Breaking 100

Every so often, I start out too aggressive. Case in point; 1st hand, I pick up 9/2 suited in the big blind. Under the gun +1 click-raises, everyone folds, and I randomly elect to call. I guess because they were suited? No, more because the click-raise often indicates weakness.

The problem with doing this is sometimes you hit. 9d/Js/4c does not hit a lot of pre-flop raises. Maybe pocket pairs or J/10 suited? So I bet out and he re-raises. I am done with the han….what? I called? Hmm. Turn is a harmless 3d.

I bet again and he makes a big re-raise. I belatedly realize I am not just beat but crushed. So I toss off 1.20 on the first hand with 2nd pair, weak kicker. Not a promising start.

Worse, I started with just 5.15 so now I am sitting behind 3.95. On the bright side, I learned my lesson. After several folds, I raise from the cut-off with 4/5 off, the button re-raises, and I fold instead of continuing with a weak hand.

I do not regret the raise as it was the correct move based on frequency of success, and I did not get caught up in “I raised, so am obligated to call the re-raise” type hands.

Well, not that time. Later I raise with a more reasonable 7/8 off, the blind click-raises, and that raise I call. Click raises are often responses to position raises. They usually check-fold the flop. This time the flop is Jh/9H/3D so I have a gut-shot. He raises and I…CALL? What? Turn is the Qd, he raises, I fold. Much too late, but I fold.

Now I go into passive mode. Sitting behind 2.30, with a click-raise and call, I also call from the small blind with pocket 8s, but check fold a flop with an Ace and Jack on it.

I am playing poorly so after a couple more blinds go away, I quit for a while down about 3 bucks. I then restart with 10. This is a curious choice. I do not feel like I was playing well…so why play more? And if I am going to play longer, why risk a larger stack?

First hand, under the gun limps, I check with A/4 hearts. Flop is 7H/Ad/2S. I check-call his .15 cent raise. Turn is the Jd and I check-call .25. And the river is the Ks. Lots of hands beat me, I am only ahead of A/3. I check and win, my aces beating his pocket tens.

Had he simply raised them pre-flop he would have won the blinds. Not great play on my part…but he made it cheap enough I could see the river reasonably.

Sometimes, though, taking a break and catching a break change your methods. I open raise from the small blind with 2/9 off and the big blind folds. When I am playing poorly, I fold that and give away 15 cents.

Sitting behind 10.58, I open from the button with a typical power-house, the 10/3 off. The big blind, with 5.64, calls. I am not too bothered. Lots of big blinds do that and check-fold all sorts of flops. The flop is pretty good for me, 8H/2S/10D. Only hands I am really worried about are A/10, K/10, Q/10, and 10/J. Maybe 9/J for the draw…I bet .40 into the .61 cent pot, he calls.
The turn is the 10S. I backed into trips. Kicker nothing to be proud of…but I like my chances. He checks and I decide to trap, checking behind. The turn is the 5s, giving a flush possibility. Now he leads out for 1.40. Oops.

Do I call? He did call on the flop…he beats me with any ten or any two spades. I should have bet the turn but I got tricky. Do I re-raise? Fold? Aggh! Instead of betting, I got sneaky and now I have a tough decision. Ultimately, I cannot lay down the trips, figuring if he hit the back-door flush, I goofed badly. Sort of. He had the K/Q off, so he was on a pure bluff. I ended up winning a nice little pot.

One easy way to tell if I am playing well or poorly is how I play A/J. This is my trouble hand, and I should just fold it…but it is strong enough to open raise. So every time I see it, I mentally tell myself, “I can raise with this, but I cannot call.” So when I pick it up in middle position, the Under the Gun raises, and I fold, I am happy. I am back to playing decent poker.

Or am I? Later, I pick up A/8 off in the cut-off, plenty good to open raise with in light of some of the trash I play. The big blind calls, and the flop is A/8/8. Does not get much better than that. He checks, and I raise. Very seldom do I slow-play, but in this format, this would be the time to. I pick up a few cents, but he might have caught on a later street.

At the same time, slow-playing is not my style, so it is often not a good idea to switch in the middle of a session. It is a skill I need to add, though. Playing live, I slow-play all the time. Online…not so much.

But I will occasionally take a flier on a hand in position. Some sessions, it is a bad idea to call with A/x suited. This session I make such a call when the cut-off raises to .30 and I am on the button with Ac/9c. The flop is 5h/Tc/2h. He checks and I bet, he folds. I just had him read for being on a position raise, I went with it and it worked. Sometimes this is a good idea, sometimes a bad idea.

A while later I am sitting behind 13.26 in the big blind when the under the gun limps, the hi-jack raises to .45, and I elect to call, as does the original limper. The flop is 6d/4d/Ks. With two players behind me who have both shown strength, I check as do they. The turn is the 6c, I bet, the limper folds, the raiser calls. The river is the Ac, I check, he goes all in 3.01 into the 2.62 pot, and I fold.

I think he was slow-playing a big hand and am fine with this hand. If I had hit my set I think I would have made a nice score.

Nor would being pushed off a pot slow my aggression. Next opportunity, I opened to .30 from the button with J/4 off. As often happens, the big blind calls, I miss the 5s/ks/9h flop, he checks, I bet, he folds. This game is easy…

But it is not just blind aggression. The very next hand I fold J/8 suited from early position. It is all about position. I open fold K/Q off as well. 9/J suited runs into a call and re-raise, time to fold.
Open to .30 from the cut-off with another monster, the 3h/5c. The big blind calls. The flop is 8c/2d/4s. He checks, I bet .40 cents, and he click-raises. I hem and haw briefly. Click-raises scream weakness to me, and if an Ace hits, I think he will call a big bet. I call. The turn is the 6S, giving me the straight. He comes out firing for .70 cents, I bump it to 4.35, he folds. Guess I should have slow-played…

The next hand I am the big blind with 9/Jd…and everyone folds. I pick up the small blind uncontested. Nice!

Several unimportant hands happen, and then one that illustrates why I have loosened up my raising requirements so much. Sitting behind 13. 68, I pick up a real hand, pocket aces under the gun +2. I make my standard raise to .30 and everyone folds. I pick up the blinds and that is it.
Well, if everyone is going to fold when I have Aces, they will fold when I have K/Q off as well. That is an argument that I am folding too many marginal hands. I just have to be willing to lay them down when people play back at me. This belief only grows when the next hand again I have everyone fold to me in the big blind.

There are times when I get a “feel” that people are playing tight on Rush and really widen my raising requirements. This is going to be such a time. Or is it? People play back at me a couple times, do not pay me off when I hit a straight, and I get a hair more cautious.
With 12.07, the under the gun limps, I call from the hi-jack with A/10 suited, the big blind checks. The flop is Qc/7D/8c. They check to me and I bet my flush draw. The big blind folds, the limper calls. Turn is the 4d and he check-calls my bet again. The river is the 9s. I missed. He checks. Now, to figure out what is happening.

There were a couple of draws on the flop; gut-shot straight if he had something like J/10, open-ended straight if he had 9/10, or of course he could be playing suited cards and have missed the flush. Pretty much anything else has me beat, but he might fold with a low pair. I bet, he folds, I win.

A while later I get involved in a hand by accident. I have the suited one gapper, 8/10h in the big blind. 2 limpers, the small blind completes, I check. The flop comes 9d/2d/kc. Checked to me. No hand, no draw, 3 other people in the hand, no need to get involved. Check check check. Turn is the Js. Interesting. A queen gives me the straight to the King, though of course an Ace/10 would crush me, or a 7 would give me the nut straight…provided it is not a diamond. So really 6 clean outs. Might as well bet and see what they think.

20 cents is half the pot, sounds good. One caller. River is the 7c, a perfect card. It completes no obvious draws yet gives me the nuts. The pot is only about 80 cents. How to extract the maximum? I figure he has the 9 or jack and wants to see a cheap showdown. I over-bet, 1.40, trying to look like a desperate bluff. Turns out he had A/J and calls me down. I can see where he would have been nervous about the King so did not re-raise me on the turn, but it also shows the value of aggression. The King was still there on the river, he had no idea where he was in the hand and ended up losing way more than he needed to.

Meanwhile, by betting my draw I kept the price right, controlled the hand, and yes…I got lucky to hit my straight…but by not re-raising the turn and letting me bet it, he gave me the right price.

A while later the under the gun limps, I raise to 50 from the next seat and everyone folds. Open limps spell weakness. (I had A/Q off.)

Sensing weakness often means more than having a hand. Under the gun raises to .35, the small blind completes and I decide I have enough of a hand to call as well from the big blind. The flop is the 8d/4d/Qh. The small blind leads out for 10 cents…into a dollar pot. It does not matter if I hit or not, that is a call…and if nobody was behind me, I might even re-raise. But there is someone behind, so I just call, and he calls as well. The turn is the 5s and again the small blind min-bets, I call, and the first raiser…folds? What? The river is the 8S, the small blind again raises to .10 cents, I bump it to .80 cents, he folds. I take down the pot. If my 10/J off was the best hand, I would be surprised, but I did not need the best hand to win this pot. If I had to guess, the small blind hit the 4 or else had a diamond draw that missed.

Actually, that fits it well…he wanted to see it cheap and made the defensive bet to keep the pot small. But his passive-aggressive under bets just begged me to re-pop him and take it away so I did.

Other times, actually having cards helps. After making a couple poor plays, and having a couple real hands go south, I am sitting behind 9.49. UTG+2 raises to 30 cents, the next guy calls, and I decided to call from the big blind with pocket 7s. Really I plan to flop a set or fold. I miss my set, but the 8c/9d/6s flop gives me an open ended straight to go with my pair. I bet out .40 into a .90 cent pot, the initial raiser meekly folds and the caller calls again. The turn drops the 6h. With no re-raise on the flop, I figure this is my pot to bet, so I do, betting .80 cents this time and again he calls. The river is the 5c, giving me my well disguised straight.

