Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So: Bellagio 80/160.

First hand, ever. AKo, three limpers, I raise after having posted between the button and the blinds. Blinds get out, flop comes K 9 7 rainbow (can't remember suits at all for some reason).

I bet out and get two callers. Turn: (K 9 7) 4. I bet, MP raises, button folds.

So, very first hand at the 80 game, big slick, it's the turn and I make my first mistake: I call.

River: (K 9 7 4) 6. I bet, he thinks for a bit, does one of those grunt-laugh things, and mucks.

I think the turn's a clear three-bet, and even at the time I was thinking "hmm...this is a clear three-bet" but my very first hand at a table where every single player is brand new, at a limit I've never played before all kind of conspired against my instincts and reduced me to calling and hoping a 3 or an 8 didn't hit the river.

Someone asked if I CRed the turn. I generally try to reserve getting somewhat tricky for after I've gotten a pretty decent read on the table. I've found live isn't like online, where the button will always bet if checked to. Unless I have a good reason to believe someone will bet even without a good/great hand, I bet out to avoid giving a free card.

A three-bet there is clear because I can pretty much assume someone isn't playing K9, K7 or K4, and if they are, they're probably raising the flop, although K9 is a possibility. KK, 99, even 77 probably raise preflop (77 is iffy) and 44 folds that flop. So I'm worried about 77 or K9 slightly, but much more likely is someone picked up a draw, say 56, or is raising their top or middle pair in a big pot hoping for either a free showdown, or to push me off TT-QQ, AQ, whatever. KQ, A9, 98s, whatever may very well play it that way.

When I've been running well, I three-bet. When I've been running poorly, I get a bit weak-tight and call/lead or call/check-call. Sigh.

But, I won the pot, and went on to play five hours in what turned out to be a surprisingly good game. The cast of characters was long and varied. One guy sat down who didn't even know the mechanics of how limit poker worked. Seriously. Didn't know how much to bet on what rounds, had to be constantly reminded, kept trying to push in two stacks or whatever. It was a field day for the rest of us, although as always the frustrating field day that comes with the territory of this being poker: it'd be three bets to the guy and he sits there and asks, "how much to me?" gets his reply and nervously places out the call with whatever random hand he feels like he should play, and of course on a board of all rags suddenly starts betting and raising causing the guys with obvious big pairs to get that "creeping doom" look that anyone who's played poker knows quite well.

But, as usually happens, he rode the variance of poker up and down before finally busting.

Another guy was one of the most unthinking LAGs I've ever run across. He raised every single time he was UTG. Every. Single. Time. He probably raised 30% of his hands, and played about 50% of them. If he hit anything on the flop, a pair, a draw, whatever, he was capping if he could. If the board got a little scary, he'd call down from there, but under no circumstances was he folding. He'd bluff in position, and regularly CR out of position. In other words, he'd fit right in on Party Poker. Being a long-time veteran of Party Poker, I managed to do pretty well against him, despite a couple of aggravating hands.

There was the usual assortment of tight-aggressive players with various leaks in their games, but what was most interesting were the best players. They were, in short, quite good and accomplished players.

At, say, 4/8 the best players are those who actually read a few books and maybe that guy who was good enough to try 15/30 for a while before slinking back down. They watch those big tournaments on TV.

At 15/30, the best players were those who not only have read the books, but think about making a living at the game, and actively try to, say, play in the big tournaments. Every so often you'll run into a guy who won his way into a big tournament.

At 30/60 or 40/80, it's not uncommon to play against guys who play in those big tournaments. They don't necessarily win, but they do play. And there are plenty of people who make their living at that level.

At 80/160? The best players are the guys who win those big tournments. There were two 80 games going Saturday night, one of them a must-move. I was in the main game, but I looked over at the MM game, and there were five players...and four WSOP gold bracelets at that table. Yikes.

Admittedly, three of those bracelets belonged to David Sklansky, but still. As it happened, David sat down about 30 seconds after I left the MM game, and left before getting into the main game, so I never got to play against him. For those curious, the other bracelet belonged to Todd Witteles, who won his in limit hold 'em just this past July. I did play against Todd, but we weren't really involved in any hands.

Two other players were very well respected (and very winning) high-limit online players that I recognized, but most people probably wouldn't.

Despite the seemingly tough lineup, the game was actually quite good. It was definitely tighter than 30/60, and more aggressive, but there were plenty of four- and five-way pots.

I had one other hand that I think I also made a mistake on:

I'm UTG+1 and raise with AdQc. It folds to the CO, a very tight player who's also way too passive for this game. He cold-calls, as does the button, who is one of the excellent high-limit online players. I know he plays higher than 80/160 online, multi-tabling at that, and probably has just about every trick up his sleeve. Similarly, I assume he has pretty good radar for sniffing out just about every trick around. The unknown BB also calls.

Flop comes: Kd Qs 7h. I bet. Super-tighty CO calls, high-limit button calls, BB calls.

Turn: (Kd Qs 7h) 8d. I bet. Super-tighty calls. Button raises. BB folds.

