March 2007
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Double Gutshot

Pocket nines.  I’d raised to 600 from early position and been reraised all in by another player who developed a bad case of verbal diarrhea.  Whilst I paused to make it look like my decision was harder than it was, he talked himself into a pokery grave.

OK, in fact it was a closer decision than I first thought.  The all in bet was 1400 more to me, so throw in the dead money from the blinds and it’s about 2-1 pot odds.   It’s just about a profitable call against all but the very tightest players, but in a tournament I almost always fold here.  Unless the other guy just got impatient, he doesn’t have to play here with a worse pair than mine, which typically puts someone making this bet on a strong hand which will send me packing more than half the time.  I actually have a few more chips than him, which gives me 8 big blinds and enough time to try to find a better spot than this one.

Tonight, I called.  I’d like to say it’s down to my superlative reading skills, but really the other guy just threw it away.  Whilst I went into the tank – at first acting, but then actually considering just how weak it was to fold here – he started talking:

"It’s a race against your overcards.  I have a pocket pair".

The more he said, the more I believed him.  I just waited and let him carry on as he insisted that he didn’t care if I called, he’d be in good shape.  A look of horror crept over his face when he finally realised that he should have just kept quiet and given me chance to throw away the best hand.  I called and my 99 held up against his pocket sixes.  I’ll still file this one proudly under "trusting my reads", even though I had significant help.

Three days and two nights in working away from home gave me the chance to play back-to-back evenings at Gutshot.  Not that I would have been able to have a quiet night in my hotel room if I wanted to.  Although I’d scored a surprise ensuite room, it was still a shoebox and had a peculiar separate shower and toilet cubicle arrangement at opposite ends of the room.  Opening the door to either bathroom involved moving some piece of furniture in front of some other door.

The tournament was Tuesday’s "beginner night" with a variable buy-in structure that I’ve not come across before.  I don’t think it makes much difference.  You can choose to pay £5, £10, £15 or £20 to start with 500, 1000, 1500 or 2000 chips respectively.  Nobody on my table started with less than 2000, and I can’t imagine the cheaper options are very popular.  There’s a £3 daily membership fee to get into the club now (this did not replace the raked "donations" at cash tables, but there was no additional collection for the tournament).  A £5 tournament with £3 entry fee really doesn’t sound attractive.

I finished about 20th of over 90 players, after deciding to push with KQs.  There were two limpers and I thought I’d found a good spot to pick up a decent pot, or have a hand with a fighting chance if called.  Naturally the first limper called me with AQ and I was doomed.

On Monday I played the £25-£50 pot limit game and I came real close to breaking my streak, going for two good hours without a sniff of anything at all.  My recovery began with a fortunate mistake.  The player to my right had been raising with all kinds of garbage and raised to £7.  This time I found AK and I immediately reraised the pot.  That was £26 apparently, and the mistake was that neither of us bothered to look at my stack.  It left me with just £17 so my bet size couldn’t be have been much more wrong with that small stack.  I’m not crazy about his smooth call either – decide now: either you’re going all the way or you’re not.

There wouldn’t be many flops thats I could to get away from with so little left to play with, so when it came jack-eight-six in three different suits and he checked, I moved in for a pathetic 1/3 pot bet.  A little bit of folding equity can go a long way: he not only folded, but also announced that he was giving up AK.

I definitely owe something to that game.  I’ve not yet been in a big pot where I’ve had the best hand cracked, and not getting unlucky in a £150 pot is what set me up for a winning night this time.  After limping with 67 in the cut-off, the flop was a gorgeous A67.  I found a player who liked his ace and got a pot-sized call on the flop with the rest following on the turn.  What could have been better than a deuce on the turn?  He didn’t show his hand, but it wasn’t AQ as the river brought a queen and my hand held up.

I lose to any ace or deuce here as well as a paired kicker – it’s only 8 cards from 44, but that means I’m still "looking after" £30 from that pot alone, and there have been several others like it.  When it’s my turn to pay back, it’s gonna hurt.

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