Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #17 - That's Not a Bad Beat, THIS Is a Bad Beat

Poker players love to tell you how unlucky they were after a loss. We've all told our share of bad beat stories. When I was cranking away full time playing online poker I'd usually play about 3,000 hands a day. That meant that 3 times a day I'd have some 1 in 1,000 bad shit happen to me. Most days that was OK. I always said that one of my big strengths was having good bounce back. And of course I had 1 in 1,000 good shit happen to me at the same rate.

I've been sitting here trying to think of my worst bad beat ever. I feel like there has to be a worse one somewhere, but one that sticks out was in a $2,500 event at the WSOP. This was in the days when you got $2 in tournament chips for every $1 in buy in. If I'm remembering this correctly (and I think I am) the blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante and I was in the big blind. The under the gun player who I'd been playing with for close to 4 hours and seemed like a reasonable, fairly solid player, moved all in for 10,000. I looked down at AA and quickly called. He had K9 off suite, flopped a pair and rivered two pair. It wasn't the K9 beating AA. That happens about 14% of the time. It was that a guy just lost his mind for no reason and moved all in for 50 big blinds and I lost a pot that was worth over $10,000 in real dollars as a result.

Anyway, back to the present! Or the recent past rather!

I was in a fantastic game on a recent Friday night. There were no good players and a few players who were if not total novices, pretty close to it. I played for about 4 hours, but my session was really defined by two hands that happened back to back about 2 hours in.

On the first I got dealt JJ and made it $20 to go under the gun. I was losing about $200 at that point, but had around $700 in front of me and had been playing pretty tight in a loose game. The player just to my left was a guy I'd never seen before who was a total lunatic. There were a couple of hands where he got it in with weak top pair or middle pair by 3 or 4 betting when it could not have been more obvious he was crushed.  He looked like he was in his early 30's, had maybe Greek or Italian heritage and was wearing a gray sport coat with jeans. He had his headphones in, never said a word and barely reacted when he won or lost big pots.

So after my $20 raise Mr. Lunatic called as did 6 others (SIX others!) and we took the flop 8 way. It was about the best flop I could imagine that did not have a J in it - 8 5 2 rainbow. It's really uncomfortable betting into 7 people without the nuts (close to 1/3 of the unknown cards are in play), but betting was the only option. I slid $100 out there and only Mr. Lunatic called with $375 more left behind in his stack. At this point I knew if he made a better hand than me I was in deep shit. I just couldn't possibly fold against this guy given his play up to that point. As the turn came out, if it couldn't be a J, I was hoping it would be a 2. Sure enough the turn was a 2! Even though he had about one pot sized bet left in his stack I figured I'd have better luck getting it all in vs a 5 or an 8 or whatever else he had by getting him in two chunks. For chunk #1 I bet out $150. And he made it $300. Oh God. Facepalm. Seeing a minimum raise when a player only has a little bit left behind that is surely the sign certain doom...unless he's a total lunatic. I didn't love it, but I couldn't let it go. I put him all in for $375 total, he quickly called and the river came out a K. I showed my hand and he rolled over...wait for know it's going to be bad right...7 2 off. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The real majesty of this bad beat is that I was under the gun, was probably the tightest player in the game, he was right after me, and it is literally the worst possible starting hand. It wasn't even suited. You can't find any more questionable circumstances to play a hand. It wasn't like he was fully committed to seeing every flop either. He was folding maybe 30% of hands preflop in the field. He just figured he'd go with that one. Every time he folded preflop after that I wanted to ask him "Found one worse than 72 off that time huh?"

At that point I was committed to staying until he left.

On the very next hand I was in the big blind and got dealt 95 of diamonds. There was no raise and I got a free look. The flop came out 8 7 2 with two diamonds which looked pretty fantastic. I bet out $15 into the $20 pot and got 3 callers! That many callers had me thinking that my flush draw might not be good and I was hoping to see a 6 roll off. The turn came out the Q of diamonds and I wasn't sure what to do, but I figured checking was probably best. It checked around to the button who bet out $65. This was mildly promising. If one of the other players had a flush they'd very likely to bet out and the button could easily have a hand with a Q in it or even a hand like A7 or A8 with the A of diamonds. I called as did a fairly tight player. I was all but certain another diamond would be the end of me and a board pair might be bad as well. Happily the river was a black 4. If the button had a flush I didn't want to bet and if he had something else I wanted to give him a chance to bet again with whatever it might be. I checked, Mr Fairly Tight checked it along, and the button bet big putting $205 out there. Again I didn't love it, but couldn't fold. I called, and then to my shock and horror Mr. Fairly Tight moved all in for $550! NOOOOOOOOOOO! This had to be without a doubt the absolute nuts. The button surmised as much and folded and I mucked as well. Mr. Fairly Tight showed us both AK of diamonds as he scooped in the pot.

