Mixer's, 8/28

Had not played at Mixers for a long, long time. Went there again, truth be told, mostly just cause it is fun hanging out with Roman. Emily actually decided to come along, so I was excited. i love it when she plays.

Lately I have been playing, truth be told, a pretty crappy game. Last weekend I played at Lydias not so much because I wanted to but because Bob is kind of hurt when I don't. So I told Em I was going to bust out just into the second blinds. So I went, I limped, I called off chips knowing I was beat...actually, three times I even said, "I know I am beat but I will pay you off", once correctly calling trips, twice calling 2 pair. So ironically my reads were dead on and my chips were melting.

I milked them until the first hand after the break and called the rest off on one hand. It was about a perfect day. I played for an hour and change, did not look like a donkey (even though I played like one) and got in some pretty good practice reading people.

Monday was more of the same with a slightly different strategy. Since I wanted to last longer I limped more, called less after the flop. Still, I was up maybe 1500 when someone busted out and I switched tables. A few hands in I limped with A/3 spades. Flop came A/Q/2. Todd raised, I figured he actually had some sort of a hand this time...maybe A/better kicker or at the least 2 pairs so I folded. John folded next to me so I did something I rarely, rarely do...I pulled my cards back out of the muck to show him I had folded top pair. He then showed me he had folded middle pair. And we both believed we were correct to do so...and we were right. Todd showed down a set of 2s.

Well, I kept limping which pretty quick puts you on short stack. By the time I got to about 1100 or so I was pretty bored and ready to go. Then came a hand that was a good one to double up or bust out. Jason, a very erratic player, and I were the only 2 in the hand. Flop gave me 4 to the Queen high flush. He checked his cards as people often do when 3 of a suit fall and they are not sure what they have. I figured he had maybe a medium, possibly a high card. When the turn was another club I went all in for my last 1000. He called and had the King. I wasn't going to play the consolation table but they needed a 4th to get started...then we ended up with 7. Well, they decided they wanted to allow rebuys which, in my opinion, makes for a terrible game because people will call anything with anything since they can just rechip. Sadly, still limping, I was hitting like a fiend and so 4 or 5 times I just gave them their "rebuy" out of my chip stack. I hit a lot of hands and had a huge stack...but the truth is I was playing terribly. Just because you hit a few q/7 or 2/4 type hands does not mean you are playing just means when you play a lot of hands, you hit a lot of hands.

So going into the Mixers I knew I was actually playing poorly. I usually but not always put people on some sort of hand, I limp a lot, raise seldom, and play sub-par hands. I don't set out to build any particular table image. I just...float.

So last night I had Em to my left, then some guy I did not know, then Roman, then Jeff, then...Cody? Corey? I should know his name but don't, and then immediately to my right was Cole.

I started off correctly, fold or raise, no limp. And so did everyone else. This was not a limp table. As I was folding, Em was hitting hand after hand. She hit a boat. They thought she didn't know she hit it (she did, she just did not know if someone had a higher one), trips, top/top, trips, a straight...she was crushing the table. Meanwhile I got up to about 4500.

Then something happened. I lost with 2 pair three or four times, then everyone limped, I was in the small blind with pocket 2s. I should have raised or folded. People had showed weakness by limping, I could probably have picked up the pot with a strong bet. Instead I limped, KNOWING it was a mistake. Sure enough someone hit a middle pair.

A couple hands later I went ahead and raised the pocket deuces after a couple people had limped. All but one folded. Then I got nervous and checked the flop even though I thought he had missed it. He had, he hit the turn, and I was suddenly down to about 1800. I decided to pick my spot and try to get doubled up or, at the least, steal the blinds.

And it worked. I was either folding or going all-in. But it was not random all-ins. It was strong drawing hands in late position so the odds of getting called were small and of having the better hand if I was called were good. And I got LUCKY. I successfully stoled three or four times...and another three or four times I got it all in against Emily in "race" situations, never better than about 60-40 advantages...and hit every one. She could not lose against anyone else and could not win against me.

