The Surging GVR Tourney

The Surging GVR Tourney

I’ve been taking it slow on poker that past few days as I’ve spent more time trying to train Ace to not destroy the house when I leave.

I did find time, however, to take in the fast-growing tournament in Las Vegas Saturday morning at Green Valley Ranch.

chipsGVR has had a 10AM daily tourney as long as I can remember. Friday and Saturday’s fields were always the best. Any given Saturday you could expect 50-60 players. Through word of mouth (the greatest promotion any poker room can have) the field has exploded the last four weeks. Yesterday the field again cracked 120 players for a $45 buy-in event.

I can’t tell you the exact size of the player count or prize pool because I was bounced in level two. It was just bad luck I ran into aces twice and queen once while holding top pair or two pair each time.

Inexplicably, the field for the Sunday through Friday 10AM tournaments has gone unchanged. Sundays  and Fridays have around 40 players. Monday through Thursdays feature around 30 players.

Saturday is the day to be at Green Valley Ranch.

Current Bankroll: $2,968

A Hard Way To Make An Easy Living

A Hard Way To Make An Easy Living

Professional poker, as the saying goes, is a hard way to make an easy living. I am finding that out on a nightly basis.

Like other sports a poker game can change in a heart beat. A game that was tight as a drum for two hours can suddenly be a gambler’s paradise. And a game of loose, aggressive play can tighten up with just the elimination of a single player. A good poker player recognizes the changes in the game and adapts to them quickly.

As I am learning the players and way the game is played at Green Valley Ranch I ran into this situation twice this week

Tuesday I did not handle it well. At the table with my friend Fast Eddie I got off to a hot start ($390/$200) backdooring a nut straight when I was on a queen high flush draw. At this time there was only one gambler at the table. His bets were were so out of whack with the rest of the table it wasn’t really changing my game.

What I failed to realize was the gradual addition of three more loose aggressive players, replacing three of the tight players. Now there were four players that were willing to mix it up preflop with any hand in the book. I knew I was in trouble when I raised with Ad-Jd and  was beaten with a 2-6o.

The loose players cut into my stack as I was playing tentatively and just calling with my starting hands. When I missed the flop the agro players would bet at me and I would fold. I was being slowly ground down.

Finally I had a hand where I could right the ship. Unfortunately, I misplayed it badly. I raised preflop with J-J. The flop was 8-6-3 and I fired a pot-sized bet. It was called. The turn was 4. I didn’t like the card but I thought another bet would take the pot down. I fired again, but the bet was not big enough and I got called again. The river was a 7. It made three to a flush and four to a straight on the board. My opponent, who was also the big blind, fired a $250 bet into a pot of $150. It was more than I had in front of me. I folded. And he tabled A-6o for a smaller pair.

The whole hand showcased I could be bluffed. It all went downhill from there. I turned a winning session into a $150 loss.

Today I was determined to learn from my mistakes and take a few more chances.

Getting dealt aces my very first hand was a good omen. There was no flop in the hand, but I did pick up two blinds, a straddle and a preflop raise.

I struggled the first hour but not due to bad play as much as just pure unluckiness. I had top pair fail to hold up a couple of times against straight or flush draws that got there on the river.

I had to rebuy in the first hour, but it didn’t really bother me. I was here to gamble a little more tonight. I wanted to take a few of the lessons I had learned earlier in the week and see what I could do.

The first hand after my $200 rebuy I doubled up. I limped in under the gun with K-K knowing someone at the table would raise. Sure enough there was a limp in and a raise to $12. After three more $12 calls it was back to me. I made it $100. That drove out everyone but the first raiser.

The flop was 6-3-4 with two diamonds. So I sent my last $100 chasing in after the first and was reluctantly called. The last two cards were both diamonds. When I tabled my hand with the king of diamonds the villain mucked. I don’t know what he called me with, but I’m guessing I was never behind.

After gambling a little more over the next hour I had dumped some chips. Then I had a two-hand run that changed the night.

I was dealt A-A from the small blind and raised to $15. Even though the raise was too big I was called by five players, which is not the greatest development for aces. I would have preferred to play them heads up. The flop was K-10-6 with two spades. I led out for $45 into the $90 pot. After a fold the next player went all in for $340, which was more than I had left.

I was trying to figure out what he could have called me with. There was a chance he flopped a set, but I thought it would be unlikely he would raise all in with that flop. After taking the time to evaluate all the hands he might have I decided to call. I was convinced he had no better than two pair (which I couldn’t beat) and possibly just a King or a flush draw (which I was beating). The turn and the river were both 4s.

Since I had called him I just sat there waiting for him to show his cards. He was reluctant to do so. He finally turned over 10-6 offsuit for two pair. Fortunately for me I had made two pair of aces and fours and won the great pot. I was now $525/$400 (damn two buyins).

The very next hand the same player I had just cracked straddled. There were several limp-ins around to me, and I limped in with Q-10o on the button. The blinds limped in and the straddler raised to $19.

There were a couple of calls to me, and I called as well think he might be steaming off the last beat.

The flop was J-9-8 with two clubs. I had flopped the nut straight. The big blind led out for $40. The straddler went all in for his last $112. It was folded around to me. I decided to just call the $112 and see if I could get the first bettor to call, as well, since he had about $350 behind. He folded.

