Sawtooth

Well, since the session described in my last post (yes, it’s only been about 3 days), I’ve had my biggest winning day and my biggest losing day. 

I’m not going to post hands from my biggest winning day (probably), because to be honest they were pretty much all standard. When you’re running hot, most of your hands play themselves, and this Thursday night I was indeed running hot. I must have flopped at least 4 sets, made 3 or 4 flushes, and gotten paid decent-sized pots on most of them. I made just over $1,000 playing 1/2 online, on two tables. One of which I was playing at for 3 hours, the other just 1 hour. For just a few hundred hands, it felt like insanity.

In addition to this, though, I took a shot in another game that runs every few days – 5/10 NL. I’d done so once before, in a game whose lineup was extremely soft. The standard buy in is $500 for some reason, so I figured taking a shot in a really soft game playing with smallish stacks couldn’t be too bad so long as I wasn’t going to keep rebuying if I lost. In my first shot, I made a somewhat questionable semi-bluff shove vs. someone I have a lot of history with, and he tank-called with a set. He rivered quads and that was that. This time I played significantly tighter, as people weren’t adjusting in the slightest. I made a few strong hands here as well, and walked away a $1,200 winner.

Live sessions are swingy in their own right though. After my huge winning day, my bankroll was sitting a decent chunk over 8k, and I was feeling a little confused. The past two months have represented a veritable explosion in bankroll for me. It’s been very similar to the run I went on at Bovada where I began just crushing the game for a couple months, sending my $150 roll to almost 3 grand. Though not on the same scale (since I started with a smaller roll relative to the stakes I’m playing and haven’t moved up limits for the most part), these past few months have been pretty absurd, with my roll growing from a battered $2,000 or so to nearly $8,500.

But poker isn’t all about success and fast-growing rolls; and live poker is not without swings of its own. Friday night, the day after my huge win, I decided to go to the Horseshoe to try my luck there. The plan was to shot-take 2/5 for the second time. But this time with something that much more closely resembled a shot-taking-sized bankroll. With nearly 17 BI’s, I felt pretty comfortable with the amount I’d be risking, and with my recent run good and solid play, I felt confident in my abilities.

When I got to the shoe, there was open seating for 1/2, and a waitlist for 2/5, so I put my name on the list for 2/5, and sat down at 1/2. I was introduced to the table by a friendly semi-reg who I’ve spoken with a fair bit in the past. He’s a relatively stereotypical older, nittier fellow, but he values my opinion on poker hands a lot, and his image of me is essentially a crushing professional. So naturally, he makes it his duty to mention what a strong player I am every time I sit at his table.

I quickly lived up to my introduction, value-betting second pair and calling a river bluff by one player, and bullying the table into submission in a few medium-sized pots. Then I got into a somewhat interesting hand where two players limped in, and I tried to isolate with A6ss. It folded around to the limpers, but they both called, and we went 3-way to the flop. A pretty reasonable K43ssx flop greeted us, and when it checked to me I bet about 2/3 the pot with my nut flush draw. The first limper called, while the other folded. The turn was an offsuit 5, giving me an open-ended straight draw to go along with my nut flush draw. The villain tanked a little, shifting in his chair, and finally checked. With what I perceived as a reasonable amount of fold equity, some times when I was ahead of worse flush draws, and now 6 extra outs if called, I jammed all in for what was approximately a pot-sized bet (villain was a little short to start the hand). He tanked for maybe 30 seconds, then sort of sigh-called.

The river bricked out, and I announced my hand as A high. Villain looked a little confused for a moment, and turned over his hand: Q5ss. I felt it was pretty likely he would have called all in whether or not he spiked a pair, so it felt like a pretty gross 6 outer. It felt even grosser when I realized that not only did any 7, 2, or spade make me the best hand, but a 6 or A would have been good enough to win as well. But none of my 19 outs came, and I found myself no longer in profit.

This villain was bad beat for a sizable amount a few hands later when he got it in with 5’s full of A’s against trip A’s, and the river tripped up, giving my older friend quads. About an orbit later, I got involved in a pot with the same player. He raised to $7 in MP, and got one caller. I made it $22 with AKdd in the SB, and villain jammed $77. The flatter folded, and I called it off. The villain had 99 and held on a wet board that refused to make me a hand.

Eventually I was called for 2/5. I sat down with some trepidation. The table was on the opposite side of the room from where the 2/5 games normally run. They typically run in an area of the room that is more closed off from other tables, and with more space as well. It’s quieter, and more conducive to playing solid poker. But I settled in and tried to get my bearings on the table. It didn’t take too long for me to get involved in a hand.


Preflop 
In MP, one limper and I overlimp. The button makes it $20, and the other limper and I both call.

Flop: ($60)    (3 players)
It checks to the button, who bets $20, which stinks of weakness or a mediocre draw to me. The EP limper calls, and I make it $100. They both fold fairly quickly, which surprised me, given how draw-heavy the board was.


My next hand of note was a little more interesting in terms of postflop play, and highlights one of the major differences between 1/2 and 2/5.


Preflop 
One limper, and I iso to $25 from MP. I get a caller from the blind, and the limper calls as well.

Flop: ($75)    (3 players)
It checks to me and I make a $45 cbet. They both call. At this point I am done with the hand unless something unusual happens.

Turn: ($210)  (3 players)
Action quickly checks to me, and after a little bit of thought/waiting, I check behind.

River: ($210)  (3 players)
Both villains fairly quickly check to me again, and it feels like everyone has draws rather than single-pair type hands. Even if someone is holding on with one pair though, the K is a pretty good card for my range, and I expect someone holding 77 may well fold here. I bet $115, and they both quickly fold.

