Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Losing Trip To Vegas

I was in Las Vegas last weekend for a Deltasig conference. I was hoping this would be the big trip where I finally win some decent cash at the poker table.

The first night started out pretty well. After a good dinner at the Luxe in the Venetian, I went down to the poker room. I gotta say, I think the Venetian has the best room in Vegas. Plenty of game selection, satellites to their tournaments running all the time, and nice tables too. Plus there is plenty of room to walk around between the tables.

I was happy to find a 1-2 No Limit game and sat down right away. I played ABC poker and finished up at 2:00 AM with $117 profit. There really was not anything too memorable about the entire night.

After the opening session of the conference I decided to venture back to the Venetian from the Palace Station, where we were staying. I jumped into a very interesting game. There was an oriental man with mutton chop side burns who was really gambooling it up. On his left was another oriental player but he was more clean cut and very friendly. The rest of the players seemed weak and loose.

I played break even poker for about 2 hours. I even decided to add more money to my stack, in case I needed it against the crazy oriental. It was here that I made my one huge mistake of the day. I called a small raise in a multiway pot on the button with T9 off. The flop is J-8-4 rainbow. The crazy oriental bets about 3/4 of the pot and everyone folds to me. I have about $200 left in my stack and the pot is about $50 after his bet. For some stupid reason, I decide to raise all in thinking I have a good chance to get him to fold.

For future reference, when a player is wild and loose, don't ever think he will fold. You are supposed to trap him with a made hand. So naturally he insta-calls with Jack-7. Now most by the book players would probably fold that hand, but not this guy. If I hit my straight I probably could have value bet it for all of my chips. Now I am stuck all in with only a 33% chance of winning. I was not lucky enough to hit and I was felted. I stuck around for a while longer but eventually I had to leave to get back to the conference.

Later that evening before the banquet, I sat down in the Palace Station card room. I took a seat in the 1-2-4 hold'em game while I waited for a 2-4-8 seat to open up. I promptly lose about $40 in quick fashion before I move to the 4-8 game. My first hand in the 4-8 game and I am dealt pocket 7's. I quad up on the turn and manage to get a caller for every street, so I am quickly back to even. A few hands later I pair my King, with AK and bust a college student who is also there for the conference. This is the last piece of good luck I have.

I proceed to lose over $100 with pocket aces in two different hands. I keep waiting for the big pot to make it back but it never comes and I go to the dinner in a drunken state of frustration.

Dinner was good, but I was itching to get back to the Venetian. About 10 minutes after dessert and before the DJ started, I was out the door and in a cab. I found another good seat in a 1-2 No Limit table and prepared to win it all back.

There was a young player on my right who seemed pretty friendly. He had just busted out of their 10,000 chip tournament that had started at noon. He was pretty pissed because after 10 hours of good poker and outlasting over 250 players, he still lost his $540 buy in. We really only played one pot together. He took about $20 off of me with a nice bluff. He had raised first in preflop and I had smooth called on the button. He checked the flop, so I fired a half pot sized bet with my pair of jacks with a ten kicker. The turn paired the 3's on board. He checked and I made another 1/2 pot bet. He raised. I didn't think he had a 3, because the only hand I could see him raising with preflop would be A-3. It looked more like a slow played set or an over pair so I folded. He then showed me A-Q.

There was an older gentleman two seats to my left who was a pretty good player. He played position well and seemed to read others well. I didn't see anyone else at the table that played worth a damn. The problem was that I could not get any traction. My stack hovered around $250-$300 the entire night.

I reached a dangerous point in my patience about 1:00 AM. I was in serious double up or go home broke mode. Luckily my cards were so bad, that I didn't get myself in any trouble.

