All of the meaningful action happened in the last 30 minutes of my session. Even though I was already planning on leaving since it was quite late, I stayed around a couple of orbits after all of these hands happened to avoid the hit-and-run etiquette question. How does everyone feel about this etiquette question? Old fashioned? Still relevant? I personally like the custom even though I don’t begrudge anyone that feels over-matched and happens to get lucky and leaves right after a big hand. Anyway, on to the hands.
Hand #1: I start the hand with about $400, and I am in middle position with Qs Jc. This is about 5 hours into my session. I have been down between $100 and $200 most of the night. I have been fairly active, but I believe my best starting hand had been AQ. I definitely had a losing image, and a few people had bluffed me and shown the bluff (thank you for the information!). But I just kept topping my stack up to stay above 100 big blinds. I am trying not to repeat the mistakes from the past that happen when I know I am near the end of my session when this hand comes up.
My opponent is a talkative man from Pittsburgh who was raised in Canada. By the way he talks one can tell that he is a confident man, and by the way he bets you can tell that he is not afraid to put lots of chips in the pot. He has already shown that he can bluff. He starts the hand with about $300 and is in late position; I don’t recall if it was the button or the cutoff. Action gets to me after a caller, and I raise to $10. There are three callers including the man from Pittsburgh. The pot is about $43 and the flop comes Js 4s 8h. Everyone checks to me, and I bet $30. The man from Pittsburgh is the only caller.
The turn is the 3 of diamonds. I bet $50 and the man from Pittsburgh calls very quickly. Now there is about $200 in the pot, and I’m pretty sure my opponent is on a flush draw or on a bluff catcher like a jack. But it is hard to tell how good his kicker might be since he called my bet in position before the flop. My plan going into the river is to check any safe river and let him bet any missed spade draws with the intention to call any bet.
The river is the 2h. I check as planned. My opponent hesitates just slightly, like he’s going to check but then decides to grab chips for about a $120. Now this is a very big bet for the stakes that we are playing, but I go with my plan and call the bet almost instantly. He asks, “Do you have a set?” I think surprised that I called so fast. I’m happy to see him turn over Ks 2s for bottom pair and the missed spade draw. He was very classy about it and said good call, but then mumbled about a weak kicker and how he didn’t think I would call there. I just said, thank you and in my head, “ship it.”
Hand #2: The very next hand I’m feeling very confident by the way I played the last hand, and I raise to $10 from UTG+2 with 8h 9h. I get four callers this time, and we see a flop of Th 6h Kc. It checks to me, and as customary I look to my left. I already have six red chips in my hand, but then I see that there are a couple of short stacks left to act behind me, and I make up my mind that I am not folding if they shove. Sure enough the very next guy shoves. Everyone folds and I call the extra $35. Ace of heart on the turn; I flip up my hand. My opponent keeps his eyes on the board, not showing his hand. The river is a blank, and he mucks and says, good hand. I simply reply, “Just got lucky,” as they get up and make way for a new player.
Hand #3: Now I’m on a roll, and I can’t believe the next hand I get dealt: Kd Qd. Hot streak! I raise to $10. We get 2 callers including the big blind who has a $400ish stack. He doesn’t like to fold (as he has said himself), and he plays a very wide range. The pot is only $31, but the flop comes out Qs Qc 3c. It’s incredible when the cards play out this way, isn’t it? You just keep thinking that variance is going to catch up to you though. In the back of my head, we’ve all been there, we know that bad beat is coming. I kick that monster back under the bed and through the floor, and bet $15. One fold, and then the big blind wakes up with a min raise. $30 is the total bet. I think what this could mean. Could be a pocket pair, could be a queen, could be a flush draw semi-bluff. I decide to test where this goes and make it $60. What do you think about the bet sizing? I think a call is wrong in this spot, especially if he thinks I’m just continuation betting (as I have; a lot).
Now my opponent really takes his time, but in the end decides to make it $200. This is such a large bet, and delivered with such confidence, that I could feel that tentacles starting to creep from under the bed, and then the bed started to shake… and then I snapped out of it. I have KQ for crying out loud! I stomp that creature back to the beyond and announce all-in. Yes, I just got these chips, but basing any decision on that fact would be wrong. Then a slight relief: no snap call. But eventually he does say, “whatever, if you have a boat already good for you,” and he calls. A boat? Does that mean he has AQ? Sorry, but that would suck, and I just don’t see a player as aggressive as he was having AQ in this spot. Board blanks out, and he shows Q8o. Totally what I should have expected to see, and yes, now our stack is over a grand. But we’re not done.
We also get KJo and hit 2 kings on the flop. It was against a nitty player though, and I only got one street of value. That ended the streak of winning hands and that very next hand I get 92o and folded easily to a raise.
One more hand from the session that I thought was interesting. I raise from early middle position with 8c8s, I start the hand with about $350. I make it $10 to go, and I get two callers. There is about $35 in the pot when we see a pot of Ad Kh 3h. We hit! Not really, but our range hits. I c-bet $20, and get a confident 30-something, out-of-towner to call. He has already been up and down, and I noticed that he had made at least a couple of big lay downs, and both times his opponents showed monsters. He has about $200 in his stack, and I can tell he is disappointed that he is stuck (started with $300) because he feels like he has game.
The turn is a Tc bringing a possible straight. I check, pretty much giving up, but then my opponent checks too. The river is the interesting Jd. Now, we’ve talked on the podcast in the past about how 4 to a straight or 4 to a flush is a good card to bluff when first to act, because it is so hard for your opponent to call or raise without having it. I start to think about my story and what I could represent here, but in the game I’m not fast enough to do that on the spot. Instead, I just act out of instinct to appear as confident as possible. I still act deliberately, not rushing, and I bet $65, pretty much polarizing my range to air or a naked queen. Two things are in my favor: one, he hasn’t seen me show down any bluffs, and two, in his mind, he’s running bad. But he doesn’t fold. He actually counts out chips for a call. I don’t realize that I’m holding my breath, and now a physical challenge occurs. How do I draw in breath without seeming too nervous or giving some tell? I decide to start by exhaling slowly and silently. I feel the release of tension, but he still won’t fold. Then slowly, I take another breath. My heart is beating so fast. It’s not about the money of course. It’s only $65. It’s about pulling off the bluff. I find myself scratching the side of my neck. No! That’s the typical weakness tell. I try to stop myself without calling too much attention to it. He still won’t fold. He grabs his cards, and I almost jump out of my seat. Instead I just look away, like I don’t care what he does. Just trying to look calm. Then out of the corner of my eyes, I see him pushing the cards to the dealer. I must not have convinced the guy to my right, because he asked if I had good old big slick. I just shook my head and smiled as I raked the pot in.