Wednesday, 17 February 2010

World in motion

The Greek guy in seat three resembles former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton after the 1990 World Cup Semi Final - chubby, sweaty and with the haunted look of defeat in his eyes.

Greek Peter Shilton thinks I am from Denmark, as only a 'Denmarker' would play in the fashion I am playing.

Greek Peter Shilton is buying another rack of $5 chips. I am pleased about this as he is providing much of my daily wages.

Greek Peter Shilton is not a very good poker player.

The 15/30 at The Oaks is not too different to the 6/12 game. The players are a bit better. They think they are a lot better. And you get half price food. It's possible for a good player to make a lot more money at this game as they rake is a lot smaller proportion of the pot, so the house makes less of a percentage from each hand, taking less out of the game.

Today I have been playing for a few hours and running very well. I have a large stack of chips in front of me.

Greek Peter Shilton open limps from middle position, as he is prone to do. The guy in the next seat is shaven headed Asian businessman with a Blackberry. I've got him marked as a good player, one of the best at the table. He only plays here on a Saturday as his wife likes to play the 3/6. For a once a week player he's quite solid and perceptive and has the 'Jesus seat' on Shilton's left, already taking the opportunity to raise his limps a couple of times to try and get everyone else to fold and take a flop with him heads up in position.

It folds to me on the button and I look down at Jack Ten of hearts. The suited Jack Ten is one of my favourite hands as it offers so many straight and flush possibilities. Knowing that Blackberry could be raising Shilton's limp with a less than premium hand, I three bet to $45 hoping to get rid of the blinds and preferably Shilton too, playing Blackberry heads up with position myself. This is somewhat advanced play for this particular game.

The blinds fold, but Shilton with that desperate look in his eye of a man chasing his losses cannot find the fold, calling two bets cold. Blackberry also calls, leaving three of us to go to the flop.

The flop comes Queen, Eight, Two with two diamonds. It's a relatively dry flop giving me just a gutshot straight draw, but it may well have missed everyone else too. When Shilton and Blackberry check to me, I have to bet. There is $156 in the pot (45+45+45+15+10 -4 in rake), so a bet of $15 only needs to work one in eleven times to make it profitable. I continuation bet, Shilton folds disgustedly and after a second or two of thought, Blackberry calls. It's hard for me to put him on a hand here. Some kind of pair is possible, as are a lot of no pair hands and draws. He might have chosen to check raise with a Q or a flush draw, thought he may have also lead out with both of these. However, I didn't sense any hesitation in him so I downgrade the possibility of these.

The turn is the Ace of diamonds which is a very interesting card. The board now reads Qd, 8x 2d, Ad. With three diamonds on the board and an ace now on the board it could be the ultimate scare card. Or it could have it him smack in the face. I now have a 'double bellybuster straight draw' and any 9 or K will give me a straight. The diamonds are a problem though and my hand could well not be good if it is the K or 8 of diamonds. When blackberry checks to me I HAVE to bet. Again I am getting a great price to take it down if he doesn't have an ace or a reasonably sized diamond. Mentally I also say to myself that barring any reads, I will probably three barrel and bet the river too, whether I hit my hand or not. So I bet out again and Blackberry calls after a few seconds. I am not thrilled about this as I have now built a big pot with jack high.

The river is a beautiful black king giving me a broadway straight. My hand is not the nuts as of course there are three diamonds out there meaning a possible flush. But I'm highly confident my hand is good here. Interestingly on the board of Q82AK, Blackberry decides to lead out and bet on the river. This is very interesting play. I don't see there is any way that he can be bluffing here, although who knows? He must be betting for value. His most likely hand seems KQ, although Aces up is also possible. He could have also hit a set on the flop and got scared on the turn. He could of course have the same hand as me or have me beat with a flush but I have to raise him. He gives me the look that says "really?" but of course has to call.

As I turn over my JT, he does my favourite thing ever for an opponent to do at a poker table - which is stare at his hand for about five seconds, shaking his head and muttering before mucking it to the dealer and I scoop a big pot.

As I'm stacking my chips, the young internet type kid to my left says "Wow that was an interesting move there raising from the button with the jack ten, did you get that from the Sklansky book?"

"The Skalinski book?" I reply, feigning ignorance. "I haven't read that, I guess it must be American?" (I had of course already alerted the table to my novelty English boy status)

"No. Sklan-sky", he repeats "In the book he talks about three betting from the button with suited connectors to try and play heads up in position against the raiser"

I try to work on my confused face before I look at him and it obviously works because he kind of cracks a smile and says "Or I guess you were just feeling it, huh?

"I guess" I reply with mock relief, before adding "The book I read was the Phil Hellmuth one, about the animals. I always wanted to play poker like the lion you know? Better than being a donkey, right?

"Right!" he snorts back at me.

"What was that book though? Skalinski?"

"Sklansky" he tells me again, now probably regretting starting this conversation with someone he thought was his equal. "Theory of Poker. It has a yellow cover."

"Sklan-sky" I repeat slowly, taking care to enunciate each syllable and tapping my head. "Yellow cover, right. The yellow one, I'll check that out" I add, mentally picturing the book sitting on the shelf in my bedroom in Great Barr.

Although of course, I've never actually bloody read it.

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