Starving Crazed Weasels League July Edition

Early on looked like really, really good attendance. But then Pete & Robin decided to move, Alan had Elena this weekend, Brook & Jamie ended up getting called away, Tim elected to purchase cleats, Mark couldn't make it, Kenneth stayed home with Issac, Kevin & Cassie had the impending birth on their minds, and Rick & Jennifer were busy...suddenly we had but 8 people. Was all good, that is a pretty fun number and we had a fun group:

Roman: I know his play and fear it.
Amanda: Tight but becoming more aggressive
Me: Maniac
Tracy: getting better every time.
Phillip; tends to play differently depending on who is there.
Josh; surprisingly good, but can be impatient
Stanica; improving every time out. Still can make some...uh...strange calls, but her play is so much better than when she started it is scarcely believable
Emily; when she plays a lot she is better than me. When she only plays here and there as she has taken to doing she also can make some strange calls

I started out fairly tight, raising or folding. And since I was getting no cards and Roman was starting hot, raising regularly, lots of folding. He hit a couple pocket pairs back to back, he was hot, built a nice chip stack.

Then I got pocket 4s in the big blind. I thought about raising...but checked. Now, there is a mistake. First off, with people limping they are showing weakness. If I hit, I want to get paid off. Let's say I raise to 200, 4 times the big blind. 2 people would fold instantly, maybe all of them, so I either win it outright or at the least lessen the odds someone hits the flop. I also increase my potential winnings exponentially...let's say 4 people limped ahead of me, a not unreasonable assumption...I raise and chase out 2 of them, that adds 600 to the pot (my 200, plus 200 each from 2 callers) meaning the pot is now 1050 chips. I know I am coming out raising if I trip my 4s and with that size pot I can reasonably raise more without scaring people off. Instead I checked like a chump, flop had 3 nice high cards, we checked around. I bet the turn, they folded. Thus by going against my pre-flop instincts and checking I potentially cost myself 400 chips, maybe more. Small plays like that make a difference later in the game. I know better than to play passively but I did so anyway.

A few hands later I did some serious raising with Emily & Stanica involved, got them both all-in...and Stanica and I split the pot to put Emily out first. A bit later I had top/top and Amanda was priced in with second pair.

On the bright side, that started a rush. I raised with pocket 10s, raised, made a nice pile. The next hand Roman cracked my pocket 8s for a nice pot. I raised a couple A/J, A/10 type hands and won them. I was on a real rush. From the button I picked up pocket Kings which I almost prefer to pocket aces based on pure feeling, a dumb way to play. I just "feel" like I am going to hit the Alabama Knight Riders (3 kings, the K-K-K) more than trip Aces. Mathematically incorrect and something that will cost me in the long run since Aces are better. Well, I raised to 300, Phillip & Stanica called. Phillip had just lost a good size pot when he thought he had the best hand and called so he was leery, but Stanica had LOTS of chips. Flop came q/5/....6? I calculated how much Phillip had left and raised 1400, enough to put him all-in. He went into the tank for a long time. I started thinking about what he could have to call. A/q? K/q? Q/rag? I knew he would not stay with rags so no way did he hit the 5 or 6 and no way was he on a straight draw. It was a rainbow so there was no flush draw. I really, really wanted him to call. I figured he had paired the queens and was trying to figure out how I could have him beat.