Eventually Mr. Lunatic got a phone call and within 30 seconds had his chips in racks and was walking away from the table. Astoundingly he walked off with $1,400. Another of the softies racked up $2,500 and left and I knew it was time for me to follow them out the door.

I lost $1,038 on the night. After 64.5 hours I'm ahead $1,263. I've pushed my target completion date back to July 4th, I should be in action Friday night and I'm hoping to get in at least one long session over Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #16 - The Siren Song Of $1/$1/$2

The Oaks has two stakes for no limit - $2/$3/$5 blinds with a max $500 buy in and $1/$1/$2 with a max $200 buy in. The way they house makes money in these games is to take $5 from every pot for the big game and $4 from the small game. They also take $1 for the jackpot which in theory you'll get back if they're honest about how much is being collected and you play long enough to hit a piece of the jackpot.

What you'll notice about the rake for the $1/$1/$2 is it's almost as big as the $2/$3/$5 rake in absolute terms, but in proportional terms, they're taking 2.5 big blinds every hand instead of 1.2, which makes it twice as impactful.

More importantly it makes the game totally unplayable under common circumstances. Let me explain with an example. Let's say 4 people call before the flop including both blinds. On the flop you make top pair and bet 2/3 of the pot and get one caller. On the turn you bet half the pot, get called again and on the river it goes check, check and you win.

In a $2/$3/$5 game  You're looking at $14 in the pot after the rake as you go to the flop. Headed to the turn there's $34 in there and headed to the river there's $68 in the pot. You've ended up with about 14 big blinds in the pot. Not a huge pot, but not nothing.

In a $1/$1/$2 when you go to the flop $5 goes to the rake and ONLY $3 goes to the pot! Your 2/3 pot bet is $2. There's $7 in the pot going to the turn and $15 going to the river. 7.5 big blinds in the pot at the end. Who the eff wants to play a game where there's $3 in the pot? Most people just say the hell with it and check it down and the lucky person who wins the pot nets $1 or someone bets $5 at it and wins.

One way to help mitigate this is to never just call before the flop. If your hand is good enough to play make it $4 or $6 if you would have just called.

In my last project where I crushed skulls for 100 hours mainly at $2/$3/$5 I was actually a healthy loser in the small number of hours I played at $1/$1/$2 all played while waiting for the bigger game. Not being a dummy I've been steering clear during this project...but I'm not just going to sit there and do nothing if there's a long $2/$3/$5 wait. Maybe I am a dummy!

So I sat down on Friday night with $200 in front of me hoping to not screw it up. On my third hand I was on the button with q7 of clubs and one player just called the $2 in front of me. I could either fold when I had a $1 in the pot already from the button small blind, call and likely be faced with a stupid $3 pot on the flop or put in a small raise. I made it $7 to go and the big blind re-raised it to $20. Ugh. This is the problem with the raising light with calling hands strategy. I thought about folding, but I had position, we were both $200 deep and I was getting better than 2 to 1 on my money. So I called. The flop came down J T 3 all clubs! Flush baby! My opponent came out with a big bet pushing $50 out there. I decided to just call and the turn came out a red 9. My opponent checked and I slid $45 out there. He just about beat me into the pot with his whole stack! I instantly called, the river paired the 9 (which had me a little worried) and he rolled over AJ of diamonds. OK? Thanks for the pot!

Over the next 45 minutes I made three top pairs and pretty much got two streets of value with them all. When they called my name for $2/$3/$5 I left with a $330 profit. Suck it low rollers!

Shortly after I made my way to the bigger game I got dealt 88 and raised to $20. I got one caller and then the big blind moved all in for $143. The caller looked like he was done with it. This is probably a spot to muck and I need to do some more analysis on it, but the quick at the table thinking I did was that I was risking $123 to win $203 and if my opponent has unpaired big cards I'm ahead. I think he has a pair there more often than big cards, but there's always a chance it's 77 or 66 getting out of line. Anyway I called, my opponent rolled over KK, I let out a quiet groan and then promptly flopped an 8! Ha ha!

