How I Came Back at $1/2

Last week I went down to play the WSOPC Ladies Event at Harrah’s AC.  Like every tournament I enter, it was my goal to win that event.  I ran deep but no cigar, K.O.’d in 15th place.  Since I had a room for the night and have been studying low stakes cash games, my other goal was to put more time in at $1 / 2 before I drove back home.

I’ll preface my sessions by saying I’ve had a love/hate relationship with cash games for a very long time.  The frustrations of long hours of tournament play and variance only to get knocked out near the bubble (see above paragraph) or min-cash have made me really reconsider cash games.  I hate all the energy, passion, and focus I invest in to tournaments to then get sucked out on or lose flips.  Losing flips make me flip.  Tournaments can deplete my heart of joy.  I die then resurrect to go through the vicious cycle again.  I’m a wet sock in a dryer.

Cash games are sexy.  They’re like a Now and Later candy.  You can have poker now, or you can have it later.  You have a choice, play however long you want. The flexibility of that optimal time I want to dedicate to the game has pushed me to work on this side of the poker coin.  Before I go any further, a big shout out and thank you to all the YouTube vloggers out there — Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen — to name two.  Just listening to these guys talk through hands and seeing their hole cards (and what they fold) has been tremendously enlightening.

So back to my cash game sessions — that night after busting out, regrouping, and having something to eat I head down to the poker room with $100. Throughout the session the table fluctuates from 6 to 8 handed. My stack is also a rollercoaster — up $140 then down to $65.  I’m not able to pick up any momentum or win big pots and the table is pretty nitty with decent players.  The only fishy player is on my direct left.  Time passes and I feel myself getting tired, unfocused, and then the fishy player gets up to leave.  That’s my cue to leave.  After 4 hours-ish I call it a night with a small win of $46.  We’ll take it!

The next morning I have my breakfast in my room (my wife prepped all of my meals, thank you my love, gotta watch the life rake!) and a quick meditation session. Feeling ready to go, I hit the poker room and get sat at a brand new game.  I look around the table, all men, and all but one bought in for $200 – $500 (the max).  Again, I start out short with a $100 stack.

A quick intro of the players I can remember – in seat 1 a young, mid-20’s guy sitting on $200, fairly tight, not involved in a lot of pots.  Seat 2 an older regular, had about $100, uber tight but liked limping in (and unintentionally exposing his cards), and would only take a stab at the pot if he hit.  Seat 3 I don’t remember.  Seat 4 had a few turnovers, the most memorable was Collegiate Hoodie, a young kid wearing a collegiate blue hoodie (and a girlfriend that showed up to prop her legs on him towards the end of his session) with about $300 in front.  We get into a big pot described below.  Seat 5 was an older white man that bought in for $300, but never moved the needle past $350.  He never ever raised and limped in with hands like JJ and QQ.  Seat 6, on my direct right, was a nice chatty lawyer from New York.  So I dubbed him Friendly.  He bought in for $500 and was probably the biggest stack at the table and one of the better players, slowly chipping up (when I left he was up around $1,300).  Since I’m in seat 7, we were talking it up the whole time.  I’m  glad to have position on him.  Early on, seat 8 was an older white man with $300, pretty tight, not playing very many hands.  Seat 9, an early 30’s Asian looking fellow, I called him Tricky because of his lines — leading out against a preflop raiser (sometimes for more than 1 street) and check/raising flops and/or turns.  Tricky was someone that Friendly played lots of big pots against (and stacked him at least once).  Interestingly enough they knew each other.

It’s been a while since I’ve played in a cash game so, at first, I’m nervous because everyone has me covered.  But I remember Tommy Angelo’s teachings about breathing in Elements of Poker and that helps me relax.  The other beauty of cash is that the blinds don’t go up.  I can sit and get a feel for the players with basically not too much pressure.  And that’s exactly what I do — I fold and observe everyone getting to know my fellow table mates.

Hand #1

I don’t pick up any chips until this first hand, I’m in the cutoff with As4d.  Friendly raises to $8 and I 3-bet to about $16.

Flop:  Qs-Ts-x

He checks, I bet.  I think if the turn is a spade I’m gonna rep the flush since I have the Ace of spades.  Turn is exactly that, a spade.  He checks and I shove for something like $54, about a pot sized bet.  He tanks for a bit then he starts saying, “this is a conservative fold” as he shows me one of his cards, the queen of clubs.  He throws his cards in the muck and I decide to show him the Ace of spades.  “Oh I know what the other card was,” he says.  I sigh inwardly as that could’ve been the end of my session right there, not even an hour in.  Short (stacked) and sweet.  But this was the hand that started my upswing.  Afterwards, we continued our conversation about how we both knocked Vanessa Selbst out of charities tournaments.

Hand #2

The next big hand for me happens in the small blind with 56ss.  The young guy in seat 1 raises to $7 in early position, he has about $200.  A bunch of calls go around the table so I decide to see a flop for $6 more.  The older man in the big blind also calls.  Six players are in.

Flop:  3x-4h-Kx

It goes check, check to the original raiser who bets $7 into a pot of about $42.  There are three calls in late position and so I call with my open-ended straight draw.  Pot is $77.

Boom, the turn is the 7h.  I lead out for $75.  Everyone folds but 1 guy, Collegiate Hoodie in seat 4.  Pot is now about $227.  River’s a blank, no backdoor flush.  I bet $30 and the guy calls w/ 5-3hh. Wow.  Older man on the left makes a comment about my turn bet saying, “that was a get the fuck out of my pot bet”.  I respond, “yes sirrrrr!” As I take down a nice pot.

Hand #3

With pocket 4’s I raise to $7 in early position and get 4 callers.  Respect…Pot is $35.

