I hit the Big Game last night for a 5 hour stint and brought along two guys: my old poker buddy Chris and a coworker Chad who works at one of our office outside DC. Despite some drama last week involving a Big Game employee skipping town and some missing money, the game went off without a hitch, and fielded two tables. I got lucky and drew the table of less experienced, though still dangerous players.
I did well, clearing $350 profit, and am fortunate enough that I’ve now got a poker colleague (Chris) that comes regularly to this game that I can discuss hands and players with. As I mentioned before, the long-time profiling of players has become my new area of poker improvement, and so now Chris and I can compare notes on players.
Once again, I found myself doubling my $300 stack of chips to $600 with a couple of big hands, and then being stuck, unable to break through $700. This happens to me all the time, and I have to wonder, "Do I play differently with $600 in front of me?" Or do people play differently at me when I’m that size? They certainly play differently if I’m short-stacked, calling me more often. In fact if you look at the math at this game, my standard deviation from my $300 starting stack is $297, indicating that I either double or lose my money every session.
The two hands that gave me that stack were unfortunately played against two friends. In one, I called Ace-Four of hearts while my friend limped in with two kings. I flopped a made straight, an Ace high flush draw and a straight flush draw when the flop came 235 with two hearts. The turn came an Ace, and the river came the ten of hearts, giving me the nuts.
I then picked up King-Jack offsuit out of position and ended up playing it against Chris who was holding Queen-Ten. Chris is pretty tight and the flop came King-Jack-blank. I bet $15 into an $8 pot, and he raised it to $35. I made it $100 to go and he called. This rattled me so bad that when the turn came a blank, I checked, thinking I could call if he bet into me, but not really being wild about paying off a set.
Of course, by checking I made the obvious mistake of giving him a free card, something I spent the rest of the night beating myself up about.
The river came a blank and I took down the $200 pot with my King-Jack. I was embarassed to have given him a free card. Afterwards we even ran the hands through a poker calculator before I would believe that he called with odds on the flop. The Queen-Ten was a 30%-70% underdog to hit its straight, and with the pot laying him just over 2-to-1 to call my raise, he had enough odds to call on the flop, and since I didn’t bet the turn, infinite odds to check. I thought it was a little thin, with no positive expected value, but it’s not a bad play. And he totally manipulated me into doing what he wanted, so it’s hard to fault the strategy.
Afterwards Chris said, "Would you pay $100 to draw to that straight?" "No", I said, "but then I’m not a big fan of the high variance game."
I’m looking forward to reviewing my player profiling notes this weekend with Chris.