Eventually, I’ll win big

Posted by in Poker

Finally got a chance to play the game that I know best tonight, and my feelings about it are mixed, to say the least.

For starters, I played in a two table tournament and was the third to bust out. It was not good at all. Card dead and the blind structure was not friendly. I played one hand badly, AxJh (oh, what a shock, AJ) when the flop was all hearts – I just could not resist the draw even though I knew so much better.

Finally, short stacked and with pocket 2s, I limped in hoping to see a 2 on the flop. Saw two kings instead and when no one made a play for it, I thought my two pair might be good, so I went all in. I was of course called by the guy with the trips and that was that. While chatting outside with Fred’s friend Justin, Fred suddenly appeared, having taken a bad beat on the river to J4, so at least I didn’t have to feel too bad.

Nor did I have to wait too long for the side game to begin since that was clearly what everyone was really interested in. I bought in for $100. I would really have prefered to buy in for less, but I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to play my best game knowing that a real raise was going to commit me for half of, if not all of my stack. Blinds were supposed to be $2/$4, but there were two stacks of $200, mine and another at $100, and then a couple at $50, so it was suggested that we play $1/$2 instead. Okay fine – I can live with that. Not quite the challenge I was looking forward to, but still quite a step up from my usual NL play.

It’s 6 max, and I’m the only girl. We have a dedicated dealer, and aside from Fred and his best friend Justin, there are two guys who are regulars and buddies, and then one guy on my left who was the short stack, and very quiet, just listening to his iPod and not saying much.

I take down the very first hand. I don’t even remember what it was. I don’t even remember if it went to showdown. I just remember I won. And it’s awesome. Then I get into it with K4d in the blinds, and the flop comes with 2 diamonds. Regular #1 does the betting, and Fred and I call him all the way to the river, where the Ace of clubs falls. I have nothing – absolutely nothing. But I know that Ace is scary. So I re-raise. And with much agony and drama, he folds. Fred on the other hand has played way too much with me this week and therefore calls my bluff. (Sorry bastard).

The beautiful thing about it is the reaction this gets. Of course regular #1 had the best hand, and he is blown away by my move. They all are. To me it’s nothing fancy, betting an ace on the river? But the comments they make – “You don’t learn that in any book” (they had previously been discussing giving lessons and regular #1 had been asking regular #2 when his book was coming out, etc.) – make me feel about 20 feet tall.

I know it wasn’t any thing fancy. If anything, it just furthers the notion that live play is less sophisticated than online. But all week long I’ve been engaged in an ongoing “discussion” with Fred about him being an old school player vs. my new school player (with the blogging and the online play) and to hear such talk about me, even if it was coming from just them? Well – chalk one up for my side.

I lose another sizeable pot later in the night when another player sits down at the table and first hand in, calls my AK raise. King comes on the flop and I bet it for value, not seeing any danger. Turn is a blank, river is an Ace. All along he’s been betting and I’ve been calling, and on the river I raise him. I had him on a King, weaker kicker, and of course thought I had him for sure with the river. He had J8 suited and had made a straight – I had completely missed the board. This is my big weakness and it really hurt me here.

“Few players recall big pots they have won – strange as it seems – but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career”

-Jack King

Tonight, I remember both.

Down to the felt, I find pocket 3s and decide to limp in, praying for a 3 on the flop. None. Instead I get rewarded with 4 J 5 (ok, so maybe not remarkable accuracy…I’m like 90% sure on that flop). I know my 3s are crap. But I make a play for it anyway. And I get re-raised all in, by regular #2. It’s my last $17. I have to call. I do have outs…(shut up. they’re there!)

He has AJ, so I’m pretty much screwed. Turn is a J, so I’m really screwed. River is a beautiful, wonderful, 3. Thank you, thank you, thank you PokerGods.

This puts him on major tilt. I instantly think of Chris – “I bluffed, you caught me, and I outdrew you. Shut up.”

It wasn’t a pretty win, and yes, it was a bad bad move to make, but I have chips again, so I am happy. Multiple hands later, he’s still talking about it, so yes Chris, I do quote you to him, and you’ll be happy to know you get a laugh.

And from there on out, I just play my good cards and play them well. I don’t get cute even though I would love to. I do call raises with some less than marginal hands just because I suspect that the raises are position raises only and I’m willing to see a flop. I do get another full house later, but it’s a split pot with the quiet guy on my left (who has turned his $50 buy in to well over $100 at this point) so it was pretty much us splitting the blinds.

I get Kings in the SB and just wait for someone to raise it for me. When no one does, I limp in. Flop comes rags and I make a $3 bet. $5 on turn, and then although the river was a scary Ace, I bet it hard and get called. My Kings are good though and that was a nice pot.

The next hand was my last one of the night, and I get pocket 8s. I raise to $3 and get callers. Flop comes with overs and I don’t care. (This is a problem for me, has anyone noticed?). I bet and get called. Turn pairs the board and we all check. River is a blank and it’s bet, and I call. My 8s were of course worthless to the guy who had paired one of the higher cards off the flop.

All total, I finished up the night $2. More if you count in the dealer tips, of which I have no idea exactly how much I did, but I’m approximating $4-$5. Considering the fact that I was down to the felt at one point… I don’t know what it is about 3s in this house, but by God they are a magic number.

Things I’ve Noticed

I’m not listening to a damn thing better players are telling me.
Part of this is habit. In my entire poker playing career, I have never, never, made my raises the same amount every time. I had every intention of doing so tonight. Didn’t do it at all. In addition, I keep trying to make moves when I don’t need to. I don’t have to make plays at pots all the time. I was just told that I was too blindly agressive – and yet here I went again. If not for that lucky 3 this would have been my most depressing post ever. And even after that hand, I was still making plays at pots I shouldn’t have. There’s a big difference between a bluff when an Ace comes on the river and then continually calling when you know you’re beat by any card on the board. That’s not agression – that’s just stubborn stupidity. While I may have ignored everything else he’s said recently, I did finally click in and repeat to myself “Ring games are all about patience” and quit trying to make things happen. That’s how I got to build back up.

I thought the swinger lifestyle was supposed to be a little more fun…
Being down to the felt is not cool. Thinking at the end of the night about how you could have so much more money if you had just not done all of the above – not cool. iPod boy to my left did a lot of folding and did just fine. I know agression brings variance; I can handle that. I know agression is needed; I can handle that too. I don’t want to just be sitting there, betting only when I have pairs, etc. etc. I want to make bluffs, and semi-bluffs, and some day I’ll even be able to raise with crap cards other than the hammer. My problem comes from not knowing when to let it go. It’s something that I used to not have a problem with – if anything, I’d let it go too soon. So I’m still searching for that balance. Right now I am way too far on the wild side, and I take a few beatings and scurry on over to the calm side to ride things out. I shouldn’t have to do that. The swings are going to come, yes, but they shouldn’t be that huge. Or maybe they can be, but at least if they’re going to be, it should be with the knowledge that any agression was well placed. At the moment mine has a tendency to not be.

For God’s sake, read the board woman.
‘Nuff said.