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May 2019: Week 3 Poker Wrap-Up

May 19, 2019

Monday @ Palace

I think I want Mondays to be the day I play at Fortune, but this past week we had to be up early on Tuesday for an appointment and I’m basically never going to travel to a casino if I know I have to leave early-ish. Looks like the same thing is going on this week, so most likely I’ll be playing at Palace again tomorrow.

My 8/16 session was mostly ho hum. I played just over six hours and never really had any momentum in either direction. I can’t recall any horrific hands (but there are plenty of those to come) and my session basically boiled down to one critical pot.

Someone raises from early position, there are multiple callers, and the small blind makes it 3-bets. I have the 54 of clubs in the big blind and I don’t mind gambling here since the pot is going off multi-way. The early position player caps it.

The flop comes down 762 with one club and I’m going to be seeing the river most of the time here, even facing heavy action. The flop gets capped, with the small blind and early position player exchanging raises and two of us trapped in between these two obvious big pairs.

The turn is the jack of clubs and the small blind still leads out, I call, and the early position player still raises. This is where the other player in the pot suddenly wakes up with a cold 3-bet. Woah. This actually shocks everyone in the hand, myself included. The small blind can’t find a fold for two more big bets with whatever big pair he has and I’m obviously not folding now that I’ve added a flush draw to my straight draw. The other big pair also calls.

The river is the 2 of clubs, giving me a flush but pairing the board. I don’t see how this is anything other than a check-call spot. It’s pretty obvious that both the small blind and early position player have QQ+ and the other player said he wasn’t worried about all that when he 3-bet on the turn, so how much should I like my hand here? Dude called two bets cold pre, so the only (reasonable) hand I’m beating now is 76 suited? Maybe he lost his mind with AJ, but that doesn’t mean I should be leading out here. It seems like he’s showing up with full houses most of the time. So we all check it over to him and when he checks and is visibly frustrated, I snap-roll my hand and win the pot with a flush. The small blind had aces, the early player had kings, and the other guy had… J7o. Well okay then.

There was one other hand I played that I thought was notable, just because my hand-reading during it was pinpoint, allowing me to collect an extra big bet or two that I think almost everyone else would leave on the table.

I open with the T9 of hearts and a passive player that I had not seen 3-bet the entire session raises me. I call.

The flop is KJ9 with two clubs and this is a check-call for me.

The turn is the queen of clubs so I lead out and my opponent still raises me. Yes, I said this player is passive so this raise is kind of mind-boggling, but I also think he has zero tens in his range and there is no way he has a flush with the king and queen of clubs on board. It seems pretty obvious to me that he has aces or kings (or maybe QQ or JJ), so I go for a savage 3-bet and bet again when the river bricks off and, sure enough, my hand is somehow scooping here (he didn’t show).

Result: +$407

Wednesday on Global Poker

I knew I wasn’t going to play PLO at Palace on Wednesday. The game has gone from an A+ to a C-, at best, and it’s not really worth arranging my whole day around what usually amounts to a four hour session. I’m probably done with it until after I get back from the WSOP in mid-July.

Global has their Rattlesnake Open II series going on right now and I thought Wednesday was the night of their limit Hold’em events, but I was actually a day ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, that meant that I wasn’t going to play live poker on Thursday either and I have been enjoying playing the mix games at Red Dragon on Thursdays. But I have been studying no limit Hold’em tournaments the past week in preparation for the WSOP and I was eager to put some of the stuff I was learning into practice, so I played on Global anyway.

The first tournament I played was an $11 freezeout and I was immediately rewarded for my efforts by finishing 1st of 167 entrants for $358.22! That’s pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but it always feels good to win any reasonably sized tournament outright.

The second tournament I played was a $3 rebuy and I reached the final table on two bullets and an add-on, sitting third in chips. Unfortunately, on the very first hand at the final table, I played a 3-bet pot with KK vs TT and my opponent flopped a set, crippling me, and I did not recover, finishing 9th of 153 entrants.

Two tournaments, two final tables. Not bad.

I played three other tournaments and min-cashed one of them (for a small loss).

Result: +$314.33

Thursday on Global Poker

I don’t make playing on Global much of a priority these days, but I do always mark my calendars for the limit Hold’em events in their big series because on a site that never has LHE games running, my edge figures to be pretty massive considering that’s the variant I play primarily to make a living.

I ended up playing six tournaments on Thursday, three of them the LHE events in the Rattlesnake Open series, and managed only one cash, a 13th place finish (of 282 entrants) in the $11 LHE event. I had the displeasure of stone bubbling not one, but two tournaments on the day. Both of them paid 27 players and I found a way to finish 28th twice.

The craziest hand I played was in the $55 LHE tournament. We weren’t on the bubble quite yet, but we were getting down there and I opened with AJo from under the gun and it folded to the big blind and he defended.

