August 30, 2012

Poker Trip Report: Top Pair on the Turn

Poker Trip Report: Top Pair on the Turn

Our four-man poker team formed last year after the [first post-Black Friday] WSOP, with each of us putting up a grand, and taking our combined $4,000 and just taking a shot.  I had been a 50nl and 100nl online grinder, John a low stakes online MTT grinder, and Bill and Jim both worked for poker TV productions.  This meant that after Black Friday, we were all four of us out of a job and trying to figure out what to do next.  Teaming up with that $4k was the best idea we could come up with.  Thankfully, we ran hot at 2-5 early on, and since then we've managed to run it up to about $45K  in addition to taking out some money for living expenses.

With $10K of that $45K on me, I'm now sitting at the Bellagio at about 1:00am, having gotten up for the day at about 9:00pm, in the second table of the 5-10 – a must move into the main game.  From my seat, I have a clear view “upstairs” on the 10-20 game that goes regularly, currently with about 5 players.  I get up a few times and walk to the bathroom by the sports book—and by the 10-20—scoping out the game from afar.  It looks pretty soft.  Aggro, but soft.  One guy in particular seems to be barreling 3 streets pretty frequently.  So when I get called for the main game, instead I head to the cashier and change up a rack of orange $10 chips to a few stacks brighter orange $20 chips, and sit in the 10-20 with $3K for my buyin, $2,000 in cash and two and a half stacks of 20's.

The second hand I manage to run AK into queens preflop in a straddled pot, run it twice, and whiff both boards.  So I pull out $3K more and decide this will be my last buyin.  I'm pretty bankroll-nitty so losing $6K of $45K in a night is already pushing it for me.  Luckily, I pretty quickly run TT into what I assume must be 99 or AQ from Mr. Aggro (the guy who had been barreling a lot when I was scoping the game out earlier), because when we get in preflop and run it twice, he mucks. And with the bottom board containing a king and the top board having a jack, eight and seven on it, what hands besides nines or AQ can he have and also muck?

Sitting on $6K and even for the night after that double-up, I manage to pick up a few pots and work up to $9K.  (It's 5-handed, straddled every pot, and fairly aggressive, so even small-ish pots have a grand in the middle, ergo grinding up $3K isn't that difficult of a task.)  Mr. Aggro, the guy who had been barreling a lot, had contributed about $1500 to my work up in addition to his 99/AQ hand, now has $6K left, and he proceeds to give it out across the table.  I play for a bit, perfectly happy to stay in this game even without him playing, but also happy to lock up my $3K win and take $9K off the table.  But after about a half hour, he comes back and sits down with six white $5K chips (which I soon find out are called “flags” because they're fucking impossible to actually cash out).  He changes two of them out, then two more, as he aggressively spews to the table.  I manage to “only” pick up $3500 more from him while he gets himself down to about $14K.  Then the following hand occurs:

He's in the sb, two to my right, and I put out the $40 straddle.  The mediocre cut-off player limps for $40, the button folds, and Mr. Aggro makes it $140 to go.  I have JcTs and 3-bet to $420 in order to isolate him and get HU in position.  The limper does indeed fold and Mr. A calls.  The flop is 8c-7d-2h and Mr. A leads out $900, almost pot.  His bets have been on the bigger side and I didn't nickname him Mr. Aggro for nothing, so with 4 nut outs, two probable overs, position, and plenty of stack left, I opt to call.  (I felt if I raised, I open the door for him to jam, which was a real concern.)

I bink the Tc, not the nine I was hoping for, but a card that puts me well ahead on average.  He checks, and I decide to go for value against all of his possible worse pairs, overcards, and the myriad of straight and flush draws, and bet $1600, a little under 2/3 pot.  I feel it's small enough where he can't jam, and also I can pick off a reasonable sized river bet without committing more than half my stack to the hand altogether.  He instantly check-raises to $3600, which is a pretty small raise even though it's 100 blinds for the game we're in, and $2,000 actual cash.  (Bear in mind last year I was grinding 50nl online, so this was definitely a step up.)


I don't want to commit myself with the hand here, but as I'm tanking, I just can't put him on two pairs, sets, straights, etc. often enough to overcome the sheer number of draws and outright bluffs he might have.  And if I just call, the pot will be $10K, a perfect size for shipping $8K on the river into me.

And what am I going to do then?  Fold?  Clearly I can't do that.  But if I'm just closing my eyes calling off, he can bet or not bet the river perfectly—my hand being somewhat face up—so theoretically every single action I can take on the river could be made to be wrong.  Thus calling and folding are both out.  And with the pot as big as it is, that really only leaves the one option... Raising.

600 blinds—twelve thousand dollars—with top pair.

I'm not initially fond about that prospect.  But the straddle, the 3-bet pot, the opponent— top pair is looking better and better.

I re-raise all in, and in goes the money.

If I lose, at least it's a fun giant pot to tell my friends about, and we're only $6K worse for the day.

He tanks and tanks and eventually asks me if I'll run the river twice. As calmly as I can, I answer that I'll run it twice, and no sooner than the word “twice” leaves my mouth is he moving his money over the betting line.  Well shit.  I was really hoping to take down the pot.  I should have run it once.

Oh well, hope I'm ahead at least.  I turn my JT over, he tables his A9o, we run the river twice, two beautiful blanks fall off, and I'm being pushed a $25,000 pot won with top pair.

With the g-ball I won at the 5-10 earlier, this puts my total net for the night at about $20K.  Mr. A leaves, and we play for about a half hour before it's pretty clear that the game is done without him, and we all rack up.

The wait list for a box at the Bellagio is about 3 years, so I grab the bus to my month-by-month “inn and suites” apartment with about $30,000 in cash, not really wanting to spend the money on a taxi, or take the time to take the long walk and tram over to the Aria to put the money in my box there.

(It seems dumb to take the bus and be living in a by-the-month place when I say it out loud, but a few months ago, my car had broken down, and I didn't really feel I had the budget for a new car just yet, so I was regularly taking the 202 up and down Flamingo with $15K in my backpack. The stupidity of doing this hadn't really set it. And I still couldn't afford a car – poker money isn't real money after all, right?  A carpenter can't just sell his toolbox after a job and expect to be able to work tomorrow. And this money was team money, not my own personal money. I can't spent that! As far as I was concerned, I was broke. So naturally, I took the bus.)

I probably should have put the money in my Aria box, but it all worked out at the end. And I managed to covertly take a picture of my haul shortly before leaving. (Pictured above.)

Next time I'll splurge on a taxi.