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Big Pots and Bad Play

I've been really busy today - but not too busy to give you an update on my attempts to beat online poker.

Without any further ado...

If you read my previous post, you'll know that I recently made the jump to the $1/$2 NLHE games on Stars. For better or worse, I'm determined to give my current run at poker my all. That means no backing down from stiffer competition. And it means forcing myself to look beyond table stakes and think only of making the best play possible. The fact that I can hear my hearbeat pounding in my ears while sitting in a $1/$2 game is a little disconcerting but I'm sure that will subside as I get a bit more time in at the tables. I'm starting to play for real money now: it's both exciting and scary and I'm lovin' it!

Before I get to a couple hands that I played recently, I wanted to mention that I finally finished going through all the archived posts at RecessRampage. Good stuff. It's amazing to watch Alan grow from a small stakes player to a high-stakes online poker player. What most fascinates me are the changes that Alan displays in his thinking patterns and his approach to hands. I hope that when my time comes, I'm able to conjure up the heart and the know-how to get the job done and bring home the bacon.

My next reading project is Fuel55's blog - Creativity Breeds Madness. I'm at the mid-point in his archives and enjoying his posts immensely. Quite a bit can be said about a player who can make even the most fearsome situations at a poker table seem plainly obvious and easily beatable. I guarantee that Fuel55 has addressed many of the hold'em situations that leave you scratching your head and wondering how to properly increase or save your stack of virtual chips. In the coming days and months, we'll see if Fuel55's tips, tricks, strategies, and numerous hand histories have had an effect on my game.

Speaking of my game, I've got a couple hands to show you today. There were a few hands that I was considering for publishing today and I chose to discard the one hand that saw me lose the biggest pot of my life. For the curious out there, there were three hands all-in pre-flop: KK, JJ, and 99. I was the monkey in the middle and got stacked for 50 BB (otherwise known as a Klopzi full-stack). Although I was a little upset with myself at the time, I ran my thought process through PokerStove and the 'Stove gave me two thumbs way up. Guess I can't expect to have the best of it each time that I get it all-in pre-flop.

In the first hand I do have for you, I decided to try using my position as a hammer against a somewhat-loose player who tended to fold to pressure on the later streets. I'm basing my read on only four or five hands that I saw him play but that's about the best you can hope for with many of the players at $200 NLHE busting out or jumping from table to table.

PokerStars, $1/$2 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

Hero (CO): $126.30
BTN: $674.30
SB: $34.70
BB: $385.60
UTG: $43.35
Villain (MP): $483.15

Pre-Flop: 9 9 dealt to Hero (CO)
UTG folds, Villain raises to $7, Hero calls $7, 3 folds

(Villain is pretty loose and likes to raise. I like my pocket pair and I my stack's big enough to play for set value so I make the call. Although I could have raised in this spot. The Button was playing a huge stack and he was running fast and loose. I wouldn't be too happy being forced to play pocket nines out of position and getting stuck between an aggressive player and a slightly aggressive maniac.

When everyone folds and it's just me and the Villain in the hand, I start to think back to some of the posts I've been reading on others' blogs. I'm pretty sure I'm in a good spot to steal this pot. I have position and the SPR for the hand is just shy of 8 - a little low but still high enough to allow me to make a solid steal attempt.)

Flop: ($17) 6 K 2 (2 Players)
Villain bets $13, Hero calls $13

(With only one overcard on the flop and an aggressive opponent who likes to fold on later streets, I like my call here. I'm not sure if I'm ahead at this point, but I might be able to take the pot away on the turn if the Villain shows any weakness.)

Turn: ($43) A (2 Players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $30, Villain calls $30

(A potential flush hits as the A hits the board. When the Villain checks, I gather my courage and make a good sized bet. At first, I berate myself for making a stupid bet. But the Villain activates his time bank and keeps thinking about his next move. With only one second left, he makes the call. Damn.)

River: ($103) 5 (2 Players)
Villain checks, Hero checks

(A good player would follow through with an all-in bet on the river in this spot. The Villain has shown that he doesn't like his hand all that much and is unlikely to call off a large bet in this spot.

I am not a good player. I chicken out and concede the pot. I hate my check here. If you're reading this post, please leave a comment and tell me how much you hate my check here. I'm hoping that the sting of throwing away $103 will make me remember the mistake I made in this hand and force me show a little heart and a lot more thought the next time I'm in this spot.)

