KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “3-bet”

Online Analysis, Part 1 – pre-flop 3-bets

I play a fair amount of online poker on the Ignition platform, almost entirely cash games.  So far this year I’ve been a winner, but not at a rate I’m particularly proud of.  Unless I compare it to last year when I won just a very tiny bit, or the year before which was worse.

One of the benefits of Ignition’s poker site is that after a few days have passed, the hand history details show all of the hole cards for all of the other players.  We can study hands that did not go to showdown and see exactly what each player was doing.  I can only see histories of the hands I played and on this site all players are anonymous – no avatars, no screen names, no other identifiers.  Still, this hole card visibility can be used to build a profile of the “typical” player (absent any specific observations) and to spot leaks in my own game (of which there are plenty).

So I’ve embarked on a study project, not using Poker Tracker or similar software for meta-data analysis, but scrolling through hand-by-hand, picking out hands with certain attributes or very large pots, and entering some of the data into a spreadsheet for further review when the sample size is larger.

It’s tedious, laborious work.  There are additional insights to be gained from the meta-data and maybe I’ll go there eventually.  For now, this is good enough.

At the top of my list of situations to analyze is pre-flop 3-bets.  When one player raises, then another re-raises (this is the 3rd bet, after the posting of the big blind and the initial raise), can we rely on any general conclusions about the strength of the re-raiser’s hand?  Do those ranges change – wider or narrower – as we move up or down in stakes?

The sample is still very small, but so far 3-bets have included:

AA – 11x     KK – 7x     QQ – 3x

88 – 1x      AK – 6x     AQ – 1x

AJ – 3x      Other/junk – 5x

I’ve seen some hands as strong as AK or QQ/JJ calling instead of 3-betting.  And the 3-bets made from the blinds after a cutoff or button opening raise, that look like a blind-steal vs. re-steal situations, are still dominated by the strongest hands.  The basic range here is QQ+/AK, which accounts for 27 instances of 3-bets in this sample (73%), with only 10 instances of a 3-bet outside of that range (27%).

Tentative conclusion:  respect the 3-bets.  It’s OK to call the smaller sized 3-bets with low-to-medium pocket pairs when the math is right for set-mining (especially in position).  Otherwise, as Idina Menzel sang in the movie Frozen, “Let It Go!”

I can even fold hands as strong as JJ or QQ to the larger sized 3-bets, without bothering to set-mine.  Does this seem too nitty?  Let’s look at the math.  Using Poker Cruncher, I’ll set Player 1’s (my) hand as QQ, and give Player 2 (villain) a strong range of which 72% is QQ+/AK, to approximate the sample above.  Against this range, it’s a coin flip.  That’s gambling, and I have better things to do, unless I have a very player-specific read to go on.



Change my hand to JJ vs. a similar range that is 72% QQ+/AK, and my equity drops below 41%.  That’s worse than gambling at a casino, and I have much better things to do.

As the opening raiser from the cutoff or button against 3-bet by the small or big blind, I can let these go as well.  My initial investment will be small, and the data so far doesn’t suggest a high enough frequency of re-steal attempts to warrant fighting back.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume live players’ 3-bet follow the same pattern of distribution as online players.  This might be the case… or not.  Gathering enough data on live players would be vastly more difficult, as most of these hands don’t go to showdown nor get voluntarily shown on hands that end prior to a showdown.

In later posts, we’ll look at the ranges of hands involved in other common situations…


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When Dreams Come True

You know that poker hand you dream about?  When you’ve been running so bad you resort to writing terrible poetry, but laying in bed or driving around in the car alone you imagine that special hand and what it would be like if that actually happened?

Perhaps you imagine being in a casino poker room and double your starting stack.  But the most obnoxious player at the table has tripled his.  He’s drinking too much, talking too much but slurring his words.  He makes blind raises then backs into a winning hand, picking up chips through a series of improbable wins and gloating about it.  His mere presence is a constant irritation.  Even though you don’t actually know each other, you start feeling like there is a personal score that needs to be settled.