A couple of hours passed and I was up about $600 with a nice stack in front of me when I got dealt 64 of diamonds on the button. I called $5 and then called a raise from the small blind to $25 along with 3 other players in the field. The flop came down 8 7 2 with two diamonds giving me 12 outs to a straight or a flush. Pretty sweet. The raiser bet out $55, two players called and after giving some brief consideration to dropping the all in bomb I decided to just call and hope for a a diamond or a 5, but really a 5 was what I wanted. The turn was a black 9 giving me 3 more straight outs that might or might not be good. Now the preflop raiser came out betting $200! And another player called all in for $140! This was a really sticky spot. If all of my outs were good, I had a huge overlay, but I could easily be up against a better flush draw or hands that negated some of my straight outs or both. My one remaining opponent with chips had about $150 and I figured he probably had a hand like a pair TT-AA and I thought it would be tough for him to fold for another $150 on the end if I got there with a huge pot in the middle. Speaking of huge pots, there was about $700 out there, it cost me $200 to call and I had a 1 in 3 shot at making a straight or better. So I called. The river was the 2 of diamonds making my flush and to my surprise my opponent bet out his last $150. I quickly called and he said "Flush?" and I said "Yep" ready to drag my pot. Then I realized he didn't say "Flush?" he said "Flush." as in "I have a flush with my T9 or diamonds that is bigger than yours and thus I will gobble up your pot." Shit!

Not too much else of note happened. I ended up winning $51 over 3 hours which puts me at $2,301 after 60.5 hours over the course of the project.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #15 - I SAID SCREW YOU GUYS I'M GOING HOME!

I had reason to be in Emeryville last Monday night and decided to make a rare Monday appearance at the Oaks.

I started with $500 on the table at $2/$3/$5 no limit as per usual. I posted $5 to get a hand and looked down at AA! Aces on the first hand! WHAAAAAT!? Sadly I raised and all of those stupid jerks folded.

A little later I got dealt QT in the big blind and called a raise to $15. We took the flop 4 way and the board came down T 3 2 with two diamonds. The preflop raiser bet $30, the button called and I called along as well with my marginal two pair. I really was not sure where I stood at this point. The preflop raiser could just be continuation betting or could have me crushed. The button could be on a draw or have a better ten or even just overs. There were a lot of possible situations. The turn was the 8 of clubs which didn't change anything. I checked, the preflop raiser checked it along and now the button came out betting for $65. I was really close to just pitching it here, but at the last second I figured that T9 suited and JT suited were hands that made sense here and decided to call. The preflop raiser mucked and the river came out the 5 of spades. I checked planning to fold to any substantial bet as there was no way T9 or JT would fired a third barrel for value in this spot and that's really what I was hoping to see. Happily the button checked it back. I showed my hand, he flashed a T and mucked.

On the next big hand, the under the gun player made it $15 to go, 3 players called, I called with the AJ of diamonds and the big blind came along too. The flop came down 8 4 2 with two diamonds and the raiser bet out $50. Having the nut flush draw I was inclined to push it here, but only if I had some fold equity and I was a little worried about someone putting in a big raise in front of me and making it a complicated spot. But everyone folded to me, so I made it $150 to go. The big blind folded and the preflop raiser went all in for $190 total. I threw in another $40 knowing I'd need to hit. The turn was the 5 of diamonds! Zing! My opponent showed QQ as I dragged the pot.

I won a couple of other small pots and then about an hour after I sat down the game broke (i.e. there were only 5 of us left, and the other players wanted to draw cards for the 3 open seats in the other $2/$3/$5 game). Rather than draw for a seat I oped to split and hustle home to squeeze in a workout.

I won $530 in 1 hour which brings my total to +$2,250 for the project after 57.5 hours.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #14 - Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home

Last Friday my older son had a baseball game that ended around 7:30 so instead of rolling in to the Oaks right after work as per usual, I got there around 8:00 planning to burn the midnight oil.

I slapped five C-notes on the table and took my first hand in the big blind. 4 people called $5 and I looked down at JJ. With what was almost certainly the best hand I made it $30 to go and got 2 callers - both of whom were not players I knew. The flop came down 6 6 7 with two hearts. One of my callers was in the small blind and he checked. I bet out $65 into the $100 pot and the lady across the table called. Then the small blind cut out $210 and pushed it into the pot!

