It is so tempting to write a blog post about a hand that one lost after “playing it correctly”. This is one of those, such, hands. Playing it correctly, is of course, in quotation marks because (a) this is a subjective measure, depending on who you ask, when you ask, and the respondent’s bias, and (b) even through my own lens, I’m often not confident about my decision making. If nothing else, I very frequently feel differently about a hand the next morning than I do the night before. This is not one of those times. Even so, (a) applies, and many of you will disagree with me. At one time I had the time and energy to invest in continuously improving my game. I had visions of being an accomplished player, but given my other interests and commitments, I know that I will be relegated to a semi-occasional poker punter. Had I continued to develop my game beyond where I am today, my analysis of this hand would be undoubtedly different. Were I a more recreational player, of course, my analysis would be simpler. The irony is those times when the effect of my analysis on my actions is the same, despite the analysis being so different. THIS is why so many people enjoy the game of poker.
I was at the Northside last night, and pleased with my play for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in office (no, I am not that old). Sobchak was two to three seats to my left, depending on the table population and I had just button raised his big blind with AJo while the table was 5- or 6-handed. Sobchak three-bet me out of position, and I decided this was one of those times he had a big hand, 88 or better, and very possibly dominated, and I folded my button. If you’re thinking “he doesn’t have enough information to narrow a wild man like Sobchak’s range in this spot”, you don’t know how much history the two of us have, and you’re still correct.
Sobchak does such a great job of merging his ranges, mixing up his betting lines, and also taking advantage of his great familiarity with my game. In short, he’s a bitch to play against, but we play the same games, he’s a friend, and he forces me to play better.
I showed my AJ in this spot, sending something of a message – I am playing tight, I’m not screwing around against you, I’m making “solid” decisions. (See my previous expose on quotation marks).
The fact that I folded my AJ in position in this hand will make you scratch your head a bit when I tell you about the hand in question, and it’s all a part of this dance that Sobchak and I do.
I had to leave the World Series and come home for a few days. I made a commitment to my friend Gina that I would, under no circumstances, miss her wedding, even if it meant having to take a flight on my birthday. It was actually pretty cool though, the clock struck midnight while I was in the sky but I was not sure which time zone I was in. Well, I guess that isn’t that cool at all… you really realize it after you write it down. Now I’m rambling. Back to the facts;
Thursday night I had a little get together at a bar in my neighborhood. A bunch of my friends and a few of my cousins came through and bought me a bunch of beers and shots. There is so much value in going out for your birthday. You are guaranteed to eat and drink whatever you want with no chance of having to spend any money. It’s a pure weekend freeroll and I understand this, as I am a man of value (not values… lord knows I have no values). Unfortunately, most of the people who attended my little party had to leave at some point of the night. Why would they leave you ask? The reason they had to leave is because they are real human beings with real jobs and it was Thursday. Lame. After the bar a smaller group of us went out to a late night club/bar. It’s not a club, but it’s not a bar either. I don’t what you call it. I guess you just call it “Evil Olive”. We go there and as usual it’s a freak show. A compilation of Wicker Park’s finest. There is an overall skater boy motif going on; tattoos, black rimmed glasses, sneakers, skin tight jeans, backpacks, etc. And as usual it’s a bunch of dudes… a standard experience of nightlife in Chicago. Even though I’m being negative I really did have a great time and didn’t end up getting home till like 4.
Friday there was a family party at my Mom’s house. It was a joint party for my birthday and my sister’s 8th grade graduation. It was fun and as usual, my uncle Tony came by and told a bunch of hilarious inappropriate jokes. Oh wait… this is funny too. We are sitting in my backyard at the table eating. Some older lady comes over. Supposedly she is my mom’s friends but Ralph and I have never seen her before. My stepfather tells us that he doesn’t really like her. We’re all eating and out of nowhere, at the exact same time, Ralph and I look at each other with the same idea… Before Ralph could say anything I loudly blurt out the “F” word. Moments later Ralph loudly asks me a few questions regarding my genitalia (I am being politically correct here). This goes on for a bit. We are trying to embarrass my mom in front of this old lady just like we used to when we were kids. We’re grown men and Ralph is like 41 years old. We were the worst kids, I mean, the absolute worst. After the party we went out and joined some friends for a “joint” birthday party. We had a table and good company but it was kind of annoying because the place was slammed and there was a group of these suburban girls dancing next to the table bumping into our space therefore making it uncomfortable (you can tell they are from the suburbs by the dresses they wear and their all important choice of shoe). My friend Matt, who is huge by the way, starts bumping into them with some aggressive dance moves, and knocks them around until they get the point and fly away lock a flock of seagulls. We hit the after club for a split second and go home.
This summer I have been off to a slow start, failing to cash my first 6 tournaments. I haven’t been in panic mode whatsoever, but I am pretty frustrated with the way I have been running. Still, I have been very happy with my play and that is really all I should be focused on. If you are results oriented in this business it will make for a miserable existence (that kinda rhymed). The key is to stay on an even keel, and stay focused on the next hand and playing as well as you can as you move forward. This was my mindset going into yesterday’s tournament. I was looking to get to off to a fast start here…
Well…. I planned on getting off to a fast start… not so much. I start off raising the first hand of the tourney w A7ss and some young wizard on my left 3bets me in position. I call and the flop comes out with an Ace and 3 hearts. I check call him all the way down and he flips over the 97 of hearts for a flopped flush… sigh. A short time later I raise w 1010 from the cutoff, the small blind (middle aged dorky looking guy) 3 bets me and I call in position. The flop is Queen high 3 clubs with the turn and river being irrelevant non club low cards… once again he bets all 3 streets and I call all 3 streets. This hand was a lot different that the first hand I played though. The bet that he made on the river was different than his first 3 bets. Not only was the bet size way bigger than the previous streets (he bet 8k on the river into an 8k pot when his previous bets were all half pot sized), but his body language, the way he put chips into the pot, and his behavior gave me a strong tell that he didn’t want a call. After like 2 full minutes I call and he says “you’re good, AQ is good” as he flips over his hand…. He has JJ. He was bluffing with the best hand. If I didn’t pick up the tell that he didn’t want a call I wouldn’t have but he really didn’t want a call. This is the problem with playing against bad players… he turned his hand into a bluff which is terrible, and because he thought he had to bluff to win, and because I picked up on this, I made the call and lost…. SUPER SIGH..