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A couple nights ago, my bankroll took a $15 hit due to my crap-tastic play at the Eurobet $25 NL tables. Yet when I sat down to play last night, my bankroll had replenished itself almost magically, completely erasing the $15 debit and pushing it up an additional $15. It's always nice to make $30 before you've even started playing.

Royal Vegas Poker sent me an e-mail informing me that my $20 reload bonus had been deposited. Cool - I was rich. Had it not taken so long to get there, I might have felt guilty about withdrawing all my money from the site. I'll be back to Royal Vegas...the next time they send me an e-mail asking me to come back and play. Until then, I've got better sites to play.

Absolute Poker also lived up to their word by depositing $10, no questions asked, into my account. And it is at Absolute that my evening began...

First, the boring stuff. I played about 30 minutes of $10 NL at Absolute, seeing if I could quickly double up. Once I was down 50 cents, I decided that I was bored and wanted to move on.

So I took $7 and plunked it into a 9-person SNG. 35 minutes later, I was out in 7th place. Was I outplayed? Nope. Was I card dead? Yep. Out of the 80 or so hands that I saw, two were playable.

A couple of the guys at the table decided that, rather than play the SNG, they'd just push pre-flop on every hand. Don't get me wrong - I like playing small pocket pairs. What I don't like is playing small pocket pairs for all my money in Level 2 of the blinds.

Anyway, this went on for a long while. Finally, I had to start pushing just to stay in it. Blinds were at $100/$200 and my M was sitting at a solid 4. I built up my stack to about $1500 (one guy has less chips than me at this point). I picked up an AT on the button, one limper in the pot. I pushed and the chip leader in the SB called me with his pocket tens. And just like that, Klopzi had left the building...

I wasn't too worried about the loss. Just another notch in the old 100 SNG Challenge belt. I then moved on to Eurobet for some $25 NL action.

Unfortunately, action is too strong a word for what transpired. For the next hour, I played a total of 6 hands (4 from the big blind), winning two of them. At my highest point, my stack was sitting at +$4 on the night. By the end of the hour, I was up a total of about a dollar or so.

Just as I was sitting there complaining that I was card dead, I picked up the good old fish hooks in the CO. The thing I like about jacks (as opposed to kings or aces) is that they're easy to drop if the flop is scary. So I decide to raise it to $1 and two loosey-goosey early limpers call.

The flop comes down J T 9 rainbow. Both players check to me. There's $3.40 in the pot: loose player #1 is sitting there with about $19 in his stack and loose player #2 is sitting pretty with about $11.

Neither of these players had check-raised a flop and both these players (especially loosey #1) had shown the ability to push their stacks in on weak draws.

So I have three options: bet half the pot and see what happens, bet the pot and see what happens, or say f*ck it and push hoping that neither has a made hand and that I'll get at least one caller.

I push all-in and get quickly called by both players. Oops...

I should qualify my push here based on a comment from Mr. V. I pushed here almost 80% confident I was going to get a caller. Based on the reads I had on my opponents, I knew that my push would look like I was trying to buy the pot with an AK or AQ on a missed flop or that I was trying to protect top pair. Against tighter players (which is not too hard considering one had a VP$IP of 36% and the other had a VP$IP of 80%) or better players, I would have bet somewhere in the range of 1/2 pot to 5/4 pot. I was lucky that I got callers, but it was a calculated risk.

Turn is a 5 of hearts, river is a 4 of diamonds...

The thing about Eurobet is that when players are all-in for the hand, hole cards are not shown until the river has been dealt. Although it can be annoying and anti-climactic, it does help to keep the heart rate down a bit.

So, what do you think my opponents held?

Well, Mr. $18.70 was holding an AKo. He made two brutal mistakes in this hand. He didn't raise PF (I should have realized that this meant he had a good hand since he'd pushed all-in pre-flop on about 15 out of the 80 that I'd seen him play). The second mistake was calling off all his chips on a gutshot draw.

Mr. $11.45 had a K8s. He called off all his chips on an open-ended straight draw and a backdoor flush-draw. His call was a little loose, but far better than Loosey #1's call.

