KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “check-raise”

Great Flop for Me

It was Saturday night, which means I’m playing poker in someone’s garage.  Just about everybody is a regular player, so we get to do some higher level thinking.  Level 1, of course, is just thinking about the strength of our own hand.  We like it, or we don’t like it, or we’re not sure.  Level 2 is thinking about our opponents’ hands.  The more we have played with somebody, the more we should know about their style and tendencies and use that information to our advantage.  They should be doing the same.  Level 3 is thinking about what our hand looks like to our opponents.  While we know our exact cards, they don’t, so we can consider what our hand looks like from their perspective.  Level 4 flips back to their hand.  What will they think we are putting them on?

On the button, after several players just call the big blind, I look down at JJ.  I like my hand (Level 1).  So far, no one has a hand worthy of raising.  I don’t know their exact cards, but any hand better than mine would have raised already (Level 2).  When I raise, some of the players will think I’m just attacking the limpers and won’t give me credit for a hand as strong as JJ (Level 3).  So I can raise more than normal and still get called by worse hands.

I raise to 8.5 big blinds (BBs).  The BB calls and so do two of the limpers.

Flop (37 BBs):  4d 4s 2d.  This is a great flop for me.  There are no over cards to my JJ.  While there is a diamond flush draw and a possible straight draw, a paired board makes the flush draw less attractive to anyone who has it, and the straight draw cannot be open-ended unless someone limp/called with 53.

Everybody checks to me.

I still like my hand.  It should be best here (Level 1).  While no one has shown any strength (Level 2), any of these players could have a single A, K or Q, or two diamonds, or a lower pocket pair that could turn a set, so I’m not giving them a free turn card.  I bet 20 BBs, just over one-half of the pot.  Some weaker hands will call another bet, including flush draws and low-medium pocket pairs like 55-88.  They would expect me to make a continuation bet on this flop with close to 100% of my pre-flop range, which they would think includes a lot of unpaired hands (Level 3).

The BB folds, but the next guy raises to 60 BBs.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Myles.”  Myles likes to see lots of flops and is willing and able to be bluffing here if he thinks I’m just trying to steal a pot with my favorable position.  He knows his check/raise would look very strong, and I would have to consider the possibility that he has trip 4’s or better (Level 4).  As I start to ponder the meaning of his check/raise, the next guy announces that he’s all-in for about 180 BBs.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Rob.”

Wow!  A big check/raise from Myles, followed by Rob’s check/re-raise shove.  Similar to Myles, Rob likes to see lots of flops.  Even moreso than Myles, Rob will try to steal a pot with a big bluff when the board gets scary or he thinks his opponent is weak.  Both of them initially limped in, then called my largish pre-flop raise, which makes both of them more likely than me to have a 4 or pocket 22’s.  Myles has Rob covered, while I have the smallest stack with about 75 BBs remaining after my flop bet.

Let’s try to figure out where we are (Level 2), while trying not to wet our pants.

I can rule out AA, KK, QQ based on the pre-flop betting, so the only holdings that beat me are any 4x or 22.  That’s it.  And most 4x hands are pretty junky and would have folded pre-flop.  Calling hands might include A4 (suited or unsuited) 64s, 54s, and maybe 43s.  That’s not many combinations: after eliminating the cards on the board, there are 3 possible combos of 22, 8 combos of A4, 2 combos each of 64s, 54s, 43s.

I don’t think Myles would have called my pre-flop raise with A4 off-suit, but he might with A4s, 64s or 54s.  Not with 43s.  Not with K4, Q4 or worse.  He also could have a diamond draw, with Ad2d+, Kd8d+, Qd9d+, or suited connecting diamonds from JdTd down to 6d5d.  He also could be on a pure bluff, or could have a medium pocket pair that he thinks is the best hand (55-99).  But that assumes he always check-raises with his flush draws.  In reality, sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.  I’ll eliminate about half of his flush draws (including AdKd, AdQd, AdJd and KdQd all of which would have raised pre-flop), resulting in a range of 99-44, 22, A4s, AdTd-Ad8d, Ad5d, Ad3d, KdTd+, QdTd+, 6d5d, 64s, 54s.  Heads-up against that range, my JJ has 77.4% equity and I should call.

