Friday, February 12, 2016

Warning: Poker Story!

Playing $2/$5 NL Hold'em with $500 of the $1500 I profited a couple days ago at the same game. Wasted $400 of that profit (and 9 and a half hours of my life) playing the first ever 'DoubleStack' Deepstack Extravaganza tournament ever at the Venetian yesterday. Don't know if I mentioned this before, but I HATE tournaments at the Venetian. Think yesterday may have been my last Venetian tournament - I'll stick with the Wynn...

But I digress ... this story is about my day, today, at the Bellagio. As I said, I went in with $500 - pretty much the least and most I ever bring to play $2/$5 NL at the Bellagio. It's the cap on their game and the most I'm willing to lose in one day so it's become a standard play of mine. I buy 3 stacks of red chips (60 $5 chips) and 2 blacks ($100 chips). I put the blacks in my pocket and sit down with the three red stacks. The idea here is that $300 is plenty to play with; and, if my luck goes as usual and a freaking donkey kicks me early, I can leave with the $200 and not make my day a complete bust.  If, however, I’m playing and unable to accumulate any chips but don’t bust; I have extra resources in my pockets.  If I’m not winning, I keep my playable chips on the table around $300 by adding a black whenever I drop down to near $200 on the table.  I can do this twice to extend my play although each time it’s done, I’m basically risking $100 more for my total daily loss.  If I drop to around $250 after the second black chip is in use, I leave.  It’s a good system and it has saved me a somewhat substantial amount of money since I’ve been actually sticking to it…

Now granted, today is a Friday.  Weekends are dangerous when it comes to these lower-stake poker games.  Dangerous, and for some, quite profitable.  You see, it’s the weekends when you see all the tourists gambling away the money they’ve earned prior to their much anticipated ‘Vegas Vacation’ where they’ve planned to hit it big in a poker game or two.  They’ve done the research.  They’ve all read “Super System” and have watched many many hours of poker on their idiot boxes.  Rest assured that each and every one of them honestly believes that they are the greatest, most proficient and completely unbeatable poker player ever to walk this Earth.  In other words, it’s an absolute plethora of donkeys here in Vegas on a weekend.  This, of course, is seen by some professional poker players as candy for the taking; although I, myself, see it as more of a problem.  My reasoning for this is that one or two donkeys at your table can be quite profitable - they’re going to make the mistakes you want made and call your huge bets when you trap them.  When you get too many donkeys, it becomes more of a challenge to get to the heads-up battle you need to be in where pushing them to make these mistakes is viable.  Donkeys have a real bad habit of sticking around regardless of their hand strength.  It’s dangerous to push in a huge bet when the possibility exists that more than one donkey will call you.  Each call, no matter how improbable the draw is, decreases the odds of your hand holding up.  You want to make sure that there’s only one fool calling with his improbable draw against you – that’s how you maximize your chances…

On a Friday, though, things don’t really get too out of control until later in the afternoon.  If you get there before noon, you’re usually guaranteed a few hours of play before the madness ensues.  I arrived at 11:30am today.

As soon as I arrived, a brand new $2/$5 NL Hold’em table was started.  This is exactly how I like to start things off – a new table where nobody is sitting with a huge stack.  I’m quite often the only one sitting with less than $500 on the table, but that’s okay – it’s not a problem if I play smart…

I quickly made an assessment of the table.  It was about half filled with locals (or at least people I’ve seen before) and the rest were unknowns.  Two of the locals I knew were basically “Super System” players (aka betters/gamblers – an over-simplification I admit, however these players often play bets rather than cards…) and I was able to use this knowledge to my advantage early on and quickly turned my $300 stack into a bit over $500.  I still had the two reserve black chips in my pocket as well.  It was a good start to my day.  However, as is far too often the case for me, the cards just went dead.  In approximately 2½ hours, I had already resorted to the black chip additions twice.  I was getting my second wind though and was able to get my table stack-size back up to a bit under $500.  During this 2½ hour period, a new player joined our table.  I was paying close attention to this guy as he quickly started showing obvious signs of being a donkey.  He was consistently raising pre-flop and betting amounts that were almost always too large for the situation.  I rather quickly targeted him for a take-down.  All I needed to do was wait for the correct spot and I was sure I could get him to double me up.  Hell, he initially sat down with $500 and had to re-buy for another $500 after donking-off his entire stack to the lady sitting next to me.  She knew what she was doing as well … that poor donkey should NOT have been sitting at our table…

I got dealt a pair of K’s in the big-blind.  After a couple limp-ins, my target raised to $15 (as I said earlier, NOT a surprise – he was always raising pre-flop…) and three other players called his raise.  When the bet got to me, I raised to $75 (basically a pot-sized raise) in the hope that my target would re-raise me.  I figured my bet would most likely get everyone else out and it did; everybody folded but my target – he just called.  He didn’t raise, but that was okay – he called.

Flop comes 4-4-8 rainbow.  Now I’m first to act and would usually bet that flop heads-up holding K’s however I’m pretty sure this other guy will bet – donkeys always do.  Sure enough, after I check the flop, my opponent makes a huge bet.  It wasn’t quite pot-sized but looked to me like about $150.  My response to his obvious mistake was to instantly push all-in.  Granted, he might be holding a 4 but that seemed quite unlikely to me even for a donkey.  I figured he was probably holding a couple face cards or possibly an A-something; either way, I was pretty sure I had him beat and sprung my trap.  He appeared a bit shaken by my push and even asked me if I was holding J’s.  Of course I responded that we’re not allowed to discuss hand contents and left it at that.  I knew I had him now and was just hoping he’d call.

A few more seconds passed and he tossed a chip out signifying a call.  I then showed my K’s followed by him showing his Q-8 and doubling me up!  Boom, it’s just that easy!

Unfortunately, for me, it’s never that easy … and I mean never.  Everything stated above is correct except for the part where this donkey doubled me up.  That didn’t happen.  Yeah, I showed my K’s and this idiot was holding a Q-8; however the dealer dealt the turn and river.  The turn, mind you, was a fuckin’ 8!  Once again, I got to play the part of the poor sap feeding the donkeys.  This idiot knew I had a pair and even went so far as asking if they were J’s.  What did he think – that I made a huge pre-flop bet with a pair lower than 8’s that weren’t 4’s then check-raised him all-in after the flop?!?!  Yeah, he probably did think that – that’s what he would have done…  And that, after all, is what I was counting on!  I wanted him to make a stupid mistake and he did.  I wanted him to risk damn near $500 on an 8.603% chance of winning and he did.  (Well, to be honest, I wanted him to be drawing dead and call; however I’ll take a 91.397% chance of doubling up any time I can get it…)

I honestly don’t know why my luck is so rotten so often.  I’m not playing too many hands – that could account for a seemingly high number of bad beats … but I often go hours at a time without getting involved in any hands at all.  I really just cannot understand how often it is that I lose when the odds have been shown to be strongly in my favor.  Isn’t that basically the object of the game – to only play the hands that you’re a strong favorite to win?  Shouldn’t that, over time, result in more wins than losses?  Who’s responsible for this whole “probabilities and statistics” racket and could I please get a word with him?  I’m not at all satisfied with the results I’m seeing…

bis sp├Ąter,

Coriolis

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