Is it better to be good, lucky, or good and lucky?

UTG+1 opens to .30 with 12.77, I flat-call with 15.36, the hijack calls with 10, the small blind calls with 3.25 and we have a pot of 1.30 and four players.

When the flop comes 6d/9h/3d I am not super excited. On the one hand, it misses an awful lot of hands and hits very few…maybe suited Q/9+, assorted pocket pairs, the unlikely but possible 7/8 hit a straight draw. On the other hand…with that much action, I am likely facing a better pocket pair.

The small blind checks, utg+1 continuation bets .60 and I have a choice. With 2 people left to act, I might face a big raise. On the other hand, I can represent strength by calling and perhaps take away a decent pot with a turn bet. I decide to call and see what happens.

Everyone else folds and we see the Ah fall on the turn. He checks which demands a bet, I oblige with 1.20 and he folds.

I seriously doubt my sevens were the best hand anyone had…he quite possibly had something like 8s or 10s and did not want to lose a big pot, I showed strength and he played predictably.

And the very next hand I have pocket 7s again, open to .30 from utg+1, everyone folds. Hockey sticks ftw.

Numerous folds and forgettable hands later, utg+1 opens to .32 with 13.52. People deliberately being stupid like that annoy me but I double check to make sure I do not make dumb plays just for that reason. In the small blind I re-pop to 1.06 with 16.45 and he calls.

The flop is pretty scary…10d/9h/Kc. Pocket 10s or 9s are in his range, so is Q/K suited, smaller pockets, suited connectors…a lot of hands that flop hits. At the same time I have top/top and was the pre-flop aggressor. I lead out for 1.20. He calls.

Now I am exactly where I do not want to be…in a sizable pot with a marginal hand. Still, he could just be seeing if I am serious. We will see how the turn develops.

The 8s does not make me overly happy, though it is not a horrible card. It does add a couple hands that have me in trouble, but I want to see where he is. I bet 2.20 and he calls. Now there is over 8 bucks in the pot and I know he has SOMETHING but do not know if I am ahead or behind in the hand.

The river 10s only changes things if he had something like A/10, J/10 type hands…otherwise whoever was ahead on the turn is still ahead. I do not want to face a big re-raise, so I check planning to call about a half pot bet. He checks behind.

At this point I think I am probably ahead. Maybe he had a weird missed draw like Q/J or maybe something like A/9. But he turns over the Ad/Kd and we split the pot. I lose .25 due to the rake…

After that I rathole and start again with 4.00.

I have been playing for a while, having people fold to my continuation bets, and feeling good. UTG+1 limps with 5.63, the button limps with 3.34, and I check with 5.59 and Jd/6d.

This is the type hand I wish people would raise on me so I could fold before I hit a piece of the flop, meet resistance, and get stubborn, shipping chips like mad with marginal hands in bad spots.

The flop is 10d/Kd/6h. I have the third nut flush draw and randomly decide that is a betting situation. I bet .20, utg+1 calls and the button raises to 1.15.

This is a clear signal; fold. Go away. His stack is small enough I have the wrong odds to chase a flush, there is another guy behind, and I am chasing the third nuts.

So having accidentally gotten into the hand, taken a stab at it, and being squeezed, I make the obvious move…I re-pop to 2.10.

Idiot. This is why I hate getting to play bad hands in the big blind. I get stupid because I am not a very good player.

UTG+1 folds, button re-pops to 3.24 all in. It is beyond obvious I am beat, probably by a set of 6s but he could have something like K/10 or 10/6 suited to have limped there…whatever he has, he hit the flop hard.

Unfortunately, my poor play has led to the following situation: 5.84 in the pot and it is 1.14 more to me. Getting better than 5-1 on the call…and with two cards to come I am 3-1 dog but at this point the pot is too big and I played too stupidly to fold.

He flips up 2 black aces…a horribly mis-played pair of aces, and of course my even worse play is rewarded when I spike the 8d on the river to steal the pot.

I fold for a while, then I pick up pocket Kings in the small blind, it is folded to me, I raise and he folds. The very next hand I pick them up again. The cut-off opens to .40 with 2.89 and, with 8.77, I re-pop to 1.35. If he has anything at all then we will see a river with all the chips in the middle.

He calls and when the flop comes 4d/7c/8d he insta-ships his last 1.54 which, with over 2.70 in the pot and an over pair, I would have to have an incredibly accurate read to fold here. I do not, I insta-call, and the turn is the 10c.

Great, I think, he now wins with any Jack, 6, or 9…10 outs. Fortunately the river is an Ace and my cowboys hold up.

The rest of the round is pretty uneventful and once again I notice a weird trend. My biggest score came when I made a massive mistake and got rewarded for it. I need to not let that get into my head lest I start playing idiotically.

I need to figure out a way to avoid the big blind conundrum...even though it paid off this time, it was still a huge mistake that I should not repeat.


Hand it over

Sitting behind 3.80 I pick up 2 red Kings utg+2 and open to .30. The cut-off calls with 6.10 and so does the small blind with 21.25. I am not real sure how I feel about this.

On the one hand, I get to see a flop with a chance to win a nice pot. On the other hand, I do not like having two other players in the hand, especially if I do not improve and there is a lot of action or an Ace. It is hard to let go of a big hand for me still, so I would just as soon get it all in pre-flop. Later, when I am a better player, this will not be true…but right now it is.

The flop is jolly good, Kc/3c/4d. I am ahead of anything and only draws like a 5/6 or A/x clubs have any real chance of catching up. Even better, he leads into me for a buck, meaning if I flat it, I will have 1.60 left and it is all going in. I debate re-raising, but decide to raise the turn instead.
Even if they hit the flush, I will have 10 outs on the re-draw to the full house and the pot will be big enough I will not be good enough to get away from the hand. Regardless of what the turn is, the chips are shipping.

The turn gives me the second nuts, with only the pocket 3s ahead and only pocket aces having a chance of drawing out. Easiest call ever when he leads into me, I call all in and his nines are drawing dead.

After folding for a while, utg+1 opens to .20 with 25.35, one fold, call with 10.58, call with 12.67, call with 1.66, call with 47.95 and I look down at Ah/Kd in the small blind.

I am sensing a lot of weakness….drawing hands, small to medium pairs, suited aces. I think I can get a lot of folds and bump it to 1.50.The third caller calls with me covered, the short stack also calls leaving .46 behind.

With about 5 bucks in the pot and three players, when the flop drops Ad/3h/2c I have to think. I have 5.92 left. Pocket Aces are unlikely, 3h/2c also possible but unlikely, and I am ahead of everything else except the possible things like A/3 suited, A/2 suited.

At the same time, I want to end the hand now. No reason to get tricky or sneaky and have something stupid like a 5/6d stick around and draw out. I ship it, the big stack folds, small stack calls off his last .66.

No clue what he would have to overcall 4 callers and a big re-raise (that he should have shoved rather than flatting). I am pretty happy when he turns up Kc/Qd. He is drawing to 3 outs, never gets them, and I take down a nice 5.16 pot with a read of weakness, aggressive pre-flop, and fortuitous flop.

UTG click-raises with 3.84 and, on the button with 11.73, I elect to see if I can lure in one or both blinds, flop a draw and take a nice pot with Ad/8d. They spoil my evil plan for world domination and fold.

The flop is the 2d/7c/4h, he leads out for .30 and I call with my two overs, planning to have him check the turn, I will bet it and take down the pot. The turn is the irrelevant 8h, pairing me but making no difference, really. He checks, I bet .80 and he calls.

Now I have to put him on a hand. He min-raised early, continuation bet, then check-called an all-small flop. A/x suited, medium pockets, a couple over cards to the board or even an overpair all fit the bill. The river is the Ac and he bets 2.54 all in.

Now I have top two pair and and am facing a pot size bet all in. No obvious draws, so I am behind only a modest pocket pair that hit a set, but the way the hand played out, I am more thinking he has something like A/10 suited. Any way you look at it, I am not good enough to fold here. I call and his As/6s helped him donate 38 big blinds to me.

Oddly, except for the river, the cards never mattered…I was playing a situation and played it right, got lucky and it benefited me hugely.

I wonder sometimes if I play too tight. I mean, on the one hand…I already am a losing player and much of my losing comes from hanging onto hands too long after the flop. But I wonder how many of the “good folds’ I make are horrific folds if I knew the truth. Case in point:

I open fold the cut-off with 15.10 and Ks/9s. I know it is a poor hand, but might be worth opening here to see if I can take down the blinds which I will a good 60 – 75% of the time. The small blind, with 9.61, does open to .30 and the big blind with 19.22 calls.

At this point I am glad to be out of the hand. I do not want to get involved with one guy who can stack me and another who can take 2/3rds of my stack with a marginal hand that is likely to hit something good but not great.

The Jd/6d/5d flop is the type that will hit many, many hands either guy could play here as both have a very wide range. The small blind continuation bets with a pot-size bet which the big blind flat calls.

If the big blind re-raises here I think the hand is over. A flop like that has all sorts of possibilities…straight draws with hands like 7/8, flushes or flush draws, and lots of hands like K/J+, J/10, A/J.

When he flats, it makes it hard to tell…does he have the nuts and wants the small blind to hang himself? Does he have a draw? Did he hit part of it but is nervous about the small blind having the nuts?

The turn is the 10h, the small blind leads out for 1.80 and again the big blind flat calls. I am thinking most likely we are looking at a couple of flushes or flush draws with still the possibility of something like a set or two pair.

The river is the Qc, a very interesting card. Lets say instead of flush the small blind had something like A/K. It actually fits the way he played the hand somewhat and now he would have a straight. It also makes hands like J/q or Q/10 2 pair hands.

He raises 5.40, leaving himself about 1.60. The big blind thinks for a goodly long while and finally calls.

I am thinking flush, straight, set are the most likely hands here, though 2 pair are a lesser possibility. Any way you look at it, I am folding anything weaker than a set here, and possibly even folding that.

The small blind shows Ah/Js…second pair, top kicker. The big blind shows 10d/Jc for two pair.
So a battle of the blinds has a 15 dollar pot over a pair vs 2 pair on a board showing straight and flush possibilities. Crazy.

UTG opens to .35 with 9.94 and I flat call from the next seat with 15.15 holding pocket 8s. Middle position comes along with 5.62 and then the big blind raises to 1.50 with 10.49.

When the utg raises to 9.94 it is an easy fold…I give him probably aces or kings, q/q+, MAYBE A/K and I am drawing thin against that. If he flat calls, I probably come along as my implied odds would be excellent. But believing I am against a bigger pair most likely and a coin flip at best, I am out.

The big blind does call and sure enough…utg has pocket aces, big blind big slick. Flop and turn bring Kings and the pocket rockets get shafted in a 19.26 pot.

I am just happy I had the good sense to fold when clearly behind with poor odds. Not a certain thing. But the beauty of it is the very next hand I open to .30 from middle position with pocket 7s and win the blinds, thus getting back almost half of what I put in the previous pot.

A bit later the cut-off opens to .40 with 7.42. A bigger than normal raise like this frequently represents a weak drawing hand…pockets of 6 or less, say, that would rather have everyone fold. The button calls with 3.60 and they take the flop heads up.

The 9h/6h/As flop is more likely to hit the button I think as he might have an Ace in a lot of his potential holdings. The cut-off continuation bets .30.

