Sunday, February 28, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #7 - Just a Little Patience

As I drove to the Oaks yesterday, the Guns and Roses song Patience came on as I was driving over the bridge to leave Bay Farm Island. I had my windows rolled down with the warm air of the early evening was gently blowing through as I took a quick look out over the bay towards San Francisco and the sunset. I wish I could bottle that feeling of total calm and general pleasantness.

For the next few hours a lot of patience was required at the table. I discovered a few months back that you could call in advance for the $2/$3/$5 game and put your name on the board. This has been a huge boon as I'm normally at the top of the list by the time I arrive and don't have to spend 30 minutes to an hour waiting or playing smaller stakes. When I rolled in there was only one game going, and sure enough I was first. But no one was getting up!

Finally after 45 minutes they called my name and I sat down at table #2 in what was a shitty game by Friday night standards. 10 minutes later they called out 10 names to start a new game. I looked at the cast of characters sitting down at table #9, saw that it was a bunch of stooges and quickly put my name up for a change to that game.

While I waited, not a God damn thing happened for me at table #2. After an hour I'd won no pots and I was only losing $75. It was fold city!

On my first hand of note, I called a raise to $25 with KJ of clubs on the button. We took the flop 3 way and the board came down K 8 4 rainbow. The preflop raiser bet out $50 and I just called. Unfortunately I felt like it was totally obvious what I had. There were no draws out there and after calling the raise preflop I pretty much had to have Kx, 88 or 44, but with Kx making up most of my range. We went to the turn heads up. The turn card was a 5 and the preflop raiser checked. I figured there was a 90% chance I was going to bet and win on the turn, but checking didn't make any sense. I cut out three stacks of five $5 chips and pushed them into the pot. My opponent quickly check raised me to $175! What the?! I figured he probably had AA and after a short pause I mucked. He flashed AK and said "King queen?" to me. "Something like that." I replied. Drat!

90 minutes after sitting down I was still waiting to move to table #9, when they started another $2/$3/$5 on table #8 with even more stooges. Get me out of this game where people are betting the flop and then check raising one pair on the turn! Luckily one of the stooges was so stoogy that he wanted to play on table #2 and we switched.

I was in seat #9 and in seat #10 was a guy wearing sunglasses with headphones on. He looked like he was trying to look like a really baller poker player. The only problem was he bought in for $100 and had no clue. He was a real spot.

I got into it with The Spot after he'd doubled up to $200 or so. I had JT of hearts and came in for a raise to $20. The Spot called. The flop came down Q94 with one heart and I bet out $30. The Spot called again. The turn was another 4, I bet $55. The Spot called yet again. At that point I figured he was calling me down with a Q and I decided I wasn't going to fire another barrel on the river. I hit a T on the end and checked it figuring he'd check back something like KQ or QJ. He did check, but instead of Qx he rolled over 66 which was just a lowly pair of sixes. I showed my JT and he jumped out of his chair like it was the worst beat he'd ever gotten. What are you so upset about? You can't beat third pair you spot!

On the other side of the table were two guys I'll call Mr. Quiet and Mr. Loud. Mr. Quiet is a roughly 65 year old fellow who never says a word. Mr. Loud is a mid twenties guy with baggy clothes, tilted hat and lots of tattoos who is constantly talking. Some people who talk all the time are real dick heads, but this guy is very charming and funny.

 On the first hand I got into it with them, The Spot and Mr. Quiet called $5, Mr. Loud made it $15 to go, I called with 86 in the big blind and we saw the flop 4 way. The flop came down 9 8 5 with two clubs and The Spot and I called a $20 bet from Mr. Loud. The turn was the J of clubs bringing in the front door flush draw. I had the 8 of clubs in my hand to go along with my pair and gut shot and I thought it was certainly possible these guys didn't have squat. I bet out $60 into the $120 pot. The Spot folded and Mr. Loud pumped it to $155. I made an easy fold and he showed 76 of clubs! What a flop for that hand!

