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Poker, politics, philosophy
super lucky day trip report 
9th-Aug-2008 10:05 am
Yesterday I went to LC to take advantage of the super lucky day gambling. I didn't see an unusual number of Chinese gamblers, but the games were still good.

I waited around a while for a game to start, and watched the 10-10-20 NL game, which looked tough; lots of people I recognized as good, and a couple of super giant stacks. But then a must move game got called, and I liked my chances a lot more. In particular, two people were buying in for the new reduced $1k minimum, and one of them I knew to be taking a shot and not great at the smaller games, plus another player was a dealer. So I decided to sit. We started 6 handed.

In the first orbit I got queens and reraised to win a small pot. The dealer stole the blinds with a big overbet open, then picked up and left with his $40 profit. Whee?

Then the following hand occurred. I open for $60 utg with JJ, next player calls and two blinds defend. The flop is (86)3, and the sb, the $1k stack taking a shot, bet out $200. The BB folded, and the player behind me had a clear fold tell, so I knew this was heads up. I decided to raise, and since any reasonable raise is most of his stack, just move in. The sb hems and haws and looks unhappy and finally calls. Turn is the third flush card and the river is an A, so I think I'm dead, but my JJ holds up. He leaves. I wonder what he had?

A few hands later, utg opens for 60 with a caller in the middle and on the button, I defend the bb with 87. Flop is A87, all spades. I check, utg bets 180, other people fold, and this is the same situation as above. He has a $1k stack, I want to raise, so I just jam. He also thinks and thinks and calls, and I'm hoping for no spade. Turn is a blank and the river is an 8, filling me up. My hand is obviously good. He rebuys for $5k and moves to the other end of the table.

I'm liking these short stacks. Too bad there aren't really any left.

I continue with my getting hands ways: an opener for 40 and a few callers, and I have red rockets in the sb. I raise to 180, get one caller. He is an experienced player who has some gamble in him; I saw him raise preflop with gumbo, and get all in by raising big when he flopped second pair, and win when he hit his kicker. But I think he's tricky, not just a crazy gamb00ler. Anyway, the flop comes Ax5d3d, ding! I bet out 300, and he calls. The turn is the Kd. The pot is about $1k, and he has $15k back. I have top set and the nut flush draw, but the flush got there. What do I do?

All of my options seem reasonable. I can check to induce a bluff, not at all afraid of a free card since there's no card that hurts me; I can bet out $500 or so hoping for a call; I can jam to make it look like a flush draw and hope he's behind and pays me. I eliminate the small bet option, since I am going to call if he jams and that just gives him license to move in when he's ahead (this may have been bad thinking). I now think I should probably check the scare card or bet small, because this gives him a chance to make a move on me, which jamming does not. However, I actually jam, and he thinks for a long time and then folds. Boo. "Dry ace?", he asked. Me: "It's not dry, look! It's also a pair of aces!"

I win another small pot with KK flopping top set, but my bet on the flop takes it down. Might have been a good slowplay opportunity since I know the other player is pretty tight and was likely to fold on the flop. However I continuation bet so often I had to check my monsters all the time, plus there was a flush draw around. I then bleed some chips by playing ok hands preflop, the folding the flop after I missed, sometimes after a continuation bet.

Then the following interesting hand occurs. I open late for 80 with 99 (my plan for raises was to open for 60 early and 80 late against these blinds), button and both blinds defend. Flop is J87. Blinds check, I bet 160, BB calls. Turn is a 6 and he bets out $300. Now, I've seen him call the flop and bet scare cards on the turn a bunch of times in the 90 minutes we've been playing. It's a play he really likes, and it usually wins him the pot. I think he does this as a sort of delayed steal, probably mixed with cases where he improves. However, that 6 was essentially a blank, since it didn't make any plausible straights (T9 was already there) or two pairs. So if I was ahead before I'm still ahead. On the other hand, I can't even beat top pair so I'm not very excited to raise, and plus I am open ended which makes calling better. I call. This may have been a mistake -- in retrospect, this might be a good spot for a raise, and of course a fold is more prudent. We both have lots of chips back.

