Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Pretty Decent Chess Showing

I haven't been to a casino in a few days. I spent the last three days playing chess at the Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic held over at the LAX hilton. My play was quite good in my opinion. In the open section, my 2024 put me squarely in the bottom half of the bracket to start the tournament so (thankfully for me) I was paired up for the majority of my games. Unlike poker, chess is a game where I want to challenge myself against better players. I pray to have every poker game I sit in be a table of me combined with the worst players in the world. In chess, however, I feel nothing but contempt and feel like I am wasting my time when I get paired with a bad player. There is little to gain and lots to lose and for the most part, unless they allow some sort of bizarre brillancy, its not fun. My first game I was paired with Jeremy Stein (2144). As I was perusing the advanced entries list, I concluded that Stein was a very likely candidate for me to play in the first round and I was hoping that I would play him. I have played him once about 2-3 years ago when he was a budding 16-1700. I beat him but I have seen him progress for a while and I just feel comfortable against him. He doesn't have an imposing style of play. If I could make a poker analogy, he would the type of player who doesn't bluff too much and plays fairly good starting hands. Technically, he can play his cards well but his deceptive factor isn't high. The analogy is a bit loose but it works because I am never really afraid of him sacrificing a piece or going into unclear melees. In fact, he played the opening imprecisely and I was able to make an improvement on a game I played against an FM 3 years ago to get an equal position as black. The upside, however, was that I was comfortable and knew exactly what I was going for. He on the other hand, fumbled around a bit looking for a plan. I eventually "sacked" a pawn that netted me two pawns back 5 mov.es later with a much better position. He had some slight drawing chances but I played carefully and managed to trade down to a winning R + 2 pawns vs R + 1 pawn winning endgame and won it. The next game I was paired as white on Board 2 vs Michael Casella (2344). Casella is a very adept player. I am 0-1 against him but the last game we played was also 3 years ago. He allowed me to get into a favorable side line of the Samisch King's Indian and then managed to misplay an early ...b5. My position was great and I achieved a decent Kingside attack as his Q was bottled up on a5 for a few moves. When my kingside pressure started to mount, however, I mistakenly decided to reroute my g3 N to d4 via e2 instead of just pushing an immediate f5. The game got real complicated and coupled with time pressure I started to lose the thread and thus the advantage. My iniative dried up and I sacked a pawn and then eventually a piece trying to mate but his defense was more than enough to defend everything. :(
The next day I came back to see I was paired as white again against Gregg Small (2245). Overall, this is great pairing. I have gotten black against the player(s) I have been most comfortable playing against and white against the players that are most likely to give me trouble and beat me. Once again, I am 0-1 against Small but I played him about 1.5 years ago. I played a simple opening and Small decided top play 1. d4 Nf6 c4 Nc6. Well, he preceded to play rather poorly in the opening and give me a nice positional advantage through the game. I became a bit overly concerned about the minor piece endgame that was possible if we iniated trades and managed to allow him to develop an attack. This attack turned out to be pretty good but he misplayed it. So we traded mistakes. He finally gave me a chance to liquidate some of the attacking pieces. I won a pawn at the cost of breaking my kingside pawn cover. With both Queens, all four Rooks and one minor piece each still on the board, my extra (doubled) pawn was not all it was cracked up to be. I did have one nice passed d pawn, though. We both had less than 5 minutes to make about 6 moves and I managed to reach the time control in what can be considered a better position. My king was loose and I had an extra passed pawn on the 5th rank. But he had a slightly safer king (I did have a few threats) and a bit more activity. I blundered on move 41 by playing my pawn on d5 to d6 which then opened up the a8-h1 light squared diagonal. Four moves later he was able to put his Q on a8+ which mated me very soon. It was a complete oversight as I did not even consider that option thinking that with my d pawn running I would be able to Queen quickly or liquidate the remaining annoying pieces. Two games against masters that I kind of threw away when I had the better of it.
My fourth game was the only game I was paired down in the tournament. I played a B player Yu-Kai Chou (1749) as black. He played very quickly in the opening and made some inaccuracies allowing me again to easily equalize and get a very solid position. The position was quite locked up with all 16 pawns still on the board. I had a very nice N posted on a the d4 square blockading his backward d3 pawn and a strong light squared bishop with almost all of my pawns on dark squares. Conversely, he had his g2 Bishop (light squared) with pawns on e4, d3, c4, b3, and a2. So as far as the minor piece struggle was going I was killilng him. But as I said, no pawns had been exchanged and all heavy pieces were still on the board so it wasn't going to be easy to enforce my minor piece advantage. It became a little dicey for a while as I made a misguided attempt to open up the kingside at the wrong point in time giving him a small amount of play. I managed to reroute my Rooks to the g and h file in time for the opening of those files. Once there, they managed to deftly win a piece and therefore the game. He made the simple oversight of losing a pawn but also opened all the files around his king and allowing total penetration. I won the N and then quickly liquidated everything to a won N and pawn up endgame.
My 5th game I was again paired up as black against Joachim Van Leeuwen (2078). He allowed me to take a free c4 pawn but which gave him a bit center with e4 and d4. I think I was able to neutralize his center play though by trading off my N for his dark squared bishop and gaining the bishop pair. I was traded off a N he had posted on e5 so the pawn structure was interesting. I had pawns on c4, c6, b7,a7 on the queenside for a 4-2 majority vs his b2, a2. But he had a strong advanced kingside majority with pawns on e4, e5, f4, g3,h2 and a 5-4 majority against my h7, g6, f7,e7. We eventually traded some pieces off and I let him take my c4 pawn back in order to activate my rooks on this 2nd rank. It again got a little dicey when he was able to get two connected passers on the 6th rank but I was able to get my rooks behind them and force him to make a committal f7 pawn push passed pawn on e6 and f6) and then blockade everything with Ke7! After that it was a matter of technique as my pieces encircled the immobilized pawns and ate them. That put me at 3 wins and 2 losses on the tournament.
My last round game I was paired as white against Tatev Abrahamyan (2289). I just want to mention again how lucky I was in the pairings. Every "easy" opponent I had I was paired with as black and every master opponent I had I was paired with white. Anyway, back to Tatev. She played the Benko against me, I hate the Benko Gambit! I usually play an e3 sideline that Jack showed me but I am still working that out as its unusual. So I decided not to experiment with her and I played the solid b6 Benko declination. I obtained what I thought was a pretty good game that included a lot of space and decent piece placement. Afterwards, we concluded that even though she had problems developing and it took her 15 moves to get everything out, I really couldn't exploit that too much. I sure tried though. I pushed the thematic e5 break around move 20 or so and put some pressure on her that took her about 30 minutes to figure out how to get out of. She eventually did and I was busted as once the tension in the center was relieved so was any and all of my advantage. Miraculously, without all of those pawns in the way HER pieces were better placed and soon jumped into action. I ended up in a middle game where I got her Rook and a pawn for my crucial centralized Bishop and Knight. Her raking two bishops cut up my king and gave her a huge space advantage that I could do nothing to stop.
So three wins and three losses netted me a tie for 17th place in the open section and I actually gained 14 points to move up to 2037. Overall, I was happy with all of my openings as in all 6 of my games I was either clearly ahead or just comfortable. There were no spots were I was fighting an uphill battle before move 20. Now if I can only enforce my advantages when I have them then I could be a force. My next tournament I plan to play in two weekends at the National Open in Las Vegas while I am there for the World Series of Poker.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My Best Session Ever and Back in Black