But it is not all sweetness and light. Pocket 8s, 9s, 5s or less likely 6s have me crushed, and all of those are quite believable. Less believable but still possible is the unlikely 7/10. So do I check, hoping to play pot control and/or induce a bluff, or do I value bet? Hey. This is me. Value bet, except I over-bet 2.30. Turns out he had 8/9 and slow-played 2 pair to lose a good-sized pot.
Hence my aversion to slow-playing. A few dozen hands later, I have 11.57 in front of me and pick up pocket 9s in the small blind. Middle position click-raises, it is folded to me, I re-pop to 60 and he calls. I elect to re-raise because playing out of position is no fun. So when he calls, I am thinking I need to hit to win.

I like the flop, 6c/9h/Ad. With any luck, he has something like A/K. I check, he bets .65 cents. Hey, slow-playing sometimes works! The turn is the Jd and I lead out for 1.50 which he calls. The turn is the 3c. Time to value bet. I just echo my last bet, 1.50 and he calls. And shows K/Jh. Wow. I should have gone all in, if he would call a total of 4.25 with second pair he would have called off his last 1.60 as well. I missed a nice pick-up there, but do drag a nice pot.

Play on, winning some and losing some, working my way up to 17.24 when I pick up Aces under the gun. I raise to 30, the next guy calls, the cut-off calls, and the small blind calls. The flop is 6d/10c/Kd. I am hoping one guy has A/J or J/10 and another A/K or something. They all have between 10.56 and 11 dollars except yellowbird with 8.35. First guy checks, I bet the pot, second guy calls, third guy raises to 6.50 and I have to think. How likely is a set?

Pocket 6s or tens probably call there, pocket kings probably re-raise pre-flop. So maybe a set. Maybe a draw. But maybe A/K. I raise to 11.70, they both call all-in. The first guy has q/9 off and is drawing to a gut-shot straight. The second guy has two pair, Kings and tens. Uh-oh…I made a mis-step. I need a 6, ace, or running cards to pair. Fortunately, the turn is an Ace and I pull in 27.88 after the 1.99 rake.

I should have recognized the re-raise meant I was behind. I mis-read the situation and got in trouble against two players. Of course, one of them played much worse than I did. And frankly, calling with K/10 and Q/9, suited or not, is never a recommended play. Those are the type of “marginal hands” that get people in trouble. Top two…I definitely understand the flop raise. And had I waited for the turn, who knows if we would have all gotten it all in? Admittedly poorly played by me…but after all the 21-1 beats I have taken on the river, I do not feel the least bit bad. They called with bad hands, one temporarily took the lead, the other was on a ridiculous draw, and I did have 6 outs twice and 9 outs once. For a pot that big I will take a shot every now and again.

Now I am sitting behind 34.56 and have to make a choice. Often, when I get a big hit like that, I start playing poorly and give a lot of it back. Should I just call it a night or keep playing? I am having fun, have been playing well, so I keep going.

I am picking up lots of pots in lots of ways, and this next one is typical. I open from early with A/Kc. The small blind calls, leaving himself 3.40. The flop is an innocuous 7s/10s/2c. He hesitates, then bets .80. I ponder coming over the top but decide to merely call. I doubt that flop helped him and it feels like a “test the waters” bet. Sure enough, he checks the 6s turn, I bet 1.10, he folds. Nothing exciting or major, not a big pot, but picking up lots of these little ones adds up.

And they come my way more often the more aggressive I am. From the hijack I bump it to .30 and the cut-off calls. He is sitting behind 29.83, so I need to be careful. All I have is the Js/9c. The flop is the Qs/3h/Jc and I do my standard .40 continuation into a .70 cent pot. He calls. The turn is the 7d. He did not re-raise me on the flop, so I doubt the queen. I bet .80 cents and he click-raises. Had he made a legit raise here, he wins the pot. That feels more like a “do you mean it?” query, so I snap-call. The river is the 3s, I bet 2.20, he takes his time and folds. Had I not been aggressive, I probably lose to a J/10 type hand. Instead, I probably stole the pot from a better hand.

And for the second time in the session, I make a poor choice…maybe. Sitting behind 38.49 I pick up A/Kh on the button. I raise to .30, the small blind re-pops to .90. This actually is my first sign they have a hand as usually the small blind folds or at most calls. He is sitting behind 17.96, so I can take him for a lot. I call.

The flop is gorgeous…9h/kc/4h. I have top pair, top kicker, and the nut flush draw. I raise to 1.00 and he goes to 3 almost instantly. Hmm. He did not have to think about it, he has a big hand. He could have A/K, pocket Aces, pocket Kings, pocket 9s, or pocket 4s. For whatever reason, instead of calling, I re-pop to 10/90. He raises all-in and it is 6.16 to call.

I now revise him to having one of the pocket pairs. Only a set would play like that, I am obviously behind. However, there is about 30 bucks in the pot so I am getting 5-1. I am less than 3-1 against making the flush, so my aggressive play means it is an easy call. Sure enough, he flips up pocket kings, so it is top set against nut flush draw. The turn is a harmless 7d, but then on the river I break his heart, catching the 5h.

The irony here is I played this hand poorly. He showed obvious strength pre-flop and on the flop. My re-re-raise to 10.90 might be the most ridiculous thing I have done. Yet my poor play was rewarded with a monstrous 34.02 pot (after the equally ridiculous 2 dollar rake).

But I do not feel bad about it. I have taken a lot of much worse beats from much worse plays. I at least had top pair, top kicker, and a great draw. I am a dog, but not so huge a dog that this is abominable…merely bad play and I am not a good enough player to get away from such a huge draw.

I am, however, good enough to learn from it. In the future, I will just call the re-raise and see what the turn brings, playing some pot control.

Now I am sitting behind 54.55, only 10 bucks below the most I have ever held in a session. Again I consider packing it in, but elect to keep playing. However, I will keep a close eye on it and if I am acting bulletproof…making more calls based on pure aggression instead of reads they are weak….or if I am playing hands I should not or folding hands I should, I will quite. But soon I lay down suited connectors to heavy pre-flop action and re-pop a larger-than-average raise with pocket queens.

Time goes on and I find myself in a raising war. Under the gun I open to .30. The cut-off, sitting behind exactly 10 bucks, elects to bump it up to 80 cents. That is a weird amount. A click-raise goes to .50 cents, a pot-size bet goes to 1.05. So it shows he is a tricky player who actually is putting some thought into how much he wants to re-raise. Turns out I like my hand and want to play it…but want to play it pre-flop so I take my time and then raise to 2.55. He takes his time and re-pops to 6.70. About this point I figure he has Kings or Queens and re-pop to put him all in for his last 3.30. He calls and shows A/K off. This is a guy I want to play more. My Aces hold up and, after rake, I add another 8.81 to my stack. And now I have the most I have ever had, 65.79.
I almost quit just because of that. I am afraid I will play scared, not wanting to lose when I need to play fearlessly and aggressively. But I keep playing. That fear is shortly answered. Under the gun raises to .35, I re-pop with the “pot bet” button to 1.20 with pocket Kings, and he calls. The 8h/5h/5c flop brings a check from him, a raise from me, and I pick up another modest pot.
Again, many better players would say I mis-played this hand…but with just a single pair, I do not want to play a big pot, and my chances of improving are slim. I like to win lots of small plots and play few big ones. Just my style. Unless, of course, I hit the nuts…then I like to play monster pots.

Sometimes when I have deep stack, I will get a wild hair and play a drawing hand. I open to 30 with A/4c figuring I have about a 60% chance of picking up the blinds and a solid 70% chance of winning on the flop with a continuation bet even if called. I get a bit more action when the next seat flat calls and the button click-raises. Well, that just screams weakness to me, so I call the .20 cents.

When I raise to .30, I know it is only a 20 cent raise over the blind, but it FEELS like a 30 cent raise because I am not getting the big blind discount. So when I raise to 30 and he re-pops…into the raiser and a caller…another 20 cents, he is just being ridiculous. I am calling .20 to win 1.05, or better than 5-1, and I assume the next guy will also call so it is more like 6-1. I am calling that all day, all night and most of tomorrow.

So with a pot of 1.65, the flop comes 8c/6c/ks. I hit nothing but do have the nut flush draw. I lead out for .70, the original caller folds, and the button again click-raises. That is at best a feeler bet. And not a smart one. I have to call .70 to win 3.05, so way better than 4-1. Lets say I put him on Pocket Kings. I am getting a stupendous price to draw to the nuts. However, the way he has played that hand, I do not think he is that strong. The click raises indicate a soft Ace or something goofy like K/9, K/10, maybe even a medium pair.

I call. And the turn gives me the nuts. It is the 10c. I love that card. It hits a lot of hands, giving straight draws or making 2 pair with hands like K/10. Now, how to extract the most? I could bet, if I were afraid he had a set and was drawing to the full house. I do not want to give him the infinite odds. But if I think he has a weaker hand, I should check to let him catch up.

I am fairly positive he does not have a set, so at worst I am against 2 pair and a 11-1 favorite. ( I figure if he has 2 pair, then I “know” 8 cards…my own two, the 4 on the board, and that he has 2 cards in his hand that match the board, in which case it does not matter which ones.) If the board pairs, I will re-evaluate at that point…

Except he shoves all in his last 2.18. Easy, easy call. At the moment I have the absolute nuts and worst case scenario is he has a set and is drawing to 10 outs, so I am either an 11-1 favorite, a 4.4-1 favorite, or holding an unbeatable hand. I am not surprised when he flips up A/K, as it fits with how he played the hand, neither being a club. He is drawing dead and I pull down another 8.23 pot.

Now I am sitting behind 71.02 and again the thought crosses my mind…quit while you are ahead. But then I get a wild hair…I want to see if I can break 100. So I keep going.

One good thing about having a deep stack is I can play against more raises. Sitting behind 69.45 I pick up pocket deuces on the button. The cut-off, sitting behind 18.81, raises to .40 cents. Now, if I only have 3 or 4 bucks, I have to fold that because even the implied odds are no good. But here, I am going to try to win 18.81 so I can take a flyer on a trash hand. I call. Then the big blind, with 11.18, raises to 1.90. It is folded back to me.

