Friday is my poker night. I zip out to the Riverwind right from work, or as soon there-after as possible. I’ve learned to phone ahead to get on the list, due to the rush hour traffic slow-up at the I-35, Hwy 9 junction. It can sometimes take five to ten minutes just to get across the river.
I look forward to these sessions. Due to my dwindling online bankroll at Full Tilt, I don’t play the virtual tables much anymore. After my latest blunder, it’s probably best I stay away (however, I’m hoping to get back into the swing because I miss the cameraderie). The Friday live sessions serve to get me out of the house and to engage in a little social interaction, although the latter can be difficult given the typical surly nature of a Riverwind player.
This last Friday, after a table change from sub-zero table 2 (it’s right under an AC vent), I was at table 13, seat four. The table where I’d been the week before. My end of the table was fairly affable. The two guys on my right were friendly and kept boredom from setting in. The guy on my left was very quiet, short-stacked and didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. The guy on his left, the six seat, became my target for the night.
In front of that fella was a little over $1,100 in chips. I tried to suss out how long he’d been at the table, but was unsuccessful. I paid attention to his style of play, which was aggressive, but since few of his hands went to show-down, I was unsure as to whether he was just a LAG or had some real skill going. At any rate, if I was going to double up, he was the player that was going to fund it. I hoped.
In the meantime, I concentrated on getting back to some poker fundamentals. My mantra for the evening was “Be patient, play the nuts.” I needed to plug some leaks and determine why I bleed back so much of my stack after big pots. I vowed – no limping. If I’m first in, it’s a raise. I supplemented my no-limping vow with “quit cold-calling.” Unless I was in late position with clearly a drawing hand and plenty of folks in before me, I was going to fold or raise.
I rediscovered how powerful a re-raise can be. Especially if there’s been a couple of cold-callers in between you and the original raiser. That afforded me a few pots I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. That said, however, this session had all the markings of my usual break even, swimming up stream time at the tables.
My hand of the night came when, under-the-gun, I was dealt pocket kings. I raised it up my standard $10 straight. The big stack in the six-seat re-raised to $25. Here was my chance to double through, but I still didn’t have a read on his range of hands. Was he just pissing his territory, or did he really have a big pair?
I paused to think about it. Contemplated how much to re-re-raise, then pushed out a tease raise to $75 straight. He looked at me. “I have a pocket pair,” he stated. “You have a pocket pair?” I attempted to remain stoic, looked at him and gave a tiny shrug. He raised me again, sliding out a full stack of reds.
I went into the tank. What drifted through my head at this point was “second raise is kings, third raise is aces” or some such. Did he have aces? I replayed the hand. Counted my stack. I had only two choices – fold or push. I looked at my companions on my right. “I haven’t played with him long enough to get a solid read….” Did he have aces?
I said, “I’m all in.” Immediately he said “Call.” Turning my head to the guys on my right, I winced and said, “He has aces.” To my surprise and delight, though, he flipped over pocket nines. I flipped over my kings and sealed the pot with a third king on the turn. Over $500 was pushed to me.
“You waited that long to push with kings?” the six seat asked, incredulous at the time I took. I improvised on the fly and answered “Well, I had to sell it so you’d buy.” It didn’t matter. I’d attained my goal for the evening and doubled through the big stack. I got a bonus, too – the very valuable information that he overplayed his hands and was truly a LAG. Suffice to say, he bled back most of his stack before he departed the table that night.
As for me, the cards turned rather cold from that point forward. I played a few more rounds, then cashed in early. I was determined to avoid the bleed back myself. I needed to be smart for once.