I got into it again with The Spot a bit later. There was a $10 straddle out and I got dealt KJ of clubs. As soon as the guy to my right folded I went for my chips to put in a raise, but before I had a chance to do anything, The Spot called $10 on the button out of turn. The dealer immediately stopped him and let him know that I hadn't acted. "I couldn't see his cards" spouted The Spot in regards to my clearly visible cards right in front of my stack that had not been touched. The Spot slurped his $10 back into his stack and I raised to $35. Now The Spot tanked. After 30 seconds he moved all in for $90. "Well, I guess this is happening to me now." I thought. I called primed with the knowledge that 1) I absolutely without a shadow of a doubt had the best hand 2) I had zero percent chance to win this pot. The Spot flashed me the 97 of hearts and I showed him that yes, I was in fact raising a hand that had a card higher than 9 in it. The flop came down K 7 6 with one heart and I figured I'd be losing to the running hearts, but it was the 7 on the turn that got me. "YUUUUGH!" spouted The Spot on the turn, a behavior that normally calls out to the poker gods to stick it to you on the river. But alas the power of the goofy, brain dead shit The Spot was doing on this hand was insurmountable. In explanation to me the Spot spouted "I only did it because I have to leave soon." "You will be leaving soon because unless you have $5,000 with you, you're going to be broke in less time that it takes to watch an episode of Charles in Charge you Spot!" is what I was thinking.

He blew off his stack to Mr. Loud 2 hands later and left.

At this point I was losing about $500 on the night, but things turned around.

After the Spot's departure, Mr. Quiet raised to $20, Mr. Loud called and I raised it to $60 with JJ out of the big blind. The flop came down T 5 4 with two diamonds and I bet $125. Mr. Quiet went all in for $90 with what turned out to be K9 of diamonds and Mr. Loud folded 33 face up. The turn and river were both black aces and I won a nice pot.

Mr. Quiet bought back in for $400, much of which would come to me.

A few hands later five of us saw a flop for $5 and I bet out $15 with 76 on a 877 board. Only Mr. Quiet called. The turn was a total bingo - a six! I checked and Mr. Quiet quickly bet out $25. I check raised him to $75 and he stopped to think. "What were you thinking check raising, you goof?" I asked myself. The last thing I wanted was to blow him off a draw that might come in and if he had an 8 there was some chance he might call a turn and river bet, but no way he was calling a turn check raise. I would have been better off betting out and I thought I'd lost him. But happily he called. The river was a J and I was hoping he might have T9, but when I bet $110, he instantly mucked.

A little later I raised to $20 with AT and Mr. Quiet made it $45 to go. I've played with him a half dozen times and I don't think I've ever seen him three bet anyone. I felt pretty sure he had a big pair. Then another player cold called the $45. I felt like he had a big pair too, but I was suited and it was only another $25 to go so I called. I went to the flop hoping I didn't get a ten high flop. I wanted to flop the nuts or just totally miss. I got a ten high flop - T 7 4. I checked and to my surprise Mr. Quiet checked it along. The other guy bet out $45 and all of a sudden I thought I might be good. A bet of $45 into $135 is pretty weak and he only had about $175 behind so it wasn't a big risk to put him to the test. I decided to go for it and made it $200 to go. Mr. Quiet mucked and after some deep thought the other guy folded as well.

On my last hand of note Mr. Quiet called $5 before the flop and when it got to me I made it $25 to go with AK. One other player called and Mr. Quiet shoved on me for $125. I figured he was getting fed up with me pounding him, but that he probably still had a pair. Whatever he had I sure a shit wasn't folding AK preflop for $100 getting 1.75 to 1. I made it $300 to blow the other buy off the hand and the board ran out Q 3 4 5 5. The was a terrible run out. I couldn't beat a pair or some other likely hands like AQ or KQ or QJ. Can this guy really have AJ or some other bullshit? Turns out he could. I don't know what he had, but he didn't show and I took down the pot.

I won $210 on the night over 4 hours which felt pretty sweet given how slow the night started. After 26.5 hours I'm ahead $2,280 for the project.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #6 - The Odd Behavior of the Poker Gods

I was back in action at the $2/$3/$5 no limit game at the Oaks on Friday. I sat down with $500 as usual and got off to a hot start.

Within the first 10 minutes or so I got JJ, the flop came down a beautiful 7 5 2 rainbow and my lone opponent bet $40 into the $80 pot after calling my three bet preflop. I put him all in for $140, the turn was a 7 the river was a 9 and he did not show when I rolled over my JJ. Sometimes it's just easy.