There is 1.30 in the pot, I need to call 1.60 to win 3.90. A little better than 2.4-1, not even close to the 8-1 odds I need. Worse, if I am behind about 10 bucks or so, it is 20% of my stack and I have to fold here. With almost 70 bucks, it is a drop in the bucket and I can call in position. No need to get fancy, with him re-raising a steal position raise and a steal position caller, he can have a wide range of hands…medium pockets or better, A/10 or better, any suited ace…lets take a flop and see what he does.

8s/jh/2h. Jackpot. I flopped my set. The only obvious draw is a heart flush, though I suppose a super loose player on a move could have re-raised with 9/10 suited and if he did, he is not going away if that suit is hearts. He leads out 3.70. Either he hit the flop hard or else he has an over pair. So I think he has Queens or better, maybe A/J, and less likely a set of Jacks or set of 8s. The 8s seem unlikely and it feels like an overbet for A/J or a flush draw, but they are still possible.

So really, the only hand I am behind is pocket Jacks, and I think he has a better starting hand than that. I think for a bit, then re-raise him a pot-sized bet…he calls his last 5.58 all-in. He has Aces. The turn and river are blanks, I stacked him. Ah, the joys of playing deep-stack…if I folded pre-flop, I would have missed out on a big hit. And sitting behind 79.61.

Ironically, a few hands later I pick up the deuces again. In fact, after a number of folds, it is the next hand I play. With 2 limpers, I complete from the small blind and the big blind checks. I weakly check the 7h/8s/8h flop and fold to a bet after we turn a queen. I should have bet the flop. Even if someone re-raises….a bet is in order here.

But I am not above making a move. On the button I pick up ks/5s. Not a monster, and one I usually fold to any action. This time the cut-off open limps. I decide he is not serious and raise it to .40 cents. To my surprise he calls. The flop is 8d/10d/kd. Great flop for me…suited, straight draws, high cards. He checks, I raise, I win.

At the same time, I miss a possible value bet opportunity. Under the gun open limps, I raise to .50 from the cut-off, the first limper calls. Flop is Ks/10S/2H. He check-calls my raise to .60. Time to put him on a hand. A/10, J/10, medium pair seem most likely. Better and he would re-raise, worse and he would fold. Turn is the 10h. He checks, I bet 1.20, he calls. River is the 6h.
Now, it is unlikely he is slow-playing trip tens and also unlikely he rivered the back-door flush…but possible. All I have is A/K, so Kings up…but one pair on the board. A lot of hands he could have called with…A/10, K/10, J/10…are out there. I meekly check behind and he mucks his J/Q, a missed straight draw. I am up to 80.69.

And starting to get too aggressive. From the cut-off I open raise to .30. The big blind, with 7.96, calls and we take the flop heads up. The flop is 6d/10h/5h and he comes ut betting. I go through the normal routine…A/10, a heart flush draw, J/10, maybe big pocket pair higher than a ten or a set. I re-raise to .70 cents and he calls.

The turn is the 3s and he leads out…for .20 cents. Into a pot of about 2.60. That is a defensive bet. I narrow it down to a likely flush draw and raise it to 1.50. And he calls. I am not happy. I am done with this hand. I have nothing. Then he checks the Ac on the river. If my read is right, he has a modest flush draw and just missed it. I bet 2.60 int the 5.32 pot…and he folds. I win with King high and virtually no chance of having the best hand. Woo-hoo! But stupid…

I get pretty aggressive, splashing around in lots of pots and playing them aggressively. I play pocket kings and K/j off the same way. I pick up several pots, lose a couple, and am having a great time, bouncing around between 79 and 82 bucks.

Presently I call a guy with 10.84 who opens under the gun for .35. That raise indicates they are raising the pot and I have A/q off and position as I am in the cut-off. I often fold here, but this time I call. Mixing up my game I guess. The flop is 2h/2s/3h and he raises .50 cents. For whatever reason, I sense weakness and re-raise to 1.60 which brings a rapid fold.

I keep splashing about, raising pocket 10s on the flop with a king and turn with a queen, raising 2.4 from the button, just generally raising and re-raising like mad. After a while, with 83.18 in front of me, I pick up As/Qh under the gun. I open to .30, sirbluffalot calls with 8.39 from the next seat, a fold, then a re-pop to 80 cents by a guy with only 8.90 to start. Not a good raise yet again…if it is folded to me there will be 1.05 in the pot and the raise will be only 55 cents. I will call that all day. As does sirbluffalot.

The flop is the 9s/Qc/3c. I bet 1.20, sirbluffalot folds, and the re-raiser makes another horrible raise, click-raising to 2.40. I am curious what he is doing here so I call. The turn is the Jd which I am not happy about. It completes the straight if he is playing something like a K/10 maniacally…which his poor betting means he might do. In the right circumstances, K/10 is a good hand. Against an under the gun raiser and a call, re-raising it is begging to be broken. I check…and he checks behind.

What a weird hand. The river is worse, dropping the Ks. I am behind A/K, K/Q, K/J, K/10, K/9…and this guys betting patterns tell me those are all possible. Also possible is some sort of suited connector flush draw or even something like J/10. I raise to 3.50 with my second pair…and he folds the 6.86 pot to me. Wow. So bizarre. What can you re-raise in that situation, click-raise the flop, check the turn and fold the river with? I wish I could see his cards…

A while later, pocket nines on the button. I love pairs on the button. They always seem suspicious when you raise, yet it is entirely possible to have a legit hand on the button. Middle position click-raises, I bounce it to .60 cents, he calls. The flop is Kc/6h/Tc and he checks.

If I re-raise pre-flop and you check to me, I will raise about 95% of the time. I bump it to .70. That is actually a raise I hate, but it makes sense. I raised to .60 pre-flop, so it seems like a weak bet of just slightly more than pre-flop but into a much larger pot…but it fits my ½ -2/3 pot bet size I like to stay with. So it is a real quandary…should I alter it when my flop bet would match my pre-flop bet?

Admittedly, the situation arises more frequently when I raise to .30 pre-flop and get one caller in the blinds as after the rake, the pot is about .61 cents or so. But it also comes up frequently when I re-raise someone pre-flop. Definitely an area I need to work on.

I am not surprised when he calls. The turn is the 8d, he checks, I put him to the test with a 1.60 bet and he folds. All sorts of hands he could have, and his passive play costs him a pot he could have had. With two overs on the board, both of which hit a lot of hands he could reasonably hold, he could make me lay it down with any reasonable raise at several points in the hand.

Later on, it is folded to the small blind who click-raises. I come over the top to .60 cents from the big blind and he folds. I had pocket nines…but I should make that move with deuce-seven, too.
I guess I should show the level of play I sometimes face. Under the gun limps, I call with As/5s hoping to see a cheap flop and hit a flush.

This, by the way, is a poor play that I over-use. Sure enough, the cut-off bumps it to .55 cents and for the rest of the hand I will be out of position against the aggressor. Since he only has 4.41 behind, I will be calling .45 to win 5 bucks but need it to be 7.20 to justify the call. But the limper makes it easy by pushing all in.

Easy fold since that almost always means Aces. The re-raiser calls. I figure Aces versus Kings or Queens or, if a really weak player, A/K. But no, it is…I am embarrassed to write this…pocket tens for the limp-re-raiser versus K/10 suited? What?

The first raise against two passive players I love. Great move, K/10s is a great hand in that instance. But when the limper re-raises you all in, have the discipline to fold. No need to call off another 3.86 with what is now a trash hand. Of course, he got rewarded when he rivered the straight after turning a queen and rivering a jack…and the Ah/qh were on the board which meant his incredibly bad play would have been a royal flush had the river jack been a heart instead of a diamond.

Lets see how I play pocket tens. Sitting behind 86.35, I pick up tens on the button. I open to .30 cents and the big blind comes over the top all in for 13.78. Wow, massive overbet…small to medium pair? A/K? Aces, Kings, Queens? We will never know. I am not risking that amount pre-flop when I might be a 3-1 dog or worse when I can simply fold and go back to raising monsters like the K/3 off when I have position. Easy fold.

After all, a weak hand like pocket tens cannot compare to a power house like 3h/9c. Under the gun limps, everyone else folds, I check from the big blind. The flop is 2s/3c/10d. That hits very few limp-worthy hands so I lead out with a pot-sized bet, 20 cents. He calls. The turn is the 6d which does hit a few suited connector type hands but I lead out for 30 cents anyway and he folds. Clearly, proper aggression works for me.

Sometimes I chase my draws too long. I am in the cut-off with A/6h and two people limp to me. I decided to try to see a cheap flop and limp along. The big blind checks and we take the flop four handed. The flop is decent…8c/Jh/5h. For me, this is a pretty good flop. I have the nut flush draw and got in cheap. As long as it stays cheap, I am happy.

First guy checks, second guy bets .25 into a 42 cent pot. Third guy folds, I call, first guy folds.

The turn is the Jd which is one of the worst cards in the deck from the standpoint of now I would believe lots of hands that have trips, so even if something like the King of Hearts rolls off I do not want a big pot. Well, he checks, and, never one to be smart, I bet .50 cents, trying to take it down. He calls and the river is the pseudo-beautiful 9h giving me the 5th nuts.

Of course, he is UNLIKELY to be playing the J/9, J/8, J/5 and if he had pocket jacks he would have played it different, so when he checks I go ahead and make a value bet of 1 dollar, which he calls with pocket tens. Perfect. I sucked him in, and on the river got him to pay off with a worse hand. His cautious check on the turn, while prudent, probably made an extra 1.50 for me as I doubt he calls nearly as much if the pot was smaller.

The thing is, I was getting a pretty good price pre-flop and on the flop, not necessarily straight pot odds, but implied odds for sure. However, though I did pull in a pot of 3.69, in the long run that is a losing play because I called a total of 35 cents and to properly play the hand, I need to get about 5.60. This is a play I make quite a bit that if I tighten up might improve my overall results.

It is just so hard for me to lay down what could turn into the nut hand. But it is hard to get paid off when you are holding the nuts. All of which makes it very hard to get the right price on it which means I need to make smarter decisions. This is one way I can become a much stronger player with better long-term results.