But Rob went all-in, AFTER seeing Myles’ check/raise.  That scares the shit out of me.  He could have the same 22 or 4x hands as Myles could, plus I have to include K4s, Q4s and 43s in his range as I’ve seen Rob surprise the hell out of people before when he makes a junky call and hits the flop hard.  I’ll also include A4o.  He too could have a flush draw, but if he does in this spot, it should only be an A-high flush draw (as with Myles, excluding AdKd, AdQd or AdJd as he would have raised pre-flop with these stronger suited aces).  Rob shouldn’t be shoving here with weaker flush draws because he should know Myles might be on a flush draw too, and shoving a non-nut flush draw and getting called by a nut flush draw would be disastrous.  Rob’s resulting range is stronger than Myles’ range: 99-44, 22, A4s, A4o, AdTd-Ad3d, K4s, Q4s, 64s, 54s, 43s.

Against both of these ranges, my equity is 39.7%, compared to 35.8% for Rob and 24.5% for Myles.  Something about a check-raise following by a check-re-raise makes me feel quite certain that I’m crushed here on this flop that initially looked so good for me, and I expected the math to be even worse that this.  It will cost me 75 BBs to call, for a chance to win (assuming Myles also calls) approx. 320 BBs.  If my equity is greater than 75/320 = 23.4%, calling would be the mathematically correct play.

I take my time, and finally fold.  I couldn’t work out all of the math in my head at the table, so I went with the old “Hashtag: they always have it” and concluded that at least one of them had me crushed.

Myles takes his time, asks Rob if he has a 4 and if so how good is his kicker.  Then he declares that he might as well gamble and calls the all-in bet.

The turn is Qc.  I don’t recall the exact river card, only that it wasn’t a high card or a diamond and didn’t change anything.

Rob turns over Ad6d.  He did indeed have the A-high flush draw.  We can debate the merits of shoving over the top of Myles’ check/raise there, but that’s what he did.  Myles turns over Qd9d, a weaker flush draw.

This burns me up when I first see it, as I was ahead of both of them when I folded.  Later I entered their exact hands and my equity was 53.7%.  Putting in 33.3% of the money and having 53.7% equity is a profitable play all night long, and I definitely should have called.

Then Myles sees that the queen on the turn paired one of his hole cards, giving him 2-pair queens and fours, and he scoops in a pot that totals over 415 BBs.  My JJ would have lost anyway.  That doesn’t change the conclusion that I should have called, however.  Against the ranges I constructed and against the actual hands, calling would be the correct play.  If both Myles’ and Rob’s cards were face up, I would call, especially knowing their flush outs partially cancel each other (and I was holding another out with Jd).  But I folded instead, then got the reverse of “lucky” since part of the draw hit anyway.  What looked like such a great flop for me cost me about 1/4 of my stack and I was lucky not to lose all of it.

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But you would never do that!

This is all about the question that was asked several minutes after the hand was over.  In the spirit of “beginning with the end in mind” I’ll go to the question first, then we can ponder that as we review the actual hand history.

A couple more hands had already passed.  Out of the blue, “Tim” asks me this:  “What would you have done if I had e-raised to $75?”  I had trouble coming up with an answer at that moment.

Now let’s back up and see what had happened.  We are playing $1/2 no limit Texas Hold’em, at a private house game.  I have $167 to start this hand.

3 players limp into the pot.  The player in the cutoff seat (immediate right of the button) also limps.  For purposes of this post, we’ll call him “Tim,” and notice his stack is larger than mine.  The button (we’ll call him “Patrick”) also limps.  He is nursing a very short stack, approx. $40-45.

Yours truly is the Small Blind, with A7o.  I complete, and the Big Blind checks.

Before the flop is spread out, I announce “check in the dark.”  I’m not normally a big fan of doing this, but with this many players in the hand, I like this move.  I get to see what everyone else is doing without necessarily revealing any information about the strength of my hand.

Flop ($14): Ah 7c 3c. (Note: my ace is not Ac).  I have top 2 pair.

Everyone checks until it gets around to “Tim” and he bets $6. “Patrick” calls on the button.  Then I check-raise to $16.  My raise is somewhat small, as I want to keep an Ace with weaker kicker in the hand.  I’ll be giving flush draws a fair price to see the turn card.  If another club comes on the turn, I will have to re-evaluate (especially if “Tim” and “Patrick” are both still in.  I’ll lead out with a much larger bet on any safe turn.  Everybody folds back to “Tim.”

Looking confident, “Tim” re-raises to $51.  (Go back to the top and re-read his question:  What would I do if he had raised here to $75 here?)  And “Patrick” goes all-in for a little bit less.

