Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lots of Driving

I'm driving to LA tonight to meet with some people about a prospective prop job tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I won't be back until Tuesday night, with the OK to work for them. If all goes poorly or "mediumly" I'll be back Monday night, either without the job or still on the right track but having been unable to jump through the last flaming hoop. If you're gonna be at an LA casino that has props tomorrow, keep an eye out for me :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That Didn't Last Long

Turns out that it's just as hard to do a prop job well after you've given notice as it is to give a shit about a software development job after you've made up your mind that you're leaving. Tonight marks the end of my tenure at Garden City; I just couldn't justify sitting in the 40/80 for a few more hours, and tomorrow, once I got to the level of tilt I achieved, so I turned in my badge, cashed out my box, and rode off into the moon set.

The night started off well. I played 20/40 for 30 minutes with Torello and Yoda, played a hand like a donkey (got 3 bet preflop and the board came down AA4 or something and the 3-bettor checked behind me. I bet the turn and called him down when he raised. He had AK obviously I mean what else can he possibly have other than perhaps a full house) and then managed to win a bunch of pots and actually be up about a rack when they called me into the 40. Within 90 minutes I was up over $2000 on the night, but I wasn't happy. I was nervous. I knew what was coming. I knew I was not allowed to win.

So when I flopped a set of threes in a kill pot, went 5 bets on the flop of A35, got c/r'ed on the turn and called down to see the small blinds 42s (I mean it was only 2 bets preflop, he was fully 1/6th of the way in and had excellent post flop position so I completely understand why he wasn't able to ditch the second nut four high suited), I contemplated my options and decided to try to finish the night after taking a lap off to cool down. About 4 hands later I 3-bet Mike P with 55 and took a flop of 773. This is as good as they get. He called. The turn brought a 4 and I already knew what was coming. I have a theory that one way that I am particularly adept at running bad is the turning of gutshots in HU 3-bet pots. You'll note that when the check/raise comes (as it did in this hand) there are 7 bets in the pot and I have 6 outs to make straight or full house. If my implied odds are zero I have basically an even money situation (there are 47 cards I cannot see, and 6, or roughly 1/8th, of them are good). But my implied odds really aren't zero, they are substantially positive (definitely over a full big bet as I'll often collect two when I hit), and therefore I have a call. I can narrow his range down a good bit because of his preflop raise, so I know for example that he doesn't have 65 and that 33 and 44 are pretty unlikely (for him anyway) and basically well to make a long story short I'm pretty sure calling here wins something like 1/6th to 1/3rd of a big bet more than folding, and when a big bet is $80 well you understand you're smart folk. So I call and of course fold the river cause it's a queen and Mike flashes me A7o which was giving me two bets on any river that I hit so I was right about my implied odds being pretty positive and I rack up my chips and just get the fuck out of dodge.

This experience did cause me to contemplate a new theory which I will perhaps expand at a later time. I think run bad like this creates nits, and I think the big dirty secret either people won't admit or don't know is that nits actually win up to a pretty high level (mostly because their weaker opponents don't figure out that they are nits and continue to pay them off). Both hands that I played preflop were super thin. I opened the pocket 3s three seats off the button, which I think is one pip too loose in general but the kill was in the natural BB so the SB should have been more likely to fold as the game basically changed from a 2/4 blind structure to a 1/3 structure. But anyway the point is that folding my hand is a fine choice preflop, one that I didn't make, which ended up costing me 6.5 kill pot big bets. And the 55 isn't exactly a slam dunk 3-bet either. Mike P opens pretty wide though and with position I should be able to own him pretty badly, but of course because I run bad and turn a gutshot and completely lose the ability to play well and end up getting tied to the pot by his expert slow play. But that's just how I run.

So that's it. I'm on vacation for 19 days. Hopefully when I get down south I'll still have some cash in my pocket.

Monday, January 25, 2010

California...California...Here we come!

It's not something I'm particularly proud of, but I have in fact seen every single episode of The OC. Danielle owns the boxed set (I think I may have even bought her 1 or 2 of the seasons as a Christmas present one year) and it was probably her second favorite show of all time (right behind Seaquest, which doesn't really count cause she loved it when she was about 10 and just like they say at the end of The Hurt Locker, which by the way was no 2012 but also did not live up to the claim of the world's perfect movie, as you get older it gets harder to love things) so we watched the whole thing and honestly it wasn't that bad. I particularly liked Ryan, the kind from the wrong side of the tracks (Chino) who was supposed to be the main character until it became clear that every other male character was funnier and then again after they killed the female lead in an effort to jump the shark and save the show (which failed miserably). Why on Earth would I tell you all of this? Drum roll please.....In 20 days I'll officially be a resident of Orange County, CA. That's right, after almost 5 years in the Bay Area (almost exactly as long as I was in Boston), Danielle and I are picking up camp and heading south. The reason for the move is both complicated and extremely simple. I'll tell a version in the middle here.

