I was back at the Coushatta Casino today for a little No Limit Hold 'Em. Once again, I tried to get there in time for the noon tourney, but travelling the wrong way on I-10 for 20 minutes put me there as the tournament director was getting things started.
So I got my name on the NL list ($100-$200 buy-in, $1/$3 blinds), and sat down at the 3/6/12 table in the meantime. After giving up $40 there in about 45 minutes, they opened a new NL table and I took my seat.
When the day ended, I walked away with absolutely nothing. It was a losing session at a table I know I can beat. A table I've beaten before. But it came down to just 4 hands.
1. Pocket Aces, don't they always lose (when played poorly)?
I'm in late position when I look down at Rockets. Up until this point, I'd seen pocket T's, J's and Q's. The premium pairs were coming my way, and the first three were big winners. I had turned $200 into more than $400, and it was early. I figured the A's would just keep me rolling.
I raised to $10 out of early position. Looking back, this was mistake #1. It's that fine line between getting some money in the pot while not scaring everyone away. I got three callers.
The first card I see off the flop is the Ace of spades. Fireworks are going off in my head. that's until I see the ten of spades and the two of spades to follow. It's checked to me and I bet $20. I get one caller.
I think his name was Terry. He's in the 9 seat, wearing a terrible toupee. He's also got 9 gaudy rings on his 8 fingers (no thumb rings). He's wearing an 80's style windbreaker with a "shirt" of a similar material underneath. Both the jacket and "shirt" are zipped halfway down.
The previous hand, Terry had American Airlines himself. He was so excited by his cards that his hand shook like a washing machine as he moved his chips into the pot. I guess you could say he had a tell.
The turn is the 7 of diamonds. In my mind, I'm just begging for the board to pair, but I wasn't going to assume I was beat. I've often felt that's a problem I have, assuming everyone else has the nuts. He checks and I bet $30 this time, and he called again.
What should that have told me? Was he on a four-card flush draw? Did he already have it, and was slow playing me? Did he have a piece of the flop, but not enough to raise?
The river is another blank. Dammit. I'd like to think my trip A's are good, but I'm not sure. Terry checks again. I pause. I should check here, right? If I'm beat, that means I won't lose any more money. If he's beat, he'll fold to a big bet anyway, right? Or I could be just enough to get him to call, right??? Right???
Wrong. I throw $50 out this time. He immediately check-raises me for another $100, his hand frantically shaking the whole time. He's got the flush. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. If I had just check, I'd have saved myself $50. Of course, I shouldn't compound my mistake by calling, right? Right???
There was $230 in the pot, and Terry's $100 made it $330. That means I was calling another $100 to win that $330. It was a stupid call. But I made it anyway. He flipped over K5 of spades.
It was an extra $150 I just threw away on the river. I spent the next 10 minutes beating myself up over my stupidity.
2. The Stone-Cold Bluff
I'm dealt AJo, and I raise to $10. A couple of people call me. The flop is A-6-3, two clubs. I'm in early position and I bet $20 with two callers. I'm not sure why I bet so little. The pot was about $40 and I had top pair with a good kicker. I'm pretty sure I was ahead at this point.
The turn was another A. Great! Now I know I'm holding a winner. I bet another $40. A young heavy-set guy at the other end of the table smooth calls. He hadn't played many hands, so I didn't have any kind of read on him.
The river is the third club. It's exactly what I didn't want to see. Suddenly, visions of that spade flush from earlier flashed through my head. And that's when I made my big mistake.
Could there have been a greater invitation to buy the pot? The heavyset kid quickly grabs a stack of twenty $5 chips and pushes it past the line. He was telling me he had a flush. I had to decide if he was telling the truth.
Had I bet into the pot, I think he still might have thrown out a significant raise. I should have bet bigger before the river, but I didn't. He bet $100 into a $180 pot and I had to decide whether it was worth another $100. Last time I made this choice, it was the wrong one. But I knew I was beat in that case.
This time, I wasn't sure, but I laid it down anyway. He flipped over 45o. It was a stone-cold bluff. And his flip wasn't apologetic or jovial, it was cocky. He was saying, "Ha, I outplayed you, you fish." I guess he was right.
Intermission: The Rush
At that point, I was getting close to about $50 and I bought another $50 in chips. For the day, that put me in for $290. I was kicking myself for those two hands, but I vowed to put them behind me.