First the good news:
  • I sat in the softest game ever.
  • I had the best session ever, playing wise and takehome wise.
  • I am now in the black (+) for the year.
Now the bad news:
  • I am still making some mistakes I can avoid.
  • I was way way up instead of just way up and managed to misread my hand lose $2000 in a $4000+ pot.
I am very proud of how I played in the $500 unrestricted buyin at Hollywood Park from Thursday evening until Friday morning. I saw Keith seating in it but he got up right as I got there. As I surveyed the game, I saw only two players I had ever played with before. Skinny Jeff who I have known from Commerce for almost a year and half now and Grumpy Richard who is always grumpy. Jeff is a good player but outside of that I saw no real threats on the table and relatively little money for this game. So i decided to sit because I figured it would be an easy table to run over. Well. Yes and no. Very early on I noticed that I had the worst position on the table. I was in seat 1 and in seat 2 was a guy named Dean. Now Dean was absolutely horrific. In almost every sense of the word. He saw almost every flop no matter the raise and did some unbelievable things. For instance, after I sat down but before I posted a blind I saw this occur. Someone in early position raised to $105 (semi-standard in this game), Grumpy Richard (herein referred to as GR) called, Dean called on the button, and the SB went all in for $450 or so. The early position raiser wasn't happy but also went all in over the top for $1060 total. GR folded and Dean on the button decided to call the all in. The early position raiser really really wanted to run in 3 times. The all in small blind decided to go once and after Dean was explained what running it 3 times meant, he finally decided to do it. So the main pot was contested on the first full board while the turn and river would be dealt three times for the side pot. Well, the cards were turned over. Early position raiser had QQ, SB making a move had 10d 2d, Dean had 4 6 off. Despite some scares, QQ managed to win all three and scoop.
Now, back to the fact that I had horrible position. I realized early that Dean was the table target and was on my immediate left so while the other players were not super smart they were able to recognize the fact that isolating Dean was a great move. So I was going to get nailed everytime I came into a pot without a super hand as this was a semi-aggressive table. Add in the fact that while i bought in for $1000, there were about 4-5 people at the table who had me covered. So i played it cool for a few rounds and called a raise with AK off in the BB. Board came A Q 4 rainbow and the raiser started pounding and I just called until he bet $400 on the turn when i only had $640 left so I got it all in vs his AJ and he doubled me up to about $2000 or so. From there on out, I again played it cool until I could change seats. I moved to seat 4 which was the best seat in the house. Dean was in seat 2, Skinny Jeff (herein referred to as SJ) was in seat 3 and was easily the biggest stack and best player at the table (outside of me of course) but he was also tight. So this now meant that I could be the first to isolate Dean as long as SJ wasn't holding a pretty good hand. He knew this and probably saw that he would have to play solid as he was sandwiched between me and Dean. I isolated Dean a couple of times when I got KK preflop and won some nice pots. Then this hand came up. Probably one of the hardest hands I have ever played.
The button is on Seat 8. GR is in the SB, BB is in seat 1 and Dean is UTG. Before I get into it, I should mention Dean has been playing a ton of pots but he has also been getting pretty lucky and had a penchant for getting people to bluff into him as a calling station. So he was deep stacked here. Ok back to it. Dean raises UTG to $60. SJ calls the $60. I pick up KK and raise to $260. Everyone folds to Dean who calls and suprisingly SJ calls as well. So now with $800 in the pot the flop comes down A Q 2 rainbow. A pretty shitty flop for me. Dean checks, SJ checks, and I quickly check the multiway pot. The turn brings the 2h putting two hearts up there. Dean checks and SJ bets out $500. Now, most people just muck here but I am not most people :). I start to think about it. Jeff and I know each other well and our games. I know he is isolating Dean with AA, KK, QQ preflop. So right off the bat I know he doesn't have those hands. I also know that he respects me and wouldn't come after me with a hand that wasn't nut possible for a reraise preflop. He is folding AQ and down there to me without a question. There is a 50-50 chance he folds AK to me there as well. So once he calls me preflop I am almost certain he has a pocket pair and he trying to make a set. I have already ruled out AA-QQ and while he is trying to make a set he wouldn't call me with 22 in that position either. The presence of two deuces on board helps to confirm that idea. So what is he betting with. I have him on a very narrow range of hands here. I can say with certainty that he has a pocket pair 77-JJ 90% of the time here. 10% of the time he would have AKsuited. I am pretty sure he would fold AKoff for the $260 reraise. Like I said, he is tight but good and wouldn't come after me when I am showing so much strength without a nut hand (PP trying to make a set) or a multiway nut hand like AKsuited. So common thinking would say here is that 10% of the time where he has AKsuited. But wait. I quickly checked the flop. He knows I probably would not do that in a three pot involving Dean the calling station. If I had a set of AA or QQ which would be consistent with my preflop reraise then I would want to slowly build a pot with the calling station. So I would probably bet something callable on the flop like $300 into the $800 pot. So he can probably rule out those two hands for me. Its much more likely he thinks I have KK or JJ. And with the nasty nasty Ace on board, if he was right I would have to muck my KK here. I called the $500 fully expecting him to have a pocket pair and be trying to make a move and check it down on the river. Well, another wrinkle came into play. Dean called as well. The $2300 river card brought the 9h for a board of A Qh 2 2h 9h. Dean checked and SJ now bet out $1000 into the $2300 pot. This was a bit of a surprise and I took everything in and started considering. I was almost positive that SJ was making a move on me because he knew I had KK and thought I had to lay down here. Everything in my gut told me that was the case. He had enough money behind (roughly $3000) that he could afford to do this and he had the cogniscience to pull this off as well. I kept running through the action in my head and remembering his face and mannerisms on each street to see how his reactions could have given me more clues. All the while, I am keeping him in my periphery view and observing him. Someone calls the clock on me and i tell them I have am fine with that. For some reason the floorman is late in coming so I have a long time before the clock gets there and i have my minute. During this time, Dean gets up and essentially tells me through body language that he is done with the hand. Whew! So I dont have to worry about the calling station being in there with a backdoor flush draw or a ragged Ace. I just have to figure out whether or not SJ has AK or a pocket pair. There is some table conversation about the clock being called and a few jokes being made. I observe SJ as he interacts with the others in conversation and I pick up a few small tells that I remembered from Caro's Book of Tells and I am now sure without a doubt that he moving on me. The clock finally gets there and it starts to count down. At 30 seconds I call the $1000. Dean promptly folds and SJ says "Kings are good". I turn them over and he mucks. Someone asks to see his hand and the dealer turns over his JJ and then pushes the $4300 pot to me.