What an absolutely idiotic bet. He raised .40 into a .15 cent pot…now he is going to bet .30 into a .95 cent pot? Betting in reverse screams A) weakness and B) bad player.

It is almost incumbent on the button to re-raise with any non-nut hand and get this chowder head out of the hand. He flats it.

The turn is the 7s, the cut-off checks, the button then shows he is just as bad as the cut-off with a .40 bet into about 1.70. Call.

The river is the 3c. 8/10 is the absolute nuts. I would believe a soft ace, two pair, or even something like K/q from either player. The cut-off checks, the button bets .80 cents. The cut-off calls.

The button shows Js/10s. So lets review his play; he calls the open with a drawing hand. Fair enough. He calls the flop, sensing a continuation bet. Fair enough. He picks up a draw on the turn and raises the river because that is the only way he can win. I guess in retrospect it makes sense…but I still think not re-raising the flop or making a serious turn bet was a mistake.

The cut-off shows much better than expected…pocket Queens. Okay, the over-raise is a bit out of school, the underbet on the flop with the Ace makes sense, then he plays pot control. Much better than expected. But still a horrible play from the flop on.

And that is the thing...I think sometimes I credit others with being better players than they are. By the same token...all too often when I call I am up against the absolute nuts. I think the clear result is this; I need to get better at putting people on ranges that more accurately represent holdings. I put them on the same range I would have and I am relatively tight.


Quads mean nothing when you are terrible

About 60 hands into a session of 5/10, early mp open limps with 2.08, I complete from the small blind with pocket 9s and 3.46 and the big blind checks with 18.78.

I like to play a small pot out of position with a marginal hand like this knowing if I hit, it should be well disguised and might take down a nice pot.

I love/hate the flop…Ac/Jc/9d. That hits a boat load of hands…and club suited connectors, A/x suited, J/10, K/Q type hands. I would be very surprised if someone had pocket Aces or Jacks here, so I figure to be way ahead at the moment but there are some big possible draws that would not surprise me.

And yet, having nothing remotely approaching the nuts, I check my set, the big blind checks behind, and the mp limper bets the pot, .30. I figure I really want the big blind in the hand, so I flat call it but he folds anyway and we see the turn heads up with about .90 in the pot.

The turn is the 5d, hitting nothing I am afraid of, leaving the same draws. I check, he bets the pot, and I click raise since that puts him all in. He calls, shows Ah/Qd and I have him drawing dead. Too bad there was not more available because the river is the 9s, giving me quads and a modest 3.98 pot for them.

Contrast that to the next meaningful hand. I had opened pocket 10s and folded to a big re-raise, paid out a few blinds and bled a bit here and there in such ways. The cut-off opens for .30 with 2.71, the small blind calls with 12.33. I have 3.44, As/Qh, and a sudden burst of aggression, re-raising to 1.20 believing I will take the pot down right there.

MP re-pops all in, the small blind folds, and it is 1.51 to call. There is 4.16 in the pot giving me roughly 3.5-1 with an above average hand…I do not want to call, because I think I am at best in a coin flip against a pair but more likely drawing thin against Q/Q+ but I am priced in and call. He shows an even worse hand, Ac/Js, neither of us improves and I win a 5.34 pot with Ace high.

I really need to think about my play here. I thought the first guy was making a position raise with a wide range of hands, the small blind showed weakness by flat-calling. I had a decent but not great hand and figured about 80% of the time, the re-raise gets them to lay it down pre-flop, resulting in a .60 win.

So I am risking 1.20 to win .60, but I am also, as we see, priced in to calling a re-raise. Just because it worked out for me this time does not mean it was the right move.

Say I do this ten times. 8 times they fold, for net gain to that point of 4.80. Twice they call or re-raise, and against their range to call/re-raise I am probably about 40% or so to win. The numbers might not be exact, but I think they are pretty close…I think with A/Q+, 9/9+, and A/Js+ I should make this move.

My analysis might be off, but with less than 40 bb, it seems like the correct move.
And time for another exercise in hand-reading.UTG+2 opens to .40 with 10.05. The over-size open raise generally indicates a hand that does not really want action…usually low to middle pair, but not always. The high-jack, with 10, re-raises to 1.20. I put him on J/J+, maybe A/K, A/Q suited type hands. The button flats it with 9.90…a bit trickier to figure.

With the initial raiser still to come, he might be hedging his bet against a raise or might be calling with any pair or maybe something like suited connectors, suited aces, or drawing hands like J/10. With 2.75 in the pot, it is an easy call for the initial raiser and the three of them take the flop with about 3.75 in the pot.

After all the pre-flop fire-works, the flop is the 6s/4h/10d. Could hit pockets, most likely the 4s or 6s from the mp guy and 10s for the later guys. Maybe the J/10 guy if there is one, and him I would expect to raise.

It is checked around and the 3c hits, perhaps the most innocuous card in the entire deck. It guarantees no flush, unless someone was so loose they played a 5/7 or 2/5 it completes no draws…in other words, a completely irrelevant card.

MP now bets out for 3 bucks, the cut-off folds, and the button calls.

So now I am thinking it has to be something like over pair versus over pair, with set over set or set over over pair somewhat likely. There are no believable draws left, this has to be a couple of made hands.

The river is the 9c. Unless someone had pocket 9s…very possible…or the less possible, almost unbelievable 7/8, this changes nothing. The mp bets 5.85 all in.
I suppose it is possible he had something like pocket 5s and bet the turn with an open ended straight draw. Fours, sixes are also in his range, with Jacks or better also a possibility.

The button calls his last 5.70. It takes a stronger hand to call, right? So Queens or better, maybe even a poorly played hand like A/10s, J/10, 9/10 or some weird two-pair hand like 4/6 suited?

Middle position shows pocket 6s. It fits how he played the hand; try to win pre-flop, call with good odds when two people are in the pot, slow-play the probable winner, get it all in.

The button shows…well…uh…I missed his hand. Badly. Ah/3h/ He called off 100 big blinds with a pair of threes. No straight draw. No flush draw. Wow. Could he really think his threes were good here? The only hand he beats here is a King high bluff. Or pocket deuces. Wow.

UTG opens to .30 with 8.09In the hijack, I have Qc/Qd and elect to re-raise to 1.05. UTG calls and we take the flop heads up.

The flop is 7c/6d/Jh. I am probably way ahead, behind only pockets matching the board, Kings or Aces. I do not put much stock in the latter. He checks, I raise to 1.20 and he re-raises to 2.50.

Right here I should be done with the hand. A/J, K/J, Q/J are really the only hands I can beat. He is not bluffing here, he most likely hit this flop hard or has the feared over pair. There is an outside shot he has something like tens but is it worth getting involved?

My brain shuts down and I re-raise all in which he snap-calls with pocket jacks. Ouch. I got cleaned out, and deservedly so.

This is a huge hole in my game. Over pairs are nice...but not guaranteed. When I am ovbiously beat and drawing thin...LAY IT DOWN.


Set it up

Decided to step down for a bit and play some 2/5. Started playing 2 tables with 2 bucks on each, on one table was down to 1.07 and on the other up to 2.27. On the table with 2.27 I open utg with a min-raise to .10 with pocket fives, hoping to see a cheap flop.

UTG+1 calls with 3.47, the button comes along with 11.06, the small blind completes with 3.08 and the four of us take the flop.

I like the 6c/Kd/5c. Someone playing a suited King or something like K/Q or K/J hit this, I will also probably get action from any flush draw. I am not particularly nervous about pocket Kings based on pre-flop action, and if someone has pocket 6s, I am getting stacked.

The sb checks, I continuation bet .25 cents, UTG+1 click-raises to .50, a fold, the small blind calls.

So now there is about 1,60 in the pot, I have 1.88 left and am probably ahead. I want to get it in while I have the lead and with this much interest, they are almost guaranteed to call. I re-pop all in.

The utg+1 flat calls it, then the small blind re-raises all in.

About this point I get the sinking feeling I am on the wrong end of set over set, and the other guy is most likely a flush draw, possible the OTHER set in a sick cooler, or maybe just a bad player sticking around with a weak King or 2 pair or even something goofy like an open ended straight draw.

UTG+1 calls…I am surprised to see the red pocket rockets, he mis-played them horribly. And the big blind is all in…with that goofy 7h/8d straight draw. I show my set and start hoping.

The turn is the 10c, the river the Jc. The Aces win the 1.51 side pot and my set pulls in 6.50. Nice….almost a triple up.

I almost quit for the night but decide to keep playing. It is a weird night where almost every raise I put in faces a monstrous re-raise so I tighten up for a while, win a couple pots, lose a couple and notice a few times I am folded to in the big blind so loosen up again.

After a while UTG open limps with 7., utg+ 1 and 2 call with 2.81 and 1.56, a fold, and in middle position I look down at As/Qh. Now, often I fold here, but this time I just sense weakness and think I can take the pot uncontested so I raise to .35. It is folded back to the last guy who called and he again flat-calls.

I start thinking about what he could have. Big pairs, big slick are out. It feels like a drawing hand that got big eyes at the size of the pot. Suited connectors, suited ace, small to medium pair…nothing bigger than 7s or 8s I think.

The flop is 9c/6h/4d, he checks, I bet .40 expecting to either take it down or face a re-raise all in. He flat calls it. I am confused. The turn is the 5h, he checks.

A lot of times people will pride-call the first bet, but fold to the second bet. He has .81 left, I bet .80 expecting him to fold…and he calls.

The river is the 2h, he bets his last penny. Having badly mis-read him and mis-played the hand, the bet is so ridiculous there is no way I am not calling it. I expect to see him turn over a straight or set of 6s or even something like A/9 and I am kicking myself for giving away 15 BB with A/Q…

Until he shows the 10d/Jc.

I have made some pretty bad plays…but his might top every bad play I have ever made. All he could beat was an 8 high bluff. Literally. And he stacked off with Jack high.

After a while I Have 6.87 and pick up Ac/Jc. I open to .15 in middle position, the big blind calls with 5. And we see the flop heads up. I have seen this guy betting huge with some pretty marginal holdings.

The flop is 4c/9s/6d. Probably missed up both. He takes his time, checks, I bet .25 expecting a call and bet on the turn. He almost runs out of time and then calls.

The turn is the Jd, he takes his time and checks. I bet .55 and he check-click raises. I believe he is on total air and have a choice. I am not folding here…but do I re-raise all in or flat call and see how the river looks?

Though I think he is loose and could have a hand as bad as 5/8, even loose, wild players can have something like pocket 4s. If the river is dangerous, I can fold there if he bets all in but I think he will check the river with a strong holding and bet with a weak one. If I go all in, he is calling here…and I am not sure the risk is worthwhile. After all, my hand is just top/top. I flat.

The river is the 4d. That actually hit’s a fair number of hands he could have…Q/4 suited+, and diamond suited hand, etc. At the same time….it misses a lot of hands, too.

He bets 1 buck into a pot of over three bucks. I think I have him but am not so sure that I am willing to put him all in so I flat call and he shows Js/Qh. I pull down a nice 4.69 pot with a pretty marginal hand.

I hover around between 8 and 9 bucks for a while, am thinking about quitting, and should have.

