I’ve been busy, and while still on track to get back to 85 hours this month, had missed an entire week of poker. However, last night’s performance was last week’s show all over again, with another solid win that pushed me past my monthly target, despite being in deep to start. Friday’s shitstorm at the Village looms as the potentially defining session.
Lots of interesting hands and concepts came up. I had doubled up quickly, then sank back to even, when I took a spot just to be involved with a tricky old dude. The five dollar completion cost me my whole stack.
Gramps was yukking it up, playing and acting like a novice. He did have a cunning, hardened look about him, but his play was so weak, I decided it couldn’t be an act. So when he started straddling and it somehow folded all the way to me in the big blind with K9, I did something I almost never do: flat, looking to play a pot. Limping in, essentially.
Gramps snap raises me, and here’s where I go wrong. I read him as merely having straddle brain, and attacking way too light. He'd made some plays and talked in excitement, his mood was good, and his straddle was a new development. I call again, planning on making a play for the pot or going with any pair. The flop comes out J9xdd, and I check it over to him. He makes an absurdly large bet – and then does something that completely fools me: he give me a significant weakness tell. His hand look like Ax that missed. I’m not in love with it, but follow through with my plan and rip in my entire stack. I've done this sort of thing before in similar situations. He SNAP calls and wins with AJ.
Stuck again. However, he now goes on to play better and looks comfortable, as if he was a different player. His fish talk ends.
I’ve been had. He Old Schooled me by sandbagging his chops and gave me a reverse tell. Owned the real fish.
However, my year of struggles has given me perspective. The long run is long, and one hand rarely defines a session. I rebuy, and stack a tournament player who had overflushed me a few orbits before. Revenge. From there, it’s all up and down until I regain control of the table and begin the push for total victory.
In one hand I use the board texture to play my range well and get a solid player, one of the rare winners in the room, to pay me off. On J109, a disaster flop three way for my overpair, I check it over to the button, who checks behind, taking away my potential x/r. On a nine, the strong player in the blinds leads out. I know he has some nines, but, he is well balanced, and his overall holding is skewed to top or middle pair. He's a thin value bettor. I make the call, as it is WAWB vis a vis what he is representing, expecting the fish on the button to min raise a nine or otherwise do something stupid to let me know if he is ahead; but he folds. On a river five, the strong player checks, and I put out a large, polarizing bet. It’s a tough line, and he does actually look confused, but I can tell he thinks I have too many draws here, and calls.
It may seem like I won the pot with an overpair and that’s easy, but given the constrictions of how I play, I am very happy with how I played this multiway pot. He is a strong player but not strong enough to realize I am going to have a balanced checking range, and his face, considering how aggressively he has seen me play in the past, expressed his confusion well once he saw my holding, I know he would just bet out on the flop, and he thought I was the same man. It just goes to show that there is more to the game than button clicking aggression: everything should be in synchronicity.
I witness some amusing hands along the way, including some donk on donk violence where no money goes in after the flop with 777 vs. AK on J47xK. As Gargamel says, give me that set. (Or as I'd say, give me that AK.)
There’s a lot of hivemind criticism in the forums whenever I suggest certain plays, most recently three betting the flop, something I have, incidentally, covered in three different blog posts. “Uh, what are they going to call us with that’s worse, blah, blah, blah” and all that black and white stuff. First of all, what they are going to call US with are only two jokers, because WE don’t play the same. The other, equally important point, is that if you are playing tough, you are playing a range. Whatever you have, is just part of that range. Sometimes you just have the lower part of it, as Wikileaks has posted in a series of compelling hand histories on RC. When you break up your holdings into hands, you can get owned very easily. Case in point:
A fairly active player, the quiet and thoughtful pudgy type, opened from early MP large, and it folded to me on the button with A5cc. It’s certainly not the nut best spot, but weighing the factors, including my holding and my image, I decided now was the time to test him out. Because he has only 100 bbs and he opened large (a good move by him), I can’t flat profitably against his represented range. All the pieces add up to a three bet, and I pull the trigger.
Here’s where he loses the hand: he calls. He’s close to the top of his represented range, hasn’t gotten that out of line, and has every incentive to four bet. In fact, from his behavior I can pretty much put him on one hand: AK. What a disaster. He’s going to fourbet me with QQ+ but break up the top of his range, telling himself, “What are they going to call me with that’s worse, blah, blah, blah.”
The flop comes 10xxccc – I flop a flush that I should have never even seen. Plus, I’m going to play it really well. He checks to me, and I check it back. I’m going to rep scared AK/AQ, and I don’t want to lose him so easily, now that I know he’s messed up his hand preflop and exactly what he is holding by piecing off his range. I’ve also checked the flop many times as the aggressor, and given up. Bart Hanson advises fast playing flopped flushes, but that is going to be more applicable with deeper effective stacks and in single raised pots. Further, there is no compulsion to bet a bloated, three bet pot with any hand. Ace on the turn: bingo. He now leads, because I’ve checked the flop. But the punishment for him is not over: I flat his bet, forcing him to play the river. It's another club, which I don’t like, and is fact only kind of card I don’t want to see. He checks. However, now he’s opened himself up to the bluff, so I move all in, again polarizing rather than looking for a targeted value bet. I can see he’s trying to understand how I could possibly have a flush. He checked the flop, he didn't raise when the four flush came in. Eventually he drops a chip in and I add another 100 bbs to the stack.
At one point I horrify myself, far worse than from any bad play I made. A new player, obviously more experienced and more dangerous than the others, sits down. I will have to deal with him, and end up doing so very successfully. However, I am fiddling on my phone during one hand, and look up to see him get called and showdown a set. I've missed all his behaviors. Smartphones kill win rates. I leap up and take a walk as if I've taken a beat and need to clear my head.
The evening churns on. I get paid by the new competent player when I hit a very disguised hand on the river, having barreled each street. This time I target my bet sizing to his perceived holding, and I think that was the difference. I wish I could always be consistent in my thinking, but live poker is a war and it felt right at that moment to extract from what I knew was his value range rather than go for gold.
With all my stacks of green, I wanted to play on. After all, last week’s monster session lasted fourteen hours, and I came prepared for an encore. However, a couple things happened which sent me home early. First off, the floor would not accommodate probably the only request I had ever made of him. Second, an old man at my new table, the only one running, was ill, and I felt his germs. I did not want to get sick. I had picked up 80 bbs at this table in a few minutes, as I was continuing to play as well as I can... but health is everything. The fish are always out there, and I can listen to Scriptnotes if I get home early enough.
Another good day at my $5 blind commitment.