KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the month “August, 2017”

What Difference Does It Make?

Here is the setting, to be followed by a question:

I’m at a private poker game on Saturday night in someone’s garage.  The house takes a rake on this game and provides a dealer.  Most of the players are regulars and know each other quite well.  The game is no limit Texas Hold’em, with blinds at $1/2 and the buy-in is capped at $300.

The house uses the Mississippi Straddle rule, whereby a live straddle can be posted for any amount, in any position, which makes straddles from the button very common.  If two players both want to post a straddle, the player with last position has priority.

At this game, one player has been posting a $5 straddle virtually every time he has the button.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “John.”  Several hours into the game, John has the button but the player on his right – who I’ll call “Joe” – announces a straddle and places his $5 chip in front before John has a chance to do anything.  [Sorry about the boring names here – “John” and “Joe” – maybe I just don’t feel very creative right now, or maybe that’s a reflection of the material I have to work with.]

Joe had just returned from a short break, during which he missed his both of the blinds.  To get back in the game immediately, he is required to post the $3 he avoided by sitting out.  Alternatively, for $2 extra, he converts the entire amount into a straddle and reserve the right to act last in the pre-flop betting round.

Before the cards are dealt, someone remarks that John usually straddles when he has the button, and Joe offers to pull the extra $2 back if John wants to straddle again for this hand.  Instead, John says to Joe to leave his straddle out there; it’s no problem.  After the cards are dealt, John has to act first, and he calls the $5 straddle prior to looking at his cards.

Then John says, innocently, “What difference does it make?”

Somebody on the end of the table repeats this question and a couple others chuckle slightly, which makes me decide to posit the question here in the blog.  What difference does it make?

Let’s try making this an interactive blog post, by asking my dear readers to post comments answering John’s question.  What is John likely thinking when he asks “What difference does it make?”  Is there actually a difference, and if so what is it?  How should each player – and the other players at the table – adjust their thinking or actions in response to what Joe and John have said and done here?

Please leave your comments below.

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Intermittent Explosive Disorder

What is tilt anyway?

I ponder this while reflecting on an online poker session last night.  Up a small amount, I was going to close out the session and go to bed early.  But look, there’s pocket tens, let’s just play this hand.

Fast forward and the villain has pocket nines, but hits a 3rd nine on the river.  Now I’m down a small amount – can’t quit there.

The next hand I get AKs.  One caller, who also calls my C-bet then shoves on the turn with the board showing 654-7.

An orbit later, with pocket deuces, I call a pre-flop raise and float his C-bet on a flop of 753 with a flush draw.  His C-bet sizing didn’t convince me that he had much.  A deuce came on the turn giving me bottom set.  He shoves and I snap call to find out he has pocket queens.  Just like the ending of a movie I’ve seen too many times before, the river is a queen.  Burned twice by 2-outers on the river in a span of just a few minutes.

In 20 minutes after deciding to book a small win, I proceed to blast through 180 BBs, recover a little bit, and go to bed an hour after I really wanted.

Tilt can be so sudden and unexpected.  Like road rage.  Looking for understanding, I found this article: The Psychology and Biology of Road Rage, which introduced me to the term “Intermittent Explosive Disorder.”

According to Wikipedia, “Intermittent explosive disorder (sometimes abbreviated as IED) is a behavioral disorder characterized by explosive outbursts of anger and violence, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand (e.g., impulsive screaming triggered by relatively inconsequential events). Impulsive aggression is unpremeditated, and is defined by a disproportionate reaction to any provocation, real or perceived. Some individuals have reported affective changes prior to an outburst (e.g., tension, mood changes, energy changes, etc.).”

The psychological root of this is something called Hostile Attribution Bias, “the belief that every accidental injury  or threat is purposeful, and personal.  People with IED over-personalize every interaction, and then over-react with immediate aggression.”  This is obviously dangerous when it happens to the driver of a car on a busy highway and financially self-destructive when it happens at the poker table.

I’m not prone to road rage and my propensity to tilt isn’t severe enough to classify as a disorder.  But I do tilt, having experienced many of the types of tilt Tommy Angelo describes in his wonderful book Elements of Poker: steaming tilt, simmering tilt, too loose tilt, too tight tilt, too aggressive tilt, too passive tilt, playing too high tilt, playing too long tilt, playing too tired tilt, entitlement tilt, annoyed tilt, injustice tilt, frustration tilt, sloppy tilt, revenge tilt, underfunded tilt, overfunded tilt, shame tilt, distracted tilt, scared tilt, envy tilt, this-is-the-worst-pizza-I’ve-ever-had tilt, I-just-got-showed-a-bluff tilt, I-gotta-get-even tilt, I-only-have-so-much-time-to-lose-this-money tilt and demolition tilt.  Entitlement tilt is my biggest nemesis.  I can handle bad pizza.