Now the whole table is pretty much kissing my ass and congratulating me on a spectacular call. I can see the newfound respect in their voices. This bit of information helps in the next hand as well. I had been playing pretty solid premium hands so far mostly based on the randomization of the cards. I was getting lots of grade A hands or nothing. Lots of KK, QQ, and AK and very few 66 or J10s. So the majority of the time I was the original raiser or reraiser. This hand I got AsKh in the BB after 6 limpers. I raised $200 more to $210. Bob in 2nd position and the first limper called as well as Dean on the button. Before the cards came out I asked Bob how much he was playing because I couldn't tell how much the bills he had behind were worth. He refused to tell me! He did it all in a joking manner but he didn't tell me. The $670 3 way flop came down Ks 10c 4s. I bet out $600 with top pair, top kicker. He then informed me that he was playing $2800+, I said "Thank you, unless that's how much you are betting". He laughed and about a minute later after thinking he said "Yeah" and put it all in for a raise of $2200+. Dean folded and here I was again having to call $2200 to win a pot of $4000+. I didn't have a huge read on Bob but I had seen some hands. The only hand he had moved all in previously was when he had a set (He had set UNDER set and was able to get the top set to run it three times with him and he hit his one outer and took 1/3 of the pot!). I knew he didn't have a set of Kings, or AA and I felt he didn't have a set of 44s as I didn't think he would call $200 more as the first caller preflop. So my range of hands I had him on was a set of 10s, AK also (but probably unlikely that he would be all in with just top pair), or a big huge draw. This is somewhat like the hard call I had a few days prior with KJ as top two pair. I am way behind to a set of 10s, chopping with AK however unlikely that is to happen, and only slightly ahead of a big huge draw. My pot odds are no where near as good as what I had in the KJ situation. I looked at him and he was staring a hold into my neck. I could just feel his mind telling me to fold. He really didn't want a call. I finally showed him my AsKh and then folded about a minute later. I talked him up a bit too. I only showed my hand and talked him up a bit because I wanted him to convey to me all the info I could. He did and showed the QsJs afterward. I can tell that he was scared of me didn't want to play the hand after ward. Not a bad move at all. With that hand he is 49.60%, well worth it combined with his fold equity and the amount of money in the pot.
There was one more hand that I wanted to post about. I raised to $60 in late position with AsJc and got 5 callers. The $360 6 way pot came down Jd 9d 6h. Everyone checked to me and I bet out $300. Bob in the blinds called my $300, Wayne who was UTG called my $300, and Dean called my $300. So all of sudden the pot was $1500+. The turn came down Kh for a board of Kh Jd 9d 6h. Bob checked and Wayne thinks and finally moves all in for $3000! Dean folds and it is back to me. Now, I am folding. My mind is made up. But I don't just fold. I need to understand this sitaution. Wayne plays often at HP so I need to understand what the hell he is doing. Why would he limp/call preflop UTG, check/call a pot sized bet in a multiway pot on a draw heavy board, and then lead bet all in on the turn for 2X the pot! My final analysis was that this could only be a sophisticated play by 6h7h. An open ended straight draw that picked up a flush draw semi bluffing on a scare card. I iniated a lot of table talk after that hand ended (somewhat heated) and Wayne said he had the nuts with Q 10 and was scared of the two flush draw out there. I suppose I believe him but I think if he was drawing to the nut straight and got there he would want to get some value out of it. Granted he needs to protect his hand so he is not going to bet some measly $400 into the $1500 pot. But a bet of $1500-$1600 seems like the way to make some money. If I had a set of KK or JJ then I have to call, if Dean had a straight draw or flush draw he would probably call. He is still making it mathematically incorrect for anyone with out Q 10 to call all the while making profit if they do. It was weird because if the pot was $800 and the same situation occurred would he have bet $1600?? I find it interesting that the pot size becomes a variable to change the action taken. In cash game play, I don't think that usually is supposed to be a variable. One of the explanations given by Wayne and also by SJ was that if he bet out $1500 and got called then what does he do on the river if a scare card (diamond or heart) comes out. Would he fold the almost $6000 pot for only $1500 with the nut straight? No, you call there but I think that is besides the point. The point is not to be scared of calling if a -EV draw calls and gets there but rather to make sure that a -EV draw has a chance to make a -EV call no matter the pot size.
All of this occurred in about 4 hours. The game got short handed with me, Dean, GR, and few people who came in and out. I got super hyper aggressive short handed and was terrorizing the table for another 8 hours. I yoyoed up and down picking on Dean alot. I misread a hand and managed to pay off GR for $2000 when I thought I had top pair with a straight that got there on the turn when in fact I only top pair with a gutshot straight draw on the flop and turned an open ended straight draw. He flopped a set and we got it all in on the turn and I didn't get there. I bought in $1000, at one point got it all the way up to about $9200, and after 12 hours of changing gears from tight aggressive to loose aggressive and back again, I left with $7665 for a profit of $6665 and an hourly rate of $551+. My best session to date.
That proudly put me over the coveted even mark. As it stands, I am now $3K + in the black for 2007.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Some quick thoughts about the HORSE game monday night. First of all, YAY! we finally got it going. Thank to Rick for hosing, you did a great job and everything went off without a hitch (that I know of). I was very pleasantly surprised to see two (!) tables running at once even if one was a low stakes learning table. I don't really have any hand analysis because our game moved quickly and I was still trying to get accustomed to the games to be able to recall all the action and situational variables as well as the cards in some of the games. I do know, however, that 7 card stud High is by far my worst game. I did the best in Razz. I am not sure if I am necessarily good at that game, though. I was gifted with starting with a bunch of 2 3 4s and related holdings that made it alot easier. 7 card stud Hi Low I did decently well in and Omaha 8 I did decently well in. Split pot games I like because there always seems to be some dead 3 way action that gets split between two winners. I scooped a couple of pots but that's not because I had nut high and nut low. One omaha hand I had nut high with no low possible and one stud 8 hand I had nut high beating another high chaser with no low chaser. So, again, not too convincing. I did hemorrage a bit in Limit hold'em and definetly in Stud high. I found myself chasing a bit too much in both of these games based on pot odds with not enough cards odds to get there. I think my biggest problem in Stud  will just have to be tightening up on 3rd street. Supposedly, hidden 66s and related hands are not too useful against a raise if your upcard is not threatening. Something like 66 4 with the 4 up is going to cost you in the long run as you have no scare cards. That I need to work on.
All in all, I liked the $3/$6 cash game format and so did everyone else at the "high stakes" table. We should probably continue in that vein. I had to buyin twice but I made a surge on my second buyin and ended up only down $16 on the night. Not too shabby considering. I look forward to the next one. Hopefully, we can make this a weekly occurence and we can get in 1-2 more HORSE nights before I head off to Vegas for the WSOP.

