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