Hand by Hand: Conclusion

A button open with Jacks in the next hand wins the blinds.

Another button open with Qc/Ah pulls down the blinds. I am happy with that. Slowly but surely building my stack a little at a time. No big confrontations, no tough decisions…I like it.

Middle position limps with 4.37, the button calls with 1.83, the small blind completes with .69…yes, 14 big blinds…and I check with one of those hands I hate, the 7h/Kd. Outside of K/K/7 or K/7/7 there are not a lot of flops I like with this many people involved.

So when the flop is 7s/9h/3c, I have to decide…check-fold or take a stab with second pair, decent kicker? I decide the latter. The first limper calls my .10 bet, everyone else folds. Since there are no draws except maybe a gut shot of some sort, I have to figure I am likely behind.
But when the Ad falls, I fire another .20 at it and he calls. I am done with this hand. Barring a river 7 I put no more into this pot.

The river Jd does nothing to change my mind, I check, and…he checks behind with 5s/4s. He played for the gut shot, missed, and I win a small pot with a small hand.

For the most part, that is what I should be doing. Sometimes I am a little too ready to get involved in a big pot with a small hand. That is a real weakness I need to understand and correct.

UTG limps with 4.83, the cutoff limps with 3.55, I have pocket sixes and the button (and 7.75) so I come along, the sb completes with 4.42 and the button checks with 6.76.

The flop is the 8d/Kc/2s. No real draws, maybe the King or 8 got hit, maybe someone has sevens or nines…but I feel good about this. UTG bets .15, folded to me, I call, everyone else folds. The turn is the 8h, he checks, I bet .35, he folds. Perfect.

A bet does not always mean they have something…or that they will back up the something they have…the trick is discerning a real, “I played pocket 8s and want to get it all in starting with a half pot bet” and a “I doubt anyone will call if I bet half the pot” bet.

Middle position makes a weird raise to .12 with 2.02. I am in the hi-jack with Ac/Ks and promptly bump it to .50. Everyone folds.

Next hand, the sb limps with 2.10 and I check my option with 8.24 and the 8c/5d power house. The 2c/Qd/7s does not exactly make me do the happy dance, but when he checks I think a pot bet of .10 will take it down. I am wrong, he calls.

The Ad sees a check, I raise to .20, he click-raises. Normally I re-raise a real raise here expecting a fold, but now I am playing with the “I am up over 6 bucks, I should play smart” mindset…never mind that playing smart means busting his poor play. Instead I fold.

Then I turn around and open the As/9d from the button. A hand I routinely fold. They do it for me and I pick up the blinds.

Mp limps with 5.44 and, with As/Jc in the hi-jack, I re-raise to .20, a play I seldom make. I do not want to get involved in a big pot with the Greek Hero (A/J is sometimes called Ajax), though I know the limper often either folds or check-folds the flop. This time I make the “correct” play…at least, correct for most players.

And am rewarded with taking it down uncontested.

Later a button open with 4h/Kh also takes down the blinds. I would not call a raise or even limp with that…but I can open raise with it.

Sadly, the next hand I am on the button again with 3c/7c and open fold it. That is a clear mistake.

I also open fold 7h/6d from the small blind. Not that it is a monster by any stretch of the imagination…but it is a symbol I am losing my aggression for fear of losing my stack. It is not a death knell for the session…but certainly is a warning sign.

I somewhat disprove that with an open from the hijack to .15 with Kd/9d and 7.87. The big blind calls with 4.05.

The flop is the Qh/5d/6c. He checks, I bet .25 instead of .20, and he re-pops to 1.07 almost instantly. I actually dip into my time bank thinking. Certainly Queens, fives, or sixes are all possible pockets, as is something like 5/6 for 2 pair.

With a raise like that, I see no reason to continue the hand. He called out of position, so I should credit him for some sort of hand. He then check-raised with authority, not the little click-raise. I have to think I am beat. I finally make the right move and fold.

However, I am down to 7.47 in just a couple hands. This makes me sad. But I still open on the button with a wider range of hands than normal…like the Kd/9c. Now I have to decide…am I opening with a wider range because I think people will fold…or am I desperately trying to regain what I “lost”?

I open in the cut-off with 10s/Jc and the big blind calls with 5 even. That often represents someone on their first hand which, in turn, often means someone who wants action and is not “on their game” yet.

The flop is 5d/Jd/2c. I like it. I like it less when he leads out for .25, but no way am I laying this down yet. I call to see what happens on the turn.

The turn is a brick, the 4h. I guess A/3 makes sense, but otherwise…nah. He bets .65 and I call with top pair, weak kicker. I probably will not call much more on the river.

But then the river is the 10h and he shoves 3.95 all in. I go into the tank. I cannot put him on a hand, but ultimately think A/J is the most likely. I know I should fold, but I just keep screaming “top two pair” and call…to see him turn up pocket Jacks. Ouch.

I played like a tool and should not have called that river. Even if he did not have jacks. What hands can he play like that which I can beat? A/3 and 3/6, or pocket fives or deuces. I got greedy and got hit. Hard.

Now I am all the way down to 2.47.

Four hands later I open to .15 utg with Jc/Jh. The next seat calls with 2.72, a fold, a call with 9.57 and the big blind calls with 9.62.

The 2d/7c/6h flop sees the big blind lead out for a nickel. I pretend it did not happen and raise to .35, a fold, and a raise to .70. Right there I should be done with the hand but instead I shove and am called by pocket 6s. In 2 hands I go from 7.47 to stacked with 2 poor plays.

I tardily decide to wrap it up.

Going over my session like this is really good for me. I waited a couple of weeks so I could think through the hand and see how close I came to actually figuring out how it would play out. I was surprised a few times, but my style is definitely set.

And the biggest weakness I see is staying with hands long after I am obviously beat...like the last two hands.

So I know what to work on for sure and that is a good thing.


Hand by Hand 12

The button opens to .15 with 8.78 and with pocket 8s I call on the button. The flop is the Kc/3s/Jd. I should probably either raise or check-raise here, but I check-call a wimpy .05 bet.

That puts me in bad position for the hand. The Qh on the turn is an ugly, ugly card. If I am not going to lead out, I need to be done with the hand. He bets .38 and I again call.

So to this point in the hand I have played passively. A re-raise pre-flop or on the flop would have been good. By the turn it does not matter…I have shown too much weakness. When the 3h falls and I check, I have pretty much, via my passive play, locked myself into a crying call for another half or ¾ pot bet.

I think I was probably ahead throughout the hand, though certainly A/10+ are all very believable as well, as are K/10 type hands…but when he fires 1.78 into the 1.11 pot…and I have 1.77 left… it just is not a good idea to call.

If I “defined the hand” earlier…maybe. But by not re-raising pre-flop, not raising on the flop or turn, I pretty much gave him free rein. I was badly outplayed on this hand.

Middle position open limps with 8.90, the hi-jack…who I have noticed plays lots of position poker…raises to .22 with 15.31, I call with 6h/Ah and the limper calls.

I am more calling based on position and knowing how hijack plays than my cards…I anticipate the flop raise, turn check and my raise taking it down. This is complicated by the limper also calling. Now I kind of need to actually hit my hand.

The flop is Kh/Js/9h. I have the nut flush and backdoor straight draws. But when it is checked to me, I check instead of raising. I do not want to get check-raised off the hand.

The turn is beautiful, the 10h. Lots of straight possibilities, I have the nuts. And the limper leads out for .35, gets raised to .90 by the hijack. If I raise again, it probably ends the hand. I call and the limper obligingly does as well. So suddenly we have a big pot.

The river 7h means only 6h/8h or 8h/Jh beat me…and I am not really considering either of those hands. For all intents and purposes I have the nuts. They both check, I shove my last .65. The limper re-raises, and I think he has either the straight or, more likely, a relatively high flush.
Yep, he shows the Qh/8c.

Uh…what? You limped from early middle, over-called a raise and call and kept going in that hand? Well played. Please, play like that much more often. I want to be in many, many pots with you.

I am happy that I was only .65 short of maximizing my potential win in the hand…had the hijack called that, it would have been perfect.

In fact, backing this up, he went to the river in the next hand, calling an all in with K/J off on the Q high flop.

Quite a few folds later, the utg limps with 2.06, utg+1 thinks for a bit then bumps it to .20 with 2.14, I am middle position with As/Ks. I can call hoping to get more callers and flop a flush draw or I can raise trying to win right then. I choose the latter and bump it to .75 with 4.35. Only the raiser calls.

I think he probably has a medium or high pair…say 7/7+ most likely. Other hands are, of course, possible…drawing hands like suited Aces, connectors…but the hesitation, then decision to raise seems like a pair.

Be that as it may, with 1.60 in the pot and him having 1.30 or so left, the odds all the chips do not go in on the flop seem slender.

And when the flop comes 4h/8c/Ah, he leads out for .05. As usual, I think he is either afraid of the Ace and wants to stop a bigger bet by me or he has a set and is hoping for a re-raise. I re-pop and he folds.

The next hand, utg opens to .15 with 9.64. I call from the cut-off with pocket 4s and 5.16. The flop is Ks/3d/Ac. He checks. If he missed, he might fold to a bet, if he hit he will check-raise. I think he is setting a trap, but I lead out for .20 anyway and he takes his time…then folds. Interesting.

I actually half suspected he had something like A/K and wanted me to bet. I almost checked, but if I check here, he bets the turn and if it is not a 4, I fold every time. If it is a 4, I want to play a small pot because I will feel like he has a set. Many people who flop sets automatically check the flop and try to shove the turn. So I still think the bet was mandatory here, even thinking he was going to check-raise.

It is a form of pot control. If he check-calls, I am probably ahead, a check-raise I fold. So I like the play in that case.

I then win a pot with 4 high when everyone folds to my big blind holding of 3d/4c.
UTG+1 open with hockey sticks picks up the blinds.

The very nxt hand I have pocket Jacks on the button. UTG+1 limps with 9.43, mp limps with 9.85, the cutoff limps with 6.71 and I bump it to .35 with 5.45. MP and the cutoff call and we have 1.20 or so in the pot, I have position and a pair.

The flop is pretty good for my hand, the 9d/2s/6h. They check, I bet .65, they fold. This game is easy (when you have better cards).

The next hand the sb limps with 6.16 and I check with 10c/6d and 6.18.

The flop is the 10s/9h/Qh. He checks, I bet the pot and he surprises me with a call. We both check the 3c. The river is the 3s. I think I am probably ahead, he probably has a dry ace or maybe a Jack to give him a straight draw, maybe a small pair. I bet .15 on the river…no need to go crazy and build a big pot. He calls with Ah/4h….missed flush draw, dry Ace. Nice.

A little later I make a curious call. UTG limps with 8.25, I am in the cut-off with 6.42 and 7h/8h and elect to limp along. I do not mind an open raise here, but think being second limper is begging for a re-raise that I will fold to. As it turns out the big blind checks with 15.00.