Other times, not so much. A few hands later 9 of us saw the flop for $5 (9 of us!). I had 99 and again the flop came down 7 5 2 (this time with two spades). Very strange! The player in the big blind who had about $1,000 in front of him bet out $25, another player who had about $175, raised him to $50 and I was next to act with 4 players left behind me. With so many opponents it's really tough to sort out who could have what. You can make an argument for calling, raising or folding here, but I was feeling confident after my JJ win so I decided to go for the raise in the hopes of unloading everyone except the guy with $175. I made it $100 to go and Mr. $1,000 and Mr. $175 both called. The turn was the 3 of spades and Mr. $1,000 immediately went all in! Mr. $175 called and I had an easy fold. Mr. $1,000 turned over a king high flush and for a moment I was wishing I'd raised more on the flop, but then I saw it was K7 of spades. With top pair and a flush draw he was locked in.

I found myself with some more unclear decisions a little later. One player opened for $10, and Mr. $1,000 raised to $30. With about $750 in my stack I called the $30 with 44 in the small blind. We took the flop 4 way and the $10 raiser moved all in for $92 on a 2 3 5 flop. Mr $1,000 called. I had an open ended straight draw and was risking $92 to win about $300 which would be good odds if I could see the turn and river, but not the right price if I was going to get blown off my draw on the turn if I missed. I didn't feel great about it, but I decided to call. The turn was a beauty, a 6 making my straight. I decided to check in the hopes that my opponent might fire at it or in the hopes that he might make something on the river or in the hopes that I might convince him I didn't have a straight. Sadly he checked back. Also sadly the river was a 7 that put three diamonds out there and he folded to my bet of $130.

Happily I was up about $575 after the first hour.

Then I made my first of two sets of 8's of the night. 5 of us called $5 preflop, the flop came out Q J 8 and with bottom set I bet out $15. I got one caller. The turn was a 7, I bet out $30 and he went all in for $80. He showed QJ and I was sad that he didn't have more money in front of him...until the river came and it was a Q! I lost the pot, but felt glad I didn't get burned for more.

After two hours I was ahead about $300 on the night and as I looked around I realized I was in the best game I'd seen in at least 6 months. There were a couple of crazies who were going to spew off every chip eventually surrounded by a bunch of predictable ABC players. It was really ideal.

In hour 3 I got into a couple of big hands against against the same couple of opponents. I'll call them Ms. Think and Mr. Tilt. Ms. Think is about 50, Asian, and whenever she has a big decision she talks it out, out loud. It's great for me because I have gotten a great sense of the way she thinks. Mr. Tilt was also about 50, heavy set  and was someone I did not know. He lost a couple of pots and then it seemed like he committed to seeing every flop for at least an hour no matter what.

On one hand after many $5 callers, Ms. Think raised to $40 and Mr. Tilt called. I had AK in the big blind and seeing that Ms. Think had about $250 and Mr. Tilt had $230, I decided to make it $200 to go expecting I'd unload Ms. Think and get called by Mr. Tilt who would certainly have a worse hand. As you might expect, Ms. Think took some time to think. After about 30 seconds, acting out of turn, Mr. Tilt said "I call" and stared putting his chips in! When you're on tilt you can't be bothered to wait for your turn. Ms. Think seeing that it would be a three way pot, quickly folded. I bet $30 in the dark to put Mr. Tilt the rest of the way in and he called before the flop came out. I turned over my AK, but Mr. Tilt didn't show right away. The flop came down 9 7 6. The turn was a 5 and Mr. Tilt rolled over 54! ACK! Ms. Think starting groaning about how she'd folded 88! And then the river came an 8 and we spit the pot!

At this point I realized I was not leaving until this guy did. If he was willing to stack off with 54 no amount of good luck would save him and any chips he had would go to the rest of us.

Then a different guy also decided 5 high was good hand. This guy called $5 with 53 off suit. I made it $40 in the big blind with AJ facing many $5 calls and he just went ahead and moved all in for $101 with his 53. I've talked in recent posts about the levels of thinking in poker where level 1 is "what are my cards" and level 2 is "What does my opponent probably have." This guy was at level 0. He didn't even get to what are my cards. He just decided to do some shit. The board ran out 2 3 4 5 Q and I won with a wheel.

Then Mr. Level 0 pulled out a stack of 7 or 8 $100 chips from his pocket! He only put one on the table, but my eyes got wide with greed just seeing that he had a fair amount of money with him.

I thought "If these guys stay here I'm never leaving. I will stay all night and all day tomorrow. I am never leaving this game."