The turn and river ran out 9-3 and again I waited for the first guy to table his hand. He turned over J-10 for two pair. I turned over the nut straight and took the rest of his chips.

My session would end about 30 minutes later as I was $628/$400. It was a tidy $228 profit for three hours work.

A hard way to make an easy living.

Current Bankroll: $2,295

It Is Just A Pair Of Aces

pocket_acesFew reactions at a poker table are more humorous to me than the reaction of someone who loses with a pair of Aces. The reaction of a recreational player who somehow lost with the best possible starting hand is priceless. It’s often classic meltdown theatre.

Two things I have to remember about two aces in any Texas hold’em game:

  1. At a full table two aces win roughly one-third of the time. So for every three times you are dealt pocket aces, you should LOSE with them twice.
  2. The reason is because pocket aces are just ONE PAIR.

The second point is the one that is often lost on recreational players. One pair is the second lowest winning hand in poker, ahead of only high card.

  1. Royal Flush
  2. Straight Flush
  3. Four of a kind (Quads)
  4. Full House
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three of a kind (Set)
  8. Two pair
  9. One pair
  10. High card

Of the top six winning hands, five of them use all five cards, while the other one uses four cards. That’s because the more cards used to make a winning hand (not counting a kicker), the more likely the hand is going to win. Pocket Aces — any pair for that matter — is a two-card hand. And, two-card hands are easy to beat.

The main reason players get upset about losing with a pair of Aces is the player struggles to fold the hand after the flop, regardless of the texture of the board. Recreational players get locked into their hand.

Here are five scenarios and my thought process. In each scenario I am holding:





In each scenario, I raised preflop because I am holding pocket aces. No one re-raised me.


Scenario #1, two players called my late-position raise in a $2-5 NL game. The flop is:

king_hearts jack_hearts 2_hearts




Player A leads out for the size of the pot, player B folds. It is my turn to act. I like this flop. Anyone holding a king and made top pair, but is still beat. Even if we are out flopped (K-J, J-J, 2-2 being the most likely) we have a redraw to the top flush. I am likely just calling Players A’s bet because the board doesn’t scare me and I want to disguise by pocket Aces and redraw until I make a raise (or bet) on the turn.


Scenario #2, in a $2-4 limit game six players called my early-position raise preflop. The flop is:

ace_clubs 4_spades





Our dream flop in a low-limit game. I flopped a full house. Since this is low limit, there is a good likelihood that the case Ace is in one of the other hands. That player is drawing dead, but will be unable to release their hand because of the low bet amounts. Any player holding a four has made trip fours, but is drawing dead to the case four. There is also two straight card and two flush cards on this flop. Low limit players love draws like this, and they have no idea they are drawing thin-to-dead. I like this flop and I am going to happily pound away and get as many bets in the pot as possible.


Scenario #3, three other players called my raise preflop in a $1-2 NL game. I continuation bet the flop, and the other three players all call. On the turn, the the board is:

5_spades 6_spades 7_hearts 8_spades




My hand is in bad shape. It would make sense that anyone calling a flop bet was probably drawing to a straight or a flush. On the turn, both scenarios picked up a card that helps. With the Aces of spades I have a redraw to the top flush. The questions is whether I am getting the right price to call. The pot is $30. On the turn, Player A bets out $30, Player B folds, Player C raises to $100. I have $120 left in our stack. It is going to cost us 83 percent of my remaining stack to call. It is almost a given I have to hit a spade to win, and there are nine spades left in the deck (not counting our Aces and the three on the board). However, I have to discount that 9 of spades and the 4 of spades, and both those cards make a possible straight flush. That leaves seven likely winning cards. I don’t want to leave myself with just $20 left if I miss the spade, so I am folding pocket aces.


Scenario #4, in a $3-6 limit game, five of us take the flop. The board eventually runs out:

10_clubs king_clubs king_diamonds queen_clubs queen_diamonds




I  am beat. I was probably beat on the flop. The classic mistake a recreational $3-6 player makes here is calling on the flop, the turn and the river, losing an additional $15 along the way. Low-limit players tend to “announce” their holdings by leading out with bets or check-raising. The bettor here leads out into your raise, representing a King. I cannot beat three kings in this scenario. There is no reason to call after the flop, the turn or the river. The hands I cannot beat after the river: 10-10, K-K, Q-Q, K-10, Q-10, A-J, any K-x, any Q-x, any two clubs. There are dozens of hands I cannot beat with my A-A. It’s an easy fold during any street of this hand.


Scenario #5, I am heads up with one player in a $1-2 NL game. I bet the flop and he check-called. I bet the turn, and he check-called. On the river, he leads out for a pot-sized bet. The board is:

3_diamonds 5_diamonds 8_clubs 10_diamonds jack_diamonds




Although I am likely to be ahead on the flop and the turn, especially when our opponent was check-calling, I am probably not ahead after the river. Check-calling is a sign of someone drawing to a hand. Not only did four to a flush come on the river, but three to a straight. I am holding the wrong Ace here, as the Ace of diamonds would be a winner. This is a fold.

Aces are a great starting hand. Often times they can win big pots. But don’t get discouraged if you lose with them. They are just one pair, and like any other hand in poker (save for a Royal flush), they can be beaten.

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