May 29, 2009

High Stakes Poker Recap: Season 5, Episode 13, Final Episode

I do apologize, dear spritpot readers, for the rack of posting recently. This week was a really busy one for me at school, so I hope you'll understand. One announcement: I have recorded a video for CardRunners as one of their "guest pros". If you don't know about CR already, it is one of the top poker instructional sites out there. Furthermore, through collaboration with Full Tilt, you can get a CR membership for free if you play enough on Full Tilt, either by signing up for rakeback through CR, or by accumulating monthly points through totally free poker training. So if you're already a CR member, be on the lookout for the video. If not, become one...and then be on the lookout for the video.

Anyway, on to a look back at last week's High Stakes Poker episode. I actually watched this one with a couple of friends who have played a little bit of poker but aren't too experience and tried to narrate the action as it went along. We had just finished watching the atrocity that was Game 3 of the Cavs-Magic series and were looking for something more entertaining on TV. Here's approximately what I was saying two minutes in, with what was happening on screen in italics:

The Fat Man limps in early with A8o, Eli limps behind with Qh2h, as does Doyle with A8o.

"Tom Dwan is about to raise these limpers. Look at this man. Remember his features. If you ever find yourself at a poker table with him and a couple hundred k on the table, take said money off table and leave the game. Also, Eli Elezra...that guy REALLY hates folding."

Dwan looks down at 55, a veritable monster compared to his range for raising these limpers, and pops it to $5k from the small blind. Of course everybody calls. The frop comes AcJh8h.

"OK, get ready for some action. The Fat Man and Doyle are going to betting, and Eli doesn't like folding, he could put in a bunch of money to try and get a heart."

Dwan smartly checks, The Fat Man leads for $20k, and Eli calls. Doyle raises to $95k.

"Well, I think that's too big of a bet for Eli to call. He'd be pretty much committing himself with a draw that could be dominated. I guess Doyle and The Fat Man will just end up getting it in and chopping up Eli and Dwan."

The Fat Man does indeed shove. It gets to Eli who...isn't folding yet!

"Wow...Eli is seriously thinking about calling off $150k more with a queen-high draw when the ace on the board isn't of hearts? I mean, I know he hates folding, but holy hell...."

Friend: "But shouldn't he call? He has odds to call right?"

Me (firing up PokerStove): "Strictly speaking, in this particular, instance, yes. He has 35% equity given that they both have A8, which means he could call. But either one of them could easily have a better heart draw than him, either with Ahxh or KhTh for a pair and a straight draw. Even if one of the other two players is going nuts with a lower flush draw, those are blockers to Eli drawing out against third player, who must have some kind of made hand. Doyle and The Fat Man both have ranges of something like Ahxh, KhTh, AJ, A8, and 88. Against two players with those ranges, Eli has less than 14 percent equity. He's just gotta fold for $150k more, it's not even close."

Eli hems and haws, kind of fake-throws his chips in, pulls them back, finally makes what is a clear and obvious fold. The run the board out, which does include a heart, and Eli gets ridiculously pissed about having folded his Qh2h.

OK, /conversation recreation. C'mon, Eli. Stop limping Qh2h. Stop even considering calling this shove on the flop with your Qh2h. And finally, stop bitching and moaning when the heart turns, which would have paid off your horrific call.

The final hand of the episode and the season did not disappoint. The Unabomber opened the action with a raise to $3100 holding 55, which was called by Viffer holding Qc9c. Viffer then announced  that durrrr was about to squeeze, I assume in order to try and discourage said squeeze (aside: isn't it kind of uncool for Viffer to talk about what durrrr is going to do with many other players left to act?). Durrrr does in fact squeeze, raising to $14k with JTo. Good read, except that The Fat Man wakes up in the small blind with KK and raises to $30k. Too small a re-raise. It gives durrrr information about The Fat Man's hand, and doesn't charge him enough for playing deep in position. It's just asking to get pwnd. Durrrr does indeed call getting 3:1 and they see a frop heads up.

The frop comes down AhTd3h, not the frop you're looking for holding KK. But The Fat Man fires out undeterred, putting in another $30k. Durrrr calls with his middle pair, bringing the pot to $130k. I think here Dwan just wants to play more streets with The Fat Man and see what develops. Dwan had already tried to bluff The Fat Man once unsuccessfully (derty river check/raise with 9-high got called down by K-high), and The Fat Man had just bet him out of an arr-crub frop holding KK with the K of crubs. So he might think that there's some poker being played in this hand, and if that's the case, he's going to end up getting the best of it.

He does indeed get the best of it on the turn, peeling a grrrroosssssss Jd. The Fat Man checks, obviously not comfortable with how the board has run out. The Jd helps lots of hands that are in durrrr's range: JT, AJ, JJ, KQ...really not a good card for The Fat Man. I think durrrr realizes that The Fat Man's checking range includes a lot of hands that are one pair + inside straight, like AK, AQ, KK, and QQ. A big bet might induce a fold from these hands, but a smallish bet sets up a river shove really perfectly. Durrrrr probably isn't too worried about pricing in the flush draws because The Fat Man probably barrels them again, and also because the ace on board is of hearts, and not too many non-ace-high suited hands in The Fat Man's pre-flop cold four-betting range. So durrrr puts in a tasty $46k bet (~1/3 pot), which gets instacalled. 

