Posts Tagged ‘texas hold em’

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Marathon Monday: $15/$30 Debuts @ Palace! (A Live Blog)

November 20, 2017

10:50 AM: Arriving at Palace and ecstatic to see 17 names on the list for this game. Last time I was here – late on Wednesday night – there were only 5 names on the list and I was legitimately concerned that this might not happen.

I like to buy in for at least 37.5 big bets for LHE games, but I typically buy bigger for red chip games. I will be sitting down with $1500.

11 AM: Okay, make that 20 names on the list. Not sure how many of them are actually here.

11:06 AM: Cards in the air starting 6-handed with the 20th name on the list getting a seat. Oh oh.

11:19 AM: Still 6-handed. I can see three people on the list that are in other games right now. If you scared, say you scared!

12:07 PM: This is fun. We are still 6-handed and the only reason this game is going is because the right players are losing (me!) and right players are winning.

Currently -$500 as the only pots I’ve won are preflop steals and small continuation bluffs.

I just had this awesome hand: open 66; cutoff and button cold call and big blind defends. Flop 742 two diamonds, I bet and get two callers. Turn 7h, opening up backdoor flush draw. I bet and both call again. River is a black ten and I check-call, losing to T8 of hearts.

12:13 PM: We gain our first player! And he’s a certifiable maniac. Game on!

12:37 PM: Taking my first break. I’m down $500 and still haven’t won a showdown. I was pretty close to reloading – which is at about 1.5 racks for me – but I just made a flush in a decent pot and didn’t get called on the river.

Had our first hit and run. No surprise there. Picked up two players though – we are now 8-handed.

12:46 PM: A new player sat down with $300 as I was getting up to take my break and was busto before I sat back down 8 minutes later.

1:16 PM: Game fills up for the first time!

People buying in for $500 and taking $20/$40 overs buttons. Uhm. Okay.

1:23 PM: The maniac is batting 1.000 against me. Seems like KJ will turn the tides on KJx two club flop but he check-raises me on 9c turn, and I decide to call down unimproved. He shows JJ and his expert slow play costs him multiple bets. Bright side?

Still haven’t won a showdown. Down ~$800 and working on my Zen deep breathing exercises!

1:35 PM: Reloaded! In for $2500.

1:46 PM: Early break. I’m officially steaming.

Maniac raises three limpers, I cold call KT of clubs, and we go six ways to T84 with two spades. Everybody checks to me and I bet. Folds to the maniac and he check-raises me. Unbelievable. I call him down and he shows me 44. Dude risks a free card in a huge pot with 5 opponents just so he can raise me? Oh, it hurts! This dude is SMASHING me.

2:06 PM: I’m down over $1100. I still haven’t won a showdown. The maniac has over $1600 in front of him on my direct right. If the Poker Gods really hate me today, he will rack up and leave in the next hour.

2:33 PM: I three bet a LAG with 66 and flop middle set. The flush gets there on the river and I’m actually ever so slightly disappointed when I don’t get check-raised. I won my first showdown! 3.5 hours into my session – and I was playing 6-handed for over an hour. Pretty impressive.

2:40 PM: I sit down and buy the button and the maniac button straddles. I defend Q9dd and two others come along. The pot doesn’t go off for five bets each so I might actually have a shot here.

Flop is QJ8 one diamond and only the maniac calls my flop lead. Check around on 9 turn and he calls when I bet the 9 river. He shows J8. We are breaking some serious ice here! Maniac is no longer 100% against me and I sucked out on him.

Finally picking up a little momentum with four showdowns won in the last hour.

3:30 PM: The Legend is in the box. The mother#%$*ing Legend!

3:47 PM: Someone asks for a setup. There’s no escaping that nonsense.

A short while ago, there were 11 names on the list, but when someone got up, half of them passed and now there are 6.

4:00 PM: Five hours into my session and I’m stuck $1200 or $1300. I have not been running good when I play pots but I’ve also been crazy card dead. I’ve had TT once. I’ve had JJ+ zero times.

This game is good right now but if the wrong people get up it could turn in a hurry. Three of the next four players on the list are either solid or nitty.

4:37 PM: Finally picked up QQ! In a 3-bet multiway pot no less. Didn’t show it down but I’ll take it.

Also added on for another $1000, so I’m in this game for $3500 now. I can hardly wait for people to stop by and comment on how well I’m doing.

5:24 PM: The maniac just cashed out. For like $200. He peaked around $1700, mostly winning pots against me. I got basically none of that back as he sprayed it around to everyone else. I’m still -$1500. His departure and replacement by a nit makes this game significantly worse.

6:09 PM: My buddy Peter sits down an hour ago and just immediately goes to crushing and already has a $499 jackpot under his belt. Dealer didn’t see the straight flush and I was trying to back him up, but they are paying Peter anyway.

6:22 PM: Peter raises a series of limpers and I 3-bet AK from the small blind. Limpers fold! Well that certainly doesn’t happen in a Palace $8/$16 game. 3-handed and I bet A98 and they both call (Overs). Turn is a 7. I bet, one snap folds, and Peter tank-folds and asks “Ace no good, right?” Claims A2. Peter, always a thorn in my side.

6:30 PM: Cha Mang in the game. Getting close to house game status.

7:07 PM: Just a brutal session so far. Currently stuck about $1800. Still super card dead and any step forward is followed by three steps back. Absolutely no momentum in 8+ hours of play. The game is far worse than it was a few hours ago. There’s a chance I might not try to stretch this into Marathon territory tonight.

7:19 PM: Now I’m really on tilt. Cha just took my extra water because he “didn’t want to wait for the server to come back around.” Oh, really?

8:04 PM: Captain America is in the box. I told him he probably won’t be saying “thank you” to me tonight and he promptly deals me QQ which flops top set and holds up somehow.

Before that, I picked up AJdd in the small blind. Peter raises the whole table on the button and since the limpers have been folding to 3-bets I just call and play a multiway pot.

The flop is all medium cards with two diamonds and I act without thinking – I check. With the PFR on the button I actually like leading out here better as it gives the field a chance to call one bet before Peter likely raises. I want to get as many bets in on the flop as I can and betting is the best way to do this. Especially since Peter isn’t a reckless c-bettor. If he flopped no immediate equity, he’s not torching a bet here.

He does check and I get zero bets in on the flop. Ugh.