I finally went all-in against Leti at the final table with a J/10 suited...and she flipped up A/J suited. I was crushed, a 4-1 dog. But this proved to be the 1 and she was gone. Then I put poor Em all-in one more time, but this time I had more chips and she was gone. We got down to 3...Scotty, Roman, and I.

Earlier Roman had a HUGE chip lead but he had bled off a fair amount. Finally, at the last break we stood here: Scotty had 14K, Roman had 16K, and I had 16K. However, Em had been out for a while and the only reason I had that much was they were running scared. I would take the most marginal of hands and push all in...a/5, K/Q, J/9.

One hand from earlier hurt pretty bad. I raised pre-flop, Scotty came over the top all in. I had pocket 9s with three players. You know I was calling. He flipped up ....10s. Uh-oh. And the flop brought me a set..but he also got one. So I was drawing dead to the case 9. No quads, he took it down and instead of being gone was chip lead. But there is no way I could have gotten away from this hand. Even if we don't get it all in pre-flop, unless he totally jumps out of his seat there is no way I out him on a higher set when I trip up on the flop and there is only one over card. I don't feel bad about this call even though I was bhind from beginning to end. Sometimes you are simply going to be beat no matter how carefully you play. And I was not playing be honest, after Em went out I was playing quite maniacally so I could take her home. But it was working...

We traded chip lead a bit but then, first hand after the break, with the totals mentioned above, I got crazy and limped in with 8/10 spades. Roman folded. Scotty checked. Flop gave me 4 to the straight, 4 to the flush. Scotty raised 4000. I was getting 3 to 1 to call, the correct price, though there is some question if it is a good call at this point anyway. However, I (correctly) read Scotty for having a weak hand he might lay down. And I really did not care if I hit it or not. So I came over the top all-in. And he almost folded. Then Nipa...who had been out for quite a while...talked him into calling. And he had bottom pair on the board. It was a great call. And I did not hit my spade or straight and was gone.

And that pretty much proves I was playing terribly because when I am playing well I will lay that draw down in the finals. But when I play poorly, I play like I don't care...which I did most of the night.

On the bright was fun again. So I might play one more time. We will see.


The art of patience

A few days ago I went back and read some of my early blogs. It was interesting seeing how I have adjusted my game with experience. Like most beginners, early on I played too many hands. Then I reached a point where I was probably playing about the correct number of hands. Then I got to where I probably did not play enough hands. Then too many again.

And the real irony is I have had success across the board. Early on most of my play was at Poker Stars. A lot of times you CAN limp there with a variety of hands. Since I never really bluffed, I always had strong hands at the showdowns and therefore had excellent results, folding my way out of a lot of bad hands. By the time I played my first live tournament I was pretty tight. Once more...when you have good hands at the showdown, you tend to pick up a lot of pots. I finished 4th out of 27...not bad according to most people's standards, but of course disappointing by mine. I'ma Wario...Ima gonna win. Later I got into a limp & outplay 'em after the flop, planning to limp into every hand until I lost about 1/3rd of my chips, then go into tight mode. This actually worked really, really well for a while, but then I started staying in hands too long when I would hit something like middle pair, weak kicker, and someone would donk around to the river and beat me there. Of course, since I was essentially donking by playing that hand in the first place...maybe the pot calling the kettle black?

Anyway, one common thread emerged. When I was playing well, I was patient. I did not force the action with sub-par holdings. No matter which way I played, I got into the big hands A) seldom and B) with the best hand or else a great draw with the right price. It is on nights where I get into the big pots with bad hands and bad draws that I do poorly. It is fine to play a 5d/8h as long as you get out when the flop comes 3/8/K rainbow and someone bets. You need something like a 4/6/7 rainbow or an 8/8/A to stay in with that. When I am playing patiently I fold the first and play the second. Then I make bank because who expects a 5/8 hand? Of course, every so often I run into an A/8 hand and then I get cracked pretty hard, though I have been known to lay down trips when I thought I was beat. Again...when I play patient, I wait until I am pretty sure I have the best of it.

