Friday, December 23, 2005

WWdN West Coast Homegame: Battle of the Suckouts

Last night (going into early this morning) I played in another WWdN Thursday night tournament. I had been on a losing streak over the past couple of days; it seemed like I couldn't catch a break to save my life. I hoped that meant that I had used up all my bad luck for a while and that Dame Fortune would smile on me a bit in the tourney. Thankfully, she managed to sprinkle some of her magic dust on me.

I started out pretty well, getting some decent starting hands and taking down a few small pots. My first table included, among others, Wil and Dr. Pauly. I knocked Wil out when his Hammer that paired the 7 on the flop ran into my flopped set of nines. I got pocket 9s a few more times; it's strange how the same hands keep coming back in some games.

I managed to get some good reads at the table, which is a skill I really need to develop more. I sniffed out a few steal attempts that I fought off, and made a steal or two myself when I detected weakness. I hope like hell that I can get better at that, because it's so important to success at this game.

I built up my stack a bit and used it to push a few people off some pots. Of course, some pushed back and I had to fold my share too. I think most of my decisions were good, although I'm still not that great at figuring pot odds and counting outs to know if I should be calling or raising in certain situations.

At Level IV I got moved to another table. Before long, I had pocket Aces. I raised, everyone but ZeemJr folded, he reraised and I called. The flop was K-6-5 rainbow. ZeemJr went all-in, I called all-in. He turned over.... pocket Aces. No straights or flushes hit, and we chopped. Ha!

Things flowed along for a while, with chips making the rounds among the players at the table. Then the suckouts started. One hand, Sires made two pair on the river but that river card gave Dr Chako a flush. A few hands later, good43 pushes with 88 and is called by JHartness with AQ. An Ace hits the turn, busting good43 out. Meanwhile, I didn't get much to play with and the blinds kept eating away at my stack. I stole a few blinds here and there to claw my way back to some (still short stacked) elbow room. I think I earned some respect by not playing many hands.

After a few orbits, I got 7d-7h in middle position, and called 200, only to be raised 600 by Jhartness. Up4Poker (aka CJ) had already called the blind and raise, so I figured with that much in the pot I might as well at least see a flop and hope to catch something that will let me double up. The flop comes Th-9h-Ac. Three overcards, but everyone checks, so I'm thinking that no one caught any of it, or they are trapping. The turn is the Ts. CJ checks. I'm down to 1205 in chips, so I decide to represent the T and I push. The others fold and I double up plus. This is the turning point for me in the game.

More suckouts ensue: Sires's AA is beat by 787Style's 9-2 that catches a 2 on the flop and a 9 on the turn.

I steal a few blinds and antes and build my stack up to second place at my table. Then it was my turn to suck out. I've got Ks-Tc in the BB. It's folded to CJ on the button, who raises it to 750. 787Style in the SB folds. I think CJ is trying to steal, so I call. Flop is 3s-Jd-8s. Check check. Turn is 9s. I've got flush and straight draws, and I can't tell what CJ has since he checked the flop, so I bet 800. He raises me to 2200. It's going to cost me 1400 for a pot over 4000. I'm not good at computing odds so I may be wrong to do it, but I know I have outs and I feel committed so I call. The river is the 2s. I've hit my flush, and I go all in for my last 1830. CJ thinks for a long time. I know he doesn't have the As or he would instacall; I put him on a lower spade. He finally calls all-in, and shows Ah-Ts. I take the pot of 7605. CJ admitted that when the spade hit, he figured he was beat but made an anger call because of it. This puts me way up in the chip count, not # 1 but close.

With a healthy stack, I make some moves here and there. Not super-aggressive, but I take some blinds with a few position raises.

Suckout # I-lost-count: gristle69 pushes, ZeemJr has him covered and calls. gristle69 shows Ac-Jc, ZeemJr has As-Kc. Board comes Qc-5d-5h-2c-9c, giving gristle69 a flush on the river. I felt like a needed a life jacket, the way the river was overflowing.

Two hands later, I busted Sires when he pushed with A-T and my 8-8 flopped a set that boated with a pair of fours. This moved me to the final table. When I got there, I had 14,225 chips, about 1,000 less than chip leader Dr. Pauly.

We lose Hughesers and ZeemJr fairly quickly after the final table is set. I lose a big pot when I call Tooloftheman's all-in with Ad-8h against his Jh-9d, and he pairs both of his cards. Very next hand, I get A8o again. I raise, everyone folds.

Suckout again: Darzog pushes against gristle69. Darzog has A-5, gristle69 has 4-4. Board: 8-7-8-3-5. Darzog rivers his pair of fives to stay alive.
Next hand suckout sequel: I get Ah-Qs in the BB. Arcon raises it to 2400; gristle69 goes all-in for his last 1560; I call the 2400. Flop is Qh-9d-Kc. With TPTK, I bet 1800, and Arcon folds, leaving gristle69 and me heads-up. gristle69 shows Ad-5d. Turn is 7d, river is Jd giving gristle69 the runner-runner flush.

