It’s not all about you. Poker teaches many lessons, and the reasonable players among us learn that one quickly, go crazy all the time, or quit. At the games last night, the action was so sweet and heavy I conceived of a chip dispenser that could be installed, like an automatic shuffler in the table, to keep the wide eyed gamblers conveniently in greens and blacks. One guy won thirteen buy-ins in less than five hours at the snails pace of maybe twenty hands per hour. If this result had been at a tournament table you would have screamed collusion: nobody dislikes money as much as these guys, that’s impossible! Floor!
Me? I lost. I was left out in the cold, unwarmed and frigid as the brutal arctic air outside. While the spew monkeys were calling four bet shoves with middle pairs (and were briefly good, naturally), I might as well have been dealt all night a deuce and that card that has all the hand rankings in tiny print. I could never get involved with value, except for one pot where a limp calling goof flopped the stones versus my TPTK. He mumbled his bets (hurtie hive hwollars) and tilted me out of my mind with his Hollywooding fear on the river before betting (ia bewt hevendi hive hwollars) with a broad, ridiculously happy smile, but I got it under control, and just folded the 79dd from UTG2 the next hand. Steam test: passed.
What I did do was pull the trigger in eight spots with the worst of it. I was never going to win last night, but if I had kept the gun in the holster in the worst one, I would have been a little better off. Overall, however, my efforts to extract a little moisture from the air were occasionally well thought out.
- Bum move. I open the 67dd 6x and pick up the SB, a reg with a face card heavy range. On K106ccc, he leads into me, exposing his one pair hand. I make a big raise and we get it all in. He goes with it because he has the jack of clubs in his hands. This bluff was not the best use of my range, although I can see him folding without a club. There are two mitigating factors: he was drinking, and he tossed out the bet confidently, not scared in finding out where he was at. In his mind, top pair and a medium flush draw was the stones. I should have judged him and his mood, much, much better, but I was doing a little double take in my mind about his always hitting top pair in our pots. However, that is the nature of calling with all face cards hands, as he does.
- Outplaying AK. Against the Mumbler’s isolation raise, I three bet AK, putting him squarely on his own AK. I know his behavior and sizing to a tight fitted T. On Qxx, I put in a half pot cbet knowing this is all it will take. He folds.
- Pick up the straddle. After being card dead for so long, my image is tight. I open J10 a little foolishly, and even at the world’s loosest table, win a few more sweet antes with air.
- Bad read. I check the button on the flop multiway with AcJs on KQ5sss. On a blank 4, it checks to the PFR, the Koala, who bets one third pot. I interpret this as a cheap steal and raise. His eyes flash in surprise that someone has taken the bait and min plus raises me. I was wrong, Koala is Axss heavy from the CO and has trapped me. He rips low flushes and flats worse; the faux min raise is the kiss of Koala death. Running bad. Fold.
- Turn sizing. I open AQhh to 6x and pick up the Grasshopper, an absolutely silent player with a lot of moves and hero calls, not a good barrel candidate. On 10106, I barrel once, get the call. On the K turn, I bet very strong on this perfect scare card, and he releases, convinced I have caught up. Weak players often double their bet sizing on the turn to save cash, but your bets usually have to grow with the pot to look threatening- and be balanced for when you want all the cash in the middle. And yes, if he raised me, I was going to consider going with it as his floats include QJ and middle connectors. That would have been fun, maybe.
- Good squeeze. The Koala in the cutoff isolates a very weak limp from a face up player, and the Mumbler makes the call. In position I three bet A9cc. The Koala surrenders his fairly obvious light iso, but the mumbler, who is a gambler, makes the double flat. We see Qxxcc, pretty good considering I am behind pre. The Mumbler leads and I SNAP ship it, which I figure will unnerve him. He releases a hand like tens or eights relatively quickly, feeling that he is drawing near dead. He is an information bettor, and I had observed him check min raise with top pair no kicker on a paired board to find out where he was at. Very odd but very valuable to know.
- Bad squeeze. Having taken a hit, I am briefly under a full stack, and raise 44 over four straddled limps. The Grasshopper gives off a subconscious strength tell and min plus raises me. The field folds and I am in an impossible spot getting 2:1 but needing set mining odds against his premium. This was not a good play because of my stack size. The iso is right, the holding is wrong. The only question is whether it was a soft limp or a hard fold.
- Delayed cbet. I open Q9s and find the Mumbler, who mwalls. The board favors him but an ace hits the turn. It’s thin, because he is an ace-flatter, the kind of guy who shows up with AQ inexplicably, but I take a read, take the opening and win.
The Thirteen Buy-In Man leaves, tired from racking donkey dollars. I have a glance at the wounded field. The Sommelier looks stunned in defeat, his sunglasses misaligned on his already comical head, his hair is puffed and diffused from all his backfiring blowups. A spazzy Pakistani stares into the distance, like a soldier who has heard too much cannon fire. I’d feel sorry for him but he energetically fake shuffles his chips, like some sort of street performance scammer: why not just learn, you bizarre bumpkin? We’ve only been doing this together for four years. The Koala, the Banker’s mini-me minion, is well up and satisfied with himself. He’s laughed and had a great time and made big hands. His endless rungood, so exasperating to Gargamel, lasts to the end of the evening, where he shoves middle pair and sets up to felt a tilted nit: same old story. Yes, he’s happy, the Koala, maybe the only one at this post poker disaster zone.
I’m too tired to be happy or sad: I’m just spent. I pick up my bluffing chips, tip the world’s worst dealer in some sort of self-destructive ironical perversity, and head back out into the cold.