My Worst Play Ever, and Grubby Drops THE HAMMER!

“The poker player learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong; that the bumblebee can fly; that, perhaps, one should never trust an expert; that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by those with an academic bent.”
–David Mamet
When we last left off, I had just met Grubby and was doing my best to win as many chips as I could from the maniacal “Big Dog,” who had fired up the table so that 50% of the pots were capped preflop. After greeting Grubby, I told him to get a table change to my table as soon as possible, but apparently the floor man told him there was a wait list for this specific table. I guess the sound of chips splashing the pot could be heard all over the casino. I asked Grubs how his table was:
H: “How is it over there?”
G: “Very loose!”
H: “Well get over here if you want to see REALLY loose.”
The Big Dog was in seat 1 (I’m not sure how his gut fit between the dealer and seat 2), and an older guy immediately to his right kept 3 betting every time the maniac raised. He would 3 bet with anything… this seemed to be his strategy for playing the maniac, and any limpers to act before this duo would be punished for limping, and end up calling 2 or 3 bets to stay in the monster pot. The guy in seat two burned himself into my memory as “Mortal Nuts,” due to a hand that went down like this:
Big Dog 2 bets UTG, and the old guy 3 bets, as usual. I folded a junk
hand, and there were 2 other callers. The flop was Ac 5s 6d, and Big Dog
bets, and is raised by old guy. One caller drops, and the other caller (Seat 5 a George Costanza looking guy) 3 bets it. Big Dog calls, and this time old guy just calls. The turn is the 8s, and Big Dog checks (it was a rare hand). Old guy bets, and Costanza raises again. Big Dog folds (a very
rare occurrence) and Old Guy 3 bets. I have no clue what either of them
have, but I’m enjoying the fireworks. It’s heads up now, and Costanza raises again. Old guy immediately raises, and yells, “I have to raise you,
I’ve got the MORTAL NUTS!”
This exclamation blew me away– not only was he claming to be holding 97 after putting 6 bets in before making his straight on the turn, but where did he get that phrase? Mortal Nuts?
The river was a rag, and Costanza called, only to see Mortal Nut’s nuts– 97o. Costanza showed A4s and muttered something about a big draw. Ahh what a table.
We Three Kings
The shuffle machine set a blinding pace for the table, and before I could recover from the Mortal Nuts, I got red kings under the gun. I raised, and a couple people actually folded (there were a few who’d seen that I played about 10% of the hands), but Big Dog played the “I’ll show this tight player who’s boss” and raised it up for me. Mortal Nuts joined in, and I capped it. No need to disguise my hand here, as people would call with anything.
The flop– 3h 10h Kc. Beautiful. I bet out, making the flush draws pay, and got raised by Big Dog, and was happy to 3 bet. Several people stuck around for the turn, which was 7d. No flush yet. I bet out again, and this time everybody called. Big Dog piped up with accented exclamations, “Come on reee-ver!!!” The river was lucky 7– of hearts! The boat has arrived. I couldn’t have asked for a better card, and put on a little Hollywood “pause before you bet” to convince them I was debating betting or checking. A solid player in middle position called, and the best player at the table (a young woman with a tattoo on her hand) asked “Do you have pocket kings? I’m just gonna call with my flush.” And I could only hope Big Dog would do his job and raise it up… amazingly he folded (what was he looking for on the river?), and I showed my Kings with a tip of the hat to the lady (who am I, Doc Holliday?), raking in the monster pot.
My Worst Play Ever
Before I could stack up the chips, the dealer dealt off the deck shuffled by the machine, and I looked down to see… red kings again! The first thing that went through my mind as I raised was, “Man, this shuffle machine is great!” EVERYBODY calls (no raising after the last hand I showed down), and Mortal Nuts raises on the button, I cap and everybody calls 2 more bets. The flop is nearly identical… two diamonds this time, and a third King again! At this point I’m nearly jumping out of my seat, thinking of the odds of this happening back to back. Astronomical.
I follow the same routine, and the 5 chasers call (Big Dog went to get a hot dog, unfortunately), Mortal nuts raises and I put the cap on again, figuring this time the flush HAS to hit. No way my luck is that good. But the turn is a non-diamond (I can’t even remember the cards because of the trauma I experienced, but read on…) I bet, and this time everybody just calls.
There are now around 30 big bets in the pot ($360), and the river is the dreaded 3rd diamond. I know I’m beat here, with 5 people in the pot… they have to be drawing to something… anyway, I check from the BB, and am just waiting to see the flush, but it’s checked around, but the guy in last position bets. I think for a minute, and realize that there are 4 people behind me, and one of them could definitely check raise. With 5 people chasing from the start, somebody HAS to have the flush… right?
I muck my hand (yes, you read right), and watch in amazement as everyone folds, and the bettor doesn’t even have to show. I can’t resist, and tell the good player I had Kings again. Her eyes get wide, and says, “You FOLDED that???” I mutter, “He had the flush!” and she says, “No, he sure as hell didn’t!” My heart sinks to my stomach, and I realize that there were 30 big bets in the pot… 30:1 odds on a call, and I lay down trip kings!
$300 bucks down the drain, and I feel like I was punched in the stomach. Not because of the money, but because my brain malfunctioned and I made a play that I would NEVER make if I was thinking at all clearly. And if she hadn’t said anything, I would have went happily along, never knowing what a horrible play it was. I was so blinded by the thought that somebody MUST have hit their flush, that I completely ignored pot odds, and paid for it.
I tried to put this play out of my mind, and managed to end up +100 after 5 hours with the maniacs. Not a great haul, especially after throwing a $300 pot into the muck. The swings were big, and I took a couple bad beats with big hands, but I feel like I played pretty well except for the one hand, which was so bad it probably outweighs perfect play for the rest of the night.
