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Marathon Monday: The Santa Claus Game – 10/20 with Button Straddles!

November 19, 2018

But is it really The Santa Claus Game? Santa didn’t even come down the chimney last week. He left all the kids disappointed and lots of cookies and milk went untouched. Actually, in the four weeks The Santa Claus Game has been running, I believe Santa has played less than 8 hours total. I’ve played 40. This game is supposed to be hosted at the North Pole, not Gotham City. I dunno. Can I really justify naming a game after someone that has played in it less than 20% of the time it has been running? I like the name. It has a nice, jolly ring to it. I don’t like that after badgering the staff to make this game happen, it’s not a priority for Santa Claus to play in it. Shoot, it hardly seems like it’s even on his radar. I realize that people have day jobs and lives outside of the poker room, but come on dude.

I mentioned in my post on Saturday that I would be making a trip to Fortune for some 20/40 LHE action, hoping to put a dent in my rather large red number for the year.

It was a very bittersweet session. At one point, I had activated pure God Mode. I was crushing, winning every critical pot and running absolutely pure for hours.

Here’s an example:

I’m at the zenith of my run good, having just shown down AA twice in monster pots in a very short amount of time, coolering KK in one of those hands, when I open with 65dd from the cutoff, Sgt. Rock 3-bets me from the button – which is going to happen very seldom – and a loose player I have all steamed up already calls from one of the blinds.

The flop is 963 with two clubs and the blind donks right out. I think he’s capable of leading with draws and weak pairs here and while Sgt. Rock can certainly have overpairs, I raise this flop bet because I want him to fold his unpaired overcards if he whiffed the flop and play this pot heads up in position against the steamer. Unfortunately, Sgt Rock 3-bets and we both call.

The turn is a non-club 2, a very good continuing card for my hand as I now have straight outs in addition to my trip and two pair outs. Both of us check-call Sgt. Rock again.

The river is the 5 of clubs. Not exactly the card I wanted to drill as it completes the flush and puts four to a straight on the board. However, when the blind checks, I expect to have the best hand most of the time. There’s a chance he would check a better two pair because straights and flushes got there, but if that’s the case, I’m never going to get raised by him. He has to lead flushes in this spot and I suspect he would probably bet straights too. It’s slightly thin, but with the check in front of me, I think I have a value bet here. I’m not worried about Sgt. Rock. He never has me beat unless he has exactly 99 or happened to be emptying the clip with a big flush draw. Again, he’s never raising his sets on the river and if he does raise (with a flush), I have a very easy fold. If the steamer check-raises, I’m calling though. Sgt. Rock folds to my bet and the blind starts grumbling about how I “bingo every hand” like I haven’t been showing down nothing but premium holdings up until this point… and then he pays me off with a hand that was worse than what Sgt. Rock folded.

At that point, I had no less than five players on full-blown, throwing-their-cards-in-anger tilt. It was beautiful.

Unfortunately, the composition of my table changed and then the game also changed. I think I was up over $3000 at my high point. But then the whole table was clamoring for an automatic straddle game.

As you can see by today’s upcoming session, I’m not opposed to an auto-straddle game. However, being up over $3000, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to drastically increase my variance by posting a $40 straddle every orbit… a straddle that I’m going to defend liberally before the flop and that is going to put me in a lot of tricky, priced-in spots after the flop. Also, I’m going to be attacking other people’s straddles aggressively with hands I might fold preflop in other situations. For instance, if it is folded to me in middle position, I am highly incentivized to 3-bet a hand like A9o when I would fold the same hand when it’s folded to me in the same position in an unopened pot. But with the extra $40 out there and leverage to get the big blind out by making them have to call an extra $40 (instead of the normal $20), the situation becomes a lot more attractive. So you defend liberally and attack wider. I still think I have an edge in straddle games, but edge or not, the variance is drastically increased and things can get really ugly really fast.

For a while, the straddle game wasn’t affecting my session much, but heading down the stretch things started to go awry and I ended up losing somewhere around three racks back. Pretty annoying because when the game was playing normally, I was approaching a record win at Fortune. My personal best win at that location is +$3275 and if I wasn’t past that at some point Saturday, I was definitely within sniffing distance.

Alas, I finished the day at +$1675, which is a solid and somewhat satisfying dent in my deficit, but ultimately, a rather disappointing final result.

