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Plays of the Week – August 11th, 2018

August 11, 2018

I’m back! I apologize for the brief hiatus, but I wanted to try something different this week: jotting down notes from my sessions and posting the best hands all at once in an end of the week summary. I enjoy doing live blogs of my sessions, especially when the characters are out in full force, but lately things have been going poorly (plus the 15 at Palace hasn’t been regular) and I wanted to shake things up and try something different.

As I noted in my last post – when I quit midday on Saturday – it was unlikely that I would play any poker Sunday through Tuesday.

That was mostly correct.

We spent Sunday at Emerald Downs for my niece’s birthday. I’m sure it’s going to break my dad’s heart to read this, but I don’t get it. One of my dad’s fondest memories of his own dad is going to the track together and betting on horses. We never did this while I was growing up so it never became a tradition for us.

As someone that gambles for a living, gambling on things I know nothing about – or in games with a negative expectation – doesn’t appeal to me. It actually physically pains me to watch my wife on the rare occasions when she wants to play in the pit or on a slot machine. I don’t find it fun and when you remove the “fun factor” all that is left is a -EV gambling situation in which you will never, ever win in the long run.

Betting on horses seems similar. I don’t know anything about the horses or their jockeys or their caretakers, or any of the factors that might come into play when you’re trying to find an edge. If I’m betting, I’m simply clicking buttons or picking names I like. But at least I can see the fun in it. It’s kind of like betting on baseball, but in baseball I’m aware of all the key components (not that it helps me any) and I genuinely enjoy watching the sport, money on it or not.

But then I tried to make a bet on the computer systems they have set up and I couldn’t even figure out how to find the race I wanted to bet on. I felt like I was reading gibberish. That’s not fun. We ended up having our niece and nephew bet on some horses for us and a horse named Little Joker (of course) came through with a first place finish and booked us a win for the day, but we were firing tiny bets. I guess it was kind of fun, but if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out on anything if I never went to another horse track for the rest of my life.

My plan on Monday was to visit Radio Mike at Cheney Stadium and take in a Tacoma Rainiers game. In a happy coincidence, possible future Hall of Famer Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was starting his rehab with the Rainiers that night after an 80 game suspension for PED use. So suddenly this random game I was going to became an PNW event.

Normally when I visit Mike at Cheney, I sit in the broadcast booth with him and watch the game and we can chat in between innings, but because of Cano’s presence, this guy was at Cheney and asked Mike if he can sit in the booth with him and thus Joker and I were ousted to the stands with the rest of the pleebs.

But not before I snapped a selfie that found it’s way on the Mariners broadcast that night!

After the game, we stopped back in the booth and chatted with Mike for a while and by the time we finally left, the players were coming out of the clubhouse and, with no other obvious exit in sight, Joker and I followed Ben Gamel to the player’s exit where a group of fans were waiting and mobbed him for autographs while letting us pass them by with a mere, “good game tonight.”

I mean… I can understand them mistaking me for a triple A ball player… but this guy?

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Come on.

I decided to pop into Palace on my way home and play a mini-session with one goal: make $400 and leave.

I didn’t know I was going to make a highlight reel post at that time, so I didn’t jot any hands down from that session, but it was actually a pretty wild one. The game was pure action. I described it to Joker like this: Everyone is playing like it’s a race to see who can lose all their chips the fastest and so far I’m winning. I was down $400 right off the bat and it was looking like reaching my goal was going to be extremely difficult. And yet… after less than three hours of play, I cashed out +$565. Pretty sick.

Tuesday I did not play poker. I went and saw Mission: Impossible – Fallout with Uncle Leroy and then ran errands for the rest of the day before watching Felix Hernandez pitch his way out of the Mariners rotation by getting lit up by the Texas Rangers.

Wednesday, I was back in action, for some pot limit Omaha at Palace.

But first! The Man talks me into taking a seat in 3/6 limit hold’em because of the Happy Hour Hand promo and I got a swift reminder of why I never, ever play that limit while I’m waiting for a seat. I raise it up with AA and bet all three streets on a board of 63239 with one opponent calling me down. No flush is possible and I never get raised, so obviously I’m winning this pot, but then my opponent tables… 63. What. I’m not above playing 3/6 while I wait, but I just hate it because no one ever actually plays poker. Anyways, despite this debacle, I still finished +$17 and my 2018 win rate in 3/6 limit hold’em is now a monstrous 9.13 big bets per hour over 67 total minutes.