My second set of eights arrived around this time. I called a $15 raise with 88 and 6 of us saw the flop. The board came down 8 6 4 with two spades and everyone checked to me. With a wet board and 5 opponents I was not going to screw around. I bet $75 into the $120 pot. When it got back to Ms. Think she moved all in for $425! Yowza! And now it was on Mr. Tilt. He'd blown off the short stack he had, bought back in for $500 and won a couple of pots so now he was sitting on $800. I had him covered. Get in there baby! The longer he thought the worse I figured his hand was. Eventually he folded, I called, and making it clear she had gotten out of line Ms. Think sadly asked if I had two pair. I showed my set and she sighed. The turn was the worst card imaginable - the 5 of spades. Mr. Tilt pounded his fist on the table and we all knew he'd folded a flush draw. Ms. Think still looked sad. The river was a 9 and she mucked her hand. Mr. Tilt said he'd folded T9 of spades! How the hell do you stack off with 54 off and then later fold a straight flush draw? If Mr. Tilt had just stuck to his tilty ways I would have lost $800, but instead I won $500. The Poker Gods really spared me on that one.

On my last hand of consequence I got involved with Mr. Level 0, Ms. Think and Mr. Tilt. I had J9 off suit and after a $5 call from Mr. Level 0, Ms. Think raised to $20 and got called by Mr. Tilt who was back on tilt. Normally I'm not calling a raise with J9 off, but against these folks I wanted to play as many hands as I could in position. I called and the flop came down J 6 2. They all checked to me and I was like "Oh great! I have the best hand." Against better players you have to worry about check raises and slow plays and bluffs. But against these guys I was 99% sure I was ahead. I bet $60 and Mr. Level 0 and Mr. Tilt both called. Normally if two players call a 3/4 pot sized bet on a board with no draws and you have a weak top pair, you're in 3rd place. This time I was still sure I was ahead. The turn was a T, they checked to me, I bet out $140, and Mr. Level 0 called off his last $70 with Q6. Mr. Tilt seen enough and folded. The river was an 8 and that was the end of Mr. Level 0.

Soon after Mr. Tilt blew off his chips an left as well. Both were replaced by toughish regulars and in no time other soft spots picked up and were replaced by less exploitable competition.

After 4 hours I picked up with a $1,002 profit! Whoop whoop! After 22.5 hours I'm ahead $2,070 for the project.

I might break with the Friday only plan and play sometime during the week as this win has given me a bit of poker fever. I'm a little worried that I'm going to go in, play well and still get beat and feel some regret about deviating from my Friday plan so I'm considering going to play a tournament which would give me a chance to play while eliminating any chance of a big loss. We'll see how I feel when the time comes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #5 - The Champagne Is Flowing All Over The Table

I put in 4 more hours of $2/$3/$5 action on Friday. When I first sat down at table 1 at The Oaks, I noticed that my table had 5 or 6 players that didn't suck. Luckily there was another game going and I made a quick escape to table #16.  There was a ton of money on the table relative to what I normally see. One guy who I call Mr. Patient (for more about him check out this post where I beat him in a $4,400 pot) was sitting on $3,000, a couple of others had $1,500+ and everyone was at least $700 deep.

Just to my right was a mid 20's middle eastern fellow drinking Champagne. Over the course of the night he spewed about $2,500 off to the rest of the table.

The theme of the night was that found myself winning quite a few pots where I had the best of it and was left wondering if I pushed too hard and missed out on some value.

On the first one I had TT in the big blind. After one $5 call, the next player to act made it $25, got one call in the field and we took the flop 4 way.Three betting preflop here is not crazy, but I just sat down and wanted to get a feel for the table before building a big pot out of position. The flop came down 7 7 4 rainbow and the $5 caller bet $70 into the preflop raiser. The other two players folded and it was back to me. I was 90% sure he had exactly 55, 66, 88 or 99. Nothing else made any sense at all with that action. But I didn't know exactly how to proceed. If I raised I figured he'd probably fold. If I called he'd probably consider that I had a 7 and shut down the betting and certainly if a card like an A or K came he'd check back the turn. Did I want to let him see the turn and river and give him a free shot to catch up in the hopes that he'd call some smallish river bet? No. I decided that I was all but sure I had the best of it now and I should not screw around. I made it $200 and he folded 88 face up. I think if he'd been a little more short stacked he would have gone for it.

A little later I got dealt AA in the big blind. There was a raise to $20, and two calls including Mr. Champagne. I raised it to $70 and only Mr. Champagne called. I'd just seen him stack off for $300 on the flop on a QJ5 board with JT vs AJ with minimal pre-flop action so I was hoping to get paid off. The flop came down K T 4 which looked perfect. He'd probably have a piece of it, but unless he had KT or 44 exactly I was in great shape. I bet $100 into the $200 pot and after some thought he folded a T face up. GAH! He had about $300 behind and I was pissed I didn't get it.