Mr. Obnoxious and you are the two biggest stacks at the table and you’re thinking, in your imagination, just get me the right spot to take him down.  Yeah, you want his whole stack.

Maybe you will raise with a medium pocket pair, like nines, and he will 3-bet in a manner that telegraphs a very big pair.  It’s got to be either pocket aces or kings.  So you call, of course, because this could be it.  And the dream continues when you hit top set on the flop, with two suited cards so he’ll have to consider that you might be raising as a semi-bluff.  When he makes a strong bet on the flop, Ka-Pow!  No matter how big of an overbet it is, you’re just going all-in right away, because it’s too much and that will confuse him.  Besides, he’s half-drunk, so his decision making is impaired.  Even the half-drunks can fold pocket aces when the board gets scary enough on the turn or river, but your flop overbet shove reeks of wanting him to fold.  He can’t stand the thought of being bluffed, and his winning has made him start to think he’s invincible, so he calls.

He flips over his pocket rockets and you show your set.  For the first time since he sat down, he’s speechless, realizing he just blew nearly 300 Big Blinds running through a stop sign and police barricade along the way.

Doesn’t everybody who plays poker have a daydream like this?  Don’t you practice, in your mind, what you will say or how you will stare at the villain?

In my dream, I want to act like I’ve been there before.  No hooting and hollering like I’m surprised or feel like I just got lucky.  I want to stay in control, be cool, show everybody at the  table this this is normal for me.  So don’t F- with me as this session continues.  Power commands respect.

Dear readers, I hope your dreams will come true too.  Mine did.  It feels awesome.

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Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $200

It’s Friday night poker, and a Monopoly game breaks out.  I roll the dice and land on Community Chest.  The card says “Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $200.”  The banker hands me the money.  Let me explain.

We are a couple hours into this private, home game of no limit Texas Holdem, with blinds of $1 and $2.  The player to the left of the big blind, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “John,” raises to $11.  John is a fairly loose player, so even though he is under-the-gun (UTG) here, his raising range is not nearly as tight as many other players.  Still, I know he’s positionally aware so I’ll give him credit for having something decent.

In the cutoff seat, I have KK.  I start to re-raise to $31, then grab two more $1 chips to make it $33, triple the amount of John’s bet.  He has a history of calling 3-bets from out-of-position lighter than he should, so I want to take advantage.

Then the small blind shoves all-in with a short stack.  He has $51 in total.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “KP” after the comedy duo of Key & Peele.

The action is back on John.  What are his options?  My raise was $22 more than John’s bet.  KP’s raise was $18 more than mine.  Can John raise again, or is he limited to calling or folding only?

John does call $51, then says he doesn’t think I can re-raise again.  Since KP only had $18 on top of my bet, which is less than the amount by which I had raised John’s original bet, that’s not a full raise and therefore closes the action.  Right?  John asked for clarification only after he has called the bet.

If so, my only options would be to call $18 more, or fold.  Note that if I had only raised to $31, as was my initial inclination, that would be $20 more than John’s raise.  Then KP’s shove of $51 would be $20 more than my bet and constitute a full raise.  In that situation, the action would clearly remain open for me to raise again.

John and the dealer have a short discussion and review of the betting action, while KP and I sit quietly.  The dealer notes that KP’s raise is over one-half of the minimum, therefore it does not close the action and I can raise again if I want.  If KP had only enough chips to raise $10 more than my bet, or less than that, I would be prohibited from making another raise.

John appears satisfied with that answer.  After calling $51, he has about $150 left in his stack, maybe slightly more, and I have him well covered.

I ask the dealer to confirm that I can raise again if I want, and after he does confirm, I announce all-in.  John shrugs and with very little hesitation says, “OK, I call, but I probably need help.”

I turn over my pocket kings.  KP shows KcJc.  John shows Ac8c.  I’m a 61.4% favorite to win this 3-way pot.

The board runs out KQJ-4-Q and my full house sweeps the pot, albeit with a bit of a sweat.

