May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, cash table stint 2

June 5, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 5, 2018

I wound up playing a light schedule at the pokerpalooza on Tuesday. I chose to skip the 10 a.m. bounty tournament because it rewards play that doesn’t suit my natural style. Also, I hadn’t qualified for the national championship finals, let alone become one of the last top 100 players in the finals, who fought it out for the title that afternoon.

It wasn’t until a little after 5 p.m. that I sat down for that day’s first personal poker exploits. As it turned out, this stint at a $1-$-2 no-limit holdem table would be my golden hour — my most magical run of play at the entire five-day conclave.

Unfortunately, thanks to the passage of time, I don’t recall a lot of specific clashes with other players. Even so, I’ll recount what’s stuck in my mind.

The very first hand I sat down to was ace-queen or ace-jack; moreover, I think they were suited. I made a modest raise. The flop had an ace, I believe, and I ended up battling with the player to my immediate left. I think he hit a pair of kings and was working on a straight that never came. I wound up collecting a modest pot.

At another point, I was dealt pocket rockets or cowboys. I made a respectable preflop raise — say, $8. Two or three or maybe even four folks weren’t intimidated and called me.

The flop was utterly terrifying to me: a pair of queens and something else. (Perhaps it was a two? No matter.) I believe I was in late position this hand, and two players checked to me.

I was in an uncomfortable spot. My starting hand was obviously excellent, but given the board, it would now be inferior to queen-anything — queen-three, queen-seven, queen-10, whatever. But passivity wasn’t an option; I had to bet and hope for the best.

I wagered something like $16. Somewhat to my surprise, all of my opponents folded to me. Either no one was holding a queen or (less likely) someone did have a queen but figured that my kicker was better.

I remember just one other hand with any clarity. I started off with the king and two of hearts. I’m not sure why I played this, because it’s not a great hand. (On the other hand, as we’ll see, it’s not nothing.)

The flop was kind, giving me two hearts. I placed a bet to deter someone else — there were three or four participants — from catching a boat.

The fellow to my immediate left stayed in, while others who had seen the flop exited. The turn was a brick, and after a little hesitation, I checked. I can’t remember what my last remaining rival did, but if he wagered, it was not a huge bet, and I called.

Either way, there were two of us waiting on the river. It was a heart, completing my flush and making me very happy.

Still, I had a quandary: How much to bet? And I had a major concern: Was my hand actually good?

I had the second-best flush, topped by a king. If my foe had the ace of hearts and a suited companion card, then he would be ahead of me.

I settled for putting $25 across the commitment line. I figured that if the other player made a major re-raise, that would be a sign that he had the ace-high flush, and I’d probably have to fold.

My opponent toyed with his chips for quite a while, and I was pretty sure that he was going to fold. Then he made a hand motion that made me think he would call.

I initially wasn’t sure what he’d done when he pushed a small pile of red chips across the betting line. Then I realized that he’d doubled my bet, raising from $25 to $50.

I considered how to react. I could re-raise, but I was wary of doing so because, again, a major re-raise would scare me off. After a moment’s contemplation, I called the bet and said, “If you have an ace, you’re good.”

He’d only hit a straight, however, so my flush was good. Somewhat relieved, I raked in a pot worth something north of $175 to $200. (About 45 percent of that amount represented my “investment” in the hand, with the rest coming from my foe and others who had called pre-flop.)

I played several other hands, but nothing came close to being as exciting or as rewarding as my king-two flush, and I wanted to get out of the casino to walk, do some writing and grab some dinner. Approximately 65 minutes after I’d joined the table, I departed. I had sat down with $121; when I left, I was holding $265 in chips, a respectable haul of $144.

I hoped this kind of performance would stay with me when I returned to the casino.

To be continued


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