I had a miserable day of online poker yesterday, losing over $600, which is roughly 25% of what used to be my bankroll on Global Poker. Nothing like putting significant time into studying a game and then posting your worst results ever. I definitely had some c-game spots, but no one could accuse me of running good. I was going to post some of the key hands I played, but it’s already 11:16, I haven’t showered yet, and I need to be at Palace by noon, so I have to get moving. I’ve been playing mostly PLO 100, but after getting blasted yesterday, I think I might have to drop down to PLO 50 until I build back up again. I’m not too worried about playing “above my (online) bankroll” but I don’t have the option to reload on Global so I can’t be totally reckless.

Hopping in the shower. Publishing at noon. After a very rough game start last week, there are currently a very promising 11 names on the list for today.

12:14 PM: Pretty sexy starting lineup: Flea, Chief Wiggum, Part-Time, SUPER DAVE, Radio Mike, random, same Kitsap guy from last week

I’m playing 20/40 Overs with Flea, Wiggum, and Part-Time, so I bought in for twice as much as I normally do.

12:30 PM: Decent start so far. I brick flush draw in 3-bet multi-way pot and pick off Flea’s river bluff with AJ high. Then I 3-bet ATo and let Wiggum barrel off with A3 on A9646.

I ran out of time this morning, but I was going to mention that I was getting berated by one of the PLO 50 regs on Global Poker yesterday. Granted, he saw all the c-game I mentioned before, so I can’t blame him too much, but the hand that set him off is pretty perplexing.

I saved the hand history on my computer at home, but I don’t have it on my phone and the exact details are going to escape.

The gist is that I opened with a double suited KJxx hand, they 3-bet on the button, one of the blinds called, and I decided to call also.

The flop was KJx with two diamonds, so I had top two on a wet board. The blind led out for less than half pot and my stack-to-pot was small, so I had no choice but to get it all in here (I think), so I jammed, and the button tanked forever before calling and the blind also called. The button had KK and the blind had the nut flush draw and binked it.

Then the button spent the next 15 minutes berating me for my flop play. I’m no expert, but I don’t know what choice I have here in a 3-bet pot. I have top two, so sets of kings and jacks are unlikely. The button is obviously far more likely to have AAxx here than the hands that have me drawing dead, but what do I know.

NOTHING. I know nothing, according to that player.

He even made a comment saying something like “pokerbydarkknight.com” and I was super tempted to drop my actual blog link.

Granted I don’t know anything about this player either, but it’s always amusing to me when someone sums up your entire poker ability because of one hand or one session. This dude has no idea what kind of player I am or what I’ve accomplished. Like I said, I don’t know anything about this person either, but someone playing regularly at the top end of micro-stakes talking down to me is hilarious.

Just had button straddle with 82cc in a multi-way pot. Flop is 753, all clubs. Wiggum leads at it, there’s a caller, I raise, Wiggum 3s, and I’m sensing lots of strength, so when the caller drops out, I call also and I’m planning to call down but the river is another club and he still fires. Well, I already thought he might have flopped a flush, but if he didn’t, he sure has me beat now. I fold and he shows JTcc.

1:06 PM: SUPER DAVE was MIA for the first 45 minutes of the game and is already felted and gone. I think he contributed less than $500 today.

There is some tatted up random that looks like a punter in the game and the first hand I see from him, he calls $30 cold from middle position and then bets turn and river on AT5QQ after the flop checks through. I check-called down with KK after 3-betting pre from the big blind and getting an ace high flop against a field and he showed me the ole T3 suited.

Punter confirmed.

2:55 PM: Break from writing as I ate breakfast and spoke to a home loan agent.

Sick recent hand: new player in the game (that I just paid $400+ to for OFC last week) raises from early position, I 4-bet TT, straddle and a blind call, and he caps it at 5-bets.

Flop is pretty decent: T55 with two clubs. I get it capped with help from the PFR and the big blind tags along also, which is cool because I have him marked for a 5 and maybe he’ll overplay it on the turn.

That’s where things get weird: The turn is a small card and the PFR still bets. Wow. I raise it, the blind calls it cold, and the PFR 3-bets it. Holy shit. I cap it and the blind folds. That’s actually bad. I thought he had a 5 and I highly doubt he’s capable of folding one. It’s bad because it drastically increases the chances that the PFR actually has quad 5s. Yeah, there’s only one combo of 55, but he’s taking an absurdly aggressive line here with any other holding.

