Friday, May 04, 2007

Twice As Nice

We'll take a small pause from my son's baseball career and get back to poker. This blog isn't titled BadBlood on Coach's Pitch Youth Rec League Baseball.


Some folks know about the procedure, others don't. Regardless, there's a component to it that anyone can appreciate and that's the pre-poker, gather for drinks, shoot the shit session. It started last year when PF Chang's was the destination for drinks and the Spring Hotel was the destination for poker. With more and more card rooms opening up, the options for the pre-drink session expand exponentially.

Thursday's game is the Black Stallion. Nestled just out of G-Vegas city limits, it's another well hidden house with no furniture, except of course poker tables and chairs. There is some player overlap, but generally this game draws a different enough crowd to make it a very worthwhile alternative to the Spring Hotel and Gaelic Games.

Last night we were 10-handed for most of the evening. G-Rob, Otis, TheMark, Gucci Rick and myself sat interspersed with several players who I'd not played with before. As usual, there were some interesting hands.


The first time I went broke was possibly not my best poker play of the evening. That would be sarcasm if you're a bit impaired. Limping with Q4o on the button in an unraised pot is usually a recipe for disaster. Even if you hit the flop, like I did with QhTd4d. Top and bottom, certainly vulnerable, but let's see how the action goes. There were 5 people in the hand.

The SB checked, as did G-Rob in the BB. The UTG+1 player led at the flop for $15. With so many players falling in love with top pair, that's exactly what I put him on. Otis, seated to my right, raised to $40. Again, my read on him was also top pair and my read on his raise is a "let's see where we're at" type. I'd whittled my starting $300 down to $200 and tried to determine an appropriate re-raise. After a few seconds, I figured that any re-raise probably pot commits me so I just morphed into a push-monkey and shoved, figuring I was good.

Oddly, the SB called for less. Even more odd, G-Rob over-shoved for $400. Confusing the ever-loving shit out me was the UTG+1 guy who over-over-shoved for $500, leaving poor Otis facing a decision for all his chips against FOUR people already all-in.

As soon as G-Rob shoved, I knew he had me beat. He's not going to bat like that with anything worse than top two. The UTG+1 guy was a new player and I simply mis-read him for top-pair. We'll see how wrong I was. Otis eventually found a fold for his QdJd, top pair and flush draw.

What was I up against? UTG+1 was way in the lead with middle set. G-Rob was drawing dead with his set of fours since I held his only out. Because Otis folded a Queen, I had 1-out. The SB had AJo for a gutshot and the worst hand going in. However, he had 4 times as many outs as G-Rob and I combined.

Needless to say, the set of tens won the $1300-ish pot. Sadly, the 8d hit the river, putting Otis on mild shouldn't-have-folded-tilt.


I rebought for my remaining $450 and proceded to miss all my draws. On one hand when I turned an underboat with 7's full of Aces, I knew I had to sweat some paint on the river. Unfortunately, I didn't and I was left with only 1/3 of the cash I had brought to the game.

It wasn't even 9:30 yet.


In a straddled pot, I was facing a 3xBB raise from TheMark and a smooth call from Otis. I looked down at pocket Kings and decided to re-raise.

Here's the deal with big pocket pairs and big-stack no limit hold 'em. Big pocket pairs have a disproportional amount of their value pre-flop. As soon as the flop hits and you've let 2-4 more players into the hand, your big pair is no longer the value it once was. Especially in early position. If you haven't hit your set you're left with just a big pair and now you've got to be an exceptionally good post-flop player to continue extracting value from your hand, assuming you're still ahead.

I could have raised from $15 to $45, but that's not going to get either Mark or Otis out of the hand. I made it $80. It's almost too high a raise, but I want my hand up against one opponent, not three.

Gucci Rick looked down at his cards and paused. Obviously, he was considering what to do with his hand as it was likely a big pair. The question was how big? After 15 seconds or so, he announced "raise" and put enough chips in the pot to put me all-in. Mark and Otis quickly folded and for a slight moment, I thought I was beat.

But of course, I wasn't folding. In fact, the delay Rick had between looking at his cards and making his move pretty much told me he didn't have Aces. Luckily, he didn't. They were Queens. When he tabled his hand, my memory flashed to the two times previously this year when my Aces lost to Kings all-in pre-flop for $1k pots.

True, this pot was only half that; but frankly, I didn't want to go home yet. I began to offer a deal and give him pot equity for his hand. The pot was around $500 and I was thinking I'd be content with 80% of that.

Then something came over me. I quickly withdrew my deal offer and told him that if I was going to make deals on pair vs. underpair, all-in pre-flop, then I had no business playing poker. Four to one shots are rare, and even though I haven't won my share of them this year, there are few better situations to be in. It's just the right thing to do.

Rick flopped Quads.

I kid. I won the pot and doubled up to over $500 and was not only thankful to have won the pot, but was also thankful that I didn't have to go home before 10pm.


With about $475 in front, in a straddled pot and facing a multitude of limpers, I joined the party with Qs9s. With about 5 people in the hand, the BB made it $25. The BB was the same person who had earlier won the $1300 pot with his set of tens. Unfortunately for him, he'd lost most of it back and was sitting on fewer chips than me. I immediately put him on a big pocket pair as he was extremely straightforward in his play. With enough callers to make my hand worth the risk, I too called the additional $20 and saw the flop.

When you speculate on drawing hands, there are a few different kind of flops you're looking for. I would classify 9h6s4s as "the flop I was looking for." The BB led out for $100, which is exactly the bet most would make with a big overpair. TheMark smooth called while I went into the tank.

Certainly I wasn't folding. If I'm correct on the BB's holding, which I think I am, then if I can get Mark out of the hand, it becomes basically a huge coin flip with my pair/flush draw. Add to that the $200 in dead money that's already in there from other players and the move becomes favorable. If I call and hit, however, I'm not getting paid off. With G-Rob and Gucci Rick about to call clock on me, I finally make up my mind.


I knew that if I did push, that the BB would not fold his hand. I knew he was coming along and as suspected he called my bet rather quickly. The last question remained, what did TheMark have? He went into the tank too which worried me slightly. His hesitation could mean that he too was on the flush draw, which would have eliminated enough of my outs to make me a decent underdog to win this pot. Finally, he folded.

The BB flipped up his pocket Kings and I showed my Qs9s ready to take the coin flip. Being the High Stakes Poker Wannabe that I am, I offered to him the chance to run it twice. I'm not 100% sure he knew he was a coin flip here, but he agreed to run it twice after much of the table told him what his odds of winning were.

On the first run, I spiked a spade right away. I was free-rolling. On the second turn, another spade hit, allowing me to scoop a very nice, soothing, make-you-wanna-smile, take-the-day-off, get-a-massage, hey-why-not-a-lapdance-too $1100 pot. As the Trooper97 would say, I had a G-bar.


This weekend will be uber-busy with family stuff, so I may not get to play again until next week. Lately however, taking some time away from the tables has been positive for me. I'll write a post about it in more detail, but I think for the better part of the last few months, I got way too caught up in the game and in the expectations I had for it. Lowering them slightly, and searching for the fun of the game, instead of forcing it has been yet another lesson learned for me.

Besides, with all the new G-Vegas blogs out there, I don't feel that I'm missing the action as much as I used to.

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