Whoring for Bonus

(I hear the crowd cheering when it appears I won’t be discussing luck vs. skill today - I‘m cheering too, rest assured).

My goal for the month of June is to go back to bonus whoring, to some extent. Going through and looking at my respective poker accounts last week, I cannot help but notice several bonuses still pending in my accounts. It occurs to me that when I first began playing (outside of my little world known as poker.com), bonus whoring was a significant portion of my game. My goal for the week was to complete all outstanding bonuses that were worth obtaining (read: I am not going to sit on the .10/.20 cent tables to play through for a bonus. Bonus and games willing, I’ll do it, but I am not dropping down to play a ridiculous game just to achieve said bonus.

So off I went, working off my bonuses at the various poker sites I frequent. As I may or may not have mentioned, I made the switch to playing full table limit now, as opposed to the short-handed limit. It occurs to me that the semi-loose aggressive player is ideal for shorthanded play. That… is not me. I “can” play semi-loose, but really, I am more of a tight aggressive player. When I loosen up my play in ring games, I find myself outside of my comfort zone. Thus, it makes sense that I play at a table that is ideal for my style of play. After all, I preach table selection, right? Might as well go a step further and go with game selection as well.

Anyways… off to Sun Poker I go to clear my free $40 (shout out to Sharky for sending me to the donk-infested beaches of Sun Poker). $40 cleared in no time at all. Sun will be my first stop every month. Fast forwarding to the point of my writing today, PokerStars. This is my “online poker birthplace.” I got my start here, and frankly, I played as if I was a newborn when I first started playing online. Actually, a newborn could have beaten me, now that I think of it.

I had a decent size reload bonus I needed to work off, so I fire up a few tables, varying in limits and once again full table limit Hold’em being the game of choice. I couldn’t help but notice the presence of “Mr. 63%” on one of the tables. Usually, his hand looked as follows:

Pre-flop raise, continuation bet/call the reraise, turn bet/call the reraise, fold…

unless he hit, then it was

Pre-flop raise, continuation bet/re-reraise; turn bet/call, bet/re-reraise…

As his bankroll seems to dwindle down into non-existence, I suspect the table full of nine other players who are seeing less than 30% of the flop and all but two profitable will quickly break up. Just like clockwork, player busts out, fails to reload and the table begins breaking up. I have no desire to play at a cash poker table among players who are seeing 20-25% of the flops, raising 10%, post-flop aggression factors above 2. So, smartly I depart, looking for a “better” game. Fortunately, I kept “Mr. 63%” marked, so I tracked him down to a $1/$2 NL table. This could be fun, I thought. I was showing profit and close to working my bonus off, so I shut down the remaining two limit tables, in favor of playing against “Mr.63%.” Moreover, I was “outside of my world” here. Unfortunately for me, he left quickly. However, the game was somewhat donk infested, so I decided to stay, but only until I achieved my bonus play-through requirements.

I sat down with twice table minimum in this game, which was less than the max, of course. My goal was to take a shot, but to do so smartly. The table was not very aggressive pre-flop and people only seemed to bet when they hit their hands. In short, it was a non-hostile, mostly transparent table. Two players in particular I had noticed playing hands like Queen-two suited, or Jack-eight “not suited” under the gun and to a limp. Usually three to four players would see the flop per hand. Players seemed to raise A-x and large pocket pairs preflop, but avoided raising other hands, even in position.

It was on my final hand, that I had my donk-like moment. Keeping in mind that I know the very next hand in which the rake becomes “enough“ my bonus is released. The hand plays out as follows:

Two players are sitting out. I limp after two folds and a call. The player to my left (one of the out of position donks) raises, making it 4x BB. The small blind folds and big blind calls, because that is what the BB does. Player sitting to my right calls, so I too cleanly call. I have the pot odds to call and see a flop with my hand. I’m thinking raiser has Ax, with X most likely 9-Q. In the event he had a large pocket pair, he would have tipped us off with a larger than 4x raise, I suspect. If the blinds have a large pocket pair, or AK-A10, they reraise here. My preliminary suspicion is that one of the two acting before me has Ax (x=small) and the other is suited somehow or might even have an ace, who knows. I am rather certain, however, that at least two of my three opponents are spending at least one of the other’s outs.

The flop comes Ah, 2h, 7d. I nearly forgot to mention that I am holding 6h-7h. The BB checks, player to my right checks, as do I. Original raiser pushes out a “bet pot” move. I suspect if he bets the pot, he is not trying to extract value or suck anyone in. I believe he has a pair, but not a set, nor is he on a flush draw. BB calls. The ace scares him off if he does not have one of his own. Player to my right folds. Thinking this one over for a bit, I count my outs. I’m on a flush draw (potentially 9 outs), I have middle pair (2 potential outs) and my other card may or may not have outs (I’ll call it ½ of an out). Obviously, no one has the hearted ace, as it’s on the board. I have neither of them on Ace-King or two pair, as the hand would have been re-raised before getting back to me, I suspect. Additionally, the bettor would not have pushed out a pot-sized bet, in my opinion, based on how the table has played out previously. He would want to suck value from his two pair, even if it were ace-two, while at the same time, not giving the odds to draw to the flush or the better two pair.

Considering all, I throw out the all-in re-raise, which offers about 2.5:1 odds to the original raiser, I am certain he is going to be a taker. The blind may or may not join in, but I am not very worried about him, as his stack was small, relatively speaking and he‘d not cover my all-in bet. Did I mention this was my last hand of the evening, win or lose? Pot is full and split. Turn comes off 5 of spades, and the river brings the king of hearts (told you no one was playing A-K, or at least A-K with the king being hearted).

My flush, ace high shows down, muck from opponent number 1 (ace-queen not suited though queen was hearted), pot slides to me. Second opponent mucks (Ac-8c). Main pot also slides to me.

Once again, this was somewhat donk-like of a play for me, and a bit out of character. However, (here comes the justification), my bonus was replacing my loss if I lost the hand (and then some). I was confident that if one of my nine flush outs came my way, I was good. I was confident that I had more outs clean than my opposition did. It was my last hand of the evening, and I was close to a “Freeroll” situation, given the above. Had this hand played out earlier in the day, or without the bonus riding on the line, I would have likely folded.

I knew calling this hand after the raise/call was incorrect, even though I had the pot odds and raising was “more correct.” Folding was an option, but “just was not going to happen,” given all of the above.

More from the felt tomorrow.