I played in a home game this afternoon with Abbie and Darko. A very nice group of people and some interesting hands played make a good afternoon, even if it did end a bit early for my tastes.
The buyins were small, only $50 max and .50/1 blinds, but the action was big for the stakes. $30 pots weren't that uncommon. After crushing the first two hands I was dealt with AQ and AA, I sorta went card dead for a while. Since I had this tiny little stack to deal with, and the game was playing larger than the stack sizes dictated, I started playing a lot of silly hands (unsuited small one gappers, anyone?) and consequently donked off all of my chips. I quickly reloaded and managed to get paid off nicely when my 68 in the small blind flopped a straight against an overpair. But when he bet out on the turn, and I came over the top, he was good enough to fold and not pay me off by pushing all in. Good move on his part. I took down a $45 dollar pot when my 55 flopped a set with a board of 456. It was a scary board because there was some betting involved between two players. The turn 6 only protects me against a straight but it kills me if anyone had 64 or 65. But it's so short stacked at the table, you can't worry about it. So when I bet $17 on the turn, and both players called, it was a good sign to at least get money in the pot. On the river, I pushed all in and got Abbie to call. My boat was good. Yay poker!
I managed to make back both my buyins plus $30 profit at my best. Close to the end of the afternoon, I had 67 suited and I came in for a limp, along with 4 others. The flop was 26J. It checked all around and the turn was a 3. That seemed like a harmless card and I thought my middle pair might be good here. I was hoping it was one of those situations where no one would defend their turf, so I decided to bet out $6 to take down the pot. Abbie came over the top to $20 on me. She was on the button in position, and I know she's capable of making a move there, but it seemed almost mean to be bluffing. As I read the board more carefully, it became clear she had two pair involving the 2. J2 didn't make sense to me. First, I doubt she'd limp on the button with such a disjointed hand. 62 didn't make sense either for much the same reason. That left 23. This hand made all the sense in the world. They're connectors, probably suited, and she checked the flop. Wouldn't you with bottom pair, bottom kicker? But when the three turned, she all of a sudden felt good about her two pair. This also made her vulnerable though with bottom two, and I tried to capitalize. It folded to me and I tried a bit of Hollywood. "What do you have? Two pair? Will you show me one? C'mon, just show one? You have it, right?" It went on like that for about a minute, annoying the other players. Sorry guys, it's all part of the act (stolen from Darko. Thanks Darko!). Abbie was a stone. She wouldn't give up anything. Then I made my move. I raised $30 more. The key to No Limit poker, to paraphrase Doyle Brunson, is to put a player to a tough decision for a lot more money than they'd be comfortable with. I knew that Abbie wouldn't be comfortable with my raise given that she probably had the bottom two pair I'd read her for. Sure enough, she started squirming and I applied more psychological pressure. "Your hand doesn't seem so good now, huh?" She asked to see a card. I knew she would possibly put me on a semi-bluff with two overcards and I thought if I showed her my lone card that paired the board, she would start to come to the conclusion that I might have a better two pair or a set. So I showed her my 6 and just left it out there, staring her in the face. She started talking to herself, "62, 63, J6, a set. I can't beat any of those. I have a good hand but there's too much that can beat me." Finally, to my relief, she folded and I mucked the cards.
At first, I told her that it was a good laydown, that I'd had J6. But later, I told her and Darko the truth of the matter. Far from being angry, she complimented me on the play and I felt happy about that. One of the great things about Wall Street Poker is that we are genuinely interested in playing good poker and, more importantly, helping each other to succeed. Most of us have realized that it does no good to canibalize off of the Wall Street Crew (Pirahnahs don't eat their own) because there are plenty of fish in the sea (pun intended). So the best way to get better is to analyze each other's plays and be honest with our criticism and our praise. I made a good bluff against Abbie and it worked, this time. Next time, she will clean me out of house and home.
And I will worship her for it.