I remember my very first casino experience very well. Before busting out midway through a $50 daily at TI, I had opened tens from EP and gotten raised. I was pretty lost on the whole in this environment, as everyone seemed so competent and serious. I worried about strong players taking advantage of me. However, when this fellow put the chips in, one of my blooming superpowers revealed itself. I knew this guy had exactly one hand, AA. Reluctantly, I let my tens, the best hand I had seen so far, go.
I watched the hand play out between the player behind me and AA, on something like KQ10xx. The middle player put in a pretty good bluff on the river, and AA made a hopeful call on a dangerous board. In other words, I could have won a monster pot and been a threat in my first donkament. The paradox of being right but missing out bothered me.
This aspect of my game still torments me to this day. How many pots I have abandoned because I knew exactly where I was at, yet standard play would have meant I continued and won! Last night, with the momentum of my new, micro upswing on the line, I once again ran into my irritating smartass enemy, me.
In an action game with some key players at the Village, Guy Rich opened to 7x from UTG, and picked up two callers. I have AKo on the button. I really am not in love with this spot. First off, Guy Rich has severe bet sizing tells, and in this position and this sizing he has 99+, maybe even stronger depending on his mood. Second, I can’t flat AK this multiway, so it’s time to put in a big raise and isolate. I make it large, looking to get heads up. Guy Rich and I are deep, and I’m more likely to win a medium pot or have to surrender in a large one. However, before we even reach this point, I see that the Banker behind me has a monster and doesn’t know what to do. The Banker and I are 400 bbs deep and I really don’t want his action here. He decides to flat, turning his hand face up as TT-QQ, with a strong emphasis on QQ, as he looked like he considered raising. It’s not a good spot for him, as I am raising a large EP bet; someone is going to get hurt here.
What the Banker’s call does, unfortunately for me, is create a chain of callers, because Guy Rich is never folding or thinking about what I have, and really, he’s not wrong. His call now brings in the original two flatters- including Snaggletooth, who will become the problem.
So now, a five way 3-bet pot – only at the f’ing Village. The flop is AJ4ss. The Banker checks, and all the way to Snaggletooth, who I realize has hit a piece from his behavior. I am very likely beat here, possibly in two spots, and continuing into four opponents makes no sense. Guy Rich’s hand looks like JJ, or the Banker’s does, and Snaggletooth, who is a pure fish, could have two fours, A4, a royal flush draw, or something that is going to make him happy. I check behind and he just about jumps out of his seat in surprise, because of course these donks at the village just like to blithely cbet any texture, any number of opponents, and any holding. I’m not doing what he wanted.
The turn is a 10, which technically gives me nut equity but is really no good for me, because one of the two overcallers can have J10 or A10s or KQs, and the check through allows for a turned set. What I really am hoping for here is to get to showdown. When the Banker does not lead, his hand is now clearly the QQ I originally deduced. Guy Rich has 99, as he checks again, the first overcaller does not have it either… but Snaggletooth now leads small into me, leaving me 4-1 on a call.
This, as they say is, sick, because Snaggletooth has no bluffing range, or thin value range. It may be hard for you, normal poker player, to understand, but you’ll just have to accept that I am always beat here. He is a losing player, a reg who runs value into value and pays rake to the casino as a hobby. I don’t know what he has – my read is good but not that good – but I am 100% beat here. And yes, I understand, that 99% of poker players peel this bet hoping to see AQ, but it is in fact impossible for him to have AQ here. I have no idea what cards I want to see on the river except the Q, which is completely blocked by the Banker’s two queens. It would be great to know Snaggletooth’s exact holding, I realize, and then I can peel, but how do I know he has the weakest of his monsters, A4? How can I know he is silly enough to get involved with A4 in the first place? Against his overall range here, I am about a 9-1 dog. If I make a straight and he doesn’t have it, I don’t think I get his stack, which was too small for implied peels, anyway.
I am stuck strategically. I fold.
Now the Banker ruminates. He counts the pot before making a pretty awful call, knowing he wants a gutter or maybe another queen, possibly drawing to chop and with RIO. A ten peels off on the river, and Snaggletooth checks A4cc behind, unable to value bet his now partially counterfeited hand. He wins a big pot that I would have taken down, if I had not had such perfect radar on his scared, passive game. A thousand dollars that would have vaulted me into the black for this hard, long month of poker.
But, as they say on the Youtubes, It Gets Worse. Because it was a big, unusually played pot, we now have to hear Snaggletooth’s analysis. “I wanted to check raise the flop, but he checked behind! I thought he would bet!” Yes, because you are good if I bet into four opponents, great plan. Everyone decides I had kings, most of them unable to conceive of poker as anything besides bingo for men. (Irony is the theme of their conversation. I point out at one point that we are gambling, and another bingo, weak passive nit says we are not, implying he is playing a skill game, above the fray. Oy.)
Snaggletooth doesn’t stop there, and goes on to become quite chatty, thanks with this unusual stack of his. He’s large and magnanimous now. In one spot. the Koala has an obvious straight on the turn, gets donked into on the river by Guy Rich (what a terrible line with two pair in this spot, unless it’s some sort of blocker bet/fold, which is still just only worse), and value raises the world’s most obvious nuts. Guy pays him off ridiculously but the real absurdity is Snaggletooth’s cogent analysis. “You raise $300 he has to pay you off.” Righto. This shit actually starts cracking me up, as sad as I am about losing the big one. I have to turn away, not really wanting to be rude, as Snaggletooth is a nice if profane guy.
Snaggley goes on to raise JJ to seventy pre, flashing his hand after everyone folds. No right way to play jacks, of course! (Yet I could probably name a few wrong ways…)
In fact, his excited fish talk is catching, and takes over the table. In one spot a weak but very arrogant player limp raises AA from under the guy. Guy Rich, steaming from paying off the Koala’s nut straight, four bet rips in something over him and gets deservedly stacked. The UTG limp raiser tells the table smartly, “As if I have anything else when I limp under the gun!” completely oblivious to the irony against him. He continues, not recognizing the taste of foot in his mouth. “That guy plays perfect poker until he doesn’t.” Righto, buddy, fire away, and tell us more about perfect poker. He’s very successful this fellow, and his bimonthly salary is equivalent to my bankroll. I’m in another world in these games, and it is a lucrative but humorous one.
I can’t get the big pot out of my mind, however, because I could have done what everyone else does, put people on the wrong range in order to excuse a bad call, and then won a needed pot. Now that my profit is seriously dwindling, I am becoming scared of its remnants getting flushed away. I’ve got the Sommelier behind me, who puts the Very in Variance. Guy’s action money has gone. I don’t have position on the Banker. It’s simply getting late.
I call it a night, silently. The table does not notice my departure, I’m just a bum who ran KK into A4cc, had to fold. I’ve taken my golden crumbs; there should have been more. In fact, very quietly I have now reached even for the month, obviating painfully the last 5/10 session and its cruel coolers. With action players on the list, for this table, It Gets Better, and the party goes on.
Thanks a lot, me.