With 8.79 I pick up Qs/Qh. Middle position open limps with 4.66, the next seat raises to .30 with 1.36.

I see (and use) this move a lot…when I am middle or later and people have shown weakness, I widen my range and will re-raise with a pretty wide range expecting to take down the pot. Against a wide range like that, I want to get heads up, so I raise the pot, 1.02. Everyone folds except the raiser who re-raises all in. The .34 cents is an easy call.

Unfortunately, he had a legit hand…pocket kings, and when the flop brings another, I take a hit.

I play a couple more hands and end with more than a double up of what I put in, satisfied overall. In the same situation, I play the queens the same way…I trusted my reads all night, this time he had a better than expected hand. If he has a bigger stack and re-pops, I think I lay the Queens down so that tells me I am improving again.


How did that turn out?

With 4.52, I pick up pocket jacks utg and open to .30 playing 5/10. The small blind calls with 8.62 and we take the flop heads up.
5s/6s/8s/ I am not overly fond of this flop. I may have just flopped dead to running Jacks. He checks, I bet .40, he click-raises to .80.

Okay, if he actually had the flush, he raises bigger than that. If he has a set I also expect a pot-size bet. This feels like a bluff, drawing hand, or even two over cards trying to pick off a bluff continuation bet with nothing that will fold a dangerous flop. I call.

The turn is the irrelevant 2d, he checks, I bet 1.20 expecting him to fold. He calls. I now think he has Something, but not a lot…maybe pockets bigger than 8, maybe a straight draw, maybe even something like A/Q with one of them being a spade.

The river is the Ah which hit’s a lot of hands he could have. I do not particularly like it, but am happy when he checks. I am not raising again because if I do, I have to lay it down to any re-raise, but there is some chance I can win a show-down if he has a flush draw worse than an ace, a pair worse than Jacks, or a missed straight draw.

He shows the 7c/5c and he shows a mix of a couple of the things I thought he might have…lower pair, missed straight draw.

I am really working hard on going with hand ranges instead of specific hands, and it is paying off quite a bit. I add over 2 bucks to my stack and am rolling.

With 7.02, I have been quiet for a while. UTG+1 I pick up pocket 8s. Sometimes I fold them here, this time I open for .30. Middle position re-raises to .90 with 9.75 and I have a choice.

This is a tough spot for me. When I do flop my set, I tend to struggle to get paid off. I am perhaps too aggressive. At the same time, every so often someone will stack off and the raise is therefore .60 for potentially 7.02...uf U have 3 bucks or so, I have to fold here, but this time I call.

I love the flop…8d/6d/2h. I have the absolute nuts at the moment. I decide to go for the check raise. He obliges by betting a stout .90.

I figure he has an over pair and is trying to bet off the flush draw or maybe has the flush draw himself. I can either flat it or charge him for the flush draw. I choose the latter approach and raise the pot, 4.65,

He comes over the top and it is all in 1.47 to call, an easy call. I have the nuts at the moment, if he is on the flush draw I have the re-draw to the boat, and if he has an over pair or lower set I have him drawing very thing.

The fist-pump auto call shows him with pocket Kings, the turn and river brick (well, okay…the river pairs the board giving me 8s full of sixes) and I have a 13.25 balance.

I have decided I have been playing too tight lately and been trying to open with a wider range of hands and even, on occasion, call a speculative hand or two. So when utg+2 limps with 8.01, I limp behind with js/10s and 14.07. The big blind checks with 3.45 and we take the flop.

One reason people love to play J/10 is because any straight it hits, it is the nut straight so long as both cards are used. So when the flop is Kc/Qs/9h I am loving it. I flopped the nuts and very few cards can take it away. If someone flopped a set the chips are getting shipped, and otherwise only runner-runner can beat me.

The big blind checks, utg+2 min-raises. I have a choice to make. Big blind, I assume he hit nothing and is done with the hand. I have no idea whether the early limper hit anything or not. Should I call or raise?

I have the nuts and want the big blind to come along if at all possible. Plenty of time to raise on the turn if he folds so I flat it and the big blind indeed comes along.

The turn is the 5c and they both check. I should probably check here, but I do have 2 clubs on the board, the big blind over called, and I might get a call so I lead out for .30, about half the pot. The big blind folds, UTG+2 calls.

The river is the 8h, he checks. How much to bet? I have to decide between half pot, pot size, or over bet.

He open limped, under bet the flop, check-called the turn. He has at best a marginal hand so I doubt he will call a very big bet. I elect to bet half the pot and he folds.

I do not know if I would have gotten more action had I checked the turn or not…I doubt it. I think I like the line I took here as it built a pot that might have made it worth calling if he has something like K/10, A/9 type hands. In the end I flop a big hand and take a modest pot.

I am now faced with a tough decision. I have worked my way from 4 bucks up to about 15. With a big stack like that I can call more re-raises with speculative hands, open pots more aggressively...but I can also undo hours of good play with one silly call or ill-timed bluff or draw-chasing.

Also, playing Rush, I find I do better when I play more but shorter sessions...I tend to make better decisions. So I decide to pack it in for a while and go play some X-box.



With 4.83 I get a bit aggressive and open to .30 from utg+1 with pocket sevens. Middle position calls with 10.73, the small blind and big blind also call with 1.51 and 16.30.

The flop is marginally good with the 4c/3d/6c, but I am not super excited. With 3 callers, there is a good chance someone has a better pocket pair, probably something between 8s and jacks.

There is also a chance someone just setted up and club draws are possible. So I am far from having the nuts. I pretty much want to end this hand here and now as I have 3 probable outs if I am behind…the sixes…and a few more outs that are not “clean” outs…the sevens, for example.

The small blind leads out for .40 into a pot of over 1.20. I re-pop to 2.40, the middle position folds and the small blind calls all in for his last .81.

I figure he has to have a set, over pair or the flush draw. I would be surprised, but only marginally, to see something like a 5/6 suited. I am wrong.

He has Kh/8s. He over called with that garbage, raised into three people and called a strong re-raise on a gut-shot runner-runner straight draw. I need to be in more hands with him.

I hit the straight on the turn, the board pairs on the river, I win the hand.

The very next hand, with 6.70, I pick up pocket 8s in the small blind and am looking forward to playing another pocket when utg+3, whom I just touched up on his horrible play, with 4.00, opens to 1.10.

I very nearly call….but even complete tools can pick up a hand, and although this looks like an idiotic tilt raise from a bad player, I know he will call with anything and can easily suck out. Not worth risking 4 bucks on a pair of eights. I fold.

Later, after chasing a nut flush draw and folding to big river bet, I have 5.03. UTG+2 opens to .20, I re-raise to .75 with two black jacks, and he calls with 10.07.
I am not too happy about the call. He could have a suited Ace, a medium pair, A/K, all sorts of hands here. Queens and Kings also believable.

The flop is 7d/5c/Ks. He checks.

If I check here, about 90% of the time they bet the pot on the turn, and unless it is a Jack I have to fold since they could have hit the King and been trapping and I am a poor player still. So it behooves me to bet here.

I lead out for .90 cents, he does me no favors and calls. Or maybe he does. I guess in retrospect if he has something like A/K, K/Q, K/J type hands he probably re-raises here.

Same with a set, though there is always the possibility he has some bizarre draw…if he has a 6/8 or something like that. So it is possible he has a medium pair, 8s or better, and wants to play a small pot.

The turn is the Jh and he checks. A check might be wise here, but in the heat of the moment I over-emphasize the possibility of A/K and bet. He folds.

On the one hand, I possibly lost a chance to have him pick up enough to bluff with on the river. The only draws he has that beat me are horribly played A/Q or A/10, the aforementioned 6/8 or some equally long-shot draw.
On the other hand…I won over 1.60 with no risk…

Later, I make a bizarre call with King high that loses a fair amount, and then lose the rest with top pair, top kicker to flopped trip 10s with someone who stayed in against a raise and call with 10/4, and quit having been up to about 8 bucks at one point and ending with nada.

Mostly because of poor play.

I need to be aware of what I am doing more often instead of giving back all my progress with bonehead plays.


Hand reading exercises

UTG opens to .20 with 5.32, a fold, a call with 12.04 and I find myself on the button with Ac/9c. Okay, I have a drawing hand, position, and will likely get another caller from the big blind. I elect to call with 3.70, then both blinds disappoint me by folding.

The flop is 9d, 3h, 2c. With the min-raise, the utg has a wider range than usual…A/10+, K/J+, any suited ace or king, any pair. The call represents more or less the same range.

I figure to have the best hand with top pair, top kicker and when they both check, the bet is mandatory. With about .70 cents in there, I lead out for .40. UTG calls, middle folds.

So I figure he probably has 2 overs, maybe even something like A/4 or A/5. He checks the 7h turn, I lead out for .80 and he again calls.

The river is the 5d and he checks. Let’s see…he min-raised utg, check-called innocuous flops and turns and checked the river. What fits that?

An Ace that missed, 2 over cards, pocket 4s, pocket 6s or slow-playing a set or over-pair. I do pretty well against that range so I go ahead and bet again.

He folds, so I really have no idea if I was right or not. But with a marginal hand, I am happy with that pot.

In middle position I open to .30 with pocket Aces. I am happy when the button calls with 10 and then the big blind also calls with 10.73.

If there have to be two other players, I am happy with the 6c/4c/4h flop. Probably missed everyone except a draw. I want to take down the pot and lead out for .95, getting the button to call and the big blind to fold.

Over pair or flush draw, slightly weighted toward the flush draw, with two big cards also a possibility. The turn is the 10d, I have 2.94 left and the pot means I am playing this to the river, so I shove my last 2.94 which he calls.

Really, the main thing I am afraid of here is pocket 10s, but I think maybe A/10c, A/x clubs are likely, with pockets 7 through 9s equally likely. Less likely but possible are jacks, queens or kings.
He flips up pocket 7s, my aces hold up and I double up. Nice, my Aces held.

With 7.27 I open to .30 from utg+2. The big blind is my only customer, with 10 even.

The flop is 5c/4d/5s, he checks, and something like 99.999% of the time, I am betting here regardless of what I have. I bet .40 which he snap-calls.

The turn is the Qs and we both check. An unusual move for me as I almost always bet here. The river is the 9c, he leads out for .40.

Okay, so he called out of position pre-flop, check-called the flop, checked the turn, and then under-bet the river. I am thinking marginal hand here. Maybe a dry ace, medium pair, maybe even A/K or A/Q type hands.

Also possible but less likely are pocket 4s or pocket 9s. I re-raise to 1.40, takes his time and calls with pocket 7s. My pocket queens boated up and take down the pot.

UTG+1, with 4.29, takes time and then click-raises. Middle position, with 17.90, calls, the big blind also calls with 7.22 and they see the flop three handed.

The flop is the 5s/6c/8d, it is checked around. The turn is the 7d.

Big Blind raises to .20, about 1/3rd the pot. UTG folds, mp bumps it to 1.25.

This is a frequent reaction to weak, defensive bets like that of the big blind and may or may not mean he has a hand. As the moment the 9/10 is the nuts, but there are 2 flush draws, the way the hand has played any set is possible and something like pocket 9s or even pocket 4s is also a distinct possibility.

BB re-pops to 2.30, indicating a hand, and mp re-re-re-raises to 2.20, which the button calls.
At this point I am thinking set over set, set over 2 pair, two pair versus straight are the most likely hands.