And coming down to the end, regardless of stack size, I need to be patient. I am not a good chip bully. Just because I have the big stack does not mean I have the personality to raise with any two cards. I need to lay back, get super tight, let the others take each other out, and play better than average hands. As I often say, Hold 'Em is an easy game when you have good cards". So wait for them, stop getting mixed up with small stacks "just because they are small and I can afford it" or with big stacks that can hurt me badly.

Patience. I should tattoo it across my knuckles. Play fewer hands, then play them strongly. Wait for a good hand. Too many times when I get low I take the first A/rag I see and push with it. That is a poor move. Anyone who calls is likely to have a better Ace or a pair. Either way, I am likely drawing to 3 outs. It is perhaps egotistical, but I am going to say I know enough to be a good enough player to not be getting my chips in when I am a 4-1 dog or worse. I don't believe anyone is 4 times as good as me...better, yes, but not that much better. If I am patient I can usually find a better hand to go in on...either a pair or even a couple paint cards...or even 2 middle cards on the theory it will give me 2 live cards as long as they have no pair...then I will at least not be dominated. But I sometimes go in too early even though I have fold equity. Pick a spot from middle or late position since I am more likely to get 2 or 3 people fold and pick up the blinds than I am 6 or 7 people.

So there are a couple huge holes in my game; be more patient, pick my spots better when the cards have not fallen my way.


Lydias, 8/20/07

So fresh off my sub-par performance at the league edition, we were low on people so I played so there would be 2 tables of 5 each. Then 2 more people showed so we had 6 at each table.

My first hand I was small blind. It was a family so I completed the bet instead of raising my pocket 3s. That was a mistake. I was playing "friendly" instead of smart. It would come back to bite me. The flop was 8/9/8, a dangerous flop. No fear. John bet. I called. Barbara called...and she doesn't call unless she has something. Then we all checked it down to the river. I showed my 3s. Barbara showed the 8 she had caught. John laughed and flipped up...pocket 3s.

I said not raising them was a mistake. Well, had I raised, I would have taken both of them right out of the pot pre-flop. By letting Barb in particular in for cheap, I let her mediocre hand win a hand she should not have been playing. Poor play on my part. By not doing what I knew I should, no matter what my excuse, I priced in a hand that beat me.

Then it was fold, fold, fold. John, who is trying hard to figure out my game, said, "Playing kind of tight tonight, eh Drew?"

Next hand, under the gun, I raised to 3 times the blind. I used to raise 4 but I was experimenting a bit. Randy called. Flop brought low cards, I raised. He called. Turn paired the board...deuces. One guy, a quiet but solid player whose game I respect, commented, "There are your deuces, Randy." referring to Randy hitting them an inordinate amount of time...or at least seeming to. Sure enough, he re-raised me. I commented, "Well, if you have the threes, you have got me. I almost folded...then decided it looked like a bluff. I called. River was another 3. I had a boat, 3s full of aces. I raised. He called pretty quickly. One thing that drives me nuts is people slow-rolling, showing half a hand, and other non-sense. If you made the bet, show your cards and don't waste time. So I flipped mine up. Pocket Rockets. He looked at them, looked at his cards, and mucked. I took down a nice pot.

A lot more folding. Picked up A/K of diamonds. Flop was beautiful...K/r/r rainbow. Raised. Danny, a conservative guy who pretty much checks and calls, picked up something and called. Flop, turn, and river all saw me raise, him call. I had him on an Ace with a lower kicker. We will never know because I flipped mine up, he mucked.

Won with a straight. Had plenty of chips. Got down to where 3 people on the next table all went out at the same time which meant we were at final table. I put my chips away and moved over to the consolation table.

There I hit a couple hands where I bet top pair, mediocre kicker. It was good enough to give me a comfortable chip lead. Then I started goofing around, making sure I did not put anybody out. I thrice called with horrid hands when people were all-in "just to give them chips to play with." They got the chips.

I had done what I wanted to do. In a group like this I can wait for good cards, bet them, and get calls from good hands. Very few suck-outs...though one person playing a K/10 stayed in against my 2 pair and hit a straight on the river...but didn't bet it so I got out pretty cheap on that one. It was nice knowing I could build a chip stack almost at will. And it was a valuable, valuable lesson in one thing; PATIENCE. Wait for good cards. The game is pretty easy when you have good cards. Conversely, with mediocre cards you end up with tough decisions.

