All my profit came on the last hand

Hand reviews are fun, but I think table history is important to study, too.

Sometimes you sit in on a table and are hot immediately. Sometimes you’re merely adjacent to hot. And sometimes you’re hot but second best hand after hand and you pay off the seat to your right or left. When it happens, it happens. You get blindsided, coolered, there’s nothing you can do. You get it all in ahead and come out 2nd best.

When you take a big loss, you either got outplayed or your got unlucky. It’s usually only one or the other.

Like this morning. I sat on a 4-seat 200/400 table, and immediately stacked off against the nut flush with the King-high. It was a polarized shove out of nowhere on the river and I had the 2nd best hand, but at these stakes it’s probably not a good idea to call off a lot of the time with the 2nd nuts. But I had no history, I would have been a fool to fold to a bluff, and it’s not a lot of chips to a loose player.

If I’d been sitting for 20 minutes I would have known that the player to my left was in the seat that always hits something, and frequently trips or a flush. There’s one at every table, and it’s usually not you.

I took it in stride. As I’m learning to play ring tables better, it can be profitable to lose a lot of chips sometimes. Spending to create an image that you can capitalize on… eventually. Or something. Yeah.

Loose/maniac strategy can win chips in a few ways: intimidating your opponents to fold their equity to you, letting you get away with outrageous bluffs; generally getting paid of when you do hit much nicer than when your table image is too nitty. Most of the time I play tight and it gets anxious; loose feels relaxing, and I can blow off some steam. I might throw away a lot of chips but when I catch a hand I can get them back in a hurry. This is different from tournaments where there’s no rebuy. When you’re playing a tight strategy, you play fewer hands and I tend to resent when I play so few hands and they still end up missing or losing to better hands. This leads me to tilt, which leads me to just throw away chips trying to win with pure aggression, and when that doesn’t work, pure rage and not having a good time. But maybe there’s something to playing looser. Especially at the short tables, where you’re forced to play more hands because the blinds come around so fast, and where there’s only 1-2 other players to worry about. A loose maniac at a 4-hand table can be just the ticket.

And then came right back, because you have to. Flopping top two pair with A5, gutshot wheel draw, backdoor flush, I felt like I had both showdown strength as-is, plus a lot of strong draws, which allowed me to play the hand very aggro, and even though the draws didn’t come in for me, I could it all in on the river and feel Ok about it whichever way it went. I don’t get called, but do pull back 50k, which mostly offsets the first stack I lost.

Unfortunately, I just get stacked again a few hands later, putting QJo up against KK, and I managed to hit the Q and the J, but the board paired Tens, and then V rivers KKKings full of TTens. Yeah, it’s the usual type of luck I see. Take away the King and one of the Tens, though, and then what do you have? (The type of hand I would have played had I been the one to shove pocket KKings and get called by unsuited broadway connectors, that’s what – two pair QQJJ over KK).

I can’t tell you the shape of luck on Replay, but it is definitely asymmetrical.

I also put up a big pot with a better king KT vs K6, and they river a better two pair than the KK55 I have with the board, KK66 over me. Sigh.

Definitely my signature luck. I should patent this, but no one would want to buy it.

But I make out OK in the end. I put all-in on pocket 99s, with an 8-high board, and get called by a busted straight draw high-card 9 hand for some reason. I guess the 4k he had left behind was good enough to get all in for the pot odds of a 9-high being good? This is the second time tonight that I’ve been called by no-hand after shoving on the river with a pocket pair. Who’s teaching this? Is it the image I’ve cultivated of not being able to win all-in finally paying off? OK, I’ll be happy with this.

I also hit this straight with A9o, filling the gutshot draw on the Turn, for a smallish, but ok pot.

And there was this masterpiece, KQs on a 4-heart draw from the flop, calling a shove from a gutshot 89JQ draw, winning a 116.5k pot with King-high. That takes some of the sting out of K-high flush under A-high flush from the start of the table action.

Then, I hit this full house with ATo, and had my opponent, Mr. Lucky, betting into me flop and turn, but he decides to fold when I show interest in the river all of a sudden. I might have check-raised here, but I thought that if he did hit a flush, the river pairing the board would have been a scare card and he’d just check through. Should have bet it smaller, but I hoped it would look like a bluff.

All good things must come to an end, though, and when two players at a 4-seat table decide to just sit out and not leave the table, it’s just heads-up, and one the third player sits out, it gets old quickly. Just as I’d broken even, too. But I managed to get one of them to come back, and scored this magnificent hand, to take one final stack, pocket 88s hitting for a set, turning full of 66s, and inducing a shove from top pair AA66Q by checking flop and turn.

So in the end, I drop about 130k in the first 5 minutes, but still end up coming out +50k thanks to the final hand I got to play before the table dried up. Fun times.

All’s well that ends well, they say.