The flop is 2c/Qc/2s. We check it around. The 9h on the turn gets two checks. I bet .10 expecting folds. Instead I see a click-raise and call. Normally a click-raise gets a big re-raise from me here…but with the call, I fold.

The river 4h should change nothing. It completes no draws, pocket 4s are unlikely here, a Q/4 or 2/4 is just too bizarre. UTG leads out for .20 and gets raised to 4.24 and called.

What? Did we have pocket Queens slow-playing? Something like an A/2? Pocket 9s? Nothing else really makes sense to me. I guess Kings or Aces or maybe an A/Q or A/9…but the latter two seem like bad plays to me. Someone must have a boat here. Maybe even queens versus nines.

Aha. Yes, the big raise shows pocket queens. He flopped the boat and waited. Well played. The other guy…well…he limped with 2h/7s, flopped trips, and called what really had to be a boat on the river. I got off easy.

UTG+1 click-raises with 7.26 and, in the big blind with 9h/ah, the better than 3-1 pot odds make calling seem like an okay play. A 10d/7c/2d flop does not get me too excited, I check, he bets another .10 and I fold. Not a good place to go to war with no hand and no draw.

Middle position limps with 11.45, the cut-off bumps it to .15 with 3.90, I have the button and Jd/Jh. I probably should re-raise here, but I am afraid of a big re-raise that drives me off the hand. Note that this could be a good thing if I am against Q/Q+ or if an Ace or King flops since then I will know they are more likely to hold that card.

By calling passively, I give anyone with something like A/Q proper odds to draw to it since they determined the bet size and I never gave them a chance to fold. Then again…Jacks are not Queens, Kings or Aces, so maybe I SHOULD play for the set.

Anyway, utg calls, and along comes that feared flop…Ah/Qd/9d. I am not behind lots of hands. The preflop limp/caller thinks for a bit, then bets .30. I think if he actually hit this, he lets the raiser bet. This time the raiser folds, so I call to see what the turn brings.

The turn brings another Queen and he bets .40. Now, normally I fold here. There is an Ace I cannot beat and a Queen that has me drawing almost dead as well. He has shown strength twice…but…BUT…

The limp/call does not scream Aces, A/K or A/Q to me. It screams smaller hand. By flat-calling the flop I also indicated weakness. He then, instead of ramping up the raise, only added .10 to it. Instead of half pot, he goes quarter pot. It is entirely possible he has something like nines or tens. I decide to take one more card off and call the .40.

The river is a brick in every sense of the word, the 2s. He now min-bets. I am sure I am ahead, but not so sure I want to turn it into a big pot. I call and he shows…5d/kd.

I never put him on that hand but perhaps should of. That draw was there on the flop and fits the way he played the hand…cautious pre-flop, semi-bluff the flop, defensive bet on the turn and fish bet the river.


Hand by Hand 11

Having achieved my goal, I restart with 2. First hand the button limps with 2.86, I check with 4s/2d and the flop arrives Ks/4c/Kd. Agh. Why could he not raise and get rid of me? I should raise here but I check and he checks behind. When the 5h turns, I raise and he folds.

These hands scare me. I am most likely ahead…but not definitely…and I do not want to get involved in a marginal hand in a big pot. But a pretty good result to start me off.

Soon I am in the big blind with As/4s. With 4 people having called a raise by the time it gets to me, I feel good about my 5-1 odds and call. The flop makes me even happier, the 4d/4c/9c. But it gets checked around. The turn is the 2s and I have a decision.

I most likely have the best hand, but I do not want to give someone 2 free shots at the club flush and I also do not want to have the pot never grow. I bet half the pot and everyone folds.

So I am feeling pretty good, I have 2.28 and pick up Kd/Ks in middle position. I make the standard raise and get click-raised by the hijack with 3.10. For some inexplicable reason, people think a click raise of .10 will get someone who has raised to .15 to fold.

I cannot imagine they would…although the open to .15 is only a 10 cent raise over the blind, it FEELS like a .15 because that is how much you are putting in voluntarily. Well, I have a big hand, I think he is making a move and I pop it to .85. I am mildly surprised when he calls.

Now there is 1.85 in the pot, I have 1.43 left and think he has some sort of medium pair. I plan to shove the flop. I should reconsider when it comes Jd/Ac/Jc. If he has an Ace…unlikely but possible…he calls. I doubt the jack but again…possible. I shove anyway and he snap calls with Jh/Qh, then turns the Js to give him the nuts.

Oops. But…if he insists on calling big re-raises with Qh/Jh I want to be in a lot of hands with him. He stacked me this time but I will get him many times in the long run.

I am not particularly bothered but take a break for a while, then come back and start again with 2. A middle position guy limps with 4.86 and I check in the big blind with pocket deuces.
This is actually one of the types of hand I like. I have a well disguised hand if I flop a set and have excellent implied odds. *** FLOP *** [5s Kh 2d]

Oh, I like that. Ideally he has something like K/Qs and we can get it all in. I check, he checks behind. The turn is the 9d. Now there is a diamond draw, he should have at least a gut shot. I bet the pot, he calls.

The river is the 7h and I am disappointed. I do not think I will get much action but I bet .25 and he click raises. I bump it to 1.00 and he calls. Probably a medium pair, maybe even two pair.

But no, he shows Ac/As. Yet again the “clever” ploy of limping with Aces costs 22 big blinds.

Now, admittedly I most likely call a standard raise in this situation, but at least then he charged me to draw at it and has some idea where I am. As is, he has no clue if I have paired the 9 or if I have something like 2/7 and hit two pair with a classic big blind hand. He is beat by numerous hands, played very passively beginning to end. I think he played very badly, but then again…I flopped a set and did not get it all in so how bad did I play?

So the next hand I play I am again in middle position with pocket faces…Jc/Jd and 3.00. I open to .15, the button click-raises with 4.89 and for whatever reason, instead of re-raising as I should, I simply call.

I am not overly excited by the 7c/9h/Qc but I lead out for half the pot anyway and he calls. The turn is the 5d, I lead out for .50 and he calls. Okay, I am not liking this. He is not afraid of the Queen, I am, I think I am done with this hand.

The river is the 6h, I check, he checks behind…and shows Kd/Kc. Well…I bet .90 into a better hand. But perhaps that saved me facing bigger bets and I did get to see a showdown…small consolation as I got outplayed in the hand. Then again…I would have called a raise to .65 or .85 pre-flop so I kind of got off easy with his fish-raise.

I stop playing for a while, then I reload to 2.00. This is probably a mistake. Whether playing well or poorly, when I start losing big pots I tend to keep losing big pots.

First hand I have Qh/9c in the big blind. The small blind opens to .15 and I make my standard position call. The flop is the 4d/Ah/10h, he bets a weird amount, .26. A pot bet would be .30. So he had to do that deliberately. I call anyway with nothing. The turn is the 5s, he checks, I bet .40, he folds. Life is good again.

The next hand the utg opens to .10 with 8.60, I call from the middle with 2.34 and As/7s, the button calls with 8.44 and the three of us take the flop with about .37 in the pot.

The flop is the 5c/5h/Ac. UTG bets .15, I call, The turn is the 2d, he bets .30 and I call. Problem is…I am beating A/6, A/4 and A/3. I am behind every other ace and any hand holding a 5. I am ahead of every other hand.

The river is the 10c and he shoves his last 8.05 all in. Now I have a tough decision. The pot is 1.19, I have 1.79, so I am getting less than 3-1 on the call…but I think he has the Ace. It is possible he is bluffing here, but will he be bluffing more than 2 times in three? I cannot convince myself he would and fold.

So now I am down to 1.77 and pick up pocket queens in the small blind. Naturally everyone folds to me, so I try to make it look like I am just making a position raise and open to .20. He folds anyway.

Middle position has 3.62 and click-raises. I am on the button with 1.72 and Ad/9d. I make the somewhat loose call, the small blind comes along with 3.54 and the big blind folds.

The flop is Jc/5d/Kh. They both check and I think it is probably a real check. Barring pocket pairs that match the board, nothing is strong enough to check raise here. I lead out with my dry ace, they fold and I take it down.

I then open to .15 utg with 10c/10h and the button, with 4.93, raises to 1.95…exactly the amount to put me all in. I use that raise myself with a strong hand from time to time. I figure he has Aces or Kings…either way, I am not calling all in with tens.

Of course, as bad as the hands I sometimes see people get it all in with, maybe I should…but I think I am a better player than that. I fold.

Middle position limps with 2.93 and, with 1.80, on the button I have Qc/Ks. I usually fold this, but this time I have my heart set on playing it…and think I can take it down pre-flop. I raise to .20. The big blind calls with 1.94 abd so does the original limper.

The flop is 2s/Jh/7c and the big blind leads out for .25. The original limper folds. I think if he actually hit that…say 10/J+…he check-raises here. He has nothing. I raise to .65, for the second time putting in a re-raise with a trash hand. I must be right about him having nothing as he folds.

The cut-off then limps, the small blind completes and I check with 5c/7c. I do not mind seeing a flop cheap with this hand. I will flop a straight or flush draw or be done…unlike K/4, this hand has potential.

The flop is the 6s/Kh/3h. Gut shot, nothing to get excited about. The sb and I check, the cutoff raises .05, I am planning to call when the sb takes time, then check-raises to .25. I fold. He has something like 2 pair or a set or a really nice draw like a 4/5 hearts…which I would believe.

The sb calls and the turn is the 3d. The sb takes time to think then raises to .25. Cut-off raises to .60 and gets called.

Now I think set over set is a remote possibility.

The river is the 4s. Only a 5/7 is helped by that. Again the small blind raises to .35, gets re-raised to .90, and click raises to 1.45. This garners a big re-raise, but a pointless one as sb has but .17 left and calls.

The limper shows 3c/6c…the two pair I posited. And wins against K/8, also a two pair hand, but one with one pair on the board, which means the full house takes it down. Glad I got out of that mess! I would have hit the straight on the river with less raising by those two.

And that is the thing...sometimes it is not the hands you play that make you happy...it is the ones you see other people play that you fold where they would have hit what seems like a big hand...and get clocked.

This is one reason I play suited connectors seldom and cautiously...I have hit higher flushes too many times.

Somehow I need to figure out how to get away from big confrontations with second best hands.


Hand by Hand 10; Achieving the goal

Here is a weird little play. UTG times out, utg+1 limps with 3.78, a couple folds, the hi-jack bumps it to .15 with 2.90, I fold the Qd/8h on the button, the small blind shoves his last 1.14 and gets a call from the limper.

If I am in the hand I give the shove 4/4+, maybe a suited Ace, A/10+. I give the caller 9/9+, A/Q+, and so forth. Or the original raiser could show Kd.Jc and be facing a call from Ad/7h.

I really do not have words to describe that. I think I am still a sub-par ring game player. I am working hard to figure out what I am doing wrong. But my quality is outstanding compared to these two guys…

I will, of course, open from the button with 6h/7h. I am not unhappy when they fold and I pick up the blinds.

