Mixers, 6/28

Things looked good early. Emily actually decided to play which I was pretty excited about. However, despite her, Roman, Amanda, and Gypsy being at the table we also had a couple people that suppressed the mood. It was not quite as jovial as Tuesday for whatever reason. Oh, well.

First hand I picked up A/10. I raised to 200 from 2nd position. Amanda and Gypsy both called. Flop was Q/K/Q. To call I had them both on at least face cards so figured I needed to run down Kings at best and trip queens was another possibility...also, a straight draw was out there. Eric bet, I folded. At the showdown he had 2 pair, Amanda had a boat with Queens over Jacks.

Next hand picked up pocket 7s. Raised. Lost on the river.

Called Amandas raise with Q/10. Lost a few hundred there.

Called another dude's raise with A/J. Lost a few hundred there.

Raised with Pocket 5's. Flop gave 2 hearts, when it was checked to me I raised again. Turn was another heart. I raised. River was a 4th heart. I was pretty sure one of my 5's was a heart and they were both passive so I raised one more time. They both laid down 2 pair to my 5 high flush.

Raised with 8/10 from the button, everyone folded.

At this point they were not believing I had hands but I was seriously only playing what I consider solid hands that I would play from the correct positions. The 2 new guys were chirping a bit about it. I showed a couple hands I had raised with, both pocket pairs.

Then came a costly, costly hand. I had pocket 7s and I raised. Emily called, Gypsy called. Flop came with low cards, a couple clubs. I raised, they both called. Turn was another club and gave me a straight flush draw to go with my pair. I raised. Both called. I tried to piece together what they had. I figured I had them both beat at that point. Turn was yet another low club...there was a 5 high straight flush draw out there. I raised 500. Emily came over the top to 1000. Regardless of what Gypsy did I was folding. That raise meant she had, at the least, an Ace High flush. Eric called. I folded my straight, flush, and pair having put over 1/3rd of my chips into this hand. Sure enough, Emily turned up the straight flush, the second one she has gotten. It was a nice, nice hand for her.

The next hand I picked up pocket 6s and raised again, 2 callers. The flop gave me a backdoor straight draw and was 7 high. One of my skeptics raised 200. I pondered coming over the top all-in but decided to call along with the other skeptic. Turn was another 2. Someone commented on it. First guy checked, second guy checked, I raised, first guy folded, second guy came over the top all in. Since he had been complaining about my raises and not believing I had anything I thought there was a good chance he had not but an overpair, certainly nothing that fit the flop. He had me covered as the previous hand had dropped me to 2900 when the hand started and by the time he went all in I had but 1800 not committed. I called...and he flipped up 2/9. The other critic showed the 4/6 he had played...which meant I was drawing dead to the case 6 against his trip 2s. Out I went.

Looking back there is not a whole lot I would have done different. I was getting hand after hand. I had 5 or 6 pocket pairs on the night and a couple other really, really solid hands. I raised properly, I just ran into other people hitting even better hands...a straight flush, a full house, a couple straights...the one difference is when he went all in I should have laid it down. 6s are nice I suppose, but vulnerable. I would have needed to come over the top earlier in the hand to put pressure on them. It was the one hand I played passively, letting others lead the betting, and it cost me. Oh, well. Let's see if I learned my lesson. Next time I play (in 2 weeks :-( ) I will be in full raise or fold mode.


Dissecting a hand

One of the hands from last night is one I have gone over in my head a few times and it still puzzles me.
The players:

Juan; tight-passive player. If he comes into a hand he typically has a good hand. He raises seldom enough that when he does it is a sign he has a really, really good hand. Involved in very few show-downs; either his raise drives people off or their raise drives him off.

Eric "Gypsy"; loose/passive player. plays a few more hands than might be good for him but they are at least playable hands. tends to get good value from his hands, lets his opponents do most of the betting but when he calls it is not because he is bored...he usually has a pretty good hand. also has pretty solid reads on his opponents.

Me: loose aggressive. I play too many hands from out of position and tend to rely too heavily on my ability to get away from a hand if I am beat. I tend to play medium connectors shooting for the straight but I also know when to rein in and play super tight.

The set-uo: I had a Q/9 off suit and was in the midst of a rush. I follow the Doyle Brunson approach to a rush. What I mean by that is Brunson figures when the cards are falling his way he is going to play every hand until he loses one. The Sklansky or Lederer approach is more mathematical. They subscribe to the theory that what happened on the previous hand or series of hands has no effect on the odds of a particular thing happening on the hand you are now in.

For example, if I pick up pocket aces in one hand, pocket 10s the next, then Big Slick, raise them all and show them all down, the statistical mathematical odds I will get pocket aces in the next hand are the same as they always are, no better and no worse than the first time I get them. By the same token if I play a series of hands, say...pocket 10s, J/10, A/9, A/q, 5/7 and they all hit the odds I will hit the next hand are the exact same as for the others, mathematically speaking. If I pick up a 2/7 the mathematical odds that I will make a hand are tiny, almost irrelevant. However, the odds I will PLAY that 2/7 go way up for 2 reasons; 1, when people see me hit hand after hand it is the perfect time to bluff as they are more likely to believe it, so psychologically speaking it is the right play. Until I don't hit a hand or have results as if I hit a hand I will make them believe I have. 2) It adds deception to my game. If I get caught they see that I play hands that are not ALL good and then pay me off when I hit the nuts. 3) okay, I lied, 3 reasons; when I am catching cards in hand after hand I will ignore math and play "the luck".

