Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who's the Idiot? A Tale of Self-Destruction at The Nugget

Pete Peters went up to New York for Thanksgiving.  I made stops in AC on Wednesday on the drive up, and Saturday on the way back, and put together two strong cash sessions both days:

Borgata (Wednesday night):

Harrah's (Saturday night):

I left New York early Saturday morning to reach AC in time for the nooner at the Nugget -- my favorite tournament in Jersey.  $25,000 stacks, 30 minute levels.  I built my stack up to $48,000 by the first break, but then caught a run of bad luck, including flopping top-top twice against a villain's set.  Five hours in, blinds were $50 / $400 / $800, and I was sitting on $38,000 when this hand occurred:
Villain was new to table.  He's an older gentlemen, sitting on $23,000 give or take a few hundred.  The action checks around to Villain on the hijack.  Villain checks the hole, and starts playing with his $100 and $25 chips.  He looks like he's thinking about calling.  But, after 30 seconds or so, Villain reaches for two $1000 chips and raises.  Action folds to me on the button.  I look down at 55.  My read is that Villain is not all that strong.  Rather than flatting and set mining, I opt to raise.  I'm basically planning on making a move, assuming I don't flop a set.  I raise to $6,000.  Villain just calls.  More affirmation in my mind that he's not holding a monster.
[Pot: $13,700]    Flop comes down 2h, 6c, 4h.  Villain checks.  I lead out for $9,300.  I have a pair and a gutshot, but really I'm just continuing with my move.
Villain shoves.  Oooops.  

It's $8,000 more to me, so I begrudgingly call.

Villain flips . . . 99. 


I don't improve, and I bust out an orbit later when I shove 99 (ironically) and get called by AK which connects on the flop.
I've given the hand some thought.  I really don't understand Villain's play.  His line preflop is fine, I guess.  But his flop call/shove didn't seem to make sense.  He has $18,000 chips left on the flop -- plenty left to fold and live to play another hand.  What does Villain think he's ahead of?  What's my range?  Villain has no history on me.  I've three-bet preflop and continued on a fairly coordinated board.  I feel like my story checks out: JJ - AA.  I also could have taken the same line with AK (maybe AQ, etc.).  Basically, there's one or two hands in my range that Villain is ahead of.  And, of course, he's ahead of a pure bluff.  How does he think his 99 is good? 
After the hand, I jokingly said to Villain, "I guess I didn't sell my story well enough, huh?"  His response:  "Well, it was the best hand I had seen in a while."  Um.  What?  How is that a reason to stack off for your tournament life? 
Plenty of times in the past, I've self-destructed 4 or 5 hours into a tournament when the combination of boredom and bad cards had lulled me into making a bad play.  However, here, while my move didn't work, I still feel like it was a strong play.  Villain's hand (99) is right around where I put him.  I thought I could move him off his hand.  A day later, I still think my line should have worked.  So, I guess my question is this: 
Was Villain the idiot or was I?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday Hand of the Day -- What Would You Do?

Triple P returned to the Chuck Sunday for a quick three-hour session, which was relatively uneventful.  The following hand went down in the first 15 minutes.  Villain was a Reg; a woman in her mid-thirties who I've played with before.  While I don't know her well, my impression is that she's capable and aggressive.  In the mere 15 minutes I had been at the table, her stack had taken several hundred dollar swings.  In short, she's not afraid to get her money in the middle.  She began the hand with about $600.  Pete has $310 and is in middle position for the action: 
Villain limps for $2 in early position.  One caller.  Action gets to Pete, who looks down at 99.  Pete raises to $12.  It folds around to Villain who calls $10 more.  Second limper comes along.
Flop [$39 in pot]:  T 6 4 rainbow.
Villain and limper both check.  Pete bets $28.  Villain calls.  Limper folds.
Turn 4.  Check; Check.
River 2.  Villain bets $50.
What's your play?   
[result will be posted in comments]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Hand Analysis

Follows is a hand that was played at Charles Town earlier today.  Pete Peters went heads up with a very capable villain.  Pete began the hand with approximately $300.  Villain had Pete covered.  Pete is in position with Ac Qh.  Villain limps from early position.  Middle Position calls $2.  Pete raises to $12.  Villain Calls.  MP calls.