Another Brickhouse and a very tough call

So like a few weeks ago I had another brickhouse session where I sat down and just got rolled over by the deck. I originally went to Hollywood Park but as I got there the $400 game broke. Shows what I know going to a casino at 1am. But, surprisingly, the $500 unrestricted was still going strong with 2 tables. The second table was short handed and pretty aggressive so I didn't want to sit down in that. I had heard that not long before I got there, there had been a $30K pot followed directly afterward by a $15K pot. I sure wished I would have been there for that. But I decided to go to Commerce instead. It was quite a good decision. I sat down at a very good table with some weak people i had played with before. On my second round at the table I limped with 4d6d in position and someone made it $20 and 6 people called including me. The flop came 5c 7d 9d giving me an open ended straight draw along with my flush draw. Someone led out for $45 followed by a call and I went all in for about $375. No one called and I took down the $200 pot. Then another round later I called an early position raise in the SB with AKoff. The 4 way $120 flop came down Ac 7c 7s. I led out for $80 and it folded around to the button who was an incredibly bad player who min raised to $160. Now I knew he wasn't on the draw most likely. So he either had a 7 or an A. I was in check call mode unless the bets got huge. So I called. The $440 turn card was the beautiful Ad. I checked, he bet a measely $50, I checkraised to $200 and he went all in. I called and figured it was a chop that he got lucky on but no he turned over K7 and doubled me up to about $11-1200. Then about 6 hands later after 3 limpers i raised to $60 with KK and it folded to the UTG limper who I have played with before who isnt too good. He made it $160. Now I had another $1100 behind at this point and he had about $8-900 behind so I didn't want to give him a chance to catch up if he was behind and I didn't want to get stacked if he had AA so I reraised him $200 more to $360 preparing to fold if he went all in. He was confused and quickly called without thinking. Whew! I knew he didn't have Aces. The door card was the As and my heart sank until the rest of the flop came out. As K h 9c. He checked, and I checked figuring he either had AK or QQ, JJ. In which, he had 2 outs and I wanted to make him feel comfortable and make him think maybe I had QQ. So i checked back. The turn brough an off suit 8. He bet $200 into the $750 pot. I raised him all in here as he only had about $5-600 more. He called and had AK and I scooped the $2000 + pot. I then won a $300 plus pot with the nut flush 5 hands later. So I was rolling heavy in just an hour and half period with these big pots combined with a few small pots steals along the way.
Then this big one comes up. One player limps in, the cutoff ( a fairly tight player) raises to $45. I have Ks Jc on the button, not a great hand but I was rushing and I had the button so I called. The BB called and so did the limper. So we took the 4 way $180 flop of Kh Jh 4d. BB checked, first limper checked, Original Raiser bet out $125. I then raised to $325 for value and the BB folded. All of a sudden the limper in the pot goes all in for $1630. I had seen him do something close to this about an hour before when he went all in for $500 on the nut flush draw in a big multiway pot but it was much less money comparitively. As I am thinking about this, the original raiser regretfully puts all his money in as well! He only had about $700 total (my $325 plus another $375). So here I am with top two pair and two all ins in front of me. I have to call $1305 into a pot of ~$2700-$2800. I am getting 2:1 with top two pair. I know based on the original raisers mannerisms that he is not happy. So he doesn't have KK or JJ. He either has AA or AK, with the outside chance of something like AhQh. I didn't think the big all in guy had AA, KK, or JJ as I think I would have heard something from him preflop based on how I had seen him play so far. So I had him on 3 hands. Either KJ, 44, or a big draw (AhQh, Qh10h, Ah 10h, or AhXh). I didn't really think he would have had J4 or K4 but I would have been delighted if that was included in his range. So out of my analysis, I was chopping with one, needing a 4 outer against the other and ahead but needing to dodge some outs against the draw. Mathematically its hard to say which is the best option. I gave a little more credence to the drawing option as I had seen him do something similar. So i put him about 45% on the draw, 35% on KJ, and 20% on 44. After the original raiser put his extra $600 into the pot I felt my 2:1 pot odds were enough to gamble with so I called after a long think. It turns out the $1600 all in guy did indeed have KJ and the original raiser had AA. The AAs didn't improve and we chopped up his money in the $4200+ pot. I am still not sure if that was a good call or not. The pots odds generated by the AAs dead"ish" money were too great and compensated for the possibility of me being behind.
After that hand, most of the action players left and while there was lots of money on the table, it was in the hands of tighter players. I am still in rebuilding mode so I went against my mantra of riding the rush and decided to call it an early evening and ended my 2 hour session up $2400+.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Its All About the Big Pots

As most of you know, NLHE and especially my brand of NLHE is played for the big pots. I posted this hand on my email forum which was pretty much the only interesting hand of the session. I will reprint here.

