Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bad Beat Jackpot

I got a chance to play some poker this week.  The session didn't go well.  I don't remember being that card-dead in a while.  The most I was up from my buy-in was $50.  There were two big stacks that kept betting and if you keep missing flops, it's hard to get anything going.  My last $100 went in versus two opponents.  I had top two, one guy had top and bottom pair, and the winner caught a flush.

Three interesting things happened during this session.  One, there was a crazy unusual hand at my table which I'll cover in the next post.

Two, there was a guy in seat 9 drinking Coronas.  He bet on the 8-J-2 flop.  He bet the turn.  And he bet on the river which was another 8.  He got called by seat 1 who had J-A.  Seat 9 was saying trips as he flipped over 7-Q.  It didn't take him long to realized the mistake.  He was half embarrassed and half upset that he thought he was holding 8-Q.  The Coronas might have been the culprit.

Three, there was a hand were seat 2 bet pre-flop and got callers.  The flop was 7-Q♣-Q and it was checked around.  The turn was A and he got one caller.  The fireworks went off on the 10 river like it was the 4th of July.  Both players were all-in.  Seat 2 flipped over Q,Q for quads.  The four ladies were no match for seat 5 who showed K♣-J for the royal flush!  The Bad Beat Jackpot, typically close to $100,000, was only around $12,000.  All the players at the table were pretty happy.  Unfortunately, I was seated one table over.  Still, it was great to see a hand that only happens 1 in 439 million!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Battle at the MGM

Recap of another March madness poker session.  This was an up and down all-out battle.  Let's get to some hands.

I sit down in seat 6.  To my right is an older gentleman who resembles Professor Henry Jones Sr. (minus the hat and the glasses) played by Sean Connery in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie.  To his right, is a middle-aged Asian guy.

Hand 1:

The Asian guy's bet on the turn clearly said that he didn't want us chasing draws.  I took some time before folding on the turn.  The pot odds say I should fold and the implied odds might not be much better.  The flush won't be disguised.  I didn't want to call 1/3 of my stack because I couldn't figure out what the professor had.  I feel like I made the right play until the heart on the river 😃.  Would you have called?  The interesting part is that when the Asian guy turned over J,10 the professor said he missed his straight draw.  Only after a second did he realize he won the pot with a higher two pair.

Then, I get dealt K-9 of diamonds.  Seat 2 bets and three of us see the flop.  The flop is Q-Q-10 with two diamonds.  I lead out, he raises, and I move all-in.  Only he calls.  The turn is an off-suit Jack and I like it.  As the dealer is putting out the river, my opponent is proudly turning over his cards.  He shows Q-Q and my jaw drops seeing the quads.  I say nice hand and I get up and go for a walk.

After 20 minutes, I ask the podium for a new seat.  They send me to seat 5 at a different table.  I'm hoping this time the cards go my way.  Second hand dealt and I see A-K of clubs.  The lady in seat 4 is short stacked and leads out for $12; only I call.  The flop is A-x-x and she bets.  I call and we see a blank on the turn.  She is all-in and I call.  She sees my A-K and mucks after the river; I'm up to $275.

get involved with a big stack in seat 6 who is sitting on $600.  I raise J-10 of spades to $10 and he calls.  The flop is 9-8-x with two spades.  I bet $15 and he calls. Turn is a blank and I bet $25 and he makes it $75.  Having an open-ended straight flush draw, I call and we see another blank on the river.  I check-fold and go back down to about $160.

I make a stand with the following hand:

Hand 2:

I don't like my opponent's play.  What is he accomplishing by making it $120.  He'll get worst to fold and better to call.  I'm already putting him on Q-Q or lower.  I'm blocking A-A and K-K.  What does he think I have 9-9 or lower?  Even if he puts me on exactly A-K we are flipping.  As you can see, the run out was favorable.

Finally, the cards go my way.  I tip the dealer and stack my chips.  Up to $302.

Then, the hand of the night goes down.  The table is good and there is action.  I make the mistake of checking A-A UTG thinking someone will bump it up.  ONLY CALLERS!  Seven players see the flop.  I'm mad for not raising.