FLOP:  [Pot $39]:  6s Ad Qs

Villain checks.  MP checks.  Pete bets $28.  Villain raises to $80.  MP folds.  Pete calls $52 on top.

Turn [Pot: $199]:  Ks

Villain checks.  Pete checks.

River 5s

Villain checks.  Pete checks.

Villain shows Ah 6h. 

After the hand, Villain commented repeatedly to his end of the table, "I lost the minimum there . . . "

Question is:  Did Pete lose value anywhere on the hand?  After going check, check, could Pete bet the river for value in this spot? 

Of note, Villain also claimed he thought about firing the river.  If he does, I'm pretty sure its an insta-fold.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Hand Histories & Pete Peters' Run-in With a Monster

This past weekend, I opted for a change of pace, and decided to play some poker . . .
I drove out to Dover Downs Saturday morning, and snagged a seat at one of the two $1/2 tables running at 1:00 pm.  I typically find Dover to be a friendly, relaxing place to grind. I was hoping for a relatively easy afternoon of poker, with few real decisions....  Instead, I played one of the most stressful, high-variance afternoons in memory.  It seemed like every hand a played turned into a big pot.  Hell, I don't even remember a single hand that went, raise, call, C-bet, rake . . .  An hour in, I found myself down $200.  I topped off (in for $500), and started hitting some hands.  I built my stack up to $840, before losing a few hands near the end, and walking with $240 profit.  Here are some highlights (or low lights, as the case may be):
The first hand I played, sitting on $296, I found JJ under the gun and opened to $12.  Myself and a mere 6 callers saw a 4 K A rainbow flop.  No sense even thinking about C-betting in this spot.  One hand played, one hand lost.
An orbit later, I find AK in middle position.  After one limper, I raise to $12.  An old Asian lady on the button calls, as does the limper.  The flop comes down 8 A 9 (two spades).   Limper donks for $10.  I raise to $35.  Both villains call.  Interesting.  Donker has about $200 behind, and Asian lady has approximately $50 left as we head to the turn.  Turn is a 2 hearts, which changes nothing.  Donker checks, I bet $55 to put the button all in.  She calls, and donker folds.  Old Asian lady flips A,8 for "aces up," and takes it down.  Less than 30 minutes in, and I'm down over $100.
Next hand I play -- AQ.  I decide to mix it up and follow two limpers into the pot.  In all, six see the flop: Qc, Ac, 7c.  Brilliant.   It checks to me, and I bet the pot.  One caller.  Turn is the 4c.  Does it get any better?  I check, Villain bets, I fold.  Three hands played, three hands lost.
A little while later, and after my rebuy, momentum shifts, and this scary hand is played:
I raise two limpers to $15 with QQ in middle position and get two callers (I was raising a bit more than normal to account for limpers, particularly given that the table was playing loose and calling just about any amount).  The flop is T 8 2.  I lead for $30 and get called by the hijack - a competent player who was on the $2/$5 wait list.  Not a great spot -- playing an overpair out of position to a decent regular who has called two bets.  I discounted KK or AA, as I think this villain would have three bet, particularly given my preflop raise, a call before the action got to him, and one limper yet to act.  Nevertheless, frankly, I'm not sure where am at at this point in the hand.  He could have flopped a set (two pair unlikely), he could be on a straight draw, or he could just be floating.  The turn bricks and I decide to give up the lead.  I'm hoping for him to check back.  But, I'm also giving him an opportunity to try and bluff in the event he was floating (and putting me on a hand like a big Ace).  Villain bets $50.  I quickly call, hoping it comes off strong.  River blanks.  I don't want to get check-raised by 88 or TT here.  I check.  Villain tanks.  He has $165 behind -- a stack of $100 and a stack of $65.  He plays with both stacks like he's about to shove, but rethinks, and slides out the stack of $65.  His bet size basically makes my decision for me.  I'm calling $65 into a pot of $270 and getting better than 4-1.  This alone makes it a fairly easy call.  But, beyond this, I'm fairly confident only a set beats me and, if he had a set why bet such a relatively small amount (just barely more than his turn bet).   I call; villain mucks.  Had he shoved for $165, I would have had a real decision to make.  Frankly, I think I fold in that spot.        
