Last night a few of us headed to the Horseshoe in Hammond for a late night poker session. We had called about an hour + ahead to put our names on the list for a few games. In particular, I was looking to play $2/5 Pot-Limit Omaha, which was very good to me last week, but would play $2/5 No Limit Hold'em or $5/10 if it looked like a good game.
When we arrived at the casino none of our names were on the list! Most rooms have a policy where your name is removed if you don't show for an hour, but several of the lists were over an hour long (!), so I didn't anticipate that being the case here. The brush looked to see if we had been on the list (I presume that's what he was doing), but couldn't find us. He was kind enough to try get us close to whole again by putting us near the top of the list for each of our preferred games. The other fellas got into their games pretty quickly, as there were eight to ten $1/2 tables and a half dozen $2/5 NLHE tables, but I was on the PLO list, where neither of the two tables were moving at all.
I was #3 on the PLO list, so I took a little walk and cam back to the room to find myself #4 on the list - WTF!?! Then I was just grumpy. I glowered at passersby as I hovered from table to table, area to area. Soon I got my name on the $5/10 list as well.
After an hour or so I finally got on the feeder table for the $5/10 NLHE game (feeder, as in it was a must-move game). This was one of the softest No Limit tables I have been at in a long time, at any stakes. It was really incredible - I didn't know for sure that all of the players had actually played before. Unfortunately, when you're at a table of people who will play any pair to the river, you need to bring a hand, and I was short on them. When I moved to the "fixed" table I had slightly more than my original buy-in, around $1000.
After an hour or so at the new table, playing solid, tight poker in position, this hand came up. I was in the small-blind and an old AC/Nashland good-guy, Jimmy, was in the big blind. The under the gun plus one was a pretty solid player who had amassed some chips through patient, solid play. He was not particularly agressive, but played pretty straight, stayed out of trouble, and won a few pots in the time I was at the table. I did not perceive him as someone who would overplay a hand too terribly. He raise to $30, a smallish raise.
Two later position players called, and with $105 in the pot, Jimmy on my left, and a small pocket pair, I called, looking for set value. Jimmy called behind me as I expected. I'll insert the hand replayer here for ease of discussion, and pick up my commentary below.
The flop was gorgeous, 2 4 7 rainbow. The only real draw was a 5-6.
There was $150 in the pot and I could hope for a check-raise without too much risk, but there was also a risk of the flop checking around and me missing value. Additionally, I called from the small blind and could have virtually anything, so an over-pair to the board might call or raise for information/to slow me down. If it checked around and a 3 or 8 came off, or any even a 5 or 6, I'd be in a tougher spot. I wanted to be raised, so I poked with a $70 bet, less than 1/2 pot.
Jimmy folded and the pre-flop raiser raised me to $220. The other players folded it around to me. Something about the raiser displayed a lot of confidence, not projected strength, just a great deal of confidence and anticipation. I actually considered a set of 7s as a reasonable possibility here.
Often I would smooth-call here and re-evaluate on the turn, potentially even looking for a check-raise on the turn. This time, however, I really was starting to wonder if I was even ahead in the hand, and really wanted some more information. I replayed the events in my head, and mentally re-counted my stack, I had about $1170 after my flop bet. I had just enough, I thought, to get the information I needed and still be able to fold for a decent amount of my stack. There was $440 in the pot, and I was facing a $150 raise. I decided that a re-raise to $500 would be a sufficient amount to get some information from his reaction, and still leave myself some options. I made it $500, and had about $750 left.
The Villain asked me to count down my stack, and I informed him of my remaining chip count. He paused only momentarily, and then said "raise". He first pushed out the $500 call, and then an additional tower of chips approximately equal to my remaining stack. I perked up.
What the hell could he have here? I replayed the hand. Solid player makes a small raise in early position and gets 4 callers. Flop comes totally uncoordinated and small-blind bets out with a 1/2 pot bet. When the action is to him, there are still two people left to act behind him. After they fold, the initial bettor puts in a three-bet for almost half of his stack. He is projecting confidence, and hasn't done anything totally out of line. When it gets back to the Villain, he doesn't think too long, and four-bets, putting the small blind all-in.
Could he have an over-pair? I mean, why does he re-raise me twice with such a strong hand? Why not smooth-call either bet and extract on later streets? Perhaps the first re-raise gets out drawers (there can't be more than one), but isolates us. On the other hand, I'm in the small blind, I could have flopped two pair here, and he would be behind with AA -88, would he really four-bet against me? Does he have any confidence that I would lay down a better hand than his?
Could he have a draw? Seems pretty unlikely. I don't see him raising in early position with 5-6 too often, but when he does, he probably folds to my $500 bet with only a straight draw.
Two pair? I just don't see any two-pair hand he could have here. 7-4 would be odd for an early position raise. 4-2 is almost impossible, especially given that I hold two of the twos. Same with 7-2.
What else could he have? 77 made, by far, the most sense. 44 was conceivable, and would be the only reason (other than calculating the cost of a failed bluff, or to be misleading), to ask for my stack size before his bet. If he has 44, he knows I could have 77 as a possibility, but probably wouldn't fold to any amount of money I'd have on the table here.
At this point I'm almost certain he has an over-set. I can only otherwise imagine that he thinks I have a big pair, slow-played, and he has AA. Given the fact that a) I've demonstrated a fairly solid image here, and wouldn't go broke with TT-JJ, b) I could have the set, any set, and c) I was in the small blind and would be very unlikely to slow play a medium-big pair with four people behind me, and then play so recklessly on the flop, I decide that the chances of this crazy story finding its way into his head is slim.
So... I ask.
"No way. Seriously. I can't believe what a cold deck this is!" I Hollywood. I look him straight in the eye, and he's looking right back at me. "Did you really flop a set of sevens?" I ask him. He immediately blinks exactly one time and then glances away. He cannot look back at me.
I am now 95% certain that I am beat. With my perceived 5% equity in the pot, plus my perceived 5% chance of being ahead, I am not getting 9-to-1 on my money and I fold my hand.
Do you think I made the right decision?