Case in point. John got into a hand with A/6 of diamonds. Flop came 6 high. One person went all-in, a second person came over the top, also all-in. He showed me his cards and folded. They flipped theirs up. Sure enough, he would have had the best hand...but how can you call 2 all-ins with either a pair of 6's...too easy to have overcards against you...or a pair of Aces with a 6 kicker? Sure enough, someone hit 2 pair, so his fold saved him a ton of chips. But it illustrated why weak hands should find the muck.


Starving Crazed Weasels, August edition

Numbers were weird...looked like we would have just 6....then 10...started with 10 so I split it into 2 tables since 9 is all you can REALLY fit around one of those tables. Well...then 1 took off without ever playing a hand (understandable under the circumstances...) so we had 2 short handed tables instead of 1 full table. Oh, well, short handed can be kind of fun since in short handed the values of hands go up so you can play a lot more hands.

Started out poorly. Raised one hand, bad flop, someone raised ahead of me, folded. Lots more folding. Meanwhile, Tracy had two hands with pocket Queens and another where she tripped queens. It was funny because in the random drawing, all 3 girls playing ended up at the same table and she was ruling with queens. Finally I hit a couple nice hands, took down a few pots and made some progress, actually at one point having 10 - 12K chips.

At one point I was on a rush and almost raised from the big blind with A/4 off (only Tracy called, Alan folded in the small blind) but didn't. Flop came A/4/A. Great flop...except I could see from Tracy's face she would fold if I bet so I decided to let her catch up. Turn was an Ace. We checked it down. I knew she would fold so there was no point to betting and I wanted "High Hand" points. So I won like...75 chips with quad Aces. The next hand people folded around to me in the small blind so I raised and Amanda folded. I won 25 fewer chips with a Jack Benny than I did with sad.

Then Roman went out first. Hey, happens to all of us sometimes. So we combined to 1 table. I had Amanda to my left, then Kenneth, while to my right I had Kevin, then Alan. Alan likes to raise, so does Kenneth. So I was between a couple action players. No problem, I was clear chip lead. The plan SHOULD be simple; tighten up a lot, play only premium hands, don't mix it up with the big stacks, bully the small stacks.

Well, about the third hand I picked up Q/J. I should re-read the previous paragraph and fold. Being very wise, I raised, Kenneth called. He will do that with a variety of hands, many of them not premium so it could mean a lot of things. I called. Flop came K/J/10. He raised. I put him on probably the kings, but did not bother working out a second card. At this point I was slightly on tilt from having a good night...which is a really bizarre thing to say...and I played this hand like an idiot. Not to say I should not have stayed in the hand...I will find that out in a few moments...but simply...I stayed in for the wrong reasons. Namely...I had a pair of jacks with a mediocre kicker and a straight draw and figured I was behind. But I did not stop to consider the mathematics of the situation, I just got greedy and thought if I hit again I could take him for a ride and if not then no harm done.

But let's look at the math. I think the blinds at this point were 50/100, though they may have been 100/200 at this point. So my raise would have been to 200. So there was close to 600 in the pot. He did one of his "I have a strong hand and want people in the pot" raises so it was maybe another 400 to go? So I needed to pay 400 to win 1000. I was getting about 2.5-1 on my money. I would theoretically improve on any 9 or Ace with my straight draw (8 outs), and on any Jack or Queen (5 outs) for a total of 13 outs. BUT...he could already have the Nut straight (A/Q could certainly be a hand he would raise with...he has looser starting requirements than I do so a Q/9 is not out of the question...He could have had 2 pair quite other words, his raises represented having a hand that hit the playing zone pretty hard. So it was likely some or most of my outs were counterfeited. It is even very possible that, if I hit my hand, I merely split the pot...say an Ace comes and gives up both the straight. So it is possible...probable even...that not only am I playing from behind (I instantly read that to be the case, though how far behind was hard to say since only twice all night did I bother putting people on specific hands) but EVEN IF I CATCH UP I ONLY TIE! So no...mathematically speaking, had I gone through the number crunching as I know I should, I just called.