The river Js fills up durrrr. With $147k left in stacks and $220k left in the pot, Dwan has the perfect stack to shove in once The Fat Man checks. For reasons unbeknowst to me, The Fat Man instacalls. With KK!! The power of Dwan...when you build up a crazy image as Dwan has, you can get 300 bbs of value from second pair while holding a full house. So gross. What a performance this season on HSP by durrrr. If you've been railing the high stakes games recently, you've seen durrrr lose some pretty big pots to Ziigimund at PLO. But he put on quite an exhibition playing Hold 'Em against some of the biggest names in the game in this season of High Stakes Poker.


May 22, 2009

Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts! (Part 5)

It has definitely been a trying run at the tabres recently for yours truly. Brackchips railed me some last night and while I ended up in the brack, there were several "WTF???" comments from him as villains dealt me ridiculous bad beat after ridiculous bad beat. I hate to complain, but I will show this hand just for illustrative purposes:

Hero (BB): $68.25
UTG: $12.05
UTG+1: $15.70
MP1: $13.05
MP2: $25.45
CO: $18.25
BTN: $18.75
SB: $41.55

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BB with Kc Qc
UTG calls $0.50, 6 folds, Hero checks

Flop: ($1.25) Kh 5h 6s (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG bets $1.25, Hero raises to $5, UTG raises to $11.55 all in, Hero calls $6.55

Turn: ($24.35) 8h (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($24.35) 7s (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $24.35
Hero shows Kc Qc (a pair of Kings)
UTG shows Qh 9d (a straight, Nine high)
UTG wins $23.15

Standard UTG limp, 3b-bluff frop for your last $6 with Q-high and two runner-runner draws (which are basically like gold vs. me these days).

OK enough complaining. Let's rejoice because there are still villains willing to put in money drawing stone cold dead,  like this moron:

BB: $34.80
UTG: $9.75
UTG+1: $39.25
Hero (MP1): $94.80
MP2: $62.25
CO: $9.00
BTN: $57.75
SB: $79.85

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is MP1 with Ac Qd
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $1.75, Hero raises to $6, 5 folds, UTG+1 raises to $10.25, Hero calls $4.25 (min 4-b....which I will be calling every time, even aside from the fact that I had already seen this guy make some pretty dumb plays.) 

Flop: ($21.25) Ad 5s Kc (2 players)
UTG+1 bets $10, Hero calls $10 (Frop an ace, pretty much zero chance I'm folding now. I just want to maximize his spazz-out factor by playing passively. He's basically repping AA/KK/AK, which he could have, but...I'll be taking my chances vs. this donk.)

Turn: ($41.25) 9c (2 players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero checks (He only has $19 left, no real reason to bet here as I can stack his worse made hands on the river, as well as some of his air hands. If he had any kind of draw like QJ or some crubs - also I have the Ac - I would think he'd just shove in here, so I'm not worried about protection too much.)

River: ($41.25) Kh (2 players)
UTG+1 bets $19 all in, Hero calls $19 (K is actually a good card, as it makes his monster hands less likely. Although he could have some other random K...that would be pretty much par for the course for a donk vs. me over the last month. In any case, I'm obviously not folding.)

Final Pot: $79.25
UTG+1 shows 4s Qc (a pair of Kings)
Hero shows Ac Qd (two pair, Aces and Kings)
Hero wins $76.25

Well played, donkey. Don't know how the turn and river didn't come out three deuce or running fours to give you the nuts.


May 19, 2009

High Stakes Poker Recap, Season 5 Episode 12

I don't know if it's the stakes or the players at the table, but Phil Laak is definitely intimidated at this table. He's limp/calling $15k to set mine. He's flatting 99 in position preflop and then folding to a Tom Dwan donk bet on a T-high board. He's getting one street of value with JJ vs. durrrr's 88 on a 992 frop. He's checking the nut frush draw (crubs!) three times and folding to a river bluff. He's practically open shoving AA preflop. It's been ugly. I hope Esfandiari gives him hell. 

Anyway, there's at least one player at the table who didn't get the memo that Doyle Brunson has been a huge nit on HSP. David "Viffer" Peat opened from early position (I think maybe even UTG?) with Jd9d. Doyle makes it $10.5k total with AA on the button. To me, this should just be an easy easy instafold in Viffer's spot. You raised UTG and a good, tight player has made a big re-raise. Your J-high is crushed and you aren't likely to be able to outplay him post-flop from out of position. Even 200 bbs deep, Viffer won't frop huge enough to make it worth the $8k call prefrop, especially when you consider all the times he'll get pwnd semi-bluffing (foreshadowing alert!).