The river is the 10d, bb hesitates, then bets 1.0, mp raises to 2.20 and there is a call.

Flush is a possibility, but remote. I think these are two made hands and think my turn conjecture is pretty good.

Big blind shows Ks/4s…the ignorant end of the straight. The mp shows Ac/9c and takes the pot with the higher straight.

I really do not like the play on this hand at all. While the K/4s was almost the same hand as pocket 4s at that point in the hand, all the re-raising without shoving screamed “hand that can be beat trying to scare away better hand”.

Worse, he was betting into a made hand. Not worth getting involved with the bottom end of a straight, the best he could hope for was something like a set where the board did not pair.

But I have seen worse plays…cut-off open limps with 16.17, small blind completes with 7.58 and the big blind checks with 7.86.

The flop is 10d/4d/3s, it is checked around. The turn is the qd, the sb checks, big blind bets .30 (pot size bet) and everyone calls.

River is the 8c, the small blind leads out for 1.20, the big blind calls, the cut-off folds.

The small blind shows pocket aces and loses to the big blind’s king high flush…k/7 was his holding.

So the desire to get action on aces led him to let everyone see a cheap flop, he bet nothing when he was ahead, and then called and bet when he was behind. How did that work out for him?
Yes, if he raises pre-flop he probably gets a fold from the big blind…but he does not lose 16 blinds on the hand and makes 3. That is a 19 blind swing because he tried to trap, then did not bet to charge the draws.

I have to constantly remind myself...while there are players on this level capable of tricky plays (i.e. the pocket rockets dude), there are far more people against whom it should be a simple game; bet when I have the goods, fold the rest of the time.


Slowplaying for the win

I seldom slow-play because it seems to bit me every time. Every so often, though, I will have the absolute nuts and decide to.

Playing 2/5 UTG limps with 2.79, I call from the next seat with 9h/9c and the big blind checks with 1.44. The flop is perfect…3c/9s/7d. They check and, leery of chasing them away, I elect to slow-play.

The turn is the 6d, the bb checks, utg raises to .10. I think about re-raising, but since the only draw are the unlikely flush and the unlikely straight, I call hoping the bb comes along. He does not.

The river is the 4d, UTG again bets .10, I raise to .40 with my set, he calls…with 2d/5d and wins with a 7 high flush.

Yeah, slow-playing is a GREAT option for me. Guess I should have raised the turn, but at the time my thought process seemed logical. Instead I let him pick the betting amount and draw to his hand with infinite odds.

Later, I open from the button with Ah/Qu to .15 with 3.58 behind, the big blind calls with 3.30 and we watch the 2c/9s/3c fop. Misses most hands he could reasonably have, he bets a nickel anyway, I raise to .25, he calls.

The turn is the 5s, he bets a nickel again. It feels like he is betting a draw of some sort and trying to keep the pot small by controlling the bet size. A/x c, maybe a suited 4/5 make some sort of sense. Or maybe something goofy like K/3.

I bump it to .50, he actually asks for time bank help, then eventually calls.
The river is good and bad…Qd. No draws hit, I am behind a set or a weird two pair hand like Q/9, 9/5. Overall, I think I am probably ahead.

He leads out for .10. I think for a while, should I raise or call. If I raise, I am folding to an all-in shove, the pot has about 1.69 in it…I have some show-down value with top pair, top kicker.

If I raise, he probably folds everything I beat, calls with everything that beats me, and raises with some of each. I meekly call and watch him flip up Qc/10c.

So I was right about the flush draw, and end up winning a pot I led beginning to end.


Hand Reading school

I notice this next hand went to show-down, so am looking at it as an exercise in hand-reading skills.

The button limps with 18.18, I fold the Qc/7c, the big blind checks with 15.78.

The button could be trapping with Aces or Kings hoping to get raised, or he could have something like a j/10, suited ace, small pocket pair, maybe a weak ace…and I going to say maybe even a suited Jack type hand. The big blind could have…well…anything.

They both check the 9h/Kh/4c flop. The turn is the Qh.

The big blind leads out with a pot size bet of .20. He could have the unlikely flush, though it is more likely he has the 9 or 4 and wanted to see what the button would do.

The button click-raises. Okay, that could be anything…flush trying to get a re-re-raise, a set, a pair, or even someone thinking the big blind is stealing.

The big blind then re-pops with yet another min-raise which the button flat calls.

So I am thinking we have a couple of marginal hands here or a good but easily beatable hand.
The river really changes nothing, the 3c.

The big blind leads out for .90 cents which the button flat calls. I expect to see maybe 2 pair like a Q/9, maybe Q4 type thing versus a small flush, maybe a pair of queens or something like that.
Or not. The big blind had pocket Aces, the button had Qs/10h. So I was right about the button, wrong about the big blind.

I tighten up quite a bit, then notice people are folding a lot. I see an early middle position guy limp with 7.74, I have Kc/Jd on the button and raise to .40 expecting a series of folds.

My plan goes awry when the small blind re-pops to 1.00 and the original limper calls. I actually play smart and toss my marginal hand into the muck.

With about 2.50 in the pot, they both check the 5s/4d/5h flop. Fair enough…big blind looks like A/K maybe…or maybe just making a move. Some sort of drawing hand for middle position.

Turn is the 9d and the small blind leads out for 1.20. Same sorts of hands as before, the button is playing this more like a draw. At this point I revise my estimate to maybe suited connectors, probably hearts.

The river is the Qs, a dangerous card for a medium pair. The small blind takes his time, then bets 2 bucks into a pot of 4.58…and the mp folds.

Time goes on, I fold lots of hands and am on life support with Ac/8c. The cut-off opens to .20 with 16.14. I am in the small blind with a hand I routinely fold even when I have enough to make it worthwhile from an odds standpoint.

This time I call for who knows what reason. Actually, I know exactly the reason. I decided to take a shot when it would not hurt bad if I missed the draw.

The problem with chasing draws is all too many people…like myself…increase the bet size on each street. So it quickly gets expensive.

Lets say I am the aggressor and open to .30 with a suited ace. I flop two to the flush so I bet…I will put in about half the pot, but more than my pre-flop, so lets say .40 cents. I am already into it for .70 and now there is a buck and a half or so. I miss the turn, bet half the pot, .75 cents…he re-raises the same .75 so I call with excellent odds, but miss on the river.

I put in 2.25 and missed my draw. I will walk away satisfied because for the most part I controlled the betting (except the turn) and will play it again the same way the next time.
All too often if I do not bet the flop or turn I face pot-sized bets instead, which is why I prefer betting; I get the fold equity and control the pot size.

But of course, even if I flop the flush draw, I am only going to hit it one in three times. So lets say I miss twice and put in 2.25 the third time…which means I need to WIN 7.75 just to break even…which means the POT needs to be 10 bucks if I JUST put in the 2.25 on the time I win.

So I usually only play for flushes in very specific circumstances; several people have entered the pot cheaply, I am in late position and can enter for a raise with an above average suited Ace or similar circumstances where I either flop with excellent pot odds or move on.

It is one of the few draws I demand better than accurate odds to play.

But here I am low on coin with a chance to double up and decide to play.

So I flat his raise, the big blind folds and with .50 in the pot we see the flop heads up.

The flop is pretty good…7s/9s/6c. I missed the flush but flopped a straight draw. No need to get too crazy, though so I check. He bets .30 and I flat it.

Turn is the 5d…I hit my draw. I check, he bets .90, I pop all in for my last 1.70. He calls.

And turns up 8/J. Great, split pot. Except the river is the 10s and I lose to his Jack high straight.

UTG, with 13.82, opens to .30 after taking their time. Middle position calls with 14.99 as does the button with 10.22.

UTG I generally give credit for a pretty good hand….10/10+, A/x suited, A/J o, in some cases suited connectors or K/q, though I weight it pretty heavily towards type one hands.

Medium position is getting into medium pairs, say fives or better, plus the above hands and maybe something like A/10. Button is a much wider array, though with a raise and call, I might tighten the list a bit.

The flop is 3s/5h/qc. UTG checks. Jacks or worse, a missed draw, or a big hand like queens.
Medium position raises to .40, I tentatively think A/Q, K/Q, pocket 5s or pocket threes, subject to revision.

The button re-pops to 1.20. I tend heavily to think A/Q or pockets that match or beat the board.
UTG calls which mystifies me. I would have thought a re-raise if he hit or a fold if he missed. A call is unexpected as there are no reasonable draws here. Middle also calls.

Now there is about 4.50 in the pot and three interested parties. The turn is the 8c and utg and mp check.

The button leads out for better than a pot-size bet, 5 bucks. He has to have a big hand, I lean heavily towards a set. Both other players call…top/top? 2 pair? A worse set? Or maybe we have set over set.

The river is the King of clubs. UTG fires out his last 7.32. I am thinking A/K or, more likely, pocket Kings with the way the hand played out. Both other players call. Got to be a set and either something like A/Q or a set?

UTG shows pocket queens so I was pretty close. The button shows…3h/8h? What? That is horrible. He over-called against utg and middle position with an 8 high flush draw?

Nearly as bad is the over-all winner, the middle position who shows the Ac/2c.

He called based on a flush draw, fair enough. He then called with a gut-shot, picked up a flush draw on the turn and rivered the nuts. He played worse than I have in weeks and got paid off huge, 36.01.

The utg had a pretty safe board to slow-play and it STILL bit him. I feel for the guy. He flopped the absolute nuts, there were no reasonable draws, he got bet into by someone drawing all but dead, got called by someone drawing super thin…and still got coolered.By the same token, I read exactly one hand anywhere near correctly…UTG. The others had much worse hands than I gave them credit for.

So a couple hands where, as a neutral observer, I had some decidedly mixed results on figuring out what they had. People are playing far looser than I credit, and I need to take that into account more often.

And work on figuring out hands better.


Tool time

My second hand in the session, I pick up A/K. Middle position, with 63.78, opens to .50. That screams small pair, something that does not want action. I have As/Kh and raise to 1.65. He surprises me and calls.

I have 2.25 behind, the pot is 3.40, it is probably all going in on the flop. Sure enough, the flop is 7c/5c/kc.

Ugh. I hit top pair…but what an ugly board. I would believe pocket 5s or 7s. I am not really worried about A/x suited because of his over-raise. I shove my last 2.25 and he calls….

With Ac/6h. Okay, so I was WAY off on what he had. He made a bad raise/worse call. At least now he had the nut flush draw and proper odds. The turn is the harmless 8h and I have to dodge 11 outs…the 9 clubs and 2 sixes.

The river is the 4, I am happy…until I notice it gave him the straight.

So how did I play this hand? Pre-flop, I like it. My read was generally correct…he had a sub-par hand that did not want any action. He was just trying to pick up the blinds with a scare-raise.
Very poor play on his part. He is risking .50 to win .15 and will only ever get action from a better hand.

I like my re-raise, although it can be argued it pot committed me with a drawing hand…at the same time, if I can get it all in with an unsuited A/6 against my A/K every time, I am happy with that.

I actually figured I was in a race and the flop PROBABLY gives me the lead with the King. I am only ever getting called by a better hand when I shove…unless I am against a bad player which, in this case, I would argue I was based on his pre-flop play.

