I spent this weekend playing poker. Seriously. I did. I played a 5 hour session Saturday at Charles Town. It was entirely uneventful. There was barely a decision to be made all afternoon. I left up $220.
Today was different. I played 4 hours at Maryland Live and nothing came easy. Today was a story about the power of position in poker. Or, perhaps unbeknownst to me, the story was about how I just suck at poker. Either way, I found myself in a handful of tough spots.
I got off to a good start with AQ. After a $5 straddle and two callers, I jacked AQ hearts to $35. I got 3 callers. Clearly, the old Charles Town crowd has taken their game to MDL! The 4 of us see an Ace, 5 8 rainbow flop in an already bloated pot. Action checks around. I hate this spot. There's $140 in the middle. I opt to bet out $90 - between 1/2 and 3/4 pot. It folds around and I scoop. I felt like this was a potentially horrendous spot, due in part to my preflop raise. Frankly, if I had gotten a call on the flop, I'm not sure what I would have done. I really don't want to be playing for stacks with top pair, queen kicker. Fortunately, I never had to make the decision.
After getting up a decent amount early, I pissed it all away, mainly calling small preflop raises with small pocket pairs, none of which hit on the flop. In fact, as discussed a bit more below, over the course of the afternoon, I played 14 small pocket pairs, and couldn't hit a single set.
After draining back down to even, I looked down at AK. I raised two limpers to $12 and ultimately end up with 4 callers. The flop comes down 7 high. It checks to me, and I bet $30. Next to act shoves for $120 and gets a call. I fold, and 67 wins the hand (against a draw). Um. OK.
And now for the hand of the day. This is one where position killed me: I'm sitting on about $300, and look down at AK in the small blind. After several limpers, I raise to $12. Two callers. Flop is K56 (2 spades). I lead out for $20 with TPTK. Both call. There's $96 in the pot going to the turn. A red 4. I bet $35, trying not to give up the lead, but also trying to somewhat control the pot size. Both players again call.
There's $200 in the pot going to the river. The 2 spades. This spot makes me throw up. By way of background, the guy in middle position has barely played a hand. I'm frankly having a hard time putting him on a range. What did he limp call preflop, and then call flop and turn bets, with? Did he flop a set? A spade draw with two broadway cards? I have no clue. The girl in late position has barely NOT played a hand. She could have anything. I consider betting out again. But, ultimately, I check and finally give up control. The tight guy in middle position bets out $70. Woman folds. Action is on me, and I tank. What the hell am I beating here? While I was tempted to call $70 (getting nearly 4-1), I ultimately fold. Face up. Guy in middle position punches me in the neck when he flips AK off. Wow! I assume he turned his hand into a bluff when I gave up control. But that was a bold call with the LAG chick playing behind him. And I certainly did not put him on AK. He limp calls preflop in middle position with that hand? In any event, perhaps my biggest mistake in the hand was showing my big slick. I've really been trying not to show ANY HANDS, but my ego got the best of my this time, and I couldn't resist showing a decent lay down. Of course, my ego got slammed when I was outplayed in front of the entire table. Anyone play this hand differently?
Shortly thereafter, position made itself known again. This time, I'm sitting on about $165 and get KK under the gun+1. I raise to $12 and get two callers, including an older gentlemen in middle position who is also sitting on about $150 and has been invisible all day. The flop is Q73 rainbow. I lead out for $25. Old guy min-raises to $65. Ugh. Other caller folds and action is back on me, heads up. I don't think he is raising with top pair. My gut tells me he flopped a set or thinks I'm full of shit and is betting air. It's hard to give him QQ since he didn't 3-bet from middle position. 77 or 33 are obviously possible. Again, being out of position sucks. And sitting on $150 or so also doesn't help. If I call here, I have $100 left. I feel like I'm basically playing for stacks. I consider folding. But folding just feels to weak. I call.
Turn is another 7. Actually a good card in my view, because it makes 77 less likely. As I'm thinking about my move, I realize the mistake in my flop play. I think the call was awful. I should have just shoved. As it were, i realize that if I check, HE is shoving. I decide the only play is to shove first and at least put pressure on him and take back control of the hand. I shove, and he tanks. I know I'm good. He ends up folding. He had nothing, and thought I had nothing, and was trying to steal the hand on the flop. I feel like I butchered the hand on the flop; but realized my mistake in time to recover...
All afternoon, the kid directly to my right was a pain in my ass. He raised every third hand. And he'd barrel the flop, turn and, often, the river, getting fold after fold after fold. He built his stack up to $700 quickly. And, all afternoon, I was getting small pocket pairs. He'd raise to $12 or to $15, and I'd call, just waiting for that set to hit the flop. I knew if I could just hit a set, I'd take him for a few hundred. Unfortunately, I defied the odds, and never hit my set. Instead, I walked away after 4 hours down $45. I could have been worse.