The frop comes AdTc2d, giving Doyle top set and Viffer a frush draw and a three-straight, for a couple of ways of backing into a straight. Viffer checks and Doyle bets $20k into the nearly $24k pot. From what I've seen of Doyle's play, his range for betting $20k there is heavily weighted towards absolute monster hands. AA, TT, AK...I think he checks back AQ, KK, etc.. The only "bluff" he could have is KdQd, which he's not folding and pwns Viffer anyway. Viffer is thinking that Doyle slowplays huge preflop hands so often that he wouldn't 3b AA preflop? Or that he'd fold AK to a monster check-raise? I don't know, but for whatever reason, Viffer decides to make a huge committing check-raise to $125k, which to me is just blind and dumb aggression, because Doyle just doesn't bet/fold there very often. If it were 8d7d4c or something, it would be a much more effective play. Of course Doyle shoves over the check-raise and Viffer has to call off the last $46k in pretty rough shape. They agree to run it twice, but the Doyle wins both times despite a Q turning in each run.

Apparently Viffer kills the live LA and Vegas high-stakes games pretty hard, but I don't know if he's a really top player or just has great table selection. Given that he loves doing things like limping Q9s UTG (like vs. Dario in an earlier episode) and limp/re-raise KK (vs. durrrr this episode), I don't know how well he'd do against the cream of the crop online. But hey, if he can cash in big playing live games vs. donks, why should he care whether he could beat Benyamine HU online? In any case, I personally have come away from his earlier PAD appearance and these HSP episodes fairly unimpressed with his game.

Another interesting hand from the episode might be called 'Don't Call 3-bets out of position, Part 2'. Eli Elezra opened the betting with a min-raise holding KTo. Dario Minieri makes a monster 3-b to more than $9k with 64o. This definitely takes some guts since, as we have noted before, Eli Elezra hates folding. But the poker gods approved of Dario's aggressive play, endowing him with bottom two pair on the rainbow frop vs. Eli's top pair. Eli quickly check/calls the $14k frop bet, and the turn brings an unfortunate Ac. Eli quickly checks again. The Ac is bad for Dario not so much because it makes his hand less likely to be good, although it's certainly possible Eli has A6 or AT or something, but more because it just kills his action when Eli has a T or 99-77 or something. But I do like Dario betting instead of checking on the turn, for a couple of reasons: first, it balances his range, since I'd imagine he'd be barreling the A on the turn with most of his bluff-type hands, so he needs to protect those bluffs by value-betting his good hands, and second, bottom two pair is a very vulnerable hand...any T, K, or A on the river destroys him. And of course, betting is good because Eli Elezra hates folding. Eli hems and haws for a bit, as folding second pair for $37k is pretty much a monster laydown by his standards, and finally gives up his cards. 


May 15, 2009

Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts! (Part 4)

First off lemme send a shout out to for putting together tomorrow's Run Good Challenge on PokerStars. I'll definitely be out on the felt gunning for that WSOP seat. I had some success in my last blogger freeroll on Stars, so hopefully I can follow up. I'm also looking to spend that Step 6 ticket I won on a WSOP ME satellite at some point. Feel free to drop any advice on how to find the best one.

It was a close call whether to make this an 'Art of the Min Raise' or a 'Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts'...but since we're still building up 'Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts', I decided to go with that one, despite this hand featuring a pre-frop min-3b:

UTG: $12.75
UTG+1: $33.95
MP: $10.00
CO: $19.00
Hero (BTN): $50.00
SB: $70.30
BB: $50.00

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 4d 4c
3 folds, CO raises to $1.50, Hero calls $1.50, SB raises to $2.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $1 (Don't remember anything about the CO, but I'd raise here pretty often, but in situation where you've got donks in the brinds, often it's better just to keep them in the hand and hope they do something stupid (such as what you're about to see). Then the donk makes it a dollar more and obviously I'm calling.)

Flop: ($7.00) 4s Jh Qc (2 players) (Bingo!!! Gotta take this donk to my favorite town of all towns: VARUETOWN!! I raise an amount that I'm pretty sure he'll call and will build the pot so that I can almost certainly stack him by the river.)
SB bets $3, Hero raises to $9.50, SB calls $6.50

Turn: ($26.00) 8c (2 players)
SB bets $58.30 all in, Hero calls $38 all in (Open ship on the 8c turn...obviously calling...I'm thinking he might have AcKc/AcJc/AcTc, something like that...might be some outs to dodge)

River: ($102.00) 4h (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $102.00
Hero shows 4d 4c (four of a kind, Fours)
SB shows Tc Jd (two pair, Jacks and Fours)
Hero wins $99.00

OK, only had to dodge four outs...really too bad I didn't have him covered to score the extra 20. Oh well. I don't know what he could possibly be thinking calling my frop raise. There's no frush draw out, I would probabry just call with KT/AK (which have a bunch of equity vs. him anyway)...I pretty much always have QJ or a set. I really can't think of any other hand I'd ever have. But hey, if donks could think I'd be a lot poorer.