PLO got off to modest start. My first notable hand came up when I had A6xx in a raised pot and the flop came down 66A. I made the mistake of checking and my opponents all got to see the turn for free. I bet like $30 on the turn, which was a ten and two players called. The river was another ace and I was first to act. There was a flush draw available on the turn, so there was some chance my opponents were drawing, but otherwise, they probably had an ace, and I thought AT was a real possibility. I also thought if I checked, someone with AK would have a pretty hard time not betting for value. Basically, even though I had the second nuts here, I thought my most profitable line was check-calling. I save money and avoid tough decisions when the nuts is out there and my opponents might bluff missed draws or take themselves to value town with trip aces. So I checked, one of them bets a smallish $60, I call, and he does show me the AT. I flash my A6 and that guy is in disbelief for the next five minutes.

I spent most of the night up around $500 but then I had a couple of gross connections with The Man.

We were playing short-handed, but I was opening a bit too wide here with the J766, especially since the game was playing pretty loose and sticky. Basically, I’m rarely stealing the blinds or playing a pot heads up in position, so this is a hand that is going to play like garbage after the flop in a bloated pot and is better off sent into the muck.

It ends up going 3 or 4 ways to the flop and I don’t have position. It’s already a disaster. The board is decent though: J75 with two diamonds. I have top two pair and a jack high flush draw. It’s a pretty good hand, but not exactly one I’m looking to get stacks in with. I can bet though and I fire out $30 or so and The Man makes it $120 to go. I have a pretty good feeling that my two pair is good here, but if that’s the case then my flush draw is definitely not good. We are way too deep to gamble for stacks on the flop, so this is actually a pretty gross spot. If I don’t like my flush draw, I’m not going to have many run outs I love here. Any diamond is questionable, any straight card around the 75 is bad, any overcard could make a better two pair. Basically I only love jacks and sevens. Everything else is suspect. With that in mind, I should probably just fold to the flop raise, but I ended up calling.

The turn was a small diamond and I check-called about a half pot bet.

The river was a brick and I liked my hand when The Man decided to give up and check back, but he was being cautious with a king high flush and won the pot saying, “I think you are capable of checking the nut flush there.” He’s not wrong, but I’d still bet his hand.

A short while later, I’m raising it up on the button with the J987 double suited and I flop pretty huge: Q65 with two hearts, giving me a nut wrap and a straight flush draw. I bet the flop and The Man calls me from the small blind.

The turn bricks me and I am planning to barrel off on this one, so I fire a second bullet and The Man calls again.

The river is the 2 of hearts. The Man checks and I check back, hoping my modest flush is good. It is not. I didn’t see the rest of his hand but The Man ends up winning this pot with the T3 of hearts. I wish I got a better look at his hand and how he arrived at the river because a naked ten high flush draw would be pretty brutal to lose to.

There was another pot I played against The Man that started off with a $5 bet on the flop and ended up with me facing a pretty large raise on the river holding the second nut flush. This flush came in backdoor, so it was a bit less likely for him to have the hand he was repping, but in Omaha it’s much easier to back into something you weren’t initially drawing to and the minbet on the flop could entice more floats than usual. Also, I would expect him to never raise non-nut flushes here because that would be pretty silly. So it basically comes down to if I think he’s bluffing often enough here. It felt pretty gross because it seemed like he probably isn’t bluffing a lot here, but my instincts were saying call so that’s what I did and he ended up having the nut flush blocker and a bluff.

Hand of the Night

We are still short-handed at this point and The Man opens with a raise to $15, the small blind calls, and I make it $45 to go with T987 double suited and they both call.

The flop is what PLO dreams are made of: 965 with two clubs and a spade. I flopped the nuts, with multiple straight redraws to the nuts, a straight flush draw, and a backdoor flush draw. Let’s. Go. I bet $80, The Man calls, and the small blind pots it to $380. I go all in for less than the max bet of $680, The Man folds and I agree to run it twice with my opponent. The turn pairs the board on the first run out and I make a bigger straight on the second runout and… scoop it all!

I doubled up and then some in that pot and the small blind never took another hand and the game broke shortly after so I finished at +$883 in my PLO session.

Thursday morning I had an appointment with my endocrinologist in Bremerton and The Leak went with me and we decided to put our newfound interest in hiking to the test at Green Mountain, a trail we failed to complete in two attempts years ago when we still lived in Kitsap County.

It was a bit of a challenge – mostly because of the 85 degree heat – but we got it done this time!

Some views from the summit:

We got back to Lakewood around 6 PM and I was in need of a short nap because I was planning to play until 4 AM that night.

