Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The end?

Last night I got creamed at The Meadows in spectacular, aggravating, soul-crushing fashion. I didn't lose a lot of money -- just a bit more than a single buy-in -- but it was my third straight losing session, a stretch during which I've lost nearly $900 without ever making a single strategic decision that I regret. The first session was my so-called "sickest session ever." The second, which I didn't even write about, involved a number of big pots where a player on a draw always got there. (I had a set, other guy made a flush. I had a flush, other guy made a boat. I was not giving out good odds to draw, and I was getting away from it every time after I knew I was sunk. But it happened four or five times and ended up costing me a pretty good wad of cash.)

Then there was last night. I played the first hour mostly card dead, but remained calm, folded a lot and held my stack. Then this: A player on my immediately right raised preflop to $13. I called with A♣-K♣. (Possible three-betting hand, I know, but I usually try to mix up calling with big slick or raising back. This happened to be one of those times when I called.) Guy on my immediate left also called, so three of us when to the flop, which came A-6-3. The original raiser checked, and I led out for $25. Guy behind called; original raiser folded. Turn came 5♠. I bet $50. The guy behind me took a long time to think about it. I was positive he had either a good ace (A-Q or A-J) or the diamond draw. Eventually he called. River came the 4. Well, I hated the diamond, but the guy only had ~$40 back at this point. If I checked and he put it in, I was going to end up calling it anyway, so I quickly decided the best option was to remain confident and shove ... which I did.

As soon as he didn't snap-call, I knew he didn't have the flush, which I figured meant I had him. Again, he took a good minute or two to decide, before finally saying, "Okay, I call. I have a straight. You made the flush, didn't you?"

He turned over his cards: 5-7 offsuit. The guy had called my $25 flop bet with a gutshot, called my $50 turn bet when he paired his five and then smashed the straight on the river.

You have got to be kidding me.

So, disgusted and down to about $60, I played short-stack for a while. And I played it well. Flopped top two with K-Q and doubled up. And then, finally, a monster: I got paid off big when I flopped top set with Q-Q and ended up boating up on the turn. All of a sudden I was about $60 to the good. So while I was still annoyed about the A-K hand, at least I had won it back plus some.

And then another lean hour of missing flops. My stack got whittled back down to a bit below my original buy-in, but I still felt quite good with how I was playing. And then this: One limper in front of me, and I limped too from late position with A♠-9. The guy on my left came along, as did the small blind. Big blind checked. Flop: 9♠-7-2♣. Checks in front, and I bet $15. Guy on my left called, as did the small blind. Turn: A. Checked to me again, and, now holding top two, I upped my bet to $30. Guy on my left folded, but the small blind min-raised me to $60. Hmm ...

Well, based on all the action, I thought his raise could mean one of three things. The most likely scenario was that he just made a worse two pair, either A-7 or A-2. It was also possible that he called with two overs (A-10 most likely) and was using the min-raise to basically announce he had hit the ace and find out where I was at. The last possibility was that he had flopped a set of sevens or twos and slow-played the flop. That seemed least likely though, as you usually don't want to slow-play second or third set in a multi-way pot. So I decided I was in great shape here most times and announced all-in. He quickly called and rolled over pocket goddamn aces.

Yep, that's right. He limped with them from the small blind and slow-played them on the flop. And then the only card in the deck that would ensure I lost all my money on this hand -- the case ace -- was miraculously revealed on the turn. Classic example of the "one card that gets me."

I'm tired of the one card that gets me. I'm tired of bad luck and bad runs, and I'm not in a financial situation where I can withstand them for long stretches. I'm tired of guys slow-playing hands against me and having it work, whereas if I would try the same I'd get crushed for it (and rightfully so). I'm tired of being outdrawn. I'm tired of not being as good at this as I apparently need to be. I'm not having fun playing anymore.

So I'm just stopping. For a good while this time. I don't expect to play poker again for at least the rest of 2012. I don't know what's going to happen to this blog. I started Three Rivers Poker for three reasons: To cover Pennsylvania poker news back before the state had legalized casinos; to talk about all the crazy stuff I see at the poker table; and to discuss my own results in an effort to become a better poker player.

Well, now that we have casinos and table games, there's not much local poker news to report other than the occasional room update (i.e. "Hey, Rivers got rid of that stupid cut rule!"). Meanwhile, the funny stories seem to be short supply as, more and more, the local games are made up of the same group of regulars. And, of course, it's awfully difficult to talk about my own play if I'm not ... you know ... playing. On top of that, I'm doing more and more non-poker writing recently, including at Cult Spark, a pop-culture site I've started with some friends.

So I don't know what the future holds for this place. I'm certainly not going to delete what's here. And there are some projects I was working on that I don't particularly want to give up. I enjoy writing the Action Cards posts, and people seem to like reading them. The Casino Royale one is up over 1,000 hits, and I've got a Maverick one halfway done. I also was planning to start doing some poker-themed interviews for the site. (Have one I'm supposed to do sometime this month.) But I'm not sure if these things alone are enough to sustain the blog.

If you have the Three Rivers Poker feed in your RSS reader, I'm hoping you'll keep it there. If you've got the blog listed in your blogroll, I won't hold it against you if you remove it once it gets to the point where I haven't updated for a couple of months. As always you can follow me on Twitter. That way if I do post the occasional stray article or decide to start playing again, you'll be sure to know about it.