I then make an unusual fold. UTG takes time, then raises to .30, a whopping 6 times the blinds. This screams either weakness or Aces. He has 7.33. I have 14.39, pocket 3s, and am two seats off the button.

I often call here trying to flop a set and stack people. This time, the combination of weak hand and too large raise induces a fold despite the implied odds being correct for a call.

From mp I open to .15 with 14.34 and Ah/8h. The ideal is to get everyone to fold with flopping a flush draw against multiple callers being second choice. The next seat calls with 5.75, the big blind comes along with 1.18 and that makes me less happy. He can shove the flop and if I miss I will have no odds.

The flop is the Qs/Ac/Jc. I have top pair, but that is one ugly board. Big blind checks, I raise. 25, the next seat click-raises, big blind folds, and I call. The turn is the 9h. I should lead out here…usually people fold there. But I check and he shoves his last 1.47.

So basically I am getting 2-1 on a call. I need to have the better hand one time in three. I am behind most aces, behind Q/J, any hand holding a ten…there are just entirely too may hands I am drawing dead to and almost none I can beat. I fold.

So now I am going in reverse, down to 13.69. It does not ‘feel” like I am playing worse, but I am starting to lose hands. I again consider rat holing but the desire to complete the challenge keeps me going.

The small blind takes his time when it is folded to him, then opens to .15 with 1.88. I often call here with sub-standard holdings planning to call a flop bet, then when they check the turn, bet to take it down. I do just that with 8d/Qh.

The flop is good for my plan, the 4c/3s/Ks. He bets .20 and I call. The turn is the Kd, he checks, I bet .35, he folds. Okay, now I feel better. Pretty obviously I played the position and situation rather than the cards because a Queen high is not very good…

UTG+1 with 13.98 and 6s/6d I am back to my raising ways. I get a call from mp with 2.95 and then the cut-off, with 5.98, raises to 1.00. A good raise…unless the other guy comes along I have the wrong odds. I fold.

From the cut-off I open with 5c/Kc. The big blind calls with 11.64. I do not want to get too deep with someone who could hurt me that badly, that is for sure.

The flop is the harmless 4c/9d7d. There is a chance of course he holds a pocket pair matching that or some sort of straight or flush draw, but I am probably ahead. He checks, I bet, he calls. Okay, not my favorite moment, but not a big deal. He probably check-folds the turn.

But the 8c was a really, really ugly card. I have a perhaps exaggerated fear of the J/10 which of course just completed the nut straight. On the bright side, I picked up a flush draw and a gut-shot to the ignorant end of the straight. He checks and I bet, figuring to take it down or face a check-raise. He actually calls and I am mystified. Unless, of course, he is on one of the flush draws.

The river gives me the unlikely flush with the 9c…thus also pairing the board. When he checks I think I have the hand won and actually decide to value bet. I raise .60, he calls, I how my flush and he shows the 8s/10h. He flopped the open end straight and could not get away from second pair. Nice.

Even nicer, I am now at 14.98, a whopping 2 cents short of my goal. One blind steal will get me there.

And the next hand I pick up the best possible hand, Ac/Ah. The small blind opens to .15, I repop from the big blind and he folds.I made my goal and now rat hole.

I should point out that was not always my goal. My initial goal was to simply play well. I enjoy playing as long as I think I am making the right decisions. But when I got close to 15 I twice went for it, wanting to complete what I think is a particularly difficult Academy challenge.

The first time it cost me, the second time it worked out and I pick up a nice win.


Hand by Hand 9; Goal in sight

When utg+1 limps with 5.78 I put him on a weak drawing hand. Having a weak drawing hand myself in the 8c/9h I decide to see if I can take a cheap flop and use position to win a hand if a big card flops. The big blind checks with 5.16 and we watch the 5d/Qc/Qs drop. Perfect.
They both check, I bet .10, they fold.

You would think this is good…but it might be bad. I would not mind had I raised pre-flop but I start calling more often.

UTG opens to .15 with 5. I have a couple notes on him and, when he gets click-raised by the cut-off with 2.21. I am on the button with 3h/Ah and elect to call. Click-raises over a standard raise scream weakness and I can possibly call a continuation bet on the flop and take it away on the turn. Of course, that assumes the original raiser does not make a substantial re-raise…which he does not, just calling.

The flop is 9s/Ac/6d. I am not super happy about the Ace…I would almost rather miss completely. Check, the re-raiser bets .25 and I call, the original raiser folds. The river is the 7d which completes a couple draws but is not too dangerous, he checks, I raise, he folds. The plan works.

So utg I decide if I can call with A/3 suited, I can open with A/5 suited and everyone agrees. They must agree…they folded.

UTG opens with 5.31, UTG+1 calls with 8.68 and I have 6.78 and two red nines. I also call. Everyone else folds, giving me the button. The flop is the 5d/Ah/6d. We check it around.

A bet might be in order here, but I do not want to get check-raised off the hand. The Jd also gets checked to me, and that changes things. There is now a flush on the board, everyone has twice shown weakness. There is still the chance of a check-raise, but I am not winning the hand in a showdown. I bet .30 and they both fold.

A couple hands later, UTG opens to .30 with 4.99 and I am in middle position with pocket threes. I call, everyone else folds.

The flop is the Jh/7h/5h. He leads out for .36 cents, a pot size bet. Often I will call here planning to take it away on the turn. This time, however, I think the situation is different. The flop is dangerous, it hits several hands I think he holds..like pocket 7s, pocket 5s.

There is a possibility he folds to a re-raise, but I was really trying to flop a set. I missed, the flop is dangerous, why play a big pot? Easy fold.

I open on the button with 6.91 and Kh/2h. This is at the bottom range of hands I will open with. I anticipate a fold, but if I face some resistance, I might flop the lucky flush. The big blind does indeed call with 4 even.

The flop is the 10s/Qg/4d. He checks, I bet .20, he calls. The turn is the 7s, he checks, I bet .35 expecting him to fold. He calls. The river is the Ac and he checks for the third time. I try to puzzle through what he has. No obvious draws on the flop except something like K/J or J/9, he has played passively.

My best guess is second or third pair with a modest kicker. I think he might lay it down to a third barrel, so I bet again and he calls with 6s/Qs. Fair enough. I was trying to be aggressive with a marginal hand, I thought I could garner a fold, I was wrong.

A bit later I open in the small blind with Qc/Ad and unsurprisingly the big blind folds.
A middle position open with big slick sees another fold.

A raise from the cut-off with Ad/Qd garners a third consecutive pick-up of the blinds (consecutive in terms of hands I found playable).

These are minor but important hands. They re instill my confidence after what felt like a pretty major mis-step. I do scale back my aggressiveness a certain amount…a couple hands I would have raised had I won the button verse big blind battle are folded, but the winning of the blinds uncontested is a confidence boost. Maybe too much of one.

The cut-off opens with 5.20. On the button with Ad/10d and 5.45 I elect to call, mostly planning my favorite call/turn raise ploy.

Plans change on the Ac/As/5d flop. He checks, I check behind. I am behind any Ace hand holding a King, Queen, Jack or five. I am ahead of any Ace holding a 9,8,7,6,4,3 or 2. So I figure to be a favorite against Aces and a BIG favorite against any non-pocket 5 hand.

The turn gives me the nuts, the 10s. He leads out for a quarter and I do the fish click-raise. He insta-calls. I figure he has the Ace and I am going to stack him.

Sure enough, the river is the 5h. He no doubt has an Ace and shoves his last 4.55. I instacall and his Ah/Qh loses a big pot to my bigger full house.

I like my check on the flop as I wanted to play a smaller pot until I had some idea of his holding. He could have had a medium pair, suited connectors, all sorts of hands. I figured to be a favorite against most hands, but I have been stacked a few times when flopping trips and running into a bigger kicker.

So outside of pre-flop, in this hand I never put in a chip when I was behind. I think a bet on the flop might have led to an all-in confrontation when I was behind and drawing thin. No doubt I drew out on him which used to be something that bothered me…but I am starting to figure out if you never draw out on anyone, you only ever win small pots.

With 9.96 and Qs/Ah I open from middle position and win the blinds.

UTG+1 with 10.03 and Qd/Qs I open to .15, get called by the next seat with 3.02 and then the big blind, with 3.02, re-pops to .65.

A/K, K/K and Aces are the only hands that bother me, but he could do this with a much wider range…A/10+, A/x suited, eights or better…I can re-raise trying to isolate or flat hoping to build a pot. I decide just to call it and it works as the other guy calls.

So now we have a pot of 1.95 and the flop is gorgeous. Qh/3s/10s. The blind leads out for a buck. I think about flat-calling but with straight and flush draws, I think that might be a bad idea. I again click-raise…a bad habit I am getting into. The next seat calls and the big blind folds.

Now the pot is so big there is no way I am folding, especially since the next seat has .37 left. The Kh turns, I put him all in and he calls with…8s/9s? Really? You called all that flop action with a gut-shot to the ignorant end? Nicely done! The river three to give me a boat is almost irrelevant as I rake another big pot.

Now I have 14.24 and face the old conundrum; rat hole my winnings or continue? I am actually attempting a Full Tilt Academy challenge that I will pass if I can make it to 15.00 so I decide to keep playing.

The problem with this is I sometimes play hands not because they are good hands to play but because I want to achieve the artificial goal and that leads to poor decisions.

UTG opens to .15 with 1.91 and I make one of those poor decisions, calling with 7h/Ah. I am not getting proper odds for a flush.

The flop gives me hope with the 6h/3d/10h. He bets .15 and I call. The turn is the Ad and now I am in a spot. I have too much hand to fold to his bet, not enough to win a showdown.

Fortunately, he only bets .15 so I call. The river is the 2s, I missed my draw, got the wrong odds….he bets just .20.

Interesting. The pre-flop raise was standard, the flop bet could be construed as half pot, but after that his bets were on the small side. On the one hand, I hesitate to call…the only Aces I can beat are A/4 and A/5 so if he hit the Ace I am losing. On the other hand, it feels more like a pair smaller than ten…his small bets are meant to keep me from making a pots size raise with something like K/10 or something like that.

So I am calling .20 to win 1.10, better than 5-1. I am not good enough to lay down top pair, no kicker so I call.

And he shows the Ac/5s. Of the two Aces I could beat, he holds one. Hysterical.

So close, now I have 14.87 and the very next hand I run into one of those hands I hate. Middle position limps with 2.59, next seat calls with 7.35, the button limps with 1.26, the small blind completes with 3.67 and, in the big blind, I have 8d/Ks. Not good enough to raise into four limpers, and I really do not want to hit any part of this. I check.

And hit part of it. *** FLOP *** [Jc 6h Kc] Now I have top pair, no kicker, with numerous draws available.

I lead out with a half pot bet of .15, get calls from both middle positions and folds from the button and small blind.The turn is the Ac, I no longer have top pair, there is a flush on the board, I check. MP bets half the pot, one fold…do I call or raise or fold?

