Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gimme those kings

Blogger Rob has several posts about how he never wins with pocket kings. I always thought heck, I love pocket kings. It's the second-strongest starting hand in hold 'em, so why not?

Saturday, I was number 101 to enter the 4 p.m. poker tournament at the Horseshoe. Buy-in was $160 and I was seated as an alternate because I showed up late. We started with 12,000 in chips. Early on, the blinds were 200/100 and I picked up J 9. The guy in front of me limped, so I limped. If I'm entering an unbet pot, I try my hardest to fold or come in for a raise. When the pot is limped, I allow myself to limp behind. Another donkey player limped as well to the big blind who raised to 600. What's wrong with this picture? I'm sorry, but 600 doesn't get the job done. All he did was give the rest of us good pot odds to join him.

The flop was nice: J 9 6. The big blind now said, "All in," music to my ears. He obviously has played pocket aces like a rank amateur. The guy to my right folded, I moved all in and the other limper folded. Big blind showed: K K. Okay, so I was wrong about the aces, but close.

I remember thinking "No 6, no 6," which would give him a higher two-pair hand. The board bricked and I had my double up.

A few hands later, the blinds were 400/200 and I was the one who picked up kings: K K. A guy came into the pot for a raise to 1000 and another player made a re-raise to 5000. My stack was around 25,000, so a re-raise would pot commit me. Yes, I thought he might have aces, but I decided a long time ago that I'm not folding kings pre-flop, both live or online. The players re-raise with the most God-awful hands you wouldn't believe.

It folded to the re-raiser who called and showed me my nightmare: A A. The flop came with another ace! and I was drawing dead. My stack was back down to 5500.

An orbit later, a short-stack on my right moved all in. I peeked at my cards and saw joy: K K. Yes! I moved all in (we both had around 5500) and a big stack thought and thought and called. The first all-in player showed 9 9 and the caller behind me had J J. So far, so good.

The flop had Q-10-x. The turn was an 8 and the board was rainbow. The river was a 9 and I remember thinking, "Crap, he's got a set," but then I saw the hand with jacks had made a straight, ouch.

As I headed for the rail and thought about Rob. Maybe he's onto something. Nah, gimme kings every time. I'll take my chances.


  1. After such an unlikely event, that is, you not making the final table, do you more often then find a cash game to play or do you get back in your car?

  2. @bastin: Great question. Usually I'm too keyed up to sit and play ca$h games, so I mostly get in my car. I live near the casinos, so I can go play anytime I like. Try to do it when in a good frame of mind (although I play much more tournaments than cash).

  3. Btw nice pic with the backwards hat which Rob doesn't like either. :)

  4. I'll take the Kings every time. It is the Queens that have always given me trouble.

  5. Some bad luck with the Kings there -
    Losing to Aces you'll accept but losing no matter what to JJ and 99 BOTH in the same hand, not as cool.

    You ran like a mad man earlier so it's only natural that even you has to suffer a few beats lol

  6. All I could think of was that it must be getting mighty crowded in your pockets what with keys and kings and aces and aspirin and other stuffs. :-)

  7. Thanks for the shoutout, MOJO. Those damn pocket Kings will get you every time.

    Seriously, I did run into a really bad streak there where they were either felting me in cash games or busting me out of tournaments. Lately tho I've had a bit better luck with them, knock on wood.

    Not that it matters, but I don't think it's clear on the hand where you up against Aces.....did you shove there and he called and you had him covered? You said a reraise would have had you pot you shoved, right?

    Sorry for the bad luck, but the one good thing about getting your ass kicked with Kings, it almost always gives you a good blog post!

    And Josie, nice catch. The pic of MOJO was so small I almost didn't see it and I sure didn't notice the backward cap. Nice touch.

    It doesn't look as bad from the back. But I gotta tell you, if I have pocket Kings and lose with them to a guy wearing his cap backwards.....I will probably just run out of the poker room screaming.

  8. @josie: I almost always wear my cap backwards when photographing - the bill gets in the way. I wear it backwards at poker once in a while, not normally not.

    @Rob: yes, i shoved. I was never folding, so went ahead and put my chips out there. Trying to guess if he has A-A is beyond me, so that's my plan.

  9. Oh, I meant to comment about your "limping" strategy. Been reading a lot lately about the wisdom of limping. OK, so I see you allow yourself to do it if someone has already limped in. What's the strategy behind that? Wouldn't a raise give you some fold equity there? Why is ok to limp after someone else limps and not if you're first in?

    Not questioning your wisdom here, just trying to help out my own game.

  10. I tend to limp more with low blinds based on the typical player mix -- ignoring position. It takes about 5 online blind changes to get me purposely upping the aggression factor. Today seemed a great example of big pot poker. It is live by the sword time to seek big pot poker.

    The thing often missing from the narrative is blind level. That can be more important than KK or The Inquisition holdings. Without a strong M you can flip coins on how to proceed. Early coin-flipping is like Russian roulette with extra bullets in the gun. (multi-way all ins)

    Dave has also talked about how he can lay down a "big" hand. If K's and even A's are learning events it is because they can be too easy to go broke with.

    I'm guessing the day was atypical. The basis for that varies. We all have them and only later recognize how we end up where we ended up. Cards can contribute as we see.

    Let me ask this. If you are the better post flop player, why wouldn't you want to visit a lot of less expensive pots? Why wouldn't you seek better options when there are too many holding position? It is questions similar to these that I believe Dave has figured out and that have brought success.

    It is a bit like The Corps of Discovery. Lewis and Clark embarked poling up the bottom of the Missouri with lots (M-wise) of supplies that made for annoying grunt work. It is what got them to shooting the rapids in a canoe. (fun and the real excitement)

    That is it in a nutshell. You do what you have to do and take the chances you want to take to get to late play fun where you can hopefully bring the a-game out and polish it.

    For a yuck, I do remember a 3-way holding KK against an AA. The yuck is number 3 also held KK. That KK actually won when the board four-flushed the river. Hand calculators recognize one-percenters without emotion. We don't when they hit.

    Think about the hand being played by three limpers instead of three all ins. The board then shows a very coordinated flop that mostly misses your hand. What does the better post flop player do when the option is committing? Refer to some of Dave's earlier posts, if you don't know.

    Hell, I should have worked on this as a post and left the link. I been dry at posting. LOL

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