After the hand, there is some more discussion about the ruling that additional raises are permitted after KP’s shove was less than a full raise.  I ask the dealer if this is a house rule or they are following a guide like the Tournament Directors Association or Robert’s Rules of Poker.  He says he has a copy of Robert’s Rules and believes his is being consistent with that guide, pointing out that the TDA guide sometimes has some quirky tournament-specific rules that don’t work well for cash games.

Now in the comfort of my own home again, I’m curious.  What does Robert’s Rules of Poker actually say here?  Let’s take a look… (emphasis added)



5. In limit play, an all-in wager of less than half a bet does not reopen the betting for any player who has already acted and is in the pot for all previous bets. A player facing less than half a bet may fold, call, or complete the wager. An all-in wager of a half a bet or more is treated as a full bet, and a player may fold, call, or make a full raise. (An example of a full raise is on a $20 betting round, raising a $15 all-in bet to $35).

But wait, there’s more!


A no-limit or pot-limit betting structure for a game gives it a different character from limit poker, requiring a separate set of rules in many situations. All the rules for limit games apply to no-limit and pot-limit games, except as noted in this section. 


3. All raises must be equal to or greater than the size of the previous bet or raise on that betting round, except for an all-in wager. A player who has already checked or called may not subsequently raise an all-in bet that is less than the full size of the last bet or raise. (The half-the-size rule for reopening the betting is for limit poker only.)

Example: Player A bets $100 and Player B raises $100 more, making the total bet $200. If Player C goes all in for less than $300 total (not a full $100 raise), and Player A calls, then Player B has no option to raise again, because he wasn’t fully raised. (Player A could have raised, because Player B raised.)


Since John had not acted in response to my 3-bet, he should have been able to re-raise again if he wanted.  But not me.  And who knows if I would have been able to win John’s full $200 stack if I hadn’t been allowed to raise again in the pre-flop betting round?

Hopefully on the next roll of the dice, I’ll pass Go! and collect another $200.  Until then I’ll just a savor the fortuitous ruling.

READERS:  Your comments are always welcome below.

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Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip… Uh Oh!

Dear Readers,
Sorry for the bad beat story to follow here, but you KNOW that’s how I get these out of my system.  At least I hope to get it out of my system, ’cause dammit it still hurts.  If you don’t like bad beat stories, consider yourself forewarned to stop now.
Last month I was at the Harrah’s Cherokee casino in western North Carolina during the WSOP Circuit stop there.  I had a really bad cooler in a cash game, as described here.  One of the guys traveling with me (I’ll call him “Chad”) said it was the kind of hand that leaves you restless and angry all night, such that when you wake up the next morning, the first thing out of your mouth is “Fuck!”
Yesterday Chad hosted a 18-player tournament.  This was a bonus event for some regular cash game players, essentially a free roll, with a prize pool of $2,770.  Other than $20 to add-on some extra chips at the first break, there was no cost to me or the other players.  The prize pool was to be divided among the top 4 finishers, 45%, 30%, 20%, 5%.
When we got down to one table of 9 players, we all agreed to take $100 each, then divide the remaining $1,870 among the final 3 finishers, 50%, 30%, 20%.  I thought this was a nice way to mitigate some of the risk.
At the first hand after the next break we were still 9-handed, with antes of $100 and blinds at 400/800.  I have about 25 BBs remaining, which is about 2/3 of the average stack size.  At this point, the play has tightened up and therefore I want to ramp up my aggression slightly.
In UTG+3, all fold to me and I look down at Ad 9d, and raise to 2,100.  The player to my immediate left (I’ll call him “Andrew”) 3-bets to 4,200 and everyone else folds.  Andrew’s stack is almost identical to mine.
I have not played in tournaments with Andrew, but have played with him frequently in cash games.  His 3-bet range is wider than many of the players, including 99+, AJ+, KQ type of hands, and he will C-bet a large percentage of the time especially in position.  Calling him here is debatable, but his 3-bet raise was rather small so he might just be hoping I was raising light and will go away.  I call out of position – in hindsight I should not be doing that for 20% of my tournament stack, but that’s what I did.
The flop was Qd Jd 3d.  I have an ace-high flush, THE STONE COLD FREAKING NUTS!
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-ay!
My, oh my, what a wonderful day?
Plenty of sunshine heading my way.
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-ay!

