and recount my chips. I stand up and scratch my head. The dealer counts down. 30 seconds left.

I stack my chips. I'm mucking. I shake my head. I look at Ivan. "Ten. nine. eight. seven..." and a last thought goes through my head, proving I've hit rock botton: If I win this pot, I could dig myself out of the hole I've been sliding into for the last two days. My hands, as if acting on their own, push my $550+ chips neatly into the pot, as I watch in horror.

Ivan turns of 6-6: he flopped a set. The river is a ten, and I shake my head. No excuses. Digging myself out of the hole? Come on... I just dug myself into a hole that I have no chance of getting out of. Bad call. "It's Ivan, he could have anything" simply doesn't work as an excuse for a good player, which I envision myself as. Despite my brilliant play over the session, this one mistake cost me about $1k. It wasn't bad luck. It wasn't a cold deck, it was a bad play.

I rebought, got ground down to $225, and lost my remaining stack with 2-2 in this cold-deck situation that typified the victim mindset I fell into: Ivan made it $20 preflop and 5 of us called. The flop came Q-Q-2 with two hearts. It was checked around. Turn: 8 of hearts. Bobby checked. Ivan bet $85. I moved all in for $205. Bobby called. Ivan called. I show my had to Sal, next to me, and he pats me on the arm, whispering "There you go!" "I am not winning this pot," I sigh to him, beaten.

River: Jack of hearts: Bobby bets $300 and Ivan mucks. Bobby turns over - I don't even need to see it - I know already: Q-8. Unreal. I toss my 2-2 on the felt, eliciting moans of worthless sympathy. Could I have bet the flop? Of course - but it wouldn't have made a difference. Bobby does not release a queen here. And my equity in letting the flush draws chase their heart drawing dead was more than worth it anyway, considering that a queen isn't folding. Cold Fucking Deck.

I walk out into the rain without an umbrella, and manage to laugh at the situation. More bad fucking luck. More cold fucking decks. Then I think back to the fact that the big pot I lost had nothing to do with luck - NO EXCUSES - it was my own stubbornness, TILT, and desperation that cost me an extra $550 with aces in a hopeless situation.

I hit "play" on my Ipod, forgetting where I had stopped the music. Pearl Jam: Alive. "Ohhhh, I'm still alive," Eddie Vedder wails, as I laugh again, and smile at the omen: yeah - I'm still alive. I'm shaking my head as I walk toward the subway in a slow, steady rain. The next song comes on: Why Go: with Vedder shrieking "Why go home? Why go home? Why go home?" Is someone trying to tell me something? I look for the hidden message... But I'm going home: I know why....

Cause it's not all about some bad calls and bad beats...

Live and learn.



Anonymous said...

Against Ivan? I would not have laid it down. EXCEPT: you coffehoused and he gave a relaxed, calm response. Dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I feel queasy