About 2:00 AM I began to get bored and I backed in to a brief period of zen where I truly played the players and not my cards. There was a tight, passive woman in the one seat and I was in the 7 seat. About three hands over an hour, I saw her limp in and then I raised to isolate. Everyone folds to her and she calls. The flop would come and she would check. I bet 3/4 of the pot and she folds. Once I even floated her lead out on the flop, let her check the turn, and took it away from her there. I also realized that the two players on my left were pretty tight preflop, so a couple of times, I open raised blind and took the pot on the flop. This would have been perfect if I had picked up an occasional hand to get paid off, but it never happened. I don't think I showed down a hand for the last 2 hours.

Eventually I left at 3:00 AM down $50. If it wasn't for the great conversations I had at the table, I might have gone broke from the frustration of waiting for a decent hand. I just feel I am so over due for a mad rush of cards in a No Limit Game in Vegas.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Who will stand up and fight?

A nice $450 upswing in the last three days is being ruined by yet another Online Poker site saying "no" to US customers. Doyle's Room is pulling out at the end of the month.

I originally joined so I could try and qualify for a nice copy of SuperSystem 2. It's been close to a year and I still have not cleared their impossible bonus hurdle. I started with $1,200 and I am down to around $1050. They were one of the last sites that actually accepted one of my credit cards, so my plan was to qualify for the book and then pay back the credit card. Technically none of the money is part of my "bankroll" since I bought in with credit. Only the loss of $150 is included in my win/loss calculations.

The silver lining in this is that they worked out a deal with Full Tilt to transfer over money and action points. I went in last night and requested that they transfer over everything for me. I checked this morning and it had not been done yet. It may be a while.

I was a little surprised that Doyle's Room lasted as long as they did. Especially since Doyle Brunson is such an icon in the poker world, you would think he would not want to go to jail over something as silly as Online Poker. After the rumors of his arrest last week, Doyle probably figured out that as a man in his 70's, it's just not worth the hassle.

I think Full Tilt and Poker Stars are our last hope. They have built up a sizable player base so they can make enough money to gamble on fighting the United States in court to keep letting us play here.

Plus I read that the Poker Players Alliance is hiring former senator D'Amato from New York to help with the lobbying. Finally the PPA is getting off of their ass and doing something.

I wonder if the news of Doyle's Room had leaked out to the players by 2/18. I was playing $.50-$1 NL on the site and it was one of the rare occasions where all the players at the table were exceptionally bad. In a six handed table, 3 of the players were seeing over 70% of the flops. Maybe they were playing with a double up or lose it all mentality figuring it was a long shot to get their money out of the site with them leaving.

After a half hour of value betting the calling stations I had run my $100 up to $160 when I had the following great hand. The player, Yio, had started to vastly over bet some flops. If the pot was $8, he would push all in with $100. I had seen him do it at least 4 times in the last 15 minutes. One of the times he did it with pocket 7's when the flop came all low cards. He was on my left so I felt like I could trap him if the right opportunity came along.

I had the button and Yio was in the Big Blind. I am dealt KcQs and the game is 4 handed. UTG folds and I raise to $4. The small blind folds and Yio calls the $3 raise. The flop is 3d 9c Qh. Sure enough, Yio pushes all in for $193.26 (really just $160 since that was my stack size). If I had any respect for his play at all, I might have considered folding, but I had seen this move too many times. I insta called and Yio turned over 9d Ts. I am a big favorite. The turn was a beautiful Qd and the river was a meaningless Ace and I double up with a $162 profit in one hand. I'm pretty sure that is the largest hand I have ever won in online poker.

Now I just have to hope I can eventually get my money out of the site.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

How should I have played these?

Sunday during Superbowl on Doyle's Room. $0.50-$1 No Limit. I had run up my initial $50 to $97 and now have drifted down to $75. A new player who had bought in for $100 has raised the first two hands preflop and just raised again to $4. The first hand I saw him raise 5 handed under the gun with A7 offsuit. I am in the small blind with Ac-Qd.

I could just smooth call, but for some reason I felt the need to bring this guy back to reality. I reraise to $16, pretty much hoping to win without a showdown. He min reraises to $28. I briefly consider pushing all in, but I don't want to waste 30 minutes of effort to win $25 so I can flip a coin for $75. I just call. The pot is $57 going to the flop.