Oh, Mr. Blue-bird – on – my – shoul-der.
It’s the truth, its actual.
And everything is satisfactual.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-ay!
Wonderful feeling.
Wonderful da-a-ay!

I check, and Andrew bets 6,500.  I’ve got him!  He’s now invested more than half of his stack in this pot.  Maybe he has AA or KK or AQ.  I count my chips and have the 6,500 to call, plus 8,700 more. “All-in” I announce, after some theatrics with the counting and shuffling.
Andrew looks pained, and tanks for awhile, saying repeatedly “I have to call” and “if this how it’s going to be, then so be it” and finally calls.  He has me covered by exactly 100 chips.  The pot is just over 50 BBs and more than 1.3x the average stack size.  Winning this pot will put me  in a position to threaten the biggest stacks at the table.  Fan-damn-tastic!!!  Zip-a-dee-doo-dah some more.
Then Andrew turns over QQ and my heart surges up into my throat.  He has top set, with two cards to come that can make him a full house or quads.  This is much stronger than I was expecting given how long he was thinking before he called.  I turn over mine and stand up.  It’s like I’ve seen this movie before and know how it ends.  I’ve just been crowned King of the Prom and handed revolver with two bullets in it for a mandatory game of Russian Roulette in the same gesture.
Click goes the revolver.  The turn card is Ks.  Missed.  Maybe this time the movie will end differently.  77% of the time I will win here, with one card to come. He has 10 outs.
The dealer burns and turns.  3h on the river.  BANG goes the revolver, as Andrew completes his full house.  I feel like my brains just exploded all over the table.  I already know what the first word out of mouth will be tomorrow morning.
Next I have to exit stage right.  I try to do it gracefully, which is difficult when your FUCKING BRAINS ARE SPLATTERED ALL OVER A POKER TABLE.  Andrew has to wipe sweat off his hand before he can shake mine, which we do awkwardly, in the manner of combatants who both know an injustice has occured.  Of course, that is what we signed up for.
I walk straight out to Chad’s deck.  After a couple minutes, I text him – he’s only a few feet away, but inside the house – to request a bottle of water.  I cannot even walk back into the room to get my own.
Here is the thing:  I played well. Early in the tournament I lost a hand with straight < full house that took me down to less than 4,000 out of my starting 10,000 chips.  Patiently, I fought back, and doubled up to about 12,000 on the last hand before the $20 add-on gave me 5,000 more.
I look back at the remaining players, knowing I can play with any of them, knowing I could go deep in this tournament, knowing now good it would feel to bring home the extra cash.  Knowing the pain of being on the outside, looking in.
A few minutes later, Andrew is the next player to bust out of the tournament.

KK vs. AA & QQ

I was in Las Vegas last week with my buddy Mike, and this was a hand that he played in a $1-2 NL cash game.

A player in early position raised to $12, and an older gentleman called.  Mike – on the button –  squeezed his cards and found KK, and 3-bet to $36.  The Small Blind calls for $36 and the opening raiser folded.

Then the older guy – who hasn’t done anything fancy up to this point – goes all-in.  Huh?

Pretty easy actually… he has exactly pocket Aces.

Mike figures it out and folds, and the SB then folds QQ face up.  The Villain proudly shows his Aces, and Mike says “Nice hand sir, I had pocket Kings.”

But that’s not the end of the story.

Another player at the table complimented Mike on being able to let go of KK’s there.  This player, while not involved in the hand, had been sitting at the table for awhile with his professional poker coach sweating him (i.e., watching over his shoulder).  Rather often, both the player and coach would leave the table for a few minutes of private conversation/coaching, then return for more play.

When the older guy left the table, the coach told Mike that the older guy badly mis-played the hand and that he, the pro/coach, would have “felted” Mike in the same situation, by flat calling Mike’s 3-bet.