I had layed low for 30 minutes or so, when I was dealt K 4 diamonds and decided to make a move.  I raised three limpers to $15 in late position.  To my chagrin, I picked up 5 callers, including the button and big blind.  There's just under $80 in the pot.  Flop comes down J 3 7 and it checks to me.  Fairly safe flop.  I decide to play it like AA and bet $55.  It folds around and I scoop a decent pot.      
I ultimately worked my stack to $840 before giving a bit back on two unfortunate hands:
Hand One:  I limp with A3 and flop a gutshot (2 5 9 two clubs).  Gentlemen to my right bets $7.  I call.  The turn is the 4 c, making my wheel, but putting the flush out on the board.  Gentlemen announces, "same bet."  I call.  River is a 2, pairing the board.  Guy bets $14.  I call.  He shows 2,5 for the rivered boat.
A few minutes later I raise to $10 from the button with AT.  Two callers, including a short stack and the boat captain from the previous hand.  Flop is T 8 4, two spades.  Short stack shoves $25.  Captain thinks about it, and calls.  I decide to try and isolate against the shortstack, and raise to $80 (giving captain 2-1 on a call).  Captain folds, shortstack flips KQ spades for the draw, which he hits on the turn. 
Sunday I made the drive up to Charles Town for a quick afternoon session (yes, my unofficial boycott of Penn National lasted 6 days).  I once again quickly dropped $100, and then spent the next few hours struggling to make up ground.  I got very few playable hands.  Those that were playable, I raised and missed.  I C-bet a few on fairly dry-looking boards, only to get three-bet (never a good feeling).  I was dealt QQ three times, raised each, got at least one caller, and had an Ace hit the flop every time.  I got AK twice, opened both times to $10, and got not a single caller.  In short, nothing was working.  Eventually, I worked my way back into the black, and then it happened . . .
 . . . some dude takes the seat to my immediate right.  With him is his girlfriend.  At least, I think it was a woman.  She was a monster.  For the first 10 minutes, she just stood directly behind me watching the action, breathing heavily . . . labored.  The beast was tired (and, possibly hungry . . .).  Noticing the situation, the dealer offered to get her a chair and told her, "feel free to have a seat and watch."  Um.  Great.  So . . . monster takes a seat.  Almost directly behind my chair and her boyfriend's chair.  She's so close I can feel her breathing on me.  She has one of her club arms (presumably used for hunting or to incapacitate prey) resting on the back of my chair, and the other on her boyfriend's chair.  She's fidgeting non stop, and as a result, my chair is in constant motion.  I also can't push back to check my phone, etc., because she's/it's literally up against the back of my chair.  To make matters worth, the monster and her boyfriend are speaking some foreign tongue.  And, I can sort of see her through the corner of my eye looking at my hole cards, despite my efforts to protect my hand not only from my opponent, but from her as well.  Now, I have no idea if they were communicating improperly or not.  They probably weren't (the one hand I played against the guy, I double barreled and moved him off his hand with a fairly weak holding).  Nevertheless, the entire time I was fighting two urges - first, the urge to be "that guy" and request the dealer enforce "English, Only" if she was going to sit behind me at the table; and, second, the impulse to throw an elbow and catch her in the chin.  At that point, I knew it was simply best to leave, so I racked up and cashed out a small $37 profit and called it a weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Return to the Grind

