KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Thou Shalt Not Steal

I seem to be obsessed with trying to steal pots lately.  That needs to stop.

Last night playing $2-4 no limit Hold’em and finished with a net gain of $22.  OK, at least it wasn’t a loss, but pretty mediocre for playing 3.5 hours, even when considering the rake.

But I surely spewed away $300+ just on failed steal attempts.  I’m not going to provide the full play-by-play here, but here are two (of many) lowlights:

1 – Called on button with KT offsuit and three undercards came on the flop.  Check-check.  The turn card paired the board and I bet.  The original pre-flop raiser called.  River was a brick and I made a pot-sized bet.  He called with AK offsuit and won with A-high.

2 – In a button v. SB (me) battle, check-min-raised turn when a 3rd spade hit the board (I had two hearts), then bombed the river.  Villain had a made flush, albeit not the Ace, but called anyway.

Curtailing these silly and sometimes large losses will fix a major current leak in my game.  If I don’t know where I stand, just fold and wait for a better situation.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL!

That should do it.

Year-to-date online results:  + $8,716

Month-to-date online results:  + $1,631

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Top 10 Disasters in One Day

Last weekend I had time to play a lot of hours one day and things went particularly badly all day.  Murphy’s Law rained upon me.  Rather than pick one or two terrible plays, I’ve compiled a Top 10 list (with apologies to David Letterman).

All of this came playing $1-2 no limit Hold’em, online.  In scrolling through hand histories to pick out these hands and recall the details, I notice how many other hands might also qualify.  Hand after hand of getting involved in pots with mediocre cards, playing out of position, calling bets where surely I am beat and making bluffs that get called, spewing away chips upon chips upon more chips.  Ugh!

#10 – I have AA in middle position.  (These hands are not presented in sequence.  Suffice it to say that I’ve already been running badly and bleeding lots of chips.)  I’ve just raised pre-flop on two immediately prior hands, so my table image at the moment should be very loose.  Surely I’ll get some action and make back some of my losses.  I raise to $7.  Everyone folds, including both blinds.  I win $3.  OMG.

#9 – I have TT in the UTG+2 position.  I raise to $7, my standard amount in an unopened, unlimped pot.  The cutoff calls and the big blind also calls for $5 more.  The pot is now $22.  The flop is 6d Ks Js.  BB folds and I make a continuation bet of $10.  This is a little on the low side for a c-bet as I usually try to bet a little over 1/2 pot.  Cutoff calls and BB folds.  The turn is Qh, giving me an open-ended straight draw.  I decide to slow down a bit and check.  Cutoff now bets $10, which is clearly a very weak bet, now less than 25% of the pot.  This looks very defensive.  I call and now the pot is $62.  The river is Jc.  Oh, I have a great idea.  I’ll represent that I have a J and just made 3-of-a-kind.  I lead out with a bet of $41, about 2/3 of the pot.  He’ll know that he is beaten.  He takes about 2 seconds to call and shows AA, winning a $144 pot.  OMG.

#8 – I am UTG and dealt Ah Jh.  This should be an easy raise to $7, but I try to convince myself to be more cautious.  If re-raised I’ll have to fold, calling to mind David Sklansky’s gap concept.  (If someone in early position raises, you should not call or re-raise unless your hand is better than the minimum you would have needed to make the original raise from that position.)  While I like that fact that these cards are strong and are suited, I can  easily be dominated by AK or AQ.  If an A comes on the flop and a player with position on me raises, how will I know where I stand?  How will I control the pot size?  So I limp instead.  Everyone folds to the SB, who completes and the BB checks.  The flop is 7h 4h 4s.  I have an A high flush draw.  SB checks and BB bets $6, a pot-sized bet.  I call and SB also calls.  Now the pot is $24.  The turn is Th, completing my flush.  Time to go to value-town, baby!  Both blinds check and I bet $18.  SB now check-raises me to $40 and BB folds.  WTF?  I guess the idiot has either a weaker flush or a 4.  He has the shorter stack, having started the hand with $75 whereas I started with $176.  After his check-raise, he only has $27 more behind.  I’m not backing down.  Within a few seconds both of our stacks are in the middle, and he shows 7c 4c, for a flopped full house Small Blind Special, and takes down a $159 pot.  A simple pre-flop raise probably wins me $3 instead.  OMG.