I check-raise indicates I have the flush…but he showed no fear of the flush. He could have hit the flush, the straight, or the Ace, all of which beat me, or he could have sensed my weakness and be making a play. I should probably fold here, but I call.The river 2c almost guarantees a flush.

I check and will fold to any bet, but he checks behind and wins with the 7c/8c.

I maybe should have folded the turn, but since I got to see a cheap showdown with a hand that conceivably had some showdown value…eh, I do not feel bad about it. I do wish someone had raised preflop and saved me .45 though…

So now I am further from my goal. Should I keep going or pack it in?


Hand by Hand 8

Apparently I think a suited Ace is a good drawing hand because when the cut-off opens to .17 with 5.00 I call in the small blind with Ad/9d and 3.18. I do have the right implied odds…but out of position like this, it will be real tough to hit them, so while a strict statistical standard says call…I should fold.

This time I call and we take the flop heads up. The 9c/2h/Qs flop probably misses us both. I check, he bets .25, and I continue my bad play with a call. I would not mind a check-raise here, but a call? I have second pair. Do I really want to go deep in this hand with almost nothing?

The turn helps nobody, the 5c. I check, he thinks for a bit, then checks. There is a club draw, but only of the backdoor variety. Likely hands are pair smaller than the queen, a 10/J, or maybe A/K, A/J, A/10 type hands.

The river is the 2d. I figure to have the best hand, I bet .45 and he folds. I think many players better than me check to induce the bluff here…but since about half the hands he has beat me but I think I could get him to fold something like Q/10, I like the move. Later as I get better, this may change.

So with 3.51 and the cut-off, I think As/3s is worth opening. The big blind calls with 4.95.
The flop again probably missed us both…9d/Js/Jh. There are a few draws and a few hands it hits but when he checks I test the waters with a .20 bet.

Usually after I bet .15 pre-flop, I want to bet half the pot as my continuation bet but in this case, that would be .15….and I do not like betting the same amount so I add a nickel. He calls.

This represents the downside of that on hands like this where I have no hand, no draw, and could be in trouble if he called with something like Q/J. Now there is an extra 10 cents in the pot which ups the level of betting on subsequent streets. This is good if I have a Jack in my hand…bad in this case.

But when the turn is the 2h and he checks, I think my dry ace is probably good enough to take it down with a bet. I bet .35, he folds, I collect the pot.

If he leads out on that turn I probably fold but since he checked twice I had the opening I needed.

Later, utg limps with 2.44 and I have pocket 4s in middle position. The cutoff limps along with 2.55 and the big blind checks with 5.37.

The reason I limp here makes sense to me. I have a modest hand at best I would not mind seeing a cheap flop with and maybe stacking someone. There is a decent chance a limp will encourage later calls and build a larger pot as I do not particularly want to isolate here with this hand, nor do I want to face a re-raise after raising myself.

So I am happy to see a cheap flop with decent position, the chance to flop a big hand or get out cheap.

The flop is Ac/3h/8d. If anyone bets, I give them credit for the Ace, 8, or better pair and fold. But 2 checks in, I decide to take a stab at the pot and bet .15. Everyone folds and I am happy.
And even happier when I pick up 8s/9c in the big blind and everyone folds to me. Free blinds are always a pleasure. Unless you have Aces…

So I have worked my way back up to 3.91 and am feeling good about myself. So good, in fact, I again open to .15 with pocket 4s utg+1. Middle position is my only customer with 3.88.

The flop is gorgeous…Ks/4d/Ad. Ideally, he has something like A/K, A/Q. If so all the chips are going in and I will be a big favorite. I lead out for .20 and he flat calls.

Okay, so A/K is probably out or he would re-raise. In fact, the call makes me leery of a draw, more than anything. The turn is the Jc which completes things like the Q/10 but otherwise I am probably still ahead. I lead out for .35 and he again calls.

Now I am very convinced he has a draw and outside of the Kd, there is no Diamond I want to see on the river. Which naturally means the 5d falls. I check and will have to debate the call when he bets. There is 1.38 in the pot. A half pot bet I snap-call even thinking I am beat as often enough I will get someone with A/K, A/Q, A/10, K/J or K/Q making that play. A pot size bet I am more leery of but will probably make the frustrated, crying call.

And all in bet…that probably garners a fold. I flopped big, bet my usual and got out-drawn. But he makes me happy by checking behind and shows Qd/Qh…he was happier than me about my river check.

I probably made about as much as I could off this hand, but he might call another half pot river bet. I just did not want to make the half pot river and get re-raised big which would force a fold. I figure I see a show-down here more often by check-calling my selection of bets here and pretty much only get called by the flush.

I must be feeling good about being back up to 4.59 because from the hijack I open to .15 with Qh/Jc and get a call from the button with 16.83. I plan to raise the flop, have him call, then raise the turn and have him fold.

The flop arrives, I bet .20 and he calls. The turn comes, I bet .35 and he calls. Time to take a look at the board. Kh/Ac/3h, turn is the Kc. I am done with this hand. The river Jh finishes the flush, hits some straights, and generally is irrelevant to me. I figure I am beat and lay it down to any raise.

I check, he checks behind and takes the pot with his Ah/Jd. I am okay with that. I had a plan for the hand, it works against anyone who does NOT, in fact, have the Ace or King, and I got away from it cheaply. I take down a lot of pots on similar flops with that line of attack.

I do, to an extent, question the pre-flop raise…or would, except it works so often. If anything, I should open MORE often with those type hands.

Early middle position opens with 2.14, I am in the next seat with 7h/7c. I consider raising, but the same elements as existed with the pocket 4s earlier are still in play. I figure to face a re-raise about 30% of the time. If I raise first, the re-re-raise drives me out of the hand based on odds. A raise to about .25 or .30 lets me still play. I flat call.

And am glad I did, as the cut-off raises to .24. The limper calls as do I. The pot has about .79 in it and the flop comes 3d/10d/7d. Talk about a mixed bag.

On the bright side…I flopped a set. On the dark side, I am behind a diamond draw and not too far ahead of lots of drawing hands that like the 10. I will play some pot control.

We check to the cutoff who bets .55. Limper folds and I decide to just call. The turn is the 4h. Good card for me if I am ahead, bad if behind. I check-call another 1.22.

Now the pot has 4.33 in it and I am pretty much committed to calling any river bet. The Jc does not bother me…unless he is betting the 8/9 it changed nothing. If he was ahead before, he is ahead now. If I was ahead before I am ahead now.

I briefly consider leading out but quickly decide against it. If he has the flush he will re-raise. If he doesn’t, he folds…the classic “I only get called if I am beat” conundrum. I figure I will still call about half pot, maybe even a pot size bet but not much more.

He checks behind with Qs/Js for a rivered top pair and I regret my check. If he called flop and turn bets with a flush on board, he definitely calls a river bet. At the same time, I do not want to get results oriented.

Most people against this board with this betting are not calling based on “two face cards”. At no point in the hand did he have any sort of draw and usually a bet here that faces a call or re-raise is losing. So the check is correct even if my read was WAY wrong.

I have folded by the time this hand comes up; I only know about it because in reviewing hand histories, I was dealt the Qd/5d and folded utg+1 but it immediately precedes a hand I entered voluntarily. The button limps with 1.95, the small blind click-raises with 6.93, the big blind 10.14 and the button also calls.

I hate, hate, hate the click raise. If it is something like the J/4 that did so earlier, they are never getting anyone to fold and if it is something like Aces you are giving some bad hands some good odds to draw at you.

Opening to .10 is one thing…having a limper and click-raising means where as they were getting less than 1.5 odds to limp, they are now getting better than 3-1 IF NOBODY ELSE CALLS and even better if just one person calls.

And the flop is the ever dangerous 9d/Qs/8c. Anyone with 10/J is licking their chops, a Q/10, 9/10, 8/9 are pretty happy and even something like a 6/7 does not hate this flop…though they do not love it either.

The small blind min-bets, big blind calls and button folds. The turn is the 10h and the min-bet/call routine happens again. River 7c sees a third min-bet/call.

So we have two guys afraid of the flop. Nobody has a jack or the raise would be bigger. Under pair, over pair, or weak hand like A/9, Q/6 type stuff?

Well…small blind shows pocket kings. He raised small pre-flop and found himself out of position on a dangerous board making defensive bets and wins a .56 pot. He would not have been happy had he faced a big river raise.

Of course, the big bind had pocket 2s. He got excellent pre-flop odds and was allowed to see a super cheap showdown.

I think the pre-flop click-raise cost mr small blind a fair pot. He could have won much more with a standard raise to .15 or a better raise to .25 or .30.In the very next hand, I open to .15 from early middle and Kh/Kc. Everyone folds, so I win a smaller pot…but I think I played it better. I did not price in bad hands and then have to tread carefully because I priced in trash that beats me.

At this point I have an interesting conundrum. I do not feel like I am playing either particularly well or particularly poorly...but I am having decent results. The question is...are these results indicative of my ability or of me getting lucky in the hands I run into?

The sets I hit are the type hand that makes me wonder.


Hand by Hand 7: Be aggressive, B-E-Aggressive

Having taken the hit and gotten back up a little, I quit playing for a bit, then restart with 2.00. After hitting the bb, I have 1.95 and utg+1 pick up pocket queens. I open to .15, get called by the button with 3.81 and watch a flop of Jd/5h/9d. I lead out for .20 and he folds. I am not disappointed.

The cut-off opens to .20 with 2.49 and in the big blind I look down at Ac/Kc. The position and amount of the raise combine to lead me to believe he is hoping to get no call. Most people raise either .10, .15 or .17 cents. Click raise, 3 times the big blind, or pot. 4 times is often low pairs, dry Ace, maybe suited cards. I re-pop to .65 not really caring if he calls or not because if he calls, I will raise the flop, maybe even shove. He will fold unless he hits it…

Which kind of indicates I might be making a mistake. I will have to think about that. As it is, he folds as I expected.

The cutoff opens with a click –raise and 3.76. I am in the small blind with Kc/5c and 1.93, the type of garbage hand I have been adding to my repertoire more and more often. That needs to stop. I call and the big blind comes along with 4.07.

There are very few flops my trash hand likes. The 4s/10s/5s is not one of them. It is checked around. The 4d turn is no much better, but it gets checked around. The river is the 2d, I check and the big blind bets 20 cents. The cut-off folds.

Lets see…I have second pair, second kicker. It was pretty weak beginning to end. The big blind could have any two cards and coming to life on the river could have paired the two, absolutely nothing, or even something like the 10/2 full house.

If I am going to play trash hands and hit second pair, if people checkflop and a card like the 4 is turned, I need to raise there. Every time. Maybe even the flop. Now I am in a tough spot. I THINK I am ahead…and if so, I need to re-raise to get value.

But there are lots of hands that have me beat that he could call with. A/4, A/5, A/10, 4/5, suited cards like K/4 or hands like J/10, Q/10. If I re-raise into one of those, I lose my showdown value when I get re-raised.

I meekly check and take it down when he shows the Kd/7s bluff. So my poor play works out for me.