Turn is another small or medium card and I don’t think I will win by betting so I check. There’s a bet, a raise, and a cold call back to me and this pot is large enough for me to continue.

It stays at two bets and, by God, I make my flush. Two players call and I scoop my only substantial pot of the day. Currently at -$1300.

9:12 PM: I’m finally on a little heater. Sets and overpairs winning showdowns and my buddy Mike sits down and immediately tries to triple barrel bluff me with AK high in a four bet four-way pot. I call down with 99 on T High run out. Only stuck $1100 now. I actually thought I was in better shape than that, but I’ll take the forward momentum!

10:29 PM: Heater over. Back to card dead and flop whiffs. Back to -$1500. Mike’s been playing for 90 minutes and has had QQ+ three more times than I’ve had them in 11.5 hours.

11:42 PM: Peter is no longer running good. He is running really, really bad. Like so bad, I can see that he’s in actual physical pain.

And then this hand happens:

Two players limp in, Peter calls, I check with AJo from the BB, which is something I basically never do in this situation so maybe I’m on tilt myself. But really I’ve been whiffing so many flops that I’ve been doing a lot of raising pre and checking on the flop. So I decide to check in bad position with a strong hand.

Flop is A62 rainbow and Peter leads from the small blind. Very tempting to raise here but the pot is micro and I have a monster for this situation. I flat and so do the other two players.

Turn is a 5 and now Peter checks. I bet, one caller, and Peter check-raises! What?! I can’t fold here so I call and so does our straggler.

River is another 5 and now Peter checks! I think about for quite some time before saying “I want the pain” and betting. The other player folds and Peter shows immediate vocal and physical exasperation which is basically like turning A2 face up. He doesn’t though. He folds it instead.

I’ve had some better luck recently and am currently stuck less than $1000 for the first time in HOURS!

12:45 AM: The Riddler distracting me for the last half hour.

1:15 AM: After going my first 14 hours of this session without getting AA, I get them twice in three hands, the first time flopping A99 in a 4-bet pot. I have come all the way back to -$500. I can still salvage this thing!

1:27 AM: AA again! Crazy how these streaks happen. All three hands good too.

1:32 AM: Variance is INSANE. AA again! Four times in less than 20 minutes. That’s just crazy.

1:50 AM: I took a short break as a player was cashing out and there were 6 people still on the list. I somehow came back to a 7-handed game with no list 5 minutes later.

3:35 AM: I just got home. I was severely distracted my last few hours, but a flurry of KK and QQ followed those Aces and somehow managed to book a +$25 win for the day. Perhaps the best $25 I’ve ever made. I’ve been stuck more chips in a poker game and booked a win, but I’ve never been stuck $1800 and booked one. I would say it feels amazing but I’m too drained and tired to feel anything. Looking forward to a real day off tomorrow!

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$20/$40 Mega Heater & Incoming Jinx

November 18, 2017

The coolest thing about tracking your poker results with a phone app is the ability to filter all sorts of information. For instance, my data goes back to August of 2014 and I can tell you that I’ve lost more money playing $8/$16 Omaha 8/Better @ The Orleans in Las Vegas than I have in any other specific game during that time span. Or that I’ve lost more money at Muckleshoot than any other location… by far.

The reason I bring this up is because it felt like I’ve been running way above average in the $20/$40 LHE game at Fortune lately. So I did a little filtering and discovered that my hunch wasn’t wrong.

While it hasn’t felt like I’ve been absolutely murdering the game per say, it has felt like I haven’t had to face much negative variance in a long time. I regularly post wins of 5+ racks in the Palace $8/$16 game, but those 5+ rack wins have been much harder to come by at the $20/$40 level and I only have one such win in this 15-session sample size I’m about to mention. Still, I’m on a run so good I thought it might be unprecedented in my statistical history (it’s not – but I’ll get to that later).

This is what it looks like:

-Since May 1st, I’ve played 15 sessions of $20/$40 at Fortune and I’ve only lost twice.
-My worst loss is -$199 during that span.
-It’s not like I’m hit and running: I average 7.5 hours/session during this stretch.
-I’ve won nine sessions in a row.
-My best win is +$2907 and that’s my only win of 4+ racks during this stretch.
-The overall damage is +317 Big Bets at 2.84 BB/HR.

This is not normal. Since I’ve been tracking on this app, I’ve played 824 sessions of LHE in casinos and I’ve won in 54% of them. Over those 824 sessions, I’ve won at a 1.12 Big Bet/hour rate overall across all limits, so I’m a solid winner, but I still lose almost half the time I sit down to play LHE poker. There’s a lot of losing that goes on in poker and heaters like this are pretty rare, so you really have to enjoy them when they do happen.

Out of curiosity I filtered those 824 sessions down to sessions of 6+ hours to see if it makes a difference. It does. My winning percentage jumps up to 61% over 431 sessions.

As I discovered, this is not the best heater I’ve been on in a specific game at a specific casino. Unsurprisingly, I’ve had better runs in the $8/$16 LHE game at Palace in Lakewood.

I have multiple impressive streaks at Palace but this is by far my best one:

-From June 23rd to August 10th of last year I had 14 straight winning $8/$16 sessions at the Palace.

-My best win was +$2377 which happened to be on my birthday and still ranks as my best $8/$16 win of all-time.

-Overall, I won 493 big bets for a win rate of 5.5 BB/HR during this crazy stretch.

What a sick run! But the timing of it makes it even crazier. I had just got back from a massive run at the 2016 WSOP and in early August I was on a road trip and played a $30/$60 with a $50/$100 kill at Ameristar in Colorado where I had my best cash game session ever: +$4245.

All in all, quite a life-changing nine weeks.

But the thing about streaks is that they all end eventually. I don’t expect to win every time I play $20/$40 and I keep expecting to book that inevitable brutal loss. It will happen. So will a bad downswing.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I jinxed this run good just by mentioning it!

Now on to some fun hands from this past week.

How Not To Play Kings

Hand #1

$20/40, I open from a later position with AJo and the button three bets me. The flop comes down AJx and I check-call the flop, check-raise the turn, and get paid off on the river by… KK. I feel like there may have been an opportunity to save a bet in there somewhere… I dunno.