#7 – About two orbits prior to this hand, I have AQ offsuit, my least favorite hand in the entire world to play.  When I get the “Big Chick” nothing ever seems to go right.  My other nickname for this hand is “Anna Kournikova” because it looks really good but never wins anything.  Anyway I caught a straight on the river of a board showing J-T-6-9-8 and bet $50 into two other players.  One of them shipped all of his chips in and I folded.  The other guy called but the first raiser showed KQ, for the nuts, with his K-high straight just better than my Q-high straight (which the 3rd player in the hand also had).  I lost $71 on that hand and went on tilt with my stack reduced to $117.  About 18 tiltish hands later, I now have $80 in the BB and get dealt AA.  Time to make up some ground here.  UTG+1 limps in, a player in middle position raises to $6 and the cutoff and SB both call.  I re-raise to $21.  The bet sizing here is rather tricky as I’d really like to isolate one other player.  Winning now would be a net gain of $20.  While not terrible, I’d like to get it all in here and double up.  The original limper UTG+1 calls, middle position calls, cutoff calls and now the SB who has a very short stack shoves in a total of $25.65.  Since his 4-bet raise is only $4.65 more and this is less than my raise of $15 (from $6 to $21), it caps the betting and I’m not allowed to raise again.  Everybody calls and we go to the flop 5-handed with a pot of $128 and three other live players.  With $65 behind – barely 1/2 of the pot – I pretty much decide that I’m going all-in on the flop regardless of what it looks like or what the other players do.  I don’t have a deep enough stack to evaluate and think about folding if things get hairy.  The flop is 8d Jh 7d.  Talk about hairy!  Flush and straight draws galore that can hit many of the hands in the other players’ ranges.    I shove, UTG+1 also shoves (he had a couple of dollars less than me), middle position folds and the cutoff calls.  Uh-oh.  UTG+1 shows JJ for a flopped set of Jacks.  The cutoff shows Jd 9d for top pair, a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw.  Yes, he called $25 pre-flop with J9 suited.  The SB, who was all-in pre-flop for his last $25.65 shows 6h 4h.  WTF?  No wonder he had such a short stack.  Please, oh please buy-in again and stay to my immediate right at this table.  The turn is Tc, filling the cutoff’s straight, and the river is a harmless 5s.  Mr. J9 suited wins a $292 pot, while I head to the cyber cashier, thinking about my pre-flop raise sizing.  Could I have raised enough to make both JJ and J9 go away?  In a span of 20 hands, I’ve lost $188 at this table.  OMG.

#6 – A very few minutes later, on a different table (most of the day I have two tables going at the same time), I get KK in the UTG+2 position.  UTG raises to $6 and I re-raise to $16.  The SB calls and the original raiser also calls, so the pot is now $50.  The flop is 9c Js Qc, an extremely drawy board with both straight and flushes to worry about.  UTG checks and I take a deep breath and bet $50.  Let’s end this right here.  SB calls, which puts him all-in and UTG check-raises to $175, putting me all-in as I started the hand with only $140 (see #4 below, which actually preceded this hand by a couple of orbits and made a dent in my stack.  I must be beat and for once today I decide to fold.  The check-raiser has Qs Tc, for top pair and an open-ended straight draw, but my KK would have been superior at the moment, and a 77% favorite to win the hand.  My kings block some of check-raisers outs for a straight draw and a ten that would give him 2-pair also gives my a K-high straight.  So let’s just get this straight – he opened the betting from Under-The-Gun with QT offsuit, then called my 3-bet, then check-raised the flop with top pair, mediocre kicker and a straight draw.  Yeah, that’s right.  SB shows Qh 8h, for top pair with an even weaker kicker and a gutshot straight draw.  But his gutshot is no good, as the ten that would fill it would also give me a higher straight to my K.  His only way to win this pot (if I had called) would be runner-runner 88.  So he called $16 from the SB with Q8 suited and the original opener still to act in response to my re-raise.  Then called $50 more on the flop, putting his whole stack at risk.  Yeah, that’s also right.  These are the kind of players I love to play against in online poker.  God bless them both!  The turn is 2d and river is 8d, giving the SB 2 pair now, but also completing the bottom end of UTG’s straight.  So I would have lost anyway.  As it was, I lost $66 on this hand and UTG’s awful pre-flop play is rewarded by winning a $203 pot.  OMG.

