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Strong cash game results

Played at the Hustler again last night. As always, I started in the nightly tournament which was a $100 buy-in event. They started us with 10k in chips at 25/50 blinds so we had a lot of play. Couldn't get anything going and lost a major pot when I went all-in with 9k in chips at 300-600 blinds with AJ and got beat by a call from KQ. I was now really short and busted a few hands later.

As always, I headed over to the $300-500 5/5 cash game. A friend was seated at one of the 3 tables and I was given a seat across from him. I bought in for $500 and quickly got involved with TT. I raised to $25 from MP, had two callers to my left and one of the blinds. The flop comes 9TQr. I raised to $70. I suppose I could have slowplayed it, but I didn't want to give a free card on this board. Everyone folded.

I won a few more hands after that to bring my stack up to $800ish. Then things really slowed down. I went orbit after orbit looking at nothing but K3 type hands. When I did hit a hand I would almost always get rivered -- e..g, medium flush on turn, bet the pot, one caller, 4 card flush on river, lose to A. Or I have QQ, flop AK, have to fold to re-raise. Or A9, 99 on board, but four flush by river, etc. In my last two sessions I got a little too bored or pissed and tried to press with borderline hands that put me in the position of making difficult decisions on later streets. This time I just tried to sit back and play my game. I brought my headphones and I really think that it helped pass the time and get into a better rhythm.

During my down times I really focused on getting a read on the table. There were three players who I felt I could read very well and I tried to play pots with them. Especially when I was in position. My stack never went much below the starting $500. My key hand happened when I raised from MP to $20 with 88 and was RR from the button to $80. I called for set-value and the flop came a beautiful 58J. I checked, he bet $200, I pushed and doubled up against his KK.

It was now approaching 1am, and I really wanted to play tennis early on Sat am, but I was feeling good and my friend was staying so I played on. A few hands later I pick up JJ in the BB. There are 5 limpers to me and I make it $45. The KK player makes the call. The flop comes Axx with two spades. I lead for $75 and he mini-raises. I call. This is one of the players who I felt I had a good read on. The turn pairs the A. I decide to check and he makes it $150. My plan when I checked was to check-call if he bet (I could have led out, but would have been forced to fold to a RR). I spent some time on the call but picked up some weakness. I had noticed a few hands where he was strong, and it was very obvious to me that there was a difference in his manner here. His bet was also very weak. This guy tended to raise much more with big hands. I called. Blank on the river. It goes check-check and he mucked when I showed.

I won a few pots with raises and continuation bets. Then this hand happens. I'm UTG+1 and there's a $10 straddle to my right. I have only T7h, but decide to limp. Not great, but I was just stacking my chips from a nice pot, so decided to play. There's a bunch of limpers and the straddler makes it $60 more. Normally I throw this hand away without hesitation, but this guy had lost some brutal hands and I feel he is steaming a bit. I also felt that he played very straightforward, respected my game (didn't think I would do anything out of line) and of course I had position. My biggest gamble was that it would be only the two of us. Luckily everyone folded. The flop comes Axx with two hearts. Pretty good flop for me. He makes it $100 and I call. A T hits on the turn. He now bets $100 again. It felt to me that he was not crazy about his hand and this was a blocking bet. He might have had a weak A, but it felt more like air or a pocket pair. It might have been as good as JJ-KK, but no way to be sure. What I did know was that I had outs, second pair and an opponent who was uncomfortable and respected my bets so I raised $150 more (he had about $350 left). He folded and asked if I had the A. Of course I told him yes.

I won a few more pots after that, some with good hands, some using my position. By 2:30am and with 1600 in chips behind I decided it was time to get some sleep.

LAPC Recap -- a few interesting hands

I ended up playing 4 NL tournaments -- two full table normal tournaments, one shootout and one short-handed. I didn't go very deep in any of them. I think I played fairly solid, but ran really bad. Two ended with big suckouts against me and two were tough situations that I'm not sure I could get away from. The good news is that I won two sats -- one for a $1k score and the other for a $2k score so I was a bit up in total. Here are a few hands that I would like some feedback on.