The flop is A-T-7 rainbow. What is the correct play here?

Here is the range of hands that I think he could have: AA,KK, QQ, JJ, TT, AK, AQ, AJ Most players will not put in the 3rd raise with anything less than AA or KK but I think this guy's range could be wider based on the previous plays. This seems like a situation where I am way ahead or way behind.

I only have about $50 left and I am first to act. If I bet I probably fold hands like KK, QQ, JJ. If I check and he checks through I still know nothing. Why? Because if he flopped a set on a ragged board, he would check it through hoping to trap someone with a high pocket pair into betting the turn.

It looks like the best way to play this hand was either push all in and hope to fold hands like JJ or TT or fold to the 3rd raise. Or just call the first one instead of reraising out of position.

I learned all of this because I pushed all in on the flop and got called with a flopped set of 7's. I don't think my opponent played this too well, but I played it worse.

On Friday night I tried out the 5-150 game at Casino Arizona. I was curious to try it after playing 2-5 No Limit in Vegas a month ago. I felt comfortable with the stakes so I felt I was ready. I played fairly tight, trying to figure out the best strategy with this capped limit. Basically your maximum bet or raise is $150. So if the initial bet is $150, you can raise $150 and make it $300 total. The maximum buy in is $350 which tends to limit your options for post flop play if the pot is big preflop.

I thought I was playing pretty well and was up about $60 with $410 in front of me when it all started to go bad. Here were the key hands:

I had 7s8s on the button. There were two limpers plus me and the blinds for 5 players total. $25 in the pot and the flop was 9s-2s-2c. Everyone checks to me. I decide to semi bluff my flush draw since I doubt anyone has a 2. Everyone folds except a player who thought an awful lot of himself. I had seen him tilt earlier when another player had put a bad beat on him. He proceeded to raise every hand for the next 20 minutes. Recently he had calmed down however. This player decided to check raise an additional $40. I thought about moving all in, since I was not convinced he had a 2. I put him on a 9 or another pocket pair. If it's a lower pocket pair, maybe I can move him off the hand if an over card hits the turn. I decide to just call.

The turn was a 7d. My opponent bets $100. I have to fold now. I still feel like he might have had nothing and knew I was on a draw. I needed to call $100 to win $245. Not good enough odds to chase.

Soon after this hand, I am dealt AcQd in the small blind. There are two limpers and then a raise to $25. I call, the big blind calls and one of the limpers calls. I believe the pot was $110.

The flop is Qc-4s-5s. I am first to act. I did not feel good about betting into 3 other players with just top pair, top kicker. I decide to check and get more information. The BB checks, limper checks, and the initial raiser bets $75. Thinking that this was more than enough to scare the other two players out, I decide to just call. Then the big blind raises $150 to $225. The initial bettor folds and I decide to fold.

I think the call of the raise in the small blind preflop was ok. Raising seems too risky. It may eliminate all the limpers but it builds a big pot out of position. Plus who knew so many would call?

On the flop, I think a check is ok, if I am planning on raising the initial raiser. This is a standard play in limit poker to charge the draws. It might be a little excessive in No Limit or Capped No Limit, but it's a strong play. I also could have put out a bet of $50 to see where I am at. I need to protect my hand from draws plus I need to find out if the initial raiser has AA, KK, or even the remote possibility of QQ.

The way it played out, I felt like the big blind had a set and I would be drawing close to dead. I had not seen him get out of line and the only hand I could be ahead of was a flush or straight draw. I did not think he had the balls to make that kind of raise. He did show the hand after we both folded and he had 6s-7s for a straight flush draw.

So technically I was in the lead but he had 15 outs twice so the odds were about 60% for him to make his hand by the river. I think my fold was ok, given the position I put myself in. The problem was that I should have never been in that position.

These lessons are way too expensive for me!