#5 – In the SB I get 6d 5c.  Everyone folds to the button, who limps in.  I complete and then the BB raises to $8.  This is an obvious fold, with low, unsuited cards out-of-position.  Even if I connect in a big way, it will be hard to win a decent sized pot.  I call and the button also calls.  Now the pot is $25.  The flop comes 5s 8d Th, giving me bottom pair with a shitty kicker.  No need for any further damage.  I check and the BB bets $12, just under 1/2 pot.  The button folds.  I don’t like getting pushed around by a frisky Big Blind and his continuation bet should be seen for what it is… just barreling away at a limped pot.  So I call and decide to reevaluate on the turn, which is  Kc.  We both check.  I thought so!  He has air and I can take this pot away on the river.  The river is Td, putting two tens on the board.  Since I called his flop bet, it should be easy to represent a Ten in my hand.  I lead out with a bet of $38 into a pot of $49.  That should do it.  But no!!! Instead, BB goes all-in for an additional $141 on top.  I fold, having just lost $58 playing weak cards out-of-position.  It seems like every steal attempt today has gone just like this one.  OMG.

#4 – UTG+2 and I am dealt Kc Qd.  The player in front of me (UTG+1) makes a minimum raise to $4 and I call.  The SB also calls but the BB folds, so there is $14 in the pot.  The flop is Ks Ts 9s, giving me top pair, second best kicker on a monochrome board.  The UTG+1 players leads out with a bet of $8, which looks to me like a random continuation bet on a scary board or possible a flush draw if he has As.  I call and SB folds.  The turn card is 2d and now he bets $22 into a pot of $30.  I have a stronger feeling now that he is on a flush draw, so I make a minimum raise to $44.  In retrospect, this is too small of a raise, as I’m giving him just over 4.25-to-1 odds to call, which he does.  The river is Qh, now giving me top 2 pair, but also making a one-liner to a straight in addition to the flush draw.  He checks and I ponder making another bet.  I cannot imagine getting called with worse than my 2 pair, but he could have a made flush and expecting me to bet again so he can check-raise.  So I check behind.  He shows Kd Jc, for a straight and wins the pot.  I lost $56 here and it could have been worse.  Prior to the river card, he had exactly 3 outs in the entire deck.  We both had top pair and I had him out-kicked.  There are no cards in the deck that would counterfeit my kicker advantage and he had no other draws.  My min-raise on the turn was a big mistake, as a larger raise (may have gotten him to concede.  But despite that, hitting a 3-outer is a bad break for me.  OMG.

#3 – I have 99 in the cutoff seat and call a pre-flop raise to $9 and call again a 3-bet to $16.  99 has good set mining potential and I’ll get away from the hand otherwise.  The flop is 8h 6h 5x flop and 3-better bets $34.  I consider shoving it in and hoping 1) neither is holding a bigger over-pair, although I’d be shocked if neither has it, or 2) I can hit another 9 or a 7 for a straight on either the turn or river card.  But that’s only 6 outs.  I just cannot do it, and fold.  The other two proceeded to get it all in on the flop and one showed JJ and the other showed AA.  The turn was a 4 and the river was a 7, resulting in a straight on the board and they chopped a pot of $336.  My 99 would have taken the entire pot with a river suckout.  I had seriously thought about shoving it in on the flop but decided that would be irresponsible and the session was already going so badly that I should slow down and recognize the futility of doing so.  Right play, but…  OMG.

