In the blur of activity that was my Chicago area trip (not really since I was 200 miles from Chicago in some instances), it's hard to remember particular hands. Even harder when you've played thousands of hours in your career and have gotten close to seeing all possible situations. But still, some hands manage to stick in your short term memory. Four hands from my recent trip are memorable and worthy of inclusion here:
Hand #1 - Memorable, but not terribly exciting. Basically, I doubled up with AA in a $1/$2 NLHE game. Happens all the time, right? What struck me about this hand, though, is that I played it poorly coming out of the gate. I was UTG+1 and raised to $11. As soon as my bet was out, I knew I'd made a mistake. 4 players called my raise. $11 is too little. I should have made it $16. Yes, you run the risk of not getting any callers, but anyone who *does* call you is likely to stay to the end. It all depends on the table make-up, naturally, but $11 was too little here. As it turns out, I got lucky when the flop was KJx and a guy with KQ paid me off on every street. I bet out $40 on the flop, he called. Turn was a rag, I pushed for $110, he called, I won.
Hand #2 - I have 8c9d, again UTG+1. I limp and there's a raise to $7 in MP. 4 people call, myself included. Flop is 5s-6h-7s. I flop the stone cold nuts, but I'm wary of the spade draw. I check in early position and the next player (not the original raiser), bets out $25. The original raiser folds, the guy on the button goes all in for $35 and I smooth call. The other guy calls. There's now $20 in the side pot heads up and about $100 in the main pot. The turn is the Js, putting a 3 card flush on board. At this point, I have to decide what to do and I study my opponent. He's a mid 30's indian guy, sucking on a beer and looking pretty sullen and aggressive. I take into account that he bet out on the flop, so I have to put him on a made hand; either two pair or a set. His aggressive look and sullen demeanor give me an indication that he's going to play for the pot. So I check and he shoves all in for $95. For the reasons indicated, I didn't put him on the flush draw, so after some more thinking, I called. My feeling was I was beating this guy, so even if the all-in guy had a flush draw to win the main pot, I could win a nice side pot. The river was the 2s! Four spades on the board and not one in my hand. I figure I'm beat by luck and the indian guy shows down 3h4c for the flopped bottom end of the straight. No spades! I win the side pot. The all-in guy shows Jc-8d, for the flopped OESD! No spades! I win the main pot as well on a stone read that turned out to work in my favor when no one had any spades.
Hand #3 - The one I'm most proud of on the whole trip is one I folded. I have AQo UTG+2 and I limp, because I don't like raising AQo in early position in a cash game. Luckily, 5 players limp and the flop is Qd-8c-9c. First player checks. Second player bets out $15. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something was fishy there. The $15 bet was a tad over pot sized and it raised the hackles on my neck. I started thinking about hands that would limp that would be killing me on this flop. Q9, Q8, 89, JT, 88, 99. QQ is a raising hand, so I discounted it. As I was 7th best out of possible hands here, I decided to muck. Top pair, top kicker, a moderate bet to me and I went with my read and mucked! Good fold too, because it went to showdown after someone shoved with QJ (!) and the bettor ended up having 89 in the hole for a flopped two pair.
Hand #4 - Almost as good of a read as the last one. THe game is $3/$6 Omaha Hi/Lo. I have T-K-2-4 in my hand. The flop is TT3. I'm first to act and I bet out with my trip Tens. Another calls and the guy to my right raises! I call one bet, hoping to fill up on the turn and the other guy does too. The turn is a 3. It checks around to the raiser, who bets and I say, "This is the fold of the year here" and I muck. It wasn't really the fold of the year, because I didn't have the best kicker with the Ten, but it was a great fold because I knew what the guy had. Just before he exposed his cards at showdown, I called it out, "Quad Threes". Sure enough, he rolled 33 and scooped the pot. I don't like drawing dead. Something about how fearless he was against the TT3 board told me he had flopped a boat. And if I have one of the Tens, it's more likely he has 33 then T3. That fold saved me some bets because a King came on the river, filling me up!