I get rags for the next few hands and don't get involved much. Then I get 7c-2c in the BB. It's folded to Darzog in the SB, who raises me to 1800. Smelling a steal attempt, I decide to push back and reraise to 3000. Darzog lays it down, and I show my suited Hammer, to much derision from the table and observers. OK, so a suited 7-2 isn't a "pure" hammer; it still worked its magic for me on that hand.

Will they never end: I get 6h-8c on the button. It's folded to me, so I raise to 3200 (4X BB). Arcon goes all-in for 3519, and I call the 319. Arcon shows Ad-8h. Flop is 5d-6c-8s. Hot damn, top two pair (and one of his eights)! Turn: Ac. Arcon gets the higher two pair. As Jaxia observed from the rail, "suck and resuck."

We went round and round, with nobody falling way behind and only Dr. Pauly way out in front, the rest of us relatively even. Eventually Arcon's A-K crashes into Dr. Pauly's K-K and Arcon is out. Shortly after, I pushed with A-K vs. gristle69's A-J. Neither of us improved, and my kicker held up. But, the blinds and antes were taking their toll, and soon I was down below 6000 chips.

Guess what: I get As-8d on the button. It's folded to me, so I push in my last 3597. Dr. Pauly pushes as well, and it's the two of us. Pauly shows Ac-Tc; he's way ahead. Flop: Ah-6s-Kd. Turn: Ad. Pauly has me outkicked and I'm dead meat. Except for: River = 8s, and I make the boat to double up. Everyone at the table and on the rail is shaking their virtual heads at all these suckouts.

I'm still getting killed by the blinds and antes, so when I get Ah-6c in the BB and Darzog raises me from the SB, I go all-in. He thinks long but finally calls and turns up 8s-6s. The board is Qc-5h-4h-9h-6h. Darzog gets a six but it's a heart to give me a flush, and I'm back in the thick of it again.

Can you believe it: Darzog pushes his As-Qs against Pauly's Tc-Th. Board: 5s-Kh-Ac-8h-.... wait for it.... Td. Darzog goes home in fourth.

I'm the short stack now against Pauly and Tooloftheman. I know I can't wait for perfect hands, so when I get Qc-3d I raise, get reraised by Pauly, and push my last chips in. Pauly shows AA, and ends up with a full house of Aces over nines. No suckout for me that hand.

This was an amazing tournament for me, not just because I finished third, but because of the wild hands and yet the great play that I saw. I hope all of these tournaments that I play in are as much fun as this one was.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Lucky eights

My wife was asking me about poker hand rankings earlier today, and wondered if four of a kind is the highest hand. I told her that the best possible hand is a royal flush, which consists of A-K-Q-J -10 of the same suit. She asked if I had ever got that hand, and I couldn't remember ever having it, although I did get a lower straight flush in a tournament a few months ago. She asked if I had ever had four of a kind, and I told her that I had not had one since I started playing regularly over the past couple of years.

So what happens when I play a few hands of 0.05/0.10 Hold 'Em tonight?

I'm glad I was able to get a screen shot of it for posterity. Who knows how long it will be until it happens again?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thor strikes!

Last night I didn't get home in time to play in the WWdN West Coast Warm-Up tournament, but I did watch from the virtual rail for a bit, and then played in a side game with some of the tourney players who busted out. We played a $0.01/0.02 NLHE game, which is fun since you can make a bet of any size without worrying about whether it will be as much as your next car payment.

I did OK most of the way, although I didn't get as many good starting hands as I would have liked. I am still working on adjusting my playing style when I switch from limit to no-limit, so I tend to play tighter than I probably should when I'm in a NL game. I managed to make one successful move, though: I finally dropped The Hammer! I was dealt 72o in late position. It was folded around to Wil on my right, who called the 0.02 blind. I raised it 0.10; bdr1968 and bedheadmick called, but Wil folded, calling me a bully. :-) The flop came 9-2-5 rainbow. bedheadmick checks; I bet 0.20 with my bottom pair; everyone folds. I show my Hammer, and everyone applauds. I take my bow, and collect my $0.39. Unfortunately, the Hammer came back to haunt me later when I got QQ, tried to raise Joanne out when the flop came 5-3-6 but got called, then got knocked out when the turn was a 4, she raised me all-in and showed her 7-2 for a (six-card) straight. I should have seen it coming, but was seduced by the Hilton sisters. I have to stop falling for their wiles.

I had a great time in the game, and the chat kept me in stitches the whole time. I look forward to my next chance to play with this fun group of people.