#2 – I am the BB with AT offsuit.  The button raises to $6 and the SB calls.  My cards are really not that strong to be playing out of position, but I call anyway.  The SB led out with $10 on a flop of A-K-K and again for $10 more on a turn of some very small card.  I called both and so did the button.  On the turn I thought about a raise but decided against for pot control.  A raise there might only chase away weaker hands but any stronger than mine would surely stick around.  A river Q appears and SB and I both check.  I’d be very happy just to get to a showdown.  The button now makes a pot sized bet – I think it was about $55 – and SB folds.  I cannot imagine what he could have that I can beat and decide to fold.  But Harrington on Hold’em says not to act too fast.  There is no reason not to take the time that is available and think through the possibilities.  So I ponder a bit.  Maybe he’s making a desperate stab at the pot with a bluff, sensing weakness in SB’s weak bets and my meek checks on every street so far.  His river bet is really too large for a value bet and seems to be begging us to go away.  If he is bluffing in this situation at least 1/2 of the time, it is a profitable call, mathematically speaking.  The more I thinkg about it (thanks Dan!) the more convinced I become that he is on a bluff.  So I call.  He shows QQ.  He only had 2 outs at the river and hit one of them.  Had I raised the flop or turn it probably would have chased him away; after all, who can keep calling with QQ on an A-K-K board???  There goes another $81.  OMG.

#1 – In the BB I have 3h 2h, the lowest possible suited connectors.  Everyone folds to the hijack who calls.  SB raises to $4 and I call along with the hijack.  The flop is 4c 4s 5h.  There is a pair on the board and I have an open-ended straight draw.  There is $12 in the pot.   SB bets $4 and I call.  His bet is very modest and I can reevaluate on the turn.  Hijack folds.  Not the pot is $20.  The turn card is Jc, changing nothing.  SB leads out with $6.  He appears to be just probing to see if I have anything.  I know the odds of hitting my straight are now down to about 4.5-to-1, so my EV surely goes up if I raise and try to represent that I either have a 4 or a J.  I raise to $26.  After tanking for over 20 seconds, SB 3-bets to $46.   Convincing myself that I have good implied odds, I decide to call.  The river is Qs.  Dang!  Missed the straight.  Now SB checks.  WTF?  Perhaps his 3-bet on the turn was some sort of weird bluff or semi-bluff, like 7-6 or two clubs.  I dunno, but I do know that I am tired of being kicked around today and losing pot after pot.  Since I cannot beat the board with my 3-2, the only way to win the pot – now $112 – is to bet.  SB has $101 remaining behind and I have about $198.  So I make a pot-sized bet of $112 to put him all-in.  Surely he will give it up.  Nope.  It takes him 7 seconds to call and he shows Qd 8d.  WTF?  His 3-bet on the turn was total air, and now he wins a $317 pot.  Over the next several orbits I come to realize just how bad this player is, as he spews away all of his and my chips in a series of loose, bad, fishy plays.  Every time he shows down his cards, it makes no sense why he is in the hand.  I wanted him to read me as having 3-of-a-kind with a Big Blind special on this hand and he was too stupid to see it.  Or I was too stupid to think he might see it, plus now I am just raging that he called (much less 3-bet) on the turn when I raised him from $6 to $26.  Did I really just lose $155 with a deuce and a trey???  OMG.

All in all, a horrible day!  I had some bad beats, made many, many terrible plays, missed out on some opportunities, and gave away a lot of money – much to some terrible players who quickly gave it away again.

Year-to-date online results:  +$8,413

Month-to-date online results:  + $1,328

Play to Win, Not the Other to Lose

This is a guest entry submitted by a good friend and poker buddy.  Some background – the author and I have both played multiple times in local, live tournaments with a player who can most charitably be called a jerk.  Many of you have probably played with someone like this:  a very good player himself but chirping constantly (and not in a friendly or social manner); always telling you how you misplayed the hand you just lost but how he got sucked out on if he loses (and by the way, what a terrible play it was for you to make that call in the first place) and sometimes outright guaranteeing that he’ll have all of your chips before the tournament is over.  The more he drinks, the nastier he gets.

Here goes:

The setting – halfway through a live tournament with 50 starting players that only pays out the top 3 (with first place paying $1,200, second place $800 and third place $500).  The average stack is about 52K chips with me holding about 55K and the blinds at 1/2K.

The jerk limps in from UTG+2 and is called by the SB and the BB (me) holding 6s-8s.  The flop comes 3-5-7 rainbow, giving me an up-and-down straight draw.  SB and BB both check and the jerk goes all in with just over 38K chips.  Small blind folds so it’s my turn to act.  As I’m going over the hand in my head, the jerk is chirping that he could have a big pocket pair or two over cards or it might be a stone cold bluff.  This is really irritating.

