Hands of the Week: November 2022 Week 1

Hands of the Week: November 2022 Week 1

I’m not sure if this is going to be a thing, but I like the idea of it and I thought my blog was more fun when I was creating characters via nicknames and posting humorous hand histories. Plus, I think it’s good for me to write on a near daily basis and typing out my critical hands from each session is a good way to keep that muscle strong. Will I do it though? Who knows. I generally have 2-3 hours from the time I get home from the gym in the morning until the time I start getting ready to play poker for the day. I have other things I like to do during those hours, but fitting in 30-45 minutes of writing should be doable. We’ll see, I guess.

Before I delve into my most notable pots of the week, I need to announce an important milestone I achieved last month. For years, I had a pain threshold of about -$2000 for any given session. I’ve been playing 15/30+ and 3/5 PLO regularly since at least 2017 and until this year the biggest loss I’d ever taken in a single session was -$2300. That is absurd. Actually, it’s embarrassing. For whatever reason, my brain would start to malfunction around -$2k and if I couldn’t immediately right the ship, I basically always decided to quit. I’ve mentioned this before, but this year things have changed. I had a 40/80 session in Vegas where I was stuck over $4k before making a big enough comeback to not set a new loss record. I’ve been stuck more than $2300 on multiple occasions in 2022, but pretty much always worked my way out of it. Back in March when I was in Houston playing a 30/60 Mix game, I finally set a new career bottom of -$2400. So I’ve been pushing myself further and further this year and not losing my composure when I find myself stuck heaps. And it finally happened. I annihilated my previous worst loss with a -$3329 3/5 NL session at Palace last month. And it felt kind of good. Well, not really. I was having a losing month all of October and finally booked a huge win on the 22nd to get me in the green for the first time in October, but I followed that up with this massive loss in my very next session and ended up having my second losing month of 2022. I lost $235 playing 1/3 NL on that same day so in total my single-day cash game loss record is now -$3564. Good times.

I have one more amusing anecdote before I get to the hands. I have a sickness. I absolutely love torturing 4/8 limit players while I wait for a seat in whatever game I’m planning to play for the day. I play hyper-aggressive and for some reason the testosterone and emotional levels are heightened at the 4/8 level – a lot of people at these stakes get their feelings hurt when they lose, especially to someone playing in a manner they don’t approve of. I’m probably a bully for feeling this way, but I enjoy being the person getting them riled up. And it’s not like I’m in there giving my chips away. I play super laggro preflop, but after the flop, I’m cutting throats. I know what’s going on. I generally always know what they have and they never know what I have. I know who is playing with their emotions and who is basically never bluffing no matter how much of a maniac they think I am. I find it incredibly fun and I’m always a tad disappointed when I get called for my real game. People love to say that 4/8 is unbeatable – especially in this day and age where $8 to $9 out of every pot goes to rake, PSJ and tips – but a seasoned mid-to-high stakes limit vet should have a massive skill edge and it should be enough to overcome those immense odds. I started playing for a living in October 2016 and since then I’ve logged 265 hours in 4/8 LHE while waiting for something else and I’ve won over 2 big bets an hour in those games. Yes, I know that’s a very small sample size – less than two months of full-time play spread out over 6+ years – but I think it’s harder to win over a bunch of micro sessions than it would be to win while playing long sessions. I dunno… I just find a lot of joy in mauling small stakes players for 30 minutes or so and then being like, “see ya later!” I think what I’m trying to say is… I HAVE PROBLEMS.

I am a white chip master

Tuesday, November 1st – 3/5 @ Palace

This is what 1/3 NL games are like at Palace. Someone limps, someone else makes it $15, a third player calls and I make it $70 on the button with AQo. The first limper and the original raiser both call. The first limper has nearly half his stack in the pot now. The flop is JJ4 and the limper jams for $125 or so and the other player snap calls. I snap fold. They show KK and… KK. So to recap, the preflop action was uncapped. I put in the last raise with AQ and two players with KK decided to just call instead of jamming on me. What could go wrong?

Apparently there’s a new player in town flexing his bankroll on anyone that cares to listen. He’s rich. He has all the money. He gives no fucks. Etc, etc. Legend has it he played so aggressive and ran so pure that he built up a 7k stack in 1/3 one night. Hard to believe, but it’s what I heard. Well not before I saw this dude for the first time. He sat down in my 1/3 game and immediately started throwing chips around and making absurd bets. He came over to 3/5 when the second game started and the first hand he got dealt he made it $100 under the gun and showed KQ suited when no one called his raise. I was obviously looking to play a big one with this dude and I wasn’t planning on folding a good hand, so when I looked down at QQ during the second orbit, I made it $25 on his big blind (a little extra to make sure all future bets were bigger) and he didn’t let me down by making it $100. QQ might as well be AA against this guy, so I made it $400 which capped the preflop betting and of course he tried to put his whole stack in. I told him the betting was capped preflop but he could bet another $300 dark for the flop, so he did that and I raised that and we ended up getting it all in. The board ran out a bunch of middle cards that ended up making a one card straight so I figured I was going to end up losing this pot a lot, but the Poker Gods gave this maniac AA anyway and I shipped him over $1000 on the first hand I played. As he was raking in my entire stack he asked me if I tipped the dealer and I somehow hit him with a playful “you didn’t see me do it?” as I was having visions of the building collapsing down on him. Then this dude proceeded to play almost zero hands over the next hour and eventually moved down to 1/3. Da fuq?