Later on, Mike and I debated how that might have worked.  For starters, we both acknowledge that some percentage of the time, either a K or Q would hit the flop, and either Mike or the SB would win.  We know that any pocket pair will flop a set about 1 in 8 times, so the chances here with both KK and QQ seeing the flop are about 23% that one or the other (or both) will flop a set.  So a flat call by the AA hand entails a moderately high level of risk.

Let’s assume all 3 players have starting stacks of $300 (equal to the max buy-in at this table).  The pre-flop betting totals $12 + $36 + $36 + $36 = $120, and each player has $264 remaining.

If the flop is all low cards, and the older guy checks, Mike is certainly likely to make a strong continuation bet, say $60-90 range.  If both call $60, now the pot is $300 and each player has $204 remaining.  If Mike bets $75 and both call, the pot is $345 and each player has $189 remaining.  Maybe Mike can sniff out the Aces, but we can see how the pot size escalates to the point where it becomes very difficult to avoid being pot-committed by the river.

We also explored another line the older guy might have taken.  Suppose, I asked, he re-raised the minimum pre-flop after Mike’s raise and the call from SB, to $60?

All of the color suddenly left Mike’s face.  “I probably would have shoved it all-in right there,” he said, “in order to protect my big hand against going to the flop against 2 villains instead of one.”  He reasoned that calling $60 surely brings SB along for another call, and the raise size doesn’t scream “I HAVE ACES!!!” like the old man’s call/shove line.  This could easily be AK or QQ prepared to fold to a shove.  If it goes 3-ways to the flop, Mike would have felt very vulnerable to any Ace on the flop, and one or both villains could have a lower pair and flop a set.  Any Q, J or T would be terrifying, so why not make them pay the maximum price now?  If both fold, he still wins $60 from the old guy, $36 from SB and $12 from the original raiser, for a total profit in the hand of $108… not bad for a $1/2 game.

The min-raise, we decided, would be the play the old guy should have made to maximize the likelihood of felting Mike.  While he was probably happy to win, he may have missed out on a lot more value.


Daily Debacle – What Not to Play

One of my daughter’s favorite TV shows is TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”  In this makeover reality show, participants are nominated by friends (?), co-workers or relatives to participate in a fashion makeover, but only after being thoroughly humiliated for their bad taste in clothing.

The poker equivalent would be my very own “What Not to Play.”  Let me explain…

Bovada online poker recently introduced “Zone Poker,” a super-fast paced game of No Limit Hold’em.  When you hit the fold button, you are immediately moved to a new table and another hand begins.  A copycat of Full Tilt’s “Rush Poker,” this format increases the number of hands played per hour by a factor of at least 3-4x.

Because you can fold and move to another table right away, it is much easier to simply fold in sticky situations or coin flips and wait for more favorable betting situation.  And because Bovada poker is 100% anonymous, there is no player tracking or stats possible.  On occasion you can recognize a few other players based on their stack sizes – typically those with very large stacks.  Otherwise, you don’t really know if the players at your table include any of the players from the previous hand, or not.

After playing with this for a couple of weeks, I’ve reached a few basic conclusions.  (Alright, some of you might have reached these same or even smarter conclusions much faster… I don’t care!)

Note that virtually all of the play in Zone Poker is at the 6-max tables, and currently Zone Poker is only available at the micro stakes, but it will be introduced at higher levels eventually.

First of all, there is no meta-game to play.  Being caught in a bluff is not likely to get you paid off in a later hand.  Players cannot recall if you are loose or tight, or always check-raise with good draws when out of position.  Staking out a certain image in order to capitalize on it later in the session is a waste of time (“WOT”).

Bluffing works some of the time but not all the time.  If getting caught in too many bluffs causes you to tilt, just don’t.  Some of the big stacks do try to run over the table, but that style has not worked for me.