I pick up As/Js in the big blind and am debating to myself whether to flat it and try for a monster pot or re-riase and try to win pre-flop. The decision is taken away from me when everyone folds to me and I win without resistance.

After a while the hijack click-raises with 4.24, the cut-off calls with 1.58 and I make another poor decision with 2.22 and Kh/5h. The big blind refuses to be drawin into our stupidity and despite the 7-1 pot odds, he wisely folds.

The flop is the 6h/Jh/7d which hits lots of click-raise/cheap call type hands. I am not super excited about my second nut flush draw and check. But when the hijack raises .10 and gets a call, I am getting pretty good odds of 5.5-1 to call so I do.

The turn misses everything. If the 2c is not the epitome of a brick then that card does not exist. But it brings another round of .10 bet/call and I call again, now getting a ridiculous 8.5-1 on my draw. At least the odds are right. The river is the Qc.

Easy check-fold. There is no way one of them does not have medium pair, A/x, or something like J/9. But they both check behind and show 10h/9h…oh, how I wish that last heart had fallen…and 5c/9c. My King high is the best hand against a missed straight draw and a missed flush draw…

When it is folded to me in the small blind, I look at pocket Queens and decide to try and trap by over-raising to .20. It fails when he folds.

Two folds later, I am in middle position and again pick up Queens. This time, with 2.79, I make the standard open to .15. The cut-off calls with 5.04 and the big blind joins us with 8.74.
The flop is all low, but also all spades…6s/8s/3s. I hold no spades. The bb checks, I continuation bet .25, the cut-off calls and the big blind folds.

The turn is the 9d and decision time. Many people ignore the continuation bet. It is a move something like 100% of poker players know and understand, and as such it has lost much of its edge. Many people, myself included, call most continuation bets and then raise the turn if it is checked.

I choose not to check, but raise .45. If he calls I am done with the hand. There are straight draws, flush draws, potential sets…I am done putting chips in this pot. And a re-raise will garner a snap-fold. But he folds and I am happy.

I have been seeing a lot of folding to the big blinds, so with 3.23 I open to .15 from middle position with an atypically weak hand, the Ad/9c. This is a deliberate testing of the water to see if I should open more hands. It works as everyone folds.

At one point I fold a 4/7 which would have flopped top pair, open ended straight, turned the straight when the 8 hit, and seen a 7 on the river. I would have had the third best hand with one player having a 9 high straight and losing to a full house, 8s full of 7s. Glad I folded!

But when the button opens to .15 with 16.71 I have 3.23, Jh/9h and a wild hair. I call. This is one of those “sometimes I call, sometimes re-raise, usually I fold. And generally when I call I am glad I folded. Re-raises often see a fold, so is not a bad play. I think the call is the worst play, but I always convince myself I do not want to play a big pot out of position with a marginal hand…which is a good thought, but folding makes doing so less likely.

The flop is the 2c/Ah/3d, I check, he continuation bets, I fold.

From the cutoff I open with Kc/10s and everyone folds. Much better. Aggression > passivity.
MP opens to .15 with 5.80, I have the button, pocket deuces, and 3.10. Here is a place I call and think it is the better option. I am likely to have a worse hand, at best have an underdog, and want to invite the blinds to call with attractive pot odds.

They fail me and we take the flop heads up, Ks/Js/Kc.

This is a pretty good flop for me as it misses most hands but could scare him away. He checks, I bet .20, and he check-raises to .70. It misses most, but hits a few. A/J, A/K, K/J, Q/J, 10/J are all quite believable. He might fold to a re-raise…but with pocket deuces, a scary board, and someone who twice demonstrated strength…why? I fold.

MP limps with 16.38, the small blind click-raises with 4.75 and in the big blind with 2.71 I look at the Ad/8d. It seems likely the limper will call about 95% of the time if I call so my odds for the draw should be good. I call.

The flop is the unfortunate 7s/Kd/7S. SB leads out for .30. Pre-flop click-raise, post-flop pot raise. What changed? I give credit for a big hand and fold, the original limper calls. The turn is the Js which again sees a pot size bet and call.

There are no obvious draws so we SHOULD be looking at two made hands. I would not be surprised to see the sm with something like K/x suited, A/7, even something like K/10 type hands. Also possible are pairs higher than 7. Pretty much same set of hands for the limper.
The 9c river gets checked down and we see the sb with 4s/Jh for two pair and the original limper shows pocket queens.

Wow, how many ways did the play on this hand suck? The sb re-raise was horrible. No way is a click-raise going to work like…ever. So raising a J/4 off is a horrible, horrible, horrible play. The Queens got a raise and two callers. He really needs to re-raise big to isolate.

Just bad play pre-flop by both of them.

UTG+1 limps with 9.69, I am in the small blind with 2.61 and Qd/As. I either raise or fold here. If I limp and the big blind checks I am out of position against two players and a hand that never knows where it is. A fold is probably too weak. I raise to .25. BB folds, limper calls.

The flop is not exceptional…10d/8h/7d. This hits a large number of limp-call hands. J/10, 9/10, 9/8, 7/8, pockets 6 – 10 all like this. So do suited cards of the diamond variety. At the same time against a passive player if I am the pre-flop aggressor, I like to lead out again and do so for .35. He thinks for a while and calls. Either a draw or a set deciding best way to get paid.

The turn is the 3c. If I check I expect to face a raise. I doubt I win this hand at showdown. There is 1.20 in the pot now, I want to take one more stab at it. I fire .60 and he folds. I know the 3 did not scare him, so maybe a smaller pair now thinking I have a bigger pair?

A while later I am utg+1 with pocket 5s and 3.18. I elect to open with them. Sometimes I fold here when people are coming back at me with lots of re-raises, but this time they all fold.

I have said it before and will say it again. I can open raise pretty aggressively, but it is a real hole in my game how often I passively call. I could take down a lot of smaller pots with well-timed raises...and save a lot of chips by calling less.


Hand by hand 6; Taking the hit

So by now I am feeling good, having worked my way up from 2 to 12.26. I pick up Ad/Qc utg+1, a hand I often fold but this time I open to .15 and get a call from the next seat with 5.01 and the big blind with 1.93. The call by the next seat widens the range the big blind could call with based on drawing hands being more profitable.

The flop is the 10d/8c/Jh and the big blind min-bets. Whatever. I bump it to .35 and again the next seat calls and the bb folds. No surprise on the fold.

The call is made more problematic by the big blinds’ fish-bet. If he does not bet and I raise, the call has meaning…but now he might be more reacting to my re-raise of the bad bet than belief I have a hand…which does nothing to identify if he actually has a hand or not. The call indicates it is good but not a monster if he does…much like my own gut shot straight draw.

The turn is the interesting Ac. I now have top pair, decent kicker. I am behind the same Aces I was behind before, ahead of any other pair, and drawing thin to split the pot with K/Q type hands. I lead out for .60 and again he calls. So he has to have something, and based on his play to that point, his something matches the board. Best case scenario is something like K/J type hand.

The river is the 10h and I do not like that card. If he had something like Q/10 and was calling based on the draw I am way behind. I am way behind most hands I would play in his position and so figure I have very little chance of being ahead unless he called the flop based on circumstances, picked up the club flush draw on the turn and missed or had some sort of straight draw that missed.

I have a hand with show-down value, but really do not want to face a big bet or re-raise on the river. I know I am calling up to about a pot bet, and hope to control what I face as far as river bet size. So I check and am happy to see him check behind.

And he shows K/J. I take down the pot and feel good about it.

Thing is…I raised a sub-par hand from that early. If I am opening a couple seats later it is fine, but opening so early meant I faced a lot of tough decisions as he had a pretty broad range of hands, many of which had me crushed. So instead of maximizing my chip extraction, I had to play a bit of pot control.

Not having learned my lesson, I have 13.42 and As/Jh utg+1 and open to .15. The small blind calls with 2.54. I always think a small blind caller either A) has a stronger than average hand or B) is a terrible player. Ironically, both of these cause issues.

If the flop comes A/4/2 a really poor player is not unlikely to have something like A/4 or even 4/2. I will be drawing against long odds against that, but have no point of reference for determining where I am at in the hand.

So the flop comes 7c/Ac/Ah and he checks. I have trips, there is a flush draw, and he would play both a miss and the nuts the same way here. He has few chips, so there is no way he is getting me off this hand. I bet .20 and he calls. I figure him for the ace.

The turn is the 4c, meaning the flush hit. I am not overly happy, and that happiness does not increase when he leads out for .75. I ponder putting him all in, but decide to see what the river brings. I flat call. The river is worse, the Kc. He checks.

There are 4 clubs, he showed strength on the turn when the club hit…no need to ship the rest, I check behind and am glad I did as he shows Ad/Qd.

Which goes back to my earlier points. I opened from too early with A/J because I had chips to play with. The small blind had a stronger than average hand. It did not work out well for me.
At the same time, I did not get all excited about trip Aces and ship it. I played some pot control and lost less than the maximum. I lost 1.05 instead of 2.54. I am happy about that.

Somewhat chastened, I fold an A/J to a raise, then later have Ac/8c under the gun and open to .15. This I do not feel bad about as I am doing it based on flush potential rather than medium-strong Ace. And I feel even better when everyone folds.

So after people fold to me in the big blind, I pick up Ks/2s on the button and open to .15. The sb calls with 1.45. This is the worst of all scenarios…they will go to the felt with a wider variety of hands, which is good for me, but bad in terms of figuring out if I am ahead or behind.

Lets say a King flops and they shove. Can I fold top pair, no kicker, to such a small percentage of my stack?

The flop is the 6c/9d/Jd and he checks, I bet .20, and he mildly surprises me by calling. The turn is the Ad, completing the flush. He min-bets. Total air or the nuts. I bump it to .40, he shoves, I fold. Whether he had the flush or the Ace…bot possible, including stuff like A/6 for two pair…he had me drawing dead.

So now from a peak of over 13 I am down to 11.57. More importantly, people are playing back at me more often. I rein it in a bit, even folding a sb when it is folded to me.

UTG+1 limps with 2, the next seat click-raises with 3.39 and I find myself in the big blind with 9d/8c. Usually I fold but every so often I get a wild hair and try to hit a straight. I do so here and utg+1 also calls.

The flop is the Jd/Ks/4c. I check, utg+1 min-bets and gets a call. It is a temptation to call because it is so cheap or re-raise since utg+1 so obviously has a small pair and wants to keep it cheap. But I took the decent pot odds, tried to get in cheap and hit a big hand…no need to chase. I fold.

UTG opens to .20 with 2.00. That is a big open raise to start with and 10% of his stack. I think low pair band, in the cut-off, elect to call with Ad/9d. This indicates to me I get looser when I play too long. The big blind also calls with 8.30, making me feel a little better.

The flop is the 8c/5h/2d, they both check, I bet half the pot and they fold. Nice!

When the button limps with 6.82 I am in the big blind with 11.76 and pocket threes. That is a hand I either want to open raise or see a cheap flop. Bingo, no need to re-raise here.

