Lots of Poker Content, Another Blogger Tournament and "Hot Hand" #2
Lots of poker content to post today, so I'll get right to it.
First of all, an interesting development occurred this weekend for me online. I got convinced by a bunch of bloggers to venture back to the cash games, an arena which I decided not to dabble in several months ago. Late last year I was struggling my way through the growing pains of beginning to play poker online. I've been playing in casinos and at home games for nearly 20 years, for the most part with good success. When I started playing online, I played those games exactly like I would play in a b&m casino, which those of you who often do both will know is a mistake. Aside from a couple of big wins, I lost a lot for my first few months of playing online. Eventually I found my way from the $1 and $2 MTTs on pokerstars and some low-buyin sngs on partypoker to the cash games, with the possibilities for significant wins and quick hits that are just not as easy to come by in $2 buyin tournaments populated by 2200 donkfishes and myself. However, not really understanding the vagaries of online vs. live play, I took lumps at the online cash tables. Lots of them. To the point that I basically decided not to play online cash games after a few too many suckouts and bad beats for large pots. Aside from the occasional blogger donkfest at $.01-.02 omaha, this is a decision I have stuck with for the last several months, while my tournament game has turned around and become clearly positive thanks to at least one final table and significant payday in a large MTT in each of the past four months.
It is against this backdrop that I let a bunch of bloggers talk me into joining them at $.10-.25 nlh on pokerstars this past weekend. The list of players included GCox, Garth, Wes, SoxLover (a fellow New Yorker and someone with whom I've never played before outside of a blogger tournament), and later jjok joined in the fun as well, and as we sat down I was determined to play things close to the vest, much tighter than my usual tournament game, as I was NOT about to come out and get felted quick in front of this bunch of bloggers, as would have been commonplace last year when I was learning the ropes of playing online cash games. I was not going to bet at every flop regardless of my hole cards when checked to me, and I was not going to play Ax and other fishy hands like that just for the sake of having a good time with the bloggers.
Problem is, I couldn't help it. As the first cards were about to be dealt, I was positive I had a handle on my normally aggressive play. But when we started playing, the first hand was checked to me on the flop by two preflop limpers, and while my mind said "check", I watched my finger click on the button that said "bet" right after watching my hand raise the bet amount to the size of the pot. I was quickly folded to by both limpers, and thus began my return to the cash tables for the first real time in 2006, since I seem to have come into my own in terms of my online play and results. Long story short, I bluffed a lot, raised and showed a couple of Hammers, and then hit a couple of hands and got paid on them because of all of the betting I was doing -- in short, I played much the same game as I play in nlh tournaments nowadays. And not only did I have a blast playing with the other bloggers, but the results were the kind I like as well (this was after I bought in for the table max of $25):
Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to act like these dollar amounts are anything special whatsoever. It's just a few bucks, it's low limit stuff, and I know that. But still, these are the limits I played at at some point during October/November of 2005, and consistently lost at to the point of a complete swearoff of playing on those tables anymore. Now, I played against bloggers and nearly tripled my buyin. It was awesome and a great time. So great that I also joined another group of bloggers at a Limit holdem cash table, a game I have played no more than one time during my brief online career, with similar results after a $25 buyin:
Later in the weekend, I ventured out into Full Tilt's cash nlh games, also with solid results thanks to my tight but uber-aggressive style as developed this year (also with a $25 table max buyin):
So you may be seeing more of me at the cash games in the future on pokerstars, partypoker and full tilt.
Also, a big shout out goes to fellow blogger Garth for his huge win at a 180 sng on party, to the tune of over a grand for first prize. Way to go, Garth! Sir Waffles must be so proud.
In other news, I played like an uberdonkey in the WPBT charity event held on Sunday night, April 16, and should not even have made it as far as I did, which was 30th place out of 61 entrants. I mean, I played like an absolute moron. I hate when that happens and it feels like I can't actually control it. Every time I bluff-raised for any reason, I was reraised big and had to fold. It happened so often, in fact, that evntually I started calling the reraises, knowing ahead of time that I was behind. Why would I do that? But I did it at least three times. The first time I lost to another top pair but better kicker than my Ten, donking off around 2/3 of my stack on that one fishcall. I was too disgusted to screen shot it even. The second time I called a big reraise knowing I was behind, I managed to effectively cripple Columbo, the second time I have bad beat him out of a blogger tourney in the past couple of months, when my A7 sucked out on his AK or something like that. I was too busy typing "gl" and "nh" into the chat to get a screenshot of that one either, but the point is, I really lucked out when my lower kicker hit the board, our common card came on the river but I sucked one out there for sure. Then, a short while later I hee-hawed my way into this hand on a short stack against Drizz:
The thing is, after this second suckout on another hand when I absolutely knew I was behind, and probably dominatedly behind, but still called anyways, I had kind of a wakeup call. Like Tony Soprano, I felt like I had been given a second chance at life in this tournament, and I was going to start playing smart and turn things around. The two sets of pocket Kings that I received within the next 10 hands helped things turn around quite a bit as well, culminating with me in 10th place with 37 players left in the tournament, and leading up to my Hot Hand #2:
I'm dealt pocket Queens in middle position:
Knowing how to play holdem properly, I raised it up 3x to 480, a bet which was called only by the original big blind in the hand, bringing the pot total before the flop to 1080, already a nice sum compared to the current stack sizes, and the flop comes great for me, with three undercards to my Queens, two hearts and no reasonable straight draws:
He leads out with a bet of 400 into the 1080 pot, which I took to mean that he was on a draw of some kind, or just two high cards. I couldn't see this guy, whom I had played with at this table for some time already, betting this way with any Jack in his hand. So, again, knowing how to play holdem correctly, putting my opponent on a draw, and wanting to win right away with those devious Hilton sisters, I raised his ass then and there to 1200, nearly the size of the pot with his raise in there:
Question #1: Did I play this correctly? I can't imagine just letting him play with a likely draw when I have an overpair, but one that instantly loses to any King or any Ace hitting the board on the turn or the river. But if you feel differently, do tell.