It is not easy to ignore the lure of a potential big pay-off, but it should be because I can make nearly the same amount just by picking up numerous small pots with aggressive raisers instead of a few modest pots with passive calls.

Example; the next hand I play I raise the Qs/6d from the cut-off, perhaps a seat too early for this hand except I have notes on the big blind. Sure enough, everyone folds. Now, I have been raising the blinds left and right but mention this one just to contrast it to the hand that looks good because I won but was actually poorly played when examined more closely. Here I raise a trash hand and pick off the blinds.

The next hand I play I open to 30 under the gun with Ah/js, the big blind calls and check-folds to my continuation bet on a 2h/Qd/Ac flop. I like that even more than just winning the blinds. An extra 20 cents a shot is always nice. And it does not require cards.

From the cut-off I open to .30 cents with the Kc/3h. The button calls and we take the 9h/8s/2c flop heads up. I lead out for 40 cents, he folds. Who needs flush draws? It is a hard lesson to learn, but I need to learn it. In three hands I have picked up almost a buck…and with the flush hand, I only made like 1.80. But here I have risked the same 30 cents three times, there I risked the 35 cents I called and the 50 cents I lead out on the turn. Play smarter, not luckier. Grr.

Again I raise from the cut-off, though by some quirk of nature I actually have a pseudo-respectable hand, the Js/Kh. Both blinds call sitting behind 9.91 and 11.30 each. I am pretty happy when the flop is Jd/Ks/3c. If I am going to raise trash hands, flopping Kings up is a pretty good result. They check to me and I continuation bet. The small blind checks, but the big blind check-raises me to 1.75. Suh-weeeeeet! Flat call or re-raise?

If he has A/K he will keep raising, if he has A/J he might be done either way, if he has K/10 or worse he is done. I flat-call, he checks the 2s turn, I bet out and he folds. I end up picking up a nice 4.11 pot when all I was really trying to do was to steal the blinds.

And for the first time, I am over 90, sitting behind 90.81.

And then I get a couple people playing back at me, a couple flops I get re-raised, and get down to 86.61. So I tighten up, go back to just trying to win the blinds and start building my way back up.

And one hand shows why raising the big blind is always wise. I am able to check in the big blind with 7/10off. I flop a 7, bet it, get called, turn a second 7, bet my trips, get called, river the full house, bet but they fold. Still, they gave me over a buck when a pre-flop raise would have driven me off the hand. I can raise that trash but will not call with it.

Sitting in the small blind, I call the button’s raise to 30 cents with the 9h/10h. The big blind also calls and we see the 6h/7h/4c flop. I have a flush draw and two over cards and no chance of winning a showdown. Time to bet my draw. I lead out for 40 cents, the big blind folds, and the button calls. It is at this moment that I decide he is on the flush draw and am no longer sure I want to hit mine. The turn is the Ac and I figure it is a good bluffing card, so I lead out for 80 cents and he calls. The river is the Js. I have nothing. But I also think he has nothing. He has a busted flush draw. I lead out for 2.10…and he folds. I win the 3.08 pot with what absolutely has to be the worse hand.

A while later with one middle position limper I complete from the small blind with the Kh/Js. What a weak move. The big blind checks and we see a 7H/Jh/Kd flop. I bet .40 cents, the big blind re-pops to 2.35. For whatever reason, I decide he cannot have A/K or K/Q or two pair and raise his last 1.43 to put him all in. He calls…and we split the pot with both of us having K/J off. I played very poorly in this hand. Tying a pot costs money as you lose to the rake…and I was very fortunate he did not have one of the better hands.

Yet aggression overall has done well for me. Sometimes it lets me have multiple chances to win a pot; I can stay in a hand I am betting that I could not stay in if facing a raise. With Qc/Kd I open to 30 cents from middle position, the cut-off calls and we take the flop heads up. He is sitting behind 10.33 so I need to be careful, by which I mean make a continuation bet of .40 cents into a .61 cent flop on an As/3d/Jd flop which he calls.

If he had re-raised me I would have to fold a gut-shot, but with what Cloutier calls the “first in vigorish” I keep the initiative. The turn card is great, the 10h. I hit my straight. Never one to slow-play, I keep betting, 90 cents and he calls. The river is a harmless 8s, I have the nuts. I am afraid he will check behind if I slow down, so bet 1.20. Sure enough, he has just enough to call…an A/Q…but probably would not have bet. He had me crushed on the flop, played conservatively, and I pull in a 5.37 pot.

After a few more blind steals I am sitting behind 94.21 when I pick up Jd/Kd in the small blind. It is a requirement to raise this strong a hand when folded to, and I oblige, only to be called by the big blind, sitting behind 4.28. The flop is 10s/Kc/5h and I continuation bet 40 cents which he calls. The turn is the 6c, I raise to 80 cents and he does the “has yet to work” click-raise move which I call. Now we have a large pot, the river is the 8c and I bet 2 bucks, with him having just 1.98. He calls and shows Ac/10d. I take down the 7.99 pot.

What was he thinking? That I bet the flop and turn, called a re-raise on the turn, and bet the river with nothing? He has the Ace of clubs, so I guess not being afraid of the runner-runner flush makes sense…but calling off 4.38 with second pair against constant aggression? Very interesting maneuver. Not a good one…but at least interesting. These are the players I want to be in a lot of pots with because while there are plenty of better players on here and I tend to do poorly against them.

So now I am at 97.92 and desperately wanting to get to 100 dollars just to say I have done so.
After a while I am at 99.19 and think I have it for sure. Under the gun click-raises, I am under the gun + 2 and re-raise to .75 cents with pocket Aces. I figure he will call and check-fold the flop and I will quite with over 100. But everyone folds. My Aces pick up 35 cents…but not enough to bring me home. I laugh quietly to myself, thinking I have made much more with 2/7 than Aces.

A while later, 2 people limp, I complete the small blind with 10c/Qd…and the big blind, correctly sensing weakness, busts it to .70 cents. One limper folds, the other one and I call and the flop comes down 10s/6d/Ah. Never one to shy away from raising second pair, I raise it 1.20, they both fold, and I have 100.90. I instantly fold the next hand and quit.


Koffee Barn and Starving Crazed Weasels

Played lots of free poker Friday and Saturday. A few things stood out,.

First, I had a pretty good read on people both nights...and sometimes, that does not matter.An example from the Kofee Barn (Teriyaki House soon...ycu) I raised pre-flop and flop with the best hand a couple times, then they turned and/or rivered better hands, raised, and I did not mae the crying call.

The problem is, when you only start with 3K chips, losing just one or two hands puts a serious crimp in your style. So I got down to about 1300 or so with blinds at 50/100. My M was under 10, so I was definitely looking to make a move.

About that time Paul came to our table with 2 other players. Paul was big blind, I was the button and he and I were continuing some of our long-running good natured smack. We have played together quite a bit over the years and I respect his game and think he respects mine.

So in the process of our smack talk, he says, "You better not be raising my blinds like you always do" to which I replied, "well, I am the button, so you know I am raising."

The first two guys then limp into the pot. I casually glance at my cards and announce, "Raise".

With 350 in the pot already, 1300 left, any raise will pot commit me, so I then follow up, "I am all-in."

This brings the table to a halt as they all stare at me. "Told you I was going to raise your blinds, Paul." I said.

He disgustedly tossed his cards away. The under the gun limper hesitated a long time. "I have not played with you much" he said. I could tell he was fishing for information.

So I sent mixed signals, both that I wanted and did not want a call. He folded, I raked the pot.

Later I told them, " I cannot tell a lie. I had pocket kings." (which was true...that was what I raised with, figuring they might call). Then I took it back, saying, "Oh, I did not mean that hand...I meant a couple nights ago." It brought the desired laugh.

well, I soon had a great read on the table, and after Roman busted out, I just started rolling, building a nice stack without ever having to show down a hand. I just knew what they had and folded when behind, bet when ahead, and bet when they were ahead but felt weak.

By the time we reached the final table, there was only one player I thought was even close to my skill level. She used checks, raises, re-raises, and calls to define hands and was doing great until she ran into an over-pair, queens versus kings that she mis-read.

When she busted out, I looked around and, for the first time I can remember, sat at a table where I believed I was not just a good player, but the best player at the table and not by a little.

That is one thing about the Starving Crazed Weasels league...sure, bluffing is a horrible idea usually, but other than that, it is actually a pretty solid league. There are at least 6 players I think are equal or better to my skill level, and I seldom feel like the best player.

There are people there who give me more trouble than even random strangers playing online.

Got to the final table with a modest stack. Soon built it up to about 30K when a hand came up that I still question. With blinds at /48K and three players, the button raised to 8K. The sb called, and I had a choice.

The button was a solid player who bet when he thought he had the best hand but over-valued pockets and top pairs. The small blind was a girl going back and forth between wanting to go home and wanting to win, so her play was pretty erratic. I had J/10 suited...not really worthy of a call, but then again...4K to win 20K...5-1 is hard to pass up. I called.

The flop came J/9/blank, giving me top pair and a flush draw. Before we could act, the original raiser was grabbing chips. We checked to him, he raised 17K. She folded, and I had a decision.

If I called, I was going all-in. Problem is, I just knew he had A/J, and the Ace was probably the club Ace. That meant I was drawing to 12 outs twice, 4-1...and getting 3-1 on my chips.

Of course, I would have the re-raise strength, but this guy, if he has top pair or an over-pair, is not capable of laying it down. (Twice I watched him pay off flushes he did not even see because he had straights).

So I was pretty much putting my tournament on the line on a draw. Or I could fold, rely on my believed better skill, and keep my chips. I elected to do that.

He never said what he had, but the very fact i was thinking through this out loud...not the part about him not being able to lay it down, but definitely the "I think you have A/J and backdoor flush draw, I need to call 17 to win 41 so 3-1" part completely demoralized them both.

And not long after, he was gone, we got down to heads up.