May 12, 2009

High Stakes Poker Recap, Season 5 Episode 11

Well, finally someone has gotten the better of Tom Dwan in a couple of hands, and it's Eli Elezra. Or rather, his own prefrop rooseness has gotten the better of him, whichever you think. In any case, if there's one guy at this table you would NOT want to try and bruff (except perhaps durrrr himself), it's Eli Elezra. THAT guy hates folding. We've seen him get it all-in pre-flop with 66 and 99 already this season (for at least 100 bbs each time). I remember one spot a couple of seasons ago where he called a shove with 22 on a 789cc board (almost positive I'm not making this up). So yea, you're going to need a very sizable crobar to get any pair or decent draw out of his hands. Yet durrrr tried his best, and paid the price.

In the first hand between the two, durrrr opens for $3k (I think from the hijack?) with 86o. He gets called by Alan Meltzer (whom I will henceforth refer to as "The Fat Man"...apologies to all you rotund folks out there, but the word "bulbous" must have been brough to the Engrish ranguage for the purpose of describing this dude) with Kc9c and Eli in the brinds with Ad2d, putting the pot at $11.4k prefrop. The frop comes out Td5s4d, giving durrrr an inside straight draw to the nuts, and Eli the nut frush draw and an inside wheel draw. Eli overbets the pot, leading out for $16k. Dwan raises to $46.2k with his draw, and Eli shoves in his whole $200k stack after Meltzer folds, prompting durrrr to fold. 

If you're like me, you probably give zero respect to donk bets such as Eli's and raise them with abandon, because weak players will so often bet there with 77 or 56 to figure out "where they're at" and then fold to a raise once you let them know where they're at, which is totally lost. But Eli is the type of player that would make a bet like this to induce a bruff, and then shove over the top with his big draw or call down light. If he did have 77 in this spot, he certainly would not be folding, I'll say that much. I don't know if durrrr has seen Eli play much or just thought that he could get Eli off something even weaker like A4, but he's definitely drawing dead on getting Eli to fold a flush draw. 

The same two players locked horns again in the final hand of the episode. The straddle was on, and durrrr raised it up from UTG with 7d3d to $6k (the guy has no know that little voice in your head that would yell at you 'WTF are you doing betting half a year's rent into 8 other players with 7-high???'...apparently he strangled that guy to death long ago, if he ever existed at all). He gets called by The Fat Man with Ac3c, and Elezra with AsTs (spades!!). The frop comes Ad4s8d, giving durrrr a frush draw and a couple different ways of making a runner-runner straight. He bets out for $14.6k into the $22k pot. 

The Fat Man calls with his pair of aces no kicker, putting the action on Eli. I think pretty much every other player at the table would just call here with top pair medium-strength kicker, not wanting to build a big pot on an ace-high board against an UTG raiser and another player giving him action. But we've seen Eli before putting in big bets with just top pair, and here he is again. Then durrrr calls, which is another move I think no other player at the table would make, out of position in what is already a big pot, with a flush draw that could easily be dominated by one of the two players he's up against. But he has shown in the past that he does not mind playing later streets with draws, so call he does, bringing the pot to $127k (What is Elezra thinking at this point? Is he thinking 'FAWK, he called!', or is he thinking, 'yes! I'm taking his pair of eights downtown to valuetown!'? I have no idea.).

The turn brings off a Jh, and the action checks through (making me think that maybe Elezra raised the frop in order to srow down the turn and river action?). The river is the Ks, and durrrr bets about 1/2 pot. I like his bet, but I think it has to be more if he intends to fold out an ace. He can represent AK, AJ, KdJd, and QdTd very credibly. That's 14 combos of hands (from Elezra's perspective, if he's sitting on an ace). Perhaps he can even represent Jd4d or Kd4d. In any case, there aren't too many plausible missed diamond combos out there (does Elezra know that durrrr opens 73s UTG and calls his frop raise? tough to say), but there's certainly more than 4, which is what there needs to be for Eli to call a 1/2 pot bet on the river if durrrr's range is missed diamonds and the above 2pr+ hands. I don't know if Dwan could bet AQ for value there. Maybe durrrr bet just to try and get a fold out of diamonds that beat him, like 9d8d or if Eli raised JdTd on the frop and made a pair of jacks on the turn. I can only assume that this is the case, since I don't think he'd expect Eli to fold an ace for that bet on the river. In fact I don't know if he'd expect Eli to fold an ace to any bet on the river, which would be a reason not to bruff a larger amount with his river bet. In any case, Eli rooks him up and rakes a 200k+ pot with top pair crap kicker.


May 11, 2009

1 year ago today - DDAY.

A year ago today I just finished up an EPIC sesh where I absolutely DECIMATED my online roll.  DDAY for me.  The donations were just absolutely’s embarrassing how badly I played and ridiculously aggro I was playing (29/23/7.5 at FULL EFFING RING!).   The downswing was a product of literally every variable in the game - playing on tilt, playing too long, CRAP game selection (I was playing in some VERY tough 5/10 games), too many tables, playing too loose, and magically disabling my effing fold button from both my head and on the FTP software, ROR.  

When the dust cleared after 7500 hands and like 15 hours - I was just absolutely BEAT down.  I'm not going to get in the exact figure but let's just say it was MANY a BI's at a limit I was not entirely comfortable with.  

