Monday, September 18, 2006

A Bad Beat Builds Confidence

Back off the wagon...again.

I've been playing a bit of poker lately, but this time it's been some NL cash games, most .25-.50. Unbelievably easy. I was able to turn $70 into almost $200 in about 2 hours.

Anyways, I had been itching to play again, and I had some free time on Sunday, so I started up a number of different games. I actually was the first to bounce in a 2-table SNG when I hit 2 pair on the turn, only to run into a well disguised flopped straight. Well played, sir. Looking back, I had plenty of reasons to fold, and I failed to think about what my opponent had, too quickly calling his all in bet when I was behind with 4 outs tops. But this was good, as I used this to focus more, and I was determined to play better.

I played some more cash games and a couple 7-card stud SNGs, winning one, losing one.

I decided to play a 5-table SNG, feeling that I was starting to play better than I was earlier.

I start off with AQs in the UTG, and raise it up to 130 (blind still at 20\40) get two callers. The flop comes Kxx without my suit, so I check fold.

Blinds are 30\60, and I have AQs again in EP. UTG raises to 195 and I call. Flop comes A98 rainbow. He bets 175 I call. Turn is another A. He bets 216 - I think he's weak. I could flat call again but I elect to raise to 600. He folds. I could have smooth called again but I don't think I'm getting any more money from him unless the flop hits him, and most likely if it his him, I'm probably losing to a suckout.

I get AKs in the BB and 3 players limp. I could go for a min raise here - I doubt a bigger raise will keep anyone around, and I don't want to commit chips to a pot when I'm surely going to get callers, only to end up with a lame flop. So instead I check. Flop come A69 rainbow. I check-raise a 1\2 pot bet and he folds.

Next hand I'm in SB and 2 people limp. I call with KQs and the flop is beautiful - KK6. MP leads out and I just smooth call. Turn is even better - another 6. We both check the turn. The river is a 7, I lead for about 1\2 the pot, and he can't lay down his A6.

I limp UTG+1 with JTs. 4 players to the flop and it's a money flop for me KQ9, two hearts. Sadly it checks all around. Flop is a 4 and I bet out for the pot. I'm hoping someone has two pair here but it folds all around. Ugh.

I call a 3x raise from the BB with 66. Flop misses me and I check fold. Chip count is 2900, a little bit above average for the table.

I get my big break 2 hands later. 2 players limp and I have 108s on the button. Flop is a beautiful K42 - all spades. BB acts first and bets 250 (pot is 450). I could play this slow, but I feel like that will make it obvious that I've got a flush. I'm hoping this guy has maybe a pair with the As redraw or maybe something like KQ. It's unlikely that I've even flopped a flush, so I reraise - to 800. He calls. Turn is a 7c. He checks, I bet 800, he calls. River is an 8d. He checks, I bet 800, he calls, and turns out he flopped 2 pair. Can't really fault him for that, and I'm very happy another 4 doesn't hit because I would not have put him on that hand. This pot puts me at 5600 - the current chip leader.

2 hands later, the UTG raises it 3xBB. One more calls, and I call in MP with AKo. The CO calls, and it's a 4-way flop. Flop comes A78, two spades. UTG bets out 1500, I put him all in, and my AK holds up against his AQ. I'm now well ahead of everyone at about T9000.

I drop down to 8600 when this brutal hand happens. I'm in the BB with AKo (gotta love these big aces I'm getting). The button raises 3x to 600 and it looks like a steal. I reraise to 1600 and he goes all in for about 3800. I called a little bit too quickly but I did call and I had him dominated - he had ATs. Board comes 6Q55...T and he hits his 3 outer. This knocks me down to about T5000.

I get QQ the very next hand and everyone folds.

Raise with A2o the next hand and everyone folds again. Probably a good thing. I may be tilting a little bit.

Fast forward a bit...we get down to 17 players and I'm at 4500 - only 2 people at my have stacks shorter than mine. Button min-raises to 800 and I have JJ in the BB. I reraise to 2000, he calls. Flop comes K86, 2 diamonds. I bet half the pot and he folds. Now up to 7100.

Raise UTG+1 with AJo, get some blinds back.

SB min-raises me. I'm defenseless with T6o and fold.

I steal the next guy's blind with 64s. Holding steady at 7500.

2 hands later, UTG min raises. I push from the CO with 99 and he folds. Up to 9600.

Raise in EP with AQo. BB calls and I check-fold to his bet on a Jxx flop.

Next hand, limp UTG with AJo. Only the BB stays in the hand. Flop comes AQ6, two spades. BB min bets, I call. Turn a 3h. He checks, I bet about 1\2 the pot, he folds. We're down to 12 players now.

6 hands later I call a min raise from the BB with ATo. I think about pushing here - I've barely got him covered. Flop comes 9 high and I check-fold to his weak ass 1\3 pot bet. I think I could have pushed him off this hand. Maybe a missed opportunity. He probably has something like KQ or A8. It really doesn't matter though because of the next hand.

Table is 5 handed at this point, I'm in the SB for 300. The guy who sucked out on me with AT is on the button and it folds to him. He pushes for 5700. I'm in the SB with QQ and there's no way I'm folding this hand. I push as well and the BB calls I have him covered by 37 chips. Furthermore, the BB INSTACALLS - I'm almost positive he saw his hand and just clicked the Call or Bet Pot button. The hands:

Suckout - 6h5h (wtf?)
Me - QQ

The flop comes KKA and I'm left with 37 in chips (well below the average stack) heading to the final table. Sadly, it didn't get any more exciting for me.

Now, I'm hardly the best poker player, but I'm good enough to recognize that AK can be laid down preflop (I've even been able to laydown KK preflop, and correctly so), so while I could criticize the BB for calling two all-ins with AK when I wouldn't in his position, I've come to expect it's part of the game. As for Mr 65h - yeah, they're suited connectors, but you've got almost 10BB at this point and another orbit, the blinds just increased, and you're on the verge of the final table. Is this really a place where you want to push with a hand like this? I think he could have waited, I think the BB could have folded, but this is Party Poker, where anything goes.

Regardless of how these two played their hands, I was still able to find satisfaction in this hand. After it happened, I was completely unfazed. I didn't tilt at all, I didn't even find myself upset about it. Considering I could have really used that $300 1st place prize, and that hand would have put me at the final table with about 20% of the chips in play, I was content with the fact that I played the entire tourney very well, and there was nothing I could have done with that hand. There's no way I put the button on AA or KK there, and his stack wasn't big enough to make me fold QQ preflop at that point.

Anyways, I'm done with poker for a while (let's count how many times I've said that). I ended the day at $140 - still a loss for the day but still double my initial $70. And with two trips coming up in back to back weekends, I could definitely utilize that money elsewhere. But it's nice to know that I'm able to get myself back to playing better, and more importantly, playing with more confidence. I'm making the right decisions at the poker table, and as long as I continue to do that, I'll be OK.


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