The night started off well. I was in seat three (BB) at the first table and was dealt [qx 6x]. I stayed in through the flop, hit two pair, and pushed the other players out on the turn. My second hand was [ad 3d] and I made the wheel on the flop, with several hundred in pre-flop bets in the pot. I checked, UTG2 opened for 400 and I raised to 1,000. He was the only caller. I bet another 1,500 on the turn and won. Ten minutes into the game, I was up 1,500 chips.
I won another 400 holding [ax jx]. The board double-paired itself by the turn as I was heads-up with another player and we were checking it down, then with an [ax] on the river I made a bet of 200 and took the pot. [qh 4h] made me another small pot when I caught the low pair on the flop and somehow made the best hand. “Pair of fours” became the catch-phrase of the night but it marked the turning point in my fortunes.
[kx jx] cost me 350 on one hand, then I dropped another 1,200 with [jh th] and a board that went all diamondy. The winner hit the nut flush on the flop. Still, I had 5,975 at the half-hour.
My real turn-around hand was calling an all-in of 2,800 (about half my stack) with [jd td]. It was a classic race with two over cards (suited, in my case) against a pair, but when I went over the stats, I noticed something odd.
Not only was the suited jack-ten combination favored over the pair of fives but it was the best suited connector hand overall against the lower pair, with an 8% relative advantage over even [ad kd]. According to the CardPlayer Poker Odds Calculator, something similar holds for [7x 7x] and lower, which is where the JTs combination has a better-than-even chance of winning. It didn’t in my case, however.
I went all-in on my next hand, holding [kx tx] and enough chips to get everyone except the guy to my immediate right to fold. He called and flipped [ax ax] and my initial buy-in was gone.
It was a turbo tournament, and we were already up to 200/400 by my re-buy. Raises were beginning to get even more aggressive. I called 1,600 with [as 6s] and paired the lower card on the dryish flop, but folded to an all-in from three positions to my right. He took the pot, didn’t show, then announced it had been a “pair of fours”.
I shoved the rest of my second stack shortly thereafter holding [3x 3x]. Got called by a player two seats to my left, he hit his ace on the flop and I was gone. Even a pair of fours wouldn’t have helped me.
Aces Players Club Back-to-School Special (12,000 chips)
DV and I both played this game, in which the house added $1,000 to the pot for first prize just to make it extra juicy. I ended up at table 1, seat 8, and spent the afternoon next to R, the gent who beat me out of a first-place finish in a freezeout a few months back. DV ended up out in the hinterlands.
My first move of any sort was as BB with [ax 9x]. By the turn, there were two kings on the board and when a bet of 400 opened, I folded.
On SB with [8d 9d], I caught top pair on the flop with my nine. The [kc] on the turn, two clubs on the flop and a bet of 400 from the same guy (seat 1) as the hand before and I folded.
Shortly thereafter, I picked up [as ks] and raised to 350, getting four callers. The king paired on a pretty dry flop, I bet 1,000 and took the pot. Twenty-five minutes into the game, I was 625 chips ahead of starting stack.
Three players were in for 350 when I picked up [ax ax] as BB. I raised pre-flop to 2,000 and only one stayed in. The flop was jack-high, I bet another 2,000 and my opponent folded. R told me he folded jacks to my raise. That put me up to 15,225 by the 35 minute mark.
Called 225 with [kd jd] and whiffed the board, then folded to a river bet, then blew another 300 playing [ax 2x] (althought that wasn’t my worst play in this tournament with that hand). I lost about 1,000 chips over twenty minutes.
Dumped another 750 chips raising to 350 with [ax tx]. I had a wheel draw on the turn but missed. Just after an hour of play I was back down to 13,400.
Set-mining with [6x 6x] as SB is dangerous work! Don’t call 600 pre-flop with it. It isn’t worth it. [8x 8x] as BTN, on the other hand, proved profitable when I re-raised to 1,100, made my set on the flop, then won with a 2,200 opening bet post-flop. Twenty minutes after the hour I was up to 13,975.
With [as qc] I raised to 2,000 pre-flop, getting two callers. There were two spades on the jack-high flop and I opened for 1,300. I was min-raised, then action came to a halt when the player to my right went all-in for more than 14,000. I thought about it briefly and laid down my hand; everyone else did so as well. The winner showed [jx jx] for top set and took in a big pot. I, on the other hand, was down to 10,400 at the beginning of the first break, so I almost doubled my stack by buying the 8,000 chip add-on.
Set-mining with [7x 7x] is dangerous work (see above). 1,500 chips worth of dangerous. Speculating with [kc 6c] is 500 dangerous. From 20,000 chips (12,000 starting stack plus 8,000 add-on) at the two hour mark, I was down to 16,300.
Things looked up a bit when I called 1,200 holding [ac 6c] and the flop was all clubs. Heads-up after the flop, I bet 1,200 after my opponent checked and took the pot. At two-and-a-half hours I held 17,400 chips.
R remarked that I wasn’t holding onto many hands, which is when I coined the title for this post. Then I lost 2,400 with [jx tx], which is usually a good performer for me.