Flop is rather favorable, as Andrew Neeme might say… 4c-6c-4s.  I bet out $22 and they all fold.  I ask, “is the high hand in effect yet?”  And toss my cards in the muck face up.  I really didn’t want to show, but I thought my quad 4’s might make a high hand (they didn’t).   I am kind of glad I did show, because it helped put something in the minds of these players.  And some of them reacted with a “whoa!”  Poker players do have a pulse after all.

Hand #4

In early position Friendly raises to $10, I look down at AA.  Being in early position I decide re-raise to $20 because I don’t want a calling train behind (thoughts on that, readers?).  Everyone else folds.  Flop comes Q-Q-3x he checks, I bet, and he folds inquiring, “did you flop quads again?”  He then tells me he had pocket 6’s.

By this point, the older man on my left gets up to play $2 / 5 and an older African American woman with a baseball cap (I don’t remember the team, sorry!) and an Atlanta Falcons jersey sits down in seat 8.  She buys in for about $200.  We’ll call her Falcons.

Hand #5

I don’t remember the preflop action exactly, but I believe there was 1 limper in early position (the older man in seat 2).  I’m in the cutoff and decide to get frisky raising 69hh.  Falcons, the big blind (guy in seat 1), and seat 2 call.  The pot was about $45 so I must’ve made it around $11.  Now, I don’t know how you feel about raising with 69hh in the cutoff, but my intention with the raise was to isolate the older man who limped and steal the button, so when Falcons calls and the others call, that plan goes out the window a little bit (I say that in my best De Niro Goodfellas accent).  I think Falcons is fairly new to the table and I have no reads on her, so I’ll proceed with caution.

Flop:  4x-5x-7h

This flop is pretty good for me and pretty blah.  It could very well have hit the big blinds range and so when he leads out for $5 it confirms that thought a little bit (oh, there we go again!). Seat 2 folds, and its on me.  I don’t think I’m worried about Falcons, I focus on seat 1’s bet size, “why so small?” I think It feels weak like he has A4 or A5…I just think the $5 is such a small bet I decide to raise to $20 with my open-ended straight and backdoor flush draw and he folds.  Thoughts?  Did I leave money on the table?

Hand #6

This next hand is with the same guy from the prior hand in seat 1, and Falcons, the new player in seat 8.  A few players limp so I decide to over-limp in late position with 8To.  My girl Falcons does, too.

The pot is $12 and we go 6 ways to a flop of J-9-x (rainbow, one club).  The guy in seat 1 leads out like in the prior hand but for $7.  I decide to raise with my straight draw.  It’s such a dry board, plus I’d like to isolate him now.  I make it $16, but then Falcons calls, and seat 1 re-raises to $45.   I take a sec to think about what he could have, this 3-bet is a first for him.  The first thought is a set because J9 might have bet more than $7…even though I have no idea what Falcons has, but I see her reaching for calling chips and — since I’m on the draw — I decide to call.  Turn is the 7c.


Now seat 1 practically goes all in for $135 (not sure if it’s an accident, but he still has $2 behind).   I think for a split second about re-shoving all in as I only have like $60 behind, but I don’t.   What do you think?  I have to be honest and tell you that I really did not consider what Falcons had, but it makes sense afterwards.  She goes into the tank.  I’m a little worried as I see her carving out chips, counting and recounting… She sighs and says, “it’s only money, right?” 

Ohhh she’s on a draw!!! Oh man a flush draw?  That club hit her?  All this is going through my head…

She calls and the river is a blank.  The guy in seat 1 goes in for his last $2 and I call.  I don’t even think Falcons called there, seat 1 & I both flip our hands over, we have the same hand. Falcons tells me she had QTcc.  She says she would’ve called even if I shoved the turn so maybe I should have (I know very result oriented, but I should have charged her more for her draw so I missed value there right, thoughts?).

Hand #7

The dealer deals out our cards but accidentally exposes the ace of spades. I believe 2 players limp (Friendly is one of them) and it folds around to me in the small blind with QQ. I make it $12.  Tricky in seat 9 also in early position calls (the guy Friendly stacked for $300 once already).  Everyone else folds.  I’ve seen this guy play some big pots (and the tricky lines put me in cautious mode).

Flop 5d-4d-Xc

I bet out (don’t remember how much), he calls.

Turn: 9c

I bet out $20 he calls.

River:  9h

I bet out $20 again, he folds, and we win another nice pot.  When the board paired I don’t think I like my same-turn-bet-amount on the river.   Don’t like it much at all.  When he didn’t try to get fancy on the turn, I figured when the board paired that a small bet was the way to go, but I don’t like the same sizing.

Overall, the run good was there (flopping the quad 4’s and sets twice with pocket 7’s), but I also felt really focused and, as a result, played good and made some good folds (JJ on K-2-3r board when Tricky in seat 9 check/raised to $45). I also did not tilt once after I lost a hand.  I just kept breathing and looking at each hand as a clean slate.  There was even a player that sat down later and got under people’s skin. He started off losing his first hand and was complaining from the get.  Usually I’d be right there letting this guy take me down and get to me, reacting to his negative comments, but this time I just breathed and let his remarks roll off of me like drops of water off a duck’s back. All in all, I was able to build a lot of momentum and run up my stack nicely for a successful session.

Feel free to leave feedback for any of the hands, I welcome any thoughts and comments below.  Thanks for reading!

GIF source:

From Napoleon Dynamite Movie –


2 thoughts on “How I Came Back at $1/2

    1. I don’t think you are lacking in confidence, Zeke! I highly recommend Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker. It truly is my bible, and when I stray from his rules I lose mentally, financially, & spiritually.


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