On the other hand, I have some friends with tendencies much closer to Intermittent Explosive Disorder when the poker Gods deliver just a few of the 10 plagues of poker injustice upon them.  Dear friends, you know who you are!

Do you have a tilt story to share… put it in the comments section below.

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Aces, Aces Everywhere

Towards the end of a frustrating poker session last night, I finally got dealt pocket aces.

Until then, double A batteries seem to have been present more than normal at this game, just not for me.

Early on there was a pre-flop all-in confrontation where the rockets flopped a set, only to be cracked when KQs hit a gutshot straight draw on the river.

I’m pretty sure there was another early hand where snake eyes were cracked in a large all-in pot, but I cannot recall the details.

Once I had QQ and made a 3-bet after an initial raiser.  The next player then goes all-in.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Jason.”  Jason is not normally the type of player who makes a cold 4-bet all-in just for fun, and after the initial raiser folded so did I.  While Jason never showed his cards, its about 50/50 either bullets or cowboys. Later, Jason made a large 3-bet pre-flop and got multiple callers.  He bet-folded on a flop of 986 with two clubs, and after the hand stated “Alan Alda no good there.”

Another time, on the first hand after buying more chips, I called an all-in from a short stack who had open limped.  Duh… he has American Airlines and they hold up.

Another time the player on the button raises after a couple of limps, and with KQ in the big blind I make a re-raise.  When he comes over the top, I quickly surrender and he flips over the Eyes of Texas.  Less than 10 minutes later, the same guy gets Teepees again.

I’m probably omitting a couple more.  The Banditerna seemed to be everywhere, and finally, near the end of the night, I have them.  Will mine join the list of broken sticks?  Will they win the blinds and nothing else?

I raise and get three callers.  The flop is A23 with two clubs.  This is both great and dangerous, so I bet 15 BBs.  Not giving any free cards.  This time I get two callers, including Jason and the biggest stack at the table, who for purposes of this blog I’ll refer to as the “Other Dave.”  The Other Dave has had a charmed night.  The very first hand featured a 3-way all-in on the turn, with the board showing AJT-Q and two spades.  One player had shoved with a king in his hand, holding the nuts.  Jason had called with a nut flush draw.  The Other Dave then over-called with AJ for two pair.  A jack fell on the river giving him a full house and early triple up.

The turn is another 3.  Bang!  Let’s try to get maximum value.  One of these guys probably has the case ace and a decent kicker.  The other… maybe he flopped a set of threes (uh-oh!) or twos, or possibly even a straight.  Otherwise, he must have a flush draw, or some decent pocket pair and isn’t giving me any credit for hitting that flop.  I make the same 15 BB bet again on the turn.  Jason goes all-in for 42 BBs.  The Other Dave calls.

Wth only 37 BBs left on top of this action, I shove too.  The Other Dave confesses he is about to make a bad call, then does exactly that.  He shows AJ, Jason has 66 (WTF?).

Did I mention what a wonderful evening of poker this was?  A Rocky Mountain high will do that, you know…


The Button Game

Where have I been all these years?  Last night I was introduced to the “Button Game,” a form of prop betting during a poker game that may have been around a long time and I just didn’t know about it.

As a quick side note, I have the Urban Dictionary app on my iPhone, which saves me occasional embarrassment from having to ask “What’s that?” about various pop culture expressions and acronyms.  Sometimes it’s hard for this MAWG to keep up.  As of this moment, however, the Button Game isn’t listed at UD.

Introduced by a long-time friend/villain known in this blog as “Myles” (previously mentioned in this blog here and here), the Button Game creates a side pot, or “kitty” that can only be won under certain conditions.  Each time a player wins a pot of $60 more more, that player adds $5 to the side pot, which accumulates in a cup that passes around the table along with the dealer button.  If the player on the button wins that pot, he or she also wins the kitty.  If not, the kitty moves with the button in front of the next player.  Of course, the amounts can be changed to whatever everyone at the table finds agreeable.

The first time the button reached me after we started the Button Game, there was $15 in the cup.  The cutoff raised to 6 BBs after a couple of limps.  I decided to call with Ah 3h, which I consider a very marginal calling hand at best, especially if the flop is going to be heads up.

