Played an early Sunday $1/3 NL session at Rivers. (Impressions of that poker room coming soon.) The first two hours were a disaster. To wit ...
-- After a bunch of limpers, I raised to $20 with aces from the button. The only caller was a proven loose-aggressive maniac wearing one earbud and a Tapout hat. Flop came 9h-7h-3c. Not caring in the least that I was the one who raised preflop, Tapout pushed out one-third of the $90 stack he had in front of him. I had him covered and shoved. He called with his last $60 and proudly tabled K-9 off. Ooooo-kay, all I've got to do is fade a king and a ni-- I hadn't even finished the thought before the dealer put out a king on the turn. While collecting his sizeable pot, Tapout actually said: "I always say play big or go home." No, seriously ... I'm not kidding. That's what he said.
-- After rebuying for another $100 and bleeding away more chips, I found Kd-8d in the big blind. A grizzled, middle-aged gentleman raised to $10 and another player, a buddy of mine I play with from time to time, called behind him. I protected my big blind by calling out of position with a mediocre-at-best hand. I make incredibly stupid decisions like that sometimes. Flop came 8c-7d-6d, and things quickly got interesting. I checked, Grizzly led out for $25, and my buddy min-raised to $50. I was holding top pair plus a flush draw with $92 sitting in front of me. Grizzly was likely just continuation betting, so I expected him to fold if I reraised. Even if he had an overpair, it was going to be tough for him to call from that spot. Figuring out what the raiser was holding was trickier. A flopped straight, a set, an overpair or a straight draw plus (something like 8-9) were all possibilities. The problem was I didn't have much (if any) fold equity. I could only raise $42 more, and my buddy was probably not going to lay down any real hand to that bet, considering he already had $60 in the pot. Still, I was going to have outs no matter what his holdings and quite possibly a good many of 'em. And maybe, just maybe, if he was on the lower end of the range I put him on, he could convince himself I check-raised with a set or a made straight and decide to lay his hand down.
Arrrggghhh, too much thinking. Brain hurting.
I shoved all my chips into the middle of the table. Grizzly mulled things over for a moment, then finally said, "I guess I have to lay this down." (He folded pocket aces, as confirmed by the guy sitting next to him.) My buddy took a moment to work some math, deduced that he had to call and pushed $42 more out. He flipped up pocket jacks. Far from my worst-case scenario. In fact, running the odds, I was a slight favorite to win the hand at that point (52.5 percent). The percentages didn't mean much, however, once the dealer laid out two non-diamond, non-king, non-eight cards on the turn and river. Winning races is not something I've been able to do lately. It's kind of starting to piss me off.
So now I was sunk for $270 and bought back in for another $200. I bled off some more chips and was sitting with $140 in front of me when I went on one of the best runs I've had in quite some time. Over the next 20 minutes, I won $303, all I had previously lost save for a measly $27. A sample of the much-appreciated craziness ...
-- After taking down a few small pots, I got to check from the big blind with Q-6. Flop came Q-J-6. Who loves a big-blind special? I do! I do! I led out for $12 and the guy sitting to my left, who limped under the gun, called. Turn came a nine. No flushes. I bet $20, and he raised it up to $45. Uh-oh. The thought that he could be holding K-10 disturbed me greatly. Not enough to get me to lay down queens up, though. I called. River was a total blank. I checked, and my opponent pushed out $50. His range was actually super narrow and easy to define. He obviously loved that nine and was holding either K-10 for the straight, Q-9 for the better two pair or J-9 for the worse two pair. I could only beat one of those hands, but the bet was less than 50 percent of the total pot so I called anyway. What a relief it was to see him roll over J-9.
-- I raised preflop from the cutoff holding A-K off and get two callers. Flop came a somewhat scary K-Q-J rainbow. Still, I'm never checking top pair/top kicker when I'm the one who opened the pot to begin with. I bet $25. The same opponent from last hand min-raised to $50; third player mucked. Feeling uneasy but not ready to give up, I called. Turn brought an ace. That's .... good? I checked and my neighbor to the left checked behind. River was a blank, and I checked planning to call whatever he bet. Instead, he checked behind and said "two pair," flipping up K-Q. He was not happy to see I caught him on the turn and out-two-paired him again.
I actually missed a bet with this hand and am still beating myself up a little bit for it. There was no way my opponent would have checked the turn with a 10 in his hand. And he probably doesn't check a set there either. I should have assumed I was ahead on the river and bet $60. He almost certainly would have called, and I would have ended the day slightly up rather than slightly down.
-- This is one of the last hands I played, one of the more unorthodox hands I've been involved with recently: Feeling emboldened by my sudden run of good luck, I opened for $10 from under the gun with 8s-6s and got three callers. Flop came 9s-4d-2s. Flush draw, no aces or face cards ... pretty much what I had hoped to see. I led out for $23 and got two callers -- Tapout and a super-tight older player sitting on my right. Yikes! Looked like I needed another spade in a hurry. Turn came a red six, giving me a pair, which was obviously not going to help much. I relinquished the role of aggressor and checked. Thankfully, both other players checked behind, giving me a free shot at the flush. Turn came a red three, leaving me with a pathetic pair of sixes. I checked. Surprisingly, both players checked behind yet again, and neither was proud enough of their hand to immediately table it.
"Well, I got a pair of sixes," I said, turning my cards up. Tapout flipped over A-10. He called my flop bet with two overs and watched a couple of babies hit the turn and river. The tight guy on my right glanced at his cards one last time before tossing them face down into the muck. I'm convinced he was also on a spade draw.
"You've got to be kidding me?" I asked. "Sixes win this pot?!"
Sixes did indeed win that pot.