The past few months, my poker focus has clearly been on tournament play.  Prior to this year, my live tournament experience was negligible (and my results even more so).  I played mainly cash, and enjoyed cash more than MTT's.  This year, however, my focus seems to have shifted.  I've spent many weekends at Del Park just playing tournament after tournament.  Even my recent trips to AC have tended to revolve around tournament play (particularly the Golden Nugget Saturday guaranty and the numerous donkaments at the Showboat).  My tournament game seems to be evolving as well.  Aside from my glorious first-out, flame-out  at Charles Town about a month ago, I've run deep in almost every event I've played, and made 4 final tables in October alone.  Unfortunately, I haven't kept records of my tournament play, and have no idea how much I've won or lost on the year (despite recent success, I think I still may be in a small hole). 
As a result of my shifting focus, I've current logged only 160 hours of cash play year to date.  And, my results have been less than stellar -- down about $175 after getting stacked last Saturday night at the $1/$1 game at Bally's. 
Well, this weekend, I'm heading back to the grind.  I plan on driving out to Dover on Saturday to play 5 hours or so during the afternoon, and then another long session after dinner.  It's been about 6 months since I've made the drive out to Dover.  It's a small, but nice, room.  Lots of regulars, but fairly friendly players (a lot less hoodies and sunglasses than most rooms).  The play is usually a bit South of solid, even though the action is a lot tighter than The Chuck.  I usually find its a good place to get my cash game back on track.  Hopefully that will be the case this weekend.
Happy grinding!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Expansion of Maryland Gaming - Tomorrow's the Day

Tomorrow is Election Day.  For Maryland/D.C./Virginia poker players, not only will tomorrow's election decide our next President, it will also determine whether we must continue driving to West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City to play cards. 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Penn National, owner of nearby Charles Town Casino in West Virginia, has waged an unprecedented ad campaign against Proposition 7 (which would permit table games in existing Maryland Casinos and would allow for another casino to be built by National Harbor, just outside D.C.).  Penn National has spent approximately $40 million on negative ads.  Yes, $40 million . . .. 



And, as a result, according to recent polls, Prop 7 is a toss-up, at best.
Putting aside those who are simply morally opposed to gambling, there seems to be no valid reason to vote down this prop.  Even assuming some truth to Penn National's ads, it's still hard to see the downside to this initiative.  Yet, plenty of people are against gaming expansion.  As one person commented this afternoon on a Washington Post Online article on the prop:

"The vision is for the casino owners to pull up in Brinks armored cars with sacks of cash while the sucker local blacks continue to get ripped off.....I already voted NO."

Um.  OK.  Well done, sir.  First, Maryland already has (or has approved) five casinos.  Currently, they offer only slots.  For those concerned that table games and one additional casino are going to disproportionately impact the lower class, give me a break . . . The most -EV games are already widely available.  If poor people want to donk away their paychecks, they already have the ability.  
Another women posted this:
i just read the question 7 bill on the state website. no where does it say anything about money earmarked for the schools will go exclusively to the schools. the gov/legislature can use it as needed. i'm voting no on that alone.
Really?  Really?!?  I mean, come on.  REALLY!?!?!?  Even assuming the increased tax revenue does not go to fund education, it's still increased tax revenue.  How is increased tax revenue ever a bad thing when it's coming from gaming proceeds?  Would people rather the State increase income, sales or property taxes?  Essentially, MGM is going to build a world class gaming resort, and Jim Murren is going to hand over 50% of the take to the State.  Who gives a shit if that money goes to education, or whether it goes to funding public works, or whether it's used simply to bridge the budget deficit.  WHO CARES!  It's revenue the state otherwise would not have.  Yet, clearly, based on the comments I've seen, Penn National has succeeded in transforming the debate into whether or not Maryland's legislators can be trusted when they say the money will be used for education.   Penn National has flashed a metaphoric shiny object in front of Maryland citizens, and far too many have clearly been distracted . . .
Finally, opponents of gaming expansion challenge MGM's claims that a new casino at National Harbor will create thousands of construction jobs and 4,000 permanent resort-related jobs.  Seems to me, this is axiomatic.  Critics contend, however, that many of the construction jobs will be performed by out-of-state union workers. I have no idea whether this is true or not.  But, again, lets assume it is true.  So what?  So some of the temporary construction jobs will go to non-Maryland residents.  Is this a reason to vote down the prop?  A new casino will still create construction jobs, regardless who will be filling them.  And, perhaps more importantly, both the new MGM resort, as well as the five existing casinos, will be hiring thousands of new workers to man the table games, restaurants, hotel, and other amenities.  These jobs will no doubt be going to local residents.
The bottom line (at least in the eyes of The Poker Barrister) is this:  where is the downside?  Aside from the few ideologues who believe gambling is immoral, why would anyone vote against this?   
If Proposition 7 fails, I have little doubt the result will be owed to Penn National's persistent negative adds coupled with the average citizen's inability to perform independent thought.  And, the kicker, of course, will come a year from now, when MGM has gone away, and it's Penn National that's lobbying the State for a new referendum permitting table games so that it can expand its Maryland facilities at Perryville and Rosecroft Raceway. Should such day come, I only hope the hypocracy is not lost on the sheep . . .