The hi-jack opens to $20, someone calls on the button, and I make it $130 from the small blind with two kings. Only the button calls and we see a flop of AKT with two clubs. This is the kind of board I’m trying to get stacks in on so I bet $200, he obliges by making it $500 and we end up getting it in for his whole stack of $650 or so. He snap rolls QJ and before I can even digest my terrible luck, the dealer burns and turns a ten and I end up winning a big pot.

How to play AK 101: some dude raises to $25 after a limper, I make it $120 from the small blind with JJ and this dude folds AK face up. I give him some shit for being such a wimp.

Literally two hands later, two players limp in, I make it $30 with AK, the second limper re-pops it to $230, I make it $530 and we get the $150 he has left in on the flop and he ends up winning with 99 unimproved. I look at the dude from the previous hand and say, “THAT’S HOW YOU PLAY ACE KING.”

I open $20 under the gun with AsQx and the whole table calls. That means eight of us see the Q86 two spade flop and while that is certainly an above average flop for me, I send it around to see what seven other players have to say about it first. It checks to a later position we have nicknamed Lambo on account of the fact that he drives a Lamborghini to play poker and he goes all in for $130. Part-Time was in the big blind and he makes it $330. I’m not in love with this development but I think my hand is too good to even think about folding and Part-Time has a pretty clear isolation raise here with any above average showdown hand. I call his raise and everyone else folds. The turn is the jack of spades and when Part-Time checks to me, I put the pressure on with a max bet of $300. I don’t necessarily think I have the best hand here but I do have the nut spade blocker and the nut flush draw – not to mention top pair top kicker – and Part-Time is capable of folding two pair here. He does fold and I make aces up on the river and that’s a better hand than Lambo is able to produce.

Session Results: -$126 in 1/3; +$1389 in 3/5

Wednesday, November 2nd – 1/3, 3/5, and 10/20 O8 @ Palace

This felt like a waste of a day. A day after having two full 3/5 games with a list, the lone 3/5 game on Wednesday was dead by 6 PM. I had a mediocre 3/5 session before transferring to 10/20 O8 which seemed like a reasonable idea since I’m playing an O8 tourney this week in Pendleton. I played bad and ran bad and then the game got short and I was still incapable of showing down a piece of any pot. I like to experiment with a loose-aggressive style as I’m sure it’s the best way to accumulate chips in this variant but I find that my O8 hand reading skills aren’t good enough yet to get away with it. I’ve also discovered that limit O8 might be the least stimulating game for me these days. The pace is mega slow, the pots are almost always split, and I feel like I have to be a nut-peddler to win in it. That shit is BORING and I’m not good enough yet to play a more exciting style. I decided to play 1/3 when the feeder game broke rather than move to the main game. I was pretty tuned out for the night and didn’t note any hands there either and ended up calling it at the very early time of 10:30 PM.

Session Results: +$268 in 3/5; -$499 in O8; -$238 in 1/3

Thursday, November 3rd – 20/40 @ Fortune

Because I spend the vast majority of my live cash game hours playing no limit these days, I basically always play 20/40 limit Hold’em when I go to Fortune. My hourly in that game is less than it is in 3/5 and Fortune almost always has amazing game selection with 3+ tables of 3/5 going on a regular basis, but I ENJOY playing limit. I find the pace of play refreshing and I feel almost zero stress playing it, plus I think it’s important that I keep those skills sharp since I play so many limit mixed tournaments.

I only noted a few hands from this session. In the first one, Patton (fka FanBoy) – as in this brow looks so much like Patton Oswalt that someone stopped him at the WSOP last year and said, “Patton?” – opens from the cutoff and I 3-bet the ATcc from the small blind. Patton flats and we see a flop of A96. I bet and Patton calls. My alarm bells are going off. I know he has a stronger hand than me. I’m not sure how, but I know he’s raising me on the turn. We see a 5 and I check-call. The river is a beautiful offsuit ten and now I feel confident putting in a check-raise… that is, until he says, “if you got it you got it,” and 3-bets me. I can fold here. He’s not 3-betting A9 and he’s not bluffing. But I didn’t think about any of that in the moment and snap called to see a set of aces. SHOCK.

Let’s try that again: Patton opens from the cutoff and I 3-bet AQ from the small blind and he flats. The flop is AQx and he calls my flop bet. The turn is an ace, giving me the nuts and he calls again. The river is a 7 and he finally springs to life with a raise. God bless him. I 3-bet and Patton calls with what he says was AK. My hand ends up holding for the second high hand.

