Posts Tagged ‘Lucky Chances’

I am trained not to believe in streaks.  Streaks have less to do with the run of cards than the perception people have of you (and you have of yourself) when you are winning hands.  Or so I tell myself.

But then there are nights, like last night, where I can be in full control, when I can read hands, where I can manipulate the table and the betting, where I can exude a completely misleading message about my style and my ability….and still can’t catch a break, win a race.

The last hand I played last night really could (should) have been a masterpiece.  I waited until the third round of pre-flop betting to make a big move with QQ–in middle/late position–because I KNEW who would raise, and how much they would raise, and who would go away.

At the end of the day I ended up all-in pre-flop with only one opponent…exactly what I was aiming for…but looking at about a 3.5-1 return had the QQ held up.

But it was one of those nights where there wasn’t a chance in hell my opponent wouldn’t hit his AK.


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I have a wonderful river tell I now watch for in certain spots.

It applies to average to slightly-above average players, and how to respond to a big decision they put you to on the river.  It relates to mannerisms and behavior.

I’ve looked for it 4-5 times over the past year, and picked off 4-5 big river bluffs in the process.

I’ve never read about it, at least not specifically, in any poker book, and I’ve read my share.

It is so completely great that I am not ever going to share what it is here.  And nobody is even reading this!

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The sale of my company (no profit, but at least my hands are untied) and subsequent consulting work has allowed me to start playing more often.  By more often I mean once a week, ideally with the occasional Vegas run.

On the whole it has been ok–but the results have not been AS good as I feel they should have been.  Last night, for example, went from a winner to a loser playing 3-5 at Lucky Chances.  Even when I was up, however, I sensed I should have had more chips than I did.

There is an obvious explanation.  Playing only once a week engenders some really bad habits, most notably the need to get your fix by playing as many hands as possible, and, as the night goes on, playing these hands way too passively.  I’ll play well, sense that I have an edge, decide that I can just call with that Qx suited out of position, and then I can call again on the flop with some weak draw just to see what happens next (I am such a superior player, after all), and then I give up, having donated 80 bucks to the pot for no reason.

I do this.  I know I do this, and I know it is dumb. But at the same time: at mid-stakes NL tables I generally DO have an edge, and if I don’t drift into passive play I generally CAN play better on the flop.  I can mitigate being too loose.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

So I think I have a bigger problem, embodied by the big hand that took me from a winner to a loser last night:

I am the BB, and I end up being the effective stack with somewhere around $650. MP, a good player, raises to $25. Two callers in front of me and somehow it becomes obvious that I am getting the odds for the extra $20 to call with Qh7h.

Flop comes exactly how one wants it to come when playing a trash hand like Qh7h: Qc8h2h.  Top pair, flush draw with one raise pre-flop.  I check, raiser bets $60.  One call, one fold.  I raise to $160, probably a little small given the $220 already in the pot, but not a big deal.  MP then comes over the top and makes it $360 to go.  Other guy folds.

So: $740 in the pot, and I have a little more than $400 left.  And I think it out and make no mistake.  His most likely hand, I deduce, is AA or KK, which makes it 50/50 and an easy shove (I looked it up, and its actually 50.2/49.8).  If he happens to have a set, I still have my draw.  If he is on AhKh I am actually ahead.

I know I don’t have much fold equity, but even still I don’t doubt that shoving was right.  He did indeed have KK, none of my many outs hit, and I lost my stack.  And I was fine with that.  Apart from the questionable preflop call, I played the hand fine, had a chance to win a big pot, and didn’t hit.  So be it.

But here’s the thing: the guy who made the initial raise and won the pot was a good player.  And there were several not-good players there.  Some with money.  One with money and completely distracted by his computer.  So why am I positioning myself to get into 50/50s with HIM when other opportunities abound?  If I am going to play Qh7h against a raise why do it against HIS raise?

Game selection is irrelevant in a must-move format, as the NL games at Lucky Chances are.  Which makes in-game “player selection” that much more important.  Has anyone coined that term?  If not its mine,  which would be ironic given how poor I am at it.

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Every time I am forced to deal with some company-related bullshit (something that pretty much defines my existence these days) I can’t help but rue the fact that I should be sleeping.   Because, as the thought process goes, I should be resting and recovering  from yet another monster session at Lucky Chances the night before (free of any stress, losses, bad beats, or other unpleasantness, of course).

And this would certainly beat trying to mollify vendors who we are past due with, or squeeze retailers who are past due with us, or absorb lectures from people who have no clue about our business.   Or deal with the justified  frustration of my wife, who can’t understand how a fairly intelligent and capable guy is not making money.

I imagine that Tommy, however, would caution that those who are overly desperate to play are really not in a good frame of mind to play.  I suppose he’d suggest that I would be at my best if I really didn’t care one way or the other.