It was so easy. She checked, I bet because she had nothing. She bet, I called if I had anything and folded if not. In this manner I twice doubled up when she bet into my made flushes. I could have beaten her, but I was bored and wanted to go home, so I went into maniac mode, betting and raising with nothing and it took me about 4 hands to go from chip lead to out.

The next night, I wanted to play well. I seldom win the SCW tournaments because they are actually among the toughest I play. You not only have to get the cards, you have to play them correctly.

Early on I was catching cards. Took nice pots with Pocket Aces, with a couple straights and flushes, a bunch more with a full house. And it is full houses I want to talk about.

On the first, I checked my full house on the river because I mis-read one of the two guys in the hand and thought he had Quads. As it turned out, he had K/Q and thought his hand was good, while the other guy had a lower full house, and my tens full of Aces were good.

Not raising a full house on the river tells you how poor my read was. That is an obvious raise.

Meanwhile, another hand came later. A couple limpers, I completed from the small blind with 7/9, and my brother checked in the big blind. The flop was 5/5/5. Ugly. Check, check, check.
Turn was a 7. I had the full house. I bet about 3/4 the pot. My brother announced, "I have two high cards, so I have to call", most folded and Fox called.

The river was a ten and my brother gave off his tell. I have something on him that lets me know when he has a big hand. It is pretty reliable. So reliable that I checked my full house.

He bet. Fox called. I looked at my full house....and folded.

Correctly, I might add. Fox had a flush, and my brother had the full boat, 5s full of 10s.

I am pretty proud of that. That makes I believe three times I have laid down a full house in live action and I have been correct every...single...time.

Does not mean it is easy...full houses are rare and hard to come by. At the same time, knowing to lay it down made my night.

From there I went on a rampage and ended up winning, a rarity I am not disappointed in as there were 15 people...and at the start of the night, I thought it was about as tough a table I have ever been at there, with Kenneth, Kevin, Phillip, Pete, Robin, Rick and Tracy at the table. that includes three of the toughest reads I have, the person who reads me maybe even better than Emily, two tight players who are pretty determined, and a guy capable of making moves with any two cards. No easy pots there.

To not only survive that table but be building a stack was something I was pretty proud of. But laying down the full house...that was memorable.


A bad day Rushing with good results

Sat down to play a bit of Rush. Decided to start with 5.25. As a general rule, starting small forces me to be patient and aggressive. Other times I am just not sure if I really am in the right frame of mind and it will theoretically minimize my losses.

First hand I pick up 6s in the big blind. I like to set mine with these.

Well, Under the Gun limps, the small blind completes, and I…make my first error of the session. This is clearly a raising situation. Most of the time a raise to about 50 cents will win the 30 cent pot, an easy, nearly risk free 20 cent pick up.

I lie to myself that I want to play for a big pot. Problem is…with two limpers, what hand can give me a set that they will play a big pot for? MAYBE a flush…but then I don’t want to play a big pot. So that was a clear mistake.
Flop has an Ace and King, the sb bets 30 and I meekly fold.
- 10 cents

Next couple hands I fold (one in small blind with .35 cent raise and holding 3/5 off).
I fold the big blind to an early raise to 40 cents.
- 10 on hand, - 25 total…all Blinds.
I fold an unsuited 9/10 in the SB to a 35 cent button raise.
-5, -30
On the button I fold off suit J/8 to 40 cent middle position raise.

2 behind the button I pick up pocket 5s. It is folded to me so I raise to 30 cents and the big blind calls.
The flop is Th, 9c, 5c. I am somewhat happy with that flop, though not ecstatic. There is a possible flush draw and the 9/10 hits a lot of hands people call with…10/J, Q/K type hands…that could turn into bad turn cards for me. Forget the slow-play, I bet 50 cents and he folds.
+61 cents, overall +.01 cent.

This is the type hand I am not always sure how to play. I could check here, but I want to charge him to draw. Sure, I will improve to a full house or better 1-in-3 times. They will improve to a flush or straight sometimes, but will not always be on those draws.

So this might be a place where a little less aggression could lead to bigger over-all wins but with more variation. However, I am not sure it fits my play style. I think I prefer winning lots of small pots with minimal variation.

I fold a couple UTG hands, then open-fold a 5/7off from the cut-off. This was a mistake. That is a clear raising situation. Probably left 15 cents on the table.
Open fold early with J/8 off.
UTG fold 3/8 off.

I am dealt Qh/9H in the big blind. The button click-raises, the small blind folds, and I call. I am getting 3-1 for a drawing hand…but I am more playing the position bet.

The flop is pretty innocuous, a 4/8/6 rainbow. I lead out for 30 cents. Usually this results in a fold, but this time he calls. At this point, I should be done with the hand. I took my shot, it failed. No big deal.
Turn puts a second diamond, the 10 on the board. Now I have a gut-shot that has no value. For some inexplicable reason…I bet 50 cents. And he calls.
And the river is a 4 diamonds. Anyone who had the four will re-raise me, anyone who had something like middle pair, back-door flush draw has a flush now. I am obviously done with this hand…by which I mean I idiotically bet 1.10 which he snap calls with his pocket Aces.
So I bet 1.90 into a pair of aces. Well done. I have played hands worse before…but not many. This was a disaster. Overall I lost 2.10 on the hand.

I do not hate my pre-flop call or even my flop bet. After that…I played about as bad as someone could.
I fold middle trash to early raise and under the gun trash. Then, on the button, I open-fold. Do my cards matter? That is a clear raise.

I would not hate my fold if I did it for the right reason. But I thought to myself that, fresh off that horrific hand I had just played, I did not want to bluff off anymore money. That is the wrong reason. So I left a good situation without playing the hand. Bad play.

I am having a really bad session so far.
One off the button I fold Q/8 off to an early limper.
Early fold 2/7o. Middle position q/9 off folded to raise.
Early position 3/4 off hits the muck.

Under the Gun I fold K/10 suited. This is probably a good fold. Weak hand, early position…but then again, almost 70% of the time when I raise under the gun everyone folds. It is a sign I am playing tight, and somewhat looser is better. In this game, a healthy number of open raises picks up a lot of small pots, and a continuation bet works a very high percentage of the time. Whereas I routinely fold K/10 suited against a raise or, in a normal game, from anywhere but late position, it is a clear raising hand on Rush.

I fold 5/1o suited in small blind to open-raise from button.
I pick up A/q off in the big blind. The hijack min-raises. Again…very clear re-raise here and I weakly call. I am better off folding than calling and better off raising than folding. Yet another weak play. I wonder why I am only sitting behind 3.26 when this hand started?

Flop is Ks, 2C, 7C, a very clear raising flop. I meekly check-fold. Another poorly played hand.

I fold K/Q off in sb to early raise to 40.
Open fold 10/5 from mid-late. When I am running well that is a raise.

I pick up A/K off in the cut-off. I already know I am raising or re-raising. UTG raises to 30. UTG+1 re-raises to 1.05. I am in the “squeeze” position. I can either go all-in or fold. I choose the latter. Good choice…as the BB calls behind as does the initial raiser and they get it all in, pocket Kings versus pocket Aces.

A couple forgettable folds, then I pick up pocket tens utg+1. I open raise to 30, the BB calls. Flop is A/Q/4, 2 spades. He check-calls my 40 cent raise.
Turn is Jack, checks all around and we both check the river 3. He wins with K/Q off, his pair of queens beating my tens.

It is possible a turn raise would have won…but doubtful. Most people with second pair, good kicker (and a gut-shot at that point) will call the turn and I did not have enough behind to bet him off at the river…nor, on that board, would I have tried. I am fine with my play on this hand.

Usually, when I bet there people fold so when he did not, I was done with the hand.

Now I have only 2.31 and pick up 7s UTG+1. I raise to 30, next guy calls. Flop is A/8/8, 2 spades. I continuation bet 40 cents, he calls, I am done with the hand. I check-fold to a two on the turn.

A few forgettable folds, including J/3 off in BB to raise.
Another weak open-fold from button with 1.51 and 4/5 off and another with 3/8H.

Pick up A/Kc UTG+2, raise to 30, the hijack and bb call. Flop is K/9/3 rainbow. With about 1.21 and a 90 cent pot the choice is clear…all in, no callers. I win a hand.
Now 2.10, but fold big blind with 5/8 off with a limper and raiser to me, down to 2. even.

A/J UTG I raise to 30, 1 caller.
*** FLOP *** [3d Td Qh]
I continuation bet 40 cents, he raises to 4.91 all in. Obviously he has me more than covered. Why the over-bet? He is clearly not paying attention to his opponent so could be on bluff…but that is all I can beat. I am not playing poorly enough to call off my chips on a gut-shot getting less than 3-1 so an easy fold.

I maybe should have folded pre-flop…but what are normally “series 3” type hands in tougher games are often top hands in this, so I do not feel badly about it. Actually, I am glad I did it as it shows I am starting to get aggressive again.

Except a lot of folding ensues, including two sb when limped or raised to but with weak hands, and a BB fold with 3/5 off when button raised.
UTG + 2 I open raise A/10 off and win the blinds. (This, by the way, demonstrates why I think raising A/Jo of K/10H is a good move).

However, I was still playing timid. A few good folds, then I picked up pocket 3a in the BB. The button open-raised to .35, a clear raising situation, but I merely called (fold or raise! NO CALL!) and check-folded on a K/9/4 rainbow. Badly, badly played.

Now I have just 90 cents in front of me. On the button I pick up A/Ks. UTG+2 raises to .35 and I am already planning my all-in…when the cut-off raises to 1.40. I am much happier raising all-in with A/K than calling…but there is 1.40ish I can win already in the pot so I call all-in and first villain calls.

Flop is A/K diamonds and 5c. I am felling good about aces up…until utg+2 raises a buck and cutoff re-raises all in. UTG+2 folds and cut-off shows….A/3 clubs? I am running good to pick up a nice pot if he cannot pick up runner-runner threes or clubs.

What a weird hand. What could UTG+2 have had? And what did KarnieB think he could beat to push all in with top pair, weak kicker?
Anyhow, good for me. Back to 2.66.

