Poker, novel-in-progress, and updates from rainy PDX.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Thank you, my dear, that was wonderful. By the way, when I said I would spare you all the mundane details, I meant things like, "At 10:14am, I poured a bowl of Corn Flakes. The bowl was ceramic with blue diamonds on the side, from Crate & Barrel. The cereal was crispy, but not overly crunchy." If you're into that sort of thing, please check out No, I think I'll stick to excerpts from my novel and poker-related anecdotes.

I mentioned earlier that I have had 4 particularly nasty beats in the last week or so. Well, thanks to PokerTracker, I can recall them in perfect detail for you now. Brace yourself, it gets ugly.

Beat #1: QQ Conquered
I have QQ in the big blind at a $25 No-Limit table. My stack is up to $36 after grinding out a few wins. It's many thousands of hands into my PartyPoker career, and I haven't had a bad beat with QQ yet, so I'm pretty confident. In fact, I've made more money with it than I have with AA or KK. This is about to change. 4 players limp and the small blind completes, so it's my turn. I raise to $4 and get only one caller. The flop is Js, Tc, 3d. I'm first to act, so I bet $12 at a $10 pot. I'm a little nervous that the caller has AA or KK, but that's about it with that beautiful rainbow flop. The caller does what he does best, and calls the bet. Now, I'm always a little scared when someone smooth-calls a bet like that. The fear is that he's slowplaying a set, or the dreaded AA or KK. It would have been okay with me if the guy folded right there and all I got was the raised pot. Or, if he had re-raised me, I could have considered a laydown. But no, a smooth call, and we're on to the turn, which is 5s. Now I have to consider the possibility of a flush. But even if the other player has four spades at this point, I'm still a huge favorite and must bet accordingly. I push all-in for $21 and, after several nervous seconds, the caller calls. I'm rooting against spades for the river, and my heart breaks a little when the 2s hits. I watch my cards disappear as the money zooms across the table toward my adversary, who was holding 9s, 8s.

The Lesson: This wasn't as terrible as the other beats I'm about to list. The caller did have an open-ended straight draw on the flop, which is 8 outs (well, 6 if you subtract the two queens I was holding). When the second spade fell on the turn, he had those 6 outs plus 9 more spades. Out of 44 possible cards, this is a bad call, but not monumentally so. What really gets me is that he called the $4 bet preflop with 9, 8 suited! This is not uncommon on Party, though, and usually you want loose players like this at your table. On to beat #2....

Beat #2: QQ ... again?
That's right, three out of the four beats I'm listing happened when I was holding QQ. Until this week, I loved QQ. Now I'm not so sure. I've still made triple-digit dollars with it, but I find myself in tough positions all the time. Here's what happened: I'm two to the left of the big blind with QQ. A player had just joined to my right and posted a blind, so he checked. I immediately raised to $4 and got one caller in late position. Flop is 4h, 9h, 6d. Again, I'm worried about the flush, but at least one of my Qs is the heart, so if two more fall, I have a shot at this thing. Probably gun-shy after my last outing with QQ, I only bet $7 at a $9.75 pot. In retrospect, this was probably my undoing. The caller pushes in the rest of his money, $18.65, and puts me to a tricky decision. After thinking for a second, I call. I had the guy's stack way covered, and I put him on a four-flush, just like the last jerk who drew me out. If he had had a four flush, I would have been a decent favorite (hence the call), but later I would find out I was a near lock at this point. Still, when the 10 of hearts fell on the turn, I thought I would lose to a flush. The seemingly insignificant 7 of clubs hit on the river, and I sighed, expecting to see the guy turn up something asinine, like 2h, 3h, and take down the pot. Instead, he turned up a pair of 8s, and I nearly fell out of my chair. My money was gone all the same, but this guy had just drawn a back-door straight!

The Lesson: As far as my play goes, I should have pushed in all of my money on the flop. Maybe, just maybe this newbie would have folded his precious 8s if I had done that. As it was, he probably saw my relatively small $7 bet as some sort of half-assed bluff. More likely, he wasn't thinking at all when he re-raised me at that point. To give him some credit, at least he raised instead of calling the bet. A raise gives me something to think about, and I might have laid down my cards if I didn't figure him for a noob. But my call of his raise was correct, as he only had 2 outs in the entire deck at that point. When the 10 hit on the turn, he now had a gutshot (4 outs) to go with his 8s. And blammo, the 7 landed on the river and took me out. I had to dust myself off after this one. You don't see a backdoor straight every day.