The flop is A33 with two diamonds, giving me a full house.  She checks, so I check.

The turn is Td, making a flush a possibility.  She bets 5 BBs.  Perhaps she has a flush draw, even a nut flush draw with the Kd?  I make a min-raise to 10 BBs, and she calls.

The river is Jc.  Now she bets 20 BBs.  Hmmm… do we have a fish on the hook?  I raise to 50 BBs and she announces all-in.  Hmmm… might she have JJ or TT and a bigger full house?

This isn’t a time to get scared, and I quickly announce a call.  When she says “nuts!” I’m at first startled, then relieved to see that her nuts is the nut flush, with Kd 2d.  My full house wins a large pot, plus the $15 in the kitty.  I put $5 back in the kitty for the next hand and the button moves again.

Later on, I win the kitty two more times, once with $40 in it.  This prop bet game created a ton of extra action, with attempts by the button to steal offset by attempts from others to block the button from stealing, creating more pots in excess of $60 to build up the kitty, and so on.

Just tell me the rules, and I’ll try to figure out how to exploit it.  Of course, flopping a boat ain’t so bad.

Stuck in No Man’s Land

Last night I was at a low-stakes, private poker game marked by some very loose play.  There was frequent straddling as much as 13 BB’s, along with very light pre-flop raising (like 95s), light 3-betting, and light calling of 3-bets (with hands like T4s and 53s – the latter making quad 5’s).

It was a poker table ripe for Justin Bieber to sing, Roller Coaster, Roller Coaster.

For the most part, I was taking good advantage of this.  I bought in for 140 Big Blinds (“BBs”), felted one of the players with AQ v KQ on a Q-high flop, then felted the same player again with TT v JT after he limp/re-raised all-in with a short stack pre-flop, and built my stack to over 300 BBs.

A little later, I look down at AKo in early position, and raise to 7 BBs.  While this may seem like a large initial raise to online or casino players, it wasn’t unusual here.  My starting hand is very strong, but plays best post-flop against just one or two villains.  If I only raise to 4 BBs, everybody at the table might call and it becomes hard to know where you stand after the flop and turn.  There is one caller, then another player re-raises to 21 BBs.  For purposes of this blog post, I’ll call him “Mitch.”

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This is the first time I’ve played poker with Mitch.  He is a young white guy, early-to-mid 20’s, dressed like he just came from a  strange 70’s themed party – wearing what appears to be bicycling shorts, a casual shirt, old school nearly knee high basketball socks (white, with wide colorful stripes at the top of his calves), and low-cut white Chuck Taylors or similar footwear.  With a cap sporting the logo of Nag’s Head’s Lucky 12 Tavern and dark sunglasses to look like a real poker player, the whole look makes quite an impression.  I don’t really care how people look or dress, other than sometimes there are clues that help in profiling them as poker players – loose/tight or passive/aggressive or gambly or playing with a very small bankroll or whatever.  I suppose the impression here was not to be surprised by unconventionality.

Earlier in the game, Mitch had called a river all-in bluff on a very scary board (K-9-7-6-5) with KTo and won a large pot.  At the time, I was thinking that I would have folded there.  Before that, he had called a pre-flop raise from me with 92s and made a backdoor flush to beat my trip kings.

I’ve also noticed that Mitch is very friendly with another player, the one that I’ve already felted twice.  Apparently they drove to this game together and have been chatty between hands.  Mitch’s friend has a wild streak, making several large bluffs, showing his bluffs multiple times when were successful, and generally playing in a way that indicates a complete disregard for the value of his money.  Do birds of a feather flock together?

After Mitch’s 3-bet, there are two callers.  Both are very loose players who like to see lots of flops.  Perhaps both have played more than I have with Mitch and their calls indicate a certain lack of respect for his 3-bet.  I have experience with these callers, and think either of them would 4-bet here if holding a monster hand.

With all this in mind, I decide to make a sizable 4-bet myself.  With one ace and one king, I have blockers against Mitch having either of the hands I fear most – pocket aces or pocket kings.  Having started the betting from early position, I can credibly represent a monster pocket pair.  If I raise large enough, the two players who called Mitch’s bet would be forced to fold.  I make it 105 BBs.

Take that!

One player who called my original raise quickly folds.

But Mitch starts counting his entire stack.  He has 130 BBs more on top of my raise, and ships it all in.  I have him covered.

