Monday, January 28, 2008

Sneaky Russians, Rebuys, & More

As I mentioned last Friday, I was invited to a friends' home game. I haven't played live poker since a trip to Treasure Casino with Cayne back in September - my own live games are on hold until I can get a better table. The structure made for an exciting game - $10 with rebuys through 4 levels, 5k in chips, 30 minute levels. Man, if only we could get a cardroom here to do that same structure!

We were some of the first people at the game. The setup was a long 10 person table & a octagonal 8 person table crammed into someone's living room. I was stuck in the corner, wedged between the piano & the entertainment center. It wasn't as uncomfortable as it may sound but it wasn't exactly comfortable either. Like most other times when I'm in a new environment, I'm usually rather quiet & reserved. This was one of those situations where everyone knew everyone else but I only knew one person, but they were all very gracious & friendly and I loosened up pretty quickly.

We got the game started with just one table; as others joined, they started playing short-handed at the smaller table until everyone arrived, then we got reassigned. I lucked out and didn't get moved at all throughout the game, although that would later cause some problems for me courtesy of the guy to my right. My table was relatively weak-tight & full of calling stations, but they weren't completely oblivous to poker. In fact, it was actually a bit of a relief to be playing with people who understood concepts like position & pot odds.

I chipped up a bit early when my raise with 99 was called by 3 players. I flopped bottom set on a JT9 board, and since I'm a man, I bet out with my set, getting one called. The 8 on the turn slowed me down, so we checked it. River was a 2 which completed a flush draw as well, and I checked to the caller who was in position. It would've been hard to call a decent bet here, but luckily he just checked & showed 8s for the turned set.

I stayed tight again while I tried to pick up on the player's tendencies. The two players to the left of me, Tyson & Nate, were fairly weak-tight. To the right of me was some Russian guy, Pavel, who played his big hands fairly straight-forward, but was also capable of playing ATC and making some moves. He limped a lot, and it was hard to push him off any hand before the turn, especially if you didn't raise preflop. The rest of the table was relatively weak-tight.

I layed low until I had AQ on the button. Pavel, the sneaky Russian, had limped along with a couple others. I raised it to 3.5x and got a couple callers, including Pavel & Tyson from the BB. The flop was AT9 with two diamonds, I bet about 23rd when checked to me. Both Tyson & Pavel called. The turn came a 5 of diamonds & we check it all around. The river was a horrible card for me - another Ace. Tyson now leads out for 1k - about 13rd pot, and Pavel smooth calls. I know I'm probably beat here but I just couldn't fold trips getting 5:1. Tyson shows T2 for 2nd pair, Pavel, the sneaky Russian, shows the nut flush.

A couple hands later, Pavel, the sneaky Russian limps, and I raised with JJ. Of course he calls, and calls my bet on an A88 board. With two diamonds, I thought he might have been chasing the flush again, so I bet the turn when it was an offsuit 6, and he calls again. We check the river & he shows A3.

I still had a healthy stack, thanks to lots of stealing, mostly Tyson's chips. I was the button on his BB and just kept abusing his blinds. I gave him a bone when I c-bet a flop then folded to his bet on the river (the fact that it was obvious he had a hand helped too), but otherwise I just kept raising & betting, even to the point that I was check-raising him with nothing other than T high. So when he limped on my BB, when I had A9 sooted, I was going to repop him again. I didn't pay much attention to Pavel, the sneaky Russian, limping his SB, so I raised it 5x to 1000. Tyson folded but Pavel reraised me all in. In a regular tournament, I'm folding here, but being a rebuy tournament, I thought his hand range was much wider, and honestly thought he was just making a move. Knowing I could rebuy, and the fact that my stack was not that much more than a starting stack, I made the call, and the sneaky Russian shows KK. Well played sir.

I rebought and started loosening up my play, the way a true blogger should - The Hammer. I know that The Hammer loses meaning outside of blogger games, but the flipside is seeing everyone's faces when you rake in a pot flashing the seven-deuce. You can't get that at a blogger game. Unfortunately, playing loose didn't go too well as other players started calling me down more often, not because they thought I was bluffing, but because they just kept hitting flops hard when I wasn't. Down to about 3500, I got the JackAce on the button. My good friend Tyson calls my raise, like he always did. The flop was AJ9 with two diamonds. I elected not to bet, even despite the draws, because I wanted to give him the idea that I didn't like that flop. My plan worked perfectly because he couldn't resist betting the 5 on the turn. I check raised his pot-bet for basically the same amount more, and he couldn't call because he just didn't have anything.

Around this time, another player joined us and got seated to my left. Another Russian. His name? Teddy. And the rumor was that he was completely reckless. Everyone warned me that the first couple of hands, unless I have AA, then just fold because he's going all in, probably even all-in blind. When he finally got there, he sat out his first hand, much to the chagrin of Nate, who happened to have AA. Luckily for him, another guy, Andy, gave him some action with AK.