This was a tricky situation. Did this guy have a 6? If so I was totally cooked. And what about the lady? What did I think she was calling with? Could she have a 6? Was she calling with a 7 or a draw or a hand like 88 or bare overs? Luckily she was obviously pissed about the raise and I figured she was done with the hand.

That just left the raiser. Was he the kind of player who would call $30 preflop with A6 or 56 or 67 out of position in the small blind - something probably only a losing player would do. If so I should fold. Or was he the kind of player that would check raise a draw - something probably only a strong player would do. If so I should move all in. I'd literally only played half a hand with this guy and I had to sort this out. But luckily, the way that physically he cut out $210 was indicative of a strong player and also the fact that it was $210 and not $200 (better players are more precise with their bets, weak player bet in round numbers) was a huge indicator.

It might sound like I was fairly sure here that he was a good player and that meant he could not have a 6 and was very likely to push a draw, but it's one thing to think this though and another to put $500 out there and potentially lose $500 on the first hand! Luckily I was right. I moved all in and they both quickly folded with the small blind saying he'd folded a draw.

For the next hour I dribbled away much of my profit from that hand and found myself feeling tired in a shitty game. I decided to bail.

I won $110 over 1 hour and that means I'm $1720 to the good after 56.5 hours of play.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #13B - The Tournament

After playing for 3 hours and booking a $487 win playing $2/$3/$5 on Wednesday I decided to play the weekly $185 Wednesday night tournament.

I'll always have a fondness for the Wednesday night tournament at the Oaks. When I was 22 and my biggest win to date was a $350 win at $6/$12 I played the Wednesday night tournament (which was at that point a $60 buy in with one $50 rebuy limit hold'em tournament) for the first time. I'd come in to play $6/$12 and after a hot hour was up $185 at the time the tournament was about to start. My total tournament experience at the time was 3 or 4 shots at a $10 tournament with 7 minute levels at Cache Creek (Ten dollar buy in! Seven minute levels!) where I never sniffed the money and one $20 with two rebuys piece of garbage at Casino San Pablo where I finished 30th of 30th. After what was probably a miracle run of cards I made it to the top 3 and we made a deal where my end was about $1,000. I'd cashed my paycheck that day and I remember riding home with $2,500 in my pocket and thinking how it was ridiculous to have that much money on me driving in a car that was worth no more than $1,000.

I had 11 times in my poker career where I won $10K+ in one day, 4 of those were $30K+ and one of those was $85K, but I'm not sure I was ever as excited with any of those as the first time I broke $1,000.

Fast forward 14 years and something like 5,000 multi-table tournaments of experience and I sat down as a 36 year old with 10,000 chips in front of me with blinds at 25/50 and 20 minute levels. When the action started only 3 of us where at the table and we spent a shockingly long amount of time (10 or 15 minutes) playing 3 handed before the table gradually filled in. I made two sets of jacks during this stretch and made no money. Grrrr!

My first big hand came in the 2nd level with blinds at 50/100. A few players called 100, I made it 450 to go out of the big blind with AK of diamonds and we took the flop 4 way. The flop came down T 7 3 all diamonds! Holy shit! I checked hoping someone would fire at it. Sure enough a guy who I knew to be a total nut from the cash games bet 3,000 into the 1,800 pot. Then the small blind moved all in for 11,000! I stalled a bit as if I was unsure, but eventually called, Mr. Nut folded and I beat the small blind who had flopped two pair with T3.

I was up to 26,000 at that point and in great shape. After 4 levels I had 23,000 at the first break, registration closed and I saw we ended up with 70 entrants.

With the blinds at 300/600 with a 50 ante I had two interesting hands back to back. On the first I called an all in to 3,750 with 99 and a guy who looked like he was in his 60's called behind me. At this stage of the tournament you'd normally expect either a raise or a fold, but I was quickly getting the sense that a large number of the players in this tournament were a bunch of loose passive soft spots who would just call in some situations where it was just flat wrong to do so. An ace flopped and Mr. 60's won that one.

On the very next hand I got AA and someone moved all in for 4,500. Hoping to get a repeat of the action from the previous hand I just called. Sure enough Mr. 60's called behind me. And then BOTH blinds called too! These guys love to call! We were 5 way going to the flop with more than two starting stacks already in the pot. The flop came down A T 4 with two spades! Top set baby! Send that pot to me man! The small blind moved all in for 5,800, the big blind folded, the all in was still all in, I made it 12,000 to go and Mr. 60's folded. When the hands got turned up the all in had JT of spades and the small blind had TT (flopped a set and was drawing totally dead!). The turn was a red 6 and the river was a red 8 and I took down a huge pot.