Once I flop top/top, due to having nearly half my stack in, I am committed to the hand and have some fold equity by shoving. If he has 6s, 4s, 3s or deuces he is folding here, and he might even fold something like 8s or 10s.

Overall, a good read ended up costing me 40 big blinds.

Contrast that with me randomly deciding to make a move. The button, with 8.64, click-raises. All day and all night I fold garbage like the Qh/4h. For no apparent reason, I call this time.

I guess, recognizing the odds given, I decided to try to flop a flush draw or something. But the plan right now does not include advances poker plays like bluffing or playing the player type moves..I am trying to get back to the basics, playing good cards and playing them aggressively.

So this move makes no sense on any level. With just 3.85, I do not have enough chips to drive him off a hand, I have a bad hand, bad position…it is just a bad, bad idea.

The flop is the Jc/8d/3c. At least I do not compound my folly…I just check. He min-bets, I sense weakness and re-pop to .40 which he calls. Right there I should be done with the hand.

On the As turn, I bet .90 and he flat-calls it. The river is a 9s.

Okay, at this point I have not bothered to put him on a hand, I called with a bad hand, re-raised with nothing, and then bet with air. I have gotten 1.40 deep with nothing because he min-raised.
I finally, belatedly give up and check, he checks his Kings behind and I lost a good portion of my stack in a hand I should not have been in. Horrible, horrible play from beginning to end.

I continued playing poorly and getting (rightfully) buried. There are times I take a hit and it does not bother me...I get it in good, get drawn out on.

But there are times I really wonder what I am thinking. The first hand here I am okay with...the last one not so much.

When I have a play like that, I need to take the rest of the night off.


Cowboy Roundup

Sitting behind 26.59, I pick up Kings, this time the red ones. UTG+2 I open to .30, the small blind calls with 11.84

The flop is a pseudo-dream flop, A/A/K, the third nuts. I am only behind A/k and pocket Aces, neither of which is overly likely. Normally, I bet out here. This time I elect to do one of my rare slow-plays. If he has one of those hands, it is all going in anyway and if he doesn’t he would just fold. Finally, a smart decision. He checks behind.

The turn is the irrelevant 9d, I bet half the pot, he calls.

The river is the 7s and suddenly he leads out for 1.30. I should re-pop it…but suddenly I get nervous. What if he called with A/9 or A/7 and now he drew out on me? What is he had big slick and slow-played me? As unlikely as these scenarios were, I suddenly wanted to play a small pot…and flat-called.

Not that I would not call a re-raise...after all, I have the fifth nuts and two hands that beat me...pocket Aces and big slick...are highly unlikely with how the hand played out. But it would be with a sick feeling that I had lost a huge pot.

He flipped up pocket 9s and I took a very, very small pot compared to what I should have taken.
When I have such a powerful hand, I cannot be afraid of getting involved. At the very least, a re-raise on the river was in order here. The way the hand played, it was very unlikely he had A/K or pocket Aces and no other hand beats me. Well, okay, so A/9 and A/7 do, both of which were in his range…but unlikely.

With 26.33 I pick up 2 red jacks in the big blind. UTG+2 opens to .30 with 9.80. The small blind, with 3.25, calls, I re-pop to 1.35, the utg+2 calls and the other folds.

The flop is decent for me…10c/6c/7d. I am pretty aggressive, betting 2.70. He re-pops to 6.20. Well now, that looks bad.

Remember a while ago when the opposition had bet weird and did this, I did the call-fist pump routine. This time it is way different.

He raised a standard amount and flat-called. This time I figure 6/6+, suited Ace, maybe A/J+. The re-raise indicates a made hand and he is wanting to maybe prevent the flush draw. Really, about the only hands I believe he is holding I could beat would be the somewhat unlikely A/10 suited, but I think he more likely has 10s, 6s or 7s. I fold and do not regret it.

Here is a fun hand I had nothing to do with except folding my small blind. Early middle position limps with 22.27, I fold my Ad/2c from the small blind, and the big blind checks with 18.65.

The flop is 4s/3h/8c. The limper bets the pot, .25 and gets a call. Lets see…open limper could be Aces or Kings trapping…though I tend to seldom see that play on this level…it could be a weak ace, probably suited, or a low to medium pair or possibly suited connectors. The big blind could be literally any two cards, but with a call here I would not be surprised to see him have something like 8/3, 8/4….maybe a 5/6 even. He could have all sorts of hand.s He might have two overs to the board or might just be planning to raise any checked turn.

The turn is the 7d. If either of them had the 5/6 they are very happy. The original limper bets .75 and gets a call. Pot is about 2.25 or so now.

The river is the 9s. 10/J is the nuts, but the way this hand played out, it is highly unlikely. Pocket 9s, pocket 8s/4s/3s are all within the realm of possibility as well as random two pair hands.

The initial limper checks, the big blind finally bets…20.42 cents into a 2 dollar pot! What on earth? I am betting he has something like pocket 9s, maybe pocket 3s…I would never call this bet without a 10/j or set of 8s or 9s. But the initial limper does call.

Original limper shows 8s/7s. Okay, flopped top pair, turned two pair, and checked on river when lots of hands beat him.

Big blind had…pocket 4s.He let the other guy hang himself, then made a fish bet and got paid off for it.

I really hate the way the first limper played the hand. He had no business limping in with that hand. I like his flop and turn play, hate every step of the river play. Bet again, don’t call a massive bet like that. Wow. So this pot of 35.35 goes to the big blind who got a free shot to hit his set.

He then eschewed the value bet to try and get hugely paid off.

Though I did not play this hand, I could see me being either guy and I see holes in both plays, yet I also see the value in both plays (except the river call). I guess the line between a really good play and a really bad play is really thin…

For example, I played a hand where to a point I took a similar line (though with a better finish for what I played). With 17.79 I watch the utg limp with 9.71, middle position take his time and then click-raise with 5.90 and from the next seat I have A/K.

Limps and click-raises both scream weak hand/weak player to me. I am raising this something like 103% of the time. I bump it to .85. The first limper calls and we take the flop.

The flop is decent for my hand, 4h/Qs/Jc. He could limp with something like J/10 or a suited ace that hit the four, maybe pocket 4s or some other middle pair, say 7s or worse. All those hands fit how he played the pre-flop, as well as a few random things I would hate to see like K/Q.

He checks, I bet 1/2 the pot expecting him to fold, he calls. The turn is the 10c, he checks, I bet expecting a call…and he folds. Probably should have checked there, but I like to charge people for their draws, and he was getting near pot-commitment time.

I need to be less fearful of getting drawn out on. It will help me make more on hands like this where he is highly unlikely to have a hand that has any chance of drawing out on me.

I had a really bad run where I was getting sucked out on with numerous runner-runner draws or one memorable one where I had Aces, got called on the flop and turn and rivered when a 10 hit by a guy holding 10/4 with a queen and king on the flop.

Or another where my Aces got taken down by a guy who called a re-raise with a suited q/9, missed the flop but called all in anyway and hit runner runner to flush out.

So I got gun shy about how I play, nervous about hands that could beat me and sometimes weighting my thoughts towards those hands instead of more reasonable hands.

As a result, several good hands I have mis=played and not pulled in as many chips as I should. Definitely a hole in my game.


Poke em in the eye and see if they blink

Time to talk about a hand I was not involved in…but could have been.

TehKitteh, with 15.51, opens to .30 from utg+2. The cut-off, Gator John, with 15.67, click-raises to .50, it is folded back to TheKitteh who flat-calls.

Now, I absolutely HATE the click-raise. Kitteh put in .30 voluntary, risking .30 cents to win .15. The raise back to him is now 20 cents to win 75, almost 4-1. There is no hand worth raising that is not worth calling that idiotic raise with.

So if he is “raising for information”…he got none. Well, a little…if Kitteh comes over the top you can put him on Queens or better or big slick.

So they take a 5c/10d/4s flop heads up with a pot of just over a buck. Kitteh checks, Gator raises .80 and Kitteh again flats it.

What a weird bet. If you are going to min-raise pre-flop, why come out betting 80% of the pot? I am lost in this hand. Is he betting for value or from fear?

The turn pairs the board, the 4c. Kitteh checks, Gator raises 1.45. Okay, another weird bet, from a percentage look he is betting in reverse, putting in 45% of the pot. Now it reads as he is scared. Which Kitteh pounces on with a re-pop to 5.40.

Check-raises on the turn scream strength. He raised and flatted pre-flop which screams drawing hand; a/x suited, medium pocket pairs, suited connectors all fit the bill. There are now two baby clubs…so I guess he could be playing a backdoor draw REALLY weird. Or two overs to the board…I guess Jacks, Queens, Kings are in his range, as are a/j+ of clubs.

Actually, A/10c would make a lot of sense here…top pair, nut flush draw, fold equity. But so would pocket 4s or pocket 5s trying to build a pot big enough to warrant a river all-in.

Gator calls the re-raise.

The river is the 5h. Kitteh leads out all-in with the last 8.81 and gets a call. I really expect to see maybe A/4, 4/5, A/10c+, or an over pair…yes, that wide of range.

Gator is more the over-pair desperately hoping his Jacks or Aces are still good.

Kitteh has pocket 10s and Gator pocket Kings.

I have mentioned before how I hate getting involved with hands in the big blind. It is virtually always something I would not play otherwise, but then I hit just enough to continue the hand because it seems I should and I get crushed. Exceptions would be the odd speculative hand I want to see cheap…pocket deuces, A/x suited, maybe J/10 or a medium suited connector.

But when utg+2 limps with 4.59 as does the next guy with 5.41and the small blind with 9.65, I look at 8s/kc and check.

I am not exactly ecstatic when the flop comes 7s/ks/7c. This hits all sorts of hands people limp with. But when the big blind checks, I lead out for half the pot, .20 cents. UTG+1 click-raises, the middle position calls.

Now, had mp not called, I probably re-raise here. Click-raise is weak. But the over call by the squeeze position worries me. I almost fold but decide to call and see what happens on the turn.

Plus, there are pretty good chances I might be up against something like A/7s or K/J type hands that have me drawing pretty thin.

The turn is the Jc. A/J, K/J now are ahead of me. I am not real interested in playing a big pot here, especially against two other players. I check, the utg+2 bets .50, roughly 1/3 the pot. MP raises to 1.40, I fold, utg goes all in and gets a call.

With that action, one had to have a 7 and best guess for the other would be over pair. As it turns out, one had 7h/10h (the first all-in) and the second had 7d/8c. They are on track for a split pot until the river drops an 8 on them.

I am actually pretty happy about this. I probably should not have called the first re-raise, but I did not keep chasing long after I was obviously beat. Had the over call not happened, I probably would have gotten stacked here.

All too often, hitting a big pair like a King is something I chase too long so maybe I am improving my level of play.

I still struggle to figure out what to do with Big Slick or, as I often call it…Anna Kournikova. Looks sexy, wins nothing. UTG+1 opens to .20 with 5.93, UTG+2 flat-calls with 10 even, the hi-jack also calls with 9.90. In the cut-off, I look down at Ac/Ks and 9.66.

A call is not going to happen here. With this many people, I am highly unlikely to win a pot and many are likely to have speculative hands or soft aces. I can either fold or re-raise. I consider both and elect to raise to 1.15. UTG+2, mp, and the hi-jack all call.