So I was playing at the $500 unrestricted buyin at Hollywood Park and this nice hand comes up. The cutoff who is pretty steamy right now raises to $45 after 2 people limp in. The button folds and I am in the SB with QsJs. I think about reraising him but I notice that a good strong sophisticated player has limped in under the gun so I just call and prepare to fold if he reraises. The BB calls, UTG calls, and the other limper calls. So we see the 5 way flop with $220 in the middle. After calling the preflp bet I have $650 left, Steamy McSteam has about $350. The flop comes down Jh 10s 3s. I bet out $225 because i want to play this pot big with steamy. BB folds. Now the UTG limper raises $500 more to $725, the limper who was in the pot before steamy now goes all in for her last $350. Steamy folds and its back to me. The pot is $1425 and it would cost me $425. I know the BB is folding so I don't get any more equity there. Now, I know the $500+ UTG raiser has a strong made hand. At the absolute bare minimum he has QQ. With the more likely scenario that he has a set. I discount AA and KK as he would probably have tried to isolate preflop with two callers after steamy. The interesting part is what does the other limper have? She is a fairly straight forward readable player. During the hand though after she goes all in she keeps telling her neighbor, who she knows well, "its time to go home, its time to go home". I have played with her on at least 2-3 occasions and I have never seen her play a draw like this, but I am not at all positive she wouldn't have done this with spades. Something like AsKs would not be out of the question as well. If I had to break down her range it would be 33, J10, 10 10 (less likely as she most likely would raised preflop but possible), Not JJ as she plays those fast all the time, with maybe 15%-20% chance she has AsXs, although like i said I had never seen this from her. She would almost certainly not play a straight draw like KQ or 89 like this.
As far as the made hand goes I am almost drawing dead to running QQ or backdoor straight cards. If I am sharing spades with the limper then I am most likely drawing dead. But if not then I am getting 3.4:1 on my draw in an $1850 pot. After a long think I finally call. The hands turn over, My QsJs, the UTG's 10 10, and limper's J 10. Thankfully, she is drawing dead to the case J. And all my spades are live! Cardplayer has me as 34.55% equity which is more than enough. Turn and river come 5c 6c and I miss.
So I lost $1000 in that session. Boo. But I think I had +EV there so no biggie.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Todd Brunson was Right

Maniacs can be dangerous! But they can also be quite profitable as well. You just have to have a little heart and a lack of reserve in order to profit from them. I think this primarily comes from reading people and seeing what extents they are capable of. There were a few maniacs in my session last night at Hollywood Park. They came in two separate instances.

The first $400 table I sat at was pretty weak tight. In fact, there was very little action at all. Most of the pots were small and it played like a $100 or $200 game where 4-5 people would limp into a pot and see who hit the flop. Not my type of game. So I raised a few pots and took the small ones down. Then I raised with AhKc to $45 and under the gun limper reraised to $200. I knew he had a big pair but I didn't think with the lack of action he would do that with AA or KK because there wasn't really an anticipated raise coming. So i felt as though it was QQ or JJ and I put it all in which wasn't too much more. Well, I was wrong, he had KK. I rivered an A to bad beat him. I primiarly put it in without any fold equity because what happened after that was what I was gunning for. The table loosened up and action flowed. The KK guy left with his last $400 because he wasn't too happy but everyone else started playing more hands for raises preflop. So all of a sudden we developed a poker game. The players were bad so this was a perfect table for me. I made a few good hands and got up to about $1000 when the first maniac of the night sat down.
I forgot to mention that i had met Rick for dinner prior to the HP session and we then went in separate cars to the casino. I beat him there and got my name on the list before him. Rick decided to play $200 while he waited and I decided to walk around and peruse the $400 game(s) and the $500 unrestricted game and get a feel for them (which we both had our names on the list for) instead of getting right into the $200 game. Well, Rick had a guy on his $200 game which I had played with before who had gone all in on his first hand and got no calls. The next hand he raised to $50 and check/folded the flop when called. All on a $3-$5 game. After Rick came to my table and got a nasty beat (J9 losing to AQ when all in on a 9 9 3 A board with a river A) and left, this maniac came and sat down to my immediate right. So he came in on the BB and I limped UTG with 88. I was actually still in a bit of rush state so I almost raised with it but i decided against it at the last minute. 4 other players limped including the SB and then when it got to captain manaic in the BB he goes all in for $400. Now this was an obvious attempt to establish himself as the table captain. He had done this at the $200 game and also the last time I had played with him at the $400 game. So I was almost positive I had him beat at this point in time and I was not worried about anyone behind me as they played their hands straightforwardly. The problem is, I would have to put in $400 to win $860 and even a straight out bluff like K9 would have me racing 50%. So I prudently folded and decided he would indeed give it away later. But I was in tune with his psychological state. He does this in order to create action but also to peg himself as a maniac and then try to tighten up a bit later and get paid off. This is what he did at the $400 game the last time I played with him. So its not entirely such a bad idea. I do the same thing to a much lesser degree to create action on non-actiony tables (read above with AK vs KK). But the point is he wanted to wrest the table captaincy away from me. All ego aside, this is an important idea in NLHE. When there is a loose, aggressive player on a table with tight weak players it is such an advantage because they abdicate to him and allow him to walk on them unless they have a monster. They do this by either call/folding too much or lashing out with weak hands. Both are characteristic chances to take all of their money. I want to be the recipient of all this dead action and I don't want him edging in on it. Which explains the situation on the next hand.
Since he was BB last hand, he is SB now and I am BB now. Everyone folded to the SB and before he looked or I looked at my cards I asked if he wanted to chop. He said no and raised to $30. I looked down to see JJ and immediately went all in. He thought for a long time and finally called and won when his KQ off paired a King on the flop. No biggie. I had no problems. But I started to bully him after that. The next hand I called his $40 cutoff raise with Kh8h on the button. We were heads up and the flop came down Q 5 3 with two spades. He made a weak CB and I called with the intention of taking it away as I thought at best he had an underpair to the Q. The turn came an off suit 5 and I made a 2/3 pot size bet after his check and did my usual table talk to feign weakness when, in fact, I was weak :). He folded and i was able to show my Kh8h. Two hands later, he was the only limper ahead of me when I got AhAd. I raised to $50 and he was the only caller. He checked in the dark and I immediately bet $60 in the dark ala Negreanu from High Stakes Poker as seen here.
The flop came down Q4Q and he folded. We didnt dance together for another 30 minutes or so but we continued our rousing table talk where he would make a play at supremacy and it would all come tumbling down after my clever retorts. As Craig routinely points out, my best poker attribute is my adept use of the needle. Sidenote: before I talk about the big hand vs this guy. The needle is not supposed to be used against anybody. In fact, generally it is a -EV play. I like to keep the flow and mood of the game quite smooth for the weak player so that they are enjoying themselves and having fun while slowly dieing a financial death. But when someone comes in and disrupts the flow of the game ( and the consistent flow of money to me) with massive all in overbets preflop and the like, then it not only disrupts the flow of the game but it negates the skill advantage I believe I have, and it can upset alot of the tigher, weaker players. Enter the Needle. If I can break this guy off both chip wise and psychologically, not only will the flow of the game return but I stand to be seen as somewhat of a hero by the table (which happened after this hand!).
So back to poker. I was in the SB and one of the tightest guys at the table made a raise to $25 in 2nd position. Four people called in front of me including our villain on the button. There were $135 in the pot so far and i had $5 in already, so i had to call $20 to win $135. My 45off wasnt too spectacular and neither was my position but my almost 7:1 pot odds made up for it. I called and so did the BB. So we took the $175 7 way pot off and it came down As 5c 9h. I checked, BB checked, Original Raiser checked kind of huffy, two more checked to an older lady in the cutoff who bet $45 into the $175 pot. Our villain made a casual call on the button saying something like "let's just see what's going on". I noted his behavior as he did this call. I had to call $45 to win $265 so about 6:1 with my bottom pair and backdoor wheel draw. I made the call and the BB folded as well as the original raiser who folded his KK face up in a flustered state. The other two in the pot folded as well. The turn came the 4h for a As 5c 9h 4h board. I now have bottom two pair in a $310 pot. I hadn't checked yet when the cutoff lady started putting chips in the pot. I informed her it was my turn and after a few seconds let her bet. She bet a measly $75 and the villain on the button then went all in for $465 or so. It was a pot overbet but not too out of line. Based on the casualness of his flop call i didnt feel like he had an A so he didnt have A4. 94 I had ruled out and anything strong on the flop was already out of the question (such as 55 or 99). Which left me with only a few possibly hands. Some gutshots one which got there (23), a weak 9, a pair with a flush draw, or a draw that picked up a flush draw. There was a small chance he had Ahxh but I really didnt think so. The cutoff lady only had $240 or so behind so I didnt have to worry about her. I ended up calling after some table talk to find out if he had a draw. He essentially told me with his body language he had a draw and after I called and and the lady mucked he said he had a draw. I then told the dealer no heart and said "Shit" when the 5h came on the river before I realized i had a full house. He, indeed, had the 6h7h for a gutshot on the flop with a picked up flush draw that turned into open ended. So not a bad move on his part with a 15 outer. That busted him and he left the table after which the status quo returned and I was able to win anoter $200 or so in the next 40 minutes just from making some moderate hands and stealing some pots. Once the table broke and I had to go to the must move table i had about $1700.