Right then it dawns on me that I’m in No Man’s Land, that terrible spot where you realize charging forward is a mistake and retreating is no good either.  In my youth I played a lot of competitive tennis.  On a tennis court, No Man’s Land refers to the area in front of the baseline, where it is difficult to make normal groundstrokes, but behind the service line, where you cannot make volleys either, at least not hitting the ball at a height that creates enough leverage to hit the ball hard or use sharp angles.  In No Man’s Land, all of your options are bad, unless you enjoy being yelled at by your tennis coach.

Another player folds.  The last player hems and haws a bit, asks for a count of Mitch’s chips, and also goes all-in, for less than Mitch’s stack.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Chuck.”  [This is really important, as I know Chuck (or whatever his real name might be) desperately covets a mention in this blog.  I hope he leaves a snarky comment after reading this.]  Chuck had about 180 BBs at the start of the hand.  His call surprised me, as noted earlier I thought my 4-bet would squeeze him out.  Even when he called, I interpreted that more as a desire to gamble over a huge pot than an indication of great strength.  Still, he could have at least one ace or king, or both, that would cancel some of my outs in the event Mitch has something like QQ or JJ.

Even so, I really don’t think Mitch has QQ or JJ.  Despite my blockers, he virtually always will have AA or KK here.  My 4-bet was so strong that his 5-bet must be stronger.  Hopefully it is KK and my ace is a live card.  Otherwise I’ll be crushed.  This is where my mistake becomes more clear.  I failed to make my 4-bet small enough to keep an exit strategy available.

Let’s review.  I’ve put 105 BBs into the pot.  Mitch has put in 235.  Chuck has put in 180.  Two other players put in 7 and 21, respectively, and later folded.  So the pot has 538 BBs in it, and it will cost me 130 more to call.  I’m getting pot odds of 4.14-to-1 to call, meaning I have to expect to win at least 19.5% of the time for calling to be mathematically, theoretically the proper thing to do.  How can I really justify folding here, even though it’s obvious that I’m in big trouble?

Some more math… heads up against Mitch, the villain I’m most worried about, if his range is AA/KK – which I consider most likely despite my blockers – and nothing else, my equity is 18.6%.  If I think he would also shove here with AKs or QQ, my equity is 33.3%.  Despite all the loose play at this game, I can only assume Mitch has a monster.  After all, loose players still get dealt monster hands just as frequently as tight players.  And not so long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Hashtag: They Always Have It.”  Mitch didn’t hesitate much before going all-in, so now I have to go with this read.

That’s heads up.  What about Chuck?  His range should be wider that Mitch’s, as his body language when calling all-in didn’t ooze great strength.  But he could have blockers to some of my outs.  Let’s give him a range of TT+, AQs+ or AK.  Against that range and Mitch’s AA/KK, my equity drops to 13.1%.  If we again widen Mitch’s range to include AKs and QQ, my equity improves to 20.4%.

Chuck could have some random suited connectors too – perhaps suspecting that Mitch and I have all the high cards and hoping for a hand like 98s to sneak to victory.  So I’ll add 98s and 87s to his range.  This, with Mitch at AA/KK would leave me with equity of 13.8%.  With the wider range for Mitch, I’m at 21.6%.  Chuck’s range has far less impact on how I stand than Mitch’s range, but if Chuck’s actual cards include any aces it kills a very important out for me.

I’m not doing all this math in my head at the table.  With Chuck’s chips in the middle now, it seems like a mandatory call.  I make the crying call, not at all happy, but would still have nearly 100 BBs left if I call here and lose.  If I had made a smaller 4-bet, say in the neighborhood of 60-75 BBs, I would have less hesitation about folding and saving my chips.

As the dealer sorts out the main pot and side pot, Chuck asks who has pocket aces.  Mitch says he has cowboys, i.e., pocket kings.  I actually feel a slight sense of relief at hearing this.  I say that I have one ace, but not two of them, and turn over my Ace of spades.  Mitch turns over his King of spades, then a red king to go along with it. Chuck doesn’t turn over either of his cards, but looks like he’s in a lot of pain.

One more bit of math:  against Mitch’s exact hand, which we now know for sure (and ignoring Chuck, since we still don’t know what he had), my equity is 30.3%.  If Chuck had folded to Mitch’s all-in bet, the pot would have been 389 BBs with 130 more for me to call.  I would need to have greater than 25.0% equity to justify calling.  While calling would be correct, it is only correct because of my betting mistake when I made such a large 4-bet that I stepped into No Man’s Land and pot-committed myself without consciously intending to do so.

If you’ve read this far, I’m pleased to report that a beautiful ace fell on the flop, and I won the whole freakin’ thing.  That’s poker I guess, and I’ve certainly been on the other side many, many times.

