I played in Wil Wheaton's weekly Friday (which is held on Tuesday's, don't ask) semi-invitational PokerStars tournament last night. I played last week too, an unmemorable game where I finished in the mid-60s in a pack of around 120 players... no cards, no action when I had cards, and a steady shrinkage of chips until I was finally forced out. Not even worth writing about.
Last night was a bit better, although I still finished far out of the money. As I noted before, lately the cards have been coming for me early. Eight hands into last night's game I found a pair of Queens in my hand, one heart, one spade, and re-raised a $40 raise by another $40. Three callers. The flop was all under-card hearts, a scary thing, and I figured the pot was mine to win or lose at that point, so I threw another $200 at it to see what's what. All folds till the original raiser bumps it by $400, and now I'm in a raise or fold situation. With my Queens and a flush draw I figure what the heck and raise another $400. The other player goes all-in, and now I figure I've been beaten at the flop, but I still have a weird feeling he's running a bluff or semi-bluff and go all-in too. Pot committed.
I find I was wrong about his flush. He's holding Big Slick with King of clubs and the Ace of hearts, for a nuts flush draw. The turn is a Queen - not a heart obviously as I'm holding it, and the river pairs the boad with a 9 - not a heart, but it wouldn't have mattered, since I'm holding a full house now, and doubled up to $2760.
UPDATE: I've been thinking about this hand a lot over the past several days. Did I play too loose? Yeah, probably. He called a raise and my re-raise pre-flop without hestitation. He raised me at the flop with a flush on the board, indicating at the minimum that he had a high card flush draw, which, in fact, he did.
I had a pair of Queens, facing a possible flush at the flop. If he had an Ace or King in his hand (which he did) and paired at turn or river, he could beat me. If one of those was a heart (as it was), and another heart showed at turn or river, he could - probably - beat me.
This is all pre- and post-flop thinking, of course. To me, it shows a couple of things. First, how decisions are formed by the cards in your hand, to belabor the obvious. If I had a black Queen rather the Queen of hearts and the flush draw I would have folded at his post-flop raise, figuring I was soundly beat.
Second thing is how your opponent bets. I suspect the player was trying to draw me in at post-flop and the strategy backfired. With that board, draw or not, he had many more outs than me. Any Ace. Any King. Any heart. He had just smooth-called a raise and my re-raise pre-flop, indicating a good drawing hand to me... I figured a couple of face cards. As I said, his raise at the flop put me in a raise or fold situation. If he had gone all-in immediately, I think I would have backed off. But again, I thought he was betting a drawing hand aggressively, which indeed, he was.
Possibly when I re-raised he felt that too much of his money was now in at this point to get away and had to hope for the nuts flush draw or an Ace to hit the board. But, if he was trying to force me out rather than suck me in, his betting was wrong... at least to me at the time. With the all-in I figured he had laid a trap for me and I was going to see a high-card flush. But by then it didn't matter. I had too much in the pot.
Right or wrong? Who knows? This time the magic worked. In the intro of the Lord Admiral Card Club podcast my hero, Edward G. in a role other than Rico, notes, "making the wrong move at the right time." And that's part of poker, too.
That was hand #8. To show you how much poker is a waiting game, the next time I'm in any sort of mix-it-up situation is 28 hands later. In the interim I've mostly folded, or taken small pots when I had position. Hand #36 I have almost exactly the same amount as with hand eight, $2745. I'm in mid-position, and find a pair of 10s. One limper calls $30, someone raises to $120, I call and the limper folds. Good flop for me, another 10 shows up, and with little to fear, I re-raise the bet of $245 by going all-in, and collect $805 for my trouble. The same thing happens a few hands later when my pocket 3s turn into a set at the flop, and I collect $450.
Somewhere around hand #60, I notice that a "Columbo777" has joined the table, and on a hunch I ask if he's *the* Columbo who does the minute mysteries on the Card Club podcast. He says he is, and the avatar's right, so I take him on his word and do a little fan boy gushing, cause he's the favorite part of my favorite poker podcast. While checking him out, btw, I find out that the nice guys at Card Club have linked back to my iPod posting. UPDATE: I found out yesterday that they've even mentioned it on episode #61 of their podcast... although they mispronounce my name (hint: it does not rhyme with "balls").
Maudie shows up as a railbird on Hand #71, right before the close of Hour #1, to cheer me on and note I'm currently in 7th place with $4050 in chips. But I'm at my peak here. I get moved around a lot in Hour #2. I keep getting forced out of pots with problematic hands against big raises. My stack shrinks. I fight back, hanging around $3k of chips, but keep on going downhill.
Hand #143 - $200/400 blinds and a $25 ante. About 8 minutes before the close of Hour #2. I have a tiny $1602 in chips, and get a pair of 7s. One limper. I go all-in, causing the blinds to fold. The limper only has $625 left and calls. It's Big Slick again, and again my pair turns into a set when a 7 comes on the flop. I get new life with $2875 in chips.
But the very next hand I meet my nemesis, a player named "dsheep." I find a pair of 6s and raised the minimum $400. dsheep only has $615 left and goes all-in. I call, figuring it's me against Big Slick again. But dsheep has a pair of 7s, the cards I just won with, and now dsheep does, doubling up. I'm back down to $1987 in chips.
The next hand, I get Big Slick, go all-in, and get no callers. $2762 in chips.
Hand #150 - In retrospect, looking back at the hand history, I think I got too nervous and too aggressive at this point, both ingredients for disaster. I had $2062 in chips, which while not a helluva lot, would still let me ride out a bit. I was on the button in this hand, so I had some time to wait for a better hand. But who knows? Hindsight. In any case, with all folds to me, I raise $400 more at the blinds with A 2 suited. dsheep in the little blind goes all-in, and would have taken me with him. Again, I think I made a mistake here. I should have called him with my remaining $1200 in chips, as now I'm going to end up in an all-in situation soon anyway.
I dunno. I fold. dsheep says, "sorry rico - had a whopper." And maybe he did. But it doesn't matter much. Two hands down the line with a suited A 8, I try limping and dsheep goes all-in yet again. This time I don't hesitate, hoping that he thinks he can bluff me off... but he's not bluffing at all with AA.
And that's all she wrote. And me too. Iggy, who has been on a posting roll of late and who I railbirded for awhile, finished in 12th. dsheep finally went down in 10th. SirWFWALGman took 1st. And yes, I had fun.