The river is a king and I am quite relieved to see him check and then just call.

He had AA, which is a bit crazy.

The $400+ I gave him last week feels a whole lot less painful now.

4:35 PM: Sometimes there aren’t a lot of interesting situations. I’m the straddle with T5o and a middle position player raises and I’m the only caller.

He leads out on the 555 flop and I raise him because me raising any hand here is absolutely ludicrous and I’m hoping it will lead to unwarranted action.

Unfortunately he just calls and then check-folds on a 9 turn, which is equally ludicrous.

Part-Time is gone and we have gained Blackjack and a certified lunatic (with an Overs button!).

4:58 PM: Oh yay! Good blog content. I open early with 88 and Wiggum 4-bets it and four of us see the flop.

I check-raise on 983 rainbow, the Kitsap player calls it cold, Wiggum 3s and I cap it.

The turn is a king and now things get interesting. I lead, the Kitsap guy goes all in for $40, and Wiggum cold 3-bets it. What the heck? Limit is a fast-paced game where decisions should be pretty instantaneous, but this one put me in the tank. I came out of it with a call and then I check-called river also.

Wiggum had KK. The other guy had 33.

What a sick cooler hand.

5:08 PM: It’s Santa Claus time! He sits down and takes a hand under the gun and makes it 3-bets without looking.

Merry Christmas!

6:19 PM: Running salty all the sudden.

First, I have KQ in the straddle in a 3-bet pot vs KJ on K747J.

Then I have KQ in another 3-bet pot vs K8 on K96x8, all while a maniac is in total punt mode, bet-capping the flop and betting the turn with J9 out of position. Meanwhile, Radio Mike is showing up with K8 suited under the gun here for some reason.

Then I have Q8 suited in the straddle and bet a T84 rainbow flop and lose to K5. It’s the same maniac that had the J9 in the previous hand. So he spikes his miracle card and just check-calls and then lets me check back the river and show down for free.

It’s funny how some people are completely unaware of their image and how to exploit it. In one hand, he’s driving the action with middle pair on a wet board out of position against three opponents. And in the other hand, he’s turning a top pair that is totally unconnected from anything on the flop and… check-calls?

🤯

7:00 PM: Groan. I have T9dd in the small blind and call $20 first to act. The pot gets 3-bet and six or seven of us see the flop.

Someone bets the KJ7 one diamond flop, maniac raises, I cold call, so do Joker and Blackjack.

Five of us to the queen of diamond turn. I decide to check-raise the maniac, even though it’s tempting to lead right out and let everyone call a bet. But this pot is already massive and I want to charge anyone with a naked ace, ten, or 9. So I check-raise and Blackjack makes it $50, which allows me to cap it and charge the maniac in a side pot.

The river is a 9. I bet and the maniac folds and I have to split this monster pot with Blackjack’s T7.

Come. On. Fucking Cougs.

8:21 PM: I defend big blind with 76o, it gets raised and goes multi-way.

Flop is 742 with two diamonds. PFR bets, maniac raises, I’m not folding yet, and it winds up getting capped.

So when the turn is the 2 of diamonds, bringing in the flush and killing my two pair outs, I’m prepared to check-fold but it ends up checking around somehow.

That gives me a free 7 on the river with a hand I was going to fold and I end up winning this pot.

Joker, Radio Mike, and myself have created a challenge. It might already be a thing in poker, but it’s a new thing amongst us.

Here it is: it’s the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. This means sitting down in the game and never being stuck. You have to win the first time you put chips in a pot and you can never be stuck from that point on.

Since we’ve all made ourselves aware of The Challenge, none of us (and no one else that we’ve noticed) have pulled it off. I’ve definitely done it. I mean I have to have, right? I’ve played like 25,000 hours of live poker in my life. One time I posted my big blind on the first hand I got and won a $2200 Royal Flush jackpot. I think that counts? But it’s the only time I’m certain of.

Anyways, Joker was over two hours deep in his session and was drawing live on completing The Challenge when this hand came up.

I 3-bet some cold callers with KK, Joker defends his straddle, and the other guys call also.

Flop is TT8 and I bet, Joker raises, there’s a cold call, and I just call.

Turn is a king and I check-raise after Joker bets and the other guy calls. Joker calls but the third player drops out.

River is an ace and he calls my bet with a ten.