Beat 3: Hey! It's not queens!
I actually have a third bad-beat QQ story, but it's predictable and I'll summarize: Jerk calls $4 preflop with K2 offsuit, re-raises my $12 bet to $24 when he pairs the 2 on the flop, immediately hits K on turn and owns me. Ugh. Let's move on to something different. I've accidentally sat down at a pot-limit table. I never play pot-limit on purpose, but I've been known to play it on accident for almost half an hour before noticing. At the beginning of the hand, I did not realize I was playing pot limit. By the end of the hand, it was crystal, as Tom Cruise might say. I have 88 in late position. 6 players limp, then the big blind raises to $1. Now, I used to throw away low-to-middle pairs to any raise. But my new strategy is to call small re-raises (up to $1.50) with 6s through 10s. I will also call a raise to $1 with 2s through 5s if I am the last to act, and assured of seeing a flop for the extra $0.50. 5 of the 6 limpers call the extra $0.50, and we're onto the flop, which is 8c, 6d, 2h. Beautiful. A lot of players are in the hand and I've got the top set. Plus, there aren't two of any suit on board, so the flush-chasers are at a disadvantage. First to act bets $2. Wonderful. Two others in front of me call. Spectacular. I try to push all-in. "Try" is the operative word here, because it turned out I only bet $16.20, instead of the full $21.75 I had in my stack at this point. Now, a remarkable thing happens: I get two callers! I sit back and fold my hands (my literal hands, not the hands on the poker tables), waiting for the turn and river to land, and for the cash to zoom up to my cartoon player. But wait, I still have to act! It's checked to me, and I still have money to bet! The turn, by the way, was the 3 of hearts. At this point I realize it's pot-limit, so I throw the last little $5.55 into the pot, which is up to $57. Of course, neither player folds, but one of them is all-in with only $3. Meh, I figure, I've got this pot owned anyway. Who cares that I wasn't able to bet the full amount on the flop? The river is the 9 of clubs, and, thrilled that it wasn't a third heart, I lean forward as if I needed to scoop up my chips from the monitor. This time, I do fall out of my chair when the player to my right turns up 99.

The Lesson: Don't ever accidentally sit at a pot-limit table. There's no guarantee that these players would have folded if I had bet $21 instead of $16, but who knows? Getting rivered by a set that is only one card higher than yours is incredibly hard to take. Especially when you were more than a 20-to-1 favorite. Oh, what did the other player who had been calling all the way have, you ask? Ace Jack offsuit, of course. He was drawing dead from the flop, because he had no flush or straight draw, and even if he had hit running As or Js, I would have had a full house. It's nice to have players like that in the hand. It's just too bad that this jerk with the 9s had to get lucky.

Beat #4: This one's quick
I'm going to rush through this description of how I got annihilated with AA so I can change pace a bit and talk about a hand where I got lucky as hell. So, I have AA one position to the left of the big blind. I act first and bet $7. What the hell, I figure. Sometimes I scare people off with such a large preflop bet, but you'd be surprised what people will call with. It's not looking good, though, everyone is folding, right up to the big blind, who ... makes my day and calls! Actually, he made my day shitty, but I didn't know that at the time. The flop is 9h, 2s, 8d. A rainbow, my favorite. The player checks to me, and I bet $14 into a $15 pot, expecting a quick fold. Instead, he comes right back over the top with a raise to $28! Now, it's nearly impossible to lay down a pair of aces in your pocket, especially after raising $7 preflop. I mean, what could he have? A set of 9s? An open-ended straight draw? I'm a bit flustered, but I steel myself and make the call, which puts me all-in. Turn is Qh, river is Jh. Guy has QQ. I can't even speak.

The Lesson: No lesson here, the guy's an idiot. I don't mind the preflop $7 call with QQ at all, though. Hell, I've probably done it myself. People raise such ridiculous amounts with such bad hands sometimes that it can be worth it. But, I only do it when I've been at a table for a while and noticed that a player is loose. However! To check-raise all-in after the flop against someone who had A) bet $7 before the flop and B) just thrown 14 more dollars in there, is both A) ballsy and B) retarded. Nevermind that he instantly hit his queen on the turn. There were only two queens left!

Now, I'll tell you about a hand that has somewhat mitigated the awful luck I've just described. Believe it or not, I have made money at this game, just not a lot in the last week. Here goes.

I have 7, 4 offsuit in the big blind, a hand so crappy it has no nickname. I would never, ever consider playing this hand if I wasn't the big blind. I was ready to fold faster than an origami master. But, when 6 players limped and the small blind completed, I checked and got ready for the flop. It's 5d, 4d, 4c. Wow. I've gone from having one of the worst hands possible to a set. Still, I had just taken a beat on another table, and I wasn't about to push in just yet. I only bet $4, which was the size of the pot at that point. Then the player to my left surprised me by re-raising to $8, and getting a caller. When it was my turn, I considered pushing all-in right there, but I thought I'd just call. It was a bit of a slowplay, but I thought as long as another scary card didn't fall, I might pick up some extra bets. Plus I was tired of having control out of my hands on the turn and river. When another 4 came out, I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth. From joy, of course. Joyful throw-up. Anyway, with the nuts, I thought a slowplay was most definitely in order, and I checked. The raiser to my left bet $5 into what was now a $28 pot. The other caller folded, and I waited extra-long to call, as if I was really contemplating. The final card was the Ace of diamonds, and I was first to act. I thought about check-raising, but decided it was too risky that the other player might check, so I tried to push in. Again, "tried" is the important word here. I dragged the little bar all the way to the right and again waited for effect before clicking the "raise" button. But when the 20-second timer started going to remind me I needed to act, it reset my buttons just as I was clicking, making me throw a $0.50 raise out there. Well, a $0.50 raise into a $38 pot is about the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. But I think that here, it actually made me money. First, of course, it made me look like a total idiot. The raiser thought for a second, then pushed her remaining $25.70 into the pot, and I instantly called, making sure not to screw up the buttons this time. She had a full boat, the three 4s on board and one 5 in her hand. I had the four 4s, and I took down $71.60.

The Lesson: Sometimes you just flat-out get lucky.

That's it for tonight. Gee, only a couple thousand words. I'll post again tomorrow, hopefully with fewer bad beats to report.

Once again, if you enjoyed this and you're thinking about signing up for Party Poker, you can use my bonus code FOZ and get $25 for free. If you're thinking about signing up on Empire, definitely use the code IGGY1. You'll also get a bonus for that one, and it'll hook up the guy who runs a great poker blog. Good night!


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