I've gotten pretty far away from talking about poker, so I figured it might be best to take a day or two off from the trip report (which by the way I hope everyone is either enjoying or ignoring) and write about what's going on with, you know, my trials and tribulations as a professional poker player. Running bad certainly wasn't fun. Between the $3K loss at the Bellagio, and then the $7K loss in like 48 hours a few days ago, I had actually managed to run myself into a nearly 5 figure hole from my "high water mark". The last two days, however, have done wonders for getting me back towards rising flood waters once again.
On my worst day ever, last Monday, I spent the entire day playing with perhaps the most prolific donator I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a felt with. He is just unbelievably awful. He plays way too many hands. He cold-calls multiple bets with unsuited and potentially (check that...probably) dominated hands. He peels the flop with nothing. He draws without correct odds. He doesn't know when to check/raise or when to bet, if he even bets at all. He's super passive, and checks down hands that warrant not only a bet, but sometimes even a raise or two. On top of all of this, he is incredibly well-funded. He buys into the 40/80 game for 5+ racks (usually 3 to start, then at some point in the fairly immediately future, he adds 3 more if he feels he's low on chips, at which point he still has like a rack and a half left). Taken all together, this dude's a freakin' whale. Yesterday I won about a rack in the short time I spent with him at 40/80. He was called for the main game, though, and it was gonna be a few hours before I got to follow him up the must-move chain, and therefore I abaondoned ship and played 20/40 for the rest of the day. I vowed not to let the same thing happen today.
I showed up at Bay 101 at 10am and sat myself down in a new 20/40 game. I won a little, and left the star next to my name on the 40/80 list (indicating that I was a phone ahead player who had not yet checked in). Within 15 minutes my friend's name appeared beneath mine on the list, and 15 minutes after that he appeared in the flesh and the star was removed. He was moved up the list ahead of all the call ins, and I promptly walked over and put my name right behind his. Angleshoot? Yes. But come on, we all have to make a buck.
He was called into my 20/40 game, but as he was sitting down Steve said "I'm starting another 40, do you want that instead?" Of course he did. This guy buys in for 6 racks at 40/80. You think he wants to play for half that? Who needs 12 racks?! I racked up my chips (and $300 win) the minute the game was called down and took the 6 seat in the new game, knowing that my friend has a strong preference for the middle seats (specifically 4-6). This ensured that while I might not get the abosulte Jesus seat, I would be at most one away. Sure enough, my buddy locked up the 5-hole and I was in business. Without delay I started to take his chips hand over first, iso-raising him with stuff like Queen high and then using position to hammer my points home.
But a problem was brewing. You see, this guy has generated a lot of buzz. I'm blogging about him. People are probably tweeting and emailing about him...anybody with a few contacts and a cell phone has heard about this mega-fish swimming around absentmindedly in the 40/80. Also, most poker players can do multiplication. If the dude can buy 6 racks at 40/80 (and, mind you, he said on Monday, when he had those 13 racks, that he was in 5 and had lost 10 the day before...making him a $2000 loser with 13 grand on the table), surely he'll play the 80 game if only it would go. With the bulk of the regulars in Vegas chasing their dreams of World Series gold, that game hasn't gone very regularly of late. Today, however, a strong list was developing and Steve (the lead floorman) was leaving table 36 conspicuously open, despite enough interest for either a 4th 20/40 game or a 3rd 40/80 (which they had yesterday). I knew what was coming; an 80/160 game was going to start, and he was going to play. Well, I guess I had to make the most of him while I had him.
Then disaster struck. In quick succession I played the following hands:
I raise KK in early position and only the big blind calls. The flop is:
And I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. He check/raises me and I decide to get a little fancy; I call only, planning to raise the turn.
That's a beaut right there. On the off chance he had T8 I just caught up, and if he has just one pair now he has 2 outs instead of 5. Of course he could perhaps have a 3, but I'll take those chances. He leads out and I raise. He looks puzzled and calls.
His check/raise is swift and merciless. Honestly without the 3 on board I could maybe get away from the hand, but with the nut two pair I have to call. This guy could be dumb enough to think he just caught up with JT. But no, he has Q9s and decided he was going to make a point with a gut shot. I will note that he put 2 big bets into a 4 bet pot on the turn with 4 outs.
Two hands go by and an older hispanic gentleman raises from early position. My friend calls in the SB (having him in the SB on your BB is just amazing. You never are left to defend alone. Ever) and I just call with AQo. This is probably a raise, but it's close and deception is always useful. The flop comes down:
AK5 with two hearts and a club
Check, check, and the preflop raiser bets. My friend calls and I raise. They both call.
9 of clubs
Now there are two flush draws. My friend checks, I bet, and the old man cuts out enough chips to raise, puts them together with his hands, pauses, then pushes only 8 chips forward. I am confused by this seemingly genuine act; he really looked like he was deciding whether or not to do it. My buddy calls and we see a baby club fall on the river. I bet and the preflop raiser now does raise. I call, and he displays A4 of clubs for the back door flush. I am not amused, and actually get a little vocal about it. It was an embarrassing loss of composure, and the old man not only handled it well, but made me look like an ass in the process. Kudos to him.