About a year ago I told Danielle that if she ever wanted to get me to move to LA, now was basically her chance. I was flying high as a professional poker player, could do no wrong, and was confident I could move my operation to LA without missing a beat. You see, I've kind of always known that moving to the Bay Area was only an intermediate step to Danielle. Her entire family is from (and mostly still in) Southern California, and she's always wanted to get back there. With me basically being unattached, it seemed like a good spot for her. Fast forward to October, and I'm not flying nearly so high. June, July, August and September were all bad, and I was actually looking to take a prop job at Garden City. As I was in the process of doing that, a recruiter from Google emailed me to ask if maybe I was possibly sorta interested in having a talk with them about possible job openings. I said no, but at Danielle's request I put her in touch with said recruiter. The day of my Garden City orientation the recruiter "put her on the spot" and asked where she'd want to work. I had assumed all along that the answer to this question was simply "Mountain View" , but as it turned out as usual I was mistaken. Danielle chose to interview with Google Irvine, aced the interviews, got the offer, and that, as they say, was that.

Now of course there are negative aspects of this move. Contrary to popular belief I do actually have some friends in the Bay Area who will be sorely missed. I also have grown quite comfortable here, but at the same time feel I've missed out on some stuff because I wasn't really ticking off activities with any urgency since I figured to be here for a long time. And of course there is the small matter of the job at Garden City, for which I gave notice yesterday and will only show up for exactly two more times. As I've written here, that job was giving me stability and security, on top of probably making me a better poker player. But the hours do suck, and there are prop jobs in LA (on which I have several good leads), which means what it really comes down to is choosing between Danielle and my friends, which I'm sorry guys isn't really even something I thought about. Danielle followed me to San Francisco, and now it's my chance to return the favor. And of course there is the small matter that LA is basically the Limit Hold 'Em capital of the entire universe. There is no better place on Earth to do what I do.

So what does all this mean? Well starting later this week I'll be back on days, playing short sessions at Bay 101 and The Oaks. I'm going to treat these last 3 weeks as somewhat of a vacation. If you'd like to host a home game, please let me know. If you'd be willing to try to convince Bay 101 to spread an 8/16 HORSE game (they are licensed for all 5 games) please let me know. If you live in Oakland and wanted to try to play 15/30 with me....well, let me know. It's not like I'm gonna be gone forever, but as with any place you've lived and move away from, the frequency of my visits will drop over time. Thanks to everyone who's made it fun in the past, and thanks to everyone who lives in LA for doing so in the future.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Misfit Toys

I realize that most of the people who read this blog also read two plus two, but I figured for those who don't it might be fun to put all the threads I've started in the past few weeks. Actually not really fun, but some of it is pretty good and interesting so here goes. Remember that I typically only post hands on two plus two when something interesting and worth talking about happens. They're often an example of me playing at my worst.

SSHE for Life

Preflop Range Quickie

Expert Slow Play

Often Claimed, Seldom Accomplished

Insert Title Here

AK ui as usual

C-betting Question

Door Number 2

WA/WB is the new c/r b/f

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Once More, With Feeling

I feel like I must have already used that title. It's hard to keep coming up with titles after 220 posts. Anyway....

Last night's 40/80 game was a disaster. There is this guy named Nick (who hates me, possibly because I hate him, although it could go the other way around I'm not really sure) who is on a Lifetime Heater TM against me. Every time I play with him he wins 5+ racks. Last night was no exception, with him coloring up a rack of $10 chips into a $1000 yellow one literally every 45 minutes or so for 4.5 hours. The problem is that I don't think I'd realized the full extent of this until the middle of my session last night. I'd basically been treating this guy as a LAG, when in fact he's really just a loose passive who picks up a group 1 or 2 hand twice an orbit in a 6 handed game. For last night at least I'm not even exaggerating; he was probably raising preflop close to 30 percent of the time, and every single time he got to showdown he was turning over a hand that should have been in the top third of that range (basically I'm claiming he was getting a top 10 percent starter 3 times more often than he should have been, which is completely possible and a total mind fuck for assigning him hand ranges). The situation was complicated by another guy, whom I know to be loose and passive, basically doing the same thing on his immediate left. We've got two guys picking up monsters every hand, and somebody had to pay for, which is where I come in, as usual, blowing up almost 2 racks in the first 60 minutes of my session, then playing badly and breaking even for the next 3 hours.

Things start off innocently enough, with me opening A8o in the CO. The small blind can't possibly fold his hand because he has chips in the pot already, the big blind calls, and we see a flop of:


This has to be good, right? They can't have 99+ because I'd have gotten 3-bet, and how often can they have a 5? IMR, I've got the nuts right? They check, I bet, the SB calls.

2 putting a flush draw with one of the 5s

He donks. I look at the board for a few seconds but quickly come to the conclusion that there is no way on God's green Earth he could play a 5 this badly. I raise. He thinks and calls. I don't remember the river, but it was something like a ten and he donked again. God's green Earth is not what it once was, my friends. I call, and he shows me 54s and makes some speech about "anybody else I raise again" or something that's supposed to make me feel better that he couldn't lay down freaking 5 high preflop. So that was a pretty nice little cooler, and it served to get me a little frustrated that my opponent played the hand so badly and I gave him the extra $80. Moving right along....