I got into a few other spots at the must-move game. In one spot I called down 2 streets with the bottom end of a straight on a 543 2 board after check-calling with AK as the PFR. The villain bet the blank river and I called. He shook his head, as if he had nothing, and I waited a moment to see if he would show. He looked at me expectantly, and thinking my hand was good, I showed. He looked at my hand, then turned over A6o for a higher straight. I wasn’t pleased, but the villain didn’t seem to realize he had done anything that constituted poor etiquette, so I refocused. A few hands later, I flopped a set in a straddled pot against what I can only assume was an overpair. I held, and I was up a solid 100bb or so, but I quickly lost it back when I tried to hero with top pair top kicker on an exceedingly disgusting board. Frustrated with my play, I resolved to tighten up and think through ranges more concretely before trying to be a hero again.

Eventually I was called for the main game, which actually appeared softer than the must-move game. Pretty quickly I got wrapped up in an interesting spot.


Preflop 
In the CO, there’s a raise and a call, and I decide to squeeze. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to do very much at 1/2, but people actually fold to 3bets at 2/5 it seems, although it may appear this way more than it is, since there are more 3bets going on generally. In any case, I get a cold-caller, and the person who called the PFR also calls.

Flop: ($180)    (3 players)
It checks to me, and I bet $80. The cold-caller folds, but the other player calls, and we go HU to the turn.

Turn: ($340)  (2 players)
This time, villain leads for $100. I’m a little frazzled, since I wasn’t expecting that at all. The turn isn’t the worst card in the deck for me, but JT gets there, and a lot of hands that might stubbornly flat the flop just made two pair. But it could also be a bit of a scare card, and/or villain may be trying to set his price. I will only have about $200 behind if I call, but for some reason I don’t really consider jamming. I eventually call, expecting this to slow down/prevent most river bluffs.

River: ($540)  (2 players)
Villain bets $200 (I have $208), and I’m in a quandary. The villain is an old man, and stereotypically this means he is nitty and bets his hands based on their absolute value. On the other hand, this board got scary for literally everything, and villain probably isn’t capable of betting two pair for value here. If he plays a set this way, he might not bet the river either. He’s repping a T, and I just don’t have enough info to not give him credit. I make a tight fold, and top up $200.


In retrospect, I’m not really sure I like my river fold. If I’m going to make a stand, I think I should jam the turn, when I can still charge draws a bit more, and potentially get it in against worse 9x. A little while later I limp/4bet-jammed all-in preflop with 66 when an aggressive 3bettor squeezed 4 players from the button. I got folds, which increased my confidence in my table dynamic reads. A few orbits later I made a somewhat ill-advised 3bet jam on a flop with a flush draw and was called by two pair, but I binked and was back up to around $800. From there I managed to chip up, winning a number of small pots. Then this hand happened:


Preflop 
In the CO, 7-handed, a tight, EP player makes it $15 to go. I flat, as does a loose (preflop) but competent player in the BB.

Flop: ($45)    (3 players)
It checks to the PFR, who thinks for a little while and checks. I consider betting, but decide to check behind, since I’m not convinced I get the BB to fold much of anything.

Turn: ($45)  (3 players)
I turn gin, but I don’t really expect to make anything on it. Surprisingly, when the BB checks to the EP PFR, the PFR bets $30. I tank for a little bit, unsure of what EP’s range is, and unsure what the best play is. I decide to flat, since I think villain probably still has a reasonable amount of air that will snap-fold to me, and a lot of his thinner value hands can’t handle a raise.

River: ($105)  (2 players)
Villain quickly bets $100, essentially the pot. I’m now putting him squarely on Kx, pretty much solely based on sizing alone. I quickly go through what hands I think he could play this way. AK is the most likely, and I’m not worried about K2, K3, or K4, since he is tight and raised preflop. Even though it seems like I turn my hand pretty faceup and he might have to fold all trips except for AK, a value raise still seems mandatory. I make it $275, which is about a 2/3 pot size raise. Villain thinks for approximately 30 seconds… and goes all in for about $650 on top effective (he covers me).

At this point, I’m concerned: his actions smell an awful lot like quad kings. I’m really struggling to see how a tight, thinking player would 3bet jam the river with trip kings against someone who’s line looks like a flopped, turned, or rivered boat. The problem is, I don’t know enough about him. I feel almost certain he doesn’t jam AK or worse, but can he have 33? How many combos? Doesn’t he cbet the flop some % of the time with 33? I discount 22 almost entirely, since I think the combination of factors dictates it (he may have limped preflop, he may have cbet the flop, he may have checked the turn if he checks the flop). Even though there is only one combo of KK, I’m really having a hard time seeing 33 take this line.

I tank for maybe 2 minutes, but eventually, worrying I am overthinking and in fact may be slow-rolling, I call.

 

Probably unsurprisingly, given the fact that I chose to include this hand, I lost to quad kings. I talked the hand over with a few poker friends later, and the consensus is that while some of the combos I beat such as 33 may be discounted, there’s still enough of them that I have to call – even as much as I hate calling off over 100bb on the river when I feel like I’m beat.

My closest poker friend these days has recently given me the nickname “Sawtooth.” To be fair, he has seen me at most of my particularly swingy sessions, but the variance-induced nickname does fit well. Both in individual sessions and across sessions, my results have been extremely sawtooth-shaped, especially as of late…

But I guess I don’t mind. There are worse names out there than “Sawtooth.”

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