That is a serious leak in my game, getting lazy. There was no point to being in this hand. He wanted the pot, let him have it, I have a weak hand.

Well, the turn was some blank that neither helped nor scared me...might even have been a deuce, I don't recall. He raised, I called. The river was the worst card I could catch...a Jack. It gave me trips. So, conceivably, it could have been a good card for me...if he had 2 pair or less. But as we already saw, it is MORE likely he had a straight or better. So by getting a strong hand gets worse.

When he has a strong hand he has a thing he does that lets anyone paying attention know he is going to bet. He did that thing. I knew he would bet. So instead of waiting to see how much I decided to bet. However, instead of a prudent bet, I bet a full 1000. This would have been a good bet if I thought I was ahead...but I thought he had me beat! It was like saying, "Okay, I know you are going to call me but I might be wrong so I will try to bluff you off even though I know you can't be bluffed off." Well, he did what any intelligent person would do and re-raised. And like an idiot, knowing there was no way I was ahead, I called. But not before I thought about re-raising him all in. Knowing a bluff would not work. At least I did not do that. Well, he had the boat...he had pocket kings. Again...I never bothered to put him on a hand other than "ahead" but had I done the math I would have been correct about some outs being counterfeited.

It cost me something like 2700 chips. Which hurt, though I was still close to the chip lead. Kenneth might have had a slight edge at that point and Alan was now nipping at my heels.

But I did not go on tilt. I knew I had played stupid and he way outplayed me on the hand, probably maximizing the number of chips he could extract from the hand. If anything, it brought me around to playing well again. For some reason I do not play well with the chip lead. I need to be down a little bit so I think about what I am doing. That is another HUGE leak.

A couple hands later I got involved in a hand with Tracy where she was raising. Well, when she raises, I KNOW she has something good. Problem is...I flopped an open ended straight. And the pot odds said call. Her raises were giving me 8 and 10 - 1 on my money with a 1.86-1 draw. If anything, I should have been betting it to A) semi-bluff and possibly win the pot that way and B) get more money in the pot if I did hit it. Unfortunately, I missed my draw. Missed another one later. Had someone beat my 2 pair with trips. Lost to a flush with a straight. Chips were bleeding like mad.

Then I picked up pocket 6s, my first pockets of the night. I was in the small blind and was going to raise but Phillip beat me to it, raising from middle position. I cold-called and the flop was beautiful. A/6/5. I did the math and bet 1200, enough that nobody on a draw had the right odds to call...but with Phillip's raise I thought he might since that Ace could have hit him. I had him out-chipped so even if he went all-in (which he would have to do with trip Aces) I would call on the long-shot even though I would be drawing dead. However, he did not have Aces...he had pocket Queens. Alan was agitating hard for him to call but Phillip read me as being ahead and wisely folded. In 2 other confrontations Alan thought I was bluffing (on neither one was I) and tried to get people to call.

A few hands later he and I were involved. By now the blinds were at 400. I raised 3 times the blind to 1200. He called. Flop came, I had overcards to the board (A/Q) and I raised another 1200. He came over the top raising to 3000. By now he had more than me and it would put me all in. It looked like a bluff. It smelled like a bluff. The board should not have hit anything he had. I figured to have had the best hand pre-flop and post-flop. I knew I should call. BUT....what if he had a pocket pair? Or even A/K? Then I could be way behind. I would still have about 1700 chips if I did not call...enough to have some fold equity. But I believed he was bluffing.

I folded.

I should not have. Looking back, he was testing me since other people had not been calling. Ironically, NOT showing my hands cost me here. He was testing me and he was afraid I would call. I should have know that when he did not react to my question. Classic "try not to be noticed" response.

He outplayed me because I did not trust my read. I should have doubled up on that hand.

Well, I did make a little bit back but then missed hand after hand after hand. The blinds were getting up there and finally I was all in blind in the big blind. Had about a 52-48 but ended up losing that one, too. All night I lost about every draw, including one where I had top pair, straight, flush, and straight flush draws...I was the favorite but never hit the hand despite being the favorite from the flop on....some nights, those hit and I look unstoppable. Other nights, they miss and I don't do some well.

