Played some poker today

I got a check in the mail a couple days ago from one of the affiliate accounts I had set up several years ago for god knows what website.  Usually these companies have some minimum amount that you have to hit before they will cut you a commission check.  If you have basically stop working on your sites for several years like I have done, this can mean that it could take two or three years before you get the 20 or 30 signups necessary to reach the $50 in commission needed for a check to be cut. So probably two or three times a year I will get a check from some random company I don’t remember and I’ll just deposit it and not think of it again.

Now that i’m crazy poor however, these checks give me a rare opportunity to splurge without feeling guilty.  Since I hadn’t played poker at a casino in over 6 months or so, I decided to take my $55.72 to Hollywood casino and play some 3-6 limit holdem, and play until I was bored, or had lost fifty or so dollars.   I called the casino first to find out when they usually started seating their limit games, and I was told noon would be a good time.  I got there at about a quarter to noon, and registered for 3-6 limit hold’em and saw that my name was the second on the list.  Sooooooo that meant i’d have to wait for at least 8 more people to sign up.

I thought about signing up for the nl-holdem tournament that was starting at noon, but that cost 85 dollars, which was more than I had budgeted for, and I had class tonight so if I went all the way I might be late for class, plus I’ve never been that good at Casino hosted tournaments; my style of play is really more geared towards cash games.  So I sat down with a copy of Ben Mezrich’s Accidental Billionaires and started to read while I waited for my name to be called.  About an hour later and several chapters in, I looked up and saw that there were only three names on the list for 3-6.  I gave in and decided to play some 1-2 no limit which had immediate seating.

I figured I would just play conservatively and only get involved in a pot if I was a pretty clear cut favorite, which is basically how I play in cash games any ways.  I’d try to limit myself to only loosing fifty bucks if i could, but I bought in for $150 since I’m still going to go all in Pre Flop with AA if there are multiple raisers in front of me, and let luck determine if I walk back to my car in jubilation or in anger like in those kind of silly/stupid “Dont gamble in PA” commercials I keep seeing on TV now.

I sat there for about 20 minutes without playing any hands and lost 6 dollars in blinds when I ended back up on the big blind.  Everyone called the 2 dollar blind and when I checked my hole cards I found 10 10.  Now my plan had been to only get involved if I had a really strong hand or at least a really strong draw that didn’t cost too much and would allow me to work in that fifty dollar window I had set for myself.  With this hand, my fifty dollar limitation didn’t come in to play.  With 8 callers, chances are I would have had to raise to about 25 or 30 to narrow the field down to 1 or two opponents.  The table so far had been fairly loose and no one was hesitating to call raises to 15 preflop regardless of their position or starting hand strength.  So If I wanted to win the 20 in the pot I’d either have to bet something like 40 which would have been unlikely to be called by anyone, or bet 25 and put my 10 10 up against one or two opponents and then continuation bet regardless of what the flop brought.  The continuation bet in that instance would need to be 40 bucks at least to force anyone out.

Honestly, even if had three grand burning a hole in my pocket I almost certainly would have just checked my option to see if I hit a big hand with a big pay out.  The last thing I wanted to do was bet the standard 15 dollar raise and have a minimum of five callers, since people at low limit no limit are apt to call with high cards like AJ KJ, A10, etc… and those hands can all crush my 10 10 if a High card hits the flop.

So I check.  The flop comes down A 7 8, with the 7 and 8 suited spades. The small blind checks, and I check as well since with that many players in, someone has to have hit at least a small part of the hand, and more than likely, someone has an A x in their hand. Surprisingly, the remaining 7 players all check, and the turn brings a 10 of diamonds giving me a set.  This is good for obvious reasons, but I’m a little surprised when the small blind immediately bets 8.  This is so odd.  Yeah, the 10 could have given him a straight if he had 9 j or 6 j, and since he only needed to call one dollar to see the flop, either of those hands are possible.  Still I just got the idea that the 10 hadn’t helped him and that he was going to bet after the turn regardless.  If i’m remembering correctly I think he had reached for his chips before the turn was actually dealt.

So it is 8 dollars to me and there is 26 bucks in the pot, so obvious I’m going to be in the hand, but do I raise?  I think about it, since it is going to give me a better idea of what he has, but I have a feeling that if I re-raise him, I’m either going to force him out if he has a weaker hand, or he’s going to come back over top of me if he has a stronger hand, and as I said before, I think the 10 didn’t help him.  I decided to just smooth call, for the reasons above, but also because I had 6 more people to act and if they are on a straight or flush draw, they are going to end up calling more than likely any normal raise I make here outside of a large 50 buck raise.  I would need them to miss the straight and flush draws regardless of my bet, and right now i’m thinking more about building a large pot without investing a lot of my money and hoping for the best.  Three more people call and then the button raises to 36.