My thinking was that I had to give him bad odds to call with any kind of a draw, and at that point I was just hoping he might make a crying call with a medium Jack or something like that. But in reality anyone but an utter donque would have to fold to my 1200 raise at that point without some kind of a big hand. He agonizes for a good 25 seconds before calling my bet. The next card comes:
My fishponent bets out 160 chips into a pot that currently already has 3480 chips in it. I can just hear Doyle screaming out "Gutless bet!!" from his ranch in Montana or wherever he is right now.
Question #2: How do you play it now? I of course am annoyed about the third heart falling. But the biggest reason for my large raise on the flop was to get rid of the guy who was going for a flush draw. After he agonizingly called my large flop raise, getting only slightly better than 2-to-1 for his call, I couldn't realistically put him on a flush draw only. But what do you think I should do here? Just call? Or raise?
In reality, I made the decision to raise him up big time. As I consistently say in the blog, I have learned over time to trust my poker instincts, and in this case, my read was telling me that this guy had the Ace of hearts, giving him a nut flush draw on the turn, as well as a Jack for top pair top kicker, which might support his decision to call my big raise on the flop. That was just about the only thing I could put him on that makes both his weak lead on the flop, the call of my flop raise, and this weakass lead bet on the turn make any sense (and it was still not just one but a series of
In any event, I raised it up to another 1200, basically committing myself for my remaining 450 chips regardless of what came on the river, and basically committing him to the rest of his chips as well if he called this bet. I figured if this guy hit his flush then obviously I'm done, but otherwise there was no way anybody, even the donkiest donk that ever donked, could call this bet without the made flush:
The donk once again agonizes, and it just wasn't his style to falsely agonize, at least not for this long, so I figured I was still probably ahead, and then he called my 1200 bet. Him not reraising me all-in there for our last 400 chips into a 6000+ chip pot at that point, that made me more sure than ever that he did not have a made flush after the turn.
Then the river comes. Another heart.
He put in the rest of his chips on the end, which I dutifully called because of the massive pot odds, although I knew in my heart of hearts (pun intended) that I had just lost to a made flush.
Question #3: What two cards does this guy hold in his hand?
I'll have the answers to these questions and the stunning conclusion to Hot Hand #2 in a day or two, to give time for people to comment if interested.
UPDATE: Once again thanks to everyone for the thoughtful insights and comments to Hot Hand #2. I'm going to post the results of the hand here. I'll also point out that this time, nobody guessed correctly what the donkfish was holding. But that's a good sign, because I would argue that anyone who could get a read on this hand has some serious mental issues and an even more serious total lack of poker thinking.
By way of summary (you can read all the details in the next most recent entry to the blog below), I was dealt pocket Queens in middle position. I raised it up 3x the big blind, and only the big blind called. The flop came J53 with two hearts. My opponent bet 400 into a pot of 1080, which I raised to 1200 with my overpair and with the potential flush draw out there. He called. The turn came the 8 of hearts. My fishponent bet 160 into a pot of 3480 (Gutless!! Gutless!!). I raised it up to 1200 once again with my overpair, which my opponent again called. Then the river was a 3 of hearts, making four hearts to the board and leaving me sure I had lost to a brutal runner-runner flush for basically all my chips.
When we flipped our cards, my overpair Queens was up against:
That's right, folks. The fishdonk had AQo, with the Ace of hearts. So, my read had been right on all along, almost to a tee. And the cards absolutely schmeistered me with the runner-runner flush to knock me out of the tournament (actually I had a few chips left, which I built up a bit until this bad beat on the river eventually did me in officially, but you get the idea).
But moreso than the incredibly horrific cards I ran into in order to lose this megapot in Hot Hand #2, I would really like to hear everyone's thoughts on what this fish could possibly have been thinking with his calls on the flop and the turn. I mean, I might be able to accept that he was willing to call off an appropriate portion of his hard-earned stack with just the backdoor nut flush draw and the two overs, but I saw to it personally with my flop raise that he definitely did not have the odds to make the call on the flop, not with the possibility that I could be four-flushing, have top pair, or even have ANY pair for that matter. That was a redonkulous call, was it not?
Even worse than that call, when the third heart came on the turn, yes that gave him the runnerrunner nut flush draw, but it could have also made me my complete flush, and he still had stone cold nothing. Not even AK-high. Just AQ-high and a 1-card flush draw, in a pot that his opponent had bet strongly into twice. And I properly put it to him on the turn, reading his cards almost exactly, and charging him basically all of his remaining chips on the turn to stay in on his 20% flush draw / Ace draw (and he couldn't even know that an Ace would win it for him, after my aggressive betting along the way in the hand). Again, unless I am missing something, is this not one of the donkiest plays in the history of poker blogger tournaments?
Now tell me, would any of you have been able to put this guy on this hand? Even I, who read him more or less like a book in this hand, still put him on the Ace of hearts and a Jack, for top pair on the flop at least. To call my large flop bet for around a third of his hard-earned stack, with nothing but two overcards and a backdoor nut flush draw, that is just inexplicably donkalicious to me. Then to call again on the turn with still just the two overs, but now a flush draw instead with just one card to come, it's pure donkfish. And yet IGH from a tournament I had been given a second and even a third chance in, and was finally just starting to turn things around and made it to the top 10 of the remaining players. Just. Plain. Sick.
Am I wrong here guys??!! Could I possibly have avoided this outcome given the way the cards fell?