Wednesday, June 21, 2017

There's a Reason I Call Them "Dreaded"

Sigh.  In my last post (here), I mentioned that I'd had the dreaded pocket Kings a few times so far this trip and won a few, lost a few, but nothing too dramatic.

Until Sunday night. I was having an ok session, down a little but mostly due to still being incredibly card dead when my buddy Mike came to deal.  The night before, I'd actually won a few small pots during his down, so I was hoping the trend would continue.

Now those of you who have ridiculously good memories might recall me mentioning here that Mike seems to deal me pocket Kings more than any other dealer.  Actually, I'm not sure that's true.  But going back to the days when I was playing 2/4 limit, we both noticed that there was a time there where Mike seemed to deal them to me at least once every down that I was at his table.  Of course, when you're playing 2/4 limit, pocket Kings can't do as much damage as they can when you're playing no limit. And losing with them is pretty common.  Usually 4 to 6 players see the flop, so even pocket Aces don't hold up very often unless they are improved.  So it was just a running gag between the two of us.

It wasn't till I started playing NL that those Kings started killing me so much I came to dread them (and I still regret not trademarking the term "dreaded pocket Kings.")  Honestly, I can't say the pocket Kings Mike has dealt me over the recent years have been any deadlier than KK dealt to me by any other poker dealer. And truth be told, despite the running gag, Mike hasn't been sending Kings to me in pairs very often for some time.  In fact, I can't remember the last time he dealt them to me.  Well now I can….it was Sunday night.

So near the end of his down, Mike dealt me a couple of cowboys just like old times.  I was in late position and someone in early position had raised to $8 and it seemed like everyone but Wonder Woman called the $8.  So I made it $50.  Everyone folded until one guy went all in, but he only had $37 to shove.  We were heads up.

We didn't show but the flop looked harmless enough to me.  Just a couple of 7's and I can't remember what else.  There was no King, of course.  So when we revealed our hands, naturally the guy showed pocket 7's.  Of course I would lose with pocket Kings to freaking flopped quads with Mike dealing!  It seemed so right.

Well, Mike pointed out that it could have been worse because he was short-stacked.  True enough, but if he had a decent sized stack, he likely wouldn't have called a $50 bet with two lousy 7's.

Before Mike left, he dealt me two 4's and I limped in, along with five others.  I flopped a set, bet $5 and got three callers.  I bet $20 on a blank turn and didn't get a call. 

A new dealer came in to replace Mike.  On his first hand, I opened to $8 with Ace-9 of spades.  It folded to the guy to my right who made it $28.  I decided to let it go.  The guy showed his hand….pocket Kings.

The very next hand, in the big blind, I got the Kings.  This was less than 10 minutes after Mike had dealt me the Kings and exactly one hand after the guy on my right had Kings.  An early position player had opened to $7 and there had been a caller.  I made it $28. 

The original raiser—who had just come to the table and who I didn't know from Adam—made a large re-raise that was more than I had left.  It folded back to me and of course I called off my stack.  We didn't show.  The flop was Queen-Jack-X, which I figured was bad news.  The turn was even more bad news—an Ace.  The river was a brick. 

I mentioned to the dealer, who I was sitting next to, that it was a horrible board for my hand.  He said, "pocket Kings?"  And when the river was dealt I showed them.  The other guy took his sweet time to flip his hand.  Now that I think about it, he kind of slow-rolled me.  And he showed….Ace-King of course. 

I was done.  Losing twice in a 10-minute span with my cursed hand was a signal it was time to call it a night.  It was getting late and I didn't think I'd get off tilt before it was time to quit anyway.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vegas is No Place to be Card Dead

You can consider this a mid-trip update but I'm not yet at the midpoint of my current Vegas visit.  Although if the cards don't start coming, I might have to cut it short.

Been in Vegas for eight nights so far.  One day, I didn't play at all.  Still, that's a lot of poker and it's a lot of poker to be card dead.

For example, until last night, I had gone all those poker sessions without seeing pocket Aces, pocket Queens and pocket Jacks even one damn time.  Not once.

Of course, I did get the dreaded pocket Kings a few times.  Won a few, lost a few.  Without listening to my voice notes, I can't recall an especially horrendous loss with them.  And a couple of the "wins" consisted of me raising with them preflop and not getting a call (of course, that's an excellent result as far as I'm concerned).

But yeah, no Aces, Queens or Jacks.  How do you play that much poker and not get those hands even once? And I just had to Google "suited connectors" to remind myself what exactly they are, it has been so long since I've seen them.  Yeah, I've had an occasional Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  But mostly I've been seeing just total garbage hands.  All this time.

Last night, things changed a bit—a bit.  I did get pocket Queens for the first time this trip—and won with them.  I got pocket Jacks twice; won one, lost one.  And near the end of the session I did get Aces.  They held up for a smallish pot.  That put me in the black for the session, and I left that way.  Maybe it means I'll start getting more playable cards.  Sure hope so.

At least the total unplayability of the starting hands I'm getting means I'm not losing too much.  Throwing away your hand preflop is a lot cheaper than going to showdown with the second best hand.

But it doesn't get me many blog posts, either.  I guess I have a few stories to tell when I have more time, but the blogging material has been almost as bad as my starting hands.

This is short even by other blogger's standards, and practically a tweet by my standards, but I wanted to get something up on the blog.  Hopefully I'll have something spectacular to report sooner rather than later.

Oh, did I mention that right now EDC is going in Vegas?  It's sorta like this…..

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wake Up! It's Time to Play a Tournament

If you follow me on Twitter you know I'm back in Vegas now.   I drove up Friday and had a brief session that night.  Not sure if there's much to blog about from that game even though I was able to book a small win.

