Sunday, June 28, 2015

That time I folded QQ pre-flop against Jose Canseco

I walked into The Oaks Club on Friday night and bought in for $500 in the $2/$3/$5 no limit hold'em game. About 5 minutes later they called another player for the game and this huge dude sat down across from me. I looked up at him and realized "Holy shit, that's Jose Canseco!"

Jose played for the A's in the late 80's and early 90's and I remember having his baseball cards and watching him play when I was a kid. In the years since his playing days he's best known for being the biggest whistleblower on steroids in baseball and doing celebrity boxing.

He also bought in for $500 and I expected him to be kind of a wild player. He turned out to be anything but.

A few hands in 4 of us took a flop with no raise. The board was A 5 4 and figuring if someone had an ace they'd likely have raised pre-flop, I fired out a pot sized bet with a pair of 5's. Jose folded pocket kings face-up lamenting how the past few hands had been raised pre-flop and how no one fell for his trap.

A little later a huge hand came up. I'd won a few nice pots and had about $1,000 in front of me when I got dealt KQ. After Jose and the woman next to him called $5 I raised to $25. The button, the small blind, Jose and the woman all called. The flop came down JT9! BINGO! I'd flopped the nut straight.

The small blind bet out $80 into the $125 pot and as he pushed his chips into the pot I was trying to decide if I should raise now or pop him on the turn. Then Jose put $250 out there! And then the woman next to him went all in for $150! Holy shit! It's not every day that you flop the stone cold nuts and get 3 people to put in big action in front of you.

There were two clubs on board so I figured I was up against at least one flush draw and probably a set as well. If that was the case I'd need to fade a club or a board pair to take it down. The best case was being up against multiple flush draws or multiple set or two pair type of hands. The guy who bet $80 was sitting on about $900 and Jose had another $500 in his stack after putting $250 in already. With over $600 out there already and a draw heavy board, there was only one move - all in!

I shoved my ten stacks of chips into the pot and to my shock and amazement the button - who was the last player in the hand and facing heavy action from 4 other players - stopped to think. He had about $700 in front of him and I was having dollar signs explode in my brain.

After 30 seconds the button folded and the small blind instantly called for another $900! With the action back on Jose he folded 87 face up. He'd flopped the lower end of the straight and let it go which was a big laydown.

The rest of the hand was not filled with as much drama. The small blind also had KQ with no clubs and the woman who was all in didn't show, but said she needed runner, runner and mucked her hand after a small red card came on the turn. I split a nice pot with the small blind and we moved on to the next one.

A little later I got dealt QQ in the small blind. Jose limped in from the cut off and the button made it $25 to go. 95% of the time I like re-raising with QQ, but the button was $800 deep and I figured a reraise would either blow him off the hand preflop and I'd make a whopping $35 or I'd put myself in a spot where I was playing a big pot out of position. Neither of those sounded great and I figured I might catch one of my opponents off guard as they'd never put me on QQ.

When the action got back to Jose he made it $175 to go! Usually when someone just calls before the flop and then puts in a reraise they have a huge hand like AA or KK. Sometimes it's something like 77 or 88 if they can shove in the rest of their stack, but he had another $500+ behind so I didn't think it was anything marginal. I thought back to that first hand where he just called with KK preflop and another where he did the same thing so I knew that play was squarely in his range. My options were pretty much shove all in or fold. After 30 seconds I opted to let it go. I showed my hand and he showed me AK!

If I was 100% sure he had AK I would have called as I'd be 57% to win the hand, but if he did have AA or KK I'd only be 18% to win.

My last big hand against Jose came an hour or so later. The under the gun player raised to $20, got one caller and Jose made it $100 to go. I was in the big blind and looked down at KK! Jose had about $300 behind at that point and after considering the pro and cons of just calling, I figured there was a very good chance if I just moved all in he'd call me. I was almost positive he had a big hand as he'd shown a large percentage of the hands he'd raised and they'd all been premium hands. So I shoved.

At that point the original raiser who was sitting on $600 started moaning and groaning. The only hand I was worried about was AA and I knew he'd have snap called with that so I was 100% sure I was good vs him. Get in there baby! He agonized for a full minute before folding. Jose also quickly folded. After the hand they both said they had JJ! If they'd called (and weren't lying) I'd be 96% to win against both of them combined!

After about 3 hours Jose lost his $500 and hit the road. He was very friendly and chatty with the other players at the table. He took pictures with 5 or 6 people and seemed happy to do it. He was a little too passive, but he played pretty well in general. It was a cool experience.

All through the night things went well for me. I had one or two hands go against me, but the biggest driver of my results was the four hands where I flopped a pair with a flush draw. Those hands are hugely powerful because you're about 50% to make two pair or better by the river and provide a great opportunity to be very aggressive.

On the first I had 98 of spades and the flop came A Q 9 with two spades. My opponent bet $50 into a $100 pot, I put him all in for $225, he called, I made two pair on the river and it was good.

On the second, I had 65 of hearts, the flop came down K 7 6 with two hearts, someone shoved for $100 into a $130 pot, I called and made the flush on the turn.

On the third I had T9 of hearts and the flop came down A K 9 with two hearts. It got checked to me and I bet $20 into a $25 pot. The villain in this hand check raised to $65 and I just called. The turn was a 6 of clubs and the villain bet $100. I decided to put him to the test and made it $300 to go. After 30 seconds he folded.

On the fourth, I had 87 of spades and I put someone all in for $200 on a Q 8 4 with two spades flop, they called and I made the flush on the river.

In the end I walked out the door up $1,322 on the night!

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