Friday, January 11, 2008

Ahh...back to the felt - I missed live play

Week 2 of Minnesota Poker League's 'Destination Las Vegas' returned to Brother's Bar and Grill this week. I missed week 1 with the passing of my wife's grandmother. It felt great to get back to live play. If you guys think that the Mookie has plenty of donkey's, you've got to try poker league.

This is my weekly attempt to avoid making dangerous mistakes. You really need to pick good spots and make sure you aren't in a position to get sucked out on. They will call you with anything.

This week, I found myself at a table with a mix of regulars and new people. I found I enjoyed the new people for the ability to give me chips. I also avoided the players at the table that will try and trap me.

I played my usual tight game, but this time I made sure to get a little more adventurous in position. I think I'm really beginning to understand position. Even in this donkament setting, position is a huge tool. The biggest advantage is knowing when early and late position can have their most power.

EP (playing from the blinds) gives you an advantage in the ugly flops. No one raises preflop so you are going to see a lot. I use these opportunity to steal when there are regulars that I know know my game and will fold if they miss, but I never attempt a steal when there are unknowns in the pot. There is no guarantee that they have a clue what's going on.

LP (playing from the button and cutoff) provides the greatest opportunity to clean up the dead money pots. If it folds to you on the button or cutoff and there is an ace showing, a bet will either win the pot, or identify those people that already have at least a pair. I don't know that anyone besides me and Bodie25 and a very small handful of players have ever floated or even know that it can be done (Hi! Eloise).

My first real opportunity to take some chips came fairly early. I was in the BB, the were 4 limpers and the LB in the pot. The flop comes 49Q rainbow. I had checked the flop without looking (what's the point, they'd all call a raise anyway), so I looked down and found KJo. Not too shabby, I have a gut shot. I check because I really don't want to call a reraise and there's a good chance I'll see a free turn. The button does end up raising 1 bet. I called, he's knew and frankly my gut shot will be the nuts if there are no more hearts and I hit my 10. Everyone else surprisingly folds. The turn is the money card. I fill my straight. Now I bet. With 2 hearts still, I don't want him to draw cheaply to a flush. I'm actually a bit taken back, but he reraises me. 3 times my pot size raise. I think for a second and announce that I'm all in. Again, I want to make sure that anyone drawing to a better hand pays dearly. He makes the call. You'll never guess what he turns over...Q♠2♠. Wow, he called my all in with top pair worst kicker and is drawing dead. I had him covered so he stands and leaves.

I continue to play my tight game. Cleaning up some pots and generally staying out of the way of the lunacy. My table gets busted and I'm sitting next to the Well Manicured Man ( WMM - see previous posts about him for history). Eloise is also at this table, and its now down to mostly regulars. Eloise and WMM are two fairly aggressive players, there is also a guy there that I just haven't come up with a name for. He tends to drink plenty of beer. I use my free time from folding to keep observing and I think I finally have WMM perfectly figured out.

We got into one pot together. A few limpers had entered the pot and the flop comes Q92. I have second pair with 93o. I check cause, well, this hand isn't that good. It checks around to WMM and he raises it 2 bets. I don't normally spend a lot of money on second pair and well below average kicker, but I think I could be scary with the right cards to come. Everyone else folds. The turn is a blank (and less than a 9). I check, and he checks. Now, WMM guy always bets when he thinks he's ahead. His checking of the turn told me he had in actuality missed the flop. I get a sense from him that he's not happy to still have me hanging around. The turn is yet another blank and still less than a 9. I check again. He raises to 1500. A huge bet at the time and there was something about the raise that seemed off. No straights, no flushes and nothing bigger. If he had a Q, he would have bet the turn. He's also some one that would play suited connectors, but nothing connected, so he's only got one pair at best. I even believe that a 9 in his hand, he would have raised the turn. He has a physical tell that I'm 80% sure of and it said bluff as well. I make the call. He's only ace high. I take down a large pot.

They make the announcement that we are almost to points. I've got plenty of chips to coast on for a while so I tighten way up again. I'm folding AQ and AJ even in LP now. People are getting a little crazy, and my goal this season is to get LOTS of points.

As it turns out, this strategy pays off, not only do I make the points, but I also make the final 4. I doubled up making a fairly loose call for all my chips with KQ, but my read was right, he only had one over...I paired my something. I start bullying pots and just taking the blinds and dead money. When we get to 4 handed, variance catches up to me. I get AK 2 times and lose with it every time. The first time, LB raises, I have him covered in chips and if he doesn't have a pair, I'm way ahead, he calls my all in with 33. Of course he hits the set. . The next and final hand I played. I'm the LB, raise all in (no one has an M bigger than 6). I hear the chant of certain death from the BB. "I'm tired, I want to go home." That always means a suck out is coming. Always. She tables Q♣4♣ and 5 cards later, she hits the straight. Yep, I flopped 2 pair but the J on the turn and the 10 on the river sealed my fate.

A nice way to start the season! One more week of league before State!