The flop is a bigger bingo, Kh/3h/4c. Ideally I can check-raise here to get an extra bet, though there is nothing to indicate the button hit this and will raise. I check and he comes through with a pot sized bet of 12 cents. I check-raise to .55 expecting a fold and he makes me even happier with a call.

I think A/K probably re-raises here, but something like K/Q or a flush draw calls. So does a pair below the king. Still a wide range of hands here.

The turn is the 10d hitting no hand I fear. I bet the pot, 1.22 and he calls. The river is the 2c. I am thinking probably two pair or top pair, good but not great kicker. I am sure I am ahead. I bet the pot, 3.66, he re-pops all in. It is 1.34 more to call, I am thinking now it is probably A/K or so. I make the easy call…

And lose to the 6s/5s. Ouch. I bet all along, he rivered the straight. Huge 12.75 pot where I flopped the big hand, bet it all the way and lost on the river. I am sad. And all the way down to 4.94. A costly hand that will alter how I have to play as I cannot play a lot of draws because I have the wrong odds now.

It is a crushing hand, but I do not go crazy for a while. Late mp open limps with 2.47, the hijack calls with 3.21, I call with 4.87 and Qh/10h, the small blind completes with 7.13 and the big blind checks with 13.90. I am regretting the limp. Q/10 suited is not a good hand in a multi-way pot.

The flop is the 4h/6c/Kd and it is checked around. The 3h turn sees it checked around so I bet .15 into this mad-house of weakness. Only the hijack calls. The river is the 8d and he checks.

Unlikely he has the King. There is a chance he had something like 7/8, maybe a flush draw. Most likely, the only way I win this hand is if he folds so I bet .30 and he makes me happy with the fold.

From middle position I then open with Kd/As and everyone folds. This is good as it gets me to 5.26. I have noticed people with more than starting maximum chips get a fair amount of fold equity and furthermore, the danger of tilt seems to have passed. I am not getting all crazy, though that big hit still hurts.

However, it also reveals a mistake I made...or a couple of them.

First, when I was at 13, it would have been a good idea to rat-hole and restart so I am not risking much of my stack. I am more likely to double someone up than double up myself. When I am a better player this may change, but for now I should play smaller stacks so my mistakes hurt less.

Second, I was thinking he never had the right odds on the big hand straight draw...but since I paid him off, what turned out to be his implied odds meant he probably did have the correct odds.

It was obvious I had a big hand from my check-raise and post-flop aggression. And I am nowhere near a good enough player to get away from that hand. Even when he re-raised I was pretty much feeling the snap-call/fist pump routine...until I saw the straight.

So I need to recognize that dynamic...the hidden straight against a deep stack can be painful.


Hand by hand 5

So now, riding high with 8.01, I fall into one of the traps I sometimes fall into.MP takes a moment, then opens to .15 with 6.49 and, with Ac/2c I call from the next seat.

A weak suited Ace is a hand I do not mind raising with, but I think calling is less wise unless 2 or 3 other people have already called. Here I will struggle to make enough when I hit the hand for it to be worthwhile, I will face a re-raise too often to be comfortable…and worse yet, if the re-raise comes early and gets a couple calls, I could find myself priced into calling and now having put in 60 or 70 cents on a long shot drawing hand.

The small blind is the only other customer with 4.96 and in a small bit of good news…post-flop I have the button. On the dark side…I have a weak ace drawing hand…

…and flop the draw. 8c/9d/7c. A flop which also hits lots of other draws. The sb checks, the mp raises .20. This is a smallish raise, and I like it…the sb is more likely to come along, I am getting the right price if someone has 10/J or something like 2 pair…I flat-call.

The small blind folds so now we are heads up. The turn is the 5c. I do not have a mortal lock on the hand…he could conceivably have 4c/6c or something that would give him the straight flush, in which case all the chips are going in, or he could have a set.

He checks and I have to think. If he has a set or smaller flush, a bet here is the correct play. If he has a straight, it may or may not be the right play. If he has a pair of some sort or draw a bet might scare him away. Really, the two primary possibilities are A) he has a monster he is slow-playing, in which case the river will see some big bets and raises, or B) he made his continuation bet and now is done with the hand in which case I am unlikely to extract more.

The other possibilities pretty much all have him having a hand he MIGHT call a small bet on the river so I elect to check behind, slow-playing a hand which I rarely do.

The river is the 9s, pairing the board which I am not enthused about but not overly worried. I think he most likely bets a set on the turn. He checks, I look at a pot of less than .90 and decide about .55 seems right. Happily he calls. I think he probably has a pair with good kicker, maybe an over pair, and less likely but possible a straight.

He shows Jh/Jc, a believable hand the way he played. The pre-flop raise, the continuation bet on the flop, checking when the hand that beats you hits the turn, and make the crying call on the river. I could have easily been afraid of the flush with my turn check as well.

Oddly, winning this hand kind of shows why I think the pre-flop call was poor. All the elements were in place for this to be a big pot…a board that hits a lot of draws versus an over pair. The odds of flopping a flush are one in 15 or so. I put in .90 so I made .97 on the hand…so I got about 6.467-1 on my pre-flop call.

Long-term, this play is a loser even if in the short term it feels nice.

If I can figure out how to build a bigger pot here it becomes worthwhile, but in this case…the result was good but the play was arguable. If I open raise, I am fine with it….calling seems a bit weaker to me.

I pick up 9h/9c in the small blind, everyone folds to me, I raise and take the big blind.

From middle position I open with Ac/Ks and again everyone folds. I like adding to my stack with no risk.

I also like being over 9, if just barely, at 9.01.

On the button I open to .15 with Js/Qs. The small blind re-pops to .40 with 1.89. Now, normally I fold here. The vast majority of players either call or fold in that spot, so I credit him with a better than average hand. For whatever reason, I elect to call this time.

The flop is a complete whiff…3c/8c/6s. He continuation bets .40, a call I routinely make planning to have them check the turn, bet and take down the pot. The turn is the 7s and he bets 1.09 all in and now I have a problem. Normally this is an easy fold…I have to put him on a better hand than me…probably high pocket pair. I have nothing.

But…BUT…now I have backed into something where it is correct to call. There is 2.69 in the pot, it is 1.09 to call…slightly wrong odds, but I call…and he is in worse shape than I thought with Ad/Qh. I luck into the Ks on the river and win with the flush.

If the hand works backwards, I played horribly…but step by step I like my decisions.

Admittedly on the turn my odds were slightly wrong…but it is a call I will normally make anyway. There is a chance either high card wins, the flush almost certainly wins. And since I was playing the situation more than the cards…those are just bonus babies.

From middle position with 10.65 I open to .15 with 9s/Js. The next seat calls with 5 even, then the next seat raises to .67 leaving himself only .56 behind. I am in the squeeze position looking at playing an all in pot with Jack high…easy fold.

UTG with 10.50 and Qd/Qs, I open to .15 and everyone folds. This illustrates yet again why I do not regret the previous raise with the suited Jack…a fair amount of the time I pick up the blinds or win on the flop with a continuation bet.

UTG limps with 8.64, mp comes along with 2.51, I am in the big blind with 8c/10s and check. I do not mind seeing a flop with a hand like this…unlike the Q/4, K/2 type hands, this actually has some potential.

That potential is partially realized with the 10d/Kh/Jh flop…I hit bottom pair. I think about leading out but the 10 and jack make me nervous, there could be a heart draw…I really do not want to play a big pot. I check, next guy checks, third guy raises the pot, we both fold.

With position I might call here, but acting first, dangerous and draw-heavy board…nah.

UTG+1 limps with 2.81, I am in the small blind with 10.52 and Ah/9h. The bb is likely to check so I can take a look at a cheap flop with a strong drawing hand. It would be better if I had the button, but I will take a flier on this situation more often than not. I call and the big blind, with 4.96, does indeed check.

The flop is the 3h/7h/7d. I briefly consider raising…I will sometimes raise a draw. But I decide to see if I can see a cheap turn and check, as does the big blind. We then face a pot size bet. I call, the big blind folds.

The turn is the 9c. Again, probably the right thing to do to bet here but I check, he again bets the pot and I call. The river is the Qd. I missed my draw and have 9s and 7s. I beat a fair amount of hands that would limp-raise and decide to check raise. I check…and he checks behind.

And wins with Qh/10h. He played the hand the way I should have. If a Heart had hit on the river I would have had a nice score. As it was, I got off easy when he checked the first time he was ahead.

UTG+1 limps with 2.69, I am in middle position with 9.78 and pocket 3s, so I call, the big blind checks with 16.04.

I am not real excited about the 4h/10c/7h flop as there are certainly some draws and it could easily pair either of them, but when they both check I bet 2/3rds the pot and they both fold. I am not unhappy with that result.

I am not exactly Doyle Brunson when it comes to always playing the next hand after I win one, but I do tend to loosen my raising requirements if I am first into the pot so when I pick up 9s/8c in the cutoff the next hand and it is folded to me, I go ahead and open to .15. The big blind calls with 4.16.

The flop is not spectacular…8s, Ah, 6s. He leads out with 2/3rds pot, .20. Now, if he REALLY had a hand, he would check-raise me. He is trying to steal the pot, so I re-raise to .55. If he re-raises me, I am done with the hand, if he calls, which I expect, he probably check-folds the turn if he has nothing or check-calls the turn and checks the river.

My thinking is that if I flat call here, there is about a 50-50 chance he checks the turn or raises the turn. If he raises the turn I am in a tough spot as he could have the Ace or even just a better pair. I would rather find out now while it is cheap.

And my instincts prove right…he probably bet with air, because when I re-raise, he folds and I take down the pot.

In the cut-off I open with 10.15 and 8h/Kh. The goal is really to win the blinds here, but if someone calls I have potential to hit a good hand. Unfortunately, the big blind has 3.95 and an urge to re-raise to .10. Often I fold here, but this time I elect to call. Mixing up my game, I guess…I am not sure I like this call.

The flop is the Jc/Qd/Ad. He checks and I have to think. I do not really like this flop…the three non-diamond tens give me a straight, but other than that I am not real excited about any particular card. But I do not want to give a free card, either, so I bet half the pot and he folds.

I like the fold. I am unlikely to win a showdown unimproved, and unlikely too improve my hand. If he calls, I will be hard-pressed to either call or make a turn bet, so this was a pretty good result for me.

UTG+1 takes time and then opens to .15 with 5.02, the button calls with 1.12 and in the big blind I look down at Kc/Ks. With this much action, I am re-raising something like 100% of the time and do so to .70. The utg folds, the button re-raises to 1.12 all in and the .42 call is easy.

He shows 2d/2s and I am pretty happy. He is drawing real thin, never improves and I pick up a nice pot. Thing is…when he faced the re-raise, it pot-committed me and he had no business going all in or calling. With my re-raise, there is no way I am folding to such a small bet…it does not even match my raise. He only had .15 invested at that point ,why ship the other .97 with a hand that is ALWAYS an underdog?

I do not hate his first pre-flop call…he has position and a hand that can surprise people. But once it was re-raised…he should have been done with the hand.