Finally I was able to stop the spewage - and then the amount of money that I lost finally sunk in.  I recall going to bed thinking "wait, did I REALLY just lose that much money?"  It was definitely difficult to stomach and I talked a bit to Bruechips a bit who herped analyzed the sesh - thankfully he got me to prop him on playing tighter (which would def help reduce my variance/downswings).  

I am not exactly sure how much I actually learned from my DDAY other than two things.

A) how crappy you feel when you lose/donate money of epic proportions.
B) how in doesn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things.  Shortly after DDAY, I met a new special lady who literally made me INSTA-forget about the downswing.   MUY +EV.

Whoops, I left one thing out - C) how quickly you can recoup your losses :)

Since then I have improved significantly (although I still have occasional lapses) in keeping my daily losses to a minimum.  It is incredibly difficult to simply come to a stop loss point - especially in the heat of the moment...but it is something that I continue to work on.  Thankfully there have not been any DDAY2 days yet :)

May 7, 2009

Putting together a gameplan

I was recently talking with Bruechips about a hand where he raised the river as a bluff with a made hand in an effort to get move the villain off of TPTK.  When the villain tanked forever (ship the time bank stretch, MUY EV!) and ended up calling with top 2.  While we were bummed that the villain won the pot – Brue pointed out that since the villain tanked forever and ALMOST folded – it was good bet.  It is INCREDIBLY hard (if not almost impossible) NOT to be results oriented in poker.  The only measuring stick is who wins the most money….plain and simple.  There is no Enron style accounting that can be applied to mask your losses – when you lose, you lose. 

However, when we lose pots – it’s difficult not to focus on what we did wrong and how we lost the pot.  You end up second guessing yourself throughout your decision process – could I have bet more on the flop?  Should I have folded on the turn?  Does my line appear to be unbalanced? 

Furthermore, when we continue to lose pots – our overall game suffers quite a bit (I don’t know anyone who plays as well when they are losing as when they are winning).  Being able to CONSISTENLY play you’re A-ish game is paramount to success in this game (granted Durrrr would pwnd me HARD if he was on his D game vs my A game…but you get the picture) unless you are “tiltproof” like this guy.

Back to the topic of putting together a gameplan…I think that as long as you have a solid plan for each hand, you will DEFINITELY play better.  You will stop second guessing yourself and you will make better decisions.  When you make a check raise all in on the turn in an attempt to fold out a draw and anything less than TP vs an agro monkey and the guy shows up with a set…don’t HATE on yourself when you get stacked!  You executed your plan correctly – but you just need to work a bit harder on your hand reading skills! 

Here is an example of a hand I played where I unsuccessfully 3 barreled. 

Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -

The Official Hand History Converter

UTG: $182.00
UTG+1: $174.10
Hero (UTG+2): $816.00
MP1: $628.30
MP2: $454.50
CO: $705.70
BTN: $1175.90
SB: $234.75
BB: $439.00

Pre Flop: ($6.00) Hero is UTG+2 with Ts Js

2 folds, Hero raises to $14, 1 fold, MP2 calls $14, CO calls $14, 3 folds

Flop: ($48.00) Kc 4d Qc (3 players)
Hero bets $32, MP2 requests TIME, MP2 folds, CO calls $32

Turn: ($112.00) 8h (2 players)
Hero bets $70, CO calls $70

River: ($252.00) 2h (2 players)
Hero bets $166, CO calls $166

Final Pot: $584.00
Hero shows Ts Js (King Queen high)
CO shows Qd 9h (a pair of Queens)
CO wins $581.00

Prefrop – I open the JT of the NUT soot from MP…a tad thin, but I have never become accustomed to the term “tight is right” – ROR.

Frop – This is an INSTA c bet.  I opened and did NOT get 3b so I think I can get TONS of folds of hands better than JT high, ROR.  I think 22-99 folds almost ALWAYS along with many A high hands.   I’m not thrilled to get called by the roose passive player…but seeing as he did not 3b me, and did not raise this frop – it is pretty safe to say we can be narrow down his range to flush/straight draws, 1 pair hands.  I plan on barreling any turn card that does not complete a frush.

Turn – It’s a brick but I’m going to continue to rep a monster since I opened pre, bet the frop and faced zero aggression, this board texture weighs much heavier towards my range than this.   When I get called again we can be CERTAIN that the villain is weak.  He has one pair at BEST.  Again, assuming the obvious frush draw does not come in, I am going to bet the river and attempt to do 2 things – fold a Q and higher A high/draw hands.  If he has a K, I do NOT expect him to fold it. 

River – I go ahead and bet and get looked up pretty quickly…JT high NO GOOD!  oh well – I’ll make a quick note about his inability to fold and take him downtown to VTOWN next time we tangle!  

Often I find myself tilting for making a stupid river bet when it gets rooked up...but in this case I was able to brush off the ross and quickly move on to other tables.  


May 5, 2009

High Stakes Poker Recap, Season 5 Episode 10

By my count, between his two hands with durrrr on this episode and his hand with Barry Greenstein on an earlier episode, Daniel Negreanu has now lost about $200k calling pre-flop out of position with ace-rag.