This night I misplayed 2 hands that really were the difference between having a legit shot to win and going out in the middle of the pack. Then again, on a night where of the 8 people put out, 7 were put out by one person...I think he pretty much deserved to win anyway!

I mixed it up in I think 3 pots I would not have otherwised in attempts to take people out. Not one of them did I hit. I should learn from that...


Lydias, 8/13

15 people so I decided to play to make it an even 16, 2 tables of 8. I was determined to A) put people on some sort of hand and B) raise or fold pre-flop.

First hand, I was small blind, picked up a mediocre A/7. Everyone limped in. Every instinct I had was to raise to 200 and get rid of a bunch of them, figuring to raise on the flop (I would probably be first to act) and take down the pot right there. Instead I limped in.

Limping here is bad. People could have literally any 2 cards...A/2 or A/A, they are both playable when you can limp. So is a 2/4 or 5/7, something that can hit.

Well, an Ace came on the flop. I raised, couple callers. That pretty much should tell me I am beat. A 7 is nothing to be proud of. I raised again on the turn to see what would happen, putting him on a better Ace or 2 pair. We both checked the river and sure enough, he had A/J.

I folded a couple hands and then picked up the pocket rockets. I raised to 200. Got 1 caller. Flop was ragged and rainbow. Raised 200, he called. I figured he had something like A/10 or higher, maybe K/J, or possibly a small pocket pair. Raised the turn, he called, I got the idea he was fishing so I raised another time on the river, he folded. I showed the Aces anyway. I wanted to establish a tight image where I was hitting.

A couple of folds and then I picked up the cowboys in the big blind. A bunch of people had limped so I raised another 200, got rid of most of them, raised the flop and turn having him read for a worse pair at best, and he paid me off on the river.

A few folds later I picked up Cowboys again, this time in early position. My raise got rid of a few but Jason stayed with me. And the 8s came out. 2 on the flop. I raised 200, he called. Turn was a blank. I checked, he raised, I called. River was an 8. I raised 1000. He called. He had a boat, 8's over 10s...but mine was over Kings.

A couple hands after I had a King/2 of Spades. Ironically, when someone says, "I only played it because it was suited" I lick my chops. I like to hear that because suited is statistically almost a wash. Well...I played it because it was suited. I limped in with it in late position. Flop came King and 2 spades. Hmm. Top pair, 4 to the 2nd nut flush. I raised. Lots of callers. Turn was another spade and gave a possible straight draw. I raised, a couple callers. Turn could complete the straight draw, I raised, Norm to my left came over the top all in, everyone folded to me.

This is the first time I have played with this Norm...ironically, I was seated between 2 Norms...what are the odds...but he had seemed pretty solid. I had watched him for several hands and knew he would not be on a bluff here. That meant he either had a really nice flush...or the straight. And by when he chose to do that I instantly put him on the straight. So there was no question I was calling.

This was one of those instances where everything together. Without being able to specifically put a guy I had never played with before on 2 specific cards, I was definitely able to put him on a type of this case, a third nut straight draw. Even before he turned over his cards I KNEW he had a straight, though I could not say why I knew. Just something about his style of play led me to believe that is what he had. Straights don't beat King-high flushes, so he was gone.

Well, at this point I was the clear chip leader...and I leave once it gets down to the final table so I decided to switch up my play and start mixing it up a bit more, limping in and playing hands not quite as good. So I lost a few pots with middle pairs, etc., but won a few pots too. Still, I was clearly in decline, going from a high of maybe 10 - 12K down to about 6 or 7.

Did get involved with an interesting hand with Gary. Gary is a tight/passive player. He will occasionally take a flyer on top pair but for the most part he checks and calls along. He will call with made hands but also with good draws. I had a 4/6 of diamonds. Flop came black 4, 5 and 7 of diamonds, giving me a pair, up and down straight flush draw. I raised, drew a caller. Turn was a black 3, giving me the straight. I raised, Gary called. River gave me a flush, albeit only a 6 high (in my world). I raised, he called, I showed, he mucked. I know he had something good, probably 2 pair, but not good enough to take out a flush. I sure wanted my first straight flush, though.