The very next hand utg+1 open limps with 1.83 and, in the small blind, for the second consecutive hand I have pocket Kings. I re-pop to .35 with 11.65, the big blind calls with 6.57 and the utg+1 comes along.

So now we have 1.05 in the pot, I am out of position against two callers. I am happy for the action but leery as well.

The flop is the 5h/5d/2s. I figure to still have the best hand, I was the pre-flop raiser. Since I raised to ..35 pre-flop, I am going to go a little bigger than normal.

Here is a weakness…with a safe, rainbow flop like this, I should probably bet about half the pot…55 or so. Instead I bet 1.05 and they both fold.I probably did not maximize my winnings on that hand.

So definitely the fear of being drawn out on continues to be a weakness I need to figure out how to get past.


Hand by Hand 4

This hand I just think is funny. UTG+1 opens all in for .25. I am in the small blind with 10d/5d and am always folding this…but the button calls with only 2.43. So I figure small pockets, A/10+, maybe suited connectors with the call weighted towards the higher end.

I am wrong. The all in shows 10s/Ad. Okay, so I was right about that. The call, however…10h/3h. So 2 suited 10/baby hands, two different reactions, and the three known hands all have tens.

A bit later the cut-off takes time, then opens to .17 with 2.25. I think back to a couple of situations…A), the playing too many tables, and B) the position open raise. I have 6.52, 10s/9s and the button…sometimes I fold, this time I call. The plan is more to call the flop and raise the turn than actually hit a hand.

The flop is Qd/Jd/Kc. I hit the ignorant end of the straight…but there is a flush draw. I am way behind A/10, ahead of everything else but there are a lot of hands it is close…pockets that match the board spring to mind.

He raises a weird .41 cents…actually, counting the blinds, that is a pot size raise. I want to charge draws, so I re-pop to 1.70, he shoves and it is .38 to call…easy call, even if he has the A/10. He does not…he has the 10c/9c and even though I “win” the hand via split pot, I lose .12 cents on it…

The cut-off click-raises to .10 with 7.14, the small blind calls with 2.29 and I look down at 8h/Jc in the big blind. I am getting 5-1, I often fold here but this time I call. I am not super fond of that call…earlier I folded the A/J off to a raise, though that was a standard raise…this click-raise on the button smells of either a steal or trapping with a big hand.

The flop is gorgeous, the 2c/8c/Jh. I flopped top two. I expect a raise from the cut-off so plan to check-raise. I check, he obliges with the raise, the small blind calls, and I check-raise to .95. The cut-off surprises nobody by folding, the button mildly surprises me with the call.

The turn is not good, the Ac. If he had the flush draw I am in trouble, if he had something like A/J I just got drawn out on. I raise 1.15 anyway…and he folds.

This might be one of those cases where aggression is the wrong move…but I would rather raise and get re-raised than check and face a tough call.

And now it is time for…attack of the random hand analysis.

The button click-raises to .10 with 2.96. The big blind calls with 8.20. I have mentioned before what button click-raises strike me as…sure, sometimes they have a real hand, but all too often it is a more marginal hand trying to steal the blinds cheaply. I play the big blind tighter than most people, so he could have a really wide range of hands here.

The flop is the Js/2c/7d. The big blind leads out for .05. This indicates he hit part of it, is trying to win a small pot. The button click-raises. This is an “did you mean it? Just go away raise.” And sees a click raise back at him. So he re-raises another click raise.

So we now have 4 raises TOTALING .20 Is this like…J/3 versus 7/4? Neither guy has much…or else both have sets. Finally the bb pops it to 1.38. And finally the button re-pops to 2.56 leaving himself .30 behind. And finally a call.

The turn is the 8c, the last .30 goes in and the button shows…Ah/Qh. And loses to 4s/7s. What a pair of nimrods. They played a 5.55 all-in pot with Ace high versus third pair, no kicker. Their click-raise war just makes it worse.

Later, utg opens with a click raise and 4.98, mp takes their time then click-raises to .15 with 2 even, a call from the next seat with 9.52 and the original raiser flat calls.

I already despise the play in this hand. The first click raise I am kind of okay with…a lot of Negreaneu hands try to play his small-ball style but do not have his reading talent so it is not always their best idea. But the re-raise that is again a click raise…nobody will fold to that and you price in worse hands .Horrible, horrible play.

So the flop comes 9h/2c/6d and utg checks. MP raises to .28, another weird raise…he had to manually type it in to get that amount. People that do that are absolute and complete tools. Just make normal raises. One fold later and utg check-raises.

Right here I think he most likely has a set, probably 9s or 6s. Other possibilities would be the over pair. I discount the big slick….he played small ball pre-flop. This flop either hit him hard to produce the check-raise to build a big pot or he does not fear it.

He gets a call and the turn is the 5h. UTG bets 1.05 so you KNOW he has a hand. I still think it is a set most likely, possibly an overpair. And he dialed up the exact amount mp had left, so it was also a message raise that sees a call.

UTG shows a pair of Jacks. I leaned very hard towards thinking it was a set but the over pair makes sense. The call though…4h/2s. What on earth? Bottom pair, no kicker. The pre-flop raise was asinine and his play only went downhill from there.

The flop raise was okay if he did a normal amount…calling the check-raise was pure donation and the turn call with bottom pair and gut shot straight draw was nearly as bad.

Apparently I got some of that hand on me, because the next hand the utg opens to .15 with 4.02. I am in the big blind with 7.44 and the Ks/5s. Heads up out of position against an under the gun raiser with a 1 in 15 shot at flopping the second nuts…no reason to play this hand, but I lose my mind and elect to call.

The flop is the 7h/2s/3d. I should either raise or check-raise here, but instead check-fold. I flat out gave away .10. On the bright side, I did not compound my error by playing a big pot out of position with no hand and no draw.

Early mp I have 7.29 and Kd/Ks. I open to .15 and get a call from the big blind with 1.91. This is bad for me, as all too often I decide the small risk means I am seeing the river no matter how obviously I am beaten because I had the second best pre-flop hand.

The flop comes out 7c/qh/2d. For whatever reason, I assign him the A/Q, he leads out with a pot size bet of .32 and I re-pop to 1.35. If he calls this, they are all going in on the turn.

I should point out…his .32 is a much different bet than the .28 I railed against in the other hand. He just hit the “bet pot” button instead of deliberately betting a non-standard amount. People who deliberately bet weird amounts are doing it to be irritating, whereas those who simply “bet pot” are usually just lazy. It is convenient, so they do it.

I actually thought he hit the queen, but if so he is a much better player than me because he laid it down. So in retrospect, he probably was just seeing if he could take a pot by the old “call with any two cards, lead out on the flop” maneuver. He actually did it better than most because instead of a min-bet or something ridiculous like that, he made a raise representing hitting a hand.

Middle position, I open to .15 with Qc/Kc and get the desired result…everyone folds. I will not call with this hand, but from middle on I will raise it. Either everyone folds or I take a flop with a hand with long-shot potential and aggression on my side.

The button limps with 1.73 and, in the big blind, I have Ks/Ah. A limp is usually a drawing hand with the occasional trap. I do not want to give drawing hands a free look, so with 7.77, I raise to .25 and he calls.

The flop is 4s/Qh/3c which misses the vast majority of drawing hands, I bet .40 into a .50 pot and he folds. Solid, ABC poker.

And now I have 8.10…not bad for starting with 2.00.


Hand by hand 3

So with 2.51 after the Aces hand, I open from the button with Jc/Kh and the blinds fold. This should really be my plan, to pick up lots of small pots and play very few big ones.

Unless, of course, I pick up Ac/Ad the next hand utg+1 and again over-raise to .20. I need to stop that…make the standard raise. The hijack with 5.33 calls, as does the small blind with 5.35. So now I am in the squeeze position in a larger than normal pot…

And the very dangerous 10h/3s/Jd hits. This smurf-slaps all sorts of drawing hands that might call…Q/K, J/10 being the most obvious, though certainly an A/J type hand makes me happy.
The sb checks, I bet 2/3rs the pot, .40 and they both call.

I am not too excited about this. At least it was a rainbow flop…but I am not feeling good about a three-way pot with just an overpair on a flop like that.

The turn is the 6d. The sb checks and I have seen enough…I do not want draws hanging around. There is about 1.80 in the pot, I have 1.98 left, so I ship it and get a call from middle position and fold from the blind.

Fortunately, he shows exactly the type hand I was hoping…Kc/10s. He is drawing to 2 tens, about 5%. He also called with second pair, good kicker against A) someone who thrice showed aggression and B) with a player behind who might have re-raised.

I do not like my too-large pre-flop raise, but compared to this guys play…I am an all-star. I also rake a nice 5.43 pot.

Later, a middle position limps with 2.27 and I re-raise from the big blind with As/Kc. He calls. To me, this represents a drawing hand…suited cards, low to medium pair, maybe even something like 7/8 off.

The flop is 9d/6h/3s. I over bet .50 into a .60 pot and he ships his last 1.97. I go into the tank.
It is 1.47 to call, there is 3.07, so slightly better than 2-1. This hand hits a couple hands I put him on, misses a couple. I figure to be behind but have 6 outs twice, so about a 4-1 dog. A clear fold…but inexplicably, I call, he shows pocket 10s, and I rightfully lose with a badly over-played big slick.

I mis-read his play as thinking I was simply making a play from the blind and it cost me.

Still, I have 3.16 and am being fairly active. I open from middle with Ah/Qc, get called from the next seat with 4.66, the cut-off with 5.39 and the three of us take the flop with .50 in the pot after the rake.

The flop is another of those good/bad…Ad/10s/Qh. I hit aces up, but there are lots of draws that hit, and even a long-shot set or two. I continuation bet .30, get a fold and a call.

Now the pot has over a buck, I am not sure where I am , and the turn is the 9h. It only hits badly played hands like 8/J, I bet .55, he calls. Now there is almost as much in the pot than I have left, the river is the 3h.

Here I make a mistake. There are two good courses of action; check, hoping to induce a bluff, or bet about a buck hoping for a call from A/10, Q/10 type hands. Instead I ship my last 2.16 and he folds. I got greedy, did not think through the plan, and extracted fewer chips than I should. The only hands that call me are sets or K/J…MAYBE A/K but I doubt it.

So I have been up and down a bit with some erratic play. Thing is, during the session I do not think I am playing erratically. It feels like I am playing well (except the A/K versus pocket tens hand). But when going back over it, I see many holes in my play.

From late middle I open to .15 with Qd/Qc and 4.24. The cut-off calls with 2.09 and we see a 6h/7c/8c flop. This is not good for queens.

Medium pockets from 5 to 10 love this, suited connectors as well. Still, I will almost always continuation bet here. I do so with .25, he calls.

The turn is the 10s, making it even worse. I now want to play a small pot…but bet .55 anyway because history has shown this produces a fold about 70% of the time, with a call about 20% and a fold-inducing re-raise about 10%. He calls.