15/30 didn’t get off the ground, but we were blessed with a bit of that early Christmas action. I’ve mentioned it before but The Santa Claus Game is full of button straddling, bloated pot sizes, and lots of gambling.

In this hand, I’m the button straddle holding 88 and five players call before the action is back to me. I think this might be a pretty close spot because how well does 88 play against five opponents? But I obviously have the best hand and I do have the button, so I go ahead and raise it. Santa 4-bets it when it’s back to him and I go ahead and 5-bet cap it.

There are thirty bets in the middle when the flop comes down 322. Someone donks on the flop, I raise, the big blind cold calls, and the donker also calls.

The turn is a 4 and the flop bettor donks again. I raise it again. The big blind is really unhappy about the action, but winds up folding and my lone opponent calls.

The river is a king and betting is probably recommended here when he checks to me, but the pot is massive and I’ll be happy about winning it even if I miss a little value here. I check back and my hand is good.

I gave the key opponent in this hand the nickname of The River Man once upon a time, but that name is pretty bad and I’m going to discontinue it and refer to him as the maniac for any hands he’s in for the rest of this session.

Anyways, there are multiple limpers and the maniac raises, I 3-bet with AK from the small blind and it ends up getting capped.

It’s mulitway action so I check the 873 with two clubs flop and peel for one bet with the ace of clubs in my hand. It’s worth noting that someone bet into the maniac on the flop and he just called…

…because that says a lot about his hand strength when the turn is the king of clubs and it checks to him and he bets and the button calls. This is my absolute nut card. I now have top pair top kicker and the nut flush draw. When the maniac calls on the flop I think I can safely rule out any flushes and since everyone else checked to him, I don’t think they have flushes either. I go ahead and raise it. The big blind cold calls and the maniac and button also continue.

The river pairs the 7 and I’m not really sure where I stand now, so I check, the maniac bets and I’m the only caller. He tables two small cards. It looks like 32 of clubs so I ask the dealer for clarification and she pulls in 22 and I’m good.

And that’s why hands like this happen:

Button straddles, I 3-bet 77 from the small blind and it ends up getting capped at five bets with at least four of us seeing the flop.

It comes down Q65 rainbow and I check-call.

The turn is a 9 and the flop bettor checks to the maniac and he winds up betting after just calling on the flop. I feel like 77 is doing very good against his range here as he is always raising a queen on the flop, so I check-raise. The flop bettor cold calls (gross) and the maniac 3-bets it! Sick. We both call.

The river pairs the 5 and it checks to the maniac and he tables 97o when it’s his turn to act and ends up winning the pot with a very standard 3-betting hand on the turn.

Button straddles and it gets 5-bet capped again and this time I’m holding the A8 of spades. The flop is A72 with two spades and four of us wind up putting in four bets.

The turn is a 5 and the big blind is still leading, so I call and the maniac puts in another raise on the button. The blind just calls and I call also.

The river is a 3 and it checks to the maniac. The big blind calls and I’m positive that he at least has me beat, so I fold and the maniac tables 54o.

So nasty!

So yeah… this game is JUICED UP.

Which makes this next hand pretty special:

I open with 44 and the maniac calls me in position. The flop is K54 and he folds the instant my hand starts to reach for chips.

What.

The.

Hell.

I open with A8 of diamonds and get some callers. The flop is A42 with two spades and the big blind donks into me. I raise and he calls.

The turn is the 8 of spades and now the blind check-raises me. Pretty gross. My hand seems like it should be strong, but the two biggest drawing hands (spades and 76) got there, so I just call.

The river is a blank and I call a bet… and my opponent tables one of the most shocking hands he possibly can: pocket eights. The good ole one outer.

I ended up finishing this 7.5 hour 8/16 session at +$255.

Last night was a total disaster. I ran about as bad as you can.

There was a 4-bet pot where I had JJ on QJ4 rainbow and lost to Q6 of diamonds.

That about sums up how my night went. I missed every single flush draw I had the entire night and my opponent’s seemed like they always hit theirs against me. I did flop a flush twice and I got zero action both times.

I went -$571 in 76 minutes of 8/16 before the 15/30 game got started and I didn’t run any better there… I just lost more slowly, finishing at -$607 in 6.5 hours despite hitting a $200 High Hand.

That was a pretty lousy finish to what started off as a pretty good week.

All in all, I’m sitting at +$542 over 23 hours heading into today’s action.

On the bright side, this happened while I was writing this post:

CRUSHING!

Just got word that Palace already has 15/30 going so that’s where my day is going to start and hopefully end. If that game fizzles out early we will probably shoot up to Fortune.

No live blog tonight, but maybe I will post highlights later.

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