Sklansky, Lederer, and the other more mathematical players...say, Chris Ferguson...they know the odds of a hand hitting do not change based on whether you have hit the last 20 hands or missed the last 1000. So they approach the game more mathematically. Hands are good or bad based on content, chip stack size, opponents, and position without factoring in whether or not they are "running hot" or "running cold". I cannot criticize their play...they are better than I am by a large margin...but I can't emulate them either.

The Action; I raised with Q/9. The flop came 9/blank/blank, 2 diamonds. I raised. Juan came over the top. Gypsy flat-called. It should have been an automatic call for me; what could they have called my initial raise with that fit this flop? Q/9 is not normally a raise-worthy hand to be sure...but they could not know I had raised with such a weak hand.

To have called my pre-flop and then re-raised Juan had to have something like A/9 or maybe a pair higher than the board...10's or better. Eric, to call...that I can't figure...maybe A/9? A lot of the people there over-value Aces but I could not see Eric calling a raise and call with that. Maybe a pair? So what could they put me on to re-raise me and call? I almost folded. Roman commented something about their hands and I replied along the lines of, "I know what I have and don't see how I can fold it. What I can't figure out is what they have that let's them re-raise and call."

The Turn
Another blank. I raised to "see where I was at". I figured if Juan just called I would check the river, if he re-raised I would have to put him on trips and fold. He folded. Huh? This surprised me. He paid to see the flop; that means I put him on a real hand. He re-raised me after I raised pre-flop and raised the flop. What could he think I had? He could put me on a straight steal on the flop...say, I raised pre-flop with A/q or something similar, it missed me completely...and it would not be out of character for me to make that sort of continuation bet assuming it missed everyone. At the same time, the continuation bet is not automatic from me...I do it sometimes and not others, always trying to mix up my game. If he believed he had the best hand on the flop he had to believe he still had me beat. I have yet to see him show a bluff so he had to have something...yet he folded? Gypsy called.

The River
Queen (good) of Diamonds (not so good). Now I had 2 pair but a flush was out there. Might even have been an 8 that dropped at some point because there was also a long-shot straight draw. With a scare card like that I considered checking...but a scare card can scare anyone. I thought I had the best hand post-flop and post-turn. I went ahead and bet. Gypsy thought about it a long time. When he did not immediately call I discounted the flush. He COULD have the straight...J/10 is a playable hand and that might have gotten him there. However, he needed runner runner to hit it after the flop and still was a card short after the turn. He is too good a player to take such a long shot that far for that many chips so it was not a realistic holding. With some of the Mixer donkeys...yeah, I would believe it. But not Gypsy. I decided his hand was not so strong that I could not call if he came over the top, although I thought I might be beat. After a goodly bit of thinking he called, I showed my 2 pair and he mucked.

After the hand
I thought I heard Juan tell Roman he had an overpair but when I bet again he thought I had him beat which is why he folded. At the time I had not considered an overpair, just overcards. Overcards would not have justified a re-raise, an overpair would. I filed that bit of information away fo later use. Top pair on the board is vulnerable to an overpair in hand and fogetting that will cost me a lot of chips in the long run.

But what did Gypsy have? With a raise and caller in front of him he called pre-flop.
With a raise AND RERAISE in front of him he called the flop. He has to believe he either has both beat or a real good chance to draw out. There are 1 or 2 draws out there...diamond draw, backdoor straight draw.
With a raise and fold in front of him he called the Turn.
He called the river when the queen got there. I showed first. He could not have had either the flush or the straight or he would have shown. He could not have had trips or he would have shown. Therefore he had either 2 pair or an overpair. I guess he could have had the A/9 and stuck until the river and only mucked when he saw he was beat?

I wondered at the time if I had played it correctly. I still wonder and that is mostly because of Eric. I actually think Juan outplayed me on the hand. If he indeed had an overpair then my raise was fine but my call of his re-raise was foolish. Furthermore, betting into him on the turn after he had already shown strength was foolish. He shows his cards so rarely I could have been walking into a buzz saw. Nor could I put Gypsy on a hand. Sometimes this matters, sometimes it doesn't.

Contrast it, for example, with the other Eric's hand where I had 2 pair. At the river I had 2 pair. He made a large raise. The board had possible straight and flushes on it. I had the third nuts...which, when you look at chipping up a maniacal type player is not a good prospect. I almost folded. Instead I decided to ask a question...just one.. "Which do you have...the straight or the flush?" His eyes flicked to the board. As soon as he looked I knew I had him. He did not realize there were straight and flush draws on the board so if he had one it was 2 pair were good. I made the call. He could not believe I called and asked what gave him away. I lied. "I just can't walk away from 2 pair." Well, yes...yes i can and have done so. I have laid down full houses before. But not when I have a read telling me I am ahead.

So had Gypsy re-raised I was in trouble. Did I play the hand correctly? Dunno. I do know it reinforces how important it is to not give away information.