That confrontation put Joker in the Danger Zone and he went negative for the day not much later.

Not today, buddy.

8:55 PM: I 4-bet JTcc pre from middle position and I’m hoping it gets capped because there are like seven players in the pot. It does get capped.

Flop is 654 with two clubs and it gets capped again. I don’t think anyone folds.

The turn is a 2 and Santa Claus is the only bettor, but there is still no folding.

The river is the 3 of clubs and one of the blinds donks out. There are calls, I raise it, there might be another call, and the original bettor 3-bets it. Brutal. We all call and he tries to flip his hand over and the only card that lands face up is the 6 of diamonds. Well, that’s just beautiful. Send this monster my way. He had 76 and didn’t see the flush.

I am approaching crushing levels today.

10:39 PM: Nothing too exciting lately. I won another massive pot with a rivered flush.

There was this one: there’s a call, I raise with A9ss and then triple barrel against a straight-forward player on A65ccAcT and get check-raised on the river. So I folded. She showed me the ten of clubs when the whole table was begging her to show a bluff.

11:22 PM: Radio Mike takes off after a wimpy 11+ hour session and is replaced by Rosanne, which is pretty awesome.

What’s not awesome is when she shows me K7dd after calling $30 cold from the cutoff on her first hand dealt in on a final board of AQJTx. I had AA. I even had a pivot on the flop when a blind donked but she called two bets cold like a champ and instabinks.

11:52 PM: My dreams of total domination today have been expunged.

First my A6cc runs into the mighty 53 on a 65264 runout.

Then I have AQss in a 5-bet pot and after the 654 flop gets checked multi-way I have a chance to isolate Rosanne when she donks the ace turn but she responds with a 3-bet and then owns me with a value bet on the 8 river with AK.

Eek!

Godzilla in the game now.

1:00 AM: This game is insanely juiced right now. I just passed 13 hours of play and I don’t see how I can even consider leaving. The action is so crazy I decided to break out the old Donkey Tracker.

After sliding back a bit, I just had another heater and I might be peaking again.

I am done blogging for the night. My energy level is super low and I need to use all of it to keep my head in the game.

I will post a final score when I’m done and maybe the stats of these maniacs.

3:45 AM: Just wrapped up a 15.75 hour session and I am hurting but the game was so absurd.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. This is Joker vs random drunk maniac.

Joker has T9 and gets the 876 flop capped. Then they cap it on the 9 turn. And since you can never be too careful, they cap it again on a king river. His opponent has K7. Joker was just reliving this hand as we were cashing out and said he can’t think of another time where he capped every street after the flop.

A sick hand from me: we are short-handed at this point but the game is super loose. The drunk maniac is in the straddle and I call with JTdd from the small blind. That lets the rest of the field come in for two bets before the imbibed guy raises it and I 4-bet and get it capped.

Flop is AQ8 with one diamond and I go ahead and play my hand like it’s the nuts because, shit, it might be. I have two opponents and there’s plenty of doubt about whether either of them have an ace or a queen. All my cards might be live. We cap it again.

Turn is the 9 of diamonds. No waiting. With a straight flush draw as an added bonus. They both call again.

River is the king of diamonds. We have hit gin. Straight flush. Not only that, but the big blind makes a flush also with 85dd and we get three bets from him. Plus a $400 jackpot.

Two calls in front of me, I jack up A9ss in the straddle.

Flop is A93 and I get check-raised by the small blind and Rosanne cold calls. I just call, planning to raise the turn, but…

…after a 5 hits, the blind leads and Rosanne raises. I make it 3-bets and they both call.

River is a ten and Rosanne check-raises me! So nasty. I don’t know what it is, but this is enough aggressive action that I have to concede I might be beat. I call and so does the other guy. She has AT. He had A5.

FINAL SCORE: +$2320

Marathon Monday indeed. Time to go die in my bed.

Bonus: I stopped using the Donkey Tracker when the game started to deteriorate and got short-handed, but here are some player stats from when I was doing it:

Rosanne 98% VPIP, 10% PFR

Random 72% VPIP, 17% PFR

Random 2 78% VPIP, 32% PFR

Joker 53% VPIP, 26% PFR

For what it’s worth, if the straddle isn’t raised and the button checks, that’s not considered Voluntarily Put $ In Pot, so I’m pretty sure that’s how Rosanne dipped below the Holy Grail of 100% VPIP.

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