Hand 3:

I can say that I did many things wrong in this hand but the result was great.  My pre-flop check kind of worked since it disguised my hand quiet well.  The problem with the move is that I have no idea what my opponents might be holding.  I checked the turn and that was also bad.  Both of them could have checked and the pot would have stayed small.  Seat 6 couldn't figure out why I check-raised the turn.  I raised because I wanted to charge the draws.  Seat 8 said you only live once before calling my all-in.  I guess he was ready to gamble.

I won another pot with A-J by betting $11 and getting a caller.  The flop was 8-9-3 and I bet $15.  Got called again.  The turn brought a Jack, I bet, and got called.  On the river, I bet $55 and got called.  We won the battle and our trophy is pictured below.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unusual Hands

Here are some unusual hands that came up while I was at the tables.

Hand 1:  Three callers and the guy in seat 6, on the button, bets $7.  I call in the SB and the BB moves all-in for $118.  It folds to the button who says, "Let's gamble" and then calls with 8-9.  BB shows K-K.  The board runs out 6-7-T-x-x and the BB storms off after getting stacked.

Hand 2:  Four callers before it gets to me.  I call with K-2 in seat 7.  Seat 8 calls and seat 9 bets $31.  Seat 1 calls.  It folds to me and I fold.  Seat 8 goes all-in for $180.  Seat 9 thinks about it and calls.  The board runs out A-Q-10-K-J.  Seat 8 shows 6-6 and seat 9 shows 8-9.  They chop and seat 9 says he was hoping to win like the guy in the previous hand with 8-9.  If only I could have seen the flop!

Hand 3:  I was involved in this hand.  I'll let you try and figure out this one.  Seat 10 calls and seat 1 calls.  I'm in the SB with A-9 and call.  The guy in the BB bets $10.  We all call and the pot is $40.  The flop is A-Q-3.  It checks to seat 1 who bets $15.  I call, the BB calls, and the pot is $85.  The turn is 9.  It checks to seat 1 who leads out for $45, only I call, and the pot is $175.  The river is a blank and I bet $65.  He raises to $130.  A little bit about the opponent.  He is probably around 27-35 years old.  He could be African American or Latino.  He is a solid player.  I have not seen him get out of line.  He wasn't the type to make big bets to put pressure on his opponents.  When he min raised on the river, I thought he had a pair at least.  I called

What do you think he had and what would you do?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Two Bullets

Another session recap from March.  I headed back to the MGM to see if my luck was still intact.  I was seated in seat 6 and within two hours my $200 had turned into dust.  I got out-kicked in one hand and my mid pocket pair ran into a higher pocket pair in another hand.  I realized that I was playing hungry, never a good thing.  After I lost my chips, I got up and went to get some food.  After 45 minutes, I was ready to fire my second bullet.

I told myself that patience is the key.  If tournament players are like Wild West gunslingers who use chips instead of guns, then cash players are like military snipers who wait for the best opportunity to fire.  I told myself to be a sniper and wait for an opening.

I got to the podium and they sent me to a different table but to seat 6 again.  This table did not look fun at all.  Seat 3 had an $1800 stack (max buy-in is $500).  Two more players had $800+ each.  Many hands were raised to $15 or more pre-flop.  This was the kind of table that would not let you see a flop for cheap.  It was playing like a heavyweight fight.  One big hand could deliver a KO.

Two hours in, I had won two small pots and was sitting on $244 when the following hand happened.

Hand 1:

It was not an easy hand until the turn.  I came close to folding my hand on the flop.  If the 9 was not a spade, I would have folded.  Luckily, it all worked out and I ended up cashing out over $600.

An interesting thing happened when seat 5 hit quad Jacks and qualified for the high hand promo.  With 30 minutes to go, seat 8 made an offer to buy the hand for $200.  Seat 5 wanted $300.  The HH promo payout was $500.  No deal was made.

What would it take for you to sell your HH with 30 minutes to go?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Poker at MGM: Day 2

During my first session (see post), I was seated at one of the tables behind the podium.  This time, they sent me all the way back to the corner.  I kind of like it back there.  There is a door and a window so natural light comes thru.  There is less foot traffic and they have plenty of TVs.

I was in seat 7.  I was watching a little bit of March Madness while waiting for the button.  The table play didn't look too difficult so I was ready to go to battle.  I've started using the Share My Pair app so I don't have to write out all the hands.  It also helps with seeing pot sizes on each street.  Check out the hand replays below (use ShareMyPair app on your phone or click the link below on your computer).

Hand 1:

I missed a few draws and was down to $275 when this hand happened.