One other hand that shows the danger of Juan. This time he raised from early position, Gypsy called and I had the big blind so I called. Flop was q/9/q. More often than not on a scare flop like that lots of checking ensues. So I raised 400. (blinds were 50/100) Juan almost beat me into the pot with his chips and Gypsy called also. Something about Juan's call made me think he had the other queen. Yet when the turn was a Jack and I raised again he folded.

Either he is scary, scary good or I am way overestimating him. If he had the queen that was a HUGE laydown. If he didn't...what was he calling with? A straight draw? He made a quick laydown so he must have believed something about me. Gypsy called. And then on the river I raised 1600. He thought about it for a while before he called. Then he called. I flipped up the Q/J...I had the nut full house. Juan got away from the hand, Gypsy didn't. I have a high regard for both players...what did Juan see that Gypsy didn't?

He was not catching the cards he needed but I expect to see Juan at a lot of final tables if he can make reads and laydowns like those.

Mixers, 6/26

Low turnout to start. On the bright side, at my table I had Roman, Amanda, Juan, Eric "Gypsy", and Bob. Before the tournament we were talking a bit of strategy. I always find that helpful because A) I love talking poker so it puts me in a good mood and B) it makes me formulate in words concepts that I know but sometimes relegate into the background and with my mind functioning on too many levels proper strategy gets relegated to a default and, therefore, incorrect function.

First hand out of the gate I was under the gun and picked up big slick. I raised it up, got a couple callers including Roman & Gypsy. This did not make me super confident as both of them don't call with nothing. Fortunately the flop paired my ace and presented no straight or flush draws so unless someone hit 2 pair or trips I was ahead. I raised again, they both folded. Roman had 8's so it was a good raise. Top pair, top kicker is a nice hand but not one that is good to slow play because if I price people in they will run me down.

Won a couple more hands and then a couple people showed up late. I use the term "people" loosely. Jackass might be more apropos. One was a guy I have played with once before...he is the Fount of Annoyance. I once went into a hand against him with pocket Kings, he had a Queen/Jack suited and thought he was ahead. Normally I like that...I want people getting their chips in against me with worse hands. However, he is so loud and obnoxious that I would rather lose and be gone. Add to that the woman sitting across from me and all the pieces were in place for one of my patented Tilt blow-ups where I deliberately call off my chips on a good but beaten hand just to get away from the situation.

He exacerberated it but trying to call me out several times. Once he pointed to me and...someone...his finger was actually pointing to Eric when he said he and to me when he said she, but he said "he and she only go in with good hands, they don't play at all."

Okay, let's examine the situation. He was raising a lot every hand, which I don't mind, but he was going all-in quite a bit as well. Well, I am not going to call a raise with a 2/6 or 6/10 for all my chips, especially with blinds at 25/50 and me having plenty to play with.

One hand he folded, from the small blind I raised with A/9. To my surprise Roman called, as did Gypsy. Flop gave me the Ace and I came out raising. Roman showed hesitation in calling but did, Gypsy folded. Turn was a blank, another raise. Roman did not know what to do. I apparently cannot read him because I thought I had him beat. I figured he had a high pocket pair, maybe hit the medium pair. I thought there was a faint chance he had A/rag but figured my nine kicker was good. He folded and showed me the 10...he actually had me beat. I showed the A/9. This brought another commentary from the Fount where he thought I played superbly.

No, I did not. I WOULD have been playing superbly if I had the correct read or better cards. However, let us assume instead of the initial call Roman had re-raised...or, for that matter, if Gypsy had. Then what do I do? I have top pair, yes...but my kicker is marginal. It is not unusual for Gypsy to limp with A/j or A/Q and Roman had to have SOMETHING to call my reason he could not have had one of those hands. If he re-raises I have a tough decision. Sometimes I will call, sometimes I will lay it down. In this case, against these players in this hand, yes, it worked to be aggressive. But against some players...say, a Jeff who will re-raise or an Eric or Dee who comes over the top all in, then what do I do? I do believe the pre-flop and flop raises were correct...but they are not always. It was a tough hand all around and I got lucky. Fount believed the hand should ALWAYS be played that way and aggression is always right. That would cost him against Gypsy.

After a while Gypsy took a bundle of his chips when he bluffed off a large portion against Gypsy's pocket 7s. A couple hands later as Fount of Annoyance was explaining to the wild woman how I only ever played good hands and he was just educating her I picked up big slick again. I raised under the gun. Wild Woman and Fount of Annoyance both called. Flop came King, rag, rag. I raised, Wild Woman went all in, Fount called with the rest of his chips. I thought about folding. Top pair, top kicker is good, but what could she re-raise me with? 2 pair? Did she have cowboys? I was worried. I actually flat-out dismissed the loud-mouth. I was calling him no matter what (in truth, my raise would have almost put him all-in by itself and I deliberately had raised that amount for that purpose.) Finally I decided she was making a move and called. I was right...she was making a move with A/ flush draw, no straight draw, not even a pair. His hand was equally bad and I put them both out. His less obnoxious amigo had few chips left. I actually did not mind that guy but until he busted out Fount of Annoyance hung around making a running commentary so shortly thereafter we showed him the door as well.

