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Session Review #11: Titan Poker, $100 NL (6-max)

Now that I'm back playing poker, I've got some actual poker hands to discuss. I know that there are many of you out there who aren't that interested in poker right now; however, I feel it necessary to provide as much poker content as I can. The following session took place late last week as I was starting to ease myself into the $100 NL ring games.

When I first sit down to start a poker session, I'm looking for a couple things:

  1. Weak opponents who'll double me up quickly.
  2. A little luck, be it cards or a good flop, in order to take advantage of my weak opponents.
Try as I might, there are times when I'll find myself in the hole rather quickly. If my poor start is due to a mistake on my part, I take note of what I did wrong and move on. If I feel that I played correctly and that my opponent got lucky, I start playing close attention to my new nemesis and do all that I can to get even.

In this session, my nemesis made himself visible quite early. In this first hand, I only knew that my opponent liked to play fairly loose.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button Hero ($50.10)
SB ($27.00)
BB Villain ($115.77)
UTG ($100.95)
UTG+1 ($97.50)
CO ($140.80)

Preflop: Hero is on the Button with Q Q
3 folds, Hero raises to 5.00, 1 fold, Villain calls 4.00.

(I know that the Villain is loose and likes to defend his blind. Since I'm sitting on a $50 stack, I'm looking to set-up a good stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) for my big pair hand. In this case, a raise to $5 will make the pre-flop pot $10 if the Villain calls. If you've read Professional No-Limit Hold'em Volume 1, you'll know that this gives me an SPR of 4.5 which is just about perfect for the Sisters.)

Flop (10.50) 9 5 2
Villain checks, Hero bets 9.00, Villain calls 9.00.

(Great flop for me! I've got an overpair on a safe flop. I'm going to commit myself to this pot since the flop, my remaining stack size, and the Villain are all perfect for my hand. I'm happy to see my opponent call the pot-sized bet on the flop: a bigger pot means more money for me!)

Turn (28.50) T
Villain checks, Hero bets 25.00, Villain moves all-in for 101.77, Hero moves all-in for 11.10.

(In a heads-up pot at a 6-max table, having a flush draw come in is not all that scary. Usually, a good player may use a possible flush to make a strong bluff at the pot; however, I've already committed myself to this pot and as a result, I am completely unbluffable. Since I am committed to my hand and since I'd rather not give my opponent a free look at the river, my best bet is to try and get more money into the pot. When the Villain check-raises me all-in, I instantly call and hope for the best.)

River (166.37) A

Hero shows Q Q
Villain shows J K

Villain wins 166.37 with Flush (Hearts) with King high

(It sucks that I lost the hand but I think I played this one pretty well. I got my opponent to put a lot of money on the line pre-flop and on the flop and got unlucky that I came up against a flush. The Villain's flop call was a little loose but he got lucky and ended up taking my entire stack.)

After that last hand, I started watching the Villain more closely. After a few more orbits, I learned more about the Villain's game:
  • He was very loose pre-flop.
  • He liked to take stabs at the pot on all streets when shown weakness or passivity from his opponents.
  • Although he liked to bet the river with nothing, he very rarely called river bets or raises.
After rebuying for another $50, I was ready to go up against the Villain yet again.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button ($92.50)
SB SB ($146.30)
BB Hero ($50.00)
UTG ($26.50)
UTG+1 Villain ($164.27)
CO ($99.45)

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with 3 J
1 fold, Villain calls 1.00, 2 folds, SB calls 0.50, Hero checks.

(I've got a garbage hand in the blinds and will be out of position against the typically-aggressive Villain in the UTG+1 spot. Since the Villain very rarely raised pre-flop, I can't really put him on a hand.)

Flop (3.00) 9 J 6
SB checks, Hero checks, Villain bets 1.00, 1 fold, Hero calls 1.00.

(I've got top pair here and I highly suspect that I'm good given the Villain's past showing. Although I could have tried for a check-raise on the flop, I choose to call. Why? I want to keep the pot small and I'd rather not tip off my hand strength to my opponent. I know that the Villain will continue to bet with nothing as long as I don't tip him off with any aggression on my part.)

Turn (5.00) 9
Hero checks, Villain bets 3.00, Hero calls 3.00.

(Although the turn pairs the board, I'm not about to put the Villain on a 9x hand. I'll just let him keep throwing his money at me and hope that the river leaves me with top pair.)

River (11.00) 4
Hero checks, Villain bets 9.00, Hero calls 9.00

(Good river card for me. I was contemplating betting the river until I remembered that the Villain would probably fold to an unexpected show of aggression on my part. Better to just check/call with my top pair, crappy kicker.)

Hero shows 3 J
Villain shows Q A

Hero wins 29.00 with Two pair, Jack's and Nine's with a Six for a kicker

(I played the hand like a fish and it paid off for me. I'm sure the Villain was a little pissed off at me for calling the whole way. Who calls a pot-sized bet on the river with only top pair and no kicker? Well, I guess I do...)