It's Cowboys and I win a pot. Then it's J9o from the BB and I win some more. My AQo outflops AKs and it's another nice pot. I get pocket A's again and this time it never makes it to the showdown. I'm up to $340.
I get my first Big Slick, in clubs and I raise to $15 with a couple of callers. The flop is Jc-Tc-x. I bet $25 and another guy pushes all in for $111. It's gonna cost me $86 on a complete draw. I know I have some outs, but I'm not sure how many.
Best case, he's got top pair or an overpair of Q's. If that's the case, I could have as many as 9 clubs, three K's, three A's and two or four Q's. That's 17 or 19 outs twice. That means I'm actually a favorite. I call and he flips pocket Q's, including one club. That makes me a 55% favorite. Without doing the actual math in my head, I make the call. The A on the turn puts my stack at $501.
AQo, K6o and KQo all also win me pots and I'm now at $750. It's probably time to leave, right?
3. It's Ace-rag, and I hate Ace-rag
I'm in the SB when I see A6o. There are 5 pre-flop callers so I toss in two more bucks and the BB checks. The flop is A-J-7. I suspect I may have the only Ace, since no one raised pre-flop, but I check, and so does everyone else.
The turn is another Ace. I think I've been here before, but this time there's no flush draw on the board. I bet $25 and the BB is the only one who calls me. The river is a 9. I bet $50 and he pushes for about $150 more.
Ugh. What have I gotten myself into? Am I being played again?
If I look back over the betting, it doesn't make sense. I lose to AK, AQ, AJ, AT, A9 or A7, or pocket 7's, 9's, or J's. As I look at that list of hands, I just couldn't imagine the BB checking. He had generally raised preflop with those holdings. I guess pocket 7's or A7 or A9 might have been checking hands. If he's got an A with a bad kicker, we'd split. Was he trying to buy my half of the pot?
He flipped AJ. Once again, I called someone holding the nuts. I'm a genius.
4. Snowmen, now I remember why I hate snow
It's the very next hand. That means about 10 minutes ago, I had about $700. Soon, it would all be gone.
I look down at pocket 8's and I raise to 15 pre-flop. I get a couple of callers. The flop is T-7-3. It's not great, but it could be a lot worse. I bet out $20 and get one caller. The turn is another T. Okay, maybe my 8's are good.
I check and it's bet $50. Does he really have a ten? I elect to call. Maybe I was steaming. I thought my hand might be good, but maybe I was just fooling myself.
The river is an 8!!!!! Jackpot!!!! That's great! Even if I made the bad call against the T, my hand is now good. Well, I suppose he could be holding pocket T's (very unlikely) or T8, T7 or T3 (but who would call a $15 raise with that?).
I bet $100. My opponent immediately pushes all in for about another $140 and I beat him into the pot with my call. I had him outchipped by $81. I proudly flip my 8's and he shows me the T7.
It wasn't the nuts, but it was damn near close, and for the third time, I got my money into the pot when I was dead or way, way behind. How did it happen? What did I do wrong?
And it was all gone
It was only a few hands later when I officially busted out. I was dealt AJo and I raised to $15 from early position. I got two callers.
The flop wa K-Q-T, two spades. I flopped the nut straight, but don't be fooled by that description.
I pushed for $30 and the next guy raised to isolate me. I showed my hand, but the other guy held onto his cards. Slow-rolling is a serious problem at this casino. No one seems to want to show their cards, but I digress...
The turn is a J, meaning any A split my pot, dammit. And the river was a Q. He flipped over KQ, meaning the river filled him and my day was done.
For the almost 7 hour session, I felt I played pretty well. If I check with my Aces, that's $150 I would have saved. If I call with my trip aces, I would have taken in another $280. If I lay down my A6, that's another at least $150. And if I lay down my pocket 8's, that's another about $300. The KQ on the last hand was the only suckout but that was a $105 pot. In all, we're talking $985.
In fact, if I somehow win those pots instead of losing, we're talking a total of about $1650 instead of walking out of the casino down $290.
But it all happened, and that's poker. In NL, your sessions are often predicated on just a few big hands, and my biggest hands were all losers. In all four cases, I completely mis-read my opponents. Three times they were holding monsters and I couldn't see them. The fourth time, it was a stone-cold bluff and I imagined the nuts.
So someone tell me how else I went wrong...