Instantly the table returned to a fun one with table talk, good-natured ribbing, people sitting forward, smiling, laughing. It was a good lesson in a couple of things; 1) I need to be ready to change gears in an instant, and be aware of how the addition of even one person can completely change the dynamics of how a table plays. Jeff is a good example. Whenever he arrives at a table where everyone is limping he will raise, raise, raise with any two cards becauce he will make everyone fold often enough to be making money in the long run. He can control a table that way. Linda or Dee changes a table to "I will show one card, and that as slowly as I can" so the whole table becomes a competition to show the least. Knowing who is at the table and how they will affect it is vital. 2) Whereas most books will tell you against players such as Fount who over-raise over often you need less of a hand to call since the odds they have a real hand are less, my strategy is a bit different; wait for that premium hand and get rid of him.

The one thing I saw I wanted to comment on but did not because I thought it would be poor etiquette was a couple of times Amanda limped in before Fount acted and ended up throwing her cards away when he raised. With someone like him in the pot I pretty much only played hands I was willing to go all-in with specifically so when I did go all-in it would mean something. Those extra chips she would have had would end up making a difference.

Well, with the table down to my fave five we went back to a fun, laughing table. Everyone was playing really well. Amanda particularly was improved. She made several uncharacteristic raises and I folded some decent hands because I thought she had me beat. She did not show so I was having a tough time getting a good read on her. However, I was also hitting hand after hand. Cowboys, Big Slick, Pocket 10s, A/q, A/j all paid off. I raised with medium connectors a few times and they hit too.

I had enough chips that at one point I raised with A/6 suited (5 handed I figure it is much stronger than 8). Roman came over the top all-in. Whoops...did I get caught with my hand in the cookie jar? On the one hand, I really did not want him gone. On the other, there was a chance he had a pair instead of a couple good cards so he might be way ahead. I went over the hands he could have. A/face card, something like King/J, maybe Q/10, or a pair, any pair. No, not any pair. He knew I had raised so he had 10s or better if he had a pair. I looked at my chip stack and decided to take a chance. It was win-win...I got rid of a dangerous player or else doubled him up and all but ensured he would be at the final table. He had 10s, they held up. I was more happy than anything. One reason I will never be a good poker player...I should not be happy to see chips flow towards people who can beat me more often than I can beat them. Then again, I would rather have fun at the table than win.

Finally the other table got to 3 players. Along came Jeff, Eric, and another obnoxious guy. Eric and obnoxious had some sort of friendship/feud going where they were trying to get each other to go all in. As a result I was back into fold, fold, fold mode. Twice I folded to his all-in moves while I had the big blind. He bragged about having 9 high on one and Jack high on another and about how bad I was for folding. Little did he know I had 2/6 once and 3/7 the other time. Of course, playing tight has its advantages. When I did raise, he and Eric held a conversation about me. Eric discoursed for a while making it clear he thinks of me as a sub-par but acceptable player so they "respected my raise" and folded. I wish they had not respected it, I had the goods.

Eventually Juan fell, Roman went out and then Eric and Obnoxious got into a hand together and got it all in. Eric won and had a HUGE chip lead. Amanda had maybe 4 or 5 thousand, I had maybe 15, and that meant Eric probably had 30 or 32K. I raised to 4 times the blind at one point (1600) and they folded. I had raised a few times, they had both folded. I wanted to maintain my image of tight player only playing premium hands so I said something along the lines of, "I need some action now while I am getting cards so I can survive later when I am not." Eric then lectured me on why my raises were too big, I had to think about whether the small blind could call, etc. I pointed out my raise was only 4 times the bb, his lecture continued. He had been the BB that hand and folded. Now from the small blind he 1400. I laughed and pointed out his raise was only TWO HUNDRED LESS than mine!!!!!!!!

Play continued until I was in the big blind. Amanda called, Eric raised, I looked at Pocket Rockets. I tried to decide how to get all Eric's chips in...well, all of mine and double up through him. I decided his ego was enough he would call me so I went all in. He did call...with A/9. He went from chip lead to about 8000 just like that. A couple hands later he went all in. It was still a good chunk of change. I had folded crap hand after crap hand and this time looked down at Q/10. I could not think of what he would have I had beat. He could have J's, Q's, K's, A's....big slick...I figured at best I was dominated, at worst I was drawing almost dead needing to run down a big pair. I started to fold but as I was flicking my wrist to toss in my cards I randomly picked up the chips and threw them in instead.

I was in much better shape than I would have believed...he only had a pair of threes. I hit a queen and he was gone, it was heads up with Amanda.

She had played well all night but had so few chips that I might have taken her lightly. I picked up 2 pair right away and got her all in. Of course, when she rivered the straight she doubled up...but still, she had maybe 10K chips, I had her about 5 - 1. Then I hit top pair...but she had another striaght. I don't know how many straight hands she won but at one point Bob picked up the gift certificates and put the winning one in front of her and second place in front of me. It was pretty funny. Finally, with blinds of 1K/2K (I think I went the entire 500/1K without winning a hand) I won a hand with a raise. I put the 4K chips aside and said, "When those go in, you know I have the nuts. Those are the last chips into the pot." I thought it was pretty funny.

After that we had some back and forth. I won a few hands, she won a few. Then I started doing some pre-flop raising. At one point I raised to 6K. She called. Flop came A/K/rag, all diamonds. I raised another 6K, she folded...and I showed my 2/7 of hearts. I think that was the difference maker because it showed I was playing maniac style...I might be raising with something or nothing. A few hands later she doubled up one last time but her last 4K finally fell in my hands and I had a win.