My stack grew a little bit more by the end of the night and I booked a very nice profit of 700+ BBs.

Thinking about Mitch’s 70’s theme appearance… That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it!

Ethical Theories and Poker Players

Some ethical concepts came up in this recent post, where a woman pondering my all-in river bet said, “I fold, Will you show?”  I said, no, sorry I don’t show, then she replied, “In that case, I call,” sliding forward her calling chips and flipping over her cards.  My hand was good, the dealer pushed the chips towards me and I happily took the bounty from her apparent reversal of her initial decision.

Later, a couple of friends who were at the same table agreed they heard her to be making a declaratory statement of folding, rather than a conditional clause precedent to her questions, as in “If I fold, will you show?”  We debated how I would have reacted had I been bluffing.  Would I have insisted that “verbal is binding,” her words were declaratory, and the hand was over the instant she said “I fold”?  Would I get a favorable ruling on that?

We discussed then, and it came up again last week, whether this was an example of Situational Ethics.  Success in the game of poker requires developing and using skills at pattern recognition, probability theory, math, psychology, deception, self-discipline and anticipating human behavior better than our opponents.  More crudely, we seek to exploit others while avoiding being exploited ourselves to tilt the otherwise random distribution of 52 playing cards in our favor.

Each hand in a poker game presents a unique situation.  There are 1,326 combinations of two cards that you might be dealt in a Texas Holdem game. After removal of your cards, there are 1,225 combinations of the 50 remaining cards that a single opponent might be dealt.  For a second opponent, another 1,128 combinations, and so on depending on the number of players.  With a full table of nine players, 34 cards remain in the deck after the initial dealing.  Now there are 5,984 different combinations of a 3-card flop, followed by 31 possible turn cards and 30 possible river cards.  Add the differences in opponents’ skills and playing styles and everyone’s position at the table relative to the dealer button, and it’s impossible to try to develop a strategy for each exact situation.

When something non-standard happens, we have to figure out what to do, as when the woman seemed to declare her intent to fold to my river bet, then seemed to change her mind after I stated that I wouldn’t show my cards.  For many non-standard events, rules and protocols are clear, such as when a hole card is accidentally exposed during the dealing process.  Other times, not so much.  This can lead to disagreements with sizable sums of money at stake, most often with each player involved arguing for the resolution that results in his or her winning the most chips or losing the least amount possible.  Angle shooting, table talk, betting out of turn, prematurely exposed cards, dealer mistakes, outright cheating or collusion, etc. create non-standard events.  How often do you see players argue against their own self-interest?  While tempted to call this Situational Ethics (as I was first inclined), this label actually misses the mark.

Another non-standard event occurred at a different game recently.  The dealer thought both players had checked after the turn card, which left the board at 5d-4d-5s-2d.  He burned the next card and was in the act of turning over the river card when one of the players said “Wait!”  He had not in fact checked and he wanted to bet.  The dealer put the partially exposed river card back on top of the deck.  I saw the forthcoming river card was the Ad, but said nothing.  There was a bet, an all-in raise and a snap call.  The first player, who was at the far corner of the table where it was most unlikely that he saw the river card as the angle when it was partially exposed was facing away from him, had pocket fours for a full house.  The other player, who was in the line of sight where it was more possible that he saw the exposed card, had Kd 3d for a turned flush.

Then the river came, and the Ad gave the second player a straight flush and improbable win of a large pot.  His body language seemed too nonchalant for such a random/lucky outcome, however, which I mentioned to the host of the game later.  I cannot say for sure whether he saw the river card or not, but it was definitely a non-standard event that raises some questions.  Should I (or another player no longer involved in the action who later acknowledged seeing the river card) have interceded while the turn betting was taking place to insist that since I saw the card, it was possible that either or both players might have seen it and the prudent action would be to re-shuffle the remaining cards to re-randomize the river card?

To a non-philosopher, the term Situational Ethics would appear to apply here.  But having majored in philosophy in college (long, long ago), I thought it was worth some review.  According to Wikipedia:

Situational Ethics takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards. In situation ethics, within each context, it is not a universal law that is to be followed, but the law of love.

Proponents of Situational Ethics refer to a biblical type of love that shows concern about others, caring for them as much as one cares for oneself.  The love is conceived as having no strings attached to it and seeking nothing in return; it is a totally unconditional love.