I like the flop quite a bit. Ad/7c/2c. Maybe someone hit the club draw, a bit less likely are pocket 7s, A/7s, a/2s, or pocket deuces. Other than that, I am ahead.

There is about 5 bucks in the pot, I normally bet a couple of bucks here…but this time I have some sort of brain cramp and bet 8.51 all in.

I hate, hate, hate that bet. It is way too much for too little. With the action on the hand, pocket sevens are well with the range of hands they could have.

Nor am I happy when I get a call by a guy who has me covered. He flips up…10/9c, on the flush draw. Okay, as bad as I played it…he played it worse.

Turn is a 10 but the river is a blank and my over-play pulls down a 20.32 pot.

Another difficult one to play for me is over pairs to the board. Sitting behind 20.23, I watch the utg take his time, then raise to .60, 6 times the big blind. On the button, I have two black kings. Time to decide what to do.

Over-raises like that usually represent a small pair that does not want action, though occasionally someone will trap with Aces with the fish-bet. He has 7.58, so I am risking about a third of my stack on this hand.

I decide to put on some pressure and re-raise to 1.95 which he flats. Now we have over 4 bucks in the pot and the flop comes 10s/qs/9d. He insta-bets all in 5.63 and I am completely lost in the hand.

The over bet pre-flop COULD represent pocket 9s, 10s, or Queens…but I think it is more likely to be 6s or below. His call indicates he is a poor player…if he had re-popped me pre-flop I would be more inclined to think Jacks or Queens.

At the same time, I cannot completely discount a set. I am not really counting K/J type non-sense. I actually cannot get my head around any other hand but a small pocket that missed and he was betting the flop regardless of what came.

Based on his poor pre-flop line and the instantaneous nature of his flop shove, I THINK I am way ahead of something like threes or deuces and he is trying to scare me away. At the same time, there is a chance I am drawing thin if he does have queens. I guess a suited A/Q is a remote possibility but I do not even consider it.

Additionally, I have Jacks as a probable out for the straight. I call.

I would never in a million years have put him on the hand he has. As/9h. He hit bottom pair, backdoor flush draw. He never improves and I pick up the 14.29 pot.

Wow, I cannot even describe how badly he played that hand. He opened under the gun with a weak ace, called a strong re-raise, and shoved with bottom pair on a dangerous board it was almost impossible to have not hit the re-raiser. I should write his name down and play more pots with him.

At the same time, I should also really think about my own play. Unquestionably I played the pre-flop correctly. If he comes over the top again I am not sure if I call there…but I suspect I do. I would put his range on J/J+, A/K, A/Qs and I have pretty good equity against that.

On the flop…well, utg usually represents strength but over-bets indicate weakness so on a pretty nasty board, I have to think what he could have hit. Again…if he hit K/J playing like that, he is going to stack me no doubt.

Against a set I am a 4-1 dog, against a flush draw I am a 3-1 favorite, against anything else he could REASONABLY hold…pockets lower than 7s I will argue…I am a big favorite. So yeah…I think I need to call here.

So this was a pretty nice session, and will cover a few errors along the way....


Random Hands

Having rat-holed a nice pick-up, I start a new session and promptly play exactly one of the first 23 hands…a boring open raise with big slick everyone folds to.

Finally I pick up big slick again, this time in the small blind. That is something I both love and hate. It is impossible to play a hand in position from the blind which adds to the difficulty. On the other hand, people often discount the strength of the hand…so I have to put them on a wider range of holdings.

UTG+2 opens for .30 with 9.10 in front of him. With 3.90, I have to decide how to proceed. Folding is something I actually occasionally do, and it is always a mistake. He could have a lot of hands here…6/6+, suited connectors, suited Ace, even something like K/Qo I have seen quite a bit.

Calling is a poor option as I give worse hands a free shot to draw out on me and I let them control the action. So a re-raise is in order. I pop it up to a buck and he flat calls.

I more or less rule out Aces or Kings, put Queens as possible but unlikely, and figure him for a good pair…10/10+, with other hands possible but unlikely. On the bright side, I have the initiative. On the dark side, he has position and the pot is a bit larger than I like with just Ace high.

The flop is pretty not good…7h/9s/5h. I hit none of that. Time to make my continuation bet as he probably hit none of that either. Now, with 2 bucks in the pot, I usually bet half the pot here…but in this case, that is the same amount I bet pre-flop, which is a bet that just feels weak and even at the amount, that pot commits me so I pot bet, 2.10, leaving me just .80 cents behind. I probably should have just moved in.

He instantly re-raises me. I figure he has something like Queens or Kings…maybe even Aces…but now with over 6 bucks in the pot and just 80 cents behind, there is no way I am folding. I made a bad bet, got clipped, and now time to pay.

He flips up pocket 7s, a hand I had in his initial range and had I only bet a buck, who knows…I MIGHT have been wise enough to fold. I doubt it…but every so often I surprise myself.

I actually thought I was drawing dead. Running Aces or Kings would give him a boat. The turn is the 10h and I start laughing…so many people have drawn out on me in ridiculous situations like this that I see it coming and when the 2h hits, I rivered the nut flush and take down the 7.38 pot on a ridiculous suck-out.

It is not often your chance to win a hand is better after the turn than the flop…but wow. Just wow.

Funny thing is…if I were him I would not have been in the hand anyway.

Lets reverse it for a second. I open to .30 and get re-raised to 1. I have pocket 7s which are almost guaranteed to need to improve to win the pot. I am really playing for a set here.

Short-hand math says I need to get 8-1 to play for a set…he is calling .70 to win 3.90 max, or less than 6-1. For me, that is an easy fold, particularly as I am behind most hands in the range of an opponent who re-raises from the small blind…I credit them for 10/10+, A/K, MAYBE A/Js+.

Against that range I am significantly behind over half and a coin flip against the rest. If the small blind calls, I am okay with that…if they re-raise, the odds are wrong and I need to fold.

So here is a case where both players played poorly, just at different points in the hand; his pre-flop play was abominable, and my post-flop play arguably even worse. And I got extremely fortunate to hit a horrific long-shot. I’ll take it.

Sometimes after I play a hand poorly and get rewarded, I get overly aggressive. This time I fold 9 consecutive hands and then, irony of ironies, he next hand I play is from middle position with pocket 7s.

Utg click-raises with 5.38, I call with 7.28. I want more people in the hand to increase my pot odds. Unfortunately, the next person raises to…wait for it…1.00 with 4.10 behind.

Folded back to me and I am facing an .80 cent raise to win 4.45 – rake. A simple 8x.80 tells me I need 6.40 and I am getting incorrect odds…so I fold.

This is a very similar situation with identical hands facing similar raises. I actually would argue I had MORE incentive to call…the re-raise was in the face of a lower-than-average raise and flat-call, both of which indicate marginal holdings, and had several people left to act, so this is more in line with an isolation raise.

I would give them any mid pair…say 4s or better, a moderate suited ace or a strong unsuited ace, a range my 7s have better equity against…but not good enough to call based on the odds. I might be wrong but I like the way I played this hand.

I then fold 22 consecutive hands…meaning I have not seen a flop in a while and the blinds have chipped me down to 6.78 when I pick up Ah/Kc and open to .30 from the cut-off. The big blind, with 6.80, calls and we see the flop heads up.

I am pretty happy with the flop…Ad/3h/7c. I am way behind pocket threes or pocket 7s but way ahead of anything else. There are not draws. He check-calls my .40 cent continuation, then check-folds the 2h turn. This game is easy.

A couple hands later I open with Queens in middle position, everyone folds. But I am okay with that. Being tighter with my opening hands has been good to me, no need to get involved bumping around opening trash like A/10o and then hitting flops part-way, getting lost in the hand and giving up big chunks.

Or getting into hands by accident. With 7.59 I am in the big blind with Js/Kc. The button limps with 37.89, the small blind folds, and I check my option.

If I am going to get a cheap look with a marginal hand I might as well flop a big hand. Now, normally here I will lead out. I have a good but hardly untouchable hand. For whatever reason…I check. He checks behind.

The turn brings us the 10d, adding a couple draws and potentially hitting several hands he might hold. I put out almost a pot size bet and he folds. Again…not sure how to play this. There is nothing to indicate he will ever bet into me. So I guess that is about as good as I can do. I need to figure out a better way to play hands like this where I am extremely likely to have the better hand.

After numerous folds and a couple uneventful, by the books hands, I pick up Ah/Jh under the gun. I routinely fold this hand as I am really working on tightening up my pre-flop hands, but this was a “I have folded lots of hands and this sure looks pretty after a barren stretch” moment so I raised to .30 with 7.63 in my stack.

The cut-off, with 2.81, flat-calls, as does the small blind with 2.36.

The three of us look at a pot of about a buck and a flop of 3c/8c/Js. With top pair, top kicker and both of them having less than three bucks I am pretty sure to see the river. The small blind checks, I bet half the pot, the cut-off folds and the small blind calls.

The turn is the 6s, he checks, I bet .90, he flats leaving .66 behind. That .66 is going in or he is folding on the river…because I am betting if he does not.

The river is the 3s, he leads out for .66. I know I am calling, but just as an exercise for myself, I work through the hands he could hold.

He was getting a decent price on his call, calling .25 to win .75 if the big blind folded, or 3-1. So with the loose nature of the game, I can give him credit for A/10+, A/xs, suited connectors, any pair, 10/j, or any two face cards. A pretty wide range.

He played it passively, check-calling to the river. He led out on the river, knowing I am unlikely to fold to a .66 cent bet into a 3.50ish pot. So he either A) has a monster and is afraid he will not get paid or B) has nothing and knows his best bet is making me fold.

Looking at the hand, a 3 is a definite possibility but unlikely. It feels more like a missed flush draw with minor thoughts he held a 9/10 and wanted a straight. I really think he is going to flip up a/x of clubs.

I make the easy call and he shows us the Kc/10c. What do you know, the missed flush. Okay, so I missed what his top card was…I am quite pleased with my read on the hand.

So some up and down play with pretty good results.


Check or bet?

Having folded the first few hands of a session, I am sitting behind 3.80 when I pick up Jc/Qs in the cut-off. If anyone raises, it is another fold, but when it is folded to me I open to .30. The small blind calls, big blind folds and we go to the flop heads up with about .65 in the pot.

If I am going to raise a trash hand like that, it might as well flop a draw…like 10s/9d/5s. I put in a .50 bet, a little high for was actually a mis-click. I meant to bet .40.

That sounds like a minor detail, but it is not. I am trying to keep my odds where I want them, to control the pot. If I make a half-pot bet on the flop, a half-pot bet on the turn is a third cheaper and the same with the river...yet each way gets me close enough to get lots of chips in if the situation warrants.

But the larger flop bet will require larger turn and river bets...and lead to more chips in the center when I do NOT think the situation warrants based on hand strength, but the pot odds will be more favorable.

More favorable pot odds when I think I am behind do not mean I am happy...if I think I am behind but calling because I will be wrong x amount of the time, I want the call to be for fewer chips, not more.

He thinks about it for quite a while, then raises to 2.25 all-in. I am getting basically 2-1 on the call.

I know I have 6 clean outs…any non-spade K or 8. I might have an over card…but I suspect he is either top pair/top kicker or flush draw. Maybe a set.

