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Smiling Monkey Boys

January 1, 2010

This is a story about two players and three hands. In neither of them did I come out ahead, but that’s not what’s important. Well, OK, maybe it’s important to me, but that’s not why I’m sharing these hands. In each case, it’s the plays that left me baffled.

Hand #1 — This doozy of a hand came on the money bubble of the Noon tournament at the Venetian. With 17 players left, we were facing blinds of 3,000-6,000 with a 300 ante when I got crippled. The hand started with a player in middle position raising to 12,000 and getting flatted by the player to his immediate left. Having started the tournament with the raiser at my first table, I knew he liked to raise almost everything, and often came into a pot with pretty slim holdings. On the times he had a legitimate hand, he often over-raised. The player behind him had shown himself to be pretty cautious and was perfectly capable of laying down a less-than-premium hand if he wasn’t getting the right price to call.

With this in mind, I looked down at J-8 of spades and a chip stack of just 51,000. I knew I could fold here and try to limp into the money, but with so much dead money in the middle of the table, I really didn’t like that play. Nor did I think flat calling here made much sense, as I would surely have to fold my hand if I didn’t connect with the flop and would only have 40K for the next orbit. So, I took option #3 and shoved all in hoping to take the pot down right then and there.

When the original raiser asked for a count, the dealer responded by saying I had him covered. “I don’t care. I want a count,” the raiser said. So, dutifully, the dealer counted out my stack and again noted that calling my raise would put my would-be opponent all in. After a few minutes of thought, my opponent made the call and the third player got out of the way before we turned up our hands.

When my opponent tabled Ace-4 of diamonds, the table was stunned by the call and I was pleased to see I wasn’t as far behind as I could have been. Still, I couldn’t catch up and with that hand, my tournament was effectively over. While he was effectively ahead, I just don’t understand how my opponent could think that calling all in for his tournament life with a weak Ace was really a winning play. Nevertheless, he made the money and I didn’t.

Hands #2 and #3 – After busting out of the tournament, I moved over to a $1-$2 game where I thought I could win back my tournament buy in and maybe even grind out a nice little profit on the day. Wrong.

While I did grind away for quite a while, my stack never really moved up or down by more than $100. I would win a pot, lose a pot, tread water, wash, rinse and repeat. Nevertheless, the table wasn’t all that tough and the guy on my right was getting drunker by the minute, making his chips all the more accessible. And then, the hands happened.

In the first hand, my soon-to-be nemesis limped from UTG and the player to his left raised to $10. Two more players called before action got to me in the small blind. I looked down to find Ace-10 off and figured I would join the fun. The big blind called as well and, when the action got back to the UTG player, he re-raised to $60, which was enough to push everyone off of their hands. Nicely played.

In the next hand, five players limped into the pot before action got to me on the button. I looked down to find Ace-Queen of diamonds and raised the pot to $17. The small blind folded and the big blind, who had check-raised the previous hand, re-raised me to $35. Everyone else folded and action passed back to me.

After the previous hand, I was having trouble putting my opponent on a real hand like Aces, Kings or Queens. At best, I thought he might have something like Jacks, and even that was highly debatable. Realistically, I thought he couldn’t be holding anything higher than a very small pocket pair like 4s where I was racing or, more likely, something like Ace-10 or Ace-Jack, in which case, I had him crushed. Feeling confident that I was ahead, I re-raised to $95 and was somewhat shocked when he insta-shoved for an additional $165.

I ran through the hand one more time and my analysis of the situation didn’t change. I was either racing or, I thought, way ahead and, with the money now in the middle, I had no trouble finding the call. I was thrilled when my opponent turned up his hand to show King-10 off and even more pleased with the flop, which came Q-4-10. The turn was a dagger through my heart, however, as a black King hit the board. All of a sudden, I needed an Ace or a Queen to win and a Jack to chop. Of course, neither of them fell and, to add insult to injury, the river brought a red King to give my opponent the nut house.

Again, losing the pot sucked, but that’s not what really put me on tilt. What I still can’t understand is how someone could have thought it was a good idea to put their entire stack at risk with what is, at best, a marginal hand. Don’t get me wrong – I want him to make that play every time, but it baffles me. It’s not like he was short stacked or pot committed before he shoved. He was just gambling.

In the long run, I know I should be able to beat the random gamblers often enough to make calls like the one last night worthwhile and I certainly don’t regret my play. Just the result.

That said, I rather end 2009 with a bad beat than start 2010 with one.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2010 2:42 pm

    Call it a sign that poker can still be profitable due to bad players.

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