I am both pretty good at poker and kind of arrogant, so it is rare for me not to be one of the best players at any poker table and even rarer for me to admit it. In yesterday’s $5K 6-max event, I was not one of the best players at my table. I probably was not even in the top half.
While waiting for the tournament to start, I recognized Grayfx (from the 2+2 forums) walking into the Poker Kitchen. We caught up for a minute, then headed into the Amazon Room, where he introduced me to Bond18, who to my great disappointment was not wearing one of his trademark suits. His shirt had buttons on it, though, which still made him one of the best-dressed players in the room. Superfluous Man joined us as well, and we all speculated about the size and difficulty of the field before taking our seats.
“So where’s everyone sitting?” Bond finally asks.I glance at my card. “Table 71, Seat 3.” He shoots me a look, glances at his own card, and then shows it to me. It reads, “Table 71, Seat 2.” The day is not off to a good start. At least I’ve got position and someone to talk to.
This sucks for Bond and me, because we’d both prefer not to have the other at the table, but it really sucks for the two guys who are backing both of us. I know we’re not the only two horses they’ve got in this event, but it’s a major beat for them to have the two of us playing against each other with the same money.
Our whole table turns out to be very solid, probably one of the toughest in the whole tournament, especially based on some stories we hear from others. In the 1 seat is a very solid Swedish player. Swedes have a reputation for being super-aggressive, but this guy was just very, very solid. As Bond put it, “I haven’t seen him get one wrong yet.”
Then there was Bond, then me, then to my left a guy in his mid-20’s who was getting some attention from the Pocket Fives people covering the event. Rounding out the table were two middle-aged white guys in cheap polo shirts.
Stereotyping alone led me to think that these two would be the weakest players at the table, which isn’t to say they would be bad. The second guy was pretty tight and straight-forward, but the first one, whose polo read “Legends of Sports”, seemed sorta spewy. He was just a little too loose passive, limping into a lot of pots, calling raises, checking, betting too small, etc. Oh, and there was this hand: he limps UTG+1, button limps, SB completes, I check Ts7 on my BB. Flop KsQs3s. I lead 150, Legends calls, everyone else folds. Turn is an off-suit T, I check, he bets 200, I decide I could have a lot of outs and am getting a good price, so I call. River blank, I check, he shoves. Huh? Yeah, he shoves his 9K stack at this <1K pot. I turbo muck and roll my eyes at Bond.
That was the only pot I played for the first 3-4 orbits, not even making position raises from the button or completing in the SB. I just wasn’t getting playable hands, and there was no one at the table playing so badly that I was looking for excuses to play pots with him. Finally, I found what looked like a good spot to make a play. The Swede, who’d been opening kind of aggressively pre-flop at first, raised to 150, and Bond called. I decided it was a good squeeze spot and made it 750 from the button. Legends quickly through 4-bet me cold to 2000 from the BB, and I turbo-mucked my 2-4s.
A few orbits later, blinds were up to 50/100, and Bond opened UTG. I hadn’t been messing with him much except in our blind battles, but with JJ, I had an easy reraise to 900. The p5’er on my left, however, thought for a bit and made it 2400 (Bond claims he made it 2100, but I was pretty sure it was 2400). Either way, I didn’t feel I could stack off for 100 BB’s with JJ against a cold 4-bettor, so I mucked.
Around this time, I notice Legends talking to some guy in a Full Tilt shirt and hat. From what I overhear of their conversation, it sounds like the guy is complimenting Legends on something he wrote. “…nice counterpoint to Ferguson’s more mechanical chapter.” Wait a damn minute. Is that… yeah. The guy I pegged for table fish is none other than world renowned poker player Ted Forrest. I must be missing something.
One of the last hands before break, I raise to 300 with Jc8c in the CO and Forrest calls in the SB. Flop Qd Jd Ts. He checks and calls 500 on the flop, then checks and folds to 1500 on a blank turn.I tell Bond how I didn’t recognize Forrest until right before break, and he laughs at me. Although he agrees Forrest looks different in person, he figured it out in about 10 seconds. Oh, well. Then I tell him I figured Forrest for the soft spot at the table, and to my surprise, he agreed. “I don’t think he’s been playing well at all.”We get back from break with blinds at 100/200. After folding an orbit or two, get Ad-Qd on the button with an 8400 stack and open to 550. The p5’er calls in the SB, everyone else folds. Flop Qc 8d 4c. He checks and calls a bet of 800. Turn is the 6h, he checks and calls 1600. Then he bets 3600 into me on a 9c river. Ugh. I’ll have fewer than 10BB’s if I call and lose. Did he really check-call twice with a flush draw? I could see doing it on the flop, but the turn was a pretty big bet to call on a draw. Maybe he picked up a pair also? OK, well if he’s bluffing, what’s he bluffing with? There aren’t any other draws out there that missed. It’s hard to put him on a flush, but I just can’t see any other hand that makes sense. How did he get to the river with a hand that needs to bluff? I finally fold, and he shows me a pair of 3’s. Huh? I guess he outplayed me on the river, but even if he successfully bluffs every club river, he’s still losing money on the turn call. I’m baffled, but I think I did a good job of not letting it tilt me.