I should fold…I usually do…but inexplicably, for reasons I still cannot explain…I call. He has Jh/9h and I am drawing better than expected…11 clean outs. Still an underdog but not as bad as expected.

The turn is the 2h and then my poor play is rewarded when I spike the King on the river.

This looked like exactly what it was…two fish battling it out, playing poorly, making bad calls and taking turns getting rewarded. I stunk up the joint on the hand…but got paid off unlike when I actually have good hands.

Oddly, I am finding this lately…when I play what I believe is well…pushing good hands, charging for draws, betting monsters…I end up with losing sessions.

Conversely, when I play maniacally…chasing draws in the face of odds, for example…I have good results. This is counter-intuitive and dangerous.

It also leads to brainless aggression. Like sitting behind 6.15 as a result of sucking out on that guy, when the small blind with 7.31 opens to .30, I call the extra 20 cents with Kh/10c.

I do not mind the call…I have an above-average hand, have position, and he could be betting position. I will most likely call the expected continuation bet on the flop, then raise his checked turn and take own the pot. Hopefully. That is the plan.

And helping the plan along, the flop is 9d/Jd/8c, adding an up and down straight draw to my over. He bets .60, I flat-call it. No need to build a pot with a draw in play.

The 4d falls on the turn…perfect bluffing card. He checks, I bet, he folds. Thing is, if I was not planning to bet the turn, I should not have called the flop. Or, arguably, the pre-flop.

At the same time, if he is a good player and has the flush, he wants to check-raise me here. I am only ever getting called by a better hand...or a horrific player.

Very next hand I pick up big slick in middle position. Guy in front of me raises to .30, I re-pop to 1.05, he folds. Nice.

I then fold 21 consecutive hands before picking up Ah/Qh in the hi-jack. At this point I have 7.23. A middle position guy takes time, then raises to .30 sitting behind 12.24. I ponder re-raising, but decide to flat call.

A/Q suited is, in the way I play, a drawing hand. I might get a couple more calls and perhaps win a nice pot should a flush hit. Sure enough, a guy with 5.79 calls on the button, the blinds fold and we take a three-handed flop.

The flop is Ks/7c/2h. Checked around. Turn brings the Ac, I bet, they fold.

A few folds later, I pick up hockey sticks in the hi-jack. With 8.35, I am feeling frisky and make it .30 to go. The small blind, with 9.95, calls and we take the flop heads up.

I am not real excited about the Jh/Kc/3s flop. That hits a trainload of hands the small blind would call with. It also misses a truckload of them, and when he checks, I continuation bet .40 into a .66 cent pot. I actually expect him to call and then check-fold the turn, but he ups my happiness meter 2 points by meekly folding.

This illustrates to me again the power of position. If he comes out firing, I am going to have to think long and hard about what to do. If it is one of those idiotic 1 or 2 blind bets into a 6 blind pot, I probably re-pop him. If it is a half size bet, I am on the fence over whether to call, fold, or raise. If it is a pot-size bet, I probably fold here.

Conversely, when he checks, I am pretty much locked into raising here. 7s are nice, but unlikely to win a show-down unimproved. Therefore it behooves me to put pressure on the opposition, best done by betting when they show weakness. It is easier to see their weakness if I see their move before I make mine.

The next hand I fold the small blind to a min-raise holding 4s/6d. Too bad, the flop was 6h/6s/4c. Would have been my second flopped boat with a trash hand in this session…but I folded them both. Wisely. Especially wisely as the turn and river were both tens and I would have lost to the A/10 holdings that boated up…

Which, by the way, leads indirectly back to one of my weaknesses. If I flop 6s full, I would be very tempted to slow-play. It feels like a pretty safe hand. If someone wants to beat it, they need pockets that pair or something unlikely like running cards that pair the board.

But when I slow-play, I seldom if ever manage to get the chips in by the river…UNLESS the opponent not only catches up, they pass me…and I get stacked with flopped 6s full verse rivered 10s full. This time I avoided it by the (correct) pre-flop fold…does anyone think when I checked the flop and bet the turn that the A/10 is folding?

Fresh off the smart fold, I pick up 10c/8d in the big blind. The small blind, with 6.84, click-raises. Often I have folded this lately, even though it looks, feels, and plays like something he could do with…well, there are 291 starting hands, my 10/8 block very few of them…any hand NOT containing the 10c/8d are in his range.

This time I call planning to call his flop raise, raise the turn and take it down.

The flop is the generic Qd/7d/3c. Hits a few hands he holds, misses most of them. He raises another .20, I call.

The turn is the Jh, hitting a few more hands I believe. He checks, I bet .50 expecting him to fold, he hesitates…almost times out…and calls.

Hmm. Did that Jack hit him? He on the possible but unlikely diamond flush draw? He have the 3, or a pair smaller than the Jack… 9s most likely as I hold a ten and eight, somewhat reducing his possibilities for those.

Regardless, I am going to tread carefully on the river. Barring the miracle non-diamond 9, there is really no card I am ecstatic about and I am kicking myself for wasting 90 cents…well, okay, 50 cents. Well, okay, not really upset…the hand went according to plan outside of his call. I built a plan for the hand, played the plan, and my opponent refused to co-operate.

The river is the 10h. I am not super excited about that. K/9, 8/9, 10/9 are all believable holdings that love that card. He checks.

Now…I have a marginal hand with marginal show-down value. Check behind and see what happens? I know if I raise and he re-pops I am folding so that is a wise course of action.

But the more I think about it, the more I think he has a missed draw. The hesitant call on the turn followed by the river check indicates either a weak hand that will fold…or a monster that will re-raise.

He has a couple hands he will fold that have me beat…a couple in his range that are weaker he will call with. Ultimately I am not sure if betting here is the right play or wrong play. I need to think about this a bit more.

As it turns out, on the hand, I bet another .90 cents into it. He expends his full 20seconds, asks for time, and finally folds.

Sitting behind 9.14 I open to .30 from utg+2. The button calls with 3.03 and we go to the flop heads up. The flop is 2c/Jh/6s. As the pre-flop aggressor, I am going to continuation bet here something like 99% of the time and I do so, leading out for .40cents.

He flat-calls and it is time to start putting him on a hand. A/K, A/Q, A/J, K/Q, K/J, maybe tens or similar pockets.

There are really no draws. He might be slow-playing a set of 6s or deuces, but I think that is unlikely. I think the most likely hand is a couple overs or something like A/10 suited where he is playing his Ace.

The turn is the 4d. This hits exactly zero hands he was playing…well, okay, if he has the 3/5 it hits him and I am going to get stacked. I bet pre-flop, I bet the flop, now I have a choice. I am pretty sure not only that I am ahead but that he is not going to catch up. So check or bet?

This is me. Clear answer; bet. I lead out for .80 and he again flat-calls. The river is the qd. There are now precisely 2 hands that beat me…pocket queens and 3/5. I need to figure out if it is better to bet or check.

There are no obvious draws here. He has something…but he seems more interested in seeing a cheap river than raising since he never re-popped me. I do not think he will bet, so I again half-pot it…which would still put him all in. He folds, sadly for me.

Now, going back over the hand, I wonder if I should have played it different. I had pocket Jacks so I flopped the nuts and ended with the third nuts. Not sure how to play them differently to get his whole stack. I actually like how I played it.

Perhaps the reasoning can be explained by the next memorable hand I play. With 10.88 I am in the big blind with Ad/2h. If anyone even click-raises I will fold in a heart-beat for reasons I have discussed elsewhere. There are 2 hands that can flop I love; 3 aces or 3 deuces on the flop. Otherwise, not too happy.

2 middle position guys with 7.20 and 23.20 limp, everyone else folds, and I check. A raise could be argued for here…but I really do not want to play a big pot out of position against 2 players with A/2.

The flop is pretty decent…2c/Ac/Jd. I am behind pocket Jacks which I believe would have been raised pre-flop but not much else. A/J...more believable, but I still would expect a pre-flop raise from that. I almost bet, then decide to check-raise instead.

This was a mistake. Both players limped…there is no reason to believe this hit either, so no reason to believe they will raise. Both check and the turn is the 9c. I check-fold to a bet.

I played this hand about as poorly as possible and instead of picking up a small pot, I won nothing. On the bright side…I lost just the big blind…but that is small consolation.

Sitting behind 9.78 I pick up pocket 4s on the button. I open to .30, the big blind calls with 2.80 and we see the 10c/9c/2s flop heads up.

This is a decent flop for me…A/10, A/9, K/10, Q/10, J/10 are really the main hands I think Trish1969 could be playing. I am not overly worried about that…she checks, I bet, she calls. Lots of people do, I expect her to check-fold the turn.

The turn is the Js…changes nothing. Unless she has something like K/J, if I was ahead before, I am ahead now. I guess a couple draws get there. She checks, I bet…she flat-calls.

Now I think the most likely hand is a flush draw. I will be very careful on the river. The river is the irrelevant 3. Unless she has pocket treys, I am in good shape. She checks and it is time to choose between checking and betting.

If she has the Q/K or a set, she will re-pop me. If she has the busted flush draw I suspect she will fold. If she had something that tagged the 9 or 10 and just wanted to see a cheap river, it is 50-50 what I should do. Ultimately I get the feeling she either has nothing or a huge hand…either way a bet wins nothing, but could lose a lot.

I check, fully expecting to see A/x and take down the pot. Instead I see her turn up…7d/Jc? What?

Let’s see. I guess the pre-flop sort of makes sense since a lot of people will defend their blind with about any two cards. Fair enough.

And a lot of people will also “just see what happens” on the turn…a move I use myself to take down a lot of pots by calling the flo and betting the turn…but that relies on calling in position.

In fact, that is exactly what I did myself earlier with the K/10. Of course, I did it in position...I seldom if ever do it out of position.

So on the turn, she suddenly hits a jack and now has top pair, gut shot straight draw. On the river, I have bet every step of the way, so there is no reason for her to bet. She has a marginal hand that wants to see a cheap showdown.

I do not like the pre-flop or flop play, but upon further review I sort of get her turn and river. I do not know I would have played it that way...but I am glad she did.

So here is a hand I think I actually played pretty well…and ended up losing 1.40. But I am okay with that much more than the hand I played poorly and “lost” .10 because I should have won a small but worthwhile pot.

So for the session, I think the lesson is clear. I really need to work on when to bet and when to check on the turn and river.


When Big Pockets go south

Started out with 4 bucks playing 5/10. The plan was to play tight, mostly set-mine. Raise 7+ from early, any pair from middle, call up to 30 cents in middle or later with about any pair. Raise Big Slick, A/Qs from middle or later, A/Jo from late. Everything else is a fold.

And the very first hand, pick up the cowboys in the big blind. UTG has 7.15 and bumps to .30, folded to me. Some players, better than me, would flat-call here. I do not because I tend to hold the hand too long…I would rather win .35 pre-flop (his raise + the blind) than play a hand out of position, particularly if an Ace flops.

I re-pop to .95, he calls. There is about 2 bucks in there, I have 3.05. The flop comes down Jc/9d/3c. The correct play here is to bet half the pot and shove the turn.