A decent prop opens UTG, and I 3-bet with AQs. We were only 6 handed or so at the moment, so this is pretty standard (at a full game I'd actually consider mucking, as the prop's range would be super snug). Our buddy MP (the other loose passive running like Jesus) calls 3 cold in the big blind and the prop calls, and for once I flop "good".


I even have a backdoor spade draw. MP checks, the prop bets, and I raise my nuts. MP calls two cold instantly (danger Will Robinson, Danger...he's loose passive, but at 40/80 that doesn't mean he's taking one off here with 98 or 44) and the prop calls. I figure the prop is drawing almost dead (he probably has 3 outs, either the jacks or tens) but I'm still a little leery of whatever MP is holding over there.


Aiyah. MP turbo donks and the prop calls pretty quickly. I tank for what feels like a minute (during which time Nick, that freaking asshole, makes some speech about me being scared or something and in general making fun of the fact that a human being could have to actually think about a situation instead of just flopping the nuts every hand he plays) and decide I just can't fold. MP could be doing this with the last ace and a big club, and the pot has gotten to "out of hand" proportions (10 big bets already). I call.


Wow. Just wow. MP bets and makes some speech about hoping I don't have AK, the prop folds his AdTc (note the club draw) and I make a crying call. MP tables KK, and I run a recap in my brain of both how badly I just got coolered and how much money MP let me keep. In a hand in which he flopped a set of Kings and rivered a full house, MP managed to put in zero (that's raises against not one but two opponents who made trip aces. One of his opponents even folded the river. He didn't 4-bet preflop, didn't raise the flop, then, after disguising the strength of his hand for 2 streets executed a donk of death to blow his entire cover on fourth street. Just wow.

The next hand's degree of difficulty is very low. A steaming player opens UTG and I call 3 ways in the bb with A7hh (again we're like 5 handed or something....note that despite being 5-6 handed all the pots are going off 3-4 ways). The board comes down 755 and I c/r him. He calls the flop and the turn 8 with KJo, and of course rivers a king. His call on the turn is pretty atrocious, given the pot size (only 6 big bets) and that in the absolute best case he has 6 outs once that turn comes (there is no hand in my range that does not have at least 2 pair once that 8 hits the felt) and is actually drawing dead an astonishing percentage of the time (he probably assumed that I wouldn't fast play a 5 or a full house). But anyway he rivers a king like it's his job and ship the $600 to him.

Our next hand is the capstone of the evening, after which I fell into a funk of mubsy thinking and general idiocy for the next 3 hours (honestly last night was the first time I've really, really needed to quit a game but couldn't as a prop). PW opened UTG (again, we're 5 maybe 6 handed) and Nick called them cold in the CO. MP 3-bets the button, the small blind somehow folds, and I cap pocket jacks in the BB. PW folds (good man), Nick and MP call, and we've got a 15 small bet pot on our hands in which I flop gin:

Jc 7h 6h

I bet, Nick calls, MP raises, I 3-bet, Nick caps, MP somehow folds (lol AK nh sir) and I call. This is a mistake, as I was allowed to 5-bet but didn't realize it. The turn brings:

Jc 7h 6h - 4s

And I donk. This was my plan the whole time, since I had been thinking I'd run into the 4 bet cap and couldn't 5 bet the flop. Anyway, Nick raises and I pause to consider the board. If he's got it, he's got it, and I 3-bet. He 4-bets and I call. The river Ac brings no help and I call his bet. He tables 85hh for the flopped OESFD and I long for the 22.5 big bets being pushed to him.

I never truly recovered from this hand, I'm ashamed to say, misplaying a couple others later in the evening due to having my brain all out of whack. I missed a raise with a set of 8s when nick said "If you raise I'll re-raise" then quietly to MP "See, he's scared" on a board of J95ss-8....He'd of course flopped 9s and 5s from the SB after I'd raised 88 preflop, and the thing is I knew he was telling the truth. If I'd raised him he was going to 3-bet, and if he'd had QT I'd have had to punch out and go home or risk going on suicide I just called him down and missed $160 in obvious value. Later I somehow folded 88 on a board of 542. I'm not sure if it was correct or not, as there had been an UTG raise from a tight player, so tight that I hadn't 3-bet my 8s from the small blind and instead made my one cold call per session, and there was a raise from Nick and my mind just screamed "zomg he has it" even though the board's freaking 5 high and I have a pair of 8s. The turn K gave me comfort, but the river 8 took it all away.

So that was my night in a nutshell. I fought on for 3 hours after this disaster, basically breaking even and eventually posting a 2 rack loss, which given the severity of the initial beatings was actually a pretty good result.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fun Stuff Happens When You Post Behind

When you enter a limit hold em game, you have to post a big blind. You can do this from any position, but in the Bay Area you have three logical choices:

1. Your natural big blind.
2. Between the small blind and the button (the button skips you next hand).
3. In the cutoff, to the right of, or behind, button.