When I pushed, I had a 73% chance of winning the pot. I didn't know if my chances would be that good, but I had a very good feeling that I was ahead. There are three reasons that I pushed when I did:

  1. I was pretty sure that one of the players would call with a weaker hand, especially Mr. $19.70 who liked to play "Whose d*ck is bigger?". I hate pissing contests but I've been known to get a good arc every now and then.
  2. I knew that even if someone had flopped the straight, I'd have a number of redraws to win the hand.
  3. I wanted to prove to myself that I could push a lot of money into a pot when I believed that I held the best hand.
Although all three points were important in my decision making process, the last point was of extreme importance. If I could not put my chips in when I felt I was ahead in a hand, I would never be able to play higher stakes NL.

Anyway, I won the pot with my three Jacks and took down a $59 pot. Needless to say, it was the biggest pot I'd ever won in my life and it felt damn good.

After winning that huge pot, I decided I could still play an SNG at PokerStars and be ahead on the night. The last SNG took about 75 minutes and I went out in third place. I played good solid poker.

When I went out, I was sitting in second spot but was gunning for first. I raised one third of my chips from the button with an AQ. The chip leader put me all in and I called, getting 2:1 odds on the call. He showed AK and I was out.

I think I made a good play. The chip leader had put people all-in with hands far worse than AK, so I made the call knowing that I'd already made the money and that I'd have a huge chip lead if I won the hand. Also, the blinds were pretty big at that point - I had 3000 remaining but the blinds were 200/400 with an ante (M=5).

Sure, I could've waited for the 3rd place guy to go. In fact, I had him up against the ropes when I held two pair with my K4s and he had a pair of sixes with his 76o - he hit trips on the river to double up through me. However, if I can't push with an AQ in a three way pot, I shouldn't be playing SNGs. There were only four hands that would've really screwed me in this last all-in situation: AA, KK, QQ and AK. The chip leader got a good hand when he needed it and that's that.

So, there you have it! A good night for the bankroll and for my confidence.

I welcome any suggestions or comments - how would you have played the JJ hand? I know the story would've been different had one of my opponents hit the straight but that's poker, right?


On second thought, by pushing all-in on the flop, I'm putting myself in the situation where only a hand that beats me will call.

Against average players, I would get a call by anyone holding a KQ, 78 or JJ-99.

With my flop push, I was taking a chance that neither of my opponents had anything (confident in that one) and that they would call my all-in instead of folding. The second point is important here because I have to determine whether I honestly thought they'd call.

By overbetting the pot by as much as I did, the only way my opponents will call is if they think I'm trying to buy the pot and if they have something. In the case of my opponents at the time, I knew they were weaker players and that (at least) one of them would be likely to call off all his chips on a draw.

Would I make this move against better players? No. Would I make this move against loose players or players who like to take the role of sheriff to extremes? Sure, as long as I knew I had them beat.

I guess I'm trying to say that I know that my push on the flop is not the optimal play, but I had a good feeling it would work this time.


iamhoff said...

Nice evening. From the free cash to start, to the donkeys' cash later on. Ya gotta love a positive money night.

On the JJ, I think you played it right, given what you knew about the villains. As you noted, maybe the slow play by the one fish was a tell that he actually had a hand, but that's reaching. You played it right, not worrying about a straight because you had outs for it also. Besides, you won!

On the AQ, I think you played that one correctly. I would've done the same thing, although I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing. As you noted, there were 4 hands that could beat you preflop, and 3 handed, AQ is as good a shot as any. You did fine. Congrats on a great night!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the JJ: nice hand, sir. At 10NL-50NL you'll usually get callers with worse hands. Even if you play it slower, say bet $3-4 (I don't know how big the pot was), and a scare card comes on the turn, you'd have a lot of trouble folding it knowing you have roughly 10 outs.

Klopzi said...

Thanks iamhoff - it was a good night for me.

I just hope I can carry this momentum forward. I'm still looking for my niche in poker.

Until then, I guess I'll just keep waiting for those monster hands.

Klopzi said...

Anonymous - I was reading the NL section of SS2 just prior to sitting down for that session.

In it, Doyle says that when he gets a gut feeling about something, he just goes for it.

So, yes, I blame/credit Doyle Brunson for the crazy flop push. I knew that I wasn't getting away from the hand and I knew that if my opponents were drawing, a scare card on the turn just puts me in a bad spot and a blank just makes it easier for them to fold on the turn.

I guess time will tell if I have the goods or if I'm just a lucky donkey.