Stimulating the Jersey Economy (One Bet at a Time)

I had no plans to head back to Atlantic City this weekend.  I swear.  In fact, AC was shut down as recent as 10:00 am Friday morning.  But, early Friday afternoon, Governor Christie lifted the evacuation, and I happened to log onto my account at Harrah's to check weekend rates:  Ceasars AC, Friday/Saturday, fully comped.  I mean, how can I pass up on that?  So, 6:00 pm Friday night, I hit the road, unsure what exactly awaited at the Jersey shore.
Traffic on 95 was light.  By 9:00, I hit the AC expressway.  This is what it looked like:
Not a car in sight.  Sort of creepy.
Ceasars was likewise as empty as I've ever seen it.  A few random people here and there, donking slots.  One pit open with a few tables of blackjack, et cetera, with degenerates playing heads-up against the dealer.  Poker room closed until noon Saturday (indeed, only Borgata opened its poker room Friday night).   I donked some Mr. Cashman for a couple of hours, and called it a night.
Saturday morning, I headed out to the boardwalk, expecting to see devastation.  I saw nothing of the sort.  The boardwalk was fully intact, as was the Steel Pier and even the various "beach bars."
Later on, at dinner at the bar at Mortons, some locals were in fact complaining about the National news media's portrayal of the city.  While the news showed pictures of the AC boardwalk that had purportedly been blown down and washed away, that particular section -- at the far North end of the boardwalk -- had apparently been condemned for over 20 years.  While it was in shambles, its current state had little to do with Sandy.
I headed over to the Golden Nugget to see if the noon tournament (the $10,000 guaranty) was running.  According to the poker room manager, the tournament was indeed a go . . . with one minor exception: "there will not be a guaranty this week."  Um.  What exactly is The GN's definition of a "guaranty?"  I can't say I was surprised.  I also wasn't going to plunk down a $170 buy-in to play with the 12 runners the tournament eventually pulled.  Off to other pursuits...
Eventually, I decided to play the 2:00 pm tournament at The Showboat.  The $65 donkament drew 38 runners.  I busted twelfth.  I was actually building a fairly nice stack, and was up to $48,000 chips, when the following hand occurred and put me on tilt for a good hour:
Blinds were $400 / $800.  I was in the big blind with $48,000.  Two players limp into the hand, including an Old Lady on the hijack.  As an aside, Old Lady was annoying.  Like, a lot annoying.  She talked non-stop, asking in depth, probing, questions of everyone at the table:  "where do you live . . . what do you do for a living . . . are you married . . . what's your wife think of you playing poker the week after the hurricane . . . how did your house hold up to the damage . . . Oh, you're divorced . . . do you split custody of your kids . . . . how old are they . . .  why do you only see them twice a week if they live in the same town . . .   And, she was sitting next to her old bag friend, who, if possible, was even MORE ANNOYING.  Old Bag Deuce was playing Blanche to Old Bag One's Rose:
Old Bag Deuce thought she was clever, witty, and that she still had game.  She was hitting on half the table: "Oh, I like THAT one . . . he seems nice . . . I wonder what HIS deal is . . ." 
Anyway, back to the hand.  The action limps around to me in the big blind, and I look down at AK.  I pause, and raise the action: "$4,000 on top."  The initial limper folds.  Old Lady One dumps in another $4,000 chips without hesitation.  She started the hand with about $12,800.  She limped in for $800, and then called off a third of her stack to a raise from the big blind.  Whatever.  I was tired of her yapping.  I was putting her "all in" on the flop no matter what.