I typically choose option (2), and try to avoid (3). The problem with posting behind is that you just sat down, aren't really in the flow of the game, and are putting yourself into a position from which it is often strategically correct to play very aggressively with sub-standard hands. For example, if the action folds to you preflop, it becomes correct to raise with literally any two cards. This increased aggression can lead to tilt when things go poorly, which is no way to start a session. For the record, I got this from Tommy Angelo's book, and I have become quite convinced it's solid advice.

There's a problem though. As a prop you sometimes don't have unlimited time to enter a game; if a customer shows up before you've posted in, the floor can (and rightly should) ask you to surrender your seat. So sometimes these days I find myself posting behind, which brings me to last night.

I am fortunate enough to get in a 20 game right at the start of my shift, and on top of that Pete is in the game, making a late night appearance in honor of the holiday weekend and my banishment to vampire land. I post in the cutoff of an 8 handed game to ensure this situation doesn't get fubar and am dealt pocket 5s.

Pete opens UTG and the action folds to me. 55 is not enough to 3-bet him under normal circumstances; Pete is snug up front, and his post flop skills leave little room for me to get in a hand behind his range, even with position. But the post....the 4 chips I already have in play swing this decision from a fold to a raise. Calling would be an option with a few other stragglers in between, but with just Pete in the pot a 3-bet is mandatory. Things don't go well, though. The blinds both call and Pete caps it. This is gonna be expensive.


And by expensive, I mean spectacular. The blinds check and Pete fires. I raise right away and the SB, Elvis (not of Oaks fame....the other Elvis) calls them cold. Pete thinks for a minute and just calls. To the turn.

A95r-7, putting 2 diamonds.

They check to me and I fire a shot with which I hope to take down the $440 pot. Instead Elvis calls and Pete raises. I tank for a second, partially for effect but also to consider my options, and then 3-bet. Elvis calls and Pete tanks before meekly tossing in 8 more chips. The pot has grown to 20 big bets, and I take a moment to relish all of Pete's dead money. His AK is likely drawing completely dead (unless he has the diamond varietal) and all I have left to do is dodge whatever bullshit draw Elvis is on (if he even has one and isn't drawing almost dead himself) and I'll be up over a rack on my first hand.


Elvis donks. Pete finds a fold with AKhh, and I pay off like a slot machine. Elvis rolls J8dd and as I reconstruct the action I realize the only hope I had to keep my $280 was to not post in the first place.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Having a Blog is Stressful

I haven't posted anything in 8 or 9 days and it's really stressing me out. The primary culprits are my actually reading a book (gasp) for pleasure (double gasp) and fantasy football. For the record "Up In The Air" is a very strange book that left me deeply unsatisfied, which I think was the point, and yes my fantasy team still has legs because we run our playoffs during the playoffs which basically amounts to building an entire new team and doing tons of work, then entering ~200 bids on free agents after week 1 and then crossing your fingers and hoping the right teams make the super bowl. Go Vikings!

But I is an 8/16 hand from a few weeks ago.

A fellow prop limps up front and so do some other people. I raise 88 OTB and we take a 6 way flop.


Normally you want an ace high board when you flop a set, but when you're the aggressor my theory of "they always put you on ace king" makes a board like this tricky. But I bet and awesomely the prop check raises. I 3 and he caps and the poor big blind is stuck in the middle. At this point it becomes clear that the BB and the prop hate each other. Why? I don't know....but the hatred must run deep.


The BB checks and the prop leads. I raise and the BB tanks for nearly a minute before finally calling. The prop 3 bets, I cap, and the BB mucks in disgust. During the entire hand he and the prop have been yapping away at each other about chip burning and the prop's sister (whom, apparently, the BB feels has questionably lax standards regarding sexual partners).

The river peels off some blank card and the prop check/calls. A request is made to see his hand, by the big blind obviously, and he shows A9o. Now that's hate.....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'll See One More

So I get to Garden City and for once actually do some good. A 20/40 game is 4.5 handed (Bo G is in the game taking up a seat but lobbying about as much as usual) and in desperate need of some propping. I oblige by sitting in the 7 seat, and Yoda texts me from the 9 seat to explain that seat 8 is quite the lagfish and he has the Jesus seat. Since 4, 5, and 6 are the other openings, I have little choice. This also makes it pretty obvious as to the current source of the action.

So we gamble a bit, and Yoda's claim is accurate as usual; Seat 8 is a pretty awful lag. But Yoda leaves at 11:15 and all is right in the universe again. Anna sits in and all of a sudden we are 7 handed with an avid reader pitching the cards from the dealer's seat and me comfortably entrenched in Yoda's old seat, making ready to 3-bet this guy with two napkins.