Last hand of the game was a highly speculative [as 2c]. The flop made me straight possibilities: [qc 4x 3c]. The only other player in the hand was pushing hard, and I pushed back, eventually going all-in. Then the turn improved me to a flush draw: [9c]. Then I connected to my flush with [4c] on the river. Unfortunately, what the other guy was connecting to with that card was a more powerful full house because he had [qx qx] in his pocket. R said he thought I was getting frustrated. I don’t know. I didn’t feel frustrated, I just thought I had an opportunity with that hand to do something before my stack got so small from blind attrition that I’d always get called. If my opponent had a pair instead of a set, he might not have called the all-in.
DV lasted a couple hours longer than I did. I swung back by the club to see if there was anything I could get him about an hour after the last I’d heard from him, but he was out by then. R was there but wasn’t in the tournament any more.
Three hours. Placed seventy-first of 93 entries. Fourteen places paid, with $15,000 in the prize pool.
Played three tournaments yesterday(ish), which brings my total since 1 May to 98, including both live and online games.
Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)
I haven’t cashed in this tournament over six attempts. But at least I usually make it to the add-on break so that I can donate another $50 to the prize pool. Not last night. I picked up [kx kx] as BB and hit a set on the flop. I was so busy hoping for the board to pair on the river that when a mid-position player who’d been calling my raises shoved, I snap-called and was easily beat by the Broadway straight I missed seeing. I just said “Not tonight” when the dealer asked me if I wanted to rebuy, but what I was thinking on my way out the door was “Not after a stupid call like that.”
Twenty minutes. Didn’t even bother to check the entries or my position but I think I was first out among about 45 players although some likely showed up after I was KOd. -100% ROI.
Encore Club $3,000 Guarantee (10,000 chips)
I thought of variations on the theme of what I should have said as I drove across town to the Encore. I still had enough in my pocket for a buy-in in their Friday night 8pm freezeout, and I even managed to get a spot in their parking lot.
Sometime about three months ago I stopped keeping notes on my live games. It seemed distracting, I wasn’t always finding time to post the results here (I’ve got several games from June and July I never got around to), and I felt I wasn’t able to concentrate on my game as much. On the other hand, I was cashing more often while I was keeping notes, so I decided to do it again for this game. Did it make a difference?
Early on I lost 1,300 chips with [qh jd]. I needed a [9x] for a queen-high straight but folded on the turn bet and the other two players still in the hand chopped my contribution, as they were both holding [ax tx] and made a pair of tens.
Hit a pair of queens with [qx 9x] and took a small pot, then tossed [jx tx] post-flop which would have made a jack-high straight on the turn. By 15 minutes into the game I was down to 8,600 chips.
[jc 7c] lost me 250 when I folded after an unpromising flop. I pushed 1,200 into the pot holding [9x 9x] in position after a limper who called but [ax] on the flop and a bet from the limper made me throw it and he showed his [ax]. Down to 7,575 at 33 minutes.
Called a raise to 425 with [qx 8c] but tossed it after another ungood flop. Three-quarters of an hour in, I was down to 6,950.
Finally, my flushing strategy worked with [ts 8s]. I hit on the turn and pulled in enough to bring me back up over starting level, to 11,825.
Overbet [ax tx] and lost 1,200 when I didn’t connect by the river heads-up and my opponent bet another 1,200. At the first break I was holding just over the starting stack: 10,125 chips; just a little below average with only one player out.
I went card-dead for quite a while and slipped slowly to 9,100 after the return to play, then shoved from BB with [jx jx] (the strong hand of the night) and was called by [ax qx] (which was consistently losing last night). The woman who called me had me covered by only about 600 chips and the loss was crippling. On the other hand, I was up to 17,800 by the two-hour mark.
I called an all-in with [ah 8h] and was outmatched by [ad 9d] but the board gave me a low straight and I knocked out a player, taking me up to 23,200 at 2:15 into the game. By break two that had increased to 25,800.
With the blinds at 400/800/100 after the chip-up, I raised to 2,000 with [qx jx] from UTG and managed to take the blinds down. With [kh 5h], I raised from BTN to 2,400. There weren’t any hearts on the flop and BB won the pot hitting jacks over nines right off the bat.
A player with [9x 9x] went all-in with 14,000 and I called with [kx kx], which held up. A little more than three hours into the game, I was up to 33,800. I promptly slammed down again calling an all-in from a 5,000 chip short stack with [jx tx]. They tripled up.
Clubs failed me again with [ac 5c] on BB. There weren’t any black cards on the board by the turn when another player bet out and I folded, losing 1,600 chips. Twenty minutes after being at neatly 34K I was down to 24,600. Another twenty minutes had me cut down to 20,600, just under the average stack.
Two kings on the board by the turn forced me to fold [ax 8x] and forfeit 1,600 more chips. The slide continued, down to 18,800 at the third break.
Four hours into the game and it was an even 14,000. I took the blinds and antes with [kd tyd] but a pre-flop all-in with [qx tx] got called by a big stack with [ax jx]. I had an up-and-down straight draw from the flop, but nothing else materialized and I was gone.