A couple of hand later I got QT of spades and raised to $25. I got one caller and the flop came down A Q J giving me middle pair and a gut shot. I bet out $40 and got quickly called. The turn was a K making my gut shot! Bingo! I tried to imagine I was sad (so I could give off subtle sad vibes of course!) and checked. I could almost hear my opponent think "AH HA!" as he proudly bet $155 into the $130 pot. I thought about calling, but there was a front door flush draw out there and I wasn't going to be happy to see a board pair or a T so there were 20 cards that I didn't want to see on the river. I opted to shove for $500 and I took it down on the turn.

When I moved all in Mr. Champagne said "Whoa! You've got balls bro!" A few minutes later he dumped a full glass of champagne all over the table. My chips were sticky for the rest of the night.

In the next hand of note I got 99 on the button. There was a raise to $30 over a few $5 calls in front of me. Taking it to $100 was an option, but I decided I'd rather play a multi-way pot for $30 than get it heads up with a medium pair. Which is better is certainly an opponent dependent situation, but if I'm being honest I just opted to take the conservative route which I'm not sure is best. We took the flop 5 way and the board came down K J 4 with two diamonds. Everyone checked to me. This told me that the raiser didn't have a K and probably didn't have a J or something like QQ, but I didn't tell me the same thing about the other players who would have checked a K or a J to the raiser in most circumstances. If I bet it would basically be a bluff into 4 players on a wet board.

The turn was another bingo - a black 9! Now I had a set. One of the preflop limpers bet out $70 into the $150 pot - it was the same guy who'd bet $155 when I made the straight on the turn in that previous hand. I was sitting on about $700 at this point, he had me covered and I figured if I was going to get it all in there it would be better to put in a raise now. I made it $200 and after a few seconds he called. The river was an interesting card - it paired the K. Now I had a full house, really the only hand I had to worry about was KJ, and my opponent was likely to have trip kings given the action. He thought for a long time (in what seemed to be an obvious act to me) before checking. I bet out $260 and he reluctantly folded.

Looking back, my river bet was a pretty big mistake. There was $550 in the pot and I had $500 left. Betting $260 was the worst of three options. I certainly could have counted slowly to 10 and then shoved it all in. It would be hard for him to fold a K in that spot and he could certainly have a K. 2nd best would have been to bet an amount that a hand like QJ or JT could call, like $100. Normally I'd say the $500 bomb is the way to go. Even if you usually get a fold, the times you get called make up for it. For example, it's better to make $500 once and get folds three times than to get called 4 times for $100. But in this instance since I read his river stall as a total BS effort to make me think he had a hand that might be worth betting, if I take this to the 5th level (Where I'm thinking about what he's thinking that I'm thinking about what he has - I think?) I know he wants me to check back which implies that he has some showdown value, but it's relatively thin. Thus $100 was the bet to make.

Those hands went pretty well, but they didn't all go smoothly.

Towards the end of the night I raised to $20 with AJ or spades and got 5 callers. The flop came down T 6 2 with two spades and I bet out $75. Everyone folded to the player in the big blind who looked for a second like he was going to fold, but instead moved all in for $200. Only needed to risk another $125 to win about $400 with two overs and a flush draw made it an easy call. I bricked out and lost to A6. On the very next hand that guy won a huge pot and was up to over $1,000. In two hands and about 4 minutes he went from $220 to a $1,000 stack! That is why people love to play.

In the end I booked a $238 win over 4 hours. I'm now ahead $1,068 after 18.5 hours for the project.

After 5 sessions the story for me thus far is how tame everything has been. In Project 10K my average win was $847 and my average loss was $825 (I won 2/3 of the sessions). This time around it seems to be a few hundred one way or the other. In the sessions I was playing at the end of 2015 I felt like I had 5 or 6 $1,000+ pots going one way or the other every time I played, but those have been few and far between (If I've had any at all). Low variance is certainly a good thing, it's just a little surprising.

Back in action Friday!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #4 - Not So Super Saturday

After a nice win on Friday I deviated from my Friday only plan a little bit and went back in Saturday night. It was the day before the Superbowl and I was hoping that a handful of the 1,000,000 people in town for the game and related events might trickle in to the Oaks. This did not happen at all. It was mostly the regular faces and it was actually less busy than a normal Saturday.