He's really been out of hand. Back raising T8hh from the button, 3-betting Jack high, all manner of atrocities. Doing stuff like this is OK if you hand read well, like, say, WTK or Jose. This guy....not so much. As a lead up to our hand, he raises KK and gets cracked by Q6 on a board of 663-J. The situation is made worse by his making of expert slow play by only calling the flop check raise. The bet/3-bet on the turn is swift and merciless, and when the hand ends our villain throws his cards at the dealer and talks about "queen six huh, couldn't let that one go, eh?" for like 5 minutes. In fact, he's still talking about it when I do this.

The action folds to our friend on the button and he decides that a power limp is the best course of action. The only situation in which it is mathematically correct to limp on the button is if you have aces, which are actually strong enough to slow play preflop 3-handed in limit hold 'em (this is actually a flaw with the game I think, there existing a hand with such power, but that's a discussion for another time). But since that's the only time you SHOULD do it, you should never do it. You get the idea. Anyway, our friend isn't open-limping aces. In fact, he doesn't even have AN ace. Or a King for that matter. Or any cards within two ranks of each other. So I peer down at the monster that is K9 offsuit and do what any sane human being would do in this situation with the nuts; I raise to try to knock out the big blind. I am once more smoted and the flop goes off 3-ways. Time for plan B. Flop the nuts.


Victory! I bet and the big blind folds. He could have had an ace, and if he had called this flop I'd have shut down and wondered where my $60 went, so that was good. Now I do in fact have the nuts, unless the button is somehow holding a 5 in his hand and even then I have pretty good equity since I have 6 outs straight away and will likely pick up 3 more on the turn. The button hems and haws for what feels like 30 seconds (actually probably 10) and eventually says "I'll see one more" and pitches in 4 chips. This is not an act. He has basically nothing and is peeling super light. I load up barrel number 2.


I take a second to appraise the card (mostly just for rhythm purposes) and then fire ze missile. He calls, this time very slowly, but without a speech. I determine that he's either just paired his 3 or picked up some sort of draw (either a gutshot at the wheel or a spade draw). This is not good, obviously, but it's me we're talking about so not entirely unexpected.


I'm not really sure what to do but I quickly rule out betting, since he'll never call with a worse hand or fold a better one, so I check, hoping he checks it back. The guy bets pretty quickly, which is usually a sign that someone is betting a busted draw. If he had a pair he'd probably have to think for a second about whether or not I could possibly call with a hand he beats. So I call, and tables Q3cc for the turned pair of 3s after doing the thing where he picks up his cards and looks at me and says "I think you've got it" and after I turbo muck and actually laugh out loud he says "I don't know man, I don't beat much" and I just don't respond at all. As an aside, Tommy Angelo points out that the harshest thing you can do to an opponent who just put a wicked bad beat on you is fold your hand and not say a word. If they try to explain why they did what they did, the worst response they can get from you is nothing at all. So I tried that out here and I gotta say it felt awesome.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


One night I was talking to Babar on g-chat and used the phrase "I mean really" at the end of a sentence. He liked it, saying that it's uses seemed almost boundless in terms of adding emphasis to a statement. Here's the conversation, which mind you was held after midnight pacific:

12:23 AM me: that's awful
I don't know why we fought so hard to get Texas back
BBB: lool
me: i mean really
BBB: im posting that on 2p2
12:24 AM me: fair
12:26 AM lmk where
BBB: nc thread med stakes
12:29 AM crossposted
to small steaks
the 'i mean really'
is the best part idk why
12:30 AM me: you can fry just about anytihng I guess

5 minutes
12:36 AM BBB: i mean really
it adds so much power
to anything
12:39 AM me: A good point you make
He 3-bet me with the 53 soooted
i mean really
53 sooted
12:40 AM BBB: lol
me: it seems like it could have boundless uses
BBB: so far i would describe it as full of win
i mean really
jam-packed chock-full
12:41 AM me: once again
[x] win
12:42 AM BBB: +1
see, staying up late is easy
just banter and trade inanities on instant messenger
i mean really, what more could you want?
12:46 AM me: nothing more
I'm catching up on my mid steaks posting
my dog is snoring
i mean really
he's snoring something fierce
BBB: record that shit
and put it in youtube obvies
12:47 AM lol i just saw
that u typed it

So we started using it on two plus two in acronym form. At first people kind of ignored it. I'd just put IMR at the end of a sentence and they were probably reading it just as an exclamation point, which is basically accurate. Then a few people started to ask, and somebody said that he couldn't find it on Urban Dictionary. Well that we had to fix. So ladies and gentleman, I give you my first Urban Dictionary submission, the definition of IMR. Yes I know there is a typo, but I actually think that kind of adds something to it.


Thanks for your definition of IMR!

Editors reviewed your entry and have decided to publish it on

It should appear on this page in the next few days:

Urban Dictionary



I mean really

This phrase is used in online forums and blogs to add emphasize and sarcasm to a statement simultaneously:

Questioner: "Why did you raise the turn?"
Answerer: "I had 3 pair. IMR, 3 pair!"