Five hours. Finished eleventh of 44 entries. Six places paid, with $4,400 in the prize pool.
Carbon Poker $150 Guaranteed Pot Limit HO (2,000 chips)
What better to cleanse the palate of five hours of play, only to bust out short of the money, than some mixed-game online action? I joined the game with only four other players at one of two tables, playing Pot Limit Hold’em. I lost a couple of early pots, laid down a [kd js] after missing the flop that would have cleaned up on the fifth hand, then finally turned [ac 8c] into enough to get me back up over starting stack on hand 8.
The very next hand, I paired my ace in [ah 7s] on the flop to win a small pot, then lost a little back. We lost a player on hand 10, then the tables consolidated on hand 14. The sixteenth hand was the beginning of our switch to Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo.
Hand 21 was a turning point. I picked up [ks 9h 3h 2d]. Seemingly not a particularly good hand, but with low possibilities if there’s an ace on the board. I raised to 90 (from 15/30) UTG, was re-raised by UTG3 to 315, and called after BTN called. The [7h jd kh] flop gave me a heart draw and top pair; I bet the pot: 990. UTG3 went all-in and I was all-in to call. He had [7s as kd ah] for two pair as it stood; we were 40/60 with me on the short end. But I made the flush on the [5h] turn and his only hope was to catch[7c], [7d], or [kc] on the river. I went from 2,295 to 4,920 and a more than 1,000 chip lead.
I didn’t win anything through the next round of PLHE, actually managing to lose the 1,000 margin I’d had. By the start of hand 40 I was down to 3,285. That hand, I got [3d 4d ah 7c] in SB and called the 60 chips of the big blind. The [qd th 3h] flop gave me a gut-shot Broadway draw; I had a backdoor nut flush. I checked it and BB checked. [kc] on the turn gave me the nuts: Broadway. I checked, BB bet 225, I pot-raised to 1,425 and he called. A pointless [7c] showed on the river. I checked, BB tossed in his remaining 515 chips and I called. He just had kings and threes. He was KOd, I was up to 5,945.
Hitting trip nines on the next hand (the last of that round of Omaha) put me over 6,000 chips. [as qs] on hand 47 dragged in another nearly 4,000 chips. At nearly 8,500 chips, my nearest competitor was 2K below me. I lost a bit on a few hands, but a split high pot ([2d 2s kd kc] on the board and two of us with aces) on hand 54 (PLHE) got me up to 8,088.
My nearest competitor and I went head-to-head in hand 56 (PLO8) with me taking the low and earning a couple hundred in early bets and calls.
The next hand, I picked up [6c 6d kd ac] in HJ at 75/150. Action folded to me, I raised to 450 and got called by BTN and SB. The flop of [9s 5d 2c] missed me completely and got checked all around. [2s] on the turn didn’t do me any good, either, but when SB checked to me I bet 750 and both the others folded. I was up to 9,288 and I was invincible with a nearly 3,000 chip lead.
I lost 825 speculating with one of those unrecommended hand that I nevertheless enjoy in PLO8: [9c tc 7d 8h]. SO good if you manage to hit a bunch of mid-range cards on the flop for a straight, not so good when it’s [5h 5c jd] and someone bets 1,330. I folded and watched nothing that would have improved my hand show up.
I speculated with a couple of more hands, dropping down to just over 6,000 chips by hand 63. Then I picked up [5d 2s ah 7d] and everything went to hell. A player starting with just under 5,000 raised to 425 from UTG1, and I re-raised to 850 for some reason. SB folded, BB called, then UTG1 raised to 3,475. My hand wasn’t strong—even if a low came along I could be easily counterfeited— but I called anyway. The [kd ks 8d] on the flop gave me nothing, but I still called an all-in bet of 1,450. My opponent flipped over [as ad 6h 4s] for a pretty good two pair. The [kh] on the turn sealed my fate. With no possibility of a low and a full house in his hand, I was drawing dead for a pot of 10,775 chips. I started the first hand of a round of PLHE with just 1,101.
My last hand (at 100/200), I potted pre-flop from UTG to 700 with [jh ts]. BTN re-raised to 1,200, then BB pushed to 4,400. I called with my remaining 401 chips and BTN folded. BB flipped over [ks ah]. He had over cards and both my suits, but I still had about a 35% chance. That dwindled to 22% when we both paired on the [td 9s ac] flop. Neither the turn or river cards improved my lot, and my implosion was complete. Top to bottom in five hands.
67 minutes. 67 hands. Finished seventh of 10 players. Three places paid; $190 prize pool.
This would have been a good time. The Carbon Poker/Merge client has an optional readout of your made hand—or what your hand would be if you hadn’t folded it. I folded this hand pre-flop, looked down for a second, and when I looked back after the river card, saw it told me I would have had a seven-high straight flush that beat the king-high flush which won the pot. And I would have tied for the low. I didn’t manage to capture a screen shot of the hand in play, but here’s the history.