Hand 2:

As you can see, on the turn, I thought I had a redraw to the flush in case he was ahead.  We both flipped over our cards before the river.  I went from wanting to see a heart to not wanting to see an ace or a heart.

There was one more hand where I won $60 when my Q-J smashed the board x-x-J-J-Q.  The end result is pictured below.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Round of (Good) Golf

Exactly one year ago, I wrote a post about one of the worst rounds of golf I've had in the past 5 years.  Watching Sergio Garcia win his first major at the Masters made me want to write another golf recap.  A chance for redemption, dare I say.  We'll get back to poker in the next post.

The weather has been decent early this spring and golf was on the menu.  I hadn't played at the Lake Presidential golf club before but as they say, there is a first time for everything.  I couldn't get any of my friends to join me so I booked a tee time for one.

I was paired up with two guys in their 30s.  Few holes into the round, I found out that they were commercial pilots.  One worked for American Airlines and the other one worked for United Airlines.  I've always considered United to be better than American.  Coincidence or not, the United pilot was a much better golfer than his friend.  He was also better than me.

On the first hole, I pulled my drive left.  I managed to save bogey.  I got very lucky to par the 8th hole.  My drive went right and it was three yards from the water.  My second shot got me back in the fairway.  My third shot was barely right off the green but it was enough to send the ball down into the bunker.  I hit a sand wedge from the bunker and somehow ended up on the green.  I one putted and voilà...a par.

One mistake that I made on the front was on the par three 9th hole.  The left side of the green is guarded by two bunkers and  the right side has water running parallel to the green.  My tee shot had the correct distance but the ball hit the downslope right off the green and ended up in the water.

I was happy with my tee shots and the driver.  Thru 15 holes I had hit 8/12 fairways.  The back 9 could have produced a special score under 40.  I three putted on two holes and on 17 I didn't realize how short the hole was.  I hit driver and the tee shot ended up costing me a penalty stroke.

The 18th hole is a par 5 that requires a drive across the water.  The view from the tee box is fantastic.  I hit it across the water and into a fairway bunker on the right side.  My second shot left me with 110 yards to the flag.  I hit a solid pitching wedge and was on the green in three.  No one in our group had made a birdie all day.  The United pilot also was on in three.  We both ended up making our putts for birdies!

It was a very enjoyable day.  I ended up shooting an 83 which is few strokes better than my average.  One year ago, I shot a 110 which was an anomaly.  I redeemed myself by playing up to my potential this time around.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sunday Funday?

I played 6 sessions in March and all of them went well.  I'll blog about them in later posts.  Today's post is a recap from this past Sunday.  Most of us have heard the expression Sunday Funday.  The lady and I went to brunch Sunday morning and then went for a walk around the Jefferson Memorial.  Spring has finally arrived and we were happy to be outside.  Afterwards, we met-up with some friends for drinks and sat outside to soak up the rays.

It was an all-around enjoyable afternoon.  At 5pm I was back home and I realized that my evening was clear.  I lingered around the apartment for an hour.  There weren't any sporting events of interest on TV (unlike this Sunday).  So I decided to get an early start on April poker.  By 6:30pm I was seated in a $1/$3 game at the MGM.  Oh how nice it is to have a poker room on your doorstep.

I was in seat 10 and the table had six other players.  The floor person filled the empty seats quickly.  One thing to note, rarely are there two women at my table at the same time.  This night, there were three!  I had worked my stack up to $250 by 8pm.  Then the following hand went down:

Hand 1:

This was my thinking during the hand.  I open to $12 in late position and the lady in seat 2 on the button raises.  I'm immediately thinking pocket pair.  Based on her previous play, nothing special, I'm putting her on 10-10 or above.  The flop is as good as it gets.  I check to her because she is betting 100% of the time in this spot, in my opinion.  And she did.  I just call to keep my hand masked.  She really likes her hand and I'm ready to build a pot on the turn.  I lead out for $40 and she makes it $100.  This is where I stopped and thought just for a bit, could she have aces?  And the answer was yes but that is only one of the four pocket pairs in her range.  With her being on the button, I think she plays the hands I put her on the same way.  I move all-in and she snaps me off.  Before she flipped her cards over, I thought it's 50/50 that she has aces.  She proudly tables J-J.  And the rest is history.