Grubby drops the hammer
After 5 hours with the maniacs, and no sign of the game slowing down (Big Dog had 4 racks at this point, after losing $200 in his first 20 minutes), I gave up my seat at the great table to sit with Grubby and Grubette at the next $6-12 table over. I was introduced to the lovely Grubette, and she even produced the famous lucky chip when I asked where it was. The three of us sat at the end of the table, which was full of 30 to 40 year old guys who seemed to be decent players. Oh, and one older lady who called EVERY hand. When I sat down and she called UTG, Grubs coughed “ISOLATE, ISOLATE!” under his breath.
I mucked a ton of hands while enjoying the conversation with the two of them, and I as we rambled on about blogs and odds and such, the rest of the table turned a leery eye. I’d never played next to two players I knew (well, I felt like I knew them), and I wasn’t sure if the rest of the table was worried about collusion. This ended up costing me, as I raised UTG with JJ, and got a couple callers, including Grubette, who was on the BB. She’d been mixing up her game quite a bit, throwing in some surprising raises and taking down pots, so I had no idea what she had. The flop came A A rag, and I bet out, promising myself that I’d fold if reraised. The 2 limpers muck, and Grubette raises me. At this point I was a little worried about the collusion aspect, so I decided to call her down just to show good faith. Also, with the potential jackpot (if another Ace hit we would collect like 5 grand), it was worth a call. Sure enough, she showed A4 after no more aces hit, and the table seemed to be content.
It was about 2 AM at this point, and I was ready to pass out, but pocket Aces quickly woke me up. I’d been playing tight, so only got one caller to my early position raise… the flop was A rag rag, and I slowplayed, thinking about the jackpot (Aces full of tens beaten). When the turn came the case Ace, I sat there stunned, and made sure I didn’t mess this up– was there any jackpot possibility? Nope, I had all the aces… I bet, and he called, and the same on the river. I showed the Aces, and I didn’t even get a “nice hand” from the table, let alone any kind of high hand bonus.
At around 2:30, my eyes were about to close, when I heard Grubby getting involved in a pot in late position. He’d been playing tight, and his flop raise scared a couple limpers out, and only got one caller. He bet the whole way, even when the 4rth club hit the river. I had no clue what he had, and the caller showed T9 for the ten high flush… and Grubby turned over… THE HAMMER! He sheepishly grinned and said “I have a flush!”, and the other players at the table began to stir, leaning forward, craning their necks in disbelief. People began to mutter and laugh, and I let a “No way!” out, as Grubby’s “That’s the hammer!” was lost in the general amazement of the table. The caller said, “You nearly got me,” and smiled, and I thought about how close it was. If he had won that hand, I guess I would have had to give him a leather wallet at least.
Nothing that happened the rest of the night could top that. A fight broke out at the table next to us, and 2 players had to be kicked out of the casino. My favorite part of the whole scene was watching an old guy intently reading card player as the players dropped F-bombs and pushed each other about an inch away from him.
At 4:30 I could barely move, and told Grubs and Grubette that this was my final orbit. I was up around $120 at this point, and knew that I should leave, but I knew that this would be one of my few chances to play with the esteemed playwright and poker blogger. Of course, I lost the $120 on three hands on that final orbit, most of it when I hit my nut flush on the river, but couldn’t even see that the river card that made my hand also paired the board, giving the bettor the boat. He checkraised me, and I realized at that point that I was definitely too tired to play.
So my total take for the night: ZERO DOLLARS! After 9 hours of play, I’d thrown away my meager winnings on three sleepy, final hands. Ugh. And my horrible play with the three kings wouldn’t leave my mind for days… it pisses me off writing about it. Besides that I played pretty well, but when you lose big pots on huge mistakes, you don’t deserve to go home a winner.
Playing with Grubby and Grubette was great. They both seemed like very bright and interesting people, as well as solid poker players. I wish I could play with them every weekend. Getting to bed at 5:30 wiped me out for a couple days, but it was definitely worth it, and I definitely recommend a trip to Hawaiian Gardens if anyone is in the Long Beach area.
Whew. Thanks for reading. There were about a hundred more things I should have written about, but I figure anybody reading this has probably fallen asleep by now. I omitted a lady turning pocket Queens over preflop with no bets in front of her, saying “Unlucky”. And I left out catching a runner runner straight heads-up against the maniac with AJ. But the highlight of the night, of course, was getting to meet Grubby, and seeing the true Lord of the Hammer play it like it was meant to be played.
What is the win rate for an online pro?
I finally dug in a little bit to the mighty David Ross, the 2+2 poster who’s reported winning 60K so far (in less than a year) by playing several $5-10 6max games on Party simultaneously. David’s response to his win rate opened my eyes:
“My Pokertracker database is now over 30,000 hands. I’m winning at a rate of just over 1 BB per 100 hands. Since these last 3 weeks have been fairly typical I think that is probably an accurate win rate for me. Translate that to a live game where you see 33 hands an hour, and I’m winning at an unspectacular 1/3 BB per hour. Thank god for volume. “
1 BB per 100 hands! But since he plays 4 tables at once, this is really equivalent to nearly 4 BB ($40) an hour. 4 shorthanded tables at once??? What kind of neural net is he running? I definitely don’t have the processing speed to handle that kind of volume. I think if they plugged David into the Matrix and had him play Morpheus shorthanded, his neural processing would blow Neo out of the water.
But the good news is, if David can beat these games for 1 BB while playing 4 tables, I have to believe that I can at least get 2 BB/100 by only playing one table. Grubby has been saying all along that these games are the place to be, but when I’ve played there in the past, there just seems to be many good players there. I’ll have to make another run at it.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget your pot odds on the river…
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