Made a few unremarkable folds, then picked up A/Ko in the hi-jack. UTG+2 raises to .35. Obviously I am re-raising here…and here is where tournament play is different. IN a tournament, low on chips, it is a clear all in. Here I should have raised to about 1.05.
Instead I went all-in, he called with pocket 10s and I never improved. I had given up my buy-in.

I did not feel bad about the buy-in…but I knew I was being too conservative, then making up for it by being aggressive at the wrong times. So I put in another 5 and went back to work.

Couple folds, then open-raised pockets 5s from the cut-off, nobody called, +15 cents.
Fold J/5s in BB to 35 cent open-raise from button.
Fold K/2s in sb to early raise, couple other folds.

Finally pick up A/Jo in bb and the cut-off just click-raises. When I am playing well I re-raise here but this time I just call.
And here is why I should raise pre-flop. The flop is A/K/10 rainbow. Pre-flop, I was behind any pair but ahead of any Ace 9 or below. Now I am behind any A/10 or below and WAY behind any A/Q or A/K. A/Q might be worse, as if I hit my kicker, they hit a straight.

At the same time, this could be a hard hand to get away from. So I want to play a small pot. I check. He checks behind. The turn is an innocuous 2h, I bet .20 and he folds. I pick up a 42 cent pot. It would have been bigger had I properly raised pre-flop…either because I would not have gotten the 3 cent rake or because he would have called and built the pot. Even though I won, I feel like I played the pre-flop portion of the hand poorly. I like my flop and turn play. On the flop, if he bets I can raise to see if he has it, and represent a better hand than I have. The turn gave us a flush draw, so I need to charge him to make it.

The usual progression of folds follows.
I pick up pocket 5s in middle position and open raise to .30. The big-blind click raises to 50, I call and we take the flop heads up.
He leads out with 50 cents into a 9/k/7 2 suit flop. I am not interested in losing a big pot with a little hand, so I fold.

I actually like my play on this. I mask my hand by not limping, his raise meant I was calling 20 cents to win 45, or a little more than 2-1…but he had me covered, so I was playing for 5 bucks if I hit my hand. If I miss, well…minimal investment for potentially huge reward, it is easy to let it go.

A few other easy folds, including 8/3o in sb when utg open raises 1.15 all in.

UTG+1 open raises to .21 cents and I call from the next seat with pocket 6s. And here lies the danger…A middle position guy re-raises to .99, another guy calls, the original raiser folds and it is .78 cents to me.
I do not mind this much. I have two other players, and the hands that give me a set while not giving them enough to call are few and far between. Additionally, after their pre-flop action, they are highly likely to raise, even if they miss it, and if I hit I am looking good to triple up.

I would prefer to play it for less and .99 cents but…
Wow, what an ugly flop. J/8/10 rainbow. Two other people in the hand, I am done. They get it all in….Q/K versus set of tens. The straight never completes, but it doesn’t matter…I had long moved on to the next hand by the time the river arrived.

Folding time…including 8/9o in bb against a raise and call in front of me. If I had a deep stack I might think about this for a bit, but then I am sure I would still wisely fold.
A bunch more folding, including open-folding J/5 suited in small blind. That is a huge mistake because the BB is likely to fold.
I fold some more, including BB to raise to 40 when I have 4/7o.

Finally I raise to 40 (the cut-off limped in and I was blind-stealing) from the button and…uh-oh, BB calls. Flop is 10/9/10 2 suited. I bet 70 cents and he folds. Good, solid aggression pays off.

Fold brigade including 2/4s in sb to raise

UTG+2 I open raise to 30 with A/9s. The cut-off and big blind both call. The flop is nice, a 9/10/6 rainbow. When I was the pre-flop aggressor, I am almost always the post-flop aggressor as well. No way for people to know if I hit anything or not. Here, I have second pair, top kicker, so I bet into two people, raising to 60 into pot of .89. They both fold and I collect a nice gain.

And it really feeds into what I am learning. Aggression, properly channeled, means you do not necessarily need cards. They were folding whether I had a pair or not. At the same time, when people play back at you, if you do not have cards, you have to be willing to lay it down. Sometimes I am…sometimes not so I need to watch that.
But I am starting to return to my aggressive ways. I open to 30 from the hijack. Only the cut-off calls. The flop is Ad/Jd/4c, I lead out for 40 and he folds. Guess my K/10o was the best hand…

Very next hand it is folded to me in the Sb. I raise, bb folds. Does not really matter I had A/8. I made the right poker move and that is what matters. It also brings me back to 5. even, though still down 5 overall.

Next hand, I am small blind. UTG limps, UTG+1 limps, KarnieB (whom we saw earlier) click-raises to .20. Hmm. Two early limpers…small pairs or suited connectors probably? And a min-raise. Earlier in the session when I was playing passively and poorly, I would flat call, but here I raise to .90 and everyone folds.

I make the correct play again and get a great result…I make 50 cents (2 limpers, BB, and the 20 cents from KarnieB).
I then fold the 5/7 bb to an early raise. There are times to be aggressive and times to move on to the next hand.

A few folds follow, including folding the hijack with A/9off after early limp and a couple raisable button-hands after early limps.
UTG+3, pick up the cowboys and open to 30. The bb pauses, thinks, then raises to .50. That is only 20 cents to me.

The pot is now 1.5; my 30 cents, the small blind, his bb and call, and then his raise. Now, if he gives me a serious raise, I probably just call. But this raise is begging me to run him off the pot. It feels like a big ace or medium-big pair. Really, the only hand I fear is Aces and his re-raise is too weak for that. If he had aces, he probably would have raised the pot or so.

So now, how much to re-raise? He has 3.45 behind, so any raise by me should pot-commit him. I get lazy and raise all-in. He snap-calls…with Big Slick. Sweet, he is drawing to 3 outs.
He never improves, and I rake a 7.42 pot in. Now I am sitting behind 8.87 and feeling much better about my game. I am starting to get aggressive, making the right reads and moves.
Next hand, bb with a/5 off. I check with about 4 limpers and then check-fold a Q/K/K 2 suited flop. With that many people involved, I am way behind. How far behind? Well, one of the limpers had pocket Aces…which means only running 5s would let me win, otherwise I am drawing to a runner-runner split pot with him. By the same token…he won the pot, and it was just .94 cents.

By which I mean the “clever” play of limping with Aces is not for me. It forces you to play small pots when ugly, dangerous flops hit. On this one, there were straights, flushes, and even anyone with a goofy hand like K/J has him crushed…and that is a hand LOTS of people play on Rush. Just one more reason I hate the limp. It fails more than it works. And when it works, you seldom make enough to make up for the times it does not.

Next hand I have 7/9 in the cut-off. Not a great hand…but it can hit a middle pair or hidden straight draw. It is certainly worth an open raise…but I fold. And several more folds follow.
I pick up A/10o in middle postion and open to 30. The bb calls, and then check-folds a k/3/6 two suited flop. Controlled aggression works well. And people do that all the time. Occasionally they will lead out on the flop or even re-raise, but most of the time it is call-check-fold. I love it.

Next hand, sitting behind 9.08, I pick up Big Slick in the big blind. UTG min-raises, UTG+2 raises to .75 and I….fold? What? I guess the re-raise MIGHT be Aces or Kings or even Queens…or might be someone like me who re-raises lots of hands. Oh well. Folds seldom bad.

Couple more folds and, with 8.98, pick up Queens on the button. I love this…button raises are usually suspicious, so a big hand there can get you paid sometimes. UTG limps, UTG+1 raises to 1.41 all-in. Decision time.

Obviously I am not folding, but do I flat-call trying to pick up a blind or limper or do I re-raise trying to isolate? Well…I would not be surprised by anything from any pocket pair to A/10o or A/xs. I doubt he has Aces or Kings, but he might. A raise here builds a big pot that will be hard to get away from if an Ace or King flops, so a call seems wise.

Everyone folds, and he flips up…K/9 of clubs? What? Awesome! And I have the Queen of clubs, so I am blocking both straight and flush draws. By the river there are 2 Aces on board and I pull in a nice pot.

In fact, it is nice enough I am now sitting behind 10.44. Since I lost 5.15 earlier and then put 5 back in, I am not in as good as shape as it looks…on the other hand, I am now ahead by .29 cents which feels pretty good after playing so poorly earlier.

At the same time, it is sometimes bad because I start thinking about whether I am up or down and playing based on that instead of what I should do. Example; a few proper folds, then I pick up q/6o on the button.

Only someone being exceptionally charitable would call this a marginal hand…but on the button it is a clear raising hand. I do not want to get “stuck” again so I open-fold it. Bad play.

A few hands later, I raise the A/10s from middle position. The button, sb and big blind all call and suddenly we have 1.20 in the pot (pre-rake). Oops…

Well, the flop is decent. 2/2/k rainbow. If I was ahead before, I am ahead now. If I was behind before, I am behind now. The blinds check to me, I bet .60 into the pot and everyone folds. After rake, I pick up 1.12.

I used to check those flops figuring “there are three people, one of them has the king”. Now I bet as if I have it…and good things happen.
Several folds later, including a sb and bb to raises, I open-fold a 4/5 in the sb. This is always a mistake. Raise that!

Very next hand I fold the bb with k/jo a cutoff raise.
I know I am playing too soft, but several folds (one sb) follow until I pick up the same K/Jo in the sb and open for 30. The BB re-raises.

This is a clear fold. It is seldom indeed that someone plays back at me, and Estrike has no notes on him so he has not done so before. Believe him! Or I could idiotically call. Which I do. And then I bet into a 10/q/8 2 suited flop and he re-raises. With a double belly buster I call. The turn pairs the board. I check. He waits…waits…waits…and then bets 2/3 pot. I fold 2.25 or so too late. Gave away a lot of money I did not need to.

I still like my initial raise and do not hate my call or lead bet on the flop…but no way should I have continued past there. Save a dollar.

So now I am down to 8.41. This is bad because for the night I am stuck 1.74. But since I am not going to be tentative…it will let me play. Hopefully.
A few folds, then I open to 30 from early middle position. 2 calls and then the bb comes over the top 11.85 all in. EyesMindAssassin with the massive overbet for the win as nobody calls.