Joseph Fletcher, who became prominently associated with this approach in the English-speaking world due to his book (Situation Ethics), stated that “all laws and rules and principles and ideals and norms, are only contingent, only valid if they happen to serve love” in the particular situation, and thus may be broken or ignored if another course of action would achieve a more loving outcome.

A more accurate term for the ethics we most often see at a poker game is Ethical Egoism.  Again, we start with Wikipedia:

Ethical Egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest.  Ethical Egoism holds that one should not (as altruism does) sacrifice one’s own interests to help others’ interests, so long as one’s own interests are substantially equivalent to the others’ interests and well-being.

Yeah, that sounds more like poker players.

Ethical Egoism differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical Egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds that it is rational to act in one’s self-interest. Ethical Egoism holds, therefore, that actions whose consequences will benefit the doer can be considered ethical in this sense.

Ethical egoism contrasts with ethical altruism, which holds that moral agents have an obligation to help others. Egoism and altruism both contrast with Utilitarianism, which holds that a moral agent should treat one’s self with no higher regard than one has for others, resulting in the so-called greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Ethical Egoism does not necessarily entail that, in pursuing self-interest, one ought always to do what one wants to do; e.g. in the long term, the fulfillment of short-term desires may prove detrimental to the self (in the case of poker players, actions that get you kicked out of a profitable game would be detrimental). 

Comments welcome…

Tippy-Top of His Range

A couple nights ago, I was playing in a private poker game at a friend’s garage.  It’s a $1/2 NL game, and about an hour in, things are going reasonably well.

On this hand, the villain raised to $15 from early-middle position.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Brian.”  Brian talks a lot and likes action.  While not an overly aggressive bluffer, he likes to see a lot of flops and is more inclined to raise even with hands that aren’t super premiums, so his range here is wider than most.

Two seats to Brian’s left, I look down at AK off-suit.  Ace of diamonds, King of spades.  So my first decision is whether to re-raise or just call in position.  I could really go either way here but decide to re-raise as this should clear out a lot of mediocre hands that people at this game like to play, and better define Brian’s range if he continues.  So I make is $50.

It folds back around to Brian, who says something like “I guess I’ll see a flop with you” that suggests his hand isn’t super strong but had flop possibilities.  After the pre-flop betting, Brian has about $300 more behind and I have him very slightly covered.

Flop ($103):  Kxx ddd.  I don’t remember the cards lower than King, other than both were eight or lower, and all diamonds.  This flop gives me top pair, top kicker, and the nut flush draw with my Ace of diamonds.  I like it!

Brian goes first, and leads out with a $50 bet.

My first thought is that he also has AK, with fits perfectly with his pre-flop play and there are 6 AK combos still available.  In that case, I want to get it all-in as I’d be free rolling with my flush draw.  Since I have the Ace of diamonds and the King of diamonds is on the board, there are very few combos he can have that flopped a flush.  Would he call $50 out-of-position pre-flop with QdJd?  JdTd?  QdTd?  Anything weaker?  Two pair hands are even more unlikely.  KQ?  Perhaps he sometimes calls $50 pre with KQ suited.  Would he have called with KQ offsuit, including the Queen of diamonds (and think the Qd would be good if another diamonds hits on the turn or river)?  The other possibility is sets, which can never be fully discounted.

I decide to shove right now.  In an earlier hand with a different villain, I shoved on the flop over his smallish check-raise and he folded top pair face up.  I’ve been experimenting a little bit recently with less conventional bet sizing, and this seems like another good spot… until Brian snap calls.


He flips over exactly Qd Jd.  This is the best possible combo he can have given this flop.  The 2nd nuts, which also reduces the number of outs for me to improve.  The turn and river are not diamonds, and Brian scoops up a $700 pot.

Was shoving a mistake?

From a results oriented view, obviously yes.  Heads up against his exact hand, I have 31.7% equity.  This is not worth risking my entire stack, although calling his flop bet leaves me in no-man’s land when he fires another bet on the turn, setting up a river shove.  Would I be able to fold on either street?

But from a process oriented view, we should give Brian a range when he donk-bets $50 on the flop.  And that range has to account for his pre-flop call of $50 from out-of-position.  I’ll assign this range:  AK, KQ, QdJd, JdTd, Td9d, 9d8d, 8d7d, and middle or bottom sets.  That’s 19 combinations.  Now I would have 61.8% equity.  If we eliminate any of the suited, connecting diamonds from his range, my equity goes up.  If we eliminate any of the KQ hands, my equity goes down.  Looked at this way, shoving isn’t terrible here; it just so happened that Brian was at the tippy-top of his range.


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