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Some random thoughts and events since my last post for my legions of followers:

My Q1 run of play was certainly positive.  Unfortunately, all the MASSIVE profits quickly went toward bills and expenses, extinguishing my temporary roll.  I think I know this song.

I’ve played only one session in the last couple of months.  Was in Vegas for a trade show a few weeks ago, and scrounged enough money together for a 2/5 no limit session at Bellagio.  For what its worth: ‘scrounged’ is an excellent word choice here.  I remain undefeated in this particular game over the years, which, no matter how incredibly awesome a player I am, is a statistical improbability. It helped that when down to my last few hundred I flopped quad 8s, and got matched up against Aces full AND a guy intent on calling everybody no matter what.  Another statistical improbability.

Speaking of statistical improbabilities: why is it that while I played high stakes all of the statistical improbabilities I encountered seemed to benefit my opponents?

My wife suggests that we find a way to get me playing more.  Assuming I do, will I be able to cope with this kind of pressure?




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Played three sessions at Lucky Chances a couple weeks ago, all 3/5.  Net very positive, two winning sessions, one small loser.  Very controlled and comfortable, despite lack of bankroll.

The only real problem: the financial situation mandates conservative play, most evident on the river, where I made a point of not taking chances, rarely value betting or raising  in position, out of fear of going bust.  Not optimal in terms of long-run EV, but I think an acceptable way to play provided I am consistent (and not obvious about it).  In fact, the loss resulted from just one hand where I did make a thin value bet and then was check raised.

Followed up by a 3-3 positive in Tahoe and Reno last weekend.  Two nights at the 2/3 at Harveys, which seems to play really, really small.  Truly a grind, but was in Tahoe so could be worse.  The fun game was at Harrahs in Reno.  They only spread a 1/2, but with no cap on the buy in.  I decided I would try it for a little while, and eventually leave to try and find a bigger game.

Next thing I know its a big bet fest, driven by an old drunk guy who was doing his best impression of Sam C.  Within a few hands I’m being pushed into big all-in decisions, and several hundred dollars are being exchanged on every hand, highly unusual for 1/2 (the old days of 25/50 and swings in the thousands seem to be waaaaaay in the past).  Wild.  Fun wild when it goes well.  Ended up more than twice what I took home in Tahoe after two sessions.  This, combined with some successful sports bets and the kids having an absolute blast made for an excellent weekend.  Made more excellent by all the rooms being comped through my wife.  She’s good at that.  If only she’d stop losing when she gambles.

Feeling great about the trip, I decided to hit Lucky Chances on Monday night, with the stated goal of leaving at 12:15 sharp.  I was SO satisfied with myself when 12:15 came: absolutely terrible cards, yet I picked my spots and grinded and was up slightly.  For whatever reason I was unable to get up at 12:15.  Naturally, at 12:20 I am dealt AA, I check planning to raise, two callers (SB and BB) with no raise.  Flop is K 9 10 with two spades.  SB bets 20, BB calls.  I raise to 60.  SB immediately pushes for 300.  BB folds.

Fucking goddamn piss shit fuck crap, I mutter to myself.  Why didn’t I just leave at 12:15 as planned?  Now I am faced with this bullshit.

And that bullshit should have been EASY.  First, because I am supposed to be playing conservatively, meaning I should fold in a spot like this.  Second, barring any further information, a call in this spot would likely be breakeven at best.  Third, and worst of all, there WAS further information, namely the opponent screaming strength, right down to the shaky hands.

Yet I call, and he happily turns over his set of Kings.  Meh.

Two hands later I lose the rest of my (short) stack when my AJ suited flops an A but runs into a slow played AK.  Then I buy in really short, and lose that when my AQ suited runs into AA pre-flop.  Bonehead.

Overall still very much net positive over the past few weeks, but that whole discipline thingie…

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Granted she turns two next month, and its probably a little early to tell, but there are signs.  Both of my daughters are smart.  The younger one seems to have a knack for memory and pattern recognition.

Case in point: I’ve become a Starbucks addict, and she’s often with me when go out of my way to get my fix.  So now, anytime she spots the Starbucks logo, at a store, in a magazine, big, small, she says “Papa Coffee.”

A couple weeks ago I needed a coffee and didn’t want to get out of the car, so drove through McDonalds.    Yesterday we’re driving past a completely different McDonalds, and out of nowhere I hear her say ‘Different Coffee!”

One of those stories that is far more interesting to the parents than to the legions of people that read this, I realize.

About two months without playing now.   Have some Lucky Chances chips in the kitchen.  Starting shuffling them earlier today.  And starting getting some real playing pangs.  Thinking about tournaments…

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