Hand 1: I'm a few hours into a $550 NL tournament. I find myself with 15 BB and am in the CO. David Phan is to my left with a huge stack and the SB/BB also have big stacks. It's folded to me. I have two red Tens. Do I push or raise? Not a huge decision but I'm curious what most of you would do because my decision proved fatal whereby another decision might have resulted in a different outcome.

Hand 2: Early in a $1k tournament. I'm UTG+1 with 4k and see JJ. UTG also has 4k. Blinds 50/100.

UTG mini-raises to 200. I just call for various reasons -- mostly to play a small pot and I'm suspicious of UTG mini-raises. One blind calls. Flop comes TJQ rainbow. Check to me. I bet $500, only UTG calls. Pot now $1700.

Turn 5 also brings back-door flush draw. UTG bets 600. Do I call, raise, push? If I don't push, what's the plan for the river?

Hand 3: $130 10-handed sat. Three players left, blinds are 400/800. We're in the BB with AJo and 6500 chips. The SB has 2k and the button has 6500. No mention of chop, but let's assume for argument sake that if we knock out the SB that we would likely do a chop with the button.

The button pushes and the SB folds. Do we call or fold?

LAPC $545 6-handed NL -- You suck out on me, I suck out on you twice!

I had planned on playing the 6-handed $545 tournament. Matt Savage and I exchanged emails and I wanted to stop by to see him and get in some poker. Unfortunately, I'm an idiot and didn't check the starting time. Don't know why I assumed it was a 7pm start. I did get there at 2:50pm thinking I would spend the afternoon playing some satellites. It turns out that there was 10 more minutes to get in as an alternate. I would get the full starting stack of 4k and the next two 40 min levels were 100/200 and 100/200 25. Hmmm, not great, but with an avg stack still at 5.5k it wouldn't be horrible. Okay, I decided to give it a shot. I didn't have my players card with me and the guy who dealt with them had already closed shop but the staff was very helpful and got me my seat in minutes.

I managed to stay out of trouble for the first few orbits and won most small pots I played.

Hand 1:

My first major hand was with the blinds still at 100/200. Me on button with A8. Folds to me and I raise to 500 with a 4k starting stack. SB who has 1800 or so pushes. I insta-call. He has K9. Flop comes with a K and 8. River is 8 and I'm in business.

For a fairly major 6-handed tournament loaded with aggressive pros my table turned out to be great. There was a young pro two seats to my left who was somewhat aggressive. Actually he talked a lot and represented through his words that he was the real deal and very aggressive. In reality he was fairly predictable and not very aggressive at all. Most pots were heads-up and there wasn't much post-flop aggression or pf 3-betting. About an hour in Makisim Karandeyev sits to my left. He's young, friendly guy who tells us all that he just won the NL event #11, but is actually a limit specialist.

Hand 2:

I'm in the BB with KT at 100/200 25 and around 5.5k. UTG makes it 600, button calls, SB calls, I call.

Flop T84 with two clubs. SB makes it 1500, I push. Folds to SB who calls with JT. He has me covered by a bit. My hand holds and I'm in business with a great stack.

Hand 3:

Still 100/200 25 and I'm at 11k. I make it 700 with AJs. BB who has about 10k takes a while to decide. It seems to me that he is seriously thinking about raising. I put him on a hand like 99/TT/JJ/AQ. He calls.

Flop comes K rag/rag. He immediately leads out for 1200. I have no part of the flop, but the timing of his bet really raises alarms to me. I really feel he has a hand like JJ and is testing the waters. A raise here or a call and then bet or raise on the turn will very likely get me the pot. However, I'm torn because I would have to risk about half of my stack and I have a very healthy stack right now and don't want to bluff it away. I decide to just let it go, but do regret the wimpy play. Any thoughts?

Hand 4:

Pretty standard. My stack and blinds are about the same as above. I raise with TT. Aggressive young guy (AYG) across the table calls as does a short stack to my right. Flop comes KT9. AYG checks, shortie puts his last 300 in and we both call. AYG checks in the dark which sucks. Turn comes an 8 so I really can't slowplay any more. I fire about 2/3rds of pot and he folds. Pretty standard.

