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Posts Tagged ‘bankroll’

Like any proper poker player I tend to remember those that suck out on me with ridiculous draws, while forgetting those (very rare) times that I happen to catch a long shot.  So I will remind myself about the hand below next time I get hit.  We were in Vegas last week, so, per the norm these days, scrounged together a bit of money to play with.

I have started and stopped a post several times recently on my latest complaint about not having a roll: your entire session really comes down to that first significant hand you get involved in.  Win, and suddenly you have a real stack and can play.  Lose, and you grind and grind and hope that one spot comes up.  And most of the time it doesn’t seem to, at least in my case lately.  The post was crap.  So I never finished.

But in THIS case I got lucky in that hand, and it enabled a nice trip with a decent profit.

2/5 NL at Bellagio.  I am the effective stack with about $550.  The villain in the hand was the table captain.  From this point on we’ll refer to him as, say, the table captain.

The table captain raises in EP.  A couple callers.  I re-raise with AA.  One caller, table captain calls.

Before the hand continues, a bit about the table history to that point.  I had been there for less than an hour, and had been forced into playing more hands than I like during that initial time, because somebody put a gun to my head and said “play more hand than you normally like.”  Plus, my cards were pretty good.  I originally bought in short ($300), lost half of it the first hand when I raised with AK and continued on the flop, only to have the table captain insta-push, apparently not overly intimidated by the $150 I had left in front of me.   First error: pre-flop he had asked me how much I had left, knowing exactly what he had in mind.  Rather than maintaining my standard stoic, unflappable posture, I decided to be funny and said “$300,000.”  He wasn’t impressed.

Next hand I double up against a weak player.  Went like that for a while, but in a net positive way.  I was starting to feel comfortable.

Meanwhile, I am paying attention to the table captain the whole time.  He’s got the biggest stack, and he’s not-so-subtly looking for all the weak spots at the table to push them around.  A little while later I rivered a nut flush that wasn’t as hidden as I suspected.  I checked in EP to two players including him.  They checked behind.  Like the true amateur I am I tapped the table, said “good check” or something to that effect.  He loudly said “I’M NOT A MORON!”

I think he was starting not to like me.

Now my stack was getting a little bigger and his a little smaller.  By the time the big hand came around I think he had both a.) accepted that I wasn’t a fish and b.) decided that he really, really, REALLY wanted to stack me.  And, in retrospect, I think he knew I knew that’s what he wanted.  More on that in a bit.

Returning to the hand: the flop comes a rather tame looking 9 6 3 rainbow.  He checks,  I continue with an overbet, trying to make it look like I am just continuing, because I know he’s looking to push me off the hand, and here’s where I’ll make my stand.  He calls.  Bingo!

Turn is a Q, no draw helped.  He thinks for a minute, and checks.  I bet.  He raises, but not all that much.  Now I stop to think.  Although not that clearly.  There is no obvious draw out there, and he is playing back at me.  Is he just getting ready to blow me off the hand?  Does he actually have something?  I dunno.  So I just call and decide to see how I feel at the end.

And the river is an absolutely gorgeous A.  Or did it matter?  Suddenly I am lost in my own hand, and get even more lost when he bets out.  Now: there was no way I wasn’t going to push in this spot, but I took my time trying to figure out if there was something I missed along the way.  Eventually I push, adding another $200 or so to a $1000 pot.   He starts bitching and moaning about my Hollywood act.  Shows a set of 6’s (appropriate).  Waits and waits.  I try and look like the 66 made me sick.  He calls.  I turn over the AA.  He bitches more.  Save the response to the 66 I was not acting, of course, but I was happy to have him think I was, as it got him even more flustered, and he lost the rest of his stack shortly thereafter (albeit not to me, unfortunately).  No doubt he had great things to say about me to his friends later on.

But here’s the thing I have to admit: he played me like a fiddle.  Not that the hand would have necessarily gone down differently, but I should have known.  Once I knew he accepted I was a decent player, I should have realized that he HAD to be strong there.  He KNEW I was itching to make a stand, he waited for the perfect spot, and he got it.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out as he planned it.  Pity.

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Among the(poker)  highlights of the trip: met Tommy Angelo at the Rio on Thursday, and he took me on a tour around the World Series facilities.  Bumped into several authors whose books I have read in the process.  Increased the pain factor at not being able to play, but good times nonetheless.

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I had a spare hour this morning, a rarity that will become even more rare when my mother-in-law goes home in a couple weeks.  So I called Lucky Chances, and played 3/5 no limit for a little while.  Since I started playing again at the beginning of the year, I’ve had four short sessions (<2 hours) including the Vegas trip.  And I’ve lost in three of them, and those three are my biggest losses this year.

I’m wondering if there is something to this.

Today I played for less than an hour, and played well.  My only mistake was repeatedly underbetting on the turn with made hands against draws (a recurring theme).  But I really was on top of things, winning pots with hands and semi bluffs, pushing my stack with A high on the flop without fear, reading the board and the players well.