I open with AK and see a 3-way flop of A96 with two hearts. It checks to me, I bet, and Bulletproof check-raises me from the big blind. I re-raise and he calls. The turn pairs the ace and he check-raises me again. I feel like this would be an overplay from anything worse than AQ, so I give him credit for maybe having a boat and just call. The river is the 3 of hearts and I call his bet and he shocks my face off by showing me K8 of hearts for a rivered flush. Patton is sitting next to me and I show him my hand and say, “what is going on here?” Bulletproof sees my hand and asks why I didn’t re-raise the turn and I’m like, “Brow, I didn’t know I was in a leveling war.”

This was a frustrating session. The games were mega juiced and I was immediately stuck over $1000. I bottomed out at -$1500 and clawed back all the way to a little bit of sugar before going on another big downswing as my night was nearing its close and I felt nauseous having to leave such a good game.

Session Results: -$178 in 3/5/; -$975 in 20/40

Thursday, November 4th – 3/5 @ Palace

My first key pot of this session I decided to 3-bet an under the gun raiser with the QJ offsuit on the button because he looked like someone I could bully. He called and we saw a flop of 953 rainbow. He checks and the dealer immediately tries to burn and turn even though I haven’t done anything yet. I stop her, but the burn is already off and she leaves it there. Shock. What could go wrong with that? I end up betting $60 and get called. Of course she tries to burn and turn again. I stop her and tell her the burn is already off and save the hand for the second time. She turns over the correct card, a ten, and now my opponent donks $125 into me. The turn did open up a heart draw, but I’m not sure what’s going on here. This is a weird line no matter what he has, and I’m starting to think this isn’t a player I want to be bluffing, so I just call and try to realize my equity. 8x on the river. BINK. He disappoints me with a check and I figure I’m not going to get called here, but I max bet anyways and he pays it off relatively quickly. I give the dealer a little bit of shit about needing that board to come out exactly the way it was supposed to.

I’m struggling to get anything going for a while after that and I’ve been doing a ton of check folding on the flop after being the preflight aggressor. A couple players limp in and I jack it up to $30 with T8 of spades and two players call, including the big blind. The flop is K86 with two spades and I decide this is a good board to check-raise since everyone has been so bet happy when I check after raising preflop. The big blind obliges with a $50 bet and the limper calls. I make it $175 to go and they both call. Welp, I guess I’m gonna need to make something. The turn is helpful, but not great: an offsuit 9. I could certainly bomb it here and maybe I should. I don’t expect to get raised on that card very often and my hand can stand a raise anyway. I decide to check though and the big blind bets $200. We both call. The river is an offsuit ace and I check-fold to a $300 bet and the big blind ends up showing AK.

I raise to $30 with KTo and get some callers. The flop is Q9x and I c-bet $30 and one player calls out of position. I turn pure with an offsuit jack and my opponent continues with the pleasant surprises by leading into me for $100. I make it $400 and he calls. The river is an action-killing ten, but that doesn’t stop him from giving me another $300 even though it looked like he knew he had no business calling. At this point, I’ve gone from being down $800 or so in this session to being up about $1000.

I raise some limpers with two red tens and get two callers. The flop comes K82 with two diamonds and this is a spot that I’ll check back a decent amount of time, but I decide to go with a small sizing of $30 and Hit&Run (a nickname that has aged somewhat poorly IMO) makes it $125 from the big blind. I give some thought to folding here, but I know he’s capable of raising with diamonds and possibly even middle pair, so I take a card off to see what happens on the turn. I do have the ten of diamonds and that blocks some of his bluffs, but it also gives me some equity against his kings when the turn card is a diamond. Instead, I turn a set and we know that’s the absolute nuts. He bets $200 and I make it $500. He says something about how good my kicker is and this makes me rather convinced that he has a king. He ends up calling and then bets $300 with like $75 behind when the river comes the jack of clubs. I snap-raise the rest of his stack and he puts the call in and rolls over Q9 of diamonds for one of the more shocking showdown losses I’ve seen in quite some time. I just never, ever thought I’m losing on this run out.

I’m playing later than usual and I’m pretty shell shocked from that last hand. I thought I was going to be up several thousand and here I am nearing the end of my session close to even again. Someone opens to $20, there’s a call or two, and I call on the button with J9 of clubs. The flop is K92 with two diamonds and one club. It checks to the guy on my right and he makes a small bet of $20. I decide to take charge of this hand and make it $80. That clears everyone else and he calls. The turn is the deuce of clubs, so I pick up a flush draw. He checks to me and I make a blocker size bet of $50 rather than checking behind. I don’t think I’m getting raised very often and I want to put a little more money in vs diamond draws, plus I feel like I’m setting a cheap showdown price if I ended up bricking the river rather than checking back and letting him decide how much to bet on the river. The river is a glorious 6 of clubs and I go for a chunky $250 and he ends up calling it off. I roll my hand like it’s the nuts and on in horror after I table the J9 of fucking spades. Unfortunately, his bluff-catcher is the K3 of hearts and I end up losing another pot that I thought I’m never ever losing. Can’t remember the last time I forgot what I had like that.

Session Results: +$150 in 1/3; +$429 in 3/5

Sigh. That’s a lot of writing. The only way this continues being a thing is if I’m able to write about each session after it happens and not try to do it all at once like I just did. Hope y’all enjoy!

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Author: Nathan James