Recruiting players for the Big Game

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.