From the cutoff I then open-fold q/8o. Again, not a great hand…but I need to raise there. The next hand I have k/5 suited and do open from the button and pick up the blinds.
A button fold to 2 limpers, then I find myself with 6/6 in the big blind. I call a hijack raise to 40 and see a 10/10/2 flop into which I lead out, he folds, and I pick up the pot. Just .61 cents, 30 of which is mine…but I pick up 30 cents here, 15 cents there…it adds up.

In fact, when I pick up a lot of blinds, it lets me chase a few more draws that can turn into big pots. So it is well worth doing.

Next hand, middle position limps, I limp behind with 5/5, and the next guy bumps it to 30 cents.

This is a bad, bad raise. Two limpers have put in ten cents apiece and the pot has the blinds already, so it is a .20 cent raise after they fold. The first limper needs to call 20 to win 65 and, after he calls, I need 20 to win 85, or better than 4-1. Easy call.

And great flop. Jc 5h 2h. I flopped a set, just one draw. I bet .50. The pre-flop raiser, to my delight, bumps it to 1.50. The first limper folds, and I have to think. His most likely hands include suited A/J, over-pair, or a flush draw.

If he has an over-pair or A/J NOT hearts, I want to slow-play here. If he has A/J Hearts, he has 11 outs twice, 44%…I want him all-in NOW while I am a favorite (and have the re-draw to the boat). If he has Queens or Kings I want him all in now before an Ace kills my action. If he has Aces, he will get it all-in unless he is one of the better players on here.

I raise all-in, he insta-calls and has pocket Kings. One is the heart, so he has a back-door flush draw…and a 9H falls on the turn. Uh-oh…but the river is a blank, and the 16.42 pot is shipped my way.

This is why I am not afraid to set-mine even against raises like earlier. Sure, I lost a buck there…but I can do that if I can double up when I hit. Besides which, people regularly fold both pre-flop and flop, so I can realistically expect to win over half the pots I am involved in with even pedestrian pairs like deuces when I am playing with proper aggression.

Yet I also have some coward in me. Several folds later, I have a/6o in sb and fold to a raise. I usually do because I am out of position with not just a weak hand but an easily dominated one. Any A/7 or above is a quite believable hand, so there is really no flop I will be happy to see. So good fold.

A couple folds later, UTG limps and in the next seat I do as well with pocket deuces. Sometimes I will try to see a cheap flop with a drawing hand. Then we get a fold, a click-raise to 20, a raise behind that to 1.00,and a raise to 3.. The first limper calls.

Now I have a tough choice. There are lots of people interested, so if I hit my hand I will make a lot. But I am not getting remotely close to 8-1, there is a chance of set-over-set and I have people behind me. Time to fold.
And the next guy raises to 10.25. I just saved 3 bucks.
Oh, and it was aces versus queens and I would have flopped the set and won 13.55…

A few folds later, I pick up J/10 suited on the button. This is a hand I like to raise with, and will sometimes call a min-raise or will limp if others have. What I really want is to flop the straight draw. I am never particularly happy to get a pair because of kicker issues…a lot of loose players love A/J, A/10, K/j type hands. Q/10, Q/J, K/10….I am crushed every which way from Sunday.

Unfortunately, someone bumps it to .35…and even more unfortunately, I lie to myself that position and straight and flush possibilities make it a worthy call.
Even more unfortunately, I get a partial hit on a K/10/4 rainbow flop. He raises to .40 cents, I pop it to 1.10 and he calls. The turn is a Q. Now I am really not happy. A/J is a believable hand, as is A/K, A/Q, or A/10. About all I can beat is a bluff.

Yet when he checks, I bet 1.40 into him which he calls. Now, that is not as foolish as it seems. Lots of guys who raise pre-flop will call any re-raise on the flop, then check-fold the turn if they hit nothing.

When he check-calls the flop it makes me nervous. That usually means someone has a hand good enough to see a show-down but not good enough to raise…or they are slow-playing. Either way, I am beat.

And when a harmless 5c falls on the river, he is all-in 4.75. Easy fold, but took a bit of a hit.

In the big blind next hand, 10/3 off with raise and re-raise in front, easy fold.
Open-raise from button with A/8o, no callers.
Open raise from cut-off with k/9s, no callers.
A few folds of questionable nature such as the last one, then open-raise from button with pocket 7s, no callers.
And so it goes. Lots of folding to raises, raises in position or with pairs, and so forth.

With 13.62 in front of me, I pick up Aces on the button. I really want someone to raise in front of me. The cut-off click-raises and I raise to 90. Everyone folds. I pick up the blinds and his 20 cents.

The lesson here, though, is I do not re-raise enough from the button. A click-raise indicates a position raise more often than not, and while most of them will call the pre-flop re-raise, very few do anything other than check-fold the flop.

And after being reminded of that, I called a raise to 25 from the cutoff when I was in the big blind with a/10 off. Flop comes down 9/10/k rainbow. Middle pair, top kicker, clear raising situation…and I elect to re-raise. Unfortunately, he checks behind me. 3s on the turn, I bet, he folds.

Lots more folding, then a fun hand. Big slick utg+2, raise to 30. The blinds call. Flop was Qd, Jh, Th. I have the absolute nuts at the moment, and a draw to the second nut flush of the backdoor variety. Still, I am not going to be too happy if another heart falls, so I continuation bet, and into two people, I bet 90 cents, almost a pot size bet.

One caller, and he checks a 4s, but calls my 2.70 bet. The river is a harmless 6c. How to maximize it? He checks to me. I figure he has a busted flush draw or maybe top pair, questionable kicker. I bet in reverse, a 2.50 value bet but he folds pretty quickly. I doubt he would have paid anything. Still, I took down a nice 7.56 pot so that was cool.

About this point I am sitting behind 17.70 and thinking I should pack it in. That is a nice win and usually when I start thinking like that, I change my style and then give a bunch of it back. But I keep playing.

After a few folds, pocket Aces under the gun. I open to 30 and everyone folds. Grr.
Next hand, bb special, A/4 off. 5 limpers including sb, I check. Flop is 4s 6s kh. I lead out for 30, which often gets a lot of folds. One caller. Turn is Ac, I bet 60, he folds and I take down the pot.

A little while later, back to back hands show the difference between being aggressive and being passive. In the first I have 4/5 off in the cut-off and open fold. The next hand I raise a 4/6….slightly worse, in my opinion…from the button, one seat later…and win the

A few hands later, I narrowly avert disaster. (Okay, so I easily averted it) by folding J/3 under the gun. Flop was 8/8/J, so I would have bet. Turn was a 10, river was a Jack, which would have given me a full house…which would have beaten the queen high straight but lost to the straight flush and cost me a lot. Sometimes folding is not just a good thing, but a great thing. Irony is…my j/3 was suited, which lots of people play “because it is suited”.

Lots of folding, including couple blinds, follows before the next hand of any interest. I pick up A/10o in the blind. Obviously this is a hand I will raise with from even middle position, so on the button it is a virtual lock…the key word being virtual. The hijack raise to 30, the cutoff folds.

Here is where my cautious side shows. Sure, he could have a low to medium pair, he could have medium suited connectors…but he could also have A/J, A/Q, A/K, or even a high pair. He might be like me…raising all sorts of trash hands with position, or he might have a hand.

The point is, there are better spots to play. Why get involved when one person has shown strength and there are two left to act? Fold and move on to the next hand. (The blinds also fold, so we will never know if it was a good move. But I lost nothing, so I think it was.)

A few folds follow, and then I open raise the button with a monster…q/5 off. The big blind calls. The flop is Q/8/2, 2 hearts. He checks, I raise, he folds. Ah…the joys of position. He must have feared my mighty kicker…

A few folds later, I pick up pocket queens in early middle position. I open to 30 cents, the button re-pops to 1.05, I call and we take the flop heads up. And it is an ugly flop, K/8/2, 2 hearts.
Lets see…he re-raised me, but he did so from the button. That can mean lots of things. Lots of people are playing the Full Tilt Academy and will raise from the button with any two cards to fulfill a challenge.

I think that is a dumb reason to do it…but I also realize it is a factor.

People will also re-raise with A/K, A/Q, any suited ace, a medium or even a small pair. They just really, really believe in the power of position. So I have 3 ways to play this hand;
1) Aggressive. Come out raising.
2) Tricky. Check, planning to check raise.
3) Passive. Check, figuring he will only raise if he has the king, so planning to check-fold.
I choose aggressive, I raise, he folds, I am happy.

Next hand I fold A/Jo to an early raise when I am the Hijack.
A couple folds later, I make a bizarre, bad play. I was sitting behind 19.21 and for whatever reason decided I would make 20 my goal and then quit. But instead of being patient, playing tight-aggressive, solid poker, I did the following.

UTG+2 limps. Sitting on the button with 9/J off, this is an obvious fold…so I re-pop to 40. The blinds fold but the limper calls. Low pair maybe? Suited connectors? Slow-playing Aces?

For a silly play like this, the flop is pretty good. 8/9/4, 2 suits. He checks, I raise, and my bad play works out as he folds.

Very next hand, I am the button and fold the 3/4 suited to a min-raise from early. Ironically, I would flop the nuts as A/2/5 rainbow hits…but I was gone by then.

After a few folds, I ran into one of those cases where the raise may not be a good idea. I opened from the button and the big blind called. The flop was 10/3/q rainbow. He checked, I bet half the pot, he called. A lot of people will call the flop assuming it is a continuation bet, so I am not too troubled.

Turn was a 7, putting a second spade on board. He check-calls 80 cents. I figure he either had the 10 with a weak kicker, maybe the ten, or a moderate pocket pair, or perhaps big slick. Anyhow, I am done with the hand. River brings a King. Now I am way behind A/J, K/Q…I am happy to check behind him. He had K/9…so he called the flop and turn with a gut-shot straight draw. And took down the hand…

I go two different ways when I get close to a goal. Sometimes I get too aggressive (see prior hand) or too passive (several questionable folds in between). So how to guage this hand? I am down to 18 even, pick up A/5 suited and raise.
That itself does not bother me. What does it I made my raise utg+1. A/5 suited is a drawing hand. Unless I flop a flush draw or a miracle 2/3/4, I am not overly happy to see either card in my hand match the board. If I hit my Ace, I have kicker problems. If I hit my 5…well…I have a pair of 5s.