I have gotten drawn out on a lot lately and was feeling puckish. I decided it was going to cost him to draw out. Realizing Jacks were in his hand range but not much else I was not ahead of, I went ahead and went all-in. He folded.

I do not know if I like how I played the hand or not. I am really only getting called by MAYBE A/J, queens, aces, or a set. I guess some weak players would call on the flush draw, but they would be getting bad odds.

At the same time, it adversely affects my play when someone with some trash like a suited 10/7 sticks around and hits runner-runner. It should not bother me…I want to face those hands in this situation and have them call. But it has felt like I was running into that a lot lately…so take the .87 pick-up and move to the next hand.

2 folds later, I break my plan, opening to .20 from under the gun. A middle position player with 6.98 calls, as does the big blind with 24.66.

The flop is ugly, Ks/10d/8d. Many times I continuation bet here, having raised pre-flop. But on this board…K/Q, K/J, K/10, Q/J, Q/10, J/10, 7/8 suited, 9/10 suited as well as a variety of A/x suited that include an 8 or 10 all are well in the range of hands here. At the moment the only hands I am ahead of are things like A/Q, A/J, pocket treys.

It is checked around. If a baby falls on the turn I will take a stab at it…but it is the Jh. The big blind bets the pot and I fold.

I am quite happy with that outcome. I saw a speculative hand cheaply, did not send good chips after bad, and folded on a dangerous board. I am showing improvement.

3 folds later I pick up pocket 9s in early middle. I raise 3 times the blinds and everyone folds. Just the type of result I like on speculative hands.

6 folds later I have 4.72 and bump it to .30 from under the gun. A middle position guy with $8 calls as does the button with 4.78.

The flop is pretty decent, Qs/Jd/7h. I am ahead of lots of reasonable holdings such as A/Q, A/J, Q/J, medium pockets, and behind sets. I bet the pot…and they both call.

The first call does not bother me…the over-call does. Time to tread cautiously. The 3s falls on the turn.

Now, I have to believe one of the opponents has a set…but for whatever reason, I convince myself one has the queen, the other the jack, and shove. I see a re-raise call in and call, and they flip up pocket queens and jack ten.

Neither hand surprises me, and the J/10 was exactly the type hand I was hoping to see. But I played like a complete tool and, when a ten fell on the river, ended with the third best hand.

If there was just one caller on the flop a shove might be good here…but against 2 callers, the Aces are drawing thin. It requires discipline to lay them down…discipline I did not show.
I played poorly and I paid for it.

That is definitely a hole in my game. I need to stop over-valuing big pairs and recognize the prevalence of sets in Rush poker.


Random Hands

I find Aces difficult to play sometimes. Like many weak players, I tend to hold on to them too long even when it is obvious I am behind or even drawing dead. So my goal often becomes to get it all in pre-flop if possible…prevents me having to make tough decisions.

Sitting behind 56 big blinds on the button, I am happy to look down at two black aces. Ideally, one person will raise, another re-raise, and I can raise all-in.

UTG+1, with 77bb, opens 3 times the big blind and gets calls from two middle position guys with 90 and 38 big blinds. Perfect. There are 10.5 big blinds in the pot when it gets to me.

I re-raise all-in. Ideally, the first guy has queens or kings and another guy has A/K and a loose idea of good calls. Second best would be everyone folding which is what happens.

It is perhaps a sign of me being a poor player that I am ecstatic to take down 10.5 blinds with no risk rather than see 2 or 3 players call since I know their combined chance of winning is better than mine even though my individual percentage chance is better than either of their individual chances.

Shortly thereafter, I have 64 bb and pick up 8c/6c in the big blind. As a general rule, I routinely fold suited one-gappers. I play them poorly and they have long been a losing proposition for me. On this occasion, it is folded to the big blind who, sitting behind 120 bb, opens to 3 bb.

An easy fold, even though more often than not the sb is raising position. For some inexplicable reason, I call.

Actually, I had a very specific reason. More often than not the small blind who raises here will continuation bet the flop, then check-fold the turn after I flat-call the flop and bet the turn when they check it. That play has a very high rate of success but I still usually only make it when I have something like suited connectors, a dry ace, maybe K/Q off.

So really, my cards do not matter, I am playing a scenario.

The flop is a mixed bag…6s/Kc/Qc. I pick up bottom pair with no kicker and a garbage flush draw. He bets about 2/3rd the pot. I flat-call it, expecting the normal check-fold on the turn…and having plenty of outs if not.

The turn is a blank, the 3s. He bets 2/3 pot again, I flat-call it. The river is again a blank, the 7s. He checks. The pot is mine, I just need to send in the chips and he will fold…but I meekly check behind.

That is a huge mistake. The only hands he could have that I am beating here are things like A/x clubs, 10/J, maybe a pair of 5s. But many of the hands that have me beat will fold to a bet here the way the hand played out.

And, in fact, he would have folded…showing the 10d/2d. He was playing the “battle of the blinds, he will fold” card and my draw won me a nice pot. But it does not excuse my poor river play. I think I needed to bet there and got cautious when my draws missed. I was never playing the draw, it was not relevant to my river action.

Conversely, the same holds true for him. I do not think my busted draw/near-bottom pair could call even the most modest of bets there.

Later on, sitting behind 33 bb, I am in late position with Kh/qh. This is the type of hand I do not mind opening with but hate to call. It is right in the happy zone of all too many hands that either dominate it…A/K, A/Q, pocket Kings and Queens…or that want it to hit, like A/x suited.

I am not a good enough player to know when I am beat or to lay down the second nuts so it is a hand I typically stay away from. On this occasion I am in the cutoff. The hijack opens to 3xbb with 113 big blinds behind and I call. Everyone else folds.

The flop comes down Kd, 4s, 3s. This is exactly the type of flop I love/hate. I have top pair, good kicker…and am right in the happy zone of a lot of hands in his range, but way ahead of many other hands in his range….4+, suited aces. Lets see what the action is.

He bets a third of the pot…a feeler-type bet or a trap. It screams weakness…I am going to weight his range more towards something like Jacks or tens, nervous about the king. I put in a good size raise, about 1-1/3 times the pot. At this point, I am committed…I am seeing the river. He re-pops all in.

Well now, that changes things. Aces, A/K, pocket Kings…pocket 4s…pocket 3s…all hands in his range and all hands he wants to get it all in here. Of course, so are things like suited Ace of spades, the aforementioned medium pockets, and several other things I can beat.

If I have 50 or 100 big blinds, I probably have to fold here, but being a bit short-stacked, I bite my lip in frustration and call. I think I wanted him to fold when I re-raised his weak feeler. He shows up with Ks/10c…top pair, worse kicker, and a back door flush draw.

For what it is worth…my hand held up and I doubled up with a pair of Kings, Queen kicker…not necessarily a situation I want to be in very often! I do not know if I played this hand horribly or very well. I would believe either. Since he re-raised all-in and I called based on my holdings and a pseudo-read...

A while later I am in the big blind with Ah/2h with 60 big blinds. The cut-off opens to 3 big blinds with 114 behind everyone else folds.

I normally fold here. I am out of position, trying for a 1 in 15ish shot at the nut flush with no other hand making me happy. For some reason I called.

The flop was about as good as it could be, a 6s/Kh/8h giving me the nut flush draw. This is good and bad…it is good because I hit the hand I was playing for. It is bad because…well, it will be hard to get paid off if I hit and cost me a pretty penny if I do not since I tend to stick with my draws too long based on the classic “implied odds”.

He bets almost a pot-size bet. I am not getting the correct exact odds by far, but my implied odds, I convince myself, are good enough…I call.

The turn is the jackpot…the 5h. I check and he checks behind. The river is the 2s. Now I face a decision. I have the absolute to get him to pay off?

I have check-called all the way. I can check and hope he bets, lead out with anywhere from a half-pot to a full pot…or try to look like a bluff. I choose that. With 16 bb in the pot, I raise all in with my last 52 big blinds. It is a horrible bet that makes no sense. I was trying to look like I was bluffing.

He called with Kd/9d…a pair of Kings. Yeah, he paid off with top pair, modest kicker on a flush board. Woo-hoo! There is a reason TJ Cloutier advises not playing K/9 and why I routinely fold it.

So sitting behind 112 big blinds, I am getting into that hazy zone. I had hit a really rough patch over the course of several weeks where when I got it in good…say, pocket Aces against pocket jacks…I would get out-drawn. Then I would get frustrated and push a draw or just two big cards or a clearly out-drawn pair too hard and give back every chip I had won and more.

I was losing buy-ins hand over fist.

So typically, I have been starting with 40 big blinds and rat-holing once I get to about 80 bb. I just did not want to lose what I had won all in one go. This has the interesting side-effects of A) forcing me to play tighter and B) keeping me from playing speculative hands which I tend to play poorly.

So to be sitting on that many buy-ins, there was a real danger of either A) playing scared which leads to folding when I should not or B) playing afraid of playing scared, which means over-valuing my hand and sticking with it when obviously beat.

And under the gun I pick up one of those troubling hands…pocket Jacks. I raise to 3 big blinds, get called by a guy with 210 big blinds, and the big blind also calls with 36 big blinds.

Great…I am sandwiched between someone who will probably be willing to move in with a pretty wide range and a guy playing deep-stack, I have a hand that will most likely see over cards on the flop and, as the pre-flop better, I already know I plan to continuation bet.

The flop is about as bad as it can be…Ks/9c/Ad. Big Slick, A/Q, A/J, A/10, K/Q, pocket nines…all those hands have me crushed and are quite believable. I am not too nervous about pocket Kings or Aces…but I am way behind their ranges.

Big blind leads out with a pot-size bet, I triple his bet. The deep-stack guy takes his time but finally calls. I do not like that. It feels like he hit a big hand and is trying to figure out if it is better to get the chips in now or try and bring the big blind along.

The turn is a blank, the 4h. No flush draws. The big blind checks, I check behind, deep stack piledrives his last 200 blinds in.

That screams strength to me. He did not bother to size his bet, just shipped them. The big blind calls and I am done with the hand. Time to figure out what they had.

I am thinking the big blind has a soft ace or a stupid draw, maybe the 10/J, A/J, or A/10 type thing hoping to hit a straight or that his Ace is good. The other guy feels like A/K, maybe suited A/9, pocket Aces or, unlikely but possible with his turn move on the 4, pocket 4s or even A/4..
Well…sort of. The move-in was with Aces up, he did indeed have A/K and I got away from the hand relatively cheaply, just 12 bb lost. But the Big Blind?

He over-called with K/6. He over-called a re-raise with K/6. He called an all-in with K/6. Wow. That is just…that is awful. I feel pretty good about my play on the hand comparatively! Not sure about my re-raise…but other than that I am satisfied.

The good thing about hands like this is they really help me establish how people play various hand ranges. I mean, I do not really expect people to play K/6 in that situation, but people defend their big blind with all sorts of trash and I need to take that into account in blind battles.
I also need to be more willing to release my hand on flops like that. I know I said I was planning to raise regardless of flop…but upon further review, maybe that was not so good.

To be sure, often enough my opponent folds on a continuation bet or re-raise on a flop like this…but that is against ONE opponent. It stretches the bounds of credibility I would be facing TWO or more opponents without an Ace or big pocket pair in their hand. I should have saved that bet.
But at least I am thinking about it and learning. Getting better. And that makes me happy.