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My Nightmare Week of Poker

October 22, 2018

“And it just continues…”

That’s a quote from Dave Niehaus, long time radio guy for the Seattle Mariners, during their epic run to the playoffs in 1995.

I swear every time I lose a hand I can hear Niehaus saying that in my head. But it doesn’t have the same good vibes. Not even close.

I’ll dig a little deeper into what’s going on later, but I have already done some research to see when the last time I had four straight losing sessions of -$450 or worse and I had to go all the way back to January when I was at Commerce and the negative variance drove me away from poker to a day at Disneyland by myself instead.

So yeah, it’s once or twice a year level downswing going on.

I know I had a miserable WSOP this year, but tournaments are tournaments – you are going to go through insane cold stretches. Cash games are much more consistent. Plus I did well in the cash games while I was in Vegas and that helped ease the pain.

I decided to take a break from live blogging in the hopes that I could turn things around by increasing my focus rather than constantly writing between hands. I took notes though so I could post some of the more interesting and critical pots.

Thursday I went -$82 in 4/8 LHE while waiting for PLO to start.

We started PLO short-handed so this first hand takes place 6-handed.

Aggro player opens to 10, I call from the cutoff with KJhh55 and 3 of us go to the flop.

I flat his 20 lead on the AT5 with two clubs flop. The PFR is overly aggressive so he isn’t heavily waited towards sets here, but I don’t want to play a massive pot with bottom set. If we end up getting a bunch of chips in, it will basically never be a very good thing for me. So I call.

Turn is an offsuit 7 and now he bets $25 into $70. That’s way too weak not to raise. I make it $80 to go which is pretty small also but I’m sort of gambling here, hoping to keep him in the pot and planning to navigate the river well. He calls.

No need to worry about tough decisions on the river because a queen gives me the nuts. He check-calls $150 pretty quickly. I have to imagine my set was good but I’m very curious about what he had here. Maybe AQxx?

Someone makes it $15 and I call from the small blind with AKQT double suited. It’s a hand I can 3-bet with, but my recent studying argues that you should prefer to keep the pot multi-way before the flop, so while I could make a small raise here and probably still get multiple calls, flatting here guarantees everyone will call and reveals almost nothing about my hand strength, so I just call and we do see the flop multi-way.

The flop is K54 with two diamonds, so I have top pair with the nut flush draw and three good kickers. Sets on this board are unlikely; I’m blocking KK and 55 and 44 shouldn’t be in many hand combos, although some of this guys are absurdly loose. I don’t mind playing a big pot against straight draws or kings up here. I lead out $35 and I’m willing to play for my whole stack here, I think. Crypt Keeper and the worst player at the table call.

Turn is a jack, so now I have top pair and a MASSIVE draw: a broadway wrap and the nut flush draw. I bet $150 and Crypt Keeper makes it $450. Other dude folds and I started the turn with just over $700 and I’m never folding, so I stuff it in there.

He immediately hates it. How could he? Let’s examine this situation: there is around $1325 in the pot and it costs him $261 more to call. He’s getting over 5 to 1 to call with a hand he thought was worth raising the turn. He only needs to win about 17% of the time to break even here.

So obviously he folds. What a gift. Can you even imagine what kind of hand he would take this line with? I haven’t run any sims but I doubt there’s a hand he could possibly do this with that doesn’t have at least 17% against my exact hand.

Just crazy.

I call $15 with 6544 double suited (so there are some hands that produce small sets) and it goes multi-way to K84 with two clubs. There are a couple players that have position on me, so I check and it checks around.

The turn is an ace and a tight player (that wasn’t the PFR) bets $55. I call and so does Crypt Keeper.

River is a 3 and they both check to me. The flush draw missed and the only straight is 52, so a bet feels pretty mandatory. It’s hard to imagine either of them playing a bigger set this way, but I’ve seen the player that bet the turn make some ridiculously tight river checks, so I do consider knuckling back… but I can’t do it. I bet $100, TCK folds, and the nit calls with KK.

Sigh.

Joker makes it $20 after at least one limper and I call on the button with AQ86 with clubs.

I believe five of us see the T42 with two clubs and a spade flop. I have a naked nut flush draw here, which isn’t much of a hand, but when they all check to me on the button, I bet $80 because it seems unlikely I won’t be able to barrel my way to victory here with this much weakness in front of me. I’m quite surprised to see Joker call. You’d think as the PFR if he had any semblance of a hand he’d probably bet the flop and if he has a draw I know it can’t be much of one. Another player also calls.

The turn is the 7 of spades, so now I have a double gutter to go with my flush draw. It’s a pretty good card because it gives me extra equity, but it does open up a spade draw. This time I bet $300 when they both check to me. My line makes sense. If I had a good made hand here I would want to charge the max to draw out on me. Joker calls again.

The river is the 3 of spades, leaving me with ace high. I’m not sure what I would do here if Joker checked it – the backdoor flush and some straights got there – but he decided to lead out for the $300 max. It’s a decent spot to bluff in. How much do I like a set of tens now? Not much. But it doesn’t matter because I have nothing, so I just fold rather than torch $600 trying a potential rebluff.

