I've continued showing up at Commerce the last few days and been continually impressed by the quality of the games. Friday I played about 7 hours in the 20/40 game and won a little over 3 racks, and Saturday I struggled through 4 hours of 20/40 before moving up to the 40 and finding it better than the game I'd left (I eventually went home up close a 40/80 rack). From my experience so far the 40/80 games here seem better than those I could find in the Bay Area, and I'm hopeful that I'll eventually be making them my main game. For now, though, I'm probably gonna stick to the 20/40 so I can do more stuff like this.
Every once in a while you get a chance to completely own someone's soul in limit hold 'em. Typically you need a pretty special opponent, because soul owning requires a very sick and precise read, and for it to really help you need to be holding an interesting hand. My 20/40 game on Friday had such a special player, a loony toons level Asian LAG who just couldn't help himself from firing at the pot and making super fancy plays nearly every hand. On the hand in question he forgot to raise preflop and merely limped in, allowing me to complete the small blind with Q8 of hearts. We saw the flop 4 ways of:
Ks 8c 7c
I checked, the big blind checked, and our resident maniac dutifully bet. Two people had already checked, which to him obviously meant they held nothing, so he only had to get one more guy to fold and heck that's easy. The button folded and I check/raised him. The big blind cleared out of the way and he 3-bet me. Against a normal opponent this would be a somewhat bad sign. But against our fancy play making friend here a 3-bet is actually indicative of a weaker range than a flat call. With any sort of big made hand (which since he didn't raise preflop is likely two pair or a pretty crappy king) he'd almost certainly wait til the turn to hit me again. In short, he's not balanced here and his range is heavily weighted towards draws (open enders and flush draws, most of which come with overs to my pair of eights, which basically makes him 50/50 to win the pot). Since I figure I don't have much of an equity edge (if I'm even ahead), I decide to just call and donk safe turns to prevent him from taking a free card and get a bet in when my equity has risen substantially. The dealer cooperates for once:
Ks 8c 7c - Kh
That's the best card in the deck basically. My logic on the flop heavily discounted kings from his range (he'd have open raised KT+ preflop, and likely waited to raise the turn even with something like K9 or K6s), and now that another one is on the board it's even harder for him to have one. I donk, and a flash of displeasure crosses his face. He calls, and I just know what he's thinking....Why didn't my free card play work? If he has something like a flush draw with an over to my eights his raise on the flop didn't actually cost him anything (he's basically 50/50 to win), but it didn't win him anything either. His call confirms with 100% certainty that I currently hold the best hand (A8 is the only hand he could have played postflop this way that beats me, and it would have raised preflop). To the river:
Ks 8c 7c - Kh - Jd
Now remember, this guy is supposed to be holding a missed draw. Except there's a problem...T9 just got there (although for him T9 would have to be unsuited to go unraised preflop, and even that is a bit of a stretch) and he could easily have been holding something as weak as J6 of clubs and now have me beat. So what should I do here? Well if he made the straight and I bet out, he will own me because I will call his raise because there is a chance he's bluffing. If he missed a draw and I bet he'll likely just fold (he could attempt a bluff raise, as per the previous sentence, but it's pretty unlikely) and sort of own me. And if he has a jack he'll just call and I'll own myself. But what if I just check/call? He'll just win one bet, not two, with the straight. He'll probably check back a jack some percentage of the time, saving me a fractional bet. And he'll be way more likely to give me a bet with his missed draws, hoping that I have a hopeless misread and will actually fold a hand I put 2.5 big bets into the pot with already. So I check. He bets instantly, I call instantly, and he taps the table, says "nice call" and tosses his hand gently towards the muck.
That one felt really good and had a great ending. The next tango with our friend, however, did not end so well. He open raised from the low jack (the seat before the high jack, which is the seat before the cutoff, which is the seat before the button) and I chose to defend K7o. Normally this would be pretty borderline, but the the raise coming from him it wasn't even close. We took the flop heads up:
And my owning of his soul began. I checked, he bet, and I called. On the turn:
AA5r - 3
We rinsed and repeated. Basically I gave hims as much rope as I could, hoping he'll continue to bluff at the pot all the way to the river.
AA5 - 3 - 9
I checked once more and he paused to look at his cards. For a moment I was actually concerned that he might check, thinking that if he did that he felt he had some chance of winning the pot at showdown. He smiled a little and bet, and something told me disaster had struck, but when you try to catch bluffs you have to see it through. I called, and he tabled 97s for the rivered 3-outter. My read was good and my opponent special, but sometimes even that's not enough.
In closing....I told myself I wasn't going to do this again but I just want to write it all down so I feel better. It's sort of like a cleansing experience. Today I lost 4 racks in the 40/80 game, getting brutalized repeatedly. Quickly this all happened in my first two hours of play:
I lost two hands to a spiked 8 on the river.
In a blind vs blind battle I held kings up on the turn and was 2 outtered on the river.
In a three way limped pot I checked my option with 64o, made two pair, and lost to a nut straight.
I posted into a new game behind the button with Q5s, flopped two pair in a 6 way pot, raised and got it heads up, and lost the pot on the river to my lone opponent with T9 who made trips and again had only two outs.
I raised with AQs, got 3-bet by the cutoff, and took a flop 4 ways. The small blind held AK and the board ran out AT8-A-2 The big blind and the cutoff each held pocket 9s, so there were only two cards in the deck that could get me in trouble and they both came out.
And the capstone really....I opened the button with QJo and got called by Q4o in the big blind. I flopped a queen high straight and managed to lose the entire pot to running spades.
I suffered all manner of other indignities (I got 3-bet preflop 5 times in a row in the 40/80 game, I ran a set of aces into QJs in a capped pot at the 20/40), but the hands above all happened in my first 75 minutes. I really don't think this sort of thing is supposed to happen as often as it has been....So to make a long story short I'm back down to 20/40 for a while, at least until I start propping.