Going over the possibilities, I see three likely alternatives: high pocket pair (I’m behind 65/35); pocket pair that hit a set (behind 75/25); two over cards (coin flip).  I just don’t smell bluff, and putting his obnoxious behavior aside, this jerk is too strong of a player to make this big of an overbet on a bluff.  At this point in the tournament, I have an above average chip stack and reasonable blinds so there is no need to pick two cards to risk 70% of my stack on what I believe to be a coin flip at the very best.  The obvious, no, the only move to make is to fold my cards and continue to play solid poker.

Unfortunately, what came out of my mouth was “Call.”  The jerk turned over pocket 10’s and after neither the turn nor the river made my open-ended straight, I had less than ten big blinds left.  I exited the tournament a little later after a particularly brutal hand on which a non-jerk hit a full house on the river to take down my flush.

It wasn’t until thinking about it afterwards that I realized that it wasn’t the 38K chips that I was after on that hand – it was the opportunity to knock the jerk out of the tournament.  I ignored my gut, math, skill and everything else I know (or think I know) from a lifetime of poker and took my eye off the prize (winning) because I was distracted by another small, petty and stupid goal.  I will try never to do that again and will be a better player and person because of it.

 

KKingDavid’s note:  Jerk made the final table of this tournament but did not cash.

Year-to-date online results:  + $8,462

Month-to-date online results:  + $1,378

Firing Bluffs on Multiple Streets

Sometimes when things are running pretty good, I start to think that I’m actually a good poker player.  It’s a nice thought.  I like it.  “Self,” I say to myself, “You’ve figured this game out.”

When that happens, the next level is a certain kind of arrogance whereby I start to think that all I have to do to win is merely to show up.  I will bet and other players will either call with worse hands or fold with better hands.  Show up, put some chips in the middle and rake it all back.  What a charmed life!

Then this happens:

I’m plodding along in a $1-2 no limit Hold’em session, with $203 in play after buying in at $200.  I have two tables open (playing online) and the other table is down about $130 in part due to similar thoughts to those described above.

With A-K off suit UTG+1, I raise to $7.  The players 2 seats to my left calls, and everyone else folds.

The flop is 4d 8d 3d.  Three diamonds.  This looks like a great spot for a continuation bet or even a multi-barrel bluff.  My strategy is to represent that I have a big pocket pair, and hope for a call on the flop if the Villain has a single high diamond and wants to chase a flush draw.  I bet $12.50 and he calls.  My plan is working.  Besides that, I’ve figured this game out.  This sort of fancy thinking about how to extract extra value on a monochrome board (Disclaimer:  I did not make up the phrase “monochrome board.”  I heard it on a poker podcast and thought that sounded way cool.  But I digress.)

The turn card is Tc, not really changing anything.  Now there is $40 in the pot (after the rake), and I want to make a pot-sized bet so he clearly knows he doesn’t have the proper pot odds to continue chasing a flush.  I bet $40.  He calls again, and now the pot is $120.

This surprises me somewhat, but maybe this player is weaker than I thought.  Or maybe he has something.  Let’s do some structured hand analysis and math (after the fact – there is not enough time to do this while playing).

First, let’s assign a range of possibilities to his hand holding.  He called but did not re-raise the pre-flop, flop and turn bets.  I will rule out AA and KK, but he could have pocket pairs QQ – 33.  I think he probably folds 77 – 55 on the turn if not sooner, so I’ll delete these.  He could have Ad or Kd with an unsuited kicker, possibly as low as an 8.  So I will give him AdKx – Ad8x (Ace of diamonds, offsuit kicker) and KdQx – Kd8x.  He could also have a made flush with just about any two diamonds higher than the 8, although I think combos of Q9 and J9 are less likely to have called pre-flop.  I will also include 76 and 65 suited connecting diamonds in his range.  That would be a bit loose for pre-flop calls, but I don’t have a good enough read on this Villain to rule that out.

Against this range, I have about 21% equity.  Obviously I am behind all of the pairs, sets and made flushes, and only ahead of naked drawing hands.  But I’ve figured this game out and it is very clear that is the case here.

The river is 3h, pairing the board but missing the flush.  How much to bet now?  I have about $142 remaining, so I bet $71.  This is half of my remaining stack and approximately 60% of the pot.

He quickly calls and shows AdKd for a flopped nut flush.  Villain wins a $264 pot.

Oh.