So now we have a pot of 1.90, he has played it passively the whole way, a dangerous board, and an over pair. The river is the 10c. Now there are straights, flushes, even trips that beat me. I am ahead of A/K and not much else. I check, he goes all in for his last 1.14. I am getting about 3-1 on the call.

I think I am probably beat. Really, what could he have called with here? If it was the club draw I am beat. If he started with something like the gut shot J/10 I am beat. I guess stuff like A/8 I can beat, A/K, pocket Jacks…but really, I think this is a losing call. But I have an over pair, it is just another 1.14 to win nearly 3, and I am not good enough to lay it down. And he shows…

Ad/6c. I rake in the 3.97 pot, but not sure if I played it right or not. There is simply no way I could foresee him showing up with bottom pair here.

So now I have 6.12 and pick up Qs/Ad under the gun. This is a hand that, when I am getting a lot of action, I usually fold. It is too easy to run into A/K, Aces up, or something similar when an Ace flop and hitting the Queen is nice but I want a small pot. From the middle this is an open-worthy hand, from here I often fold.

This time I open and everyone else folds.

UTG open limps with 1.08, the next two seats call with 3.37 and 6.68, the button calls with 8.23 and, in the big blind with 5c/Qd I check. I am not happy about being in this hand. Four other players, I have a trash hand with no potential and am afraid of catching just enough to continue. I have 6.19 and do not want to get involved in a hand like this, make a poor decision, and ship a bunch of chips because I saw a “free” flop.

Sure enough, the flop is 4c/2h/5s. I hip top pair, modest kicker. I lead out for .20 hoping everyone folds. Instead I get a call, a re-raise to .50 and I actually play smart…I fold.

A/2, A/3, A/4, A/5 suited are all possible, and an over pair is probable, a set also fits well here. The utg calls. The turn is the 3h and the both check. On the one hand…I feel silly laying it down. On the other hand…with the re-raise, one of them HAS to have a set or straight? And surely the other has an over pair? There are no real draws other than A/x straight.

The river is the 2d, a lead out for .05 and re-raise to .65…the call putting first guy all in. Sure enough…pocket 4s for the flopped set and rivered boat…and he got paid by the 6c/Kd which rivered the straight.

The what? He limped…under the gun…with K/6 off? Called on a gut-shot, then called a re-raise on a gut shot…wow. This guy is either really, really good (no) or so bad I want to play lots of hands with this guy. He will pay to the river with bad draws and then not make you pay off by min-betting.

So the next hand, I open in the small blind with 5.94 and Ac/10c. The big blind, with 5.08, re-pops to .40. Often enough I just fold here…I have a draw, but it is a long-shot, I am out of position, and most of the time people just fold their big blind to this open. So this guy might actually have a hand or just be someone willing to make moves.

I do NOT want a big pot here.

But I call. The flop is okay…3d/As/Qh. I am ahead of the same Aces I was before, am now ahead of Kings or other pairs, but behind better aces. I check, as does he. The turn is the 9c. I do not want to face a big bet by checking twice, the pot has .80, I bet .45 and he folds. Hey, this game is easy.

He apparently thought I was making a move based on everyone having folded…something I am sometimes capable of, but not always…and just wanted to take it down pre-flop. When that failed, he gave up on the hand.

With Ad/Kh the next hand, I am in the small blind again and this time I open to .20 and see the big blind fold.

The next hand I am in the cut-off with As/Qc and open to .15 The button calls with 9.10. This leads me to believe he has a wider range and is playing position, both because people on the button tend to call with a wider range due to position and people with nearly double the max starting stack are GENERALLY good players…sure, sometimes a bad player will hit a hot streak or double up on a big hand…but combine the stack and the position call and I am going to assume he has a wider range of calling hands.

The 4d/Ks/7h does not bother me much, I lead out for .25. I figure it is about 50-50 call or fold. If he calls, I lead again on the turn. If he re-raises, it depends on how much he re-raises. A small re-raise will see a call and lead on the turn, a big re-raise will get me to fold. But he makes me happy by folding.

I have seen a lot of people make the cut-off open raise and check-fold the flop when they miss...I am GUESSING that is what he expected. Either way, I feel like I am back to playing well and it shows in my healthy stack of 6.54.


Hand by Hand part 3

I open from the cut-off with Ad/8d and 2.44. The button calls with 2.89. I am not overly worried…many people will call with a pretty wide range on the button planning to bet a checked flop.

The flop is pretty good for my hand…the Js/Qd/Kd. I flopped the nut flush and single shot straight draw with cards that will probably draw action. If I check here I will face a bet…a pot size might be too much to call, but would love to see half pot. However, my current flop strategy is to continuation bet the vast majority of the time.

I lead out for .20 into a pot of about .35 with the blinds and he folds. That works too. While some action would be nice, I still just have Ace high and have 12 outs to feel GOOD about the hand…any diamond or 10. Ace I like but am not ecstatic about, a paired board I hate if he calls…take the small win and move on.

From mp I open to .15 with 2.59 and Ac/Qs. I get my favored result…everyone folds and I pick up the blinds. I know that sounds strange…but an off-suit A/Q wants to play a small pot. And winning with no resistance encourages me to steal more blinds which leads me into more pots which gives me a chance to practice my flop skills…

Back down to 2.59 after a couple of blinds, I am in middle position and open to .15 with As/8s. I have been opening with a few more hands like this since they have the potential to win a nice pot if I do hit the flush…and since people again fold to my raise, thus paying my way through another set of blinds.

UTG takes their time, then click-raises with 10.78. When they have to be prompted, there are a couple of common scenarios. One is they are multi-tabling, playing more tables than they can handle and it takes them a bit to get around to the ones they are not active on.

The other is they have a big hand…usually Kings or Aces…and are trying how to mazimize value. Of course, these are not the ONLY times so going with those reads exclusively is a bad idea…but I certainly WEIGHT my reads in favor of those two.

So when he click-raises, I have 2.66 and pocket 9s and have a choice. I am not re-raising here…I am ahead of small pairs, suited connectors and stuff like A/K, A/x suited…but way behind 10/10+. I do not want to see a re-raise, with or without position on this guy…besides which, using Phil Gordon’s principle, there is a decent chance (about 25%) someone has a higher pocket pair behind me and might re-raise.

I am not folding, though…ideally, I can flat-call, get a couple callers behind, flop a set and take down a nice pot. The plan seems to be working as the next seat also calls with 3.15. The big blind comes along with 4.18 and we see the flop 4-handed…and with me now one seat off the button.

The flop is the Ks/6c/Qd. With the three opening seats all involved, there is a better than average chance one or more of us have hit the King or Queen…or both. So when it is checked to me, I weigh the odds. If I bet into three other players with an underpair, I am likely to get check-raised by A/K or K/Q. Much better to see if someone makes a move on the turn. No need to play a big pot here.

The turn is the 7c, a pretty harmless card as it hits no likely draws. Again it is checked to me and this time I bet half the pot. The big blind and utg both call, mp folds. So with three of us involved, about the only thing I can be ahead of is A/x clubs. The river is the 3s and, when it is checked to me, I have a pretty clear check.

I think I am most likely against a king or queen with marginal kickers, maybe even one of each. So I am quite surprised to see As/Jh and Ah/10h turned over and take down the pot.

I still like the check. Very seldom here will I be facing two opponents who caught no part of this flop. If I see a check-raise I absolutely have to lay it down here. As is, I saw a cheap flop, took a stab at it when everyone had thrice shown weakness, got two incidents of resistance, and got to see a cheap showdown with a hand with a small bit of show-down value that happened to be best.

UTG+1 limps with 2 even and I check my option in the big blind with 8d/Qc and 3.32. The flop is the Jh/8h/6d and I am still not excited. That hits lots of limping hands like suited heart hands, medium suited connectors, low to medium pocket pairs. I check.

He bets a nickel, my brain stops functioning and I call. I guess holding second pair, modest kicker and no draw gets me excited.

The turn is the 4s, changing nothing unless he holds something like 5c/7c in which case he made a straight. I check and again he bets a nickel. Hmm. Why is he keeping the pot so small? Either he hit a monster…say, a set of 6s or Jacks, maybe 2 pair…or he has a low pocket pair and is hoping I have something like K/2 and am on a draw. I call.

The river is the Ac. I check, if he bets a reasonable amount…say, a pot size bet…I fold. But he checks behind, shows pocket deuces and I win the pot.

His under-bets allowed me to stay in with a marginal hand. Beginning to end his play screamed “weak hand I hope I am good with” where if he played it strongly he wins the pot. A small pot, yes, but better to win 15 cents than lose 15…really a .45 swing including the 15 from the opponent you win or lose.

So now I am feeling my oats and, it is folded to me in the small blind I hold the Qd/Kc, raise it, and the big blind folds.

A bit later on I open from the hijack with 6d/7d. I probably do not call even a limp here as I am not confident in my ability to read higher flushes or big hands. But when I create pressure with the open raise, I can be the aggressor and have good things happen…like winning the blinds.
Yes, it is a very small win, but enough small pots lets me play bigger pots with better hands. Also, even if they call, they miss the flop 2/3rds of the time, I can continuation bet and win a small but nice pot that way.

UTG opens to .20 with 1.53. Now, most people open with a click-raise to .10, a 3xbb raise to .15 or a pot to .17. Normally, the bigger open is a smaller hand that is nervous about action…say a low to medium pair. So when it is folded to me on the button, I have 3.57, As/Kd, and a wish to re-raise and isolate. I bump it to .70.

Folds back to utg who goes all in 1.53. It is .83 to win 2.10, about 2.5-1 and I am most likely in a straight race…I figure he has 10/10 or worse. I pretty much have him locked into a pocket pair and there is a small chance he has Kings or Aces, but I doubt it…the over raise shouts smaller pair to me.

I had actually thought he might fold to my re-raise, he did not, the price is right, I call, and he shows much, much worse than expected…8d/6d. Too bad he then hits a straight to win the pot…but I think I made the right play. I read his weakness correctly, induced him into the mis-play, and he out-drew me.

Between the loss and a blind I dropped all the way to 1.99. This is bad as I start to get gun-shy and soon make a sub-par play. UTG+1 I have Ah/Ac. Now, the correct play here is to open to .15 as usual. But I am feeling puckish, so I make the over-raise to .25, 5 times the blind. I get a call from the middle with 8.71 and the cut-off with 4.84.

This is good and bad…it is good because they need good hands to make that call so I have a decent pot built…bad because, while the individual favorite, I am the overall dog.

The Kd/7s/7h hits. I am now drawing thin against kings…a not unlikely holding…or anything holding a seven…much less likely. I overbet 1.74, only getting called by Kings, something with a seven, or A/K…but they both fold.

I played this hand poorly beginning to end, win a small pot compared to what should have happened. A bet of about .50 would have been a better play. I am playing poorly at this point.The funny thing is…I was playing well until I had a poor result with it, then I play poorly and have a good result.

I just need to settle back in, not get all antsy and start making big bets with decent hands.