Monday, January 4, 2010

In Praise of Pete

Pete is pretty easily my best poker friend (sorry if anybody else thought he might have been it) for lots of reasons. We get along well, we (used to) play a lot together, and in general he's a fun guy to have at the table or play craps with in Vegas. These are the normal reasons you make a friend. However, another important reason our friendship has grown is that I've learned a ton about poker from Pete. I hope that I've taught him a few things as well, but I can't imagine the knowledge trade has been anywhere close to equitable. Everyone once in a while he does something at the table that almost makes my ears bleed. Here then is Pete's most recent taking of a soul.

The game is playing pretty aggressively for a Garden City 20/40, which is to say there is a good bit of raising and 3-betting preflop, along with the usual astonishing amount of cold-calling. We're basically playing showdown poker, which is an environment in which I tend to thrive. I'm good enough at making small moves at pots and playing in blind steal situations, but put me in a game where 6 guys see the flop for 2 bets a piece every hand and I'll get the money almost as fast as humanly possible. Maybe it's because those are the game conditions I "grew up" in, or maybe it's just because my grasp of odds and equities exceed my ability to read hand ranges, but I just love those games. The cast of characters is such:

Lowjack, 3 seats off the button: Pete
Highjack, 2 seats off the button: Jesse
Cutoff, 1 seat off the button: Elvis
Big blind, loser of soul: Aggro Bellagio 1oo/2oo Guy (ABG)

I have never seen ABG before and he is not a typical archetype for the game. It's pretty late at night and he's already explained that he just got back from Vegas at 9pm and is completely exhausted, to which I responded "So you thought you'd come out and play a little poker, eh?" and he grinned sheepishly. He apparently played the 100/200 game at the Bellagio and has told us all about it. For this game he fits the insanely aggro and a bit too lose profile to a T. He isn't afraid to raise and even 3-bet light, and he also loves him some positional cold-calling. A while back he cold-called my raise first in with QJo and gave me crap for the fact that I opened KTs. I said more than I should have, but you get the idea. Dude is not as good as he thinks he is, which is almost automatic since he thinks he's the best player that's set foot in the room all week. Truth be told he'd be lucky to be the 4th best player at the table right now. So, on to the hand.

It folds to Pete and he opens. I look down at KhQh, pause for a second, consider folding, then 3-bet. This is not a slam-dunk play by any stretch of the imagination, but Pete's range should be wide enough to make 3-betting him profitable here. And plus, it was suited. Elvis calls 3-cold in the cutoff next in like it's nothing. His involvement in this hand (and most games really) is simply to pad pots with bets going in bad and occasionally turn over some ridiculous two pair on the river. I like Elvis. The button and the small blind clear out, and ABG caps it out of the big blind. While he is definitely aggressive, capping out of the big blind in what is guaranteed to be a 3 or 4 way pot almost has to mean he has a real hand. My thought at the time was that he had JJ+ or AKs. In retrospect he's the kind of player that is absolutely not laying down any suited connector in that spot, and he's also the kind of player who would cap such a hand just for the hell of it. But moving right along....we all call.

16 small bets, 4 ways

Qd 4s 2s

ABG checks. This is dumbfounding to me. Pete checks. I think for a second and decide that I pretty much have to bet, even though ABG's check screams QQ. There are only 2 queens left, maybe he has JJ. Elvis calls and ABG check/raises and makes a speech saying "I hate you" or something. It wasn't like super malicious or anything it was just kind of something you'd expect a Bellagio 100/200 player to say. But still it's a speech, and we all know the power of speech (basically a guy who makes a speech has a powerful hand). Pete promptly 3-bets and I am horribly vexed. I go into the tank and decide that I'm drawing at somewhere between zero and five outs (I could only have 5 if Pete and ABG held exactly all 4 aces) and eventually toss my top pair second kicker into the muck in an already 11 big bet pot. Elvis calls two more like the champ that he is (that's $140 he's put into this pot mind you) and ABG just calls.

13 big bets, 3 ways

Qd 4s 2s - Jc

ABG donks. This again is dumbfounding to me. Literally before I can figure out what is happening Pete raises, Elvis folds, and ABG folds. Bada bing bada boom the 16 big bet pot belongs to Pete. There is a general murmur at the table in the sort of "WTF just happened here I wanted to see 19 bets go in on the turn" sense, but that is all we get.

Now for the post-mortem, which I can present because both Pete and ABG told me what they had (Pete via email later on, and ABG after Pete left in such a way that I'm sure he wasn't lying). Get ready for this. Pete had AQ, and ABG held KK. Pete basically turned his hand into a bluff by free-showdown-raising the turn (with the added bonus of facing Elvis with two bets cold) and was hoping to maybe get a fold out of a chop and figured it would be very difficult for ABG to 3-bet him so the cost was the same as just calling down from the turn donk. My read on the situation was way off. Here is what Pete had to say:

My preflop range in the LJ is probably like (range removed to protect the innocent). I was probably going to cap it pf for value against you and Elvis, but BB spoiled that plan, lol.