The funny thing about poker at this level is that other players will give you their chips if you’ll just be patient and wait for the right spots.  This sort of fancy play is totally unnecessary.  Sure, sometimes it works, but spewing away 2/3 of your stack is not the route to fame or fortune.

Why do I keep doing this?

I need to figure this game out.

Year-to-date online results:  + $7,735

Month-to-date online results:  + $650

Bad Luck Heads Up

Here is a series of hands that spelled my doom in a live tournament last night.  This was a $50 buy-in, no limit Hold’em tournament that started with 30 players.  I ran pretty good and played well, so this is all about heads up play for the win.

The other player is a young kid, looks to be barely 19 but probably 22 or 23, and plays a very loose, aggressive, attacking style typical of many tournament players his age.  He has stolen many pots, made some huge hands, been caught in huge bluffs, and sucked out several times.  Early on, he busted out and re-bought.  Not long ago he was way behind to a made straight on the turn when the river card filled an inside straight on the board, resulting in a chopped pot and his survival.

These were not consecutive hands, but they are the key hands that determined the outcome.  We entered heads up play with him holding about 65% of the chips.

#1.  Pocket Aces – No Action.  On the very first hand heads up, I am dealt AA.  My maniacally aggressive opponent folds his small blind.

#2.  Counterfeited Kicker.  We get all in pre-flop and I have him dominated with QJ off suit vs. his QT off suit.  The board comes out K-2-Q-7-2.  The river card pairs the board and my kicker advantage is negated.  I yhought I would double up, which would have given me the chip lead.

#3.  Pocket Aces again.  Less than ten minutes after the first hand, I look down at AA again.  And once again this hyper-aggressive youngster folds the small blind.  Grrrrr…

#4.  Two Outer on River.  Again we get all in pre-flop and again I have him dominated with T-8 vs. his 8-6.  He raised from the small blind, and I jammed all-in over the top, which he insta-called.   Jeez, if he is so willing to call a shove with 8-6, why couldn’t I get ANY action for my Aces?  The flop is K-6-K, giving him the lead.  The turn is an 8, canceling his 6 and giving me a kicker advantage.  A river A, K, Q, J or 8 will result in another chopped pot – a total of 15 outs for a chop.  I will win this hand and take over the chip lead with a 10, 9, 7, 5, 4, 3 or 2 – a total of 27 outs.  But the river is another 6 (2 outs), giving him a full house and ending the tournament.

Sigh.

Time for bed.

Position Matters

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

I will not play speculative hands out of position.

Year-to-date online results:  +$  7,383

Month-to-date online results:  + $298

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check-raise with nut flush draw

Trying to pick the worst of many bad plays from last night.

I was doing OK, with a stack of $260 (after initial buy in of $200 at $1-2 no limit), and got Ad Tc in the small blind.  A player in UTG+2 raised to $6 and the cutoff called.

This should be a simple fold. AT off suit , out of position, against an early raiser, is too hard to play and very hard to win a big pot even if something good happens.

But I call anyway, feeling a bit frisky and confident in my skills.  The flop is Kd 7d 3d, giving me a nut flush draw.  This is always a sticky spot for me as I don’t really like pumping chips into the pot from out of position without a made hand, and check-calling somewhat announces that I have a flush draw.

So I choose the latter option and check.  The original opener makes a pot-sized bet and the other player quickly folds.  In an act of NOT thinking, I decide the implied odds justifies a call.  The turn card is Tc, giving a 2nd pair and possibly some additional outs if the villain isn’t fast playing a made flush.

Did I just type “made flush?” I have the Ace of diamonds and the King of diamonds came out on the flop.  Opening from UTG+2 with Qd Jd or Jd Td is fairly unlikely but still possible.  That would take away two of my outs.  He could also have flopped a set of kings or sevens,  in which case the Td would now make him a full house.  Gotta consider whether all of my outs are real.

I check again and bets pot again (now $72), which makes me kind of mad because I know it is a mistake to proceed any further.  With his bet there is now $141 (after the rake), which would look really good added to my stack, now wouldn’t it?

I check-raise shove all in for about $180 and he snap calls, showing KT off suit,  a blank river card comes and he takes down a $515 pot.