Hand #2

$20/$40, same opponent, next day. They open UTG, an exceptionally loose player calls from MP, and I defend AJ from the BB. I check and overcall on A75 with two hearts flop. Same action on blank turn. River is the 9h, completing the flush draw and the 86 straight draw and I check and overcall again. And UTG tables… KK! Lol. My hand is good. I feel like maybe a bet could be saved somewhere but I dunno.

Hand #3

$20/$40, someone I’m unfamiliar with opens from MP as I 3-bet AQ, they flat, and then check-raise me on J73 with two diamonds. I call with my two overcards and backdoor nut flush draw. The turn is a pretty Q and now they check? Easy bet. River blank and I bet the obvious best hand and they call with… KK! This hand plays out the same way if they bet the turn and river but in that scenario I don’t think I have the nuts!

How I Play Kings… Sometimes

$20/$40, a very wide and aggressive – and reckless – player opens from EP, everyone else folds, and I defend KK from the BB. I like to have some strong hands in my defending range and I think it helps me collect extra big bets later in the hand.

The flop is 873 and I check-raise. Even though I’d ultimately like to check-raise the turn, I mix in some flop check-raising a portion of the time as I will occasionally be able to get three bets in on the flop and still check-raise the turn. My opponent just calls though.

The turn is a T and now they raise my bet. I think it’s still far too likely that my hand is good here – especially since it’s disguised, so I three bet and they snap-cap it. Gulp.

River pairs the board and I check-call while wishfully saying, “I hope you have Queens!” And they table… QQ. Yay! Now that’s a 4-betting the turn hand if I’ve ever seen one!

It’s Hard To Play A Full House Bad

But watch me do it!

$20/$40, another player I’m unfamiliar with opens from MP and I 3-bet 77 on the button. The small blind, a tight and solid player, calls which indicates a pretty strong holding and the original raiser now caps it.

The flop is J87 rainbow and the small blind leads out, the preflop capper calls, I raise, SB three bets, and I cap.

Turn is a J and the SB leads out again. The other player calls and I raise it. They both call.

I think this is some pretty optimistic thinking on my part. I have history with the small blind in O8, but not in LHE. I know she is a nitty player. I’m honestly not sure if she would call three bets with suited Broadway hands, so one has to wonder how many Jacks she has in her range. Even if she does call those hands, I highly doubt she goes crazy with them on this flop against an obviously nutted holding.

So what can she have? T9 suited? I really doubt it. It really feels like she has to have 88 here and this is running through my head as early as the flop action.

So what the hell am I doing on the turn?

But wait, it gets worse!

The river is a Queen and as that card hits the board I am watching the other player in the hand and he has a reaction to it.

But how can I check back a full house? Especially when it seems like only both of my opponents could very well have me beat now.

I bet, the small blind calls, and now the other player springs to life with a raise.

WOW, I SUCK.

I can basically throw my hand in a garbage can now – it’s that worthless. But I call. So does the small blind, now looking at me like “how big of an idiot are you?”

But my live read was a bad one. He reacted to the Q for some reason but he doesn’t have QQ. He has JJ. Quads. And she has 88.

A mega-cooler for sure, but goodness it’s hard to play a hand as bad as I played this one.

This Time I Have The Damn Nuts

$20/$40, I try to isolate a super loose player by raising 66 from the hi-jack but both the cutoff and the button come along for the ride.

Flop is TT9 with two clubs. Terrible board for me to c-bet since so many hands are calling even if they don’t have pairs yet. Everybody checks though.

The turn is a K and I have given up. Everybody checks though.

River is a J. Everybody checks and my hand is good.

TT9KJ. Take it 66.

This is a $20/$40 game. I think the fact that my hand was good is amusing enough but three different players at this level actually let me show it down… is, well, hilarious to me.

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Marathon Monday: An Ugly Losing Session

November 14, 2017

Since I’ve started making regular blog posts I haven’t been doing much losing which has been pretty nice. I know it’s been overdue. And even though the end of this session doesn’t look horrible, it was actually quite brutal.

I got off to a pretty good start. After 3-4 hours, I was up around $500 total and I was getting really strong preflop holdings. I already had AA, KK, QQ, and JJ multiple times each and I did pretty good with them except the one time my KK ran into AA.

I had another hand where I raised in LP with AT with the T of diamonds and decided to peel one when I got donked into on the J32 two diamond flop with one caller in between. The turn was the 7 of diamonds and I overcalled another bet. The river was the K of diamonds and now the caller in between leads out? I call, the other player folds, and I beat his set of threes. Eh. I wonder. Peeling this flop with the A of diamonds might make sense, but the T of diamonds might be too optimistic. Or maybe folding getting 10-1 is too weak? I don’t know. A spot worth examining more. That line with a set though? LOLOLOL.

An All-Time Classic – Super Torch

This is another hand that occurred during the first few hours of the day and, oh boy, was it a true gem. The action folds around to the button – a player that has become a recent regular and has a rather insane and unorthodox style that frequently includes absurd aggression as you’ll see. In this hand, he open-limps the button, I look down at A4 of diamonds in the small blind and raise it. The big blind – a player I would describe as overly aggressive and borderline maniacal – three bets it, and now the button turns his open-limp on the button monster into a 4-betting hand. Okay.

Andrew Neeme would probably describe the flop as “favorable:” 532 rainbow. The flop is capped and I put in zero of the bets or raises. I just knew these guys were going to go off and I wouldn’t have to reveal my hand strength until the turn.

The turn completes the rainbow with a Ten, the big blind bets and the button comes forward with two stacks of 8 chips lined up about to raise and then decides at the last second, right before the betting line, to just call. Technically, with a forward motion rule at this casino, one could enforce a raise here, but that’s definitely not my style. I enforce it the old fashioned way – by making it two bets myself. They both call.

The river is an 8. I bet, the big blind calls, and now the button raises! I am not afraid of the nuts here, so I have an easy raise, except the button only has three chips left after making it two bets. Obviously it is better for me to just call and let the big blind put in eight more chips than it is for me to raise him out of the pot, so I just call. And since I’m sitting in seat 9 and the button is in seat 8 and the big blind probably can’t hear me from seat 1, I quietly tell the button I still have him beat, so that my sudden passivity doesn’t make him think he’s won the pot. The big blind calls and I fast roll my straight. It’s good.

For whatever reason, the button decides to table his hand and shows… 82 of clubs.