BB should have just bet/3-bet flop, or c/r/capped the flop as played. He played it the most weird (although my flop check was non-standard too, more on that later). I think the only interesting decision for you is the flop once I 3-bet. It probably is a good fold, though my read on his hand was different than yours.

The flop I wasn't bluffing. When he checked the flop, I was like wtf? AK? I checked the flop too because I wanted to keep my range pretty wide (like KTo, 66, JTs, ATs, etc. what I would open with) and more importantly I also felt you would bet the flop most of the time. I'm not sure if it was a read or just that a lot of your range should have pp's 77-AA, KQ/AQ/QJs. So this way I would have position on the flop basically and I could also get a read on the other players. The worst case is I give a free card to a 2 or 3-outer, but with AsQc on a Q-4-2ssc board, the free card isn't too bad, especially with the backdoor nut flush and straight draws.

When you bet and Elvis called, I was like OK, whatever, I'm probably going to c/r for value. Then BB thought a bit and c/r'd and I was thinking "well hmm, if I were in his spot I would do that with JJ and possibly TT (because I didn't read your hand as that strong) and him checking KK/AA seems kinda dumb. He could theoretically have KQ/AQ here too". The pot got up to gigantic proportions (20sb), so I also wanted to fold any of your/Elvis' 2-outers, so I decided to 3-bet.

You tanked and I honestly thought you had TT/JJ there, I didn't think you had KQ and I definitely didn't think you had AQ. Bad read. :-)

So Elvis called and BB just called, so I was like "OK, he doesn't have AA/KK". The turn he donk'd and I was like "wtf?". For sure this line is not a lot of strength, it's a "I don't want to give a free card to the spade draw" line and with me having the As, it's easy for me to have the flush draw. So I was like, "well, he's not strong, I felt his most likely hand was AQ/KQ (because his line is just straight retarded with KK/AA)" and so I wasn't sure if I was ahead or behind (maybe more likely I'm behind, but whatever, it's not like I'm going to fold), so I decided to FSDR and also overrepresent my hand a little bit (basically saying "no dummy, I don't have a flush draw, I'm still raising you and I don't care what you have and you are fucked") and try to get Elvis to fold whatever POS hand he had. Also, like I text'd, it's basically impossible for him to 3-bet me there with anything less than QJ+, so I wasn't really worried about that.

I was completely shocked that he folded, and even more shocked when you told me he had KK. I kind of understand from his POV, because he can't beat any reasonable pp (AA/QQ/JJ) or QJ now. I mean, it's almost like having KK on a Q-J-T-8 board. But yeah, there's no way I fold that in his shoes unless I'm against uber-nit boy. I guess he really thought I was a super-nit.

Just curious, what did you think I/BB had in that hand?

And my response was

Preflop after the action completed I put you on a pretty wide range obviously (something like 44+, AT+, A8s+, JTs+, KQ, KJ). I felt you might have folded some of these hands for 2 more bets (like maybe you muck ATo or QJo if that's in your range) but in general I 3-bet you with KQs so yeah....I put ABG (aggro bellagio guy) on a big hand preflop. Like TT+ or AK, and I was even discounting TT, JJ, and AK a bit. Capping out of the BB there in what's gonna be a 3-4 way pot is a huge show of strength.

The instant he checked the flop I put him on a very big hand. Afterward I realized that I had his preflop range so tight that basically all of it was a big hand so the check actually didn't give any information. I mean he could check AK of red there figuring he was playing showdown poker. He could check QQ there to make expert slowplay. He could check JJ or TT I guess but that'd be bad. Honestly he could even check AA there. So his check I just continued to put him on "big hand". Your check meant to me "lols, he has jack high yahoo!". So I bet. Elvis called which means his cards hadn't been accidentally mucked. Then the raise came, confirming to me that he had QQ+. Then you 3-bet, and I put you on basically the same range, QQ+. Of course you can both have AQ some of the time (but I discounted it, for you because I thought you'd figure it was behind ABG's range and for ABG because of the preflop and flop action), and especially AQss. Also AKss is possible but I can't imagine ABG checking that hand. You're still allowed to have QJss, KQss, and a set of 4s though also.

When he donked the turn my head almost exploded, but I still basically put him on QQ+. I actually thought "He's going to 3-bet Pete with QQ" and cringed when you raised. When you raised again I figured you had to have a set, QJ, or MAYBE AA. Then he folded and I decided he could only possibly have AQ and that you just raised out the worst hand.