Flop comes down J 2 7.  She checks, and I bet $10,000.  She sighs, and says, "I have to call."  She does, and flips the almighty K 8 off.  Yes, clearly Rose just "had to call."  She had to call a $4,000 raise from the blind, and she just had to call off the rest of her stack on the flop.  Of course, you know how this story ends . . . with Rose hitting her three-outer on the turn and taking down a monster pot with a pair of 8's. 
It wasn't losing nearly half my stack that had me on tilt. It was having to listen to Rose continue to interrogate for another hour, while Blanche eye-fucked the rest of the table with her glaucoma-cursed view-finders.  I ended up getting my money in on the flop with an open-ended straight draw fifty minutes later, and was almost happy when I missed.  I'm never watching a rerun of the Golden Girls again.
Saturday night, after dinner, I went over to Bally's to play the $1 / $1 NL game.  It was interesting.  First off, the entire premise had me confused.  It's $1 / $1, yet you need to call $2 to see a flop?  So, what?  You're saving a dollar if you fold your big blind?  That seems reasonable.  With a $50 to $150 buy-in, the game was dominated by short-stacks.  I lost a decent sized hand early on with Pocket 77, when a short stack shoved his last $16 and another short-stack, who had about $35 behind, called.  I think I forgot I was playing a shitty cash game, and not the late stages a tournament (where I think a call with 77 is a reasonable play, when you're big stack and facing two short stacks).  Anyway, the flop was 6 high.  Short-stack two shoves his last $15 or so, and I of course call.  Initial shover has nothing, and short-stack two has TT and takes the pot.
An hour or so in, I was sitting on $120 of my buy-in, and most of the short-stacks were long gone.  We were playing 5 handed, one of whom was a dealer from Borgata and a fairly competent player.  This hand took place between the two of us:
I'm cut-off, and look down at QQ.  It folds to me and I raise to $10.  Borgata just calls from the button.  Flop is 9(s) 5(c) J(s). 
I lead the flop for $15.  Borgata RAISES to $40.  I tank.  I tend to rule out an over pair (Borgata likely would have re-raised).  JJ is within his range, and his raise would be consistent given the coordinated board (same with a set of 5's or 9's).  I had been C-betting every raise, and he could have AJ and be putting me on air . . . or a draw, and raising for information.  Or, Borgata could be on the draw (a raise with a draw would be a bit unusual for a $1/2 game, let alone $1/$1, but this guy was a dealer and a fairly decent player from what I could tell).  Ultimately, I had $95 behind, and just had a gut feeling my overpair was good.  
I shove, and Borgata snap calls and flips Q(s) T(s) for the open-ended straight flush draw.  The turn bricks, but the river is the K of diamonds and I'm done for the night.
Still not sure how I feel about the hand.  Had I been deeper, I probably flat call and reevaluate on the turn.  And, perhaps a turn-bet gets Villain off his draw with only one card to come.  Who knows . . .  Given my stack size, I don't really hate my shove.  Not sure if a fold in that spot is too soft.  Any thoughts?
As for Borgata's play . . . I give him credit for playing the hand well.  I like his flop raise.  When he called my shove, he explained, "I have to call with that draw . . ."  No explanation was needed.  I haven't done the math, but I suspect he was actually favored to get there by the river.  I would have called in that spot myself.