WTF.  This isn’t good.  My first thought is that he has to have J 9.  His raise is probably meant to force out anyone with a draw, which I don’t think it will do unless he had put a larger bet in.  The small blind who had raised to 8 called the extra 28 bucks and now it was on me.  Obviously the small blind doesn’t have a straight.  He took a bit too long to decide so I knew he didn’t have a straight and had made his initial bet trying to build a pot knowing he had a monster.  I wasn’t sure what he had but I was almost certain he was third best.  It was 28 bucks to me and there was 126 in the pot.  So I’m getting five to one pot odds, but what did I need to win?

My guess is that I was up against a straight and possibly two pair at worse.  If the button had a straight then I would need to get a full house to beat him (or another 10 for quads).  If i was right and the small blind had two pair then the only thing I needed to worry from him was if one of his pair was the ace, and if he hit another ace then he’d have a better full-house.  Or if he had an unlikely, but possible, nut flush draw, straight draw, or straight flush draw then, and of the cards that would pair the board wouldn’t hurt me and give me the win.  So my guess was that either of the two remaining sevens or  eights, as well as the lone remaining 10, and possibly either of the two remaining Aces would give me the win.  At worse I had 5 outs, and at best I had 7 outs, which translates to something like a 12 to 18 percent chance which isn’t quite as good as i’d like with five to one odds.

Here’s the thing though.  If I call, there’s almost no chance either of the three remaining players go all in, since it would make no sense unless they were short stacked and none of them were.  So the 5 to one, could become something closer to 6 or 7 to one if there were some more callers.  Plus, I’m basing this off the button having the straight. It’s possible, but less likely he was over playing a hand like two pair, or was making a semi bluff with one of the monster draws possible with the board.  In addition to the current pot odds, I have to consider that if I hit one of the 5 or 7 cards I might need, I will almost certainly be able to get some more money on the river.  If the board had paired, and one of the opponents had gotten a lesser full house, then i’m golden, (if he had two pair with an ace in the hole and another ace hits then i’m fucked, but oh well) or if the two pair person ends up with three pair, he might still call a small bet feeling that he is pot committed.  The same could be said about the straight who might call either a small bet or possibly a large bet since he might not have been concerned about the board pairing and was more afraid of a higher straight or a flush.

Another big bonus is that the small blind will act before me so If I get another 7 or 8 or 10 (which unless he has pocket 7s or 8s would basically give e the nuts) I could reraise him if he he does a small feeler bet on the river.  Or if a flush hits and the small blind bets I can get out of it easily without risking anymore money.  There’s also the possibility of the hand checking down on the river if the other two players see river cards they don’t like or don’t hit their hands and I end up winning with my set.

So I call, and the other three players fold. The river brings a 2 of hearts, so I missed, and after the small blind checks, I’m guessing he did too.  I briefly think about betting big here, on the chance that I might be able to force out hands that have me beat like a J9 or 69.  The river 2 wasn’t really a scare card so that tact wouldn’t be likely to work, plus with two players and a somewhat large pot, chances are someone would call my all in of an additional 100 or so dollars.  I check, and the button agonizes over raising for a couple minutes.  I hope he checks since I know if he bets i’m not going to call, but when he throws in 80 bucks i’m fairly certain he is confident in his hand and is just trying to make himself appear weaker then he is.  The small blind thinks for a half minute and then calls, and now it is 80 bucks to me and there is just under 300 bucks in the pot.  As the board stands there are only three hands that beat me. Pocket Aces (Unlikely because of preflop and post flop action), 69 for a straight and J9 for a straight.  The 69 and J9 seem likely hands since the players that could have them are on the button (who only had to call 2 dollars to see a flop that would probably have 9 players in it, and the small blind only needed to risk one dollar.

I knew it would kill me if I was wrong but the fact that the small blind called meant that my only way of winning was if he two pair (or maybe a weaker set which i highly doubted) and had a read on the button that told him he had missed or had a worse two pair.  Either way I don’t think I can win, so I fold.

The button shows J 9, and the small blind shows A 7.  So my reads were right and I left the table down 44 bucks but happy that I could still read a table pretty well.  i still think my call on the turn was the correct move, although if another Ace had hit, i’m not sure if I would have been able to get away from the hand.  In fact I’m pretty sure I would have called his river all in, knowing full well that I was going to loose.

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