I didn't get much time to relax before I found myself playing in the first major of the trip—the $200 NLHE tourney at Golden Nugget the very weekend I got to town.  It had no less than nine starting flights spread out over three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), with Day 2 Sunday and a $200K guaranteed prize pool.  With 3,329 entrants they ending up smashing the guarantee with a total prize pool of over $500K.

I figured I had to take a shot at this tourney as soon as I entered into PokerAtlas and then once I realized I’d be in town for the entire last day of the starting flights.  The trouble was the timing.  The flights started at 11am, 3pm and 7pm.  The morning flight just the day after I spent a good chunk of time on the road seemed way too early.  I might not get out of bed before 11!  Besides, 11am is too early to be playing poker anyway.  But the trouble with the 3pm and 7pm flights were the timing of Day 2.  Each of those starting flights figured to last 8-10 hours—maybe more.  Originally, Day 2 was scheduled for Noon the next day (Sunday).  After I questioned whether it was "fair" to the players who survived the 7pm Saturday flight have to come back to play at Noon the next day, they changed it to 2pm.  Important note:  I'm not saying it was my inquiry that caused them to change the time. I don’t know that.  I'm just honestly reporting the sequence of events.

But even with the 2pm time, I thought it might not be enough time for an old guy like me to do that turnaround from either the 3pm or the 7pm flights. And there was no point in playing if I didn't feel I had a chance to make it to Day 2. Ideally I think, I would have played the 3pm or 7pm flight on Friday or even Thursday.  But I wouldn't be in town then.  It was Saturday or nothing.

And that meant hitting the 11am flight on Saturday.  It also meant packing a sandwich so I could gobble down my lunch in the 15-minute break after the first four levels.  I'd only do that for a really special tournament and this qualified.

So I went downtown and gave it a shot.  I was tired, but I don't think it affected my play at all.  The truth is, there were two other things that frustrated me this tournament.  One was being exceptionally card dead.  The second thing was that somehow, I managed to lose a bunch of my notes about hands that I had taken while playing.  Not sure what happened.  One time, I went to add on a note about a hand that had just taken place in level 5 or 6, and saw that everything after a level 2 note had completely disappeared!  Actually though, it wasn't that much of a disaster.  I was so card dead that I had several entries that just updated chip counts and demonstrated that I'd played an entire level without playing a hand.  In other words, not that many hands were lost.

As such, I won't attempt to do a complete report of hand histories, I'll just talk about a few.  Unfortunately one of the best ones was deleted from notes and I tried my best to recreate from memory the next day.

The starting stack was $15K and the levels were 30-minutes (40-minutes on Day 2).  It was like the 3rd or 4th level and I wasn't quite in shove-or-fold mode (the tourney had a nice structure) but my chip stack was getting worrisome.  I limped in with pocket 6's, and someone with a big stack made a reasonable raise.  There were a few callers before it got back to me so I thought a call was the right move.  The flop was Ace-7-6 and I believe it was rainbow.   The preflop raiser was the big blind and so he led out with a pretty big bet.  It folded to me and since his bet was so big, there was no real option to raise without shoving.  So I shoved. I knew unless he was just c-betting with total air, he'd have to call, which I obviously wanted.  And so he did.  He showed Ace-8, the board blanked out and I had a much needed double up.

The last hand of level 7, with the blinds 75/300/600, I had pocket 3's in the big blind.  An early position player made it $1,700 and he got two callers.  Once again, I thought I had pretty good odds to call there even though my stack was very much short (had I not been the big blind there, I think I would have folded rather than limp in).  The flop was Ace-10-3, rainbow.  I checked, expecting the preflop raiser, who had the biggest stack at the table and had been having the rush of his life catching cards, to bet.  But he checked, dammit.  However another player bet—it was at least $4K, didn't really matter cuz I knew what I was gonna do.  Next guy folded and I shoved.  The preflop raiser asked for a count. It was something like $10,700.  He called.  The guy who led out on the flop folded and the preflop raiser showed the dreaded pocketKings. In this case, he dreaded them more than I did.  The board bricked and I dragged a big pot, bringing me to over $30K. 

For the next level, all I could do was steal some blinds and antes raising with Jack-10 suited and and Jack-7 suited (that was an open from the cut-off).

I got to level 9 (200/600/1200) with $33K.  And then I spewed some chips.  In the small blind I had pocket 7's.  There was one limper, I completed and the big blind checked.  The flop was Ace-6-6.  I checked, the big blind checked and the limper bet $2K. Hmmm….it seemed to me like it might just be a steal attempt since it had been checked to him. I figured I'd take a flier for $2K so I called. The big blind came along as well.  The river was a blank and it checked around, and I still thought my 7's might be good.  After another blank, I checked and the big blind bet, but only $3K.  The next guy checked and I thought about it.

The big blind was an older gentleman, had only recently been moved to the table and hadn't been too active.  Part of me was saying, "Nit, nit! He's got a boat."  But another part of me was saying, "He's a wily veteran of the game, he saw everyone check the turn and he's trying to steal it."  And the $3K was a really small bet compared to the pot.  So I decided to call.  He showed 8-6.  Ugh.

I figured I had one more raise left before I went to shove-or-fold move.  So with King-Queen off I opened to $3K and had two callers.  The flop was Queen-high, two low cards, uncoordinated.  The big stack led out for $5K, I think. He was one of the blinds. The other guy folded and I didn't think I had any choice but to shove.  I'm not folding top pair, second best kicker at this spot in the tournament.  There was no point in just calling, I'd be committed and it would all be in by the river anyway.  So I shoved.  He turned over Ace-Queen.  And I was out.

Sigh.  I thought it was a tournament worth trying, even though the circumstances weren't ideal.  I had two big hands when I flopped sets, but otherwise, was just too card dead to make a deep run.

On the plus side, I was able to head back to my room to take a much needed nap.