I could feel the Villain starting to steam a little. From a stack of just over $200, the Villain was now back down near $100. His luck was starting to run out and he was getting desperate.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button Hero ($67.95)
SB Villain ($105.67)
BB ($98.50)
UTG ($101.30)
UTG+1 ($177.85)

Preflop: Hero is on the Button with J T
2 folds, Hero raises to 3.00, Villain calls 2.50, 1 fold.

(Up to this point in the session, the Villain has really prevented me from playing too loosely from the button. However, JTs is a great hand to play first in from the button regardless of your opponent. I popped it up to $3 and the Villain insta-called.)

Flop (7.00) 2 T 5
Villain bets 1.00, Hero raises to 5.00, Villain calls 4.00.

(My SPR is around 8 in this hand which is not enough to commit with only top pair, even if my opponent is not a very strong player. When the Villain donk-bets into me, I need to take control of the hand by raising. By taking over as the aggressor, I'm pretty sure that the Villain will either fold outright or shut down and let me exert a little more control over the pot-size. I don't want a big pot and I plan on keeping it that way unless the turn improves my hand to trip tens or a top-two pair.)

Turn (17.00) 8
Villain checks, Hero checks.

(I know that there are two flush draws possible but I'd rather keep the pot at $17. A strong bet by me would commit me to this pot and I don't want to be committed given the current strength of my hand. What would I do if I bet $15 and my opponent check-raised me? I'd probably have to fold and I'd rather not waste my half-decent hand by trying to guess what hands my opponent would check-raise me with here on the turn. No - let's wait and see the river.)

River (17.00) T
Villain bets 7.00, Hero raises to 15.00, Villain calls 8.00

(The Villain bets out on the river after I've hit trips. The most likely reason for the Villain's bet is that I played the hand as if I was on a draw. When the flush fails to materialize on the river, Villain probably thinks his weak bet will scare me off. I might have been able to push on the river and get called but I was well aware of all the times that the Villain had folded to similar displays of aggression on the river. Instead, I opted for the near min-raise.)

Villain shows 8 A
Hero shows J T

Hero wins 47.00 with Three of a kind, Ten's

After a lot of folding and a big pot with another player that saw us both hit trips on the river holding the same hand, I finally got the chance to play one last pot against the Villain before the player in the SB knocked him out a few hands later.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button Hero ($95.05)
SB ($19.00)
BB Villain ($42.02)
UTG ($117.95)
UTG+1 ($126.10)
CO ($172.35)

Preflop: Hero is on the Button with J 9
3 folds, Hero raises to 2.00, 1 fold, Villain calls 1.00.

(My min-raise in this situation may seem a little odd but it's necessary given the Villain's stack size. J9s play well as a stealing hand or as a drawing hand. Unfortunately, a raise to $3 or $4 would create an awkward SPR in the 4-6 range given Villain's tiny stack. I knew the SB was uber-tight so a raise to $2 would create an SPR of 10 if the Villain called: not great but infinitely better than an SPR of 6.)

Flop (4.50) 5 J 4
Villain bets 3.00, Hero calls 3.00.

(Top pair again! I don't want to scare the Villain off by making a strong raise on the flop. Instead, I plan on letting the Villain continue to bet and I'll re-assess the situation on the turn. Also, even though I figure to be ahead at this point, a raise would only begin building a large pot which is not what I'm looking to do with an SPR of 10.)

Turn (10.50) 9
Villain bets 7.00, Hero raises to 15.00, Villain calls 8.00.

(The turn card gives me two pair but also puts a straight draw and a flush draw on the board. When the Villain bets yet again, I decide to make another min-bet in the hopes of inducing an all-in on my opponent's part. My re-raise also commits me to the pot since the Villain has only $20 left after calling.)

River (40.50) T
Villain checks, Hero checks

(My river play is really weak! At the time, I was a little afraid that the Villain had hit a hand since he didn't bet the river. I was also worried that any bet on my part would force the Villain to fold. Both of these points are stupid and wrong! I should have raised more on the turn in order to make an all-in on the river a natural course of action. )

Hero shows J 9
Villain shows 9 7

Hero wins 40.50 with Two pair, Jack's and Nine's with a Ten for a kicker

(I should have stacked the Villain on this last hand...)

As you can see, I'm still working on my game and making frequent mistakes in judgment and bet sizes. But I'm also working hard on incorporating SPR and early commitment decisions into my thought process when playing my hands at the table. As long as I avoid over-committing in bad spots, hitting good stack-to-pot ratios for my hands, and denying my opponents of good SPRs for their hands, I should give myself a chance to post more winning sessions than losing ones.

As I continue to post more of these session reviews and as the thought processes surrounding the hands becomes clearer, my hope is that these Session Review posts help to improve the poker we play and the bankrolls we hold dear.

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