Year-to-date online results:  + $7,252

Month- to-date online results:  + $172

Aces misplayed, cracked, leads to tilt

Playing $1-2 no limit online last night and this happened.

I was doing pretty well on this particular table, starting with my standard buy-in of $200 and getting up to about $320.  Then following some unnecessarily loose play (note to self:  need to address this in a separate post, as there seems to be a persistent leak in my game when I get ahead and then start taking unnecessary risks via loose calls, chasing draws, etc.), I’m down to $284.

On the button, I have AA.  Yeee-hah!  A player in middle position raises to $6, and the cutoff calls.  I re-raise to $16.

Looking back on it, I don’t like my bet sizing.  It’s too small, almost like announcing that I have a premium pair, almost certainly AA or KK, and I’m trying to build the pot.  This is exactly what I was doing, and it’s a mistake.  Poker is designed to be a game of incomplete information and now I’ve given the villains virtually complete information about my hand.  They can call with a small pair and go set-mining or with suited connector type hands.  In either case, they know they can win a large pot if they hit the flop and they also know they can release their hands quite easily if they miss.  Making a larger bet would have put more pressure on them, and might look like a squeeze play (i.e., large raise following an initial raise and call – a term made popular by Dan Harrington in describing such a play with very weak cards during the 2003 WSOP final table).

The initial raiser folds, but the initial caller – a short stack who started the hand with $88 – calls again.

The flop is a very, very drawy Qc Ts 9s, and the villain leads out with a bet of $10.

Hmm…  K-J would have just flopped a nut straight.  And that’s exactly the type of hand that might have called the initial raise and the called again when I re-raised pre-flop.  Surely not!

I call and decide to re-evaluate on the turn, which is the 7c, and really changes nothing.

Villain quickly goes all-in for his last $56.

Rather than re-evaluate, I merely get pissed.  AA is supposed to win large pots, dammit!  Maybe he just had some kind of combo draw with a hand like QJ, JJ or JT.  Plus, like most recreational players, I have a very hard time folding my Aces.  I call, and he turns over Ks Js for a flopped nut straight.

Had I actually re-evaluated, I would have noted that I have both the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Clubs, so he cannot have a nut flush draw in either suit.  Not only is KJ in his pre-flop calling range, so is QQ, TT and 99.  Possibly also QT and T9.  There are too many ways for my AA to be badly beaten on this flop, not to mention how my pre-flop raise sizing all but turned my cards face up.  He can bet with fairly high confidence that I will call, and does, and wins a nice pot.

About 15 hands later, with my stack now down to $160, I call a raise to $4 (from the cutoff) with Jd Td on the button, and the big blind also calls.  The flop is Jc 7s 6c.

Cutoff leads out with a bet of $6.50 and I raise to $15.  Now the big blind re-raises to $31.50.

After the cutoff folds, I simply go into TILT mode.  I’m still seething about getting my Aces cracked as well as the way I played that hand.  My stack is 1/2 of its peak level and I deserve (?) to win this hand.

So I go all-in.

Big blind thinks for quite awhile and goes into his time bank for extra time, and finally calls and shows Jh 7c for two pair.  WTF was I thinking?  Big blind check-raised after an initial bet AND raise, showing considerable strength.  He hasn’t shown the kind of aggression and creativity that would do this as a semi-bluff.  All I have is top pair and a mediocre kicker.  Didn’t I read in a book once that with small hands you should try to play for small pots?  Didn’t I re-read that book a second (and probably third) time?  Arrrgh

What is the best I could hope for, aside from a fold?  Calling a min-raise from the BB, he could have a fairly wide range, including Jx, Ac Xc, Kc Xc, any connecting or one gap suited clubs, 77, 66, 76. Heck, now it’s hard to come up with many possibilities that could 3-bet on top of the initial bet and my re-raise that I can beat other than flush draws.  Against flanked flush draw with no over cards (such as Tc 2c — not even in his range), I am a 63% favorite.  But against Ac Xc, the over card Ace reduces me to 55%.  A big combo draw like 9c 8c makes him a 52% favorite.  throw in all the hands where I am out-kicked or he has two pair or a set, and once again the strength of his bet, and this is a clear fold.

Now my stack and ego are both down to $0.

Year-to-date online results:  + $7,085

Month-to-date online results (final for October):  + $1,749

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