I quickly recover, however, and by the time the 80/160 game does go I am up about $1300 in the game and happy as a clam. The starting of the 80 opens a seat for me in the main game, and I take my "free" lap (when must moved you do not have to post to enter the game), which in actuality costs me $280. I move down to 20/40, where I am bludgeoned mercilessly at table 37 until I use an old trick of mine to get into a better game. Some of the good players in my games keep very regular schedules. Eric, who props at Garden City, is one of them. If he's at Bay 101 during the afternoon, you can be sure he's planning to pick up his chips around 3:30. If you combine this with Pete's theory of table autobalance (good tables tend to get worse, and bad ones tend to get better, because good players move around in an effort to make this happen), you have yourself a powerful little bit of insider trading. All it usually takes for one of the 20/40 tables to stand out head and shoulders above the others is for the best player to get up. Eric was the best player in his game, and I managed to slide right into his seat as he left, missing only a single hand.
At the beginning of my shellacking of table 35 I was only up about $800 for the day (as I said, I lost chips at an astonishing clip at table 37), but things quickly turned for the better. On my post-in hand I raised witih AJo, fired into 4 opponents on a flop of K88 with two diamonds, and led a blank turn after the pot had been reduced to heads up. My lone opponent folded, and I was off and running. On the very next hand (from the cutoff), I attempted a blind steal with Q9 of clubs. The button 3-bet me, and we saw the flop privately of:
Ac Ts 8h
This is a tricky spot in 3-bet pots. Technically when he bets the flop here (after I check to him), I'm not getting the right odds to call for my gut shot. The pot is laying 8:1, and I need 10:1. To make the decision, however, you need take many factors into account. What are my implied odds? In this case, they rate to be pretty good, as my opponent is pretty likely to give me the full 3 big bets if I hit. Will my hand be the nuts if I hit it? Sadly in this case the answer is no, and it is possible that my opponent holds KQ. Do I have other ways to win? There is a club on board, so yes, I could at least pull that off. Also, a 7 or 6 would add 4 outs to my stable. Finally, is it possible that I'll get two cards for four chips? I don't really know this opponent, but on this board, yes, I could very well get to see the river for just one bet. Many opponents will bet JJ-KK one time here and then check the turn, making sure they show down for cheap. So all in all, I decided to call, mainly because of the last two reasons.
Ac Ts 8h - 5c
There's that help we're talking about. I contemplated a check/raise, then decided this dude wasn't folding anything ever and just called him. The river was a gorgeous Jack of hearts, giving me the second nuts. I checked, he bet, and this time it was my turn to be swift and merciless. He called and started yammering something about he knew that card gave me a straight and he wanted to check it, then flashed something that looked like pocket jacks before mucking.
From there on the floodgates simply opened up for me. I raised KQo, got raised on the flop, then spiked one pair of kings on the turn and got called down for 3 big bets. I raised TT and watched the flop run out AAT, then watched in glee as the player on my immediate left smoothcalled the flop. This is almost always an ace, and sure enough he popped me on the turn. I had 3 bets out there before he knew what happened. When he finally did, he dutifully called me down muttering something about the Q9s hand from above. I also manged to flop a nut flush draw after raising preflop and getting five (5) callers, then proceeded to spike said nut flush immediately on the turn. Things were looking good, and in the middle of all of it, I committed the following sin against my fellow man.
The hand started off simply enough. He limped, someone else limped, and I raised with QT of diamonds. This is a standard raise for me, almost regardless of the number of opponents, especially in a loosey goosey 20/40 game such as my current spot. Somehow everyone else at the table folded, including the blinds, and we saw a flop 3 handed:
Ad Jc 4d
That, ladies and gentleman, is about as good as it gets short of flopping a full house. My fellow man checked, the other limper followed suit, and I bet. He called, and the other player folded, leaving us heads up in a 9 small bet pot.
Ad Jc 4d - Ks
Ding Ding Ding Ding! Not only did I have the nuts, but they were incredibly well disguised on a board with only one flush draw; that I had! This is a dream spot if you're lucky enough to get action. My fellow man checked and I bet rather non-chalantly. He made a speech and raised, at which point I have to admit I got a little excited. I 3-bet him quickly, again basically before he was even finished 2-betting (this is something I think I might be getting carried away with). He looked back and asked "Did he re-raise? Well then let me see here. I think I can re-raise!" At this point I was 100 percent sure he had the same hand that I did, except for the critical aspect of not having a 4-flush to go with it. While he was fumbling to put the 4-bet into the pot, I smoothly cut off 4 stacks of 4 chips in front of the 6 stacks of 4 chips that were already there. At this point the old black man between us made some comment about "macho poker" and us "havin' the same hand". Don't ever do shit like that. Let people play their hands, and don't ever assume that something that's obvious to you is obvious to everyone else. Trust me, sometimes it ain't obvious. My fellow man announced another re-raise, 6-betting the turn, and I smoothly cut out another raise, making it 7 bets total. Something clicked in his brain, and he mentioned the fact that I could have the Queen Ten of diamonds before saying he'd "just call". One time dealer!!
Ad Jc 4d - Ks - 8d
He checked, I bet, he called, and somebody let out one of those whistles people like to make when they've seen something worthy of instant replay but are watching the event live and have no choice but to turn to their neighbors and say "Did you see that shit?"