3-bet City

I lose about 3-4k of my stack through blinds/antes and PF raises with hands like AT, AJ, KQs, etc., and either missing/continuation bet/fold to raises or more often then not, having my buddy to the left, Makisim, 3 betting me. This happens 3 times and while I do want to look him up at some point, I decide that I'll wait for a better opportunity so am forced to fold each time, until:

Hand 5:

150/300 25, stack: 9k. I limp with KTs from UTG+1 (is it possible to be in early position 6 handed?). This is my first limp of the day when first in. Everyone comes along except the UTG who already folded. Flop comes T92 rainbow. SB makes it 500 into a 1600ish pot. Checked to me and I make it 2k. Makisim asks me my stack size and takes quite a bit of time deciding what to do. He eventually makes it 4k. Hmmm. Very weird bet. He either got a bit worried and thinks that this weird bet will screw with me or he really has a strong hand and wants me to come along. I think quite a bit about it and decide that he doesn't have much, but what a stupid bet. Why do it? Very tough spot. Given our history I just can't lay it down and really am convinced I have him and he's just making another move, given that I've shown no resistance to his other raises. He probably pegs me as weak (is it right?) given what he's seen, so I push my last 6.5k. When he doesn't immediately call I'm pretty sure I'm good.

After about a minute he calls with... QT. What the f*&^&ck? I RR the original raiser, then push over the top of him. He still has over 20-25 BB with about 7-8k left. What could I possibly have given the way I've been playing? I haven't shown down one hand that was out of line. Of course he rivered the Q and sent me packing. No hard feelings. I hope you add to your trophy case with my chips. Here's the proud event #11 winner:

click to enlarge the image

Time to do my own sucking!

It's too early to leave so I put down my $120 and play a one-table satellite. We get 1500 in chips and the blinds move up very 15 mins. Pretty standard group of players, a few guys who think they know how to play BUT... very few really understand hand values in these things. It amazes me the hands that people fold or consider folding in this tournament.

I win a small pot on the first hand with AQs and then go card dead for a while. I stay at around 1800 as blinds move up to 150/300 -- I'm just getting no opportunities to make a move. I keep my stack steady by simply pushing blind from the SB and button when folded to me. Then I go on a crazy run.

I'm UTG with the blinds about to eat me alive so will play a very wide range of hands. Still 6 people left. My first card is an A and I push without looking at the 2nd. The SB open folds 88 without hesitating. Pretty weird if you ask me given how broad my range is in this situation. I guess if he thinks I play like everyone else it makes some sense. Unfortunately my second card was also an A, but I probably would have done the same thing if I knew. I proceed to get KK, JJ, AK, 88 over the next bunch of hands and knock out two players to take a large lead. I do suck out on a guy when I called his short-stack all-in with 88 when he had JJ and I flopped trips. However, that hand wouldn't have killed me, but this hand...

PAY-BACK HAND

We're now 3-handed. An attractive Asian female who is fairly good has about the exact same stack as me. We are both at 6.5k or so and one guy between us had 3k. Nobody mentions a deal and I'm in no mood to offer one. Blinds are now 400-800. I have Ah7h and auto push. The SB folds and the Asian female goes into the tank. She says she loves her two cards and is having a hard time folding them. I assume she has KQs and don't really feel like flipping right now so I hope she folds. She is seriously thinking about folding and I'm pretty sure she will. She has done this routine countless times before.

To my surprise she calls. To my SURPRISE she show AJs. What just happened? She almost didn't call me? With 3 handed action and blinds at 400-800? You gotta be kidding me. Of course, the flop comes with 3 hearts and I suck out.

A few people make mention that I was caught stealing. A7s in that situation is like trip A's. So now I have 12k or so vs. 3k for my opponent. If he asked for a deal I would have probably given him 200-300, but he doesn't. He makes some mention of catching up with me and then chopping. I take him out in about 3 hands and take the entire 1060. Boy, I sure earned that one! I feel bad because I started to talk to some of the other players and completely forgot to tip the dealer. They must think I'm a complete schmuck. When I come back next week I'll try to make up for it.

