Friday, February 15, 2008

Folding the Hiltons

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

On my last night in Las Vegas, I wandered to Mandalay Bay to play. That had been my early evening poker spot, and I was hoping to bump into Poker Grump, but I didn't see him. I played 1/2 NL and had an interesting session. I raised into the nuts twice and then flopped two sets with big pairs.

A young and attractive black woman sat in Seat 7. By the way she handled her chips, she struck me as a newbie. I was involved in two pots with her and lost both.

On the first hand, I raised with A-K and she called from her big blind. The flop was K-9-x. She fired out $15. I raised to $45. She called. The turn was a blank. She check-called a $70 bet from me. Another blank fell on the river. We both checked. She flipped over a pair of nines. Ouch. I was surprised that she didn't play her set more aggressively.

An orbit later, I raised with Qd-Jd and got four callers. The flop was J-10-x. Everyone checked to me and I bet the pot. The chick called and everyone else folded. The turn was a Queen. She bet out $15 again. I wondered if she had 9-8, so I raised to $50. She called. The river was a blank. She checked and I checked behind. She showed 9-8 for the straight and I tossed my two pair into the muck.

Hot chick 2, Pauly 0.

I got lucky on one hand with Jacks. Player from UTG raised and I called from the small blind. Heads up. The flop was K-J-x. I checked called a pot-sized bet. I thought about check-raising, but decided to slow play. The turn was a 10 and I didn't like that card. I check-called another pot sized bet. The river was another King. I made a boat, and bet about 1/2 the pot. He raised all in. I had him covered by $6 and called.

"How big is your boat?" I asked.

"If you got a boat, it wins," he said as he tabled A-Q.

He turned the Broadway straight, but I rivered a boat. I was ahead until the turn and got lucky on the river. I almost got in trouble slow-playing my flopped set.

"If I moved all in on the turn, would you fold?"

"It's hard to get away from a set there," I said.

I doubled up and got all the money back that I lost from the hot black chick.

A couple of hands later, I cracked Kings with a set of Queens. Two players limped. I raised to $10. Guy from Staten Island raised to $25. The hot chick called from her big blind. I called as well. The flop was A-Q-7 with two diamonds. I was watching the guy from Staten Island when the dealer fanned out the flop. He cringed when the Ace appeared as the door card. That convinced me that he had Kings. I would have bet at the pot even if I had not flopped a set. Anyway, the hot chick checked. I bet about $50 or 2/3 the pot. The guy from Staten Island tanked even though we both knew he was going to fold. He shook his hand and tossed his hand into the muck. The black chick folded. She said she had pocket fours.

I flipped over my set of Queens.

"You had Kings, right?" I asked.

"Yeah, how did you guess?" he asked.

"You re-raised me pre-flop and then you looked like you wanted to die when that Ace flopped."

I probably could have gotten an extra $50 out of the guy if I check-raised him. Alas, I won an $80 pot and left shortly after.

* * * * *

3am. I couldn't sleep and found myself wandering over to MGM for another late night session. I played 2/5 NL and was involved in a tough situation, just 15 minutes after I sat down at the table.

Player A was a middle-aged guy without a wedding ring. I couldn't tell if he was a local or not. He wore khakis and a golf shirt. Based on his tan, I pegged him for a golfer. The one time he showed down, he had called a big raise in position with A-10. He flopped trips and cracked Jacks. He had about $650 in front of him and was sipping a coffee.

Player B was in his twenties. He wore sunglasses, had a slew of tattoos and never stopped shuffling his chips from the moment that I sat down. He had a half-empty Corona in front of him and I never saw him take a sip.

I found Qc-Qh. Player A raised to $25 from UTG. Action was folded to me on the button. I re-raised to $80. Player B was in the small blind and he quickly announced all in. Player A asked for a count. It looked like almost $250. The dealer said $240 and change.

Player B tanked. He looked at his stack a couple of times, then he said, "I'm all in."

He had me covered for sure. I went into the tank for five minutes. I apologized a couple of times but no one called a clock on me. I tried to figure out which guy had a better hand than me. Yeah, I was trying to convince myself to fold. One of them must have a better hand and maybe I was ahead of one of the guys. I figured I was a long shot to be ahead of both.

I replayed the hand inside my head. Player A raised. I re-raised. Player B moved all in. Who squeezes with a raise and re-raise in front of them? I had to give him some credit for a decent hand. I'm ahead if he had A-K and any pair below Jacks. Would he shove with 10-10 or A-Qs? Could he be making a move with total junk?

But Player A worried me just as much. He originally raised. Facing a re-raise and an all-in raise in front of him... he moved all in. If I had A-A in that position, I would have just flat called to try to get more action. But the re-raise all in got me thinking that he had Kings.

Player B looked like he didn't have me. He tried to stare me down, but I was more concerned with trying to get a read on Player A.

If I thought at least one of them had Kings or Aces, my decision was a no-brainer... I fold. My gut told me that I was at least tied or ahead of Player B and behind Player A. I had no other choice... but to fold.

Player A showed Qh-Qd. Player B (the short stack) flipped over Js-Jc. Fuckmesilly.

I dunno the exact board, but there were four clubs including the ten of clubs on the river. The short-stack won with a flush and cracked Queens.

If I called... I would have won the main pot and side pot... and rivered a Queen-high four flush.

If that hand happened online, I would have insta-called. But I don't play NL online much, strictly limit hold'em. And I rarely play limit hold'em live anymore, it's been strictly live NL cash games.

* * * * *

A similar hand happened to me on PokerStars. Except, it was during an SNG and I had K-K in a three-way all in. We were on the bubble and I folded since I had the big stack. The other hands? K-K, Q-Q, and As-Js. Guess what won? Yeah, it was ugly too... with an Ace on the river.

Speaking of PokerStars, I played in a private tournament on Monday afternoon. Mad Harper hosted a tourney for members of the European Poker Tour media. Since I covered EPT Barcelona, I was eligible to play.

There were 54 players in all. My starting table included Howard Swains from Poker Stars Blog and Lina from the Swedish Poker Stars Blog. Swains busted me when I ran my Kings into his Aces. I was out in 48th place. That went quick, but I had a blast anyway. Thanks to Mad for hosting. I hope to see everyone on the EPT crew next weekend in Copenhagen.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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