This on really hurt and it tilted me.  It's not about the money.  It's about losing as a 95% favorite.  If you were reading my blog last year, you might recall this post where I had J-J and sucked out versus a lady holding K-K.  In that hand, the lady had $93 total; in this hand, we were $250 effective.  Also, I had a 19% chance of winning when the money went in while this lady had a 5% chance.  In the end, what goes around comes around.

This year, I've started to look at my opponent's play as well.  Let's look at the hand from her point of view.  Villain leads out for $12 and, on the button, she makes it $25.  The villain calls.  Flop is 9 high.  She bets and the villain calls.  The turn is a 7 that pairs the board and puts the second heart on the board (but most likely it's a blank).  The villain leads out.  Doesn't this scream strength?  Is the villain opening pre-flop and on the turn with A-9 or 9-x or Ah-xh?  She raises and the villain moves all-in!  This should be a huge red flag for her.  The only hand she can put me on that she is ahead of is 10,10.

That's not all from the Sunday Not Funday session.  This was the last hand I played (after rebuying) before giving up for the night:

Hand 2:

On the flop, I was putting him on a weaker ace or maybe a pair with a flush draw.  I really hate my call on the river.  On the turn, I told myself if the river is a heart and he leads out big I'll fold.  I attribute my call to tilt.  What would you have done on the river?

And that's how my six session win streak ended.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Poker at MGM

My first poker session of the year at the MGM occurred few weeks ago in the middle of March.  I got there at 10:30 a.m. and was seventh on the $1/$3 list.  I decided to take a stroll around the casino and get an Mlife rewards card.  By the time I got back, there was no waiting list.  The podium guy sent me to a table right behind him.  I give the poker room 8/10 and I like it way more than MDLive.

Just as I put my $200 on the table, the dealer asked me if I wanted to wait to come in and I said yes.  It only took three hands before I saw my two old friends Mr. Ace and Sir Ace!  Check out the hand replays below (use ShareMyPair app on your phone).  I think sharing hands this way will be more beneficial to me.  I'm a visual person and seeing the action unfold and the pot size each street will make hand analysis easier.

Hand 1:

Few orbits later, I was in the small blind and the following hand went down.

Hand 2:

Not much happened until two old pals stopped by again.  That's right, you guessed it, Ace and Ace.

Hand 3:

Looking back at Hand 3, I probably over-bet the pot.  There were no draws so letting them see a card for $30 might have been OK.  I took this photo as I waited for the big blind before calling it quits at 1 p.m.  Here is the end result.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I'm Back & Hellmuth in DC

In the words of Scotty Nguyen - I'm back, baby!  The MGM National Harbor poker room is so close to me that I had to check it out sooner or later.  In my case, it was later.  I remember when the MD Live poker room opened and the waiting list was ridiculous.  It was the same for MGM.  But after three months, it has calmed down a bit.

Last night, I went to the MGM after work and met-up with four of my buddies.  We were all on the $1/$3 list for more than an hour.  We took a stroll around the property and I took some photos.

One of my friends mentioned that Phil Hellmuth was at the MGM earlier in the day.  Once I got seated, few players at the table also said the same thing.  I was a little bit bummed out that I didn't get a chance to see him play live.  Anyways, I put the Poker Brat out of my mind and focused on my game.
Two hours into my session (in seat 5), the guy in seat 2 looked at me and pointed behind me.  I turned around and there he was, the Tom Brady of tournament poker, winner of 14 WSOP bracelets, Phil Hellmuth!  He was getting situated at the only elevated poker table in the room.  Few players went up and took photos with him.  Less than an hour later, I racked up and my friends and I went to dinner at Tap Sports Bar.  After dinner, we stopped by the high stakes table to observe the action.

The game being spread was $25/$50 no-limit.  Phil was in seat 5.  Average stack was around $10,000.  I'm not sure why but we didn't see any of the players tip the dealer.  We actually stuck around for few extra hands just to verify that no tipping was taking place.

Lucky for us, the last hand we observed involved Phil, on the button, getting into it with the guy to his left.  I'm not sure who bet pre-flop but only the two of them saw the flop.  The flop was 7-K
-A.  The SB bet and Phil called.  The turn was 2.  I think SB bet, Phil raised, and SB called.  The river was a blank and they got it all-in.  The SB had A,Q and Phil won a $20,000 pot with J-10!

As for my poker sessions, I'll discuss those in future posts.