I must close by mentioning how impressed I was with the tournament. It really felt like I was in the Amazon Room of the WSOP. The tables were packed between the featured tournament, a variety of one-table satellites, the daily multi-table satellites and the final table from the previous day. The staff was extremely efficient, the dealers were great and the food, as always, was first rate. I'll be back for a few more tournament and will be sure to report back.

More live poker...

First things first... in my last blog entry I recapped the beginning of several hands without discussing my actions. In summary (not sure if order matches the original post):

1) I had 9ts and the flop came J8x with two of my suit. EP raised, I RR and two guys went all-in. I assumed that my flush outs were likely dead, but called given that I was getting over 4.5 on my call so I felt that my straight outs and maybe even my 9 and T made it a close call. I missed my flush and straight outs but the turn was a T. Turns out both of my opponents were drawing to a flush and I won the $1800 pot!

2) I raised from the blind PF with QQ and an early position limper RR. I put him all-in and lost to his KK.

3) I called a river check-raise with JJ which was an overpair to the board and he had been playing 69 and hit his straight. I just couldn't put him on that hand given that he called my RR PF and called a substantial flop raise with a gut-shot. This was a bad call by mean in hindsight.

4) I called a huge flop push RR with bottom two on a two to a flush board with an A. I felt my read that he was on a draw was spot on and I was right. He hit his flush on the river and I lost a $1600 pot. My call was not the best because I didn't factor in that he probably had top pair with the flush draw which actually made him a slight favorite. I didn't have much in the pot at this point so there really wasn't any reason to flip for some many chips at that point.

I went back to the Hustler on Monday night to play the weekly tournament. It's a $190 buy-in with 100 runners. Nothing much to report. I was fairly card dead for the first 3 levels but managed to chip up from the $6k starting stack to $7k without ever playing a pot past the flop.

On the fourth level I raised from early position with KQ and had one caller from MP. The flop came Qxx all clubs. I had no club. I raised, my opponent pushed which was a big overbet. I decided that he had to have the Ac. He would have RR with AQ PF and usually doesn't pushes with the flush unless it's a low one. Perhaps he pushes with trips here. If I fold I'm down to 20BB and will be at 10-15 soon when the blinds go back up. In a deeper/slower tournament I probably fold but I felt that I needed to gamble and this opponent was very capable of pushing with one club. Turns out that I was right about his gamble, but wrong about this situation. Turns out that he called my 700 PF raise (blinds were 100/200/50) with K2s and had made his flush!

I next played a $5/5 cash game. On the second hand I hit a set on the turn and just called a EP raise with two players behind me. The board was extremely non-coordinated so I was too worried about anyone drawing out on me. One opponent hit a gut shot on the river and I lost $200. He was on my case for letting him get there. Very annoying. Should I have RR on the turn? I guess it's one option, but I liked the call given that someone behind me could RR, I wanted more in the pot and I just didn't feel anyone was very strong at that point.

I then decided not to reload and play short-stacked with about $200. Nothing much happened for the next hour until...

I'm in LP and there's a $10 straddle, an EP raiser to $20 and 3 callers and I look down at JJ. I push. The straddle guy thinks for a while and calls as does one other player. The 2nd player shows A9 and he just hits his 9. The straddle guy proclaims that he hit a runner-runner straight and turns over 56o. So he calls my $200 EP raise with 56o. I was proud of myself for remaining calm when he tells the table that he just makes calls like that against certain types of players. I ask him what kind of players are that, but he really doesn't answer so I just walk away and try to forgot about it.

Fun night. Got to love poker!

Two Chips and a Chair (plus terrible Dealer Mistake)

Edmond and I made plans to "bring our home game to the Commerce" this past Monday. The Commerce has a great program where they will host your regular home game. They provide the dealer, will furnish snacks and will even offer instruction on some new games if you need it. There is no extra fee; they only take their normal rake depending on the stakes played. No crazy wildcard games allowed. You need to stick to the basic games offered at the Commerce, but that does leave you with lots of options (click here to learn more). We were planning on starting with a basic $300-500 stakes NL game and throw in some H-O-R-S-E games if everyone was up for it.