Results: $103 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero mucked 9 9 and LOST (-$50 NET)
Villain showed J K (a pair of Kings) and WON $100 (+$50 NET)

I guarantee that if the Villain hadn't been holding the J in that last hand, he folds to my turn bet. I never even considered that he might have called on a possible flush draw and checked the river when he missed. I won't forget this lesson any time soon I hope. If my opponent checks-calls the turn and checks the river, I've got to think that a large river bet on my part should win the pot more often than not. Or at least enough times to make the move profitable whenever faced with this situation. Any thoughts on this?

In this next hand, I win the biggest pot of my life. Biggest in terms of dollars but not in terms of skill. I played the hand like a donkey. I failed to make a commitment plan and basically "winged" it. And although I deserved to lose my stack on this hand, I got lucky. Lucky that I hit the flop. And very lucky that my opponent was a calling station willing to pay off my large river bet.

PokerStars, $1/$2 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

UTG: $200
MP: $83.50
Hero (CO): $142.80
Villain (BTN): $534.20
SB: $198
BB: $783.75

Pre-Flop: K Q dealt to Hero (CO)
2 folds, Hero raises to $8, Villain calls $8, 2 folds

(Villain has already paid me off on two previous hands. He seems intent on calling me down with almost anything. But with an SPR of 12, I'd be hard-pressed to justify getting all-in with only a top-pair type of hand. I'm looking to keep the pot small if I hit one pair. I'm also willing to c-bet any flop showing paint. Other than that, I know I'm not pushing the Villain off anything and I'm best to check it down if possible.)

Flop: ($19) J K 5 (2 Players)
Hero bets $16, Villain raises to $32, Hero calls $16

(Ok, nice! I hit top pair and I make a c-bet. When the Villain raises, I'm not ready to concede defeat. Unfortunately, my bet and the Villain's subsequent raise puts me quite close to the commitment point in the hand. I really need a plan of attack before continuing. Most importantly, I can call any more large bets on the turn or river unless I'm willing to get it all-in. But I don't want to go broke with just top pair here.)

Turn: ($83) 8 (2 Players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $22, Hero calls $22

(I decide to go for pot-control on the turn but soon realize that it's hard to do so out of position. Villain likes his hand but I can't see him raising me on the flop with a set. The Villain seems more like the type to slowplay monsters. I decide to peel off one more card with my top pair. I'm not sure what I'm going to do on the river though I should probably check and let the Villain bluff into me with a busted draw.

As you can tell, I was totally lost at this point in the hand...)

River: ($127) 9 (2 Players)
Hero bets $80.80 and is All-In, Villain calls $80.80

(And then I lost my mind! I was sure that the Villain wasn't betting a straight draw. I failed to realize that he could have been betting two pair - KJ is a likely hand given the Villain's actions. As my friend MJ pointed out, he thinks the Villain called on the river because the line that I took in this hand was straight-up confusing and awkward.)

Results: $288.60 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero showed K Q (a pair of Kings) and WON $285.60 (+$142.80 NET)
Villain showed J T (a pair of Jacks) and LOST (-$142.80 NET)

(Yep, I confused him with my funky play and my overbet for "value". Mind you, I can't really use the term value here since I had no idea where I was in the hand. Hee-haw, as they say.)

As you can tell, I hate my play in the second hand too. I won my biggest pot ever but I hate the way I played it. I'd like to hear others' thoughts on how they'd play this hand. Would you throw out a blocking bet on the turn to help keep the pot small? I hate it when SPR theory becomes secondary to assessing your equity in the pot and maximizing your value against your opponent's possible range of hands.

I've still got lots to learn. That's what great about poker. No matter how good you think you are, there are always situations and opponents that will put you to the test. When you reach down deep, will you come up empty-handed or will you make that one great play that ups your game to new heights?


Anonymous said...

Hi Klopzi
2 interesting hands to read about. Its very hard to admit that you dont always know what your doing in a hand but with continued honest assessment of your plays ( and analysing with other people your plays) you can only improve. Anyway good luck in your level jump - your playing much higher than i do! Would have loved to read about the biggest single hand lost youve had. Regards

Klopzi said...

Hey Anonymous -

I've always been complete honest about the hands I play and the general amounts that I win or lose. I'd only be lying to myself if I did it any other way.

This blog was created to keep me honest and help me improve my game. Actually, this blog was created to make me rich but that didn't really happen. Although I guess I might still get there if I keep improving my poker game.

As for the single biggest hand that I've lost, I mention it briefly in my next post. It's not as exciting as you'd think...

Thanks again for stopping by.