At the second break I had 49K chips with 30 players left, needing to make the top 10 to make the money.

The next big hand came with blinds at 500/1,000 with a 100 ante. The under the gun player just called the 1K with about a 30K stack, it folded over to me in the cutoff and I raised it to 4K with AQ of hearts. He called and the flop came down K J 4 with two hearts (and one spade) giving me 12 outs to the nuts. He checked to me and I bet biggish - 7K into the roughly 10K pot. He called without thinking at all. The turn was the 8 of spades, and my opponent checked again. I didn't like how quickly he called the flop, but he had a little less than 20K and there was 24K in the pot so I could put him all in without it being much of an overbet. Even if he called off a substantial stack, and I missed, I'd still have chips left. I decided to go for it. I moved all in, he quickly called and I thought "Well, I guess I have to hit it." But then he showed his hand - the QT of spades! I looked at this hand and the board and back a few times in rapid succession to confirm that he was in fact drawing. I was 70.5% to win and happily the river came out a 3 of hearts.

From there I cruised to the money guaranteeing myself at least a $315 payout. When the final table started an average stack was 70K and I had about 75K.

On the very first hand of the final table, with blinds at 800/1,600 and a 200 ante, the under the gun player made it 6K to go. 4 players called before it got back to me in the small blind. I looked down at 99. What a strange spot! Of the 5 players involved thus far 3 had me covered including the original raiser, but I strongly considered moving all in hoping to scoop up the roughly 34K in the pot without a fight. I decided I should be a little more tactical and just called. The big blind came along and we saw the flop 7 way! WTF! I'm almost positive I've never played a 7 way pot for a raise at a final table.

The flop came down T 8 7 with two diamonds giving me very possibly the best hand and a straight draw as back up. What do I do now? Do I just fire it in against 6 opponents? I decided to check. The big blind who was next to act moved all in for 30K and was quickly followed into the pot by the first caller of the preflop raise who shoved for 40K. If this was a cash game I probably would have called here. Getting a little better than 2.5 to 1 when I'm around 2 to 1 to make a straight with the added small chance that my pair might be good against something like two flush draws or that the two remaining 9's might be clean outs. But I decided to be conservative and pitched it. The big blind had T 4 (Ten four!) and the first caller had JJ. It turns out that if I'd shoved preflop or on the flop I would have smashed face first into those pocket jacks so check folding the flop was optimal.

The 10th place player collected his $315 and the 9th place finisher got the same.

The 8th place player followed him soon after collecting $410 and then 7th place got $510, and 6th got $620.

Meanwhile I was just sitting there getting garbage and getting blinded off. I did put in a raise with AT suited at one point and got 4 callers! These guys love to call! Normally a big part of my final table strategy is running over scared players, but there was no chance of that working with this crowd.

Playing 5 handed I finally got a real hand. With blinds at 2K/4K the under the gun player made it 12K to go and I shoved for 55K with TT. After some thought he made a thin call with KQ. Luckily the board ran out 6 5 4 2 A and I took it down. Mr. KQ was the next to go collecting $730.

I started 4 handed play with 96K of the 700K chips in play and we played 4 handed for close to an hour! Of the last three opponents one was weak tight, one was an inexperienced loose cannon, and the third is an Oaks regular who is a solid player and knows what he's doing.

At this point I was feeling tired. I'd been at the Oaks since around 2:30, the tournament started at 6:15 and we started 4 handed play around 11:20. I don't know if it's that I'm older now (To paraphrase Shaquille O'Neil - 36 ain't 26 bro.) or just that I'm not used to playing for 9 or 10 hours anymore, but I did not feel sharp.

On the first hand of consequence 4 handed, I made it 16K to go with blinds of 3K/6K with black AQ, I got called by Mr. Regular out of the big blind, and the flop came down KK5 with two hearts. He checked and I checked it back (this was questionable). The turn was a really interesting card - the A of hearts. Mr. Regular bet out 20K and I kind of figured he was on an ace, a big heart or total air with the big heart being the most likely. I decided to put on the pressure and went all in for 75K. He looked pained and took a long time before eventually calling. To my shock and horror he turned over K7 for three kings! I stood up to leave, but then an ace came on the end! ZING!