Guess that's it for now. Not sure if this is goodbye or not, but just in case, thanks for reading and commenting and making this blog a worthwhile endeavor. I've had fun writing it, even during those times when I was playing bad or the cards weren't going my way. Best of luck to you all still grinding it out. Maybe I'll rejoin your ranks somewhere down the road.

Until then, I'll be off enjoying less-stressful endeavors -- ones where guys can't call you down with gutshot straight draws and end up getting there.


Anonymous said...


I enjoy your blog. Take a short time off and come back. (Don't you REALLY want them to call you with a gutshot ??)

Bob Taylor said...

Thanks, Anon. It's appreciated.

And, yes, I do want them to call ... just not, you know, GET THERE.

cp0hl said...

Your pocket ace story eerily reminded me of the last time we played. Your dad had pocket Q's against my QK hand with a Q and K on the table. Gut wrenching, i haven't played regularly since then either.

I'll just add that I also enjoy the blog, keep em coming (eventually:)

Anonymous said...

Yes take a break dude. The good lord baby jesus will guide ou thru this. I enjoy reading you stories and hope all works out for you. thanks for the time and effort you have put into this web arena! and god bless!

Fred said...

Sorry for the long post....Poker isn't about making money, it's about making the best decisions possible with the limited information given. You appear to be playing well, making good decisions. I wouldn't give up just yet, you just have to get through this bad run. Bad runs just happen…bleh… That said, I do have a few nuggets to put out there for possible discussion. AK suited should’ve probably been 3bet preflop, you defended the call by saying you were “mixing it up” which I translate to “balancing your range”, however, I might question the profitability of balancing against your average Rivers table(especially against the type of players like the one you’ve described in this hand). It would seem almost pointless to balance your range if your opponent is going to be completely oblivious to it anyway. The other thing is that I would think the balance here is pretty negligible for anyone half-paying attention anyway. You said you were a folding machine, so finally calling a raise in (middle position?) would probably give you a slightly tight-ish range anyway. Possibly why 1st raiser doesn’t c-bet and folds to your bet. My other thought about the AK hand is about the river shove. I might try to avoid this kind of situation altogether by bet-sizing earlier streets differently(guy calls $50 on the turn, with $40 left over on the river) In this case, even if he wanted to fold the straight, which he might have, he couldn’t justify it in his head for only $40 after already putting in a bet of $50 prior and having a decent bluff-catcher. I’m also not sure a shove at the river for the reasons you stated is the most profitable play. If you’re putting him on hands like A-Q or A-J or flush draws, why bet into him when the flush comes? He’s only going to fold his hands you have beat and call you with hands he’s beating you with. To me, if you’ve decided to call his shove no matter what maybe the better play would be to check-call. He just might put in the rest of his chips with a worse hand, whereas him calling your shove he’s probably beating you. The fact that he mulls over folding the straight probably indicates that he might have more reason to fold if the bet-sizing were different in this hand, and therefore a larger river shove might be more profitable.(sure hind-sight is 20/20…) The case can be made that maybe with A-Q or A-J he might just feel bullied and put the small amount he has left into the pot, too, but I’m not sure that happens enough… That said, you appear to be playing well. Remember, you got the guy to put in almost his entire stack way behind and with bad odds and even when he hit and was ahead, he struggled with a call(lots of bad decisions on his part). I could see if you quit while playing badly(like villain in that hand, though we never want him to quit!), but I'd hate to see you quit while playing well. You definitely want to get more money on the table with the likes of this guy, skill will prevail, Money will come, it's just a matter of time. At least we hope so...

Bob Taylor said...

Don't be sorry, Fred. It's great comments like this that make me never want to give up on this blog!

As for your points on the AKs hand: It's hard to argue with any of them, and they all illustrate that while I've certainly hit some bad luck recently, it's not like I'm always playing perfect poker either.

Yes, the correct play is almost certainly to three-bet my hand there. I've just been snake-bit so much by three-betting AK that I don't do it as much as I should. I usually save it for situations where I think there's a good chance I take the pot down right there, and this just didn't seem like one of those times.

The river shove I'm still okay with because I'm nearly certain this guy wouldn't have pushed with a worse hand than mine. But you're exactly right: Had I sized my bets differently, maybe my river shove would have been enough to get him off the straight.

At the time, I just wanted to get a big enough turn bet out there to make this guy think long and hard about taking one more shot at the flush. Didn't want to entice him with too good of odds. (Although, in retrospect, I don't think proper odds were something this guy considered all that much.)

I'm still on poker hiatus and will be for a few months. I've got two small vacations and a Springsteen concert coming up, so all my extra money is tagged for other things right now. Once I get through those and the holidays, I'm sure I'll scrap together some bankroll-starting funds and give poker another go early next year.

In the meantime, I'm at least going to finish that Maverick installment of Action Cards for this blog. Maybe I'll do a couple of them just to pass the time until I'm ready to play again.

But, right now, I'm not regretting this poker break. I needed it. But thanks for the kind words, Fred. I'll keep them in mind when I am ready to hit the tables again.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to the "it's time for a break". Even a great player needs some luck. However, I recommend a trip to Vegas and playing against drunk tourists. If that doesn't change your luck then it is time to give the game up! Love your blog. Keep it real.