A little later Jason was down to 400 chips with blinds of 1 & 2. I picked up J/9, a hand I love to raise with into multi-way pots. It is a great drawing hand. Sure, I will lose with it 6 times out of 7 or whatever the odds are...but I will make more on the one I hit than the ones where I lose because it is such a sneaky, deceptive hand. So if I risk, say, 400...I will lose 400 6 times. But the 7th time If I make just 3000 then I have made a profit. (7x4=28, I lost 2800 and won 3000, a gain of 200 chips). And how easy is it to make 3000? If I raise to 400 and get, say...3 callers, there is 1200. Raise the flop 400, say 1 folds and 2 hit something. There is 2000. Now I have to make just 1000 at the turn and the river to make my 1000 and if they stayed with me that long, they hit something and the money in the pot means they are priced in to calling.

Well, I flat out said, "Jason, if this weren't your big blind I would raise this hand." He grinned...and John went ahead and raised it to 400 from the small blind anyway. 3 of us called (Jason was not one of them). Flop came 9/9 rag. I raised. One guy briefly considered re-raising...and my table image worked against me. They others said, "If he raised, he will call you or put you all in." So he folded did everyone else. I still made 1400 on the hand...but would have made much more had I not had such a tight image. The real irony was I had shown a couple of bluffs not too long before that.

Got down to 10 players and a guy went out at the other table, so I called last hand before final table, then would step out. Naturally I picked up Q/J suited. I raised. It went around to John, a guy who really likes to talk poker with me and has great respect for my game. He debated between a fold, a much, and going all-in. Someone else, fooled by my early table image, said I would definitely call him if he did. He hesitated, then just re-raised me.

Now, at this point something did not smell right. I had seen him hesitate to call several times and usually it was a good hand, well worth playing, but he just did not have the will to see it through. I figured he had a couple nice high cards, maybe a medium pair. Flop came all rags. I raised to guage his reaction. He said, "Why you putting me at risk?"

Something about the way he said it, I revised my estimate of his hand. If he had two nice cards he would fold there. I know his game, I know what he would do. So that meant he had a pair. It also meant they were higher than the board and high enough he was not fearing any overpair I might have. I checked and he raised on the river. I called just to maintain my image, he showed the rockets, I mucked.

Then I was done as we were down to the final table. For the night I played very well. My reads were pretty spot on (in one hand I had I think A/J and Todd called my raise. He is prone to call with any two cards, almost preferring a 4/6 to an A/K). Flop came 4/8/J, I raised 600, he reraised another 1000. I instantly put him on a 4...and I would believe 4/8 or 8/J. If he had one pair I could run him down. If he had 2...I was all but drawing dead. I talked it out aloud, stuff like "I know you have the four...but if you have 2 pair you have me crushed." He said, "I guarantee I don't have A 4." Right then I folded. I had seen him do that once before and he had trips. Sure enough, he showed his cards...pocket 4s. It would have been easy to call that and lose a big chunk. Later I was watching the final table and on the end John did his face scrunching routine, then made a huge overbet trying to induce a call. Someone laid down 2 pair, kings and Jacks, and said, "I will probably regret it." "Nah, " I said, "John had the queen." which he then flashed. He hit his straight on the last card. I worked back through how I knew that. When the flop came A/K/J something in the way he check/called led me to believe he had a close card but had missed. Then when a 10 hit on the river he went all-in it looked like a crying call type of raise where he wanted people to think he had the 10 or worse...but I did not think he would have stayed in to a raise and 2 callers with 2 unders unless he had a draw. There was no flush draw at the time he made his first call. If he had no pair, as I believed, or at best a weak pair, maybe the Jack, another possibility, then he had to be on a straight draw so I put him on something like the q/j if he had a pair, q/something if not. As it turned out he had a q/2.), I raised and folded where appropriate, I bluffed a few times, even getting caught once or twice...but still made money on them. I built my desired table image and then used it to my advantage. Had I wished, I could have won that one, of that I have no doubt. So I felt pretty good about my game.