Then nothing I did seemed to work out for about 15-20 minutes and I dribbled back down from a peak of 200K down to 100K. It was very frustrating.

Eventually I ended up with KK on the button and made it 20K to go. Mr. Regular called me out of the big blind and the flop came down K Q 6 with two hearts. Top set baby! He checked to me and I bet an amount that I hoped said "I missed here, but I don't want to just check" - 15K. He hemmed and hawed and then raised to 40K. I quickly shoved and he practically beat me into the pot. I figured I'd be fading a draw, but to my delight he showed 66! He'd flopped a lower set! As the kids say it was so sick.

I had my chance to bust Mr. regular a few hands later. I was back on the button with AJ and made it 20K again. He moved all in for 70K and I quickly called him. This time he had QQ and it held up. Drat!

While all this was happening, Mr. Loose kept doing stupid shit all over the place and the other too dumb shits would never call him! He kept flashing me bluff after bluff while telling the other guys about how he hadn't bluffed all tournament and it was as if they were believing every word. He literally talked them out of calling multiple times after his money was all in the pot. They were folding good hands in spots where I felt like they should have been calling with almost any two. I couldn't believe that with only 58 big blinds in play among the 4 of us at the 6K/12K blind level, that no one went broke.

Eventually with blinds of 8K/16K, Mr. regular raised to 32K, I moved all in for around 80K with 88 and he called me with TT. There were no miracles this time and I was out in 8th.

I got paid $840 for 4th (3rd was $1,250, 2nd was $1,950, and first was $3,200 - SHIT! So close!) which was a net profit of $655.

After 55.5 hours I'm ahead $1,610 for the project.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #13A - The Cash Game

I made a rare Wednesday afternoon trip to the Oaks this week and as I pulled in to the parking lot around 2:30 I was shocked to find almost every spot full. I'd gotten a call from a friend/backer/poker player who had just read my previous post and suggested that it would be dead the Oaks because of the Warriors game (the final record breaking game of the season) and I was surprised to find out he was SO SO SO SO SO WRONG! You know who you are Mr. Wrong.

On the way in I saw the previously mentioned Matt Lessinger on the way out who suggested that the Warriors game would have the opposite effect and that the game would actually bring people to the Oaks to watch while they played.

Actually they were both right. It was atypically busy from 3-6:30, but then at 6:30 BOOM! A bunch of games broke as people headed home to watch the game.

By 2:45 I was in a $2/$3/$5 game and I got off to a good start. After 3 players called $5 I raised with QQ to $30 on the button. All three called and the flop came down 6 4 3 all spades. About 90% of the time I remember to check and recheck the suits of my cards before the flop when they are off suit (if they're suited I'm sure what they are close to 99% of the time without looking back when the flop comes out), but this was one of those times when I'd lost track of if I had a spade.

Looking back is usually an indication that you do not have a made flush as most other people also are way more likely to know what suits they have if they're suited. In fact I like to look back as a bit of acting when I do have a made flush specifically to convince my opponents that I don't have it yet.

Either way, the hand was worth betting. My 3 opponents checked to me, I bet out $70 and got one caller who only had about $95 left. The turn was the T of diamonds. He checked, I put him all in, he called, the river was a red K, I showed, he mucked, bada-bing, bada-boom, I'm up $250.

There were two games going and the one I was in was the worse of the two so even though I was winning, about 30 minutes in I moved to the other table.

There was a guy there who I know I've mentioned at least once before, but I can't remember what I called him. He's a regular player and is a steady loser in the game. He always has a big roll of bills that is part small bills and part hundreds. When I say big it's like he has three packs of cigarettes in one pocket. He also has two phones - a top notch smart phone and a bottom of the line flip phone. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what he might do for a living.

About an hour after I switched games Mr. Two Phones made it $20, I called in the small blind with 87 of clubs and we took the flop 4 way. The flop came out 9 8 6 with two spades giving me middle pair and an open ender. I checked, Mr. Two Phones bet $30, one other player called and it was back to me. Mr. two phones had about $230 left and the other guy had $300 or so. Thinking I might have the best hand and with a ton of outs to improve I considered just shoving it all in, but with only $140 out there, a raise to $300 was a little excessive. I made it $110 thinking there was a chance I'd lose them both even with that bet size, but to my surprise they both called. The turn was a 4 which was great if I was already ahead against other draws and terrible if I was behind. I decided to go for it and moved all in. Mr. Two Phones quickly called for $150, the other guy folded and I was hoping for a T on the river. Sadly the river was a red K. Happily, I rolled over my hand and it was good! Zing!