Now go back and read that hand again. Enjoy!

$499 Jackpot! Club Straight Flush

As I’ve noted before, the reason Mondays are so popular now is because every jackpot that is not a Royal Flush is worth $499. On this hand, the cutoff open-limps and I look down at 54 of clubs on the button. I call? I raise?

Three players to the 732 flop with the 7 and 3 of clubs. There’s some action and we see the 6 of clubs on the turn – straight flush! Jackpot!

All of this is true… except one thing:

I folded before the flop.

I think one could argue that I could play this hand in this spot, but it’s really an unattractive situation. If I do play, I’m going to be raising to isolate the limper and use my position to try and win the pot, regardless of whether I hit the board or not. There are a lot of hands I’d do this with – 5 high is typically not one of them. The jackpot overlay isn’t enough to sway my decision. I wouldn’t even think about playing hands like 52s or 84s here and I don’t think 54s is doing much better.

Interestingly enough, the limper ended up winning this pot with 52 suited and that makes her an absolute prime candidate to isolate on the button with any reasonable holding. If I had seen this showdown before this situation arose, I may have won an extra $500 yesterday.

AK Is The Nuts, Right?

A player opens, I three bet with AK and we head to a flop with 4 or 5 players. It’s a pretty one: AK3! I bet and one or two players call.

The turn is a Q and now the original preflop raiser check-raises me. Interesting. I feel like he rarely has JT here. He strikes me as the kind of player that would typically limp JT suited. So he’s repping AQ, KQ, or QQ – and maaaaaaybe AK. I feel like he would bet or raise the flop with AQ or AK, so I’m somewhat discounting those hands. So this is an exercise in hand-reading and recognizing available combos. There are only three combos of QQ. There are four combos of AK, six combos of AQ, and six combos of KQ. Out of his most likely hands (and there could be some spazzy AJ or QT type stuff too, though unlikely) only three out of 19 possible combos beat me. Even if we add in four combos of JT suited, that’s 7 combos out of 23 possible and we are still doing very well against his range. Using hand-reading, I’d say his most likely hands are QQ and KQ and going off his preflop flat call of my 3-bet and check-call on the flop, I’d lean towards KQ – and there are twice as many combos of that hand as there are of QQ anyway. So I think this is a pretty easy 3-bet all things considered.

I raise and he calls and now I feel better about my hand.

The river is a blank, I bet again, he calls, and I lose to QQ.

A Painful Fold

In this hand, there’s a button straddle, the small blind calls, and I just call with A8 suited in the big blind. I think in this situation, I prefer to encourage other people to enter the pot rather than try (usually unsuccessfully) and isolate from one of the worst positions with the whole field left to act behind me and the button basically never folding. I think the small blind calling with help create a multiway pot as well. The under the gun player three bets, another player calls, a maniac calls, and the button, small blind and myself all call.

The flop is K86 with two diamonds. This pot is large and I have enough of this board that I want to create the best chance for me to win the pot. I think that’s by donking into the preflop raiser and hoping he will force the rest of the field to call two bets cold. So I bet, but he just calls, so do two other players and the button raises. If I can get heads up here, I think it drastically improves my winning chances, so I three bet in the hopes of narrowing the field. It doesn’t go well: the PFR and maniac stay in and the button caps it. We all call.

The turn is a 4 and everybody checks. My hand seems better now.

The river is a 7 and it checks to the maniac. He bets and the button calls. Hmmmm. I had the button on a draw when he checked back the turn after capping the flop, but this call is perplexing. This is one of those spots where it’s okay to take some extra time and really think it through. The maniac can literally have anything and if the button didn’t call, this would be a snap for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about it long enough and I made a hasty fold. The maniac shows A6o and the button shows J6 of diamonds before tossing his hand in the muck. In retrospect, the button’s hand made perfect sense and if I really thought about it, I think I can recognize that he flopped a diamond draw that paired at some point. It’s possible he could have 64dd, 76dd, or 74dd – all of which made two pair – but the rest of his flush draw hands end up with one pair only – and he would certainly bet the turn with 64dd. UGH.

The rest of my session was a rollercoaster of variance that ended with a plummet. I went from +$500 early in the day, to close to even, back to +$250, close to even, back to +$500 and then at 10.5 hours into the session, I was stuck for the first time all day after my AQ ran into AA on an A high flop in a capped preflop pot. It never got better for me after that hand as I was whiffing flops and draws pretty much every time I got involved.

And suddenly I felt really exhausted. I had been up since 7:15 AM, it was midnight, and I had been playing for around 12 hours. This was no different from last week except that I was now running absolutely terrible and it my alertness and focus was rapidly disappearing. I had been taking breaks every 90 minutes all day long and for the last 3 or 4 hours I hadn’t gotten up to clear my head and it occurred to me that my A-game was gone, the variance was taking a toll on me, and it was time to go home. I picked up at my lowest point of the day and booked a $303 loss. All in all, an incredibly disappointing session that could have been much better if I had played a 54 of clubs or called with that A8 and a reminder to keep taking those breaks and not get complacent deep into my sessions.

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LHE with Friends!

November 12, 2017

I spent Thursday playing $8/$16 at Palace after catching a matinee of Jigsaw (review coming soon) and I don’t have a whole bunch to say about that session, but I did coax my friend Daniel into playing some LHE with me, which is notable because he’s a NLHE player and has been pretty open about his distaste for limit hold em poker. I even made a joke, tagging him on Facebook, saying that watching him play LHE was like seeing someone stuck in a Jigsaw trap.

Daniel basically stayed out of my way as I smashed flops most of the night, but we did play one very interesting – and oh so close to horribly devastating – pot together. In this hand, Daniel was a preflop raiser, there may have been another raise, there were lots of players, and I happily joined all that action with the JT of clubs from the small blind.

I got a very good flop of JT3 rainbow. Daniel lead out, a player or two called, I check-raised, Daniel called, now the latest position back-raises, I cap because this kind of play frequently checks back the turn, and we wind up getting all the bets in at least four ways.

Now here’s where things get interesting. The turn is a King, which is definitely one of my least favorite cards. Daniel could possibly have KK – although he got passive on the flop after leading initially – and he can certainly have AQ, and that hand makes a lot of sense given his line. Also, any of the flop callers can have Q9 or KJ or KT, plus AK and KQ aren’t far behind now. With all of this in mind, I think checking is my best play. So obviously I bet. Daniel immediately punishes me with a raise and now everyone else folds. His hand is so blatantly obviously AQ that I can hardly wait to fold my hand face up on the river if I miss to show how smart I am.