My session was mostly a real snooze fest. I spent a lot of time losing small pots and just sitting there. The two hands worth noting were both bluffs.

On the first I had 53 of diamonds on the button and 5 of us saw a flop for $5. The flop was T 4 2 giving me an open ended straight draw. The player just to my right was a 6 foot tall, 350 pound guy who looked like he was about 80. You don't see too many old guys that heavy so even though I only played with him one or two times in the past I remembered him clearly and knew he was not a strong player. Mr. Heavy bet out $20 on the flop. Just about the only thing he would bet here is one pair of tens so my plan was to just call and if I either made my straight or a card higher than ten came along, I'd put the heat on. Surprisingly all three other players called as well. The turn was an 8 and Mr. Heavy bet out $50. Normally if someone is going to bet into 4 people twice they have something pretty solid, but I still had him squarely on a T. I opted to just call since it was possible someone else might a big hand. Everyone else folded. The river was a K and again Mr. Heavy bet $50.

In my experience the most reliable best bet sizing tell in all of poker is someone betting the exact same amount on either the flop and turn or turn and river in a cash game. Almost without exception it means "I don't know what to do here so I guess I'll just bet the same thing again." Strong players never do this because on the next round the pot is so much bigger that a bigger bet is called for. They might bet $50 and follow it up with $60 or $70 in some very specific instances, but exactly $50 again is a huge clue. In the hand above, on the turn Mr. Heavy was betting $50 into a pot of $120 which is on the small size, in the realm of normal. But after my call on the turn, when we get to the river he's betting $50 into $220. If he had any kind of hand at all that he thought was good, he'd probably be putting $75-$100 or more out there. When I see this behavior I shut down any doubt and raise.

I made it $200 to go, Mr. Heavy quickly mucked and I took down the $270 pot when I had literally the worst possible hand on the river.

With the next hand in mind I want to take a moment to talk about levels of thinking in poker.

-The first level is "what are my cards" - This is where rank novices start.
- The second level is "what do I think my opponent has" - Even beginners get here most of the time
- The third level is "what does my opponent think I have" - There is a quantum leap between level 2 and 3 and many players never think on the third level.
- The fourth level is "what does my opponent think, I think they have" - You can only get to this level when playing against a player who is thinking on the third level.
- The fifth level is "If my opponent thinks I'm thinking on the 4th level, what do they think I'm thinking.

There is no limit to how deep you can go, but you can only go one level above your opponent or you'll end up making catastrophic mistakes. It happens often enough a bigger games that players over think it that there is a name for it - it's called leveling yourself. The most simple example is if someone is only worried about their cards and not thinking about what you have at all, then you can't convince them of anything with your actions.

Near the end of my session I got into a hand with some 4th level thinking. I got dealt T8 of diamonds and called $20 on the button. The raiser was a an Oaks regular who has been a full time professional player for a number of years. I know him mainly as a $30/$60 limit hold'em player, but he's been playing no limit more and more lately and I know he's had some success in pretty big tournaments. We took the flop 3 way and the board came down  7 7 5 with two diamonds. Mr. Pro bet $35 and I just called. Raising was a possibility, but at the time (going to my 4th level thinking here) I figured if I raised he would not put me on a 7 because I'd likely wait until the turn to raise a 7. What I did not consider was he would probably put me on a pair in the 66-TT range if I did raise.

Anyway, the turn was an A which looked like a shitty card to me. I expected Mr. Pro to bet again, but he checked. My 2nd level thinking told me he did not have an A in his hand and probably had a pocket pair. My 3rd level thinking told me that he would think I could easily have an ace in my hand or maybe a 7. So I bet $80 and to my surprise he called. The river was a 3 and I found myself not being able to get past the 1st level. I had nothing and I checked. Mr. Pro rolled over KT and proudly took the pot! ACK! He called a 2/3 pot bet with two unders on the turn!?

On the turn Mr. Pro went to the 4th level knowing that I would read his check on the turn as weak and bet with probably my entire range which included a lot of draws and unpaired big cards. If I'd taken my time with the 2nd level on the river I would have bet big again and won.

