I am beginning to feel more and more like a blogger. There was a few occasions this week where I had the proverbial light bulb go on above my head and I found myself thinking to myself, "Ah ha! Now that would make a great blog post!" Of course, this is prone to happen when even the most minor thing occurs and I soon realize that I hardly have a post at all, but merely a musing of some importance. I intend to include a number of these observations in an upcoming post, but for now I would like to focus on my second job, recreational poker.
I refer to poker as my second job for a few reasons. At first, it was a running joke with Sheila who didn't like it when I said it because "Work isn't suppose to be fun!". Of course, it doesn't function like your typical job where you punch in at the same time on the same days of week and every two weeks a meagre pitance is placed in your bank account as compensation. No, poker most certainly doesn't work that way. With a mere flick of the wrist and a spray of chips I can easily win or lose a day's wage from my first job. I have played enough by now to keep most of my emotions in check while playing, and I manage to direct most of my anger while playing at myself so as not to offend anyone else playing. This does not always work exactly as stated, but I do fairly well with this. I feel like I have earned the right to call poker a job at this point, as I have posted modest to solid profit rates for every year since 2009. There are many reasons why the game I frequent proves profitable for me, and it starts with a familiarity with the opponents. There is only one poker room in town, and on most nights there are only 1 or 2 tables running. I have a very solid memory, one that allows me to remember details about everyone that play with. Chances are, if I have seen you before at a poker table, I will remember you. This leads to many nights, like last night where I recognize all or nearly all of the other players at the table. Some of you might be thinking, isn't that a bad thing? Not exactly. Just because I recognize the players does not mean that they are good or even decent at the game. This casino seems to have a large number of regulars who stink at the game, and conversely refuse to do anything to get better. In fact, a handful of guys I regularly go up against are getting noticably worse as they go along. So, to last night's session.
This post sprung directly from one hand in particular that I will attempt to recreate here in proper detail. I am 3rd from the button for this particular hand. There is an under the gun raise to $12 from a looser player, with a stack of approx $100 total. 2 flat calls in front of me, and I decide to call with JJ. This was a toss up for me, a lot of the time I 3 bet here, but in this situation, knowing the original raiser, I felt that any sized raise will just induce him to bet all-in and I would be hoping for a race. 1 of the 2 callers in between is a poor player, overplays marginal holdings and is prone to stack off very light. This man plays every single day, and continually makes mistakes. Let's call him Mr. Regular. I didn't want him to go away, as I could easily win a big pot against him with a low flop, or a flopped set. At this point I had $260 and Mr. Regular had ~$300. The hijack also calls for $12, then the button goes all in for $49. As I suspected, the original raiser moves in for $110. One fold beside him, then after some hesitation, and Mr. Regular calls the $110. Now, I really felt that this was an easy decision for me, if and only if this third player hadn't got involved. I would have slid my $110 in the middle and hoped to win a race, preferably against the $110 stack. When Mr. Regular called, I had to take pause. I know he game very well, having played with him dozens and dozens of times, and I soon started to realize that yes he is indeed capable of just flat calling $12 in this spot with a monster pair, but his call of the $110 told me to discount the AA-QQ type hands and focus more on the medium type pairs, and of course your AK-AQ holdings. This particular players puts lots of chips in the pot, but is the type of guy who doesn't want to shove his entire stack until he has a made hand. Also, he was probably thinking that I would just go away, I was 1 of only 2 more to act behind him, and really, if either of us had strong hands, we would have 3 bet the first chance we had. I don't usually take a long time to make poker decisions, but I must say this was a new spot for me. I had not encountered this situation at any point in my poker playing time. As I thought, I was getting the feeling that this was making Mr. Regular quite uncomfortable. I had enough chips that I might just have him fold to me, but I was leaning towards him calling the extra $150 do to the size of the pot already. Ultimately, I pushed my stack over the line as others at the table mumbled about the ridiculous pot being created. After recieving no immeadiate call, I relaxed a bit. Even if I was dominated by the other players, as long as I could take the second side pot I would come out ahead. After asking a couple of times for clarification in regards to the pot sizes, Mr. Regular said something like "There is just too much in there, I guess I have no choice." He hadn't called, but this seemed like a damning statement. A couple of others at the table piped up as if he had already called, kind of annoying, as it seemed like this was the last push he needed to call. I announced: "Gee guys, I hope I wanted that call," as I exposed my jacks. The guy with $110 calls for help, showing his AQ off. The $49 stack who I didn't know exposes AK off, and to complete the perfect storm, Mr. Regular flips over AK off as well. A stunned silence followed, transitioning to significant discussion as the 6-10-6-3-3 board played out and I scooped the pot. My stack went from $260 to ~$700 in the one hand. All told, one of the most exciting hands I have ever been a part of.
The stakes were the same they always are, $1/$2 no limit with a $200 buy in. As I have played in other casinos, I have come realize just how wild my local game is. I wouldn't doubt that a number of players out there would have found themselves folding in this spot. But relying on a heavy local knowledge helped me make the correct decision. The action in this game borders on ridiculous as a $17 preflop raise can often lead to a 5 way flop. I've seen a $75 preflop cold call with KJ off. I watched a guy 4 bet shove for $350 with 86 suited, only to get called twice by AK and AK. When he hit his 6 on the turn and scoooped for $900 it was just par for the course. When I play anywhere else, be it Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or the different games in Las Vegas, I have been painted as a maniac. Unfortunately, I enjoy this role so much that I often get carried away with it. I find it difficult to adjust to out of town games and unknown opponents because I am so used to the level of action in my local game. Here in town, I feel that I have made a strong transition from being fairly nitty, to being a selective LAG type player. This transition has been quite succesful as many of my opponents still view me as fairly tight and refuse to adjust to the way I now play. It has proven both enjoyable and profitable as playing more hands can lead to more opportunities to be creative and generally is a more exciting style to play. I enjoy being the guy on the draw once in a while as opposed to always sweat the straight or flush draw. I'm in a great place right now with my game, and I hope to continue playing focussed, solid poker as the profits pile up. Until next time.