A couple times he said, "I think I should call, but after that last hand I don't see how I can." That is actually a horrible sentence. His instincts said call. He went against them. Sure, some times our instincts are wrong, but TRUST YOUR READS! Go with them. And what happened the previous hand has no impact on the current hand. I might have raised based on something like A/J, maybe Big Slick, maybe a pair of jacks or 10s or even 8s...I had already showed I would raise with all those. I might have missed completely and been making a continuation bet. He obviously had something good, either queens or something that could beat queens. I don't disagree with his fold, but I do disagree with his reasons. The only reason to fold here is you believe you are A) behind and B) the pot odds do not justify a call. As it turns out, he had pocket the ONLY hands I could reasonably have that beat him so bad he cannot justify a call are; pocket 5s, pocket 6s, pocket qs. If I have any of those he is on a 2 outer (Aces). He has seen 5 cards, there are 47 unseen. 45 help me, 2 help him, so 45-2, he would be a 22.5-1 dog and he was getting nowhere near that on his money. However, he did not think that far ahead and laid down Aces to my Kings. Had he made the (correct) call he would have more than doubled up and been a serious threat for some time to come. Instead he had 1400 to play with and a few hands later Josh put him out.

Finally he folded. Stanica thought about it for a while and folded as well. My Kings held up for a good-size pot and a huge psychological edge.

Now I was rolling, building a slim but important chip lead. This was a good time to lay low, play only premium hands and let people knock each other out. Instead I fell in love with K/9 for some inexplicable reason. Normally it is a hand I fold time after time after time. It is a HORRIBLE hand. If I hit my nine...okay, middle pair, good kicker. If I hit my King...okay, good pair, mediocre kicker. If I hit the straight I get crushed by anyone playing Big Slick...duh, someone is ALWAYS playing Big Slick. There are maybe three hands that can hit to make K/9 good...a flop of K/K/9 or 9/9/K or...well, okay, 2 hands. Staggeringly high odds.

And here came example A. I called Roman's raise with it. Rule #1 in tournament play; if you are big stack, don't mix it up with stacks that can hurt you, prey on the smaller stacks that you can scare. If you MUST mix it up, do it with premium hands. Flop came K/blank/blank, all hearts. I raised, he re-raised.

Red flag alert! True, I instantly read him for not having the flush draw, I also read him for having the king and even for having me beat. True, I was priced in...but might be so far behind I could not run him down. I had a pair of kings with a mediocre kicker. If I get out at this point I still have the chip lead and no problems. I needed to lay it down. Instead I decided to try to get lucky. 1000 chips later he showed a King Queen...I was way behind from the beginning. However, I had talked myself into believing he had made a completely out of character raise with K/8 or worse, not hit any small cards, and was somehow behind. I read he had me beat...and paid off a lot of chips anyway. I also read he would lay it down to an all-in...and did not do that. I played a weak hand passively and gave away to the chip lead when I got badly, badly outplayed. Reason 10, 149 not to play mediocre or weak hands.

Finally we got down to 3 players, Stanica, Roman and I. Stanica had me badly out chipped by this time. However, she started making some strange and weak calls and I started playing aggressively...I waited for strong hands, when I hit something I went all-in. This let me steal a few pots (if it is really stealing when you have the best hand) but I got no calls and never doubled up. Still, I built up over 4000 chips from a low of less than 1000 and then Roman took Stanica out.

Heads up I continued to call, then go all-in when I hit something or fold when I had nothing. I was playing well. Then I picked up Roman's favorite hand, K/10. I went all-in pre-flop. That, to me, was a dumb move. I had chips to play with, it is a nice hand, but as of yet it is still King is losing to any pair, even lowly deuces, and is behind any Ace. Since I will pair once out of three hands it is not an all-in hand, even heads up. Well, he called with...K/J. I was dominated, a 3-1 dog. And the flop paired my 10...and his jack. The turn gave us both the King. I needed a queen or 10. I did not get it and was gone.

On the dark side, the pre-flop all-in was stupid. On the bright side...I would have been all-in on the flop anyway with my 10 and definitely on the turn with 2 pair.

I was clearly outplayed in the mid and late stages by both Roman and Stanica until I tightened down and Stanica loosened up. I goofed away a comfortable chip lead by overplaying weak hands and deserved to lose while Roman was playing as well as I have seen him play and deserved to win. It was good to see the improvement in Stanica's play and was a fun, fun night overall.