Position is critical.  Playing speculative hands from the blinds – typically justified based on pot-odds, being “priced in” to the hand or not having to worry about a raise from additional players still to act pre-flop, is a tremendous spew of chips.  (See this prior post for more on playing speculative hands OOP.)  By speculative hands, I mean those where a “good” flop results in a draw more often than a made hand.  For example, suited connectors, suited one-gappers and suited aces frequently (about 10-11% of the time) lead to a flush draw.  Other connectors and gappers often lead to straight draws – more often a gutshot than an open-ender.  So now you are out of position, not sure what the other guys have or plan to do, and have to decide between leading out, check-raising, check-calling or check-folding.  I’ve noticed a lot of check-raise all-in bets getting called when the pre-flop aggressor has top pair or an over-pair, and even the best draws are going to miss most of the time.

Too much variance for me to play these aggressively, too spewy to play these passively.

Also not to play are the weaker unpaired Broadway cards, especially out of position.  JTs, KT, KJ, QTs can get in a lot of bad spots against overpairs or higher kickers.  Against an under-the-gun raiser, I might even fold KQ on the button.  I want to know where I stand, and these hands make it really tough.

3-betting pre-flop is fine with the biggest hands, but no one is tracking your 3-bet percentage.  Again, no meta game advantage to be gained.  I’ve quit 3-betting a lot of hands, such as AK and also cut way back on 3-betting to protect my blinds against button open-raises.  (Side note here:  Annie Duke wrote an excellent poker strategy book called “Decide to Play Great Poker.”  She says many players worry too much about defending their blinds.  I’m not sure the exact quote but basically she says Let the Dick Measurers Measure Dicks!  Yikes, that’s one tough lady!)  In Zone Poker you don’t have the same guy on your right constantly attacking your blinds, so there is nothing gained by sending a message.  If you think you have the best hand, bet.  Otherwise, move on to another table.

By 3-betting less, the stack-to-pot ratio is larger and so are the implied odds.  I have less invested in the hand, so I can fold on a sticky flop situation without feeling like I’m making a big write-off.  For hands that need good implied odds, such as set-mining with medium pocket pairs, this helps.  Of course, I’ll still open-raise with many of these in an unopened pot, but rarely 3-bet.

Calling from good position with speculative hands is OK some of the time, but generally should be limited to the button and multi-way pots.  I’ll over limp with suited connectors on the button, and sometimes call a raise if there is already one caller.  Otherwise, what the hell am I doing in the hand with 97s when I can start another hand in less than 5 seconds?  And God forbid, what am I going to do if the pre-flop raiser checks on a flop like Q-7-3 and I have 9-7s?  Seems like every time that happens and I bet, the guy has flopped top set and is trapping.  Since folding pre-flop on the button is FREE, let’s take advantage.

The end result of all this is a style of very tight / aggressive ABC poker.  Play good cards, especially when there is no prior action, play big hands aggressively, stay out of trouble.  Tricky, trappy play rarely makes sense, other than a basic check-raise when out of position against a pre-flop aggressor.

Paradoxically, many of the players in this game – remember this is only at the micro-stakes for now – are the most dis-believing of your straightforward play.  A little while ago, I called a pre-flop raiser in position with 66 and hit a set on the flop.  I called on the flop then raised all-in on the turn noting there were 2 suited cards on the board.  Sensing a flush draw, the villain called with top pair (Q’s) and a 9 for his kicker.  Really.  Q-9s calls an all-in turn bet on a Q-high board.

Easy game.  (or perhaps not as the remainder of this post wlll illustrate all too well…)

Year-to-date online results:  (- $1,958)

Month-to-date online results:  + $119

Daily Debacle – Hated to Yield

I open-raised this hand to 3 BB’s, then the short stack to my immediate left shipped his entire 28 BB stack.  Then next player called.  I had to fold.  Aaaaaarrrgh!

Folded preflop


Daily Debacle – Way Ahead / Way Behind

Last night I played in a live tournament with about 65 players.  The buyin was $50 plus another $10 bounty.  The starting stack was equal to 50 big blinds.

I was pretty card dead and uber-tight for awhile, whittling away about 20% of my stack.  Then the most aggressive player, an older guy, was on the button, with me in the big blind.  Not only was this guy aggressive, he was irritating.  A couple of times he was doing business on his cell phone while in a hand, including once as the dealer, and seemed oblivious to the rest of us.