Then things turned, and a string of 4 draws hit against my made hands in quick succession.  One guy first rivered a flush with 2c5c, same guy hit a two outer on the river to make a full house and ruin my flopped trips just two hands later.  My betting wasn’t perfect, but still.  A rock called my big bet with QQ on a 4,5,7 flop.  The 8 on the turn shut me down, and sure enough he showed 66 at the end.  There was another one as well.

Poor hand descriptions notwithstanding, I can’t help but feel, like any problem gambler, that this game would be easy, given enough time and patience–and money.  Tommy once likened the chips in your pocket to firewood when camping, it creates a comfort zone, and you can never have too much.  Guys that play  like the guy who kept sucking out on me played will always end up losing, and will rarely quit before its too late.  You just need to be able to wait them out, and continue to play your optimal game.  Having only a couple buy ins with you and only an hour or two to play makes that impossible.

I was faced with a decision before things turned against me today.  On a 789 flop with one diamond I bet out with 10d Qd.  I was raised by an Asian guy who really could have had anything.  We’d both started with $300 – $400, and his raise was big, so at that point it was all in or nothing.  Was I thinking about pot equity plus fold equity against a made hand?  No.  I was thinking that I didn’t have much money with me, and if I lost the hand I would be done.  Not optimal.

So now the recurrent conundrum: do I shut it down until I can play regularly with 20K behind, or do I keep dabbling from time to time to stay in touch?

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We are booked for two nights in Vegas next week.  Comped at Ballys.  My wife gets these offers.  I’m not sure why, as she doesn’t gamble all that much.  One time she got comped FIVE nights at Paris, with tickets to a concert.  They seem to be into the hispanic name.  Somebody should look into this.  Or maybe not.

Our last few trips have been five nights; this one will be a quick two, without the kids.  One night dedicated to culinary and alcoholic gluttony,with dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, the French steakhouse inside Paris.  Its probably not the BEST on the strip, but its our thing, has been for many years, EVERY time we go.

The other night will be poker, likely 2/5 no limit at Bellagio.  Will be my first session in abut six months.  The plan (hope) is to bring enough money to enable effective play, win a little, pay off the trip, and, ideally, continue to play occasionally at home with the leftover money.  Pay back what we took out, and end up with a small roll.

Ideally.

Either way, i am looking forward to being there, to walking the strip, eating in the Forum Shops, doing the whole thing.  We’re back in San Francisco after that, where the long, long vacation comes to an abrupt end on the 11th.

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I wrote this last year, as I grappled with the ego-bruising exercise of being forced to play lower stakes than I was accustomed to.  When I start playing in 2010, it will be the same.  Another thing I am thinking about…

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Established players speak and write about how much respect they have for players who ‘step down’ in limits for a little while.  It’s in all the books.  They respect the decision and the discipline required to play smaller.  And, as is often the case with poker players, they are full of shit.

“I know he was struggling, and he’s really showing some sense in moving down limits for a while” is something you’ll hear from a player who doesn’t have to move down himself.  Its patronizing.  They could say “Too bad!  You suck!  You can’t play with the big boys anymore! Ha Ha!” and it would mean the same thing.  It’s the phony sympathy experienced when witnessing a bad beat or a bad run.  They only care if you are fish.

Enter my current situation.  Having played the big no-limit game primarily for the past 18 months, bankroll, employment (or lack thereof), family, stock market and other factors (including, some would say, talent) have led me to make the decision to drop down and play the 5-10 game at Lucky Chances regularly (this is Northern California, there is no in-between).

Now I am in a game where I may have both an edge (most of the time) AND a somewhat proper bankroll.  And it’s a funny feeling.  Suddenly I can be more creative in my play.  Suddenly I can splash around a little more.  Suddenly other players try to guess my non-showdown hands…and they are rarely correct.  Suddenly getting sucked out on, even though it happens more, is easier on both the ego and the bankroll.  Suddenly its easier to plan my hand, to adjust to the situation, to manipulate the action.  Take the following pretty basic hand from last night:

I open-raise in the highjack with A-10 and end up with 3 callers.  Stacks not really important here, nobody had less than 50BB.  Flop is 9 9 5 rainbow.  BB checks, I check, CO and Button check.  Turn is J.  BB (predictably) bets a little less than the pot.  I raise just enough to look scary.  CO folds, Button Folds, BB says “way to slow play your aces” (predictably) and folds (predictably).  Just as planned.

Not to say there aren’t many really good 5-10 players–there are–but I try that in the big game with the best players, and I get hammered.  Which, in a way, is why I long to go back to the big game,  its more interesting, the thought process generally extends beyond level two, and properly rolled it’s the place where I believe I can become a good player.

But I am not properly rolled for the big game, and I am enjoying the 5-10 at the moment (perhaps because I am winning consistently—ask me in a few sessions if I still feel the same way).

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