Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Poker Diaries: Extraction Vs. Extraction

These work better with a flopped deuce
It's been a week long grind at the day job, and by the time Friday night rolls around, I have the following four conditions:

1) A desperate need to get away from the computer, after a ton of work and grind

2) A winning parley ticket that means that any NFL picks this week are on a free roll, and

3) The eldest having a friend over for a lack of sleepover, so a clean bill of GTFO from all and sundry, and

4) A booked day out on Saturday to take the family to Knoebels, the best amusement part in America, for the annual HalloFun day.

So I make the run down, get the picks in before the the sportsbook closes, and have a few bucks to play an hour of $1/$2 poker and attempt a smash and grab. I ask to be seated at a good and stupid table, and find myself at a table of people who seemingly like to limp pre-flop, then bet hard afterwards. I'm liking it.

With five limpers in the pot, I do the same on the button with pocket deuces... and see the joy of a 7-4-2 flop with two diamonds. The small blind overbets for $40, and it's folded around to me. I can't put him on 7s without a raise in the small blind, which means I'm only really afraid of pocket 4s. So I'm thinking he's either got random two pair, a flush draw or an overpair that he's about to pay me a lot of money to keep betting...

I could just call. But the flush draw is worrisome, and there's $60 if the hand ends now. So I shove for about 2X the pot, and try not to look too calm as soon as he doesn't snap call. After two minutes of waiting, he folds, and I decide to show the trips to the table so that I can buy a pot later with a bluff. Both, of course, might have been a mistake, but hey, I'm up over 50% in 5 minutes of play. There are worse things.

Twenty minutes later, a similar situation develops around pocket 4s. This time, the flop is 4c-6d-10d,. I make it $10 and get to 3-way for the turn, which is another diamond, the king. So my trips are fighting a flush on the board, and with $40 in the pot, the caller makes it a relatively curious $25 to go -- in other words, a bet that's just begging for a call. I'm counting 10 outs -- the case 4, and the three cards that could put a pair on the board -- that would give me a nice little secret boat. So I call, but the river is the 8h, and out comes another curious $25 underbet. I pay for the information, and the caller gives me plenty of it by showing his straight first, then his flush. So I'm back to status quo, and use that info later when I fold second pair against the same guy, who flips over his top. I'm feeling good about the play, despite the lost pot; the table is looking soft. And I keep hitting flops.

Twenty minutes left in the time that I've given myself to play, and here's the downside of playing tight and advertising made hands -- pocket queens on the button with a limping armada behind me. I make it $7 and get two callers for the flop, which is K-Q-6, the Ace and Queen are hearts. All kinds of drawing trouble here, and the action goes check check in front of me. I put out a feeler bet of $20, the middle guy folds, and the last man pops it to $40. Re-raising him by the same amount would just give me $32 behind, so I try to make it look weak and shove. My man flips over his King and stares me down for a minute before mucking, because his kicker doesn't merit scrutiny. This time, I muck the trips and try to look like a swindled him.

So there you have it -- an hour of play, three pocket pairs that all get to trips, and a final return of  10% on my starting stack of $120. Had I played them slower, done a better job of projecting weak to get a call while ahead, or ran into a bigger set, I lose the stack entirely, of course... and the real goal of the evening is trying to stop telling myself the story that trips three times in an hour should make you a lot more money.

When, of course, any hand in a no-limit game can lose it all...

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