I ended up losing $342 on the night in 3.5 hours. When I went to cash out something funky happened. I had $658 dollars in chips which amounted to one rack of 100 $5 chips, one stack of 20 $5 chips, 10 other $5 chips and $8 in ones. When the cashiers count out your chips, they usually put them in piles of $100 or $20 so it's visual how many bills to give you, but in this instance she put out two piles of four $5 chips, and then broke the rest into a pile of $15 that had two $5's and a pile of five $1 chips and then had three $1 chips on their own. I thought "She's going to stiff me $5" She's going to give me whatever fifty three and not whatever fifty eight. Sure enough she ran the bills through the bill counter and it said $1,153. I said "I think it's $58" and she looked again said "Oh!" put another $5 on there and proceeded to pay me $1,153. While she was counting out the hundreds I remembered that I was only due $653! Of course being no a huge a hole I told her she'd overpaid me.

After 15 hours I'm up $832 for the project.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #3 - Ignoring Russel Westbrook to play with Mr. Yahoo

The turn was a 6 making me two pair, queens and sixes on a Q 8 5 6 board. Mr. Yahoo was on his 8th seven and seven in the past 2 hours and after biding my time, eyeing his stack greedily, I finally had him right where I wanted him. After betting $25 on the flop and getting 3 callers, Mr Yahoo fired out $100 on the turn. I thought about raising, but he could have anything or nothing and I was almost certain he'd fire again on the river if I just called. To my horror one of the other players moved all in for $320 and then Mr. Yahoo shoved for $1,000. I looked down at the $600 in front of me and thought...

When I walked up to table 16 at the Oaks on Friday night there were a few new faces and as I listened to 3 of them argue with the dealer about the rules for a given situation I could tell that they have no clue what the hell they were doing. One of them was Mr. Yahoo. He was about 50, mentioned that he was a lawyer and appeared to have a fat stack of hundreds in his wallet. Next to him were two other guys who were drinking straight whiskey. Before I'd even played a single hand I knew it was going to be a great game.

The first hour was slow for me, but I was winning a little bit thanks to getting AA in a straddled pot and getting a little action. I'd seen Mr. Yahoo stack off for $300 preflop with AJ and also noticed that if he had top pair or even second pair he was calling all action post flop. I knew if I could make a hand I'd take him down.

About 90 minutes into the session I got my chance. He raised to $25 under the gun and I made it $65 to go with JJ. Then button cold called the $65! Shit! This guy seemed like a reasonable player and the only hands that made sense to smooth call in that spot were AA or KK. I was so sure that's what he had that I was planning to check fold the flop barring a miracle. Mr. Yahoo called and the flop came down J 9 2! YES! Top set! The button had about $500 behind and Mr. Yahoo had $700. If I was going to get it all from either of them I'd need to start building a pot, but I wanted to put out a bet that said "I'm unsure." I bet out $80...and the button folded! NOOOOOOO! I was shocked. Then Mr. Yahoo folded! NOOOOOOO! One of the problems with top set is it's really hard for someone else to have top pair. If I wasn't so sure the button had a big pair I might have checked. On such a dry board with a whack job who could fire with total air on the turn in the pot, I probably should have checked. Drat!

Around that time I noticed that Russel Westbrook (the NBA player) who was in town to play the Warriors was playing $15/$30 at the table next to me. I'd heard about him coming in to play at the Oaks in the past, but this was the first time I'd seen him. Oddly enough people were gathered around a TV near him watching the end of the Cavs/Celtics games and didn't seem to notice that he was sitting right under the TV! He's taller in person that I expected!

Pictured here: The Best Photo Ever Taken of Russel Westbrook

If you zoom in you can see him in the background in a blue sweatshirt under those two Chinese lanterns. I thought about putting my name up for the game he was in, but he quickly moved over to $30/$60 where there were 6 guys who play that game every day and have been very tough players for 10+ years. Limit hold'em cash games are much more formulaic and the biggest mistake you'll find these guys making is calling a raise with KJ when they should have KQ or better to call. If it had been Lebron or Kobe I would have tried to play, but I decided to stick with the more profitable situation of trying to get Mr. Yahoo's money.

After 3 hours I was winning a little bit when the hand I started this post with came up. It had been killing me that I couldn't make a hand against Mr. Yahoo. He was just spewing all over the place! To recap I had Q6 $600 deep on a Q 8 5 6 board, called $100 from Mr. Yahoo on the turn, then there was a check raise all in for $320 and Yahoo went in for $1000. When I hit that 2 pair I was all set to stack off for $700 with Mr. Yahoo and beat one pair of queens. But I was 90% sure the guy who went to $320 had a set. So I was in a spot where I'd have to call $600, in the hopes winning the side pot. My 1 second snap reaction was that it was going to be a big enough side pot, but after doing some math I figured out the side pot would be a little less than $800, meaning I'd be risking $600 to net $200 which sucked. If I could win the whole pot, I'd net about $1,300, but I knew that wasn't happening so I just had to suck it up and fold. Mr. $320 had a set of 5's a took a huge pot off Mr. Yahoo who didn't show.