I call and the river does brick and before Daniel does anything, I turn my cards over. And then he turns QQ over in tempo and I can hardly believe the massive mistake I was so eager to make. I mean I’m still sick sitting here typing about it over three days later.

This is one of those massive errors that seems to revisit me every once in a while and you see so many “smart” players make over the years. They narrow someone down to one hand and then they act on that read and completely disregard the pot size. I’ve done it multiple times and I almost never do it now, but goodness was I ever ready to do it here. Thank you Daniel, for checking and saving me a lot of pain and heartache.

Now let’s talk about Daniel’s line. The thing I forgot is that Daniel basically never plays LHE, so narrowing his range down so thinly just can’t be wise – he might make plays that don’t make any sense to me. In NLHE, raising the turn here can make a lot of sense because he has QQ and is severely blocking the nut hand (AQ) and can easily represent it, with little fear that anyone else can have it. The problem in LHE is that, even though the blocker effect is still in play, you simply can’t apply the necessary pressure. All I have to do is call two big bets and I get to showdown in this massive pot. Plus, he’s underestimating the stickiness of the other Palace players – they just don’t fold.

I think if we were heads up, his turn raise makes more sense, because he can have straights and I really can’t, so I likely will never three bet and he can just showdown on the river when he misses and bet when he improves. The problem here is that we are still multiway on the turn and any of our other opponents can easily have hands like Q9, KJ, KT, KQ, etc. that are never folding.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think either of us played this turn well and I can’t believe how close I was to losing this whole pot out of sheer stupidity.

Another crazy pot happened later in the night when we had a round of button straddles going and I had K7 of hearts on the button and had to put in four bets before the flop.

I got a reasonable K96 with two spades flop and really liked my hand when everybody checked to me. The small blind (preflop 3-bettor) check-raised me, two others (including the preflop 4-bettor) cold called and I just called.

The turn was a pretty nice looking 7 and they all checked to me again. If I hadn’t improved, I might’ve checked here, but turning two pair made me a lot more confident about my hand. But then the small blind check-raised again, the next player called, and now the preflop 4-bettor wakes up with a check-three bet on the turn?!!? What?

I don’t often go into the tank in LHE but I was flabbergasted. My hand’s too strong to fold and I’m plenty confused, so I’m wasting time thinking, but sometimes I like to make sense of things before I proceed. The action seems pretty scary. I shouldn’t have the best hand.

But let’s think about that three bet. This player four bet before the flop. Then, second to last to act on the flop, he checked and cold called two bets after it was bet and raised back to him. Now, on the turn, it’s checked to him again and he risks giving another free card by checking to me. Okay, so he is putting in a cold three bet here – which is normally super strong – but I think it’s safe to assume this player does not have us beat.

The small blind could have us beat and the other player looks like he’s drawing but he could also be hanging on for dear life with a better two pair. But really, it actually looks like multiple players are going crazy with hands that are worse than mine.

So I call. Everyone else does too.

The river is the Jack of spades, completing the front door flush and improving QT and KJ as well. Everybody checks to me again. I’m pretty happy to show down at this point and somehow my hand is still good.

I wasn’t planning to write about this session so I didn’t keep any notes, but I do recall one other fun hand where I opened with AA and got raised on the turn on a Q74J board and then check-called the river when the J paired and they had… A5 offsuit. Gotta love that creativity!

All in all, a pretty sexy Thursday night session to the tune of +$1025.

I went to Fortune the next day for some $20/$40 and even though I didn’t write notes for this session either, I feel it’s important for me to mention how great the game was because the last two times I’ve posted about the Fortune $20/$40 it has been pretty negative. The game this Friday was amazing. One of the best I’ve ever played in. There were two fun, loose players at my starting table and then when I migrated to follow them later I found myself on the left of two guys that were playing every hand no matter what the action was to them. One of them played rather reasonably after the flop, but the other guy was recklessly aggressive, betting and raising when he had any piece of the board, no matter how little it was.

Here’s a typical example: they both limp in, I raise with JJ, the flop is A65 and the crazy guy bets, I call; the turn is a 7, he bets and I call; river is a blank, he bets and I call; he shows 73 offsuit.

I got off to a rough start and found myself in the game for $3500 pretty early in the day, but fortunately I was eventually able to take advantage of the favorable situation and had enough hands hold up (and I lost a bunch of sick ones all day!) that I was able to make a complete come all the way back and even booked a solid win of $1409. It really did feel like I was running bad most of the day, but the game was so good that when I did win the occasional pot, it was almost always massive. I also won $63 in NLHE waiting for my seat for a total win of $1472 for the day.

Pretty fortunate start to November so far!

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Marathon Monday: A 16 hour $8/$16 Session

November 7, 2017

Oh, how I forgot how fun it is to be a complete sicko degenerate. Back in the dark times when I had a day job, the marathon session was a much more common experience for me. When I was flooring at Palace from August 2015 to October 2016, my schedule was tailor-made for me to put in very long sessions on my “days off” and on Thursday, in particular, I would make it a point to try to play from noon to midnight.

Now that I don’t have to put in those pesky suit and tie hours, my pathological need to put in massive sessions to get my poker fix have all but disappeared. I typically just play around eight hours four or five days a week, and while a 10-12 hour session happens occasionally, it is never my intention anymore.

Enter the new Monday promotion at Palace: Starting at 8 AM on Monday morning and extending all the way until 8 AM on Tuesday, every jackpot at Palace is worth $499. In addition, with High Hands running most days of the week during peak hours, it’s also one of the rare times the massive Royal Flushes are available to pay out. They recently had a Royal pay out over $36,000 and right now the biggest one is around $15,000. Needless to say, this promotion packs the room and if you aren’t there by 2 PM, good luck getting a seat.

The promotion and the Royal Flush payouts are cool and hitting any of that stuff would be a nice bonus, but the main attraction of Mondays for me is all the action players it brings into the building. With three $8/$16 games typically running on Mondays, what is already typically the best $8/$16 game I’ve ever seen, is even better. Mondays used to be one of the days of the week I don’t play poker and now because of this promotion, I’m not only playing, I’m committing to serious overtime.

