Fancy Play Syndrome

Last night playing $2-4 NL online…

Five hands prior to this one, I had KK, raised to $14 and four players call (two behind me, plus the SB and BB), setting up a big multi-way pot.  The flop was 4h Tc As and the combination of a 5-way pot and Ace on the board just froze me.  The flop checked all around, as did the turn (3d, completing a Badugi board), and I start thinking I might win after all.

The river was 8d, everybody checked to the button who bet $42 (60% of pot) and I’m planning to call until the Small Blind check-raises all-in for about $300 more.  It seems quite silly and and obvious bluff for him to check 3 times, then bomb the pot this way, but I’m not about to find out, and fold.

So I’m a little bit steamed up.

Now 5 hands later, I get QQ in the cutoff.  UTG raises to $12.  I’m trying not to get into huge pre-flop wars with UTG raisers as their action represents great strength.  I consider raising to get more information, with the intent of folding to a 4-bet, but decide to flat call instead.  The BB squeezes to $50 and UTG folds.  (A “squeeze play” is a large re-raise following an initial raise and call, indicating great strength.  In Harrington on Hold’em (Volume II:  The Endgame), Dan Harrington describes a famous squeeze play bluff that worked for him at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2004.  What makes this so effective is the early position player shows strength in raising, and the caller – if aware of Sklansky’s Gap Concept – also shows strength in calling.  An astute player would only re-raise with a monster hand, right?)  Now this is really awkward.  Does BB have a monster?  Is he squeezing with AK, as I’ve seen a lot of players do at this site?  Is he squeezing with something weak and I’m way ahead?

In a tournament I might shove all-in here, if I think the BB player is loose/aggressive enough to squeeze with AK or as a bluff.  But in cash games, I just don’t like bloating up the pot or getting it all-in with QQ.  I’ve already made that mistake many times, and need to learn from my mistakes, and the stacks are deep enough to play this out post-flop.

On the other hand, can I justify folding here?

Indecision is a killer at this game, and I decide to call.

Flop ($112) – Ac 9h 9c.  Ugh!  Another Ace high flop making my big pair extremely vulnerable.  If he was squeezing with AK, now I’m crushed.  But he checks and so do I.

Turn ($112) – Td.  BB bets $57.  I start to fold, then have a “better idea.”  (Danger Will Robinson.  Danger, danger!  You do not have a better idea!!!)  If he really had an Ace, he would have bet the flop, right?  So I decide to raise to $150.  After all of my reluctance to be the aggressor pre-flop, I can make it up and take down a nice pot here.  BB calls.

River ($412) – 6h.  BB checks.  I just don’t have a good read on him after his check/call on the turn.  If he is ahead and I shove, can I get a better hand to fold?  Methinks not.  If I am ahead, can I get a worse hand to call? Maybe JJ but I can’t think of anything else.  I check behind and he shows TT for a full house.

My fancy play on the turn only compounded my weak play pre-flop, burning up $200 in the process.

Year-to-date online results:  + $9,395

Month-to-date online results:  + $476

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