The small blind calls. This troubles me more than the big blind calling…a lot of people in the big blind over-value the “discount” and call with a wider range of hands. Usually the small blind needs a bigger hand to call.

The flop is 6/9/j, and I have 4 to the flush. Not bad. If he is calling with A/J, K/Q, Q/J, 10/J, etc. and I complete my flush, I will look good to win a nice pot. But he check-folds to my continuation bet.

After a few folds, I raise A/J from the button, the blinds fold. Nothing too exciting, but just solid ABD poker, slowly working my way up towards 20.00.

Tired of solid poker, I am in the big blind with 10/8 clubs. The button opens to 30 cents and has 29.17. I have a suited one-gapper and decide it is worth calling his possible position raise.

The flop comes 8/k/6, two suits. I lead out for half the pot and he folds. I mark a note on his profile that he plays position poker, but passively. Had he re-raised, I probably give him credit for the king and fold.

However, it is a sign I am getting looser. To back this up, a couple hands later I am the small blind, have K/10 off…and call a raise from the hi-jack. What am I thinking here? K/10 is a horrid hand.

It is dominated by A/K, A/10, K/Q, K/J, and is in trouble to most straight draws. Worse, the big blind also calls, so I am out of position against two players. Flop is 7/6/9 rainbow. I passively check, and they check behind. The turn is a 4, I bet half the pot, they both fold.

Still, I should not have been in the hand. If I had re-raised pre-flop…maybe. But calling? Not too smart.

Now I am sitting behind 19.36. So close…

In the sb, I pick up pocket fours. Someone limps from early, and the hijack raises to 30. I do not like being in the squeeze position, but I do like having people interested when I have a trap hand like 4s. So I call, as does the original limper.

I like the flop, 5/3/6 rainbow. I likely have the best hand and, with the middle of the straight draw, I like where I am. I raise. The original limper folds, the raiser calls. The turn is a King of the 4th suit. Hmm. Lots of guys will call with Big Slick, so I am not too worried, because I still have 10 outs. I bet a buck…and he calls. The river is a 9c, I check, he checks behind. His pocket 7s take a nice pot.

Even though I lost the hand, I am not disappointed with my play in this hand. I was aggressive, I got to see the river for a price I found worthwhile. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you look down and have 17.56 in play…

A couple hands later I open to 30 from the cut-off with A/7 off. The big blind hesitates, then calls. He is a guy I have seen make some pretty loose plays so I am not too worried.

The flop brings 2/9/q rainbow. He check-calls my half pot bet.
The turn is a Jack, putting a second club on the board. It also completes the draw for anyone playing 8/10 or K/10 and both the queen and jack hit a lot of potential hands. He check-calls my half pot bet. The river is another 9 and a club. There are straight draws, flush draws, and straight flush draws. I check behind him. He had 7/9d, so he hit trips on the river. Well played by him, too aggressive probably by me, but I would rather err on the side of aggression than passiveness. I also figure he planned a river check-raise, so I like my check behind.

But now I am going in reverse, with only 16.06 in front of me.

1 fold later, I am the small blind with A/J suited when the button opens to 30. It is a clear re-raise, but I meekly call. Sometimes, I will randomly decide to go for the home run, and this is an example. Instead of taking down a small pot, which a re-raise would probably do, I play for that 1-16 chance of flopping a flush.

The flop is A/10/5 rainbow. Another clear raise. I check. He bets half the pot…is this guy my clone? A re-raise is in order…and I just call. The turn is a 6. I again check-call a half pot bet. Again…I should have re-raised.
The river is a q. Uh-oh…if he had something goofy like K/J…which would actually be a solid raising hand from the button…I am now facing a straight. It would also make 2 pair for a lot of hands I would believe. I give serious consideration to check-folding. He bets 2.70…hmm. I am going to fol….what…did I just call? I did.

And he had A/Q.

So perhaps the check-calling was not so bad, I got hurt less than I would have. He had a very good hand, played it strongly, I played passively and gave away 4.30 in one hand. Then again, I do not think I am strong enough as a player to get away from A/J against a button open raiser when I hit the flop like that. I need to be, though. Re-raise the pre-flop and flop and, facing that much resistance, I might get away cheaper. But I was trying to get cute and trap him…and got trapped myself. I was badly out-played on that hand and it cost me.

And now I am at 11.76. My how it flies away in just two or three hands…

A couple hands later a middle position guy limps, from the next seat I jack it to 50 cents with a/10 off. Not a good move. Well, maybe it is…everyone folds and I take down the pot.

If I were a couple seats later I would like this move, but I think I was too early in the hand with a marginal hand like that. Oh well.

A couple hands later, a late position min-raise finds me in the big blind with Q/6. I argue that 3-1 makes this playable and call. Then I check-fold a 2/j/k flop. Horribly played. I should log out instantly. But I do not.

I did not think so at the time, but looking back on it, I think maybe I was on tilt. I was upset with myself for too much aggression on some hands and for the big pot holding nothing but top pair, third kicker.

Still, I am still somewhat aggressive, raising the awesome K/4 off from the cutoff and watching everyone fold.
And the next hand raising a more reasonable Q/10 off from the cut-off. This time the big blind calls.
The flop comes 2/a/10, all spades. He checks, I bet half the pot, he folds. Could not tell you if I had a spade or not, did not really matter.

A couple hands later, it is folded to the small blind who completes. I should raise, after all, I have a monstrous 3/5 off. However, this hand stands a fair chance of being second best after…well, 99.999% of all possible flops, so if I am going to win this hand, now is the time. But I check anyway because sometimes I am a truly awful player.

A 6/j/1, 2 suited flop sees him min bet. An obvious re-raise…but I fold. Because sometimes I am a truly awful player.

And the very next hand, I am the small blind. The button open-limps, I weakly complete with the 9/10 off, and the big blind does what I should have and raises to 50. The button calls, I fold, having wasted a nickel with weak, poor play.

However, even weak, poor players can pick up good hands. In the hijack, one guy limps to me and I look at pocket aces. I bump it up to 60. The utg limper flat-calls and the flop is 2/5/7, 2 clubs. He checks, I bet, he folds.

I do a lot of folding, then in middle position, largely out of boredom I suppose, I open-raise an 8/Q off and everyone folds.

Pockets 7s in middle position. One person limps and I have a choice. A re-raise here would be strong and probably wise. Often, when a few people limp, one of the blinds will make a big re-raise. 7s are good if you get in cheap but cannot stand a big raise. At the same time, if I limp, often that brings others into the pot. I really only plan to play a big pot if I flop a set, so I limp to try and see a cheap flop. At a normal table where I am trying to maintain my “table image” of someone who is aggressive and whom you better have a hand to stay with me, then I raise. But here where most people are so busy rushing to the next hand that they do not take notes…why not try to see a drawing hand cheap? So I limp.

The Big blind checks and we see a 10/6/k flop, all hearts. I have no hearts, but I do have heart, and when they both check, I make a half-pot bet, they fold and I take it down. Had someone re-raised, it would be an easy fold.

So there are times I am being aggressive, and then times like the one shortly after where I open-fold the button…and the sb folds, giving the big blind a walk. Are my cards really relevant here?

Next hand, in the hijack, I do raise, and still nobody calls. Pocket deuces win again.

The lesson, oft-repeated, seldom followed, is controlled aggression wins lots of small pots I am not entitled to by my cards. But smart aggression I guess entitles me to them. At the same time, better hands are easy to fold.
Example; next hand I am in late middle position with A/J off. Under the gun click-raises, I fold. The pot later gets large and I would have lost it to pocket 9s. Good fold with a better hand than the ones I was raising with.
The lesson is still clear; raise lots, call seldom. When I am playing well, I fold K/2 suited in the big blind, as I later do…yet if it were folded to me, I would raise that from the hijack or later.

That is one way I use these hand histories, to see if I was playing well or poorly. For example, I open-folded the small blind. That is always a mistake, even with “trash hands” like the 10/3 suited I did it with. The big blind folds that so often that I should always give him a chance to do so by raising.

I then am in too much of a hurry to fold and open-fold pocket 4s. Now, as it turns out, I was under the gun and two people got all in with pocket 2s versus pocket 10s…of course, the deuces only had 88 cents, but this is a good example of a time where a conservative fold was a good one…if I am results oriented instead of “proper play” oriented.
At a normal table, open-folding pocket 4s under the gun is automatic. On Rush, not raising it is typically a mistake because often it flat out wins the pot, other times it hits the set, and other times it wins unimproved through continuation bets. But not a huge mistake to fold.

Raising A/5 suited from the cutoff pickes up the blinds.
Under the gun+3 with pocket 7s follows the pocket 4s formula. Regular table…easy fold. Rush…automatic raise. Only the cut-off calls. Flop is dangerous…J/Q/9 with 2 suits. So naturally I bet half the pot, he folds, and I pick up a small pot.

Looking for “one more hand” I pick up a suited J/Q on the button. I open to 30, the small blind calls and we take the flop heads up. The flop is A/5/3 rainbow. I bet 50 cents into a 70 cent pot. Why did I make it 50 instead of my standard 40? Acting too fast. And I am not happy when he calls.

The turn is a 7, giving me 4 to the flush. He checks and I check my flush draw. The turn is a Jack of the 4th suit. I now have a pair, but the way he has played this hand I figure he could have a dry ace, 2 pair, or just a couple high cards. Most of what he holds are dangerous, so I check behind him. He had K/2 of same suit I had, so I am glad no flush hit…and he missed his gut-shot straight draw so I take down 1.59.

Now I have just about 13.86 and decide it is a good time to quit.

Despite some poor early play, I finish about 3.75 to the good. Woo-hoo!