While I have played some previous Mondays, yesterday was my first time sitting down for a Marathon Monday with every intention of playing 12+ hours.

I got off to a brutal start. After 4.5 hours, I was down around $700. At my lowest point, I was down $800 and in the game for $1600. And it was still early. I was planning to play at least another 7 hours and I was already approaching my worst sessions of all-time territory.

For context, I just filtered all my data that goes back to August 2014 and I’ve played 350 sessions of $8/$16 LHE over that span. My all-time worst result was -$1847 – a glaring outlier. I’ve lost $1200+ two other times and I’ve lost $1000+ five times total – and the last time that happened was a year ago tomorrow. For contrast – in case anyone might accuse me of being a nit – I have won $1500+ five times and $1000+ twelve times in 2017 alone (Note: these are $8/$16 results only).

So yesterday was shaping up to be my worst session of the year and possibly one of my worst $8/$16 results ever.

I lost with AT to 86 on a A97Tx run out. My AK lost to two people with QJ on a KTxxA board. I defended K6 of clubs and turned the second nut flush only to run into AT of clubs. AA lost to KJ on QTxx9. It seemed like every hand I lost to was a hand that I was blocking from improving.

And then there were these two gems:

I raise with A6 of diamonds from MP and the cutoff, button, and both blinds call. The flop is K75 with two clubs and one diamond and I decide not to continuation bet a complete whiff against four opponents and it checks around. The turn is the 4 of diamonds and now the big blind leads out. I have an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw now and while there’s some merit to raising here, I think I will have to improve to win and I’d rather keep other players in. The cutoff folds and now the button raises and the big blind responds with a three bet. With 11 big bets in the pot, I’m getting 5.5 to 1 to call and I will make a straight or a flush about 30% of the time. Obviously I’m continuing here. The button calls and the river is a blank. I fold and the big blind wins with K7 over the button’s AK.

I’d like to focus on the ridiculousness of the button’s line here. First, they just cold call my raise instead of punishing me with a three bet and forcing the blinds out. Maybe the K7 folds? Certainly not a guarantee, but they are far more likely to fold to a three bet than for one raise. And how about that flop check? You have AK on a K75 flop and everybody checks to you and… you check? And then you wait to raise the big bet street when three medium connected cards are on board and the big blind leads out? And, of course, this insane flop check lets me see the best turn card in the deck for free and winds up costing me three big bets before whiffing when I could have just check-folded the flop! Thanks a lot!

My other favorite early hand was when a player to my right, who raises a wider range than most, raises from middle position and I three bet with 98 of clubs (a rare move from me) and the player to my left caps it, the button calls four cold, one of the blinds comes along, the limper doesn’t fold, the dealer calls, a crow caws, and we end up going to the flop six ways for a cap. Not really what I had in mind when I tried to isolate with 9 high. The flop comes down 973 with one club and it checks to me and since I have poor relative position I decide to donk into the preflop raiser in the hopes that he will raise and the rest of the field will have to call two bets cold. I don’t necessarily think I have the best hand, but I think this is the best way for me to limit the field. Unfortunately, he just calls, as do the button and the player to my right. On the bright side, the chances of me having the best hand have drastically increased. The turn card is the 7 of clubs, giving me a flush draw. I bet and everybody calls. The river is the Jack of clubs, I bet my flush, the PFR folds and now the button raises all in for 1.5 big bets total and shows me… Q5 of clubs. Well, you can’t fold that hand for four bets cold preflop!

I did start to make a comeback after five hours of torture. Someone limped in with AA and let me see the flop for one bet with A5 of hearts (which I would fold to an under the gun raise) and I wound up making a flush. Then I switched tables to an action game and picked up my own pair of Aces in a button straddle pot that went off five ways for five bets preflop and somehow held up on a 63325 run out.

Just like that, I was fast approaching even. But it wouldn’t last. After having a period of run good, I cooled off completely and found myself stuck $500 again. I picked up AA three more times during this stretch and lost with two of them, including this interesting hand:

I raise after one limper in early position and go five ways to the 882 rainbow flop. The early limper donks into me and I have three players to act behind me. This board is about as dry as it gets, so it creates an interesting spot. It seems better to try and let some players call behind with very little equity, rather than raising and likely getting it heads up. Plus, the flop bettor could always have an 8. And after I call on the turn and river, that is what he shows me. This wasn’t interesting because I lost the hand, but because the best line on the flop wasn’t clear to me.

From this point on, I was on fire. After falling back down to -$500, I hardly lost a pot the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I also stopped taking notes on my key hands. I do know that I had 80% of a Royal Flush twice with cards to come and did not hit the massive jackpots, but… I did win both hands.

Ultimately, I ended up finishing the day up $890 after being down $800 at one point – without the aid of any jackpots. It’s one of the best comebacks I’ve ever made and really illustrates how key it is to keep your cool when things are going miserably. I’m not sure I’ve ever turned a four rack loss into a four rack win. Five years ago I probably would have left this session four hours into it and booked a substantial loss. These days I’m significantly better at weathering the storm and staying composed as I get throttled, trying to appreciate the challenge of it and find the humor in the run bad. I really feel this ability to play my A-game during brutal stretches is one of my biggest edges today.

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$20/$40 Session Report: November 3rd

November 5, 2017

Actually most of my interesting hands happened while I was playing in the $1/$3 No Limit game at Fortune while waiting for a $20/$40 seat. I almost never play $8/$16 at Fortune and I guess my theory is that I’d rather warm up in games I don’t get much playing time in, like NLHE or Limit Omaha.

The Accidental Min-Raise

My first fun hand happens early in the session. The $1/$3 game has a max buy in of $300, so I always sit down with four $25 chips, $180 in $5 chips, and $20 in $1 chips – plus $500 in my pocket to add on and reload as I dip below the table max.

The player to my direct right makes it $16 to go and I have 77 next to act. This is an annoyingly large open-raise but we are deep enough (barely!) that I can call and try to set mine or simply play a good hand in position. So I call… or I think I do. I mentioned my buy in method because instead of calling with three $5 red chips and a blue one, I accidentally throw in a green $25 chip and three blue $1 chips. Whoops. I am now committed to a minimum raise to $29 because I put in multiple chips and over half the raise size.