Lydias, 7/23

This would be my first time running a game. Sadly, due to personal issues encountered by the individual who used to run this particular game, player confidence is somewhere between low and non-existent that there would BE a game. So a lot of people transferred to another league and attendance, which once was between 16 and 23 people, now was all of 5 people. 6 if you count me. Ouch.

I gave them all the extra 300 chip and they wanted me to play so I did. So I started out 10% behind. On the bright side, I never think of that as a disadvantage. When I am on my game I don't think a 10% chip shortage is a problem, although the converse is not true; if I am on my game and start with a 10% advantage it is trouble for my opponents because I have a margin for error I don't need...not that there is ever a huge margin for error in No Limit. As numerous players and commentators have pointed out, you can play perfectly all day and make 1 mistake...and be out. I have had that happen. For example, early in one game I was playing well, reading people well, making the right moves to maximize value when I had the hand and getting out of the way when I was beat, even bluffing pretty well and taking down a few pots that did not belong to me. I got in a hand with Irish. He was staying right with me so I put him on a high flush, maybe a Jack or king high...which would not stand up to my Ace high nut flush. We got it all in...and he beat me with his straight flush. I went from chip lead to almost out on one error. Fortunately, that day I was A) on my game and B) had started with that slight advantage so I had chips left, came back and placed second that night. However, it goes to show that even my "A" game does not make me invincible.

Last night was not my A game...I was not bothering to read people, was not making moves, i was just floating. About the third hand I got involved in a hand I should not have. First off, I was in the big blind and got a free ride when nobody raised. So I had no clue what sort of holdings anyone might have since everyone limped and they are willing to limp with literally any two cards...3/8,2/7, k/j, Aces....

Flop gave me a pair. Randy bet it with small chips. When he bets small chips he hit something. I know that, I just did not pay attention. I called. Turn gave me two pair. He bet, I raised, he called. River was an 8. An eight had fallen on the flop. He bet big. He bet fast. Had I been paying attention I would have put him on trips simply because when he has a strong hand he bets to get a call, when he has a vulnerable hand...or nothing...he goes all in. I did not care, I called. My two pair were a nice hand. Not as nice as his trips, though...and I was down to about 1800.

No big deal, it was not a huge crowd, just go into super tight mode, hit a hand, chip up. Pretty quick I picked up cowboys. I raised it to 300, 6 times the blind. That should clear out any marginal hands. My plan was, if no Ace fell on the flop, to raise all in. Well...apparently they don't just LIMP with any 2 cards, they also CALL with any 2 cards because nobody folded. (One guy was already out) I got 4 callers to a raise of 6 times the blind from under the gun from a guy who had been folding hand after hand. Either they all read me for being on a move (good for me), they all had big hands (bad for me) or they just weren't paying attention (bad for me). It also had the effect of making me a prohibitive underdog. Against each individual hand I was a strong favorite...and I was the highest percentage to win. But each hand...say it only had a 15% of winning. 4x15=60%...I might be 40% to win, thus a full 25% better chance than any other INDIVIDUAL hand...but overall I was a 60-40 dog. This is the peril of multiple callers and why picking the correct amount to drive out the chaff is such a key skill.

Well, the flop was pretty good for me...5,7 of clubs and a 2, red. Checked to me, I went all in, fold, fold, fold, call. CALL? Uh-oh...he flipped them up saying, "When you see my draw you will see why I had to call." He flipped up...the 4/6 of clubs. He had the straight draw, the flush draw, and the straight flush draw.

So let's calculate where I am at here; I am still the favorite...but it could get ugly. We know what 7 of the cards are. That leaves 45 unseen cards. He has 9 flush cards and 8 straight cards, though 2 of those (the 3 of clubs and the 8 of clubs) are duplicates, so he has 15 cards that will help him, 30 that won't. I am a 3 to 1 favorite to nearly triple up.