We were pretty excited to play and Dave Mosikian, head of player relations was set to play with our group. However, Dave had some bad back issues Monday afternoon and had to pass. Could it be that he was channeling Kobe Bryant’s back pain from Sunday’s Lakers game? Dave is a big Lakers/Kobe fan and controls the keys to Commerce’s great luxury box at the Staples Center , so that close link to the Laker great is a real possibility.

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Dave hosting a bunch of us at the Commerce box

We were all looking forward to playing with Dave so decided to reschedule for the near future when Dave (and Kobe) feels a bit better. Dave, please get some rest. We’ll looking forward to some future donations at the tables! (note: I’m writing this from a plane ride to NYC the night after game 5 and Kobe’s back is getting better so Dave, there will be no more excuses!).

Alternative Plans at the Huslter ‘s Monday Night Tournament
Since my beautiful wife had already given me a poker pass for the night I decided to meet a few of the guys over at the Hustler for the Monday night NL tournament. It’s a $100 buy-in with one optional $100 rebuy. I arrived about 10 minutes late and was seated right away. My very first hand did not start off good at all. I hit tptk with A9, but my opponent turned two pair and took about 600 of my starting 2000 stack. I immediately requested my one optional rebuy ($100 for another 2k in chips) and proceeded to win my $600 back on the very next hand when I turned the nut straight against my opponent’s middle pair.

Crazy Dealer Mistake Costs me Down the Road
Towards the end of the first level a crazy dealer mistake followed by a questionable floor ruling ending up costing me (indirectly!). Two players are in a pot and by the turn the board reads:

AAQx

The woman to the left of me who is fairly active and aggressive goes all-in and is called by her opponent. She turns over QQ for the full-house and her opponent puts his cards down in front of him without turning them up and says "you got me." The dealer starts moving the cards toward the muck, but given that it’s a tournament and the cards need to be shown I stopped him (I was sitting in the 6 seat and the cards were right in front of me) and asked to see them. Here’s the important part – the cards never hit the muck so there was zero doubt what the cards were. The dealer turns over the cards to show Q rag, for two pair. He also claimed to touch the muck with his other hand indicated that the cards were mucked. Of course the river was a third A! The dealer starts moving all of the chips towards the woman but everyone at the table tries to stop him since this should be a split pot. The losing player seems a bit embarrassed and does nothing to stop him, but we all insist on a ruling.

The floorman comes over and the dealer explains what happened. The floorman rules that yes, this is a tournament and the hands need to be turned over and the player cannot muck his cards prior to the river. This is actually important and is used to prevent collusion. However, the floorman says that it is too late to reconstruct the hand so there is nothing he can do. Too late? He didn’t even ask if they had identical stacks because if they did it would be trivial to reconstruct. If the losing player had more than the woman then at worst, they could split the pot and the woman would be BETTER off. In reality the woman had a bit more, maybe 300-400 but he never asked, and the losing player didn’t protest so no attempt was even made to figure it out.
So how did this effect me? Let me explain...

Down to two Chips, but still alive
For the next level or so I fluctuated a bit between 4-5k when a hand came up where I bet the flop against one player (I’m out of position) with TPTK and a backdoor flush draw. My opponent took a long time to call which told me that there was a good chance he had middle pair. The turn paired and brought me 4 to a flush. I’m concerned that he made trips and if I bet he will raise me and I’ll have to fold, but I really want to see the river. I think of just check-calling, but what if he didn’t have middle pair he would probably fold if I bet. I do decide to bet and he does raise me. I take a while to fold and am visibly upset that I bet. This is important because...

On the very next hand I look down at JJ on the button. Blinds are 50/100 and there are two limpers to me. I make it 600 and am very conscious of the fact that it probably looks to anyone who is noticing that I’m steaming from the last hand. It’s a perfect spot for one of the blinds to raise me and the SB obliges by raising to 1400. She is the active player who won an extra 2k because of the floor decision I previously described. It’s folded to me and given that I was expecting her or the BB to raise and have no reason to believe she has me beat, I go all-in. Oops, she immediately calls and shows KK.

Her stack is fairly close to mine and once the count is made we learn that I had her covered by two chips! Looks like it will be an early night, but wait...