Looking back, despite the Fount of Annoyance and his hench-dude and Eric & Obnoxious it was a lot of fun overall. Taking them out was exquisite and I need to be sure to not just flame away my chips when people like them show up. Pick my spots, double up, and get rid of them so the fun people can play.


Starving Crazed Weasels League June Edition

Early on I thought we were going to have record numbers. Then 6 or 7 people dropped out and we ended with 8/9. Kenneth & Stanica played as a team so there were 9 people playing 8 hands. On the bright side we had 2 new players (Roman & Amanda) and 1 who had not played for 4 months (Rick) and Josh playing for the 2nd time.

After some of the stupidity of last month I adjusted the blinds and starting chips. This month would be 3000 chips and blinds of 25/50 to start. No more 5/10 blinds with 10,000 deep...sad for me but hey...if that is what the group needs to get a better game, so be it (although there is an open question if the better game was due to tighter chip stack requirements or the absence of a specific individual might be an open question).

Anyhow, this month was a much, much better game...very enjoyable.

Pretty early I picked up pocket kings. I raised to 300, a couple callers. Flop came Q/r/r with no flush or straight draws. They checked to me, I raised 300, got rid of everyone but Amanda. I have seen her play enough to know she either had the queen or 2 pair...and I was betting she had the queen so I liked her call. Turn was a blank, still no dangerous draws out there...Amanda checked, I raised 300. She called and I was again happy...I was bringing her with me, this was going to be a nice pot. Then the river was a queen...she checked and I checked behind her. "I thought you would bet" she said, indicating she was going to check-raise me most likely. I smiled and said something along the lines of "Nah, you got your queen" which she then flipped up and had indeed tripped her Queens. So that was costly but also well played all around. She had top pair on flop and should have at the very least been calling, I figured I had the best hand and bet it that way.

A couple hands later I again had the cowboys and raised to 300. Only Stanica called. Flop brought the one card I did not want to see, an Ace. I raised, she called in a heartbeat and I was done with the hand. We checked it down and she flipped up A/2. So I got busted again. Fortunately I got out of both hands as cheaply as I could but I was still a clear short stack. So then I went into hyper-tight mode, folding my way until I had about 1500. I got it all in a couple times, everyone folded, I built back up. After a while I hit a straight and added a large number of chips. Then I lost a bundle more when Josh tripped his Jacks and was hurting again.

I then made a smart play...I got tight. You can't lose many chips when you are folding. I need to do this before I get low...except early on I like to gamble a bit, see if I can hit a couple hands and build chips early. Once I lose about 1/3rd of my stack I start looking to only play the premium hands and double up.

At some point I stopped reading as sharply as I had at first. One key hand with Roman is a good example. I had a 10/8 suited or some such trash. If not in the big blind I probably would not have even been playing it. He checked the flop, I had top pair, I raised. He came over the top all-in. That is uncharacteristic which made it a great play. I figured I was ahead but also vulnerable...he could catch up easily. I said, "You don't normally slow play." He cracked one of those "Oops, I got caught" smiles and I said, "But you never bluff" and his guilty smile got even bigger. So I read he was indeed bluffing and called...and he flipped up 2 pair. I was dead...except the turn gave me an open ended straight flush draw. That meant I had a lot of outs...9 cards for the flush, 8 for the straight, 2 of them being duplicates so 15 outs, about 30%...and the river was a 3 of spades so I doubled up. This was the only time all night I drew out on someone. On the bright side I was getting in with the best hand most of the time. On the dark side...people were drawing out on me like mad.

We got down to the final 4. First I follishly gave Josh 4900 chips when I thought I was beat but he might fold...he didn't. Then I hit trip queens on the flop. I raised. Josh called. There were 2 queens and a king on the flop. For him to call there were not many hands he could have had. He could have had a queen, a king, or maybe an A/10, A/J, something like that where he was shooting for a straight. That was my warning side to play with caution. Sure enough the River was another King...I had a boat but he either had the same boat or, more likely, a higher boat. He asked how much I had, put me all in. I knew I should not call...but did anyway because I talked myself into believing he might, despite not having done so, be bluffing. Or he might, despite my actual belief, have a queen, not a king. Of course he had the king and I was done.

I do that a lot. I figure I am beat but talk myself into believing they have a worse hand than they do. This crushes me, particularly as we get close to the finals. I am wondering if I am afraid to get beat in the finals so deliberately sabotage myself before we get there? Early on I got away from a couple hands I could have gotten crushed on (the pocket kings, both times, and when Josh tripped his Jacks) but later in the same type situation I choke off all my chips. Something to work on.


Mixers, 6/21

Ah, yes...the first day of summer and time for some hot poker playing. Before it started Roman and I were goofing around with a little bit of strategy and a light clicked on for me. Duh...I have been limping in a lot for weeks because lots of other people are. But that plays straight into their hands as it is "their game" so they are comfortable with it. Linda always cracks me up because whenever SHE has a big hand pre-flop she raises but if other people are raising then she complains, "Can't we just have a friendly pot?" Well, since she is one of the bigger threats then making her play my game is to my advantage and playing her game works to hers. So it was back to planning to raise or fold pre-flop.