The flop was 443 with two hearts and one club. I bet and the big blind check-raises me. Considering that I expect none of these people to play LHE regularly, I find this check-raise laughable because there is no way his range is balanced here. Is he check-raising with a 3 here? Pocket sixes? Are these people that never play LHE flatting with hands like QQ+ preflop? I don’t really expect it. So I expect his range to be very draw and bluff heavy here and an under the gun raiser is literally NEVER folding to a check-raise on this flop and this board is a bad start to get folds later on from ace highs. I call.

The turn is the king of clubs and when he leads out, I think this is spot where I should be raising instead of calling. If he does have a 3 or a medium pair, he might fold to a raise and if his range is full of draws and bluffs like I suspect then raising protects my equity and charges the draws. If the river is bricky, I can check back if he calls and hope to win showdowns vs draws. If he has a pair, he’s not going to fold on the river after calling the turn, so no sense turning my hand into a bluff there. I raise and he calls.

The river is the six of clubs. He leads out. There is no way I’m winning now and I should fold, especially since this is a tournament and every big bet is precious. But I can’t help myself. I want to see how I lost. I call and he shows… the 92 of clubs.

What a torch. Horrible defend. Horrible flop to bluff an under the gun raiser on. It could make sense against a late position open, but I’m never folding the flop here and I’m rarely folding ever. Horrible hand to bluff with. He has no real equity. At least a hand like 65 has some clear outs, in addition to possible pair outs. Then he gets spanked for two big bets on the turn. At least he got the river right. And this dude is one of the best tournament players on all of Global Poker and I’m not just saying that, I’ve looked up his results on Sharkscope. Uhm yes. More limit Hold’em tournaments please… where even the world beaters on the site have no clue. Unfortunately, in three weeks of daily tournaments during the series, only one day is devoted to limit Hold’em. Oh well.

Result: -$163.25

Friday @ Palace

I have decided to make someone an official Bat-Villain because, well, he deserves it at this point. I’ve noted many times now that Part-Time has been running magically against me for months, consistently getting the best of me in every big pot we play. It doesn’t matter how strong my hand is – he either has me coolered or gets there when he’s punting. There is just no justification for someone to be ownin me this badly and not get a nickname promotion.

I’ve had difficulty coming up with a proper new name for him. I considered Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul, two of Batman’s most formidable foes. But Ra’s has functioned as a mentor to a young Bruce Wayne and Bane broke The Bat’s back. I really don’t want to give Part-Time that much credit.

But since Part-Time has been coolering me in pot-after-pot for months now and I’ve been running ice cold against him, I think it is fair to change his name to MR. FREEZE.

So, of course, in what would be my worst 15/30 session of the year so far, Mr. Freeze was at the center of my destruction.

The first brutal hand to come up was a multi-way raised pot that I flatted on the button with QT of spades. The flop was 742 with two spades and Mr. Freeze led right out from one of the blinds, there were multiple callers before me, and I raised my draw for value. Mr. Freeze immediately 3-bets, there are some calls, and I cap it. The turn is the 3 of spades and before I can even jump out of my seat and celebrate, Mr. Freeze fires an insta-bet. This dude is no idiot. If he flopped a big made hand, he is not betting this card. Free Throw calls in between us and I just call. The river is a blank. Mr. Freeze bets $30, Free Throw calls, and I mention that we are in Overs now. Free Throw says something like, “Batman must really like his hand” and I reply, “no, I have a queen high flush and I don’t think it’s winning.” But that’s not going to stop me from calling and Mr. Freeze turns over the cooler: A5 of spades.

ICE COLD.

Later on, I open with AQ and get some callers that have position on me, including Mr. Freeze. The flop is Q53 rainbow and since I’ve been raising and whiffing a lot of flops, I think this is a great board texture to check-call on and raise the turn, especially since Mr. Freeze likes to bet when checked to. Plus, the flop size is normal, but when the other players fold we will be in Overs on the turn. The turn is a blank and I’m pleased to see my plan go so swimmingly, but of course he 3-bets me and winds up showing a set of fives.

ICE COLD.

There are some early limps, the button raises, and I 3-bet with KK from the small blind and everyone calls. The flop is A98 with two spades. I start with a check and it checks to the button and he fires out a bet. I debate whether or not I should be raising here and decide that no one is going to fold an ace or a good draw and I don’t really want to isolate myself out of position with two outs. I should be either way ahead or way behind. I just call and this allows the other two players, Mr. Freeze included, to call behind me. The turn is the six of hearts and I’m pretty happy to see it check around. I am quite certain I have the best hand now and I’ll probably go for value on the river… but it’s a queen. Nope, that’s not a card I’m going to bet since it improves the best straight draw. I check, Mr. Freeze bets, and the button calls. I’m not expecting to be winning often here, but I make the call and Mr. Freeze shows the 75 of diamonds because JT would make too much damn sense and I must be punished for not check-raising the flop.

