After my last post, “Slow Playing for Dummies,” I’m reluctant to be caught slow playing any hand, lest it turn out that I am (or become) to Dummy (or Donkey).
Nevertheless, here is a sequence where I was dealt AA twice in a short span of 5 hands, and BOTH times there was a pre-flop raise and re-raise in front of me. And both times, I just called to disguise (i.e., slow play) the strength of my hand.
Let’s compare, as these hands played out quite differently.
But first, a reminder that this is micro stakes (blinds of $0.10 – 0.25) on Bovada’s Zone Poker, where all players are anonymous and a new table is formed for each and every single hand. So all we can assume about the Villains is that they are “ordinary, routine” micro stakes players.
In the first hand (click here to see it in the Share My Pair hand replayer), I am the Big Blind. The Hijack (HJ) seat, two places to the right of the button, raises to $0.75, and the next player (Cutoff, or CO) re-raises to $2.00. Both the button and small blind fold.
I decide to flat call here, hoping the original raiser HJ has a strong enough hand like KK, QQ or AK to come over the top with a big 4-bet or shove. Instead, he folds, leaving CO and me heads up, with me out of position for the rest of the hand.
Flop: ($4.85) 5s Qc 4d. This is a pretty dry flop and mostly good for me. Other than CO having exactly QQ, I’m still way ahead. His range for 3-betting should be something like 99+, AK, AQ, AJs, KQs with a few other random hands. Many players will just flat an opening raise from HJ with JJ-99, some will flat with QQ, and very many will flat with any unpaired hand other than AKs. We just don’t know if he is loose/aggressive enough to 3-bet with anything weaker. Best case: he has AQ, KQs or KK (24 combinations) and we can crush him. Worst case: he has QQ (3 combinations) and will crush us. Weird case: he has AA (1 combination) and we are going to chop this pot. All others: about 28 other combinations where he probably slows down after firing a continuation bet.
He bets $2.50, slightly more than 1/2 pot and a fairly standard-ish C-bet. I call. While I’m way ahead of his range with 85%+ equity, up to half of his range could fold to a raise here on the flop and I don’t want to chase away my customer. While this flop makes it hard for him to put me on any sort of draw, maybe he’ll still fire one more barrel with some of his weaker holdings.
Turn: ($9.85) 9c. This card only changes our status if he has exactly 99 (3 combinations), but I still have 81%+ equity against his entire original range. I check, and he checks behind, so now I can eliminate QQ and 99, both of which would be strongly here given that flush and straight draws are now conceivable (albeit unlikely… am I calling on that flop with JT, KJ, KT, J8 or T8? What 2 clubs am I calling with? But poker players tend to see monsters under the bed, so I can still eliminate these hands). I also think his top pair and over pair hands – AQ, KQs, KK – also are betting for value with this turn card, so now I conclude the weaker part of his original range – AK, AJs, JJ, TT – is his most likely holding.
River: ($9.85) 4c. I have to bet for value now. While there is an outside chance he just hit a flush on the river with AcKc or AcJc, this is only 2 combinations, and the only 2 combinations from his original range that could have hit. Remember that he 3-bet pre-flop, which narrowed his range. It would be a mistake for me now to see the monsters under the bed and add ‘any 2 clubs’ to his range when the lower holdings never would have 3-bet in the first place. I bet $4.00, hoping this looks like a somewhat random attempt to steal the pot, having played passively up until now.
To my delight, he calls, and shows 77. I win a pot of $17.85, for a net gain after the rake of $8.45. His hand wasn’t even in the range I had developed, albeit compatible with the low end. Most players are not 3-betting this light, and his call on the river can only beat a bluff. I guess he thought I was bluffing, so my goal of playing AA deceptively worked!
Would an alternative line been more profitable on this hand? Knowing all the facts now, probably not. If I had 4-bet strongly pre-flop (a pot-sized 4-bet would have been a re-re-raise to $6.85 and most players will simply fold 77 there). If I had made a smaller 4-bet and he called, then he folds to my continuation bet on the flop as my range is very narrow and mostly big pairs. And I would not 4-bet too small, as I’m out of position in the BB seat, and still have to worry about the original raiser calling and making it a 3-way pot.
While I rarely recommend slow playing AA before the flop, this one worked out for me.
Just 4 hands later, I get AA again, this time on the button. Click here to see this hand in the SMP replayer.
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t complain that you never get Aces. You do!
Once again, HJ raises to $0.75 and now the CO 3-bets it up to $2.10. Hoping as I did previously for the original raiser to spazz out and come over the top, I call. Both blinds fold, and HJ calls. We are 3-handed going to the flop, and this time I have position on both villains.
Flop: ($6.65) 9d Kd Tc. This is a much scarier flop than the first hand above, as there are more higher cards and both flush and straight draws are possible. In fact, a flopped straight is possible if either villain has QJ. I think the CO range is pretty much the same as the 3-better from the first hand above. HJ’s range includes some smaller pairs like 88-55, and some players will call the 3-bet – even out of position (remember, it’s the micro stakes) after I called with just about any 2 Broadway cards or suited connectors that would have opened. My call results in him getting pot odds of 3.9-to-1 to call CO’s 3-bet.
Both villains check. Hmmm… monsters under the bed? KK, TT, 99 (18 combos) are in both of their ranges, and 2-pairs with KT (9 combinations) and flopped straights with QJ (16 more combinations) are in HJ’s range. Draws include any AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, QT, JT, QQ and JJ, some of which are also flush draws such as QdTd and JdTd (all draws = 70 combinations). Note that I have the Ad, so neither villain can have a nut flush draw. If I bet here, there are 43 possible combinations that are ahead of me and another 70 that are likely to call at least once to chase a draw. The only really strong hands that I’m way ahead of are AK (6 combinations, after eliminating the 2 aces in my hand and one on the board). I decide to check behind.
Turn: ($6.65) 8d. This doesn’t complete any of the straights, and now gives me a nut flush draw heading to the river. HJ checks and CO bets $2.15, slightly less than one-third of the pot. This is any easy call. If I were to raise here, and get re-raised, I would have to fold as now he would be revealing a monster hand. But there is also a very good chance that I have the best hand right now and this is a delayed continuation bet or thin value bet with QQ or JJ.
River: ($10.95) 3c. This card changes absolutely nothing. If I was ahead on the turn, I’m still ahead and not getting much if any value here. If I was behind on the turn, the board is scary enough that he could check the river with 2-pair or a set. He checks, and I check as well.
He shows Qh Qc, and my Aces take down the pot, for a net gain after the rake of $6.15.
Unlike the previous hand, a more aggressive line pre-flop might have paid off. Would he have called a pre-flop 4-bet shove with QQ? Maybe; maybe not. We just don’t know enough about this Villain, but the odds of a call there are pretty good. Would he have called a smaller 4-bet? Probably, although the flop and turn are going to cause one or both of to slam on the brakes just as we did as the hand actually played.
I don’t regret the slow play, as I gained a little bit of value from HJ when he called CO’s 3-bet, and gained some additional value from CO’s bet on the turn. I also know by now (although some of my friends would tell you otherwise) that if the pot gets really big after this flop and turn, my AA is ‘just one pair’ and no good!