In the first hand vs. durrrr, Dwan opens from the cutoff with KhQc. Daniel decides to call from the SB with A6o. I couldn't be more against this call. Up against a great player, even a very loose one, A6o out of position, with so little money in the pot already, is just a fold. There are so many ways for Daniel to get pwnd...and here's one of them:

The frop comes Ac9cJs, giving Daniel top pair and durrrr an inside straight draw and backdoor crubs. Daniel check/calls a $5700 c-bet (this part is standard for both players I think). The turn comes a Qs, giving durrrr a pair to go with his straight draw. Daniel leads for $11k into the $19k pot. I'm not really sure what Daniel's plan is here if he gets raised. I would assume he'd fold as this is a pretty terrible board for top pair no kicker...but who knows. I don't know if he's trying to rep KT or QJ or if he's trying to rep the hand he has and just hopes durrrr won't decide to try and bluff him off of it. It's a tough spot for Daniel no matter what he does. Check/fold seems bad since durrrr will fire second barrels with air a lot. Check/raise is even worse as there are a lot of very good hands durrrr could have, and he could also 3b semi-bluff with a huge draw. Check/call is probably the best of the three, although it allows durrrr to take a free card, and there are quite a few draws out. I think this is better than bet/fold too, since Daniel will get bluffed either on the turn or the river a fair amount if he bets, and he's very unlikely to fold out any better hands. He does charge the draws, but with one street to come and so many river cards that look gross, I'd prefer to just keep the pot small as possible.

The river does in fact come a Tc to give durrrr the best hand. As Daniel says, this is pretty much the worst card in the deck, forcing him to check/fold, but it's not close to the only river he'd check/fold to. Besides the 4 tens and 3 kings which give durrrr the best hand, there's also any 8, any spade, and any crub. All told that's 34 cards, at least 32 of which are still in the deck (at most two can be in durrrr's hand). And that doesn't even include the three queens which also give durrrr the best hand in a more deceptive way, which would probably induce a check/call from Daniel, losing him even more money. If the hand works out this poorly for Daniel when he flops top pair, gets in bets on the frop and turn when ahead and then check/folds the river when durrrr catches up, you can see how calling with A6o pre-flop out of position vs. Tom Dwan is just lighting money on fire.

Yet that doesn't stop Daniel from getting caught in a similar spot later on. Phil Laak limps up front with KQo, Howard Lederer limps 66 up front (go back to 2006, guys!!), and Tom Dwan finds AQo on the button...I think you know what happens next. Durrrr sends it up to $5400, getting calls from Daniel in the big blind with Ah8h, and the two limpers. The frop comes AdQd2c, once again putting Daniel in a tough spot of having top pair on a drawy board, out of position against Tom Dwan. It checks to durrrr, who bets $14k into the $24k pot. Of course Daniel calls, since he does have top pair and it's Tom Dwan who is betting.

Pots get big pretty fast when the pre-flop raise is 8 bbs...once Daniel calls and the 2h turns, there's already $52k in the pot. Daniel checks to Dwan, who bets ~$35k. Daniel check/raises for $50k more. It's another spot where he's taking what might be the worst of many bad options. The options are bad because he's out of position with a medium strength hand vs. a great player. He might get durrrr to lay down a hand with a lot of equity, like JdTd, because of the paired board, since Daniel could have 22, A2, or at least an A, which takes away the 2d as an out.

But the main goal, as Gabe Kaplan says, is to make durrrr fold an ace with no kicker, so that Daniel gets all of the pot instead of half of it. This strategy suffers from two problems. First, As far as what Daniel is repping that might make durrrr want to fold an ace, A2s is a little thin since it can ONLY be As2s. Even though Daniel did call a pre-flop raise earlier with A6o, I don't think he'd calling this big a pre-flop raise with A2o. A more likely hand would be some kind of suited diamond hand with a deuce in it. 3d2d, 4d2d, 5d2d....Daniel likes low suited hands a lot, and might gamble with these hands pre-flop, knowing that Laak and Lederer would call behind him. You'd think Daniel would be re-raising preflop with QQ or AA, so it's really 5 hands (As2s, 2s2d, 5d2d, 4d2d, 3d2d) that durrrr could be worried about. That's just not very many hands, especially when Daniel had just check/raised the turn with KJo on a K-high board against Phil Laak in a hand earlier, so durrrr knows that Daniel can do that with a weak one pair. If it the frop were AdQc2d, and then the frop came out the 2h, it would be even worse by Daniel, since he couldn't rep thet 2dxd hands. The second problem Daniel has is that durrrr might be checking back an ace with no kicker. He checked back top pair medium kicker against Cassavetes earlier, earning some money off a Cassavetes turn and river bluff. I think he'd often check back here, too, hoping to pick off a river bluff from a missed diamond draw.