Another time, he made a fairly standard-sized open raise and I called with 9-6 suited.  Not a premium hand, but folding all the time was getting boring, the blinds were still small, and I had position.  Two of my suited cards appeared on the flop and the old fart shoved all-in, about 5x the pot size.  Of course I folded, and he showed AA and said he was just happy to win what was already in the pot.  I made a mental note for future reference.

So this hand he is the button and I still have about 10 big blinds.  Everyone folds to him and he raises to just over 3BB’s, and the SB folds.  I have KT suited.  Not great, not terrible, not something I want to play out-of-position, not something I want to fold.  My image should be very, very tight.  I shoved and he insta-called, showing KK.  As I’m starting to walk away from the table, the river card completes a gutshot straight for me.

A bit later, the blinds are up again, I’ve won one more pot and now have 18.5 BB’s.  Everyone folds to me in the Hijack seat, and I have Ah 8h.  This is certainly good enough to raise, and I have to mix it up some or the blinds will begin taking their toll soon.  I raise to 2.5 BB’s, and the next two players fold.  Then the small blind 3-bets to 5.5 BB’s and the big blind folds.  The small blind made a strange play early in the tournament (first level of blinds).  On a monotone flop, he made the nut flush.  There was a bet and a call in front of him.  He shoved all-in and everybody folded.  He then showed his flush.  Really?  Why push everybody out if you have the nuts?  That seemed like such a perfect time to milk the pot for so much more.  Sure, it’s possible someone will have a draw to a full house, but you want to entice them to chase those draws.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen any 3-bets from this player.  His range seems fairly narrow, like JJ+, AQs+, AK.  For some reason I cannot explain, it seems that the JJ-KK pocket pairs are most likely.  He might call and trap with AA, might call with AK and evaluate the flop, etc.

Against this range, I have 30% equity.  The pot is now 8.5 BB’s and it will cost me 3 BB’s to call, so I have the proper odds.  My stack is 16 BB’s and I would have 13 BB’s after calling.  I will have position on this villain post-flop.

I hate giving up 20% of my remaining stack on a call here.  Any other ace will have me dominated.  Flushes don’t come around that often.  The size of his 3-bet is inviting a call.  Deliberately?  I don’t think so, as I am not very impressed by his prior play.

I decide to fold, but don’t slide my cards to the center.  Let’s think a bit more.  This is a short tournament.  There are only so many opportunities to accumulate chips.  I got a second life with my earlier suckout against the button’s KK.

TOO MUCH THINKING HERE.  “Fold!” I tell myself.

I call.

The flop is A-Q-4, with one heart.  Not bad, top pair with a backdoor flush draw.  He checks.  I check.

The turn is the 4h.  Helps my backdoor flush draw.  Otherwise, this card changes nothing, as he certainly doesn’t have a 4.  He checks again.

At this point, I’m either way ahead or way behind.  I’m ahead if he has KK or JJ – he would only have 2 outs.  I’m behind if he has AA, QQ, AK, AQ.  Against AA or QQ, I’m drawing dead as the turn card completed a full house.  Against AK I have 12 outs (hearts or an 8).  Against AQ I have 9 outs for a flush.  Based on my assessment of his preflop range, those are about the only options.

The only right play here is to check behind.  As I’m writing this, it is abundantly clear.  But last night I was tired, the result of a very late online session the night before (accumulating material for more blog posts!).  The flush draw got me excited, and I rationalized that the additional equity made it proper to shove.  Looking at it now, none of the hands that are ahead of me are going to fold.  Am I representing that I have a 4?  How silly.  None of the hands that are behind are going to call.

So I shove.  He calls and shows AK.  I have 12 outs, miss them all, and make the walk of shame, after starting this hand in perfectly good shape for a deep run in this tournament.

Daily Debacle – Danger Will Robinson!

Like the goofy robot in “Lost in Space,” the 1960’s science fiction TV series, sometimes another poker player or situation shouts “Danger!” at you in such an annoying manner that the first instinct is to move towards the danger, rather than away from it.