I was prepared to give Teddy some action, knowing that he probably had ATC, and on his first hand I had Q6, fully intending to call his all in with it. However, Pavel decided to limp UTG, and I figured that was too scary to get involved. Sure enough, Teddy goes all in, everyone folds, and he shows K3. The dealer did some rabbit hunting & I would've hit a Q to take the pot. Dunno why Pavel the sneaky Russian was limping if he knew Teddy was pushing but oh well.

On the last hand before the break, with the rebuy period ending, I was fully intending to push from the BB. My stack was about 4200, and the fact that I was less than the starting stack + the added enjoyment of pushing & rebuying made this a no-brainer. 5 people limped for 200 and I went all in. Tyson, the first limper, thought about it & finally called after Pavel agreed to cover a rebuy for him. He showed A2, but luckily I actually had a hand - TT. My tens held up, and my stack was about 7500 coming back from break.

Shortly after the break, the smaller table lost some players, and we had to send one over. Nate the dealer decided to send Pavel rather than dealing it out. His reasoning was that Pavel was in the SB, and it was the new SB who busted out, so he had to go. No one argued about this, but I found it to be unusual. I wasn't complaining though - I was happy to see the big stack, crafty, sneaky Russian call station gone. Once he left, I started running over the table. My KQ flopped a pair & took Tyson out when I slowplayed it to the turn, like the AJ hand previously. He couldn't find a fold to my check-raise and took his 55 to the felt. After that, my A7 outflopped a shortstack's 55, and all of a sudden I was a big chipleader.

When we condensed to one table, once again, I found Pavel sitting directly to my right. I had a healthy stack but played tight, especially with 5 new players at our table. I wanted to get a feel for things. I stole a couple blinds but didn't really have any playable hands until I got AK in MP. I raised it just over 3x to 2500 when the guy next to me, Dan, went all in for 9900. I took some time to think about it because calling would've been half my stack. But I took a chance and made the call. Dan flipped up.....44. WTF? He still had about 12 BB, and he's reraising the FIRST time I've raised OOP with 44? Perhaps he "just knew" because I missed the board and he doubled up.

After that, I couldn't find anything playable, and the blinds had jumped to 5001000. I was down to about 9500 in the SB when it folds to Pavel, who limps. I had to be weary of this limp, but he was raising fairly aggressively at this table, so I read his limp as weak & pushed all in. Unfortunately Dan, the BB, had me outchipped & goes all in too. Fuck. Pavel folds, Dan shows KK, and I'm ready to go, but I found an A on the flop to double me up. The bad beat brought some groans from the table, but I just calmly raked my chips in and kept going.

Once we were down to 5, I was on the button against another tight BB. I kept raising him, folding once when he finally played back, but I kept adding to my stack by taking his. He finally took a stand with QJ sooted but my A7 was good enough to win. We finally broke through to the money after only after about 5 hours.

After the money bubble, the player to my left, Andy, started getting aggressive. I think he was just catching cards but it severely limited my ability to steal. Down to about 24000 with blinds at 1k2k, I raised on the button with A2 offsuit. The BB, Jeremiah, called, and the flop came QJ9 all spades. A horrible flop for me - I didn't have a single spade, but when Jeremiah checked to me, I thought the only way I could win this was to bet. It was very likely to be just as scary of a flop for him as it was for me, so I asked for a count of his chips, thought a bit, then bet half of the pot, which was just a bit less than his stack. He agonized, and it looked like he was going to call, but he decided to fold, saying he had 88. I was saved!

It was getting late - about 1:30am at this point, but I was still going strong. I had invested $20, which was the payout for 4th place, and I really didn't feel like investing almost 7 hours of play just to break even. Luckily, Pavel the sneaky Russian started losing his stack, finally taking a stand with 34 sooted against Jeremiah's 7s. The 7 on the flop sealed his fate, and I was finally guaranteed profit.

Unfortunately for me, my stack wasn't doing too well - 20k at 2k4k blinds. On the button, I found 25 sooted and took a stab at it. Jeremiah found AK and made the call. My cards were live + I picked up added outs with an OESD but I never got there, so I finally went home at 2am with $30 more than I got there with. I know that's less than minimum wage these days, but I was just happy to play in a quality poker game once again.


At January 28, 2008 at 3:06 PM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Right on. Nice work Matt!

Don't go getting too confident goin' into our home game at my place on the 9th though! I don't foresee it being full of dead money.

I took down 1st place in a home game last Friday myself. (I've been planning to post about it, but have been "busy.")

Anyway, just wanted to shoot you a hello at your blog. Lookin' forward to the local blogger home game! (Thanks again for making it come to fruition.)


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