The second table had a higher calibre of player on it but also a good amount of action with more money behind. Everything was fine and good for the first hour and a half or so, I didn't play too many hands. I raised with AsQs and got two callers and hit a board of Qh Js 3s. Bet and got called and got a Jd on the turn. Checked and the only other player in the pot made a weakish $100 bet into the $350 + pot. I called figuring he was on either a flush draw (which I would be ecstatic if he hit), a straight draw (which was drawing to only 6 outs because of the present flush draw), or a weak Q. Given this range he can only hit a non-spade K or 8 to beat me. So i didn't raise as he would be scared off. The river brought an offsuit 3 for a board of Qh Js 3s 3d Jd. I probably should have value bet a weak Q ( i was first to act ) here but I checked hoping that he will try to represent a J and he checked and my AQ bested his KQ. Outside of that i didn't play many hands in the interim before maniac #2 sat down. This guy had come from the $500 unrestricted game that had just broke. Now he was a different manaic then the previous one as this one was more up beat with a devil may care attitude and penchant for gambling. The previous maniac wanted to bully control through betting. There is a huge difference. This guy saw almost every flop, would open raise UTG with 6s2s for $100, and would call almost any raise preflop if he was going to play the hand. He went through his first buyin pretty quick but made a few hands and got up to 900 quick. Then he got AK back to back in which case he was all in preflop. The first time he won about $100 in blinds and the second time he lost $500 when he got called by AA. Then a few hands later on the button before anyone had looked at their cards he moved all in. Now he was out of turn and blind but he put his chips on the line. A few people limped in and I limped with QsQd because I didn't think this was the type of guy who would clam up at the last second and retract it. And he didn't. He was all in blind for $280. The BB was surprised that he was in blind and called pretty nonchalantly. The 2nd position limper (an incredibly inexperienced player) also called which put him all in for $275. I saw the BB had about $6-700 more and there was already over $900 in dead money so I went all in (at this point I had about $2700). He folded his AdQh face up. So bad that I lost a Q but good that an A was dead. The board came horrible with something like 4h 7h 9h then 5s and 4s. The inexperienced player had KdJd which I thouroughly beat but the maniac had 10d 4c which rivered me. Nothing to do there. I played a bunch more hands, like one where I think I lost not too much ($320) with JJ vs KK against the tightest player on the table on a 8 high board. I made a full house against a flush which garnered me some pocket change. But the maniac was taking all sorts of pots from the table. He never really nailed me too bad after that but I was getting nickeled and dimed for a while. I eventually left when I had a little less than $1800. So I stayed for 7 hours and made a $1365 profit on two great tables. I definetly made a few mistakes that I could have avoided but I think I made some good moves/calls that more than made up for some of the adventurous things.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Another Yucky Short Session

Not much to talk about in this one. Got to a nice, relatively passive table and saw a few flops and folded. Raised with AKoff and won the blinds. Then 45 minutes in I limp in 4th position after two limpers with As6s. There ends up being 5 total players seeing the $50 pot that comes down Ah Qh 7s. An early position player (who is very easy to read) bets a very weak $20 into the pot after which the player directly after him calls quickly. I know the first bettor is weak and will fold an A that is lower than A 10 and based on his play he doesn't have even that. The second guy i know is on a draw. So i raise to $85. The first bettor debates and finally folds whereas the second player promptly raises me all in. I was taken aback but I still thought he was on a draw as this particular player would have raised with AK-AJ preflop and would raise the first bettor if he had A7 or a set. So I had about $180 left and the pot was already $240+ so I quickly called and turned over my hand saying "No heart dealer". Of course he turned the 10h and then rivered the 2h and the other player had 5h6h. No biggie, but he had flush draw written on his forehead and if he thought about it, he would have realized he had no fold equity in the hand. But what can you do?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Art of the Call

Common sense and all poker authorities say that being the aggressor in most situations is the preferred way to play. The notion being that you can win the hand by your opponent folding or you having the best hand. I can say, for the most part, that makes sense. But this really boils down to a much more basic somewhat philosophical argument outside of poker. I see it more as the classic Irresistable Force vs Immovable Object question.

Through my poker travels and trevails, no matter how much my logic tries to convince me the above idea is true, other things seem to creep in. For instance, I have found that in order to win big pots it is much more crucial to be able to make a good (?) call. Basically, what I am saying is that by being the aggressor and getting your opponent to fold the pot is relatively small, but when a good or brave call is made then the pot grows much bigger. If you can win with those calls then you can most likely be +EV because your wins will be huge. I will give you a bunch of situations where the aggressor fails due to brave or good calls. The pots are all big so by calling and becoming the immovable object, big pots are won.