Of course, that also means about 25% of the time he will hit his card. And there are a lot of cards that will hurt me. I could hit runner-runner for the King high flush, runner-runner for a full house, but nothing else really helps. And when the first card was the 3 of clubs I was drawing dead to his straight flush.


I have NEVER had a straight flush. I have lost to his, to Irish's, to Emily's, and dealt her two of them. I have just never had one. Oh, well.

The real problem is I never bothered to think about what people might have, even when I was not in the hand. I have developed a couple of theories...Norman raises inversely according to his holding and can be ego-goaded into stupid calls. If he makes large bets in relation to pot he is probably bluffing, but if his bet is about the size of the pot...he has a good hand. He will play crap starting hands but stay with them too long. If he senses weakness, even if he has nothing, he will go all in on the belief you can't call. Problem is...these are theories. I did not bother watching him to make sure they were right..

His wife, Janet tends to bet if nobody else did...but only if she is going well. If she loses a hand or two, she then goes into a shell and can be pushed off of hands, only bets if she has it. Also, if she has an extra strong hand, she will bet an extra chip. Again...theories.

Randy; if he uses several small chips...say, 4 make a bet it has a different meaning than if he uses 1 large chip...say, a red one. Or if he bets 600 using six reds it speaks to his hand strength different than if he uses 1 green and one red. I THINK it means he is confident when he uses the large chips and that he is trying to hold onto his chips as long as he can when he strings it out by betting the small chips. But I did not pay attention and garner hard data to back that up.

Car guy: loves to slow play, will stay in on draw, will bet draws on river if nobody else did.

So I have ideas...but nothing I would bet the farm in because I wasn't paying attention. The lesson? Even when i am not in a hand, pay attention; you never know what you can pick up.


West Killarney, 7/6

I had not golfed for a couple of years. For some random reason, Phillip, Bob (Tracy's Dad), Gabe and I randomly decided to go. Then it turned out Gabe was just wanting to walk along and take pictures. Okay, fair enough. Here we go, let's have some fun.

First hole Phillip launches his tee shot, beautiful, Bob puts his dead center in the fairway, and then it was my first time to hit a ball in a LONG time. I pulled out my trusty 7 wood. No tee for me. I checked my grip, slid my right foot forward slightly, nice easy backswing, smooth swing, and crushed it, blowing past the fairway by a good 40 yards. Too much club. Unbelievable. And it put me behind a pair of towering trees. I knew I was going to swing softly, had no way of judging distance so pulled my pitching wedge. Again, soft, smooth swing...and blasted over the trees, over the green, almost into the canyon. Wow, good power on my shots today! Well, now I was behind a fence. I grabbed my beloved 8 iron and punched it onto the green from whence I 2 putted for a bogey. Not bad...2 tough shots and I save a bogey. I was not displeased at all.

hole 2: this one is a sharp dogleg right that drops away. It is not wise to try to cut off the dogleg because your ball stays in the canyon so my plan was to hit a soft shot maybe 190 yards, chip and putt. I pulled out my 5 iron on the theory that I had lost 40 yards off each club. Apparently my 140 yard pitch taught me nothing...even worse, I sliced liked a madman. Of course, in this case the combination of too much club and poor directional control landed me in the fairway about 30 yards off the green. A modified 8 iron left me a reasonable birdie putt which I missed but still saved par. 2 holes in and I had a par!

Hole 3: real short par 3, nothing tricky except dropping off the cliff. I hit a real light 8 iron because I trust it more than my gap wedge, which would have been the correct club distance wise. Sadly, I faded my shot and was in the rough pin-high to the right of the green. Pitch, putt, putt, bogey.

Hole 4: Long, straight hole with trees on both sides. I concentrated on not over swinging...just a soft, smooth swing. Well, when you let the club do the work amazing things happen...such as a long, straight drive. 8 iron pin high, left of the pin, 2 putt, par.