Durrrr has an interesting decision as well, as he could either call or raise (I don't think he's considering folding). Raising protects his hand vs. the diamond draw but I doubt he's ever getting called by worse. He decides to call. The river is an innocent 4h and Daniel checks. Like Gabe Kaplan, I'm kind of surprised that Dwan didn't value bet here...maybe like $80k. Daniel probably folds anyway, but it would be interesting to see. I think durrrr might be worried about Daniel checking his best hands on the river because of the missed diamond draw, hoping that Dwan would bluff at it (remembering the rivered flush that Daniel checked vs. Antonius). It would have been interesting to see the 4d come off too. I guess it goes check/check, but maybe Daniel tries to steal it with a big river bet. Interestingly, a river diamond would allow Daniel to represent a full house with a big bet, but not a flush. In both cases (river diamond or river non-diamond), he's playing as if durrrr has the diamonds, betting big to extract value in the first case, and checking to induce a bluff in the second case.

This episode also featured some nice play from Patrik Antonius, getting two streets of value from Antonio Esfandiari's third pair with top pair and a flush draw (apparently Antonio has caught the limp/calling bug as well), and bluffing durrrr off the best hand with T-high (proving that durrrr is human). Apparently the next episode will feature Eli Elezra pwning durrrr pretty hard, so we'll have to wait and see how that unfolds.


May 4, 2009

Vegas Trip Report

Two words: Manny. Pacquiao. That guy is pretty sick, huh? Unfortunately by the time we got ready to place our bets on Manny, the line had moved all the way to -300, so we weren't getting great odds. However that didn't stop us from putting a total of $2k on Manny between the five guys in our group, which made out for our CCTV tickets and then some. Overall 4 out of the 5 of us went home winners, plus we got served about 100 free cocktails and beers while at the tables (we gambled literally up to and past dawn both nights). 

I feel kinda bad for Ricky Hatton as he seems like a pretty good guy and gives it his best in the ring, but he has been badly outclassed in the two biggest fights of his career (the other vs. Mayweather). He's just not the same caliber of fighter as those guys.

In other exciting boxing news, Floyd is returning to the ring in July to face Juan Manuel Marquez, probably to set up a fight with Manny if Floyd wins. JMM is a great fighter in his own right (#2 pound-for-pound, has had two VERY close fights with Pacquiao), but will be putting on a lot of weight to come up and fight Floyd. Unless Floyd has lost a lot since the last time we saw him in the ring, should be a victory for Mayweather Jr.

The friends I was with mostly wanted to find the cheapest blackjack tables possible, which meant gambling in downtown Vegas, especially convenient since we were staying there anyway. But that also pulled me away from the juiciest poker tables.

I did manage to play a little bit though. Friday night I played a short 1/2 NL session at about 1 am at Fitzgerald's. The 1/2 was the only game they had running, so I sat in. Not too long into the session, I look down and find KK...I raise it up and we see the frop about 5-handed, pretty standard for a 1/2 live game. Frop is J9x with two diamonds...I bet 30ish into a pot of 40ish and got a call from the button. The turn is a brick and I put the button all-in for another 90 or so. The river is a Tc, which didn't look too great, but he stands up and says, "crap, I was going for got it..." But he also shows his cards, which are of course the dealer has to call him back and explain to him that he rivered a straight, shipping him the $250 pot. Whatever. 

Fortunately the seat two to the left of him opens up and I instagrab it. An hour or so later the dealer misreads a board (AMAZING how often this happens) and almost ships a pot to the KdQd donk when he holds K5 vs. A7 on an AK566 board. I get some small revenge by correcting the dealer and sending the pot to its rightful owner (I don't play enough live to know whether it's proper etiquette to correct the dealer in this case or force the winning player to figure it out on his own - the dealer was already starting to collect the cards, so the chances of the A7 guy figuring it out on his own were slim). 

The only really interesting hand came towards the very end of the session. I'm on the button with Ah8h looking at 4 or so players limping in front of me. I make a raise to $20 and get called by one young guy who had been playing fairly solid and the KdQd donk. The frop comes J53 with two spades. It's checked to me and I bet $40, pretty sure that the tight player was set mining and will fold, and hoping the donk just whiffed completely...I think he could fold better aces than mine, and plus I just don't want him sticking around with KTo or something. Also he had played his draw weakly last time, just calling down, so maybe I could even get value. I got an instafold from the tight player but a call from the donk. The turn came an offsuit Q. The donk tanked for quite a while and finally checked. He had maybe $60-70 at that point and there was $140 in the pot. I considered betting, wondering if there was any hope of me making him fold 65s or 88 or something. You'd think if he's gonna call $40 on the frop he'd call on the turn too...especially given that folding isn't exactly his forte...but you never know with these live donks. I finally decided to check, figuring there was just no hope of getting a laydown and praying for a river A. An 8, even. The river was instead an offsuit 6. The donk checked and I thought a bit again, wondering if he'd fold 67s now...but finally just checked since I thought I did have a fair amount of showdown value with an A-high and a kicker that plays. He announced "I missed" and showed Ac4c (this time he really did miss), and I got shipped a nice pot with A-high.