First Hand: Two nights ago I am playing at the Commerce $400 game. I have a decent size stack with about $1100. The table in general has been great with lots of action and showdowns at the river aka calls. This hand, however, it was folded to me on the button where I picked up 9d9s. I standard raised to $40 and both of the blinds calls. The $120 flop came down Jd 8c 2d. Both players checked to me. As the preflop aggressor, with only one relatively non-threatening overcard (as opposed to an A for instance) and the presense of a couple of draws I bet out $75. I got called in both spots. The $345 turn card came down the 7d. Now being called by two people with a J out there, a straight draw that got there, and a flush draw that got there I can reasonably assume that I can't beat anything. The SB bets out a meek $100 and the BB folds. Now, generally i would just toss this one out and say "Shit, he got there." But, I just started looking at the SB. He is a somewhat tight player preflop but post flop I had observed that he was very weak. He was twitching and giving off a whole lot of anxiety vibe. So I just didn't think he liked his hand. But I couldn't figure out what he was trying to accomplish. Was this $100 bet which gave me 4.5:1 odds meant to be a value bet with a high flush? Or was it a blocking bet with something like Ad8h? Or was it an all out bluff? None of it added up, I couldn't put him on a credible hand based on his previous play, he was giving off nervous energy left and right, I was getting 4.5:1 with a pair, 9 high flush draw, and a gutshot, so I called. I didn't know where I was but I just instinctively felt like a call was right, either I had the best hand, I could take him off his hand on the river, or I just felt really comfortable against this guy. Well the $545 river card came down the Ad for a board of Jd 2d 8c 7d Ad. Now I am watching the SB as he watches the Ad come down. He is clenching his teeth, gulping and swallowing, maybe even trying not to sweat. Basically he is very unhappy or extremely good at giving off false tells (very unlikely based on this player). But he bets out $200 into the $545 pot. He is giving me 3.5:1 odds to call with my 4th nut flush. I don't understand. If he made his straight draw with 9 10 on the turn then he obviously wouldn't bet the river. If he had a K or Q high flush he probably wouldn't be so nervous about the bet. If he had a 10high flush, he most likely wouldn't bet it and I can't see him calling preflop with something like 10d8d in the SB based on his preflop tightness. So I am quite confused and therefore I call. He asks "Do you have a diamond?" and I confidently turn over my hand and take down the $945 pot. He later said he had JJ. I suppose it makes sense for him to be nervous on the turn and river if he had planned to slowplay his set. But the immovable object (me) made some good calls which also turned out to be quite brave in my opinon based on the situation. If he hadn't been dripping with tells I probably would have let this one go. But the ability to call down won me the nice pot.

The next set of hands came from today's session at Hawaiian Gardens. The table was fabulous with lots of money on the table and some pretty loose play. I raised in middle position to $40 with 10 10. The button called as did the BB and the 2nd position limper. I have about $1400 behind, the button has a about $1050, the BB has about $800, and the 2nd position limper also has about $800. The $160 pot comes down J 7 4 rainbow. The two in front of me check to me and in contrast to the previous hand I decided to check. I checked for two reasons, there are now 4 people in the hand instead of three as in the previous so there is a larger chance that a J is out there. Two out of the three other people in the hand came in for full price as opposed to the previous situaiton where the blinds called with a discount so there was a chance that their hand was slightly less than normal calling standards. The other reason being that i was no longer last to act on successive streets so a CB might not be as effective if I were to be called by the button as I would have to show weakness by checking on 4th street. So after i checked, the button got kind of all huffy and bet out $140 into the $160 pot. As soon as he did this I got a sneaking suspicion. With such a dry board, I couldn't understand why he was betting so aggressively to get us to fold and acting like it as well. I was positive he didn't have a set because he wouldn't be that aggressive with it. It didn't feel like he had a J, and if he did, he really wanted to end the pot there. It felt like he had either a 7 or a small pocket pair below Jacks. In fact, I had seen him do a similar move about 2 hours earlier in a big pot where he put the preflop raiser on AK and moved in on him with something like 55 on a J 22 board. The guy called with 99 and won. So I really didn't think he had a J. The BB took a long time and finally called after staring into space and what seemed like looking at the pot to count it. So I figured he had 56 for the open ended. The 2nd position limper folded. I thought I could raise here and take it but I wanted to wait for a safe card on the turn and most likely a check down to keep the pot small figuring I had the best hand. So I called. The river brough the 5d putting 4 suits on the board. Now this wasn't a good card if the button had 55 obviously and it would have improved the BB's draw to a pair and a straight draw. BB checked and I checked keeping with my plan of keeping the pot smallish. The button now bet out $375 into $580 pot. The BB reluctantly folded. Now here I had a conundrum. I still believed that I had the best hand. But if he held a small pocket pair he very well could have a straight draw now and the betting lead as well as position. If he held a J, I didn't think he could call off his remaining $550 or so with it. I always do acting when I am in the hand because you never know when it could come in handy, so when I had called on the flop I had asked how much he had left and tried to act like I would if I had JJ on a J 7 4 rainbow board. I said "I just call" and did that whole bit partly as a preparation to move on him on the turn if need be. Well, now that he had put some more money in, I wanted to end the hand because the pot was big enough and my hand was small but still good in my opinion. So I went all in. He sighed and was visibly upset saying "you have a set of Jacks, huh?" He finally called anyway. The river came a 6 and he turned over 7s 4s to win the almost $2400 pot. Now he played it well, in hindsight, all of his bets made sense because bottom two pair is very easily counterfeited ( believe me I know!) and his hand was well hidden so I couldn't give him credit for that hand. He made good plays and made a good all in call as he beats pretty much all credible hands at the moment outside of JJ. Point being that again, the immovable object (not me) bested the irresistable aggressive force (this time me). That knocked me down quite a bit and about 30 minutes later this hand came up. I was in the BB with about $300 left and the 9 10 off. 4 people limped in and the SB folded and I checked. So the $50 pot came down 10 8 5 rainbow. I checked and everyone checked to the big stack (a fairly sophisticated player) on the button who overbet the pot $75. I felt like he had a draw to play this fast, maybe 67 or J9 so I called. Everyone else folded. The turn brough a 6 putting 4 suits on board. Now the pot was $200 or so. I now had top pair, marginal kicker, but I had a gutshot straight draw to go along with it. If he had J9 he didn't improve, if he had 67 then he had a pair with an open ended but he only would have 11 outs as a 7 would make my boss straight. So I figured he either couldn't call my all in or I would be a nice favorite. So I pushed all in for $230 into the $200 pot. He thought for a while and told me "I put you on a draw, something like 97 or 86. But I am going to make a donkyish call." He called and the 4 on the river didnt improve me and his A 10 won. Again, his hand was pretty good and it wasn't too much money to him but he had put me on a range of hands which all beat him and I had shown interest in a fairly well connected board. But yet the immovable object bested the irresistable force. And again the ability to make a good, brave, or bad call won a nice sized pot. It was the call not the aggression.
This last hand came from Commerce later on that night. After losing at Hawaiian Gardens I went to Commerce on the way home. I sat down at a table and saw two very nice big pots before I played. Through table talk and another player praising me with his fear before I even played I had convinced the table that we were going to be playing loose and aggressive for big pots. Or continuning to as was the case. So I limped and folded a couple times. Then on my 6th hand or so, UTG player (what seemed like a bad player so far) raised to $40 and the guy directly to my right called. I looked down to see AcKc. As I looked at it, I thought about how I wanted to set the stage for the session. I wanted it to be really fast and loose and I didn't care so much about this hand as what I wanted the atmosphere to be and my image to be. So I went all in for $370. Everybody folded around to the UTG who was not happy. He only had about $300 more. After talking himself into calling saying "its probably a race" he called and the other player folded. I asked if he had a pair and he said no and I showed my AcKc. He turned over his Qs 10s and said it was a small race. Well the board came out 9h 5s 8s. The turn came a 2s and I was drawing dead. No bad beat bitching stories here. I was only a 3-2 favorite when all the money got in. That's not the point. The point is that again, the immovable object (the call) bested all the aggression the irresistable force could muster (moving all in for 4.5X the pot).

