Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Let me get the yucky end of the story out of the way, so that I can move to the possibly more interesting observations of the evening...

Imagine if you will...

I'm at Trump, playing in the 200-max NL hold'em game. I've been there for about four hours, and I've got an orbit or two left in me before I hit the road. My chip stack is about even from my buy-in. Nobody at the table has more than a few hundred bucks in front of them: ie., very tight table.

I look down to find AK of diamonds under the gun. I check my watch, and the second hand is on an odd number, so I limp. (I wear my watch on the underside of my wrist, so while I'm looking at my cards I can see my watch without moving my arm. I don't do that on purpose... it just ends up like so. Convenient though).

Five people see a flop for $5 each = $25. The flop comes 9-5-2 with two diamonds. Action checks around to the button, who bets out $20. The small and big blinds call ($85 in the pot), and I call. Remaining players fold. The turn brings the 3rd diamond, a ten. The small and big blinds check. I check, knowing full well that all of my chips are going into this pot when the button bets (as he'd already counted out his chips and had them pushed in front of him). The button bets $35 into the $105 pot. The small blind folds, and the big blind quickly calls. $175 in there now. I re-raise all in for $131 all day, so it's $96 more to the button. He thinks a little bit, then calls. The big blind is tormented now, and squirms like mad trying to decide if he should call this raise. It would nearly put him all in. He decides that he has to call, because there's too much money in the pot.

At that moment, I know in my heart of hearts that the big blind has a smaller flush, and the button has a set. I was praying so hard that it may have been audible: "Don't pair the board... don't pair the board..."

The river brings a second ten, and the button bets out to put the big blind all in. For $28, the big blind folds his small flush, and the button turns over pocket two's for the full house, two's full of ten's, beating my ace high flush.

I wished everybody luck, goodnight, and left the table.

Not a soul-crushing beat, but one that definitely takes some wind out of my sails as I'm trying to bolster the bankroll a bit for Vegas next weekend.


Anyway.... on to my random observations.

One of the regulars at the 200NL game (whose name is escaping me) said something tonight that just "clicked" with me the way he said it. He and another guy were talking about Ace-Queen as a starting hand. The one guy was dissing its value, and the regular guy says, "Naw, it's a good hand - it's just that when 5 or 6 people see the flop with you, so many of your outs are already taken." (As in - most people are probably playing big cards, so it's likely that an ace or two, a queen or two, or a few of your Broadway straight cards are in your opponents' hands and therefore not coming on the flop). It's obvious when you think about it, but nobody ever put it that way to me before, and it suddenly magnified some of the things I've been reading in Super System about playing little-mid suited connectors. It also reminded me of the cool Asian guy, Chang, that I played with a couple months back, who had explained that he called a preflop raise with a bunch of people in the pot with 4-6 suited "because most everybody else was probably playing big cards."

Nothing earth shattering... it just clicked, the way it was said. I like when things click. That usually means that the concept has finally been lodged in my memory and "automatic" knowledge - ie. things I can recall and use in my game without actually "thinking" about them.

The other observation of the night has to do with reading people and situations and putting people on hands. I'm not going to pretend that I have mastered putting people on hands. When I'm not in a hand, I play the guessing game and try to figure out what everybody's cards are, as practice. When I'm in a hand, I don't force reads. If I don't have any sort of read on a person's hand, I'll think about the play and come to a conclusion, but more often than not, I just play my cards. Sometimes, though, I will actually have a read. When I say "have a read," I mean, as the play unfolds, I'll hear a voice in my head saying, "His kicker is weak; bet at him," or, "he hit that flush; get out," or, "He's full of shit, call his ass." (OK, I'm exaggerating). But - I'll have some sort of feeling that I "know" what my opponent has. I know this is nothing more than my subconscious adding together all of my observations on the player, and a bit of recall as to his/her previous betting patterns and hands shown down. But when it comes together naturally in my mind, I take that as a "read."

So - on the few occasions per session when I'm in a hand and actually do get a "read" on a person, I have vowed to trust that read and play it through, even if my brain wants to be a chicken shit and fold.

Tonight, I limped into a pot from middle position with J9 clubs. (I was playing the "loose" version of my starting hand selection scheme, since the table was so freakin' tight). The flop came down K-9-4 rainbow, one club. Action checked around. Despite being a tight table, the nut-peddlers were not tricky; many betting rounds checked around and many hands checked to showdown because nobody had anything, and when people bet the scare cards, they always had them. Very predictable. (I used this to my advantage a few times, but that's another story).

The turn brought a 7, and still no flush draw. Action checked to one of the nut-peddlers, who bet out $15. (Yes, I probably should have been the one betting out). Action folded around to me, and I thought for a moment, and got one of those gut reads. This guy didn't have a King. He didn't even have a 7. This guy has a four in his hand. My nines are good. I called. (Probably should have raised, eh, if I knew my nines were good? I felt they were good, but honestly didn't want to get into a big pot with them, fearing my Jack kicker to be weak against something like A-9, a likely limper hand).

The river was a 3 of hearts. There are no draws out there, and it's just me and the guy with the fours. He bet out again - this time for $45 into a pot of $50 or so. I thought about it, and told myself - you were sure on the turn that your 9's were good. Do you think this 3 helped the guy?

I didn't have any gut feeling on it, but cerebrally decided no, and called. He turned over 4-3 for two pair.

Bummer. I was glad though that the one read I got on the play was correct. Had I played my read aggressively instead of passively, I'd have probably taken down that pot.

It's that subconscious notion of "chip conservation" again... not wanting to play a big pot with a non-nuts hand. What that style fails to address, though, is that in a cash game, my goal should be to get as many chips off of the table and into my stack as possible. In a heads-up situation like that (or even at a tight table in general), the only way to bring those orphan chips in my direction is to go out and GET them, and the only way to go out and get them is to pursue them aggressively.

My J9 hand was not played aggressively, despite my accurate read at the critical point of the hand, and it cost me. I think, if I was reading DoubleAs's posts on pressure points correctly, that I should have picked the turn as the pressure point in that hand and pushed my opponent to a decision, based on my read of the situation. Yes? No?

Anyway. Yay for getting some good practice in on reading hands and situations. Boo for missing prime opportunities to win with aggressive play. And double boo for my stupid nut flush getting sucked out on.

Time for bed....


  1. jremotigue said...
    It's been great watching your game progress since your initial visits to Trump. Keep up the excellent work and writing!
    dum_a_chum said...
    Hey Shelly. This is formerly “darice” from “Poker Medicine.” Just wanted to let you know that I’m back blogging again, but I am now dum_a_chum over at If you could check it out and link me up when you get time, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.
    Jordan said...
    That AQ sharing cards stuff makes perfect sense. Glad you reminded me of a great concept to keep in mind.

    TripJax said...
    oops...i was signed in under highonpoker helping him with his template...the above comment was from tripjax...geez i left comments at numerous blogs and gotta go back and
    SirFWALGMan said...
    Nice writeups! Very good playing too.. watch your buddy Marge, she knows how to be aggressive!

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