The next night my friend Charlie wanted to try out some poker. I figured no-limit probably would be a little too much for his first time playing, and it would be no fun if he got busted after 15 minutes, so we found a $3-$6 limit game at Binion's. I got the worst seat in the house, directly to the right of a total Crazian. This man could neither hear (or at least pretended he couldn't everyone called him an idiot) nor see (was convinced he had a straight with 76o on a 743 frop), but knew the word "raise" and used it liberally. He also never really got the hang of the betting structure. The $3 betting limit on the frop never deterred him from throwing out 6 chips, requiring the dealer to throw 3 chips back at him every other hand. But we had a good time and my friend managed to finish a roller coaster session up $16, while I finished down $17. We were both up 5-6 Heinekens. 

Once we got back to our hotel, we found another Hold 'Em game with a very odd betting structure and just couldn't resist. The way it worked was that there was one blind only, just to the left of the dealer. The blind could choose to make it a $1, $2, or $3 blind. The player to his left could also choose to straddle. The betting preflop, flop, AND turn could then be either $1, $2, or $3. Then on the river you could bet from $1 to $6. It was bizarre. If you think that players would realize that having almost no money in the pot blind would make playing tight an even better strategy than it would be with $3 in blind, you would be incorrect. This game was quite loose. Still I decided that the $1 blind was just too lame and decided to straddle at first opportunity. Charlie limped in from MP and was followed along by a couple of players behind him. I look down at AcAh (THAT'S WHY YOU STRADDLE!!!) and raised the max to $5. Charlie re-raises to $8...we end up capping it (I think cap was four raises) with one of the late position donks caught in the middle. The frop comes KdJc9c and we cap again, again with Charlie and I doing all the betting, again with the donk caught in the middle. At that point I was pretty sure Charlie had either three kings or three jacks, although I had seen him play top pair pretty aggressively in our earlier session, so AK wasn't out of the question...but the turn brought the 3c, giving me the nut flush draw to go with my overpair. I checked, Charlie bet $3, donk called, and I called as well. The turn bricked off and I check/called $6 more (the donk folded). An absolutely sobbing call but...for $6 into a $100 pot, you can't really fold an overpair. However I did manage to come back and pwn the table pretty significantly, getting in some nice value bets with second pair, top pair third kicker, and the like. I finished up $50, another couple of beers, and a good time, while Charlie walked away a $125 winner. 

Good weekend, Vegas. I'll be seeing you again soon.


May 1, 2009

Yer Gonna Gonna Rove My Nuts! (Part 3)

This'll be quick, as I am headed in a matter of minutes Vegas. Actually not for poker purposes (primarily), but for the big Pacquiao/Hatton fight this weekend. Unfortunately we won't actually be going to the fight, but a group of guys and I decided that it would be worth it to go to Vegas this weekend just to soak in the atmosphere, bet some money on PacMan, and watch the fight on CCTV or at a sportsbook. Hopefully I'll be able to get in some poker at some point. In the past I have favored the Mirage's poker room, but given CK's endorsement of the Venetian's room, I may give it a shot.

Also, for fans of Vince and the Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts! series, this YouTube video is an absolute must-watch. OK, moving on to the actual hand:

Hero (MP): $111.95
CO: $26.45
BTN: $100.00
SB: $33.65
BB: $28.65
UTG: $50.70
UTG+1: $17.70

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is MP with Ad Kh
UTG calls $0.50, 1 fold, Hero raises to $2.25, 2 folds, SB calls $2, 1 fold, UTG calls $1.75 (I had been pounding this UTG guy QUITE a bit, so I was preparing for him to spazz out any time soon. Very juicy to rook down and find AK after you've raised about 80% of a dude's rimps in the rast 20 minutes.)

Flop: ($7.25) 9h Kc Jc (3 players)
SB checks, UTG checks, Hero bets $5.50, SB folds, UTG calls $5.50 (Given this guy's loose pre-flop range and my image at this point, TPTK is enough to go down town to varue town! In other situations I might check behind here, despite how drawy the board is, because those draws will check/raise me often, and there are enough made hands - KJ, JJ/99, J9, QT - that I don't want to get all-in on the frop vs. most prayers.)

Turn: ($18.25) Kd (2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $15.50, UTG calls $15.50 (Sure, why not, one more K couldn't hurt...but more than the fact that it improves my hand - the only plausible hand that I'm ahead of now that I wasn't ahead of before is J9 - it makes my opponent think that it's less likely I have a K, so his QJ or whatever is gold.)

River: ($49.25) 6s (2 players)
UTG bets $27.45 all in, Hero calls $27.45 (And he monkey-shoves it on in there. I really had no idea what to expect when he fripped over his cards. I thought he'd check/raise the frop with a decent draw or a monster made hand...shoving here makes it seem like he rivered something weird like K6, or he has some weak pair that he doesn't want to fold, but he doesn't want to check/call and get valuetowned either. Some weird pair like...)

Final Pot: $104.15
Hero shows Ad Kh (three of a kind, Kings)
UTG shows 9d 5d (two pair, Kings and Nines)
Hero wins $101.15

Bottom pair no good buddy! I guess he thought I might fold pocket tens!!!