April 2007
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Thinking aloud

Vij was staying with us at the weekend and I’d left him in front of the TV whilst I went upstairs to play some poker.  I’m a fantastic host, as you can tell, but he knows where the kettle is, and that’s all that really matters.

When he wandered in I had four tables running and almost straight away I fell into this hand.  Instinctively I began talking through my thought process, which made me look like a genius (naturally) and also made me wonder whether thinking through hands out loud was a good strategy.  If I have to justify every decision to someone else, I should make good decisions.

I made a pretty damn good laydown here, and for the right reasons, but I’m still not convinced by my flop play. It was a little bit on the random side.  Should I be thinning the field with a good but vulnerable hand in a multi-way pot, or should I wait for a safe card or to improve and then re-evaluate? I opted to call, not really knowing whether I was trapping or going fishing.

Still, I folded a set and I was right. :)

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, $0.50 BB (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)

CO ($41.75)
Button ($60)
SB ($23.55)
BB ($20)
Hero ($77.65)
UTG+1 ($25.40)
MP1 ($71.15)
MP2 ($44.35)
MP3 ($20.25)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with 9c, 9h.
Hero calls $0.50,

We’re talking about something else, and I limp in on autopilot.

“Chris, you’ve got a pair of nines on that table.”
He points, but knows better than to get too close and risk getting a sweaty fingerprint onto my monitor.

“Yep, I already called, look.”

“Didn’t you want to raise with that?”

“No, I’ve got poor position and I want to keep the pot small…”

UTG+1 raises to $1.5,

“… so I can still play if someone raises. Like that. :)

There was an actual smilie at the end when I spoke

MP1 calls $1.50, 2 folds, CO calls $1.50,

“Any more callers? This will be easy then. If I don’t catch another 9 I’m done, but if I do I should be laughing.”

Vij nods. He didn’t actually nod. He’ll have said something, because that’s Vij’s way, but I wasn’t exactly listening. I was waiting to see if I would be able to show off by winning a nice big pot. In fact I don’t really remember what else he said at all. Hell, I’m struggling to remember what I said myself and just making up stuff to fill in the gaps.

1 fold, SB calls $1.25, 1 fold, Hero calls $1.

Flop: ($8) Tc, 9d, Js (5 players)

“Yes! Oh, wait. That’s sort of good”.

SB bets $0.5, Hero calls $0.50,

“Right, let’s see what happens.”

UTG+1 calls $0.50, MP1 raises to $4,

“Hmm. What’s he raising with?.”

CO calls $4,

“Oh. This one’s got something then.”

SB calls $3.50,

“So somebody could have the straight. I’m not scared of him, but he’s a worry. This guy probably has a draw, probably just a queen.”

I wiggle at MP1, then CO, then SB in turn using the mouse pointer, then pause to work out the pot odds.

“But I do have odds to draw against the straight, so I can call even if I’m behind”

Hero calls $3.50, UTG+1 folds.

“OK, pair it!”

Turn: ($24.50) 4s (4 players)

“That doesn’t help anyone, so let’s see who’s still interested.”

SB checks, Hero checks, MP1 bets $14,

“Right. I’m not afraid of him.”

CO raises to $36.25, SB folds,

“Now we have a decision, don’t we?”.

Vij nods, or something, and I press the button for some extra thinking time.

“OK, I don’t care what the first guy has, it’s probably not much. This is the one who has a hand. He could have the straight, but I can’t say for sure. Aaaaagh, what do I actually beat? Anything? Would he really push there with two pair? No.”.

I’ve come to a decision. Folding a set is excrutiating, but there’s no way I’m winning.

“He’s got two tens, two jacks or a straight.”

Hero folds, MP1 calls $22.25.

“God I hope I’m right.”

River: ($97) 2c (2 players)

Final Pot: $97
Main Pot: $97, between CO and MP1.

MP1 has Qh Jh (one pair, jacks).
CO has Ts Th (three of a kind, tens).
Outcome: CO wins $97.

My hands thrust themselves into the air.

“Oh yes. I’m good”.

And Vij is less impressed than he should be.

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