Out of the standard three options, I internally ranked them as follows: 1) three-bet, 2) call, 3) fold. 1 and 2 are close, though, with 3 way, waaay behind.

The tighty, although relatively passive, would most likely raise a K on that flop with so many to act behind him. I figured him for almost definitely JT, since he would most likely fold a weaker Q already, though I really can't say for sure.

I was a little scared that he was slow-playing a monster--top-two, a set, whatever, but I'd worry about that if and when he began raising (a raise from him would represent about as easy a fold as there is for me).

My main concern of course was the button. I know for sure he likes to mix it up a bit, especially with position in what's becoming a big pot, so a semi-bluff raise is very likely.

What makes it more likely, is I can't really see what he'd CC with on the button that beats me. I know after one CCer, and having the button, his range is pretty big there. But he's also smart enough not to CC an early position raiser with the classic dominated hands like KQ or KJ. Perhaps he has JT, too?

The problem I had was that I couldn't just sit there and put them both on JT and be done with it. I had hit a spot where I was pretty sure I was good, and pretty sure that my correct play was to raise, but once again the combination of the new, higher limit, and my recent bad run making me a bit gun-shy left me simply calling.

Super-tighty called, and we saw the river of (Kd Qs 7h 8d) Td. My gut instinct was to bet out again (I was just loving those stop-n-goes that day, I guess) but the completion of the flush against a guy who loves to semi-bluff got me figuring that I was in a position where my opponents would either fold their missed straight draw or raise their possible set or backdoor flush (AdJd, AdTd, QdJd, whatever, all possibilities for a flop call and turn raise). So I checked, and it checked around. I showed and MHIG.

Of course I could have three-bet, lost the CO, had the button call and then fold the river, and I would have ended up winning the same amount. But at least I would have charged the draws the most (CO probably grits his teeth and calls with JT for example) and perhaps gotten a crying call on the river in a huge pot when the T falls. Most likely not from the button, but perhaps from the CO.

Gah, just an ugly hand, all around. Just call me Mr. Weak-tight.

Anyways, I ended up bouncing around a bunch, up, down, up down, and when the live ones left and were replaced with decent-enough tighties around 3am, I got up and left up just under 15BBs. Not a huge win BB-wise, but still represents a decent amount of cash.

As a coda, I played in the 80 game again Monday night. I only lasted an hour. There was one live one, but he left soon after I sat down (after handing me a nice runner-runner bad beat, which he had been doing to the table with regularity) and the game became probably one of the worst games I'd ever sat in. Super tight, with the button or CO going HU against the BB every hand that wasn't just folded around. The two or three decent-sized pots I got involved in didn't go my way at all, and so I ended up losing. I left after an hour when it became clear that people were not going to be making a whole lot of mistakes and I'd be better off spending my time elsewhere.

I think what all this means is that I'll try to make the 80 game my regular game at least on the weekends, with still more time at the 30 or 40 games, but I'll stick to developing other games during the week. I played 2/5 NL for five hours last night, and plan on doing that again tonight. NL is going to be my new focus, starting at 2/5 and perhaps in a couple months progressing to 5/10 and hopefully 10/20 at some point.

Anyways, that's long enough of an uber-post.


Blogger d said...

Hey Eric,

I thought you weren't going to be doing any name dropping of high profile players. :P

Well, since you mentioned the first two, who were the 2 high limit online players you sat with? You might as well list them as well, do you see why? :P

Anyway, those were a couple of good blog entries. Keep it up.


1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a reader here.

I wanted to say, I enjoy your entries, thanks for the time and effort.


8:06 AM  
Blogger Chris Fargis said...

Welcome to the world of the high-limit area! Great description of that journey. I remember it well.

Quite surprised that David S. was playing that low. Never seen him below 200-400. Must have been a quiet night up there or a real fish in the game.

Hey, did you ever pay me for that baseball league? Can't remember.

Coming out to Vegas next weekend for the tournament. We should meet up. Email me.

8:46 AM  
Blogger eric said...

Man, I start playing "big-time" and people are suddenly hitting me up for money! Just kidding.

Chris, yes I did pay you. We did an inter-account transfer a few months ago, I think on Stars. Good luck holding on to your top spot, btw. I think I have 7th pretty much locked up. Go me!

Frank, thanks for the compliments.

Dave, I'm actually not going to "name-drop" with any regularity. The reason I did it this time was that 1) I didn't really play any hands agains the "names" and 2) I wanted to give an accurate feel of what it was like moving up to bigger game. So for a one-time gig, I felt it would be okay to just go all out and say what it was really like, including the fairly big-time players who were around.

In the future, I'll pretty much keep people anonymous, since I'm really not trying to name-drop, nor am I trying to have what I think about specific players made public, nor am I really wanting to identify myself too easily to people, in general.

As for the internet players, I figured since I did get involved in a number of hands with them, and since 95% of people probably wouldn't know who they were anyways, I might as well just go with what is my default and keep opponents anonymous.

2:43 PM  
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