Hole 5; Longer, this one is a par 5 that goes over water about 100 yards off the green. I decided since I was swinging so well to get some extra distance so I ramped up my swing. I am an idiot. I pulled it...long, high, and left which landed me in some trees. Fortunately, I had a clean shot to the green but the water made me nervous so I ramped up my swing again, still using my 7 wood. Somehow, this 23 degree club which often brings rain I could not get off the ground and hit a worm burner maybe 100 yards. Terrible stroke. I went back to a light, easy swing and over drove the green with my third shot. A pitch, a couple putts and I had another bogey.

Hole 6: Tight fairways, medium length par 4. Nice, smooth, light swing equals nice distance, nice location. 8 iron to the dance floor, regulation number of putts, par. I am not aware of it at the time but I am having a very strong round. I tend to remember stuff like the poor drive, bad 2nd shot, and off-line 3rd shot from the previous hole and forget I saved a bogey. So my bad shots dominate my mind when there are actually relatively few of them and are plenty of good ones.

Hole 7: Short par 3 with valley between tee and hole. Seriously, that valley should not come in play. A short pitching wedge puts you over like a moron I went with a modified 8 iron because I really, really like the 8 iron. Sadly I shank like a smurf and am about half-way to the hole, off to the left on a slope. My pitch is not too good as I hit almost the back of the green and it is a huge green. A nasty 3 putt and I have a double bogey on an easy, easy hole. Oops.

Hole 8: This is a tough, tough hole. It is long, straight, and narrow. The woods are deep, the rough long. If you get off the fairway you are in trouble. Well, another smooth, light swing produced a BOOMING drive. Here is how good it was; after teeing off legitimately with my 7 wood I broke out my driver just for fun to see if I could hit it. Everything was awesome; my swing was maybe a bit too compact but it was still light and smooth, the ball came off cleanly and it was a beautiful drive, straight, long...and about 40 yards shorter than my 7 wood. My second shot over drove the green. My chip was short of the cup and I 2 putted...I was thinking bogey but no, the hole was a par 5. I had yet another par!

Hole 9: This has a relatively lengthy drive to a dogleg left. You need to make the corner or you have to shoot for the green blind. On the other hand, cut the corner too tight and you are in the trees and if you go long you hit the street. Well, I faded again and instead of laying tight to the corner I left myself a solid 220 yards to the hole or so. My second shot I scuffed the grass and left myself maybe 160 yards. I pulled the gap wedge and overshot the green. "Here is my melt-down hole" I announced. Then I proceeded to 2 putt to pull of a bogey and a 42, tied for the 2nd best score i have ever had.

This round showed all that is right about my game when I am playing well. My good shots leave me easy second shots, my putting was on, never worse than a 2 putt, and even my poor shots were overcomable with no outrageous scores (both Phillip and Bob had double digit scores on certain holes). I was relaxed, just enjoying the walk and the time with friends. It was a great deal of fun and makes me willing to play again. I just need to remember not to try too hard, overswing, and get out of my element.

Mixers, 7/17

Had not played against people in two weeks. Almost did not play tonight since I was running the game but Bob & Roman talked me into it.

I folded the first couple hands, then the third hand picked up Big Slick so I raised to 200, 4 times the big blind, 2 callers. Bert said, "You going to raise in first position EVERY time?" I thought it was pretty funny so filed it away for future reference. The flop came A/rag/rag. I raised, Eric called. Turn was a blank, I raised, he called. River was a blank, I had him on an Ace but not 2 pairs, I raised, he folded, I mucked. This was a good move as it led to a lot of speculation as to what I had held.

Won a couple other small pots and noticed a pattern. Bert was pretty close in his reads on me...but not close enough. He consistently undervalued my hands. Filed that away for future reference.

Under the Gun for the second time I pulled out chips as the cards were being shuffled and said, "Just getting ready for my first position move." Bert laughed, so did Bob, but a couple of people did not get it.

Picked up Big Slick suited, called a raise and re-raise from Bert and Eric. Flop was A/rag/rag. I raised. Bert re-raised all-in. Now that was interesting. Just a couple hands earlier he had commented after one of my raises, "He hit his card. He only raises when he has it."