Those are the only hands I thought were worthy of sharing, but I was basically ice cold all night long. Even with the $450 gift from The Crypt Keeper I finished -$498 after nearly nine hours of play.

Friday I was hoping to show up to Palace around 4 and get the 15/30 game off the ground. I ended up getting there around 5 and 15 minutes later I was pulled out of an 8/16 seat because Flea agreed to play 3-handed with Radio Mike and me to help get the 15 game off the ground and hope seats would eventually fill up. There were probably four or five other guys that play 15/30 in the building but none of them like to play short-handed. They’d rather sit in small games than play short-handed for 15 minutes so we can get a bigger game going. It’s honestly pathetic.

Well, Flea did play with us. For about 30 minutes. I managed a small profit, but Radio Mike was stuck $600 and Flea had basically all of it. So he smacked us for +$600 and then said he wanted to take a break. He disappeared for about 15 minutes and then sat back down and acted like we were all waiting for more people to sit down before we started playing again. No, motherfucker, let’s go. I’m not going to lie. I started lighting him up, saying how I gave up my seat in 8/16 because he said he wanted to play 15/30 with us and now I’m sitting there with my thumb up my ass sixth up on the list instead of playing poker. I was pissed. More so for Radio Mike. If I was the one stuck $600 and he abruptly quit on me like that… man… I can handle bad beats, horrible variance, people being idiots extremely well – at least externally – but stuff like this I cannot abide. It’s a total chickenshit dickhead move. Just when Flea was starting to seem like he might not be a total scumbag, he pulls this move.

So since we are sitting there and not playing and Palace only has one open table left, The Man brings over a bunch of a blue chips and asks if he can start an 8/16 game. I’m fine with it because we obviously aren’t going to play red chips and no one was filling seats. I just want to play poker. But as soon as Radio Mike and I agree to the 8/16 game, Flea starts saying he wants to keep playing 15/30 and acts like Radio Mike is the reason we aren’t playing anymore.

Then he says, “fine, I’ll just play Mike (that’s my name) heads up.”

Yeah fucking right buddy. Sure you will.

So that 8/16 game got off the ground and I got absolutely pummeled to the tune of -$600 before switching tables twice and making a comeback. The Leak and I had something come up and ended up leaving after only four hours and I somehow managed to finish at -$12 which felt like a miracle and ended my stretch of $450+ losses.

When you consider -$12 as a turnaround, you know things have been going bad.

Saturday my motivation was seriously lacking. My plan is to alternate between playing 20/40 O8 at Muckleshoot and 20/40 LHE at Fortune on Saturdays and this past weekend it was time for a Muckleshoot appearance. However, as late as 2 PM there was no one on the list and only a couple players on the list just after 3, so I took the easy route – like I do way too often – and went to Palace in the hopes of playing in the 1/3 no limit hold’em game.

What I didn’t know was that the game started at 5 PM. I thought as soon as the list got long enough they fired off, so when I got there at 3:15 PM I was informed that it would be almost two hours before that happened. Ugh. So I ended up playing 4/8 for almost two hours. Gross. I won exactly $1.

Here are some of the notable hands from my NL session:

Lady opens to $20 and another player flats. I have QQ on the button. I don’t know any of these players well enough to know their tendencies, so I can’t think of many good reasons not to reraise with QQ here. I make it $75 to go and I will not be folding to jams and it would have to take some serious evidence for me to fold after the flop. They both end up calling. I started the hand with less than $300 and they both had less than me.

Flop is 872 with two diamonds and they both check. There is around $225 in the pot and I have $190 left, so a jam is reasonable here. I’m not sure it’s the most profitable line. I actually can’t make any reasonable bet on the flop without making the turn extremely awkward, so I size very small at $50 hoping to get some action and taking my chances that I might get outdrawn. The lady check-raises to $100 and the other player calls. Woah. Wasn’t expecting that. But as I said earlier, I’m never folding, so now I have a clear jam spot and ship all $190 in and they both call!

The turn is a diamond (I have the queen of diamonds) and the river is a queen, so I end up with top set. The lady turns over KK and the other guy mucks, but eventually claims he had AA. He never showed his hand to anyone, so who knows. Everyone else at the table seemed to take his word for it, but I find it very hard to believe – especially after his opponents table KK and QQ. Most people are going to show their AA when they get cracked at these stakes, but even more so when KK and QQ are both out in the same hand. Mark me up as a nonbeliever.

This hand caused quite a stir at the table, with some of the players acting like I just successfully landed on the moon by winning this pot and the lady looking at me like I’m the biggest idiot she’s ever laid eyes on. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there wondering if I’m the only one that’s ever played poker before. What am I supposed to do with QQ on an 872 after getting called in two spots pre with less than a pot-sized bet left after the flop? It’s about as standard as standard gets.

Don’t worry, folks! Punts incoming.

It was basically all downhill for me from there. I lost almost every pot I got any resistance in and I doubled barreled with QJ after checking back the flop as the PRF on the 965T2 board. I bet a little less than pot on the river so it stung a bit when I got called by JT.