I reacted pretty genuinely to my mistake, but the no limit players have basically no history with me so I wouldn’t blame any of them for thinking I could be running an angle here (i.e. pretending like I accidentally raised when I have a hand like AA). However, if I were the original raiser I would give serious consideration to four-betting my entire range here and expecting to get a lot of folds. He just calls though, which I thought was kind of surprising.

The flop comes out 944 with two diamonds and he leads out $35 and I almost have to stifle a laugh. Oh, now you want to be aggressive? I think it’s safe to assume my hand is always good here and I’ve debated with a friend about the merits of raising on the flop in this spot because there are a number of turn cards that we won’t love and I’d like to deny equity to those hands. On the other hand, we are in a tough spot if he goes for the hammer with a flush draw and we don’t really mind him betting the worst hand either. So I call.

The turn is a 5 of spades, opening up a backdoor flush draw, and he bets $52 rather quickly and nonchalantly. Another easy call for me, but I make it look like I’m thinking about it.

The river bricks out and he checks and it’s hard to imagine what hands I would get value from by betting, so I check back and he shows AK of spades. I said earlier that I would consider four betting his entire range in his spot preflop, but trying to get all the money in with AK suited is a slam dunk! A honest mistake from me and a really weird line from my opponent here.

Another Profitable Mistake

By this time, I’ve come to realize that the villain in the previous hand is very aggressive preflop, probably opening or raising over 30% of his hands. That makes his flat call with the AK suited even stranger. Well, in this hand, he decides to open-limp on the button. I’ve seen him do some limping, which is atypical for him, but the button open-limp is a new one.

I call with J2 of diamonds from the small blind and the big blind checks his option. The flop is A92 with two spades and one diamond. There is basically no money in the pot and my hand is pretty piddly but I think a $5 bet should take the pot down very often here, so I toss a red chip out. The big blind folds and the button almost immediately makes it $17. I have basically zero respect for this raise, so I call and I’m probably going to try and win the pot unless a spade comes.

The turn is the 3 of diamonds, which gives me a flush draw in addition to my pair. I check it and he bets $25. I still think he is weak here and now I have a lot of equity so I check-raise to $70 and he thinks for quite some time before eventually folding AQ face up! I actually said “wow” in genuine shock because that was not a hand I was trying to get him to fold because I didn’t think it was possible he could be that strong.

I have to wonder why an overly aggressive player would choose to open-limp with AQ on the button. Isn’t it to set a trap? Well, I fell right into it and then he decided to just be like “naw, you have this one.” I guess he had no idea what I thought of his image.

I Get Stacked By A Shocking Hand

I open to $10 from early position with AJ of clubs and only the big blind defends. The flop comes 732 with two clubs and he checks it over to me. I think this is a good flop to consider checking with in order to balance my checking back range, but a) I’m a part-time player in this game, b) I don’t think this opponent is really thinking about ranges, and c) I want to build a pot against weak players. So I bet $10 and he check-raises me to $25. He started the hand with about $215 and you really have to wonder what kind of hands he would check-raise on this flop. The only hands I’m in bad shape against are the sets and he doesn’t appear strong at all to me. I decide that I am willing to play for all the money if he wants to, so I stick in a commitment raise to $85, which is roughly 40% of the remaining stacks. The only appropriate response to my raise is all in or fold, so obviously this guy calls. *face palm*

The turn is a brick, like an 8 or something, and he stuffs his remaining $121 in the pot and I snap call, annoyed. I’ll be even more irritated in a second, but first I want to look at the math here. I committed myself to getting all the chips in on the flop, but he thwarted that plan by just calling and letting a turn roll off with money behind. So after his all in and subtracting for the rake ($6), there is now $306 in the pot and it costs me $121 to call. I’m getting a little over 2.5 to 1 to call, so I need to win about 28.5% of the time to make calling profitable. I think it’s safe to assume all my flush outs are clean, but I’m going to make a flush less than 20% of the time on the river. If one of my overcards is live I’m still a little short, but if they are both live, I have an easy call. Plus there is some remote chance that I have the best hand. He could be doing this with a naked flush draw himself, or even a combo draw like 54 of clubs. With my perceived outs alone, it’s a pretty close call, but when you add in the chances of having the best hand, I just have to go with it.

Well, I do call. The river is a 2 and he shows…

AK offsuit.

Ouch.

Okay, so I didn’t exactly get stacked, but I doubled him up with most of my stack and I really have no idea how he got all the chips in after the flop but… maybe I should’ve balanced that checking range!

Image For The Max

This hand happens shortly after that last one and I try to isolate one limper by making it $10 to go on the button with 54 of spades. Both blinds and the limper call, which is not very ideal considering I have 5 high and I think my credibility is low at the moment.

What is ideal is a T55 flop. Everybody checks to me and I bet $15 and one of the blinds snap calls, practically salivating from the mouth at the thought of picking off my upcoming barrels.

The turn is a 2 and I bet $35 into $64 and again he calls quickly.

The river is a Q and he checks again. There is now $134 in the pot, I have $234 behind and he has me covered. I’m thinking long and hard about my bet size because I was going to size large on the river but I’m a little concerned that the Q might kill my action a little because it creates a lot of chops and brings an overcard to the obvious pair of tens my opponent has. However, while I’m thinking this over, he says “Oh come on, you know you can only bet if you have a 5” and I really felt like that was my cue to go for it all. I shove and he SNAP CALLS! Gotta love it. Bet almost 2x pot on the river and he gives it zero thought. Wow!

I finished my 82 minute $1/$3 session up $183 despite being down a full buy in at one point. I’ll take it!

$20/$40 Snooze Fest

Goodness the $20/$40 games at Fortune have been bad the last two times I’ve played. I have now logged 15.75 hours over my last two $20/$40 sessions and I would say I’ve been in a good game for less than two of those hours. Both times I’ve played I didn’t find my way to a good game until the very end of my session when I was practically ready to go.

On the plus side, I love to terrorize nits. If nobody wants to play hands, then I’m just going to play them all and they’re either going to let me win $30-$50 every hand or they’re going to have to get out of their comfort zones. Usually tables will get tired of this and I can back off as they start playing looser and fail to adjust to my change of pace.

But I have been in some seriously nitty lineups. Like, to the point where I was comfortably raising hands like K8 suited and QT offsuit from under the gun. In the later positions, I was frequently raising and betting until they made me look at my hands.