Now I was back to even. :(

A couple hands later I got black 77 in the small blind. Mr. Yahoo raised to $20 vs one call, and we took the flop 3 way. The flop came down K 6 2 all clubs giving me a weak club draw and better than 2nd pair. Mr. Yahoo bet out $45 as I thought he'd do with anything after his preflop raise. I thought about raising, but by this point he only had $200 more behind and I thought he might bluff it off on the turn. The turn was the Q of spades and as expected he shoved for $200. Calling off $200 on the turn on a 3 of a suit board with two paints against a pre-flop raiser is absolutely stupid in almost any spot. But not in this one! I called, he said "You've got me." The river was the 8 of clubs making me a flush, I showed my hand, he excitedly flipped over Q2 of hearts thinking that I just had a pair of 7's. Then he saw that I had the winner and he totally lost his shit. He didn't say anything to me, but he started giving the dealer a hard time and was kind of in and out of his seat just buck, buck, bucking around like a chicken saying "Come on!" instead of "buck, buck."

He pulled out another $100 from his wallet and when the action got to him he just chucked it in the pot. I think if he'd had chips he would have raised, but the dealer read this as a call and he didn't object. I was on the button with 72 of spades. I had $2 already in there from the blinds and called another $3 hoping to get lucky. I flopped a flush! Still clucking and bucking, Mr. Yahoo fired out $20 and I just called. On the turn she shoved his last $75 and I snap called! He turned over T9 which I think made 2nd pair. When he saw that I had 72 and had flopped a flush the clucking and bucking intensified and he stormed off. I didn't get the huge stack from him, but it was still pretty sweet to send him packing.

Now that he was gone I set my sights on a new target. There was a 20 something Asian woman in seat 7 who seemed a little green. On one hand I got dealt 44 on the button and called a raise to $20 from a third player. Ms. Green called in the big blind and we took the flop 3 ways. The board ran out A 6 4 giving me bottom set. They both checked to me and I decided to check it back. The turn paired the A and Ms. Green bet out $30. I figured if she had an ace, I could put in a huge raise on the river and get called, and if she was bluffing or betting lite, I didn't want to scare her off. I just called. The river was a third A! AHHHHHHHH! Now if she had any pair I was cooked. She bet out $80. I thought she could have something like KQ and just be firing away so I called. I said "I can only beat a bluff and rolled over my hand." She mucked! About 2 second after her cards hit the muck she said she had JJ! She'd misread the situation thinking that I had a full house and not realized that she had a better full house.

On the very next hand I stuck it to her again. I came in for a raise with J9 with the J of spades and she called along with two other players. The flop came down K Q 4, all spades and I bet out $60. Ms. Green popped it to $160! Getting check raised when you're sitting on jack high isn't ideal, but I had the #2 flush draw and a gut shot, I was getting 3 to 1 on my money, and I thought I might be able to win the pot without making my hand. The turn was an off suit 3 and she checked. Now I could rule out a made flush and she had the perfect sized stack for me to take a shot at it. I put her all in for $275 with $400 in the pot and after about 30 seconds she folded.

We'd been playing short handed for a while finally so many people got up that we were down to 4 players being dealt in. We called over the floorman to draw for seats in the other game that was going, but while he was coming over and talking to us I got involved in one last hand. I raised to $20 with Q9 and got called by the big blind. The flop came down A Q 5 with two diamonds, my opponent checked, I bet $25 and he called. The turn was a 9 making me two pair and my opponent check called $45. The river was the 2 of diamonds bringing home the flush draw and my opponent bet out $120 into the $180 pot. Yikes! This was a biggish bet, but I remembered an earlier hand where this guy had put in a big check raise on the flop with a flush draw. I figured him to be the type of guy who would push a draw if he had one and there was always the chance he could think he was betting for value with a hand worse than mine. I called him very quickly and he folded his hand face down before I even showed my cards.

I decided to call it a night and not move to the new table. In the end I won $979 over 3.5 hours!

After 11.5 hours I'm up $1,179 for the project.

My WSOP 2023 Plans and Missions

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