In my last hour I had one other big hand. I three bet a guy who seemed to be on tilt from $25 to $65 with JJ out of the small blind and got called. The flop was A J 5 (with two clubs)! Whoa baby! If this guy had an ace I was likely to get paid off and I was 99% sure to have the best hand. I bet out on the small side pushing $65 into the pot. He quickly called. The turn was a 4. I considered checking, but decided I'd make more against a ace by betting half pot all the way through and hoping to get called down rather than check raising the turn or check calling the turn and betting the river. I pushed $125 out there and my opponent quickly folded. Drat!

After 3 hours of play I was up $487 and racked up my chips. It was about 5:45 and at 6:15 the $185 Wednesday night tournament was starting. I bought in, walked over to 7-11 and got myself a snack, checked my email on my phone, and just spaced out for a bit.

I'll post about how the tournament went in my next post which will be up soon.

With that $487 win I'm ahead $955 for the project after 49.5 hours. Half way home!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #12 - Why Don't I Just Go Ahead and Make All the Draws

After my three week break I was not feeling all that sharp headed in to play on Friday, but I was ready for some good shit to happen to me for a change. The theme of the night was a I made a lot of strong hands and with some of them I feel like I may have left some money on the table.

On my 5th or 6th hand I got dealt 63 off suit in the big blind and got a free look 5 way. The flop came down Q 5 4 giving me an open ender. I bet out $15 into the $19 ($6 goes to the rake) pot and got one caller. The turn was a bingo card - a 7! I bet out $30 into the $49 pot and got called again. The river was another great card - a Q. It was certainly possible that my opponent had a Q and if so he had trips so there was no way he was folding. If he had anything else he was almost certainly going to muck for even a small bet. So I decided to bet big. I fired out $100 and he quickly folded. Drat!

What left me thinking here a little was that if he had a Q he would have certainly bet if I checked, giving me the chance to check raise. And if he had a missed draw or something else I would have liked to have given him a chance to take a shot at the pot. Maybe he would have just checked back and I'd be left wondering why I didn't bet the river, but at the end of the day I thinking trying to induce a bluff was the right play here and I missed it.

On the very next hand I got dealt 22 in the small blind and called a raise from the button. We took the flop 3 ways along with a limper for $25 each and the board came out K 9 2 with 2 hearts. Bottom set baby! We both checked to the button who bet $50. I raised it to $140 hoping to get called by a K or a draw on a draw heavy board, but instead I lost both opponents. I think raising is right here, but was again left with the feeling that maybe I could have made more with a different line.

I had another hand where I flopped top pair with KQ and it was good. After about 15 minutes of playing I was up $250. Not a bad start.

About a half an hour later I raised a $10 straddle to $40 with AJ of diamonds and got 4 callers. The flop came down KQ4 with two diamonds! With a nut flush draw and a straight draw, a pot that was already $160 and facing medium sized stacks, I figured I was probably either going to win the pot or double someone up because I sure as shit wasn't going anywhere. I fired out $110 and got called by the button. Mentally I called "Ten! Ten! Ten! Put a ten out there!" I got a 5 of diamonds which was almost as good. I had the nuts, but now the board looked pretty scary. My opponent was aggressive so I decided to check and he obliged by betting $220! He had another $340 in his stack and I had him covered.

At this point my heart was really racing. I noticed that I had what I'm sure was a really uncomfortable look on my face and I decided to go with it. I went into full on acting mode, trying to look uncomfortable without making it look like I was trying to look uncomfortable. I looked at my opponent like I was trying to put a read on him when all I was doing was thinking, "Sweet lord, don't pair the effing board on the river!"

After 30 seconds I gave him one last look and shoved all my chips in the pot. Some people seem to like to throw in one chip and practically whisper "all in" but I'm old school in that way. I shove them all in there baby! My opponent said "Nice hand" and threw one chip in to signify a call. The river was a total disaster - it paired the Q. KQ or a set were two hands I could easily be up against. I showed my flush and my opponent picked up his cards to turn them over - a sure sign of doom - but instead of rolling them all the way over, he looked at them one more time and pitched them into the muck. There was almost $1,400 in that pot!