Never Count me Out
I get dealt TJo on the next hand and am tempted to just throw in the two chips, but I’m now in the CO and have a full orbit until the blinds hit me so I decide to just wait and see what happens. My patience is rewarded with AQs a few hands later. I toss my chips in the middle and a few people come along. My AQ holds up for the side pot and I’m now up to 250. It’s a start.

I fold a few hands and now I’m UTG and have a decision to make. I only have K8s, but on the next hand I’ll be in the BB and will basically have to play any hand. Also, if I put my chips in now there’s a chance that everyone will fold to the blinds so I’ll only have to beat 1-2 others. If I wait there could be a limped community pot and I might have to outlast a ton of players. Looks like playing my K8s makes the most sense so I do. A few players join in the pot, but a flopped K gives me hope. When the dust settles a paired board on the turn actually killed my chances of a substantial win, but I do split the sidepot with my opponent’s K3 and I’m now at 400.

On the next hand the blinds go up to 100/200 and I’m in the BB. An EP player raises to 600, a few players call and the button pushes. I have A9 and call and 2 other players call. Believe it or not I have the best hand PF. The button was trying to muscle everyone out with KQ and the other players called with suited connectors. I don’t pair my cards but neither did anyone. I win a pretty nice sidepot and am now up to around 1800. Pretty nice orbit.

Three Strikes (mistakes?) and You’re Out
Not sure if any of the next three hands are serious mistakes but I have second thoughts about all of them. Here’s how they went down:

1) Two hands later I’m on the button with AJo and push. The BB is contemplating calling me and while I’m 99.9% sure that I have a better hand I am so happy to be back in the game that I really don’t want to be sucked out on and would rather just take down the pot right there so I open my trap and tell him that I have a really strong hand and will show him if he folds. He says he has a good hand too, and I say that "you’ll need to suck out, but if that’s what you want to do, you should." After a minute or two he folds KQ face-up. I really should have invited the call and I’m almost certain that he would have called if I just shut up. Of course it would have been about a coinflip, but at that point I should have welcomed the call; especially given that his range likely had an A or J so I would have been a nice favorite to his range. Stupid!

2) I get moved to a new table and find myself UTG with AQ and about 2200 in chips. A standard raise isn’t an option here since I will be pot committed on any flop. I could limp and push against any raiser or just see the flop for only 200 if nobody raises. I decide to push, which is standard of course, but again, I need to be taking a little creative risk here. I really didn’t like the push once I thought it through, but that’s what I did and I won another 300 when everyone folded.

3) On the very next hand the HJ makes it 1k (BB still 200) and it’s folded to me. I look down at TT. I don’t know anything about the HJ’s game but my quick read is that he is a regular and knows what he is doing. He had a called a few players by name and he is in his mid 40’s-early 50’s.

My thought process here was way too quick and missed a lot of the necessary factors. I decide that he’s aggressive and I just cannot fold TT when I’m short-stacked. I called, he turns over AA and I’m out.

Here’s the problem... If I would have spent a bit more time thinking it through and tried harder to put him on a range I probably would have realized that I could narrow it down given his 5xBB bet. What could he possibly have that I would want to see? The only hand in his range that I really want to see is 99. AK is possible and wouldn’t be too bad, but that’s it. When he makes it 5xBB he almost certainly has 99+/KK. Maybe 88 or AQ, but unlikely.

Do you agree?
The good news is that it was not very costly, the Hustler is only 30 minutes from my house and I got home relatively early. I have to say that it was a fun time. What more could I ask for? Perhaps a final table finish and check?

** BTW, during the break I approached the floorman and discussed his decision on the all-in. His first reaction was that he couldn’t reconstruct the pot at that time, but when I pointed out that he never even asked any questions of the players so how would he know -- he reconsidered. He told me that he was tired and having a bad day and that everyone makes mistakes. He further pointed out that the player never protested and defended himself. If the player did he probably would have come around and tried to split the pot in an equitable manner.

So the lesson here is to always fight for your rights when you believe in your position! I admire the floorman for admitting his mistake. I have always been impressed with the Hustler’s staff and this night did nothing to change my opinion!
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