Of course, if Will Robinson always listened to the robot’s danger warnings, the rest of each Lost in Space episode wouldn’t be very interesting, would it?

This happened to me last night, playing $0.50 / 1.00 NL online.  My table has been characterized by very passive play, with multiple limpers on nearly every hand.  I need to attack these fish and make them pay.  A player UTG+1 is particularly bad, with VPIP=35 and PFR=7 over a stretch of 55 hands.  He limps, two more players limp and I am in the cutoff seat with Ad Td.  So I raise to $4.  The button and blinds all fold, but the original limper now 3-bets to $11.

I’ve seen this TV show before.  He has pocket aces.  I fold.  No problem.

Exactly one orbit later, I am on the button with Qs Th.  The same villain limps again, now from UTG+2 and everyone else folds to me.  So I raise to $3.  Just because he limp-reraised once with AA doesn’t mean I can’t punish Mr. Limp-A-Lot and leverage my favorable position to dominate this table.

The blinds fold, and this time he 3-bets to $9.  Enough already!  Just because I folded to your limp-reraise once does not mean I’m going to roll over and play dead every time.  My table image could suffer too.

This is not going to be a battle about hand strength, but a battle of will power.  I 4-bet to $19.75.  That seems like a good amount to let him know I’m not scared of this BS.  He calls, and now the pot is $41 and he has only $34 left behind.

The flop is 6-5-2.  Still not wanting to back down, I again ignore the robot’s annoying warning.  I’m not Will Robinson, but I’ve got more Will Power than the fish across the table.  I shove all-in.

He insta-calls.  Whoops!  He shows KK and doubles up.

Did somebody forget to tell me that even the fish can get a big pair every now and again?  Did somebody forget to tell me that the same fish can get a big pair in early position two orbits in a row?  Did somebody tell me that the fish at this level aren’t thinking about the fact that I folded to their 3-bet from early position once and therefore they can limp-reraise light the next time?  Did somebody forget to tell me that the fish aren’t going to fold KK even if you turn AA face up, because “Shee-it bro!  Pocket kings is just too dang good to fold”?

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  The robot gave me fair warning.  Twice.  I just refused to listen the second time.

Year-to-date online results:  (- $509)

Month-to-date online results:  + $696

Laying Down a Big Hand… Not!

In a fairly short session of $0.50 – 1.00 NL last night, it seemed like all of my big hands ran into bigger hands.  Here is a sample of the carnage.

Could you lay down this hand?  Not me.  I flopped a set, have a short stack, and going all the way with it!  P1 is a huge fish, with VPIP 57 / PFR 11.  He had opened for $2 pre-flop, a minimum raise, and I had 3-bet to $6.  I was so excited to hit a set on the flop that I only bet $4 into $17, wanting to be sure not to let the fish get away.  (Rest of the story:  he has A-T.)

Big laydown 2














How about this one?  Not me.  Villain is the biggest fish at the table, VPIP 45 / PFR 30, and has made several large river bets, one of which I called and it turned out to be a bluff.  Others probably were bluffs as well.  He called my opening raise from the BB.  I’ve been waiting for a chance to pound this guy.  I actually shove the turn, an overbet that is more than the current pot.  (Rest of the story:  he snap calls with 4s 3s.)


Big laydown 3














Or this one?  Not me.  In this hand, P2 raised to $3 pre-flop, and P4 and I both called.  Normally I might fold here, as my hand could easily be dominated and I shouldn’t play these cards from out of position.  But I’m on tilt, of course, from a horrific session, and want to make up some lost ground.  At the moment, these cards look OK, besides it’s only two more dollars.

Ba-da-bing!  I flop two pair.  Time to make up some lost ground?  Or worry about P4 having exactly Q-J?  He is another fish, with VPIP 42 / PRF 0.  (Hint:  as it turns out, he does not have Q-J.)  When he raises on the turn, it looks more like a K-Q or K-J holding, and with his short stack I decide to put him all in.  (Rest of the story:  he as T-T.)

Big laydown 1














Year-to-date online results:  (- $365)

Month-to-date online results:  + $435




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