I think aggression is a bit overvalued. Of course, you need to protect your hand and what not but the more I look back over my big wins, the more i think they came at least 60% in part from making some big calls in big pots. Some were good like the 7s4s call and some may have been as brave as the Qs10s (though I wouldn't like to admit it). If you can perfect the art of being a calling station then you can definetly be +EV.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Just Card Dead

I went up to HP tonight rather early around 6pm and sat in the $400 game. I was doing well when I raised with AsKh and the board came Ks Qs 8s and got it all in vs 10s 7s on the flop and caught a Ad and 3s on the turn and river. We got down to short handed and I got a huge bad beat. On a board of 997 rainbow, I got it all in vs 89 with my 9 10 in a $900 pot and the turn came 3 and river came 8. That was nasty.

After that hand, the table broke about 20 minutes later and I went to play in the $500 unrestricted game. The game was great with over $30K on the table. There was alot of action too, but I was getting NO HANDS. I got a few suited Aces (Ah4h, As6s) and an AJoff or two but outside of that I got no hands to play in good situations. I sat at that table for 2.5 hours or so until I saw the 3 action players get busted on some ridiculous hands. For instance: After three limpers, the SB (an old, big stacked bad player) raised to $50. Jon (an experienced good player) called as well as one other on the button. The flop came down 5 7 2 rainbow. SB bet something like $125 and only Jon called. The turn was a 9. SB bet out $350 and Jon raised to $1100. They both were very deep stacked. SB called. The river came another 2 ( the board has all 4 suits) for a board of 2 5 7 9 2. The pot is about $2600 and the SB goes allin for $3400+. After a long, long study Jon finally calls the $3400+ bet. After the SB turns over his KK, Jon shows his 86off for the straight and rakes in the $9500+ pot.
I was no where near any of these types of pots :(.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A God Damn Foot on my Neck

Every fucking time I start to put something together, I hit a massive wall. I was starting to make a comeback and was almost even on the year. In fact, I was -$715 as of last week. I had a few bad days in there and then tonight hits. I played a 40 minute session at Commerce. In that 40 minutes, I played 4 hands not counting posting/folding a few blinds. The first hand that I play: A semi-short stack openraises to $30 in early/middle postion. There are two callers ahead of me and I have AhQc in the BB. I just call because I don't know very many players at the table including the three in this pot. The $120 flop comes down Qh 10s 9h. I check, Original Raiser bets out $75 and both limpers call the $75. Seeing that the O. Raiser has only $175 or so left and feeling that the other two were definetly drawing I went all in for $285 more. The original raiser calls and the other two fold. I show AQ and he says "You're good for now" turn comes 6c and the river comes Ks and he turns over AJoff for Broadway.

2nd Hand I play: I am down to about $110-$115. Two hands later on the button, after two limpers I have AhQc again, I go all in trying to either get in a race or take the $35 and start rebuilding. There is no sense in raising here and getting someone into the pot when my CB would have no strength if i missed the flop. Both blinds fold and the first limper calls me and shows his AsQs after i show mine. Board comes innocuous and we chop.

3rd hand I play: About 6 hands later I am in 2nd position with the same $120-$125. I have Ah Ks. UTG limps and I want to make some money and get into a confronation, but I decide to limp as well and obviously push/call any raise. If i miss the flop and fold then I only lose $10. Well, it gets 6 limpers and the SB makes it $150. After UTG folds, I immediately call and everyone else folds. After the dealer makes the pot right, I ask if he has a pair and he responds "What does it matter?" and I say "I just wan t to know if my Aces and Kings are live" as I show my AK. He says "They're live". The flop comes down Ac 6c 3d. Turn comes 9c. He then says "you're good". The river comes Qc. He says "I have a club" and turns over his 7h 2c for the winner.

4th hand I play: After rebuying and and watching a few rounds go by without playing a hand I see some just ridiculous things. The table is just horrible. The AJ from the first hand has gotten super lucky and played his good hands badly and won, his bad hands badly and won, and everything badly and won. He had about $170 before the 1st hand listed was played and in the 25 minutes since then has made Quads, a gutshot, counterfeited someone's hand, and counterfeited another person's hand to build up to about $2000. After a setup has been called, a few people get up to smoke while the dealer checks the deck. They haven't returned yet so we take this hand 6 handed with me being UTG. I get 7c7h and usually raise it here but just limp. Our hero (AJ) limps and the button raises to $70. The two blinds fold and I call because i get the feeling just by the way he raised that he really didn't have a pair. But I still had $350+ so i didn't want to race off here for no reason. To my suprise, AJ calls the$70 as well after just flippantly limping in the first place. Well, my plan here was to lead out big if there were no cards over a 10. The board comes 7s 6c 3d. Well, no reason to play this too fast. I don't think the button has a big pair so I doubt if i lead he will raise. So i checked, AJ bets a pathetic $30 into the $220 pot and the button only calls the $30. So I know AJ has some weak draw (I assumed 89) and the button was just phising with big cards as assumed. So i wanted to keep them in and I raised to $100 (only $70 more). Big mistake. They both called. So going into the turn, there was $520 in the pot. The turn was the 8c. Not a fun card but one that almost certainly did not kill me. I went all in for $210 and AJ makes it $500 by putting in a whole rack. Button folds and I ask do you have a straight? Of course, he turns over 9s 10s for the gutshot and the 10c doesn't improve my set.

I can't count how many of these little shit session of <1hour I have had where people will not lay down a hand and my boss hand will not hold. Its just draining to see this day in and day out. I want to play in games where the stacks are deeper and people have more of a reason to fold but I just can't build a bankroll big enough for that without running through these games.