And just as they were starting a 15/30 game, this hand came up:

I open to $10 with A2hh and the player on my left makes it $20 and everyone else folds. I suppose I could play chicken here and repop it but I’m happy to play a flop for such a good price.

The flop is K32 with one heart. I check and he bets $25. I have enough that I can’t really fold here, but I don’t think my hand plays very well as a check-call. I have bottom pair and every card that isn’t an ace or doesn’t pair the board is going to be an overcard to my hand. I think this is a good hand to bluff with, especially on this board. I have found that attacking king high, disconnected boards is a good strategy in no limit hold’em. Think about what hands he can 3-bet with pre that are happy to call a check-raise on this board. AA, KK, and AK are the top ones. I suppose he can have some KQ and maybe KJ in there. Even hands as strong as QQ are going to have a hard time calling. I think that’s a pretty narrow range of hands that are happy to continue. Meanwhile, I’ve shown that I’m capable of having hands like K2 suited here. I make it $80 to go and he does end up calling.

I think that weights him towards a pair of kings so I’m planning to give up on the turn when I don’t improve or pick up outs. The turn is the 4 of hearts, giving me a pair and a straight flush draw. The pot has just under $200 in it now and his stack is slightly bigger than that. I put him all in. I think I’m going to get a lot of folds here, maybe even from hands as good as AK, but even when I do get called, I’m going to win the pot around 25% of the time by making two pair or better. He ends up tanking forever and I really think he’s going to end up folding, but he finally calls it off with KQ and the river pairs the 4, so I end up turning an early +$500 start into a -$349 finish.

The 15/30 game was AMAZING. There were no less than four players having a competition to see who could torch off their chips the fastest and in the most hilarious fashion. It was a total zoo. I won a large pot with KQ on a QJTccXXc runout where I had four opponents on the river and somehow still had the best hand after the flush got there and I won another decent one where I rivered a straight with AK. The rest of my time in this game was pure torture. I loosened up a little in some spots to play pots in position with the spewers, but for the most part my starting hand selection was pretty rigid and basically every time I played a pot I flopped absolutely nothing. When I flopped something as good as a gutshot it felt like I had a set. Not really, but I was just excited to have some piece of the board. I kept getting quality big ace hands (AJ+, ATs+) and all they did was cost me chips. I’d put in four bets before the flop, pay one or two bets to see the turn in a bloated pot when I flopped nothing, and just fold, fold fold folfdlfa=ffold fol! It was brutal.

Also, this happened:

Someone sent me that video and I wish they had let roll a little longer because I was seconds away from saying, “uh, I’m not leaving.” Like I’m going to leave $2500+ in an abandoned poker room because someone burnt some toast. Pffffft.

This hand pretty much defines my week:

I open with A7dd, there’s a call, Joker 3-bets, spewer caps on the button and we all call.

Flop is 743 with two spades and one heart. It checks to the button, I raise, one fold, Joker calls two cold, and the button calls.

Turn is the 9 of hearts. I bet and they both call.

River is the 7 of hearts. I bet, Joker almost looks like he’s going to raise, but ends up calling and the other guy folds.

I roll my hand and he rolls the AQ of hearts. I don’t really understand the flat call on the river and when he does call, it makes me think my hand is good, so it felt like a mini-slow roll. It’s pretty obvious the button doesn’t have anything so there’s no reason to go for an overcall. While I’m capable of showing up with sets of 4s and 3s here, I think rivering the nut flush still warrants a raise in this spot. Anyways, it’s pretty sick to flop a 7, make him call two bets cold on the flop, hit another 7, and still find a way to lose to AQ. But that’s my gift lately.

I finished that 15/30 session at -$674, which put my total losses for the day over $1000.

So this is what my last 8 days look like now:

10/12 -$790
10/13 -$1440
10/14 OFF
10/15 OFF
10/16 OFF
10/17 -$449
10/18 -$580
10/19 -$12
10/20 -$1022

-$4293 over an 8 day stretch. I’m not 100% positive about this, but I think that’s my worst week of poker ever, as far as cash games go.

I’ve been studiously tracking my results since June of 2011 and even though I had a day job until fall of 2016, I’ve basically played full-time hours for 7.5 years now. The worst month I’ve ever had was -$4219 in August of last year. I’ve only eclipsed -$2000 one other time. So that kind of puts this past week in perspective. This last week was worse than the worst month I’ve ever had. That is pretty sick.

This is what October cash games look like:

I had a +$2k PLO session earlier this month and I took second in that tournament on Global last Tuesday, so it hasn’t been all bad. I currently sit at -$1100 for the month so I’m not in serious jeopardy of challenging my all-time worst result.

Also, when I go through stretches like this, it’s important to remind myself of the bigger picture. Here’s what that looks like:

This brutal stretch is just a little blip on the radar of the poker life.

I will be headed to Lincoln City, Oregon tomorrow though and I’ll be playing in about $1500 worth of buy ins, so I have a chance to save the month of October or keep piling up the negative results.

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