The river pairs the 8. He picks up $300, then gets out another $300, then bets his original $300. Sigh, this looks like a fishing value bet. I fail to convince myself to fold, and he has 89 for rivered trips. So the 6 did improve him on the turn, to the same straight draw I had. Hm.

I lose another big pot, folding an overpair on the turn to a big raise on a paired board after betting the flop and the turn, and dwindle some more. Then I get called for the main game, which I don't really want to play. There is one player who I think is exploitably tight, but that's not a big profit center; the gambler with a giant stack is, but he is immediately to my left, so I'm not going to have lots of shots at him, and the rest of the table is unknown or scary. I move over and get called for the 2-3-5 NL game, which I move to after playing my free orbit. I did play one hand, opening for my standard and winning with a continuation bet after flopping top/top with AQ. I cash out +$1200, a perfectly good result for my first attempt at the big game, even if it was less then half my high point in profits. On the other hand, I got a ton of really good cards, so this may be a case where I didn't necessarily play well but still won. I definitely felt like I was not being crushed by the other players, skill-wise, in the must move.

In the small game, the table conversation is dominated by one player asking a ton of invasive, needling questions to another, who is answering in monosyllabic replies. I assume that the latter put some sort of beat on the former, until the terse guy suddenly says, "Pay me!", and the other guy sighs, chucks over a $20, and says, "Q".

I investigate, and it transpires that they are playing the following game: the first player can only speak in questions; the second can only speak in single words ("Would you think we were dorks if I told you..." was how he explained the game, since he had to do it in the form of a question. Um, maybe a little?). If one screws up, they have to pay the other guy $20. I entertain myself by trying to have a conversation with them. They turn out to work for the Software Freedom Law Center, involved in open source and free software legal issues. Dan, the question guy, eventually loses 4 times in a row in their little game without winning and gives up. Brad, the single word guy, turns out not to be terse after all, and we have a good conversation.

I think the game is much easier for the single-word side. Talking in just single words is hard, and so distinct from english that you are really in a different mode of expression, and have to think about everything you say. This means you are unlikely to screw it up. The questioner, though, is talking in complete sentences, and this is close enough to english that he doesn't have to concentrate as hard, and therefore slips are easier. And now I'm at least as dorky for thinking this through as the people actually playing it.

In the meantime, I am getting terrible cards, and when I get something playable, I miss. So I'm slowly losing money. Then I manage to get all in preflop with AQ against the same short stack three times in the space of 20 minutes. The first time he has $72 and AT and wins. The second is marginally more amusing: He and some other players limp for $20 in a kill pot, and I raise to $70 with AQs. Fishy short stack jams for $119, $1 short of reopening the betting. A player in the middle cold calls. Flop is (JT)x, giving me the gutshot royal. Cold caller checks, I bet his last $300, he goes away. Short stack has AJ, which holds up.

A few hands later, I again get all in with AQs against him; he now has $215 or so, and KQ. This time I win. He was playing most hands and killing many of them, so I thought his range was really wide, so I liked AQ. Brad opined later than I overplay my medium aces, meaning AQ and AJ, preflop, but I think he was overly influenced by my willingness to put it in with those hands against this one specific guy.

I win a pot with aces (wussily failing to bet the river on a scaryish board after the turn was checked through), and I'm back to even for the game. Then I open early with 44 for 15, and Brad raises to 55 right behind me. He has about 700 back and I have him covered; this is definitely a tight raise. I decide I'm getting an ok price to fish for a set, so I call. Flop is (54)2, ding! I check, he checks behind. Hm. Turn is an offsuit K. Ok, AK is super well represented in his distribution, so I check again (in retrospect I should probably bet here and hope to get raised if I think he has AK). He bets 60, I raise to 160, he calls quickly. River is a 6, I decide to bet $225 as a nice callable bet. He starts asking me what I have, and I start laughing. He asks if I have KK and I point out that I probably don't since I played it so passively. He asks if I have AK and I ask if he does, and he turns over his hand to show AA! I was surprised to see that, and quiet down a bit. He calls, thankfully. We then spend the next 10 minutes trying to figure out if he can fold, but agree that I look a lot like AK which makes it hard.