Lydias, 8/6

Did not play in the main game tonight as traffic once again meant I was late arriving. However, we did get 6 for a consolation table so I went ahead and played in that. With John, Randy and Janet there it was not a walk in the park and Marylou is wild enough to make her angerous. Jason, some nights he catches cards and is lethal, other nights he makes some calls that can lead to an arched eyebrow.

Early on everyone was limping. I hit a few hands, missed a few, and was yo-yoing between about 1200 and 700 (consolation starts with 900). I was having a good time. Then came a hand where I could have bankrupted a bunch of people.

I was the dealer and picked up Q/8 diamonds. This is not a hand I would play if people were raising pre-flop. Sure, it has straight and flush possibilities, but both of those are problematic. The flush would be Queen High and anyone hitting a diamond flush in that situation would likely have the Ace or King. The straight would have to hit perfect and goes down in flames to anyone playing a Q/K. Even if I pair I have good pair, weak kicker or mediocre pair, decent kicker...nothing to write home about. So if people are making you pay to play it is not a playable hand. I got in cheap.

The flop was absolutely perfect...3 queens. I had flopped quads. Since I don't play for points and was really just filling in so they would have enough to have a decent game I did not want anyone going broke on this hand. So I said, "You can all just check to me and I will bet it so you can fold. I have it."

Now, normally when a scare flop like this comes people go into their shell, check it down and call it a hand. This time Janet led out with 300 chips! Hmm...pocket pair? An Ace? They folded to me, I said, "If I were playing serious I would go over the top all-in right here. But I don't want you to go broke so I will just call." The turn was a 6. She reached for chips and before she did I said, "You might want to check that." and flashed the Queen. Then we checked it down. Obviously I could have put her out (I had her covered at that point) but I just wanted to play a few hands.

A little later I had given back most of the chips and was down to about 700 after paying my big blind. Flop came 8/7/5...not a bad flop for an 8/4 hand. I had top pair, gutshot straight and backdoor flush draws. I bet 200. John thought about it for a few seconds, then measured out my last 500 and raised it. I sat back to think about it, leaning towards a call but not sure yet. I did not like either draw enough to call that bet. He could have overs, he could have top pair, better kicker, or he could be bluffing. I instantly ruled out the bluff. He is a by the book guy who bets when he has it and not when he doesn't. He had already demonstrated he would go all-in with top pair, good kicker as he was somewhat on tilt from an earlier hand where he flopped top pair, decent kicker, and lost on the river when Janet paired her kicker with same top pair. A couple hands later as soon as he hit top pair he went all in. So I had him on top pair. That meant my top pair was matched and I was drawing to a 4 or a 6. Not good enough for me to risk my tournament life.

But before I could fold he flipped up his cards thinking I had called. I went ahead and folded anyway...because his 8/5 was 2 pair and I was too far behind.

Now I was low on chips and went into fold/all-in mode. When I got to 400 I picked up pokcet 5s and went all in. They folded. Pocket 6s all in. I doubled up. Now I am back over where I started. Pocket 2s. I raised to 3 times the blinds. Janet came over the top, more than doubling me. John called. I folded. An Ace high won the pot. Janet had K/10 suited and John had A/10.

And so it went. I hit a straight, did some damage...but all night I carefully avoided taking anybody out. I let them do that.

I actually felt I played pretty well. Had I wished I could easily have won the thing. My reads were pretty good. I put Marylou on three consecutive hands that I called out loud, she showed what I called, and they were a bit intimidated by it. Plus, when I needed to hit, I hit.

Meanwhile, Randy busted out when his Queens did not hold up to an Ace on the flop, Jason took a beating when he folded his queens to an Ace/K on the flop...only to have Janet show the Queens she had bet with...he was gone soon after, Marylou went out with a strange, strange hand, and John then took out Janet. I still had a slight chip lead but he wanted to go home (and so did I) and I had accomplished my purpose...see a few flops, try to read a few hands, so we called it a night.