I thought this hand was amazingly interesting, and I spent a lot of extra brain cycles thinking about it the rest of the night. Basically Pete realized that since he was very unlikely to get 3-bet on the turn the free showdown raise was an effective way to play the hand. He might have even gotten lucky that Elvis was still in the hand, because he'd have been less inclined to stick in the raise heads up. He basically eliminated AA and KK from ABG's range, which turned out to be incorrect, but not entirely. Pete was correct that playing AA or KK that way would be completely ridiculous, so he discounted it. A corollary here is that if ABG did play AA or KK that way, he's likely to do something else completely ridiculous the rest of the hand. It makes perfect sense right? We can't figure out what was going on his head so far, so why would we assume we can know what he's planning to do for the rest of the hand? We simply can't. So raise, and get him to fold a hand with 85% equity in a 15 bet pot. I'd have never done it, and I'd have lost the hand. Pete did it and basically stole a week's worth of EV.

Long live Pete, taker of souls, slayer of dragons.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How It Is That I Won Six Racks

My last two nights of propping have been nothing short of fantastic in all regards. First of all, from a completely objective point of view I got to play in the exact game I prefer, 20/40, for almost the entirety of both shifts (in 14 hours I think I logged 13.25 hours of 20/40 play). Second of all, the games that I found myself in were fantastic (more on that in a bit obviously). This is important when evaluating the success of this prop position, as I know that in general I could opt to play in some pretty soft 20/40 games during the day, and if the graveyard 20/40 games simply aren't as good I'm taking a slight hit that while manageable is something I should be aware of. Third of all, I had a blast and ran like Jesus on a scooter. That's pretty obvious, because no matter how good a game is you can't expect to win 6 racks in 6 hours.

The actual game Tuesday night was the stuff that legends are made of. We had three players taking almost any two cards to the turn. A lot of the hands were a blur, but some gems:

SB calls nit-props raise with T2hh and takes two to the face on a board of AJ4 with one of her suit. Obviously she runs down a wheel (she did flop not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 runner-runner draws to two pair or better) and responds with "I was the big blind!". Nit-prop promptly berates here in Chinese with Mr. Wong for the next ten minutes, and while my Mandarin is non-existent, I was able to make out "Ten Two!" the 5 or 6 times it came up. Nit-prop should know better than to do this. It was obvious that he was berating her in Chinese to anyone with 14 or more functioning brain cells. But 20/40 does not have the 14 brain cell requirement, just the $200 one, so who knows, maybe he was safer than I thought.

A while later nit-prop raises again and the button (let us call him the gentle giant) takes two to the face. The flop is Q84 and the gentle giant calls again. The turn is a 7, and now the gentle giant raises. The river pairs the 7, and he bets and collects a call from nit-props AA. What does he have? K7o. Nit-prop is beside himself. Even I have to admit that what we just saw was truly special. It is one thing to be a maniac; as WTK has shown rampant aggression, if somewhat well-placed, can be used to one's advantage. But to raise the turn with 3rd pair no draw when nit-prop has bet into 3 people is suicide. I thought about it for a while, and I decided that there is no clear answer to the question "which street did he play the worst?" It simply is an unknowable quantity.

There were more gems like this spattered all over the night. To give you an idea of how loose this game was, four of us had overs buttons and we didn't have a chance to use them for 75 minutes. That's right, four of the nine players in the game had overs, and for the next hour and fifteen minutes not a single situation occurred in which only those players were in the pot for the start of a post-flop street. Think about that...all it takes is one river to be HU or even 3-way amongst just the overs players. Didn't happen. Eventually I turned mine in on the premise of "what's the point" and my comrades had to agree.

Then there was me. I moved to the table at about 12:30am (actually I moved specifically to take a break so I could call Danielle to say goodnight) and at the time was stuck about a rack. I lost a little more, and added on for all the chips I had taken out of my box, putting me into the game for about 4 racks. From that moment forward, I could do no wrong. 6 way pot raised from the CO? I'll call with KJs in the SB and flop a king. And it'll hold up the whole way down. Pocket fours? I'll flop a set. Twice. In 10 minutes. KTo in a 7 way raised pot? Board will run out QJ4cc-2s-9c and I will donk the river and get called in two spots of the 3 remaining hands and nobody will have a flush. You have AJs? My JT will crush you. It simply did not matter. Even when I lost things went well.

6 way pot and I have black kings on the button. The flop is:

762 with two clubs

I bet and like 4 of them call.

762-A with 3 clubs now

The SB checks, and the BB donks. Everyone else mucks and I call with my nut flush draw. The SB just calls.


The SB donks and the BB raises. I muck and the SB calls. He has A7 for top two, which he didn't see fit to raise on the turn. She has 62s for the full house, which she decided to check/call on the flop and donk on the turn. I was up against 4 pairs on the turn and got away with putting in one bet when I was drawing live at 9 outs. Just wow.

As the clock struck 6am nit-prop nit-quit the game once again (this is a new term of mine, nit-quit, to quit a game in such a nitty fashion that it is hard to believe the person who just did it had the courage to sit in the game in the first place) by stating that since my shift was over and that left the game with 2 props and 3 players they should just make the other game 10 handed (it had two seats). He of course did this right after I paid my big blind and he raised it from UTG with no doubt like pocket queens. But it didn't matter. I organized my 10 racks of chips and waddled to the cage, trying to take the time to remember how it feels to run that good.