Roman & Juan beat me to it, raising the first few hands. Roman was hot, twice cashing big on pocket rockets. The second one was costly for me. I had suited connectors and flopped an open ended straight draw with a flush draw. Neither hit and I ended paying over 1000 chips to see it...but there were 3 other people in the pot (Roman, Juan, and a guy I had never seen before) so I was getting better than 3-1 on my money and was better than 3-1 to hit it so I would do it again.

Next I picked up A/J and raised. 2 callers. Flop was a queen and 2 rags, I raised again, only Tor called. Here is where knowing your competition matters. Tor likes to see the river so he will almost always call to the river. He is also unbelievably predictable. I have something on him and know when he hits his hand. I also know he overvalues hands with a face card. I knew I had him beat. I also knew I could drive him out by changing my raise from 200 to 600. I decided to string him along. I raised on the turn, he called. Neither of us had so much as a pair at that point. The river was a 4 and he did his eye flick. Som of a mother, he donked out on me with a 4. Sure enough, his hand was a King/4. He called 600 chips off with a King high. Oh, well. On the one hand, my fault for raising with essentially nothing, especially against someone I know will donk to the river and who I know I could have driven off the hand with a large raise. On the other hand, I believed my read and it was dead on. I raised when I was ahead and checked when he hit his little card.

Ironically, he was in the small blind the next hand, people limped to him and he folded. He called a raise to 4 times the blind with K/4 off and then folds to no raise? Hahahahahahahahaha good one. Grr.

So now I needed to get some chips back. I won one hand with a straight, won another where I did not have to show, then went card dead for a while.

Blinds raised to 200 and I only had 1200 left. I started looking for a chance to get it all in so I could either double up and have chips to play with or get rolling towards home as I still had 3 miles to run. Unfortunately, before I could I got blinded to 825 chips. Then I weakly limped in with a/3. nobody raised. Flop came A/middle card/3. I had 2 pair. I went all in. Roman was priced in and called. Everyone else folded. He flipped up an A/, I was ahead, he was drawing to 3 outs, about 12%. "No 6, no 10" I said. First card was a blank. Last card was a 10. I was screwed. As I mucked my cards a guy from the OTHER table leaned over and said "6 plays!" Really? Is that why I mucked my worthless 2 pair? I think Roman felt a little bad about sucking out on me but he shouldn't for several reasons;
1) I limped with a weak hand. One reason you should not play from early position with A/rag is there is an excellent chance someone behind you will have a better Ace.
2) He was priced in when he called.
3) He put out (ego alert) a very dangerous player instead of more than doubling them up.
4) That is why you play some hands where you are beat...because x amount of the time you beat them.

So I was out fairly early. Overall, looking back there is not a lot I would have done different. I played pretty well but got sucked out on twice and could not suck out one other time. When the odds catch up I will be back on top. Best of all, it was a fun game and it reinforced my belief that making people play my game (pre-flop raise/fold instead of limping) throws certain people off their game who are otherwise very dangerous; Linda is no threat to me even though she is a very good player...good enough that she is top 5 in overall points. Ironically, the real threats at this point are, in no particular order, Jeff, Dawg, Roman, Dee, and Eric. Jeff and Roman are solid, strong players. Dawg is all but unreadable for me, I have no clue if he has the nut flush or nothing. Jeff also falls into the Dee/Eric category of wild play swings and massive bluffing. Bert bluffs a lot but he has given away a lot of information so I usually do pretty well against him. EEEEEexxxxxxxxccccceeeeeellllleeeeennnnnnntt


Mixers, 6/19

Due to the trip to Phoenix and stuff going on last Thursday had not played in 2 weeks so was really looking forward to playing...and hoping to get a fun table. Well, Roman was there...and his wife came...and her boss has started playing. Then Bob also sat at our table so it was a solid, fun table. We also ended up with Jeff, Greg and Dawg so I knew everyone's style.

Early on everyone was limping. I had a debate with myself; I could raise the good hands and just play those, make people play a style they were not comfortable with...or I could limp with them, play a lot of hands and trust my reading skills. Limp it was.

I hit a few hands, missed a few, was up a bit. Then Dawg started raising so I went into raise or fold mode and folded a lot of hands. At one point I limped from the small blind (Roman very seldom raises from the big blind so it was a pretty safe move) with Dolly Parton. Flop came with K/9/7, all diamonds. I raised the pot, everyone folded...including Bob who showed his 9/K to point out he hit part of the flop. I showed my 9/5 to throw them off balance. Twice I raised on Flush Draws, both times people folded the pot to me.

Meanwhile, Juan (Amanda's boss) was playing a strange game. Even when we were all limping he had seldom played. But when he played he almost always raised on the flop. He had won 7 or 8 hands without showing one down so I had nothing on him. Actually, I was getting no read on anyone.

Finally I picked up Q/J. Flop gave me a Jack and I bet it. Juan called. Turn was another diamond putting 3 on the board. He checked for diamonds so I did the same. My Queen was a diamond. River was another diamond. I raised to 500, he re-raised to 1000, I cam over the top all in. He thought for quite a while. If he had a King or the Ace of Diamonds I was in a world of hurt. He must not have because he folded and I took down a nice pot.