I had a couple of speed bumps running AQ into AA and losing $90 and dropping $50 with TT vs AK - which was really minimal damage - then I got back to the draws.

I raised to 20 with Q9 suited and got two calls. The flop came down J J T which is a really scary board, but I fired out $40 with my straight draw anyway. I got one call and the turn came out an 8! My opponent only had $90 left so I figured I'd check and he's probably just ship it in there no matter what he had. But he checked it back. The river was a 5 and I put him all in for $90. He snap called and didn't show, but his demeanor led me to think he may have had a J.

Not only did I hit all three draws to this point, I got them all on the turn which ensured that I wouldn't get blown off the draw and allowed me to focus on making the maximum.

A little later I got dealt 22 again and I thought "I bet I'm going to flop another set of deuces. I'm just going to run hot as shit all night here." Of course the chances were still the same 7.5 to 1 against me that I'd flop a set, but I did have that feeling. I called a raise to $20, we took the flop 3 way and it came out 7 6 2! Ha! There were two diamonds out there which meant it a draw heavy board and the preflop raiser bet out $40. My opponent was a thinking player and I figured if I raised he wouldn't know if I had a draw, a 7, an overpair or something else so I made it $100 to go. After some thought he called. The turn was a terrible card for me - the 5 of diamonds. I wasn't really worried about not having the best hand, but since all the draws got there it would be hard to get action. My opponent checked and I bet out $110 hoping to get called by a diamond, but my opponent quickly folded.

My next hand of note came when I raised to $20 with QQ and got two callers. The flop came down J 9 4, I bet out $40 and the player in the big blind called me. The turn was a T and my opponent checked again. This was an interesting card because it completed some draws and made a lot of reasonable two pair combos. It also gave me a straight draw.  My opponent was a tightish solid player and I figured I'd have better chance to get paid off on the river after having checking the turn. I checked and the river came out a Q. Now the board was J 9 4 T Q meaning an 8 or a K made a straight, but I could beat everything else. My opponent fired out $55 and I thought for about 20 seconds before calling. He showed 99! I really dodged a bullet there!

A little later I called $15 3 way with J9 of diamonds. The flop came out K Q T with two diamonds and I thought "OK, this is getting kind of ridiculous." How do you best play a flopped straight with a 2nd nut flush redraw? It really doesn't come up all that often! I probably should have just bet out as any raising hand would have a piece of this and no one in their right mind would put me on a straight after I bet out, but I went with the more standard line and check called $40. The turn was a T and I checked again. My opponent bet $75 and I really blew it by just calling. I continued to blow it by checking the river and having my opponent check back. In the moment I felt like he liked his hand and was going to keep firing on through, but a small check raise on the turn and a smallish bet on the river would have been much better. My suspicion is that he had a hand like AK or KJ and figured I either had a busted draw and wasn't calling or had him beat.

OK, I didn't actually make all the draws. My one miss came when I called $20 in the big blind 5 way with K6 of spades. The board came out K 7 3 with two spades giving me top pair an a flush draw and the preflop raiser who was a total nut bet out $60. Based on other hands I'd seen him play he could easily have had any pocket pair or a 7 or be on total air. He only had $140 left so if he was willing, we were going to get it all in. The only thing I needed to decide was if it would be better to just ship it on the flop or wait for the turn. I figured if I moved in he might fold a 7 or a pocket pair, but if I made a reluctant call on the flop he'd shove on almost any turn card (as was his pattern up to that point). The turn was a red 8 and like clock work, I checked, he moved all in a millisecond later, and I called almost as quickly. The river was a red ten and unfortunately I lost to KJ. Boo!

Those were all the big hands. I think I could have done a bit better getting value with my made hands and I'd give my self a C+ in that arena, but I had my A game working when it came to staying out of trouble. I lost the minimum on probably 10 hands that were all fairly inconsequential, but in aggregate saved me a few hundred bucks.

In the end I booked a $1,094 win over 4 hours. That has me back in black for the project. Overall I'm winning $468 after 46.5 hours.

I'm going to make a rare Wednesday afternoon plus evening appearance at the Oaks tomorrow. My tentative plan is to put in 4 hours of cash game work and then play the Wednesday night tournament. The tournament is a $185 buy in with the option to re-enter if you go broke in the first 4 levels. I think there are usually 40 or 50 entrants and my plan is to fire two $185 bullets at it if needed.

I hope I keep making all the draws!