First off, that means he thinks he has me beat. He also said he knew I had the Ace. I actually believed that he believed I had the Ace. So he thinks he has me beat knowing I have the Ace. What could he think I had? Well, obviously he did not believe 2 pairs. He consistently had been underguessing my hand by 2 - 3 cards so he probably put me on something like A/10, maybe A/9. He raised pre-flop so I put him on something like A/Q, maybe A/J. Everything fit. He probably had A/Q so thought he had me beat. I checked out my chip situation. If I called and was wrong I would be down to about 1200. If I was right I got rid of a dangerous player. If I was wrong I doubled up a dangerous player but then again, I had a good chance of sucking out. I called.

I did the same thing he had been doing...I overestimated his hand. He actually raised with A/7. Some of the crap on the flop hit him and he had 2 pair. I did not hit my King and he doubled through.

Looking back, should I have called? He knows I have the Ace and still thinks he has me beat. I briefly considered the possibility of him having played something like a 5/7 and hit 2 pair or maybe even having had a pair pre-flop and tripped up. Factors to consider:

1) He had already proved when he had a pocket pair he was not afraid to bet it. A couple hands previously he had bet into pocket 8s when a Jack came on the flop, then discoursed on how he was not afraid to do so because if someone called his raise and hit something it was more likely to be one of the other 2 cards. I disagree with his take, but I also know how he thinks.

2) He had also shown pocket 4s he threw after limping in and talked about how he got away from them cheap. So he varies his play according to what the cards are. However, part of that variance was not raising up "low pairs" which is generally considered anything under an 8.

3) He is known to bluff at pots, particularly in 3 cases:
a) when it is checked to him in late position
b) when he thinks someone else is bluffing
c) when he thinks someone is making a continuation bet but actually hit nothing

4) He tends to overvalue his hands and undervalue mine. He often thinks on the second level
(level one is thinking about what I have, 2nd level is thinking about what the opponent has, and the third level is thinking about what the opponent thinks I think he has.

But does he know I think about what I think he thinks I have and what I think he thinks I think he has?

Just because somebody THINKS they have me beat does not mean they do. I have put many, many people out who were positive they had me beat but were, in fact, crushed. Of course, there have been times the reverse has been true...such as this one. I am not sure if I thought he was beat or if I let my ego get in the way and did not want him to bet me off a pot even though I was beat.

So in retrospect...I still think I should have called. Right or wrong, once Bert knows he CAN push you around (even if he has the cards), he will when he doesn't have the cards. Bad long-term investment to let him push me off hands...worse short-term investment to call him.

Well, about that time I went card dead. I went a couple complete circuits without having a playable hand and Bert had hit a few hands so he was in bully mode, raising my blinds for sure. Since I had nothing and less than 1000 chips I had already determined I was in All-in or fold mode. I got down to about 400 chips when I finally picked up A/5 clubs. Normally this is a folding hand. This time it was all-in time, and since I was so low I got several callers. And my Ace held up when nobody hit anything. I instantly picked up K/10 and went all in again. People folded, giving me the blinds and about 1500. I picked up big slick and went all-in saying "Sooner or later someone will call me." Bert did...with fishhooks. Uh-oh. Everyone else is like, "Race". I am thinking I would rather have the made hand of a pair than the good potential...but the flop gave me an Ace, it held up and I was above where I started with I think 3400. I built my way from there up to 5 or 6K and then it was time for the final table. I needed to get the consolation table going so I stepped out.

Overall I played pretty well for the most part, just a couple of interesting hands that I might have played differently...but am not sure I should have. I do know I need to bluff a bit more because the fact they think I only raise when I have it means I can steal a few pots with bald-faced bluffs...and if I make more on the ones I win than I lose on the ones I get caught on then it is a good investment and adds deception to the game.