I admittedly ran very good when they did play back at me. I raised dark on the button and got called by the small blind and three bet by the big blind then flopped trip threes with A3 offsuit. I raised dark from the cutoff and the button three bet me and I flopped quads with K2 suited. I opened with 55 and both blinds raised me and I flopped a set of 5s! Pretty lucky… and it really makes the table feel handcuffed when you are steamrolling them and then flopping huge when they do fight back.

I ended up leaving that horrible game up about $800, which is no small accomplishment when no one is putting money in the pot.

Naturally, I started to run like crap when I got in a good game. The first hand I played, I turned the nuts with JT suited in a massive pot and lost to a rivered flush, a solid $700 swing in the wrong direction. I also got really card dead and then whiffed the flop whenever I did find a hand to play.

All in all, I finished up a disappointing $241 in the $20/$40 game and booked a $424 win for the day.

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Three Crazy $20/$40 Hands

October 28, 2017

So my goal with these session blogs is to do a couple of week and last night I didn’t take any notes for my $20/$40 limit hold em session at Fortune, but there were three hands that I don’t need any help remembering and really feel the need to share:

Hand #1

Hi jack opens, a player I don’t have a ton of experience with but I imagine is quite good three bets on the button, the small blind calls and I have KK in the big blind. I decide to just flat. As I said, I don’t have much history with the button, but I know he’s astute and I feel like capping it here out of the big blind will really tip my hand strength. 

The flop spoils my dastardly plans by bringing an Ace, as well as a 6 and a 2 and two spades. I check to the cutoff and he leads right out; the button calls, small blind calls and I call, holding the King of spades in my hand. 

The turn pairs the Ace, which is a pretty good card for me, but I’m still playing defense and check it to the cutoff and he fires another bet and now the button springs to life with a raise.

The small blind folds and I go deep into the tank. I felt like I’m supposed to fold here. I really can’t imagine what hands the button is flatting, with two players behind him, on the flop that have me beat. Surely, he would be raising an Ace on the flop. The cutoff can definitely have an Ace, however. 

I wanted to fold, but I could feel something telling me I would regret it and, in the past, when these “easy” folding spots have come up and something doesn’t feel right, my instincts have almost always been correct. Unfortunately, I have made about 5-6 folds in substantial pots that I would have won and I almost always had this feeling beforehand. Like, folding seems standard, but something is off. It’s my instincts telling me: “DON’T DO IT!

This time I decided to make the tough call and slid the $80 cold into the pot. I believe the cutoff folded and then the river bricked out and the action went check-check and I won the pot.

Hand #2

This is an insane hand. It’s especially crazy because I had logged a total of less than one hour lifetime with the villain in question to this point. I also rarely consciously use physical tells to make my poker decisions. Every once in a while they may factor in, but most of that is so subconscious that I’m not even aware of it. But I had noticed something about this player that I couldn’t help but inventory. He was a confident dude, to the point where I felt like he was bordering on cocky, but more importantly, he practically dripped with hubris when he was betting the best hand. 

So when he raised my big blind and I defended with the K3 of diamonds heads up, I checked it over to him on the 752 rainbow flop and I couldn’t help but notice that when he bet, that glaring cockiness was missing.

Time to execute: I check-raised. 

He called and I led into him on the 9 of hearts turn, which opened up a backdoor heart draw. My read was really being challenged when he decided to raise me. Again, his strength wasn’t convincing, but I had King high with literally no draw. I felt like I should probably just fold and give it up, but what’s the point of picking up these tells if you aren’t going to utilize the information? I really believed what I detected was true, so I went ahead and three bet him. He called pretty quickly.  Shit.

The river was a 2 of hearts, completing the backdoor flush and pairing the board. There was a chance that he rivered a flush and I felt like he would never ever fold a better hand than me at this point, so I just checked it over to him. Would I call a bet here? Absolutely. Sure, it may feel like a torch, but I’ve come too far now. I didn’t have to call though because he checked behind.

I announced, “King high.”

He waited me out, so I said, “is it good?”

He asked, “King high flush?”

I said, “no. King high.”

I tabled it and…

…he mucked!

Don’t try this at home, kids.

Hand #3

I have moved back to the third $20/$40 game at this point and I am playing four-handed near the end of my session when this hand comes up. 

 The button opens, a really bad player in in the small blind calls, and I defend with A7 offsuit. 

 The flop comes 752 with two hearts (I have the Ace of hearts) and the small blind leads out. Obviously, I have an easy raise here, but I also have a massive amount of intel on the small blind at this point.

 In the past, I’ve seen him donk the flop with top pair hands and quality draws – this will be important later.

 So I raise and now the button three bets it and we both call. 

 The turn card is a beautiful Ace of spades and we check to the button; he bets, the small blind calls, I check-raise, and they both call. 

 The river is a 6 and now the small blind leads out. Okay, now I’m officially perplexed. My first instinct is to call. When I’ve seen the small blind lead out on the big bet streets he has been pretty nutted, so flatting and trying to get an overcall from the button made a lot of sense to me – it may save me a bet or two when I’m no good and it will probably win me the same amount when I have the best hand. 

 But then I really started thinking about it and realized that his most likely drawing hand was 43 and that hand made a straight on the turn and all he did was call twice then. 

So I raised. I didn’t think about it long enough. 

The button folded and then the small blind three bet me. I mean, this is basically a fold now. I think if I thought longer about the river and realized that this player can actually show up with a hand as bad as 66 here or that he may have started with 98 of hearts, I would have determined that calling was my best line. 

He didn’t have either of those hands. I reluctantly made the call and he showed 98 offsuit. Ouch. 

 I had never seen him bet the flop with a draw that weak, so I wasn’t even considering the 98, but for whatever reason I overlooked the fact that he could have 98 of hearts and because of that I cost myself an extra $80.

On the bright side, it was a pretty amazing session for me considering I spent about 8 of my 9.5 hours in very bad, super nitty lineups. I ran pretty good in one of the worst $20/$40 games I’ve ever played in – so bad, I would probably play something else if I didn’t get off to such a hot start. Plus, for whatever reason, I have a tendency to get unwarranted action even from normally tight players. All in all, I was pretty happy to book a +$1445 win under these conditions.