So there were a couple of hero call moments at last night's home game that I was involved in. You can call them pressure points or whatever, but there were two moments that stick out in my memory as opportunities for someone to make a big call for a sizable pot, one time the call was made, the other time the fold was made.
The first situation was between me and Hot Brian the Red. It was pretty early in the evening, so neither of us had a real feel for how we were going to run yet. I had gotten off to a rough start, donking off about 1/3 of my starting stack, so I was sitting on about $30-35. Brian was ahead of me in chips, but I had position. I don't remember the board, but what it boiled down to on the river was I had called on every street with A-10 off suit, and the river put a flush or straight out there. Brian checked to me, and I moved all in. It was only about 1/4 the pot, but after a long think, he said "I just don't think I can be good here," and folded. He was good, but the line I took in the hand made him think that he couldn't be good. I played it like I was chasing, then played it like I hit. Brian decided not to make the hero call, and we went on with the evening. Part of my shove was an awfukkit move, where I found myself short and looking to rebuy, but the pot came close to doubling me up so I was back in decent shape.
The other hero call moment for me was against Nate. I was in the big blind, and Nate was under the gun. Not that position matters to Nate, but it frequently matters to his opponents. I hate playing Nate out of position, but have learned the tricks of it after years of practice. I'm pretty sure Jim the Knife raised, because it was his button, it was late, he had a bunch of chips and he'd played well all night. At one point he even commented that he was playing "sterling poker," and I gave him shit that after the 2-outer he caught on me, it was more like electro-plated. But I reciprocated by catching a 2-outer on Special K, so it was all good (at least to me, I don't think Special K caught a 2-outer on anyone, but that was his problem, not mine. If he'd play worse hands, he'd be able to suck out more :)). So I called the preflop raise with Ks-3s, because Brian called it and I figured if I called there would be a cascade of callers behind me, giving me odds with my shit hand. And in one of those patterns that makes people love my home game, it sparked exactly that cascade of callers.
So the flop came down 3-3-x with two diamonds, and I'm loving life. I check, Nate leads for $4, Jim calls, there might have been one more caller, and I raise to $10. Nate calls and Jim got out of the way. Turn is the Jd, and I lead for $10. Nate calls, and the river brings an off-suit duece. I fire another $15, and Nate moves all in over the top for another $52 or so. I go deeeeep into the tank, because while I have trips with a big kicker, the flush is out there. It's also not a bit beyond reason for Nate to have been calling me down with 2-3 or pocket twos and have filled up on the river. So I'm thinking. And thinking. And I think long enough to feel like I should apologize to the table, so I do. Then I ask Nate if he has the flush. He doesn't look at me. Then he looks at me like "what, I'm really gonna tell you?" Then I resume my think. Then I look at my stack. If I call and lose, I'm up $50 for the night. Then I look at the pot. There's well over $100 in the middle, so if I win, it's a gooood night for the home game. Then I think that thinking about booking a win is the wrong way to think, and I'm getting 3-1 on my $50 and if I can't call getting 3-1 on trips, king kicker. then maybe I shouldn't play poker.
Then I hit the thought that makes me call. Nate fired the river. Nate only raises when he thinks he has the best hand. He'll lead out at a pot to make people fold, and it's usually an overbet. But when he raises, he thinks he has the winner. And he doesn't wait to pull the trigger. So if he's raising the river, then that's the point where he thinks he has the winner. So either he thinks he's been ahead the whole time, or he thinks he got there right then. That takes the flush off the table, because if he'd hit the flush, he'd have raised the turn. So he's got a limited number of hands - A-3, 2-3,J-3, 2-2 and the like. Or he has the case three and a worse kicker. Or he has two pair and is absolutely crushed, which is not as unlikely a possibility as you would think, because Nate routinely overvalues two pair to his wallet's detriment.
So finally I decide to make the call, and he shows 9-3. I table my K-3 and rake a massive pot, bringing my win for the night to around $250 and putting my slightly back into the black for the year. I couldn't make that call in a casino. I couldn't make that call against many folks in our home game. But against that player, in that spot, with those relative positions, I can make that call. After a lengthy think.
Overall I played fairly well last night, with the exception of getting my money in as a 95% dog to Special K and getting there on the turn. I sucked out a few times, including flushing out Brian on the river, but I'd flopped the open-end straight flush draw, so I wasn't going anywhere at any point. It might not be mathematically correct, but I'm probably going to get my money in most of the time when I flop 15 outs twice. So I called him down, and when he asked me if I rivered the flush I told him and saved him the call. He said he didn't think he had that call in him, but I'm slightly looser a player than Brian. Slightly. There might be a comment or two coming on the use of the word slightly in that sentence. Let it be known that there is a variant definition of slightly that loosely translates from ancient Swahili into "astronomically." Then decide which definition I was using. So while I wouldn't say I played "sterling poker," I felt like I did a good job of picking my spots and capitalizing on my opponent's weaknesses. Like a weakness for playing good starting hands, leaving the crap flops to hit only me and Nate :).