By the time we hit the final table I had about 8800 chips. Bob returned to our table with a HUGE stack and sat down to my right again. Greg was to his right and Eric (?) the mad bluffer was now to my left. About 10 times someone would raise and he would come over the top all in. It finally got to where I decided if he was yet to act it was either all-in or fold. I hate that type of poker because any skill element is gone and it becomes "who gets lucky". If I want to play a pure luck game I will play War.

I was getting blinded pretty bad and so with A/10 suited I went all in for my last 5200. Greg called with Jacks. When I hit the Ace he went ballistic, totally railing against the game. happens. It was one of the few times I got in with a worse hand and people suck out on me regularly. It did not help that he mis-calculated my odds. He rightly stated I was drawing to 3 cards in the deck but incorrectly assessed my chances at 6%. 6% was correct...FOR EACH CARD TO COME. So other words, I was only about a 3-1 dog. Admittedly, the 2 jacks will trip up about 1 in 8 times on the flop and about 8% on each the turn and river to retake the lead for him so on occasion I will hit an ace and it won't matter...but it was not the bad beat he made it out to be.

Eric was back to all-in after all-in. I thought about calling him but didn't. At one point I had A/J and was going to call him but Jeff called ahead of me. I folded...and saw Eric flip up K/10 and Jeff flip up A/7. I would have tripled up. Soon Eric was gone but I was getting trash hand after trash hand so I was blinded down to about 5000 by the time we reached the final 3 with blinds of 500/100. I needed chips and knew I would have to gamble to get them so I picked a good drawing hand (j/9) and went all-in for my last 5. I actually figured they would both call but only one did...and he had the worst hand for me I could see, pocket 10s. My straight draw was all but eliminated since he held 2 of my outs. When I hit the 9 on the river it added insult to injury and I was out in third. Overall, a fun night but not the finish I wanted.


Mixers, 6/7

I had not played in a week and was really wanting to get into it again. I went in with a plan:

1) Raise or fold, very minimal calling.
2) Read, read, read. I wanted to be so read dependant I actually had this plan for the first hand; assuming everyone limped to me (which they normally do first hand) raise to 3 or 400. If they checked, raise. Thus I establish aggression and fear.
3) Use check raises, check calls, and reraises to make myself hard to read and unpredictable.
5) study what hands people will call with (draws, made hands, etc.?) and which ones they will raise with.

Well, the first hand I was pretty far from the blinds so I was planning to use position and raise. Jeff, 2 seats to my right, beat me to the punch. I looked down at A/10 suited and called his raise to 250. On the flop there was a pair on the boards and Jeff raised. I called as did one other guy. No help on the turn so I folded to his raise...the other guy came over the top and Jeff folded. Hmm. And just like that 1/6th of my stack was gone.

I folded a few hands, then with 6 people in the pot for 200 each it was my turn to think. I had pocket 5s. I figured "Pocket pair hits a set 1 in 8 times. My odds are right with implied." That was my thought almost verbatim. I called. Flop came King, 8, 5, all hearts. Oops. I hit my set...but there was a nasty, nasty heart draw on the board I had no part of. I checked and called all the way to the river. Sure enough nobody had a flush and my trips were good. I was back up again.

Folded a couple hands, then in the big blind several people limped. I looked down at A/q. I raised to 500. One caller. Flop was all rags, I raised again. He folded and I was up a bit more. A couple hands later I again had A/Q, this time suited. Flop came rag/q/rag. One guy raised, I went all in, one guy called. He had queen rag and was done. The two others who I drove out with my monster raise both groaned because they would have hit a straight in one case (he needed runner-runner for it) or 2 pair in the other. I said nothing...but that was the point of my raise! I had (by my read) the best hand at the moment and was not going to price anyone into beating me for what was already a nice pot. My raise drove out the people on long-shot draws and I won. I finally played correctly for this group and the results were obvious. I was a clear chip leader.

I began to play a bit more conservatively. At one point Jeff went all in for 1600, Gypsy called, and I showed Roman the pocket 10s I was folding. Sure enough a King was hit and I would have lost.

I slowly built my stack until it was time for the final table. With 9 people, both tables lost a player on the same hand so there were 7 at the final table.

The first hand I folded a marginal hand so I could get a feel for how people were playing. This I believed was a wise move unless I had maybe Cowboys or Rockets. Good choice. 3 people got it all with pocket 9s, guy to her left with Aces and guy to my right with Kings. The 9s tripped...but so did the Aces and 2 people were gone just like that.

Next hand I picked up pocket 7s. 4 handed I figured I was good so I raised. Guy who just hit the Aces called. Flop was K/j/k. I raised, he called. Turn was an 8, he raised, I folded. He did not show. On that hand I lost 9600 chips. Ouch.

A few hands later I had the A/5 diamonds in the big blind, 1 caller. Flop gave me 2 diamonds, I raised 4 times the blind to 1600. 1 caller. Turn gave me another diamond and the nut flush...but a possible straight flush. I raised to 1600 anyway. He called pretty quick, making me nervous. Turn was yet another diamond. I raised to 3200, kind of a desperation raise. He went into the tank and I was relieved...he obviously did not have the straight flush. Finally he folded; he had 2 pair on the flop and never improved. As I tossed mine in (face up in return since I had essentially asked him to show) I noticed I had the key card for the straight flush...the 5. With a 6 and 8 out there I was the only one with a shot at the straight flush. In retrospect, my raise on the flop was brilliant; he had not put me on the flush on the turn so I could have raised more and kept him around. On the other hand, by showing I had raised on a draw and then a made hand and then commenting, "I was afraid of the straight flush...and I had the key card! Fear my poker brilliance!" I caused a lot of A) laughter and B) threw them off as to how I play. So the deception was huge. And I made a nice bundle on that hand.