ICE FUCKING COLD.

I am having a miserable session and the hands I posted are just the most extreme examples or maybe they just felt that way because Mr. Freeze is delivering the knockout blows, but I was steamed up enough that I felt the need to walk around the building, clear my head, and try to center myself. I was messaging Joker and Radio Mike, telling them that I was on (or approaching) level 9 tilt. I basically categorize it like this: level 7 tilt is visible tilt; level 8 is reactionary tilt (via gestures or verbal); and level 9 is when you can feel the tilt start to physically overwhelm you. I’m not exactly sure what level 10 tilt is, but it probably can get you kicked out of a casino. I suppose it could also be the straight up suicide missions I see some people go on after losing a particularly brutal pot. It’s something like, “well, if I’m going to lose like that, I might as well give the rest of these chips away too.” For instance, last night I saw a player that was playing reasonably well lose with 76 suited on a board of A767A to AJ and then limped in with 95o the next hand, called a raise, and donked on a flop of Q52. The next hand he called three bets cold from middle position and ended up showing J3 of clubs. He was felted with an orbit or two. Dude lost one sick hand and couldn’t bare to keep chips in front of him any longer. That’s level 10 Suicide Tilt.

Anyways, I take a walk around the building and by the time I’m done, I feel like I’ve calmed down. I’m not even on level 7 tilt anymore. So I sit back down and it’s my turn to post the big blind. Perfect. The pot gets raised and it’s going off at least six ways so I defend with the 65o. The flop is J74 rainbow and it checks to the PFR, they bet, Ducky check-raises from the small blind, I cold call, and so do three other players. The PFR also just calls. I drill the 8 on the turn and bet when Ducky checks to me. Two of the cold callers call and Ducky seems to sense danger and folds. The river is a queen and I’m pretty thrilled to have the nuts and I desperately need a big pot. I bet, the first guy calls and the second guy raises. No worries. He is totally clueless and fully capable of raising with two pair here. I 3-bet and this dude 4-bets me by splashing way more chips than is necessary to raise into the pot. No no no no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. He has the nuts. It’s always the nuts. One hand back and I’m already back on level 8 tilt. And of course this fucking guy is sitting in Mr. Freeze’s old seat.

“Cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.”

My night wouldn’t get any better. I didn’t really have more absolutely sickening hands, but I wasn’t winning any pots either. My big aces were whiffing and my big pairs weren’t winning. My draw were all bricking. You know… the standard run bad stuff that drains a stack.

I reached level 9 tilt. I could feel myself starting to leak. Once that happens, I give myself one orbit to get it together or I’m fucking out of there. I can run bad all day, but I’m not about to lose because I’m playing bad. I called it quits before 10:30 PM on a Friday night. Pathetic.

Result: -$2089

I actually had to look back and see where that ranked as far as one of my worst sessions ever. It’s up there, but I was surprised that it wasn’t my worst performance in a 15/30 game at Palace. I actually went down memory lane and found a blog post from that session. It was a fun re-read so I’ll post a link as it pretty much sums up how I was feeling throughout this session:

My Worst 15/30 Session Ever

Saturday @ Palace

15/30 never even came close to starting, so I ended up playing 8/16 for most of the day with a little 4/8 sprinkled in at the beginning and the end. I had another rocky session, losing in plenty of ridiculous ways that I don’t feel like recounting here, but when the feeder game started to get short, things started to turn my way for a bit and I was able to salvage the day a little.

Result: -$228

Yup. Another miserable week. After Friday’s session, my wife even had to ask if I’m just running bad at this point. I mean… I think so. I’ve said it before and I still believe it to be true: there is not a massive gap between my A-game and my C-game and I think my C-game is better than most people’s A-games (people that I play with regularly). I’ve played limit Hold’em at a successful level for so long that a lot of it is totally ingrained, learned to the level of Unconscious Competence and I don’t even need to think to play correctly most of the time. I just do it automatically. I play well on auto-pilot and even in emotional turmoil. Plus, I’m still adept at playing exploitively.

But I can see where she’s coming from. This is what my cash game graph looks like since I posted that huge $5k win on the 1st of February (note: the b/e line is at the very top of the graph!):

Yes. That is fucking ugly. I see three downswings and two of them are massive. And let’s not forget I bricked a bunch of tournaments during this time and they aren’t even represented here. It’s been a rough 3+ months. No doubt. The worst extended run I’ve ever been on. I hear the new mortgage curse is a real thing.

But I didn’t suddenly forget how to play and my opponents haven’t all magically turned into Hold’em wizards.

My cash game results for the year are still pretty good (thank you January!):

And when I look at my cash game results since summer of 2014, panicking because I’m stringing a few losing months together seems pretty silly:

Trust the process.

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