The very next hand, I open KQ to 600 UTG, and the same guy makes it 1800. Then Ted caps his cards, thinks for a minute, and shoves 4200. Easy muck with KQ, right? P5’er is priced in to call with any two, but has AQ. Who wants to guess Forrest’s hand. Anyone? AA? KK? AK? Would you believe a pair of deuces? He wins the flip, and the p5’er is absolutely floored, but manages to avoid any outright berating. There was plenty of other stuff I saw Ted do sometimes that seemed bad to me, but I could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows something I don’t. But there is just NO WAY that 4-bet shoving deuces there can be anything but a spew, and not a small one, at that.
I work my stack back up to 6000 when Forrest raised my BB to 550. I was just thinking how I was a little too deep to re-steal, but then I found AA. I’d need a narrow range to 3-bet him here, and at the time that seemed like a good reason to flat call, but thinking back on that 22 hand, maybe I should have reraised. Anyway, the flop came Kd Qx 5d, I checked, he bet 500, and folded when I raised to 2000.
After another pot or two, I was back up around 8000. Stakes were up to 100/200/25, and I made it 600 UTG with A-Qo. The other middle aged guy who wasn’t Ted called in the SB, something he’d do with a wider range than he should, and the Swede called in the BB, which I figured could be a wide range since he was kind of priced in to a 3-way pot. Hence, I bet 1400 on a Ts 8s 3d flop. The Swede called after a moment of thought. Turn was a blank, and we checked it through. River was the Js, and he quickly checked again. Based on his timing alone, I didn’t feel he would have a flush here, so I bet 3200. This bet-check-bet line is so often a pot control line with a good one pair hand that I’ll often bluff whiffed overs on the river against a certain type of player, not to mention that scare card falling on the river.
But as soon as the chips left my hand, my brain started shouting at me, “What are you doing?! This is bad! Bad! He knows you’re bluffing. He’s suspicious. He’s going to call!” The negative thoughts burning through my head were making me paranoid that I’d give off some tell. I stared hard at the felt, trying my best not to flinch beneath the Swede’s calm, casual gaze. He counted off the chips for a call, and I tried not to look sick. He moved them forwards, then pulled them back again. Then he confidently set them in the middle. “Call.” T9 is good, sir. Nice call. I thought this hand over afterwards, and I don’t feel it’s a bad spot, intrinsically, to bluff. I could and would play JJ+, AJ, and flush draws like this some of the time. However, I think I had a bad feeling about it because my timing was wrong. I checked too quickly on the turn, whereas with an overpair or a flush draw I would probably need to think about what to do with it. And again, while my river range is much wider than flush or air and includes a lot of hands that beat T9, I probably think for at least a second or two before making a thinnish value bet (and compared to the river ranges of most live players, any one pair hand is a thin value bet). Also, the Swede hadn’t seen me make bets like this before, which may have made him more inclined to figured me for flush or bluff. I felt thoroughly outplayed.
After an orbit or two of looking for a good resteal spot, I find A9 in the SB facing a button raise from Bond. “All in.” Much to my dismay, Pocket 5’s caps his cards and shoves over the top from his BB, tabling AcQd. Ugh. But wait is that a 9c in the door? Followed by another 9? And the Jc? Trips on the flop puts me way out in front, and he shakes his head in frustration and gathers his things. The table calls him back when the Qc turns. Suddenly he’s got 10 outs on the river. I grimace as a 3c rolls off and puts him back in action. He was even shorter than I, so I’ve still got a little to work with. I open shove once or twice to get up around 2800, then get A4 in the SB against another Bond button raise. I shove, he makes a good call with Kd Td, and as soon as I see a diamond in the door, I know I’m in trouble. He flops a flush draw, but my A-high miraculously holds up.
Next orbit, I raise to 600 with K-Qo, and Forrest calls. Flop AK5. I check, and he bets 400. Easy call. Turn blank, I check, he bets 900, and I call. River A, I check prepared to call a bet of any size, but he checks back and my hand is good. Based on how Forrest had been playing, I was 99% confident in my hand on the flop and turn. He’d always been playing one pair hands for pot control on early streets and betting larger with his monsters, so I really couldn’t think of a possible holding for him that beat me. That was a bit of a confidence booster.
Blinds are 150/300 after break, and an orbit or two later, I’m sitting in the BB with 4800. P5’s opens UTG to 800 and Forrest calls. P5’s was capable of pretty aggressive pre-flop play from any position, and Forrest had been taking a lot of flops in position, so I was looking for an excuse to squeeze. K-Jo was plenty good, and I had the perfect stack size for it. P5’s folded, but Forrest tanked and counted it down. Once he didn’t call instantly, I figured I was in decent shape, cuz he isn’t going to turn over JJ+ or AK. He flips A-Js afhsakhgklashgkla’jfdsahglkahgag why do they never have AQ or TT or something that’s good but still gives me a ****ing chance?!?!?! Flop A T x, but I can’t drill the gutter ball and Forrest eliminates me. …Next: Part 5: $500 Single-Table Sat.