Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Saturday at the Salami club

Is it me or is Salami starting to feel a bit like home now?

I dropped in on Darko at the club around midnight and ponied up $300. John had around $350 in front of him and the guy to his left, whose name is also Jamie, had about $1400! I dragged a few smallish pots, including chasing everyone out in the small blind with KK. I don't like to muck around in the small blind with a big hand so instead of limping, I made a $10 raise and all the limpers dropped. About 20 minutes later, I see AsTs in the small blind again. This time, a few people limp and I again make a smallish pre-flop raise to juice the pot. I get two callers, including Darko, and the flop misses me completely. KJ4, with no spades. I contemplate making a continuation bet but I think that might be wasted money if somebody hit the King with a good kicker. He's just going to re-raise me and I'm going to have to fold. I still have good draw though, I believe if I hit my Ace I'll be good and I have the inside nut straight draw as well with a Queen. I figure the only way I'm going to win this is if I represent AK (I DID raise preflop after all) or if I hit my draw. I decide to try a cheap draw and I check. The player to the left of me checks and Darko fires 15. It's a fair bet. I weigh the odds in my head and decide that the implied odds are too good to ignore. I call and the player to my left calls. The turn is a blank. I check again, the player to my left checks and bets another 15. My pot and implied odds are now even better for this call so I make it. But the smallish bet has me wondering. Could they both be on draws? And why is the player to my left acting so passively? Why is Darko making a very small continuation bet? The river is a blank and I see my opportunity. I think for a minute and carve out a stack of chips. "$125," I say, trying to keep my voice impassive. I'm fairly convinced at this point that both players are weak, and as much as it pains me to bluff at Darko, I have to take a stab at this pot. I know there's no way for me to win it with Ace high. True to my instincts, the player on my left folds and John, who thinks for what seems like hours, finally folds too. It turns out later that he had a Jack so the bluff was the right play on my part. Sorry Darko! :-)

I have been making some VERY good laydowns in the recent past, recognizing that part of my gut that tells me when I'm beat and I shouldn't be calling. Tonight was no exception. I had KhJs on the button and I bumped the pot to $10 again. The flop was a very scary JhTh6h. I had a King flush draw and top pair, which is not a slouchy hand at all, but the flush on the board made me nervous for the Ah. It checked to me and I fired right out with $25 and got two callers! One of them I wasn't worried about since he was bleeding chips left and right but the other had proven himself to be a very good and smart player. I had a feeling he was on the Ah draw. The turn was a blank and my fears of his draw were confirmed (at least in my mind) when he checked the turn to me. He either had the flush or was on the big draw. I checked as well, a move that some at the table questioned later on. My reason was that if I bet a small amount, it would most definitely have been called by the nut flush draw. If I bet a large amount, it would have also possibly been called! This is Salami, after all. In the end all I had in my hand was top pair and a questionably good flush draw. I remembered the maxim about not going broke with one pair and I took the safe route and checked. The river was a heart. The first guy checked and Mr. Good-And-Smart took five seconds to think about what he was going to do. He bet $60 into a $110 pot. Wow, did I have a decision to make! I had the King High Flush and was only beaten with the Ah. But the pieces of the story were scaring me too much and I ended up folding after publicly agonizing over my decision. The guy to my left folds and the better takes down the pot. He is kind enough to show me his hand, Ah4d, after he surmises and I confirm I had the Kh. What a tough laydown, but a good one and I was proud of myself. Again, I got kudos for the laydown at the table but questions about why I didn't bet the turn. That's a point of debate I guess. I like making good laydowns, of course, because I know I made the right decision, but I worry that it can paint me as someone who can be bluffed out of a pot. I was concerned about that for the next twenty minutes but I needn't have. The players at Salami are generally not that sophisticated. They're not guppies, to be sure, but they think more about aggression than anything else.

So I limited my losses to only $35 on that hand, when it could have been $95 and I looked forward. I got KK in late position and made a $15 pre-flop raise. I got two callers and the flop was QJT. Why do I always get these crappy flops with my big pairs?!?! Both players checked to me and I looked at their stacks. The guy to my left only had about $60 and the other guy had a larger stack. I decided that if I could get Mr. Small Stack to go all in, the other guy would fold. So I bet $100. Mr. Small Stack moved all in and the other guy folded! Sweet! I showed my KK and the small stack showed QT. Uh-oh. But I had lots and lots of outs. An Ace, a 9, a Jack or a King all win the pot for me. Also, runner-runner pair win the pot for me. THe turn was an Ace and the river a blank and it was over. That was a nice way to win $100!

Wendy came in sometime around then and sat down with $300, which she scooped out of her purse in a comical mess of a handful of bills. Get a wallet Wendy! Wendy folded her first hand and then scared the crap out of me with her second hand. Near the button, Wendy called a $15 preflop raise and the flop was Th9c5c. Mr. Good-And-Smart makes a $60 bet (!) and Wendy calls nearly instantly. She has the look of someone on a draw and I put her on the obvious flush draw. A Ts comes on the turn and I’m now worried for Wendy. With a pair on the board and a strong bettor, a boat is now becoming increasingly likely. The guy bets out another $60 and Wendy calls again! Does she have a her own boat that she’s slow playing (maybe with a flopped set of 5’s)? The river was 6c (board is now Th 9c 5c Ts 6c) and the guy at the end moved all in. Wendy called quickly (remember this is her second hand of the night). The guy shows T9 for a full house. I figure Wendy must have made her flush and she was beat to the tune of $300, but she turned over….7c8c(!!!). “Straight Flush,” she said as she scooped a $600+ pot! Wow. She had 1 out to win there and she hit it on the river after calling bets most of us would have laid down to. The problem with calling a large bet with a flush draw against only one player is that if you hit your draw, you might not get the implied odds necessary to make your draw to begin with. For example:

In the above scenario, Wendy called $60 on the flop into a pot of about $120 (the initial $60 from the callers and then the guy’s $60 flop bet). This gives her 2:1 pot odds on a 3:1 draw (assuming she sees the flush AND river). So immediately she’s not getting proper odds. She might be factoring future bets into it if she hits her turn card for a club BUT there is a good possibility he will stop betting if the club comes on the turn! If that happens, Wendy bets out and wins the pot but not for the amount of money necessary to make her turn draw. The only way for her to make a proper call is if she was somehow able to hide her draw, but that didn’t seem possible given the scenario. No matter though. Wendy chased and won with a hand that could very well be once in a lifetime, straight flush vs. the nut full house.

30 minutes later, John was down to his last $80 or so when I got 55 on the button. John, on my right, made a preflop raise to $15 and I called. Wendy called on my left and we got one other caller too. The flop was 582. I flopped a set and Wendy checked. John made a $20 bet which I raise to $40. Wendy called and John went all in for a few dollars more. Wendy and I called and the turn was a 2, giving me the boat. I felt guilty about keeping Wendy in, so I chased her out with a $40 bet and I took the pot down. John had 77 and got unlucky vs. my lower pair.

On the subject of raising Wendy out when I could have value bet for more, I am going to stop doing that. It would be one thing if I got that kind of soft play in return, but she’s been quite shark-like and unrepentant about taking our money (Me, Paul, John, Matt) at the Salami table. I will have to play much harder against her in the future. Sorry Wendy, but you brought it on yourself! Your girlish charms are only going to do so much.

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