Friday, March 30, 2012

Did I Just Pwn Someone?

It's been two weeks which really sucks.  I've tried 8 times to finish that sentence with something that starts with, "because I want this blog to ..." and every attempt ran right into the realization that that would just be a stupid thing to say because I mean, if I want the blog to be something, then just do what needs to be done for it to happen.  Especially since it's not like I don't have ideas about what to write.  I must have half a dozen post ideas floating around in my brain, so fine.  Just do it.  Alright, enough of the introspective stuff.  Let's talk some poker.

So after the last session I wrote about I knew I needed to dose myself heavily with niticillin.  Fortunately I had a good opportunity just a couple of days after that session.  I was meeting some guys who were in for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for dinner at Craftsteak on Friday night after work.  I got to the MGM a couple of hours before we were meeting because I knew that there wasn't anything wrong with my game that a good hour or so of ABC TAG $1-$2 at the MGM poker room couldn't help cure.  I got to the poker room, got on the list and, after a brief wait, got a seat, and resolved myself to sticking to spots where I was comfortable going for value.

This session actually ended up being the perfect exercise to combat a case of FPS because I started off running up against the dreaded muerte de las cartas.  I don't mean that I wasn't getting many hands, I literally did not find one spot that justified putting a dollar in the pot until it was almost time for me to go.  I Tweeted at one point that I had gone a down and a half with a VPIP of zero, and it continued for a while after that.  During that time I was very pleased that I was able to isolate poker decisions from external pressures like the need to end a session at a certain time.   I can honestly say that I felt no desire to push a bad situation because I "wanted to play" and my time to do so.  Perhaps I realized, that I was, in fact, playing in the most effective way possible under the circumstances.  Patience paid off, I found myself in two playable situations, took solid value lines in both and won a couple of twentyish dollar pots.  It was time for dinner, so I racked up with my modest profit with a little under an hour invested and headed off to dinner ...

It was one of those fantastic "guys" evenings.  There were nine guys, one of them took charge of ordering wine and another food as we had everything family style.  We started with luscious fois and several helping of an amazing waygu tartar.  For entrees our  "food captain"  selected items off of the roasted steaks menu.  This was something new for me as I always default to grilling steaks at home.  The gentler cooking of the roast definitely helped tenderize the meat more and there was still plenty of seer and caramelization on the surface.  A definite feast!

Now, niticillin, like any other antibiotic, isn't a single dose cure.  So I knew I needed to hit it again.  The next time I played was at a local casino.  I again played super TAG and again didn't have much to work with.  This time though, I didn't have any set time I had to leave.  I ended up playing almost three and a half hours and cashed out a sub fifty dollar profit.  Significantly, my stack during the session wasn't wildly fluctuating.  When I had a hand I bet it.  I didn't win every hand, but the hands I won had pots a lot bigger than the hands I lost.  OK, I felt like I was back in the groove of playing patiently.

The first time Bill Cosby introduced the character of Fat Albert in one of his routines he did an entire routine that was a set up for the next part of his act.  He transition between the two stories was something to the effect of, "Now, I told you that story, so I could tell you this one."  I feel like that because now, I'm finally going to get to the part of the post that is referenced in the post title.  I think this is known as burying the lead.

I figured the next step in this process was to remove the nit clamps a bit.  Tight and aggressive play was still the way to go, but there was going to be room to open up a bit and, if justified, attempt a reasonable play (i.e. not some hair up my ass spaz bluff).  So with that, I sat down last night.  One particular character caught my eye.  He was a player who played quite LAG.  He won a lot of pots without showdown because he would bet very aggressively preflop and on the flop (he tended to reel things in more on the turn and the river.  This is a playing style that has given me trouble in the past, but I've come to the realization that the wide ranges those players hold lead to big swings and that you just need to be OK with those swings.  It's going to sting pretty bad when you run into the higher part of such a players range, but you just have to remember that part of his range is balanced out by the low end and over time, if you do it right the swings will balance in an upward direction.

The first hand I got into with this guy was on his straddle.  He was in seat 7 and I was in seat 2, so his straddle (and he did it almost every time) was when I was in the hijack seat which was a favorable spot.  In one hand after three limpers (so everyone) to his straddle I look down to pocket 6s.  In a late position spot like this after limpers I will raise more than I overlimp as I think the raise lets me take the pot on a lot of flops that I miss.  Three things quickly flashed through my mind though:

  • The straddler would call the raise with a wide range and would probably be more inclined to call a c-bet light.  In other words, even with position, I'd end up in tough spots post flop
  • 4+ limps to this guy in the straddle was going to be like waving a red flag in front of a bull.  He would very likely raise very light.
  • If I let him take a stab at it I'd have a chance to find out if any of the three people between us were setting a trap
So I go ahead and overlimp, cutoff, button and small blind fold.  Sure enough, the straddler throws out a healthy raise, I shove.  He thinks for not too long and mucks.  I think most likely it was a flip, but I'm OK putting my stack in on a flip there against him on the times that he calls.  I'll make enough money on his folds to make up for the relatively small part of his calling range that has me crushed.

The next hand we got involved in our Villain raised on my big blind.  Small blind calls and I look down at KK.  I put out a healthy three bet and get two calls.  Flop comes QTx.  I make a value bet that looks like I'm trying to give myself room to fold, he shoves, I call.  I got a bit nervous when a Q hit the turn and I think I even said, "Oh Shit" out loud, but he just started shaking his head saying, no you're good (I had flipped my KK).  After the river came, he mucked and I doubled up.  A while later, I racked up and headed home, with a nice healthy profit.

So this was a first for me because while I have "targeted" players before they usually tend to be weaker players.  This is one of the first times that I recall figuring out specific things to do against a LAG player and it was nice to have them come through.

OK, I know I've definitely descended into the tl;dr layer.  My goal for the next week ~ more posts, but shorter!


  1. No reason to get overly concerned with length (leave that to the women).
    Just find yourself a quality topic (like the one above) and write about it until you are content that you've said what you wanted to say and made your peace with it.

    Keep up the good work - both playing and posting!

  2. Thank you sir - it's amazing how when you sit down at a keyboard sometimes with what you think is a quick little idea it grows and morphs into a very involved tale. Thanks for bearing with me.

  3. Nice post (and belated birthday greetings). I can tell you that every blog post I've done so far was always a lot shorter in my mind than when it finally got written! Don't worry about the legnth of the post as long as you keep it interesting, which you have here.

    Perhaps when I return to your fair city we could get together at a cash game somewhere and maybe we'd both get good blog posts out of it.

  4. That sounds like fun. I'd enjoy living through one of your posts in person.