By then it's late and we all pick up at the next time charge. I had a lot of fun talking with them -- I think they'd make good BARGE material. They kindly offered to hook me up with club access if I were ever in New York, which I may do at some point for the experience. Thanks guys, that was fun!
10th-Aug-2008 02:19 am (UTC)

I was in single-word mode so I couldn't reply (and forgot to tell you later) that I was actually in a production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead when I was in college. We actually did Hamlet one semester and R&G the next, recasting all the parts the same. (Sadly, I was a guard and had about 20 lines total in both plays ;). I was dying to say so (I believe the best I could do was say Familiar! and point to myself, which might not have been completely clear :)

As for my preferred side in the prop bet, I found the single-word harder, but mainly because I'm a verbose, extroverted guy. Dan lost twice on the single word at the 1-1-2 table before we moved (and I lost on it once). As loser, he kept calling for question side (Q!). I think he should have tried single word again. Anyway, after I had $80, he gave up.

My win in props didn't make up for losses in the hand you described. The only detail wrong in the story above is: I thought for about 45 seconds on the turn before calling the $100 raise. This is actually when I decided to put AK into your range heavily, because I felt (at that moment, later changing my mind) that you might often consider that we both have AK and therefore check-raise to frighten me out of a chop. At the turn, I also had sets less frequently in your range because I felt you would have weak-led the turn some of the time, hoping to get raised when you had flopped a set and lost the flop check-raise (i.e., I thought you would put me on AK almost all of the time at that point and go for the pot-builder weak-lead.)

It was your extreme confidence with your river bet that tanked me for so long. In the end, you were too good of a player to give me any real physical read, so I had to play the math. I had your range narrowed to AK or a flopped set and very occasionally preflop KK slowplay. I should have realized, which I didn't even think of until now, that since I'm holding AA and there is a K on the board, there is actually only six ways left for you to make AK and there are actually nine ways for you to make flopped sets! (At the table, I always rough-math it and think any two unpaired unsuited cards are ‘way common’.) When I throw in for you an occasional slow-played KK preflop, it makes the river extremely close. I'm only getting 1.95-to-1 on my call. Suppose you have KK some of the time (for convenience, let's use the card frequency math to fudge those numbers and say you can only make KK out of the deck 2 ways instead of three). Then, I'm 11-to-6 or 1.83-to-1. It's just about right to call, but I might have to turn the call into a fold if I think you are capable of folding AK outright preflop to the tight reraise, or if I think you bet out more often with AK on the turn than you do with a slowplayed flopped set. I ended up calling in part because my thoughts on what range you had for me appeared weighted heavily to AK, and therefore I started to assume that you might be trying to muscle away a chop from me or think I'd gotten stubborn with misplayed QQ or something. (In other words, I made the classic poker mistake of focusing on that part of your range that I could beat more than the part I couldn't.)

Ugh, well, I am not totally disgusted, I guess, with my play in the hand. I don't really regret the check on the flop since my general rule is to do anything I can to keep pots small with players who are better than me, and because I had the A of the flush draw suit. I also didn't want a check-raise from a KK or QQ, which would have left me confused. The bet on the turn is completely necessary, and calling the check-raise is standard because I have six clean outs against your whole range, most of which have reasonably good implied odds (the two flush-making straight cards likely give you pause). The river, then, is the only tough decision, but I find it hard to be anything but results-oriented about it, given that I play poker so rarely these days :(

Anyway, I enjoyed playing with you and appreciate you being so open about your game with us! Hopefully, we'll see you Sunday!

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