In the big blind I picked up a 2/something. Flop came 2/3/3. I raised. 2 callers. Turn was a blank. I checked and called. River was a 2. I raised, one caller. I showed the boat, he mucked, they complimented my check. :-)

Next hand I picked up pocket 2s. I raised. Hit a set. Showed the 2s. For a few hands I raised every time a 2 hit the board and they folded. It was great psychological play because whether I had it or not they believed I had it.

Roman was down to 1000 chips and in the small for 500. I had pocket 2s. He was going to fold, leaving himself 500. I guaranteed him he had overs and figured he would win. He had 4/5, didn't hit it. I felt bad about putting him out...but the theme of the deuces continued. Once I folded 2/3...and would have hit another boat.

We were down to 3.

I lost a few hands here and there, won a hand here and there. Finally I limped with 8/10. Flopped a straight. WIth blinds at 2/4 at this point I wanted to make some money. I raised the minimum, 4K. The guy across from me called. *******error alert ******

He was very casual with his cards. Not deliberately, but I had seen what he folded several times and noted he was...well...very conservative. I had seen him, on the button into a pot with only limpers, fold 2 face cards. So I should note if he is calling he has something good or is on a great draw. Therefore, my next raise should be LARGE.

Turn put a third club on the board. I raised the minimum. He called. River...another club. Now there were 4 to a flush on the board. I checked, he raised 4K. The odds were right to call as the only thing that beat me was a 10 or higher flush. He had the Ace. I priced him into it and he took me for 16K. He outplayed me on that one. I got greedy and it cost me.

I folded a bit, made a few raises and took a few pots, was up and down a bit but short stack.

Now I was down quite a bit, maybe 12 K left. right then they announced the blinds were going up. I was not in the blinds, looked down at 9/10. They had folded a few times to my all-ins, so I went all-in. Tight guy called with J/8! Uh-oh, he had me covered...but I hit a straight on the turn and doubled through. Moments later I was chip leader.

Finally I put him out and was chip lead. Traded it back and forth, finally with K/5 I called to the 16K big blind, he had 5K more, I called that, my K/5 spades held up when neither of us hit anything and I had my 3rd win. And by far the best...about 26 people on the night.

TRUST YOUR READS!!! Mixers, 5/31

I promised myself no limping today; raise or fold. I also wanted to make sure I guessed at what people were holding on every single reveal and was going to play a hand without looking at my cards...just read their reactions. Is zero for three bad?

First hand, A/10 suited. Limped in from middle position. I should have raised but talked myself out by saying, "they will just all call anyway." Checked to me on the flop, should have raised...didn't. Ended up losing a hand I should have won to 2 weak cards that paired. I got badly outplayed.

later I read Bert for a bluff in a hand I was not in. From the way he looked at the board and reached for chips I decided his bet had nothing to do with the board and he was simply making a pre-determined bet. I was right.

A couple hands later I flopped a flush draw, raised, they all folded. Then I folded a lot. Did put people on the correct hand a couple times, including knowing Bert had King/Jack twice; once when he won with top two pair, another time when he lost with top two pair against a flush.

However, I also let him puch me off a hand when I read him for middle pair, talked myself out of it and into him having same pair I had but better kicker...and he had middle pair. Still later read him for a bluff but with Linda to call behind me folded. I would have split the pot with them as we all had Aces, though they both had rags and I had another 10. They outplayed me yet again.

Eventually I got down to about 1800 having only won the one hand. I picked up fishhooks from late position. Lots of limping to me, I went all-in, 2 callers. The jacks held up and I doubled through. Later I got all-in again with A/10 against Dee's Q/7 and doubled up again. I was in good shape.

Blinds were rising, I had about 10 times the blinds. I picked up pocket 6s. One loose player went all-in. I put him on A/rag. Dee called, she would call with any 2 cards. I had pocket 6s. I called (I should have raised all-in to isolate). Another guy came over the top all-in. Dee called. I called. Mistake after mistake on this hand. Flop came J/10/J. Dee seldom slow-plays. I knew I should go all-in. I checked. A three came. She bet 2K which would put me all-in. I read her for the three. The math was right to call anyway. I hesitated. I told her I thought she had the three, not the j or 10. I kept hesitating. I thought about it. The math said call. Her betting said she had the three. I....laid it down. And she turned up the three.


Yes, I know they are not always correct. I have been bluffed off a few hands where I believed a read they were stronger than they were. But more often I have made the correct read and would be doing even better than I already am. I just need to follow up on my reads.

The next hand I picked up pocket 6s again. I went all in. 3 callers. One paired their 4, another hit nothing...and the last guy hit a 10 on the turn and I was done.

I finished 7th but should have finished higher. I was badly outplayed all night. Hopefully I learn my lesson. No calling...raise or fold. Believe my reads and act on them.