WTF?  Did somebody wake up with a set of 3’s, or the only remaining combo of 77’s?  Is there any worse hand that can pay me off if I come over the top?  I have to think through my history with both “Tim” and “Patrick” and how they play certain situations.  Here we have an Ace, a flush draw, and a multi-way limped pot.  After my check-raise, rather than slowing down, they both mashed the accelerator.

I posted this spot on a 2+2 forum and got wide ranging feedback ranging from “ugly situation” to “easy shove.”  I tended to side with the “ugly situation” crowd.  Generally my read here is that one or both of them have 2-pair+ or a flush draw.  2-pair+ hands include 77 (only 1 combination is possible, as I have a 7 and one is on the board), 33 (3 combinations), A7 (chopping the pot) and A3 (6 combinations).  AA would have raised pre-flop.  73 would have folded.  There are lots of combinations of flush draws that can limp pre-flop, although I don’t believe “Tim” is re-raising with most of them.  I do believe “Patrick” can call with a flush draw, as now he’s getting decent odds on a draw.

My combinatorics at the table got close enough to this to decide to shove. Now “Tim” went into the tank.  The longer he tanks (he finally called), the more obvious it becomes to me that he must have A3, which was exactly right.  “Patrick” had a middlin’ flush draw.  The turn and river miss all draws and my hand is good.

Now back to the question:  What would I have done if “Tim” had raised to $75?  I’ve thought about this several times since that night.

The fundamental problem with the question is that “Tim” would never do that.  Why would he, given that we now know he had A3?  Would he be expecting to get a weaker hand to call?  No… weaker hands are going to fold to $75.  Flush draws no longer have the odds to chase, Aces with weak kickers will fold.  Aces with strong kickers, like AK or AQ, cannot be involved, as someone holding such strength would have raised pre-flop.

Would he be expecting a stronger hand to fold?  The only stronger hand that could even consider folding on that flop would be A7, exactly what I had.  A flopped set isn’t going to fold.  Top 2-pair isn’t likely to fold (although I did consider that option).

Would he be trying to get a weaker hand to fold?  Not smart poker.  We want to give weaker hands a bad price to call, and then have them call, not fold.  That’s how we make money.

And this is why the question was so difficult to answer.  Since I already knew his hand, I couldn’t project myself into a situation where a re-raise to $75 made any sense.  The only way it might make sense is from a player who would bet extra-aggressively with a strong flush draw (i.e., top pair + flush draw).  In that case, I would shove.  Such a move would be highly atypical for “Tim” however.

Note to “Tim” — interesting question, but you would never do that!

Bad Beat –> Happy Tilt. Oh my!

This post involves our friend “Myles” from the previous post, where I made a massive over-bet all-in river shove.  Read about it here.

About a week later, I’m off to a good start in a $1/2 no limit cash game, having doubled up early when my AA held up against AK on a K-high flop.  At this private game, the host has two interesting jackpot bonuses, both of which are about to come into play.  The first is a high-hand jackpot.  A separate fund is segregated out of the house rake during the night, and the player with the highest hand of the night (paid out at midnight) using both hole cards wins the jackpot, which is usually between $80 – 120.  In addition, there is a bad beat jackpot, which requires losing a hand with JJJ-TT or higher (using both hole cards, although the winner of the hand is not required also to use both hole cards under house policy).  The bad beat jackpot grows by $25 each time there is no winner, up to a cap of $500.  Tonight, we are at the jackpot cap.

In this hand, our familiar villain “Myles” raises to $10 from the UTG+1 seat (i.e., two seats to the left of the Big Blind).  He has about $260 to start the hand, and I have over $400.  Another player calls, and I call with QQ in the Cutoff seat (one seat to the right of the Button).  The Button (I’ll call him “John” for purposes of this post – he has about $200) also calls, but both blinds fold.  I considered re-raising with my QQ here, but decided to make a non-standard call to deliberately under-represent my hand.

Flop ($43):  KQ5 all different suits.  What a perfect spot to have just called with QQ.  Myles bets $20 and the next player folds.  I want to see what “John” is going to do here, so I just call, and John also calls.

Turn ($103):  K.  Now I have a full house, QQQ-KK, which is awesome, and if somehow Myles or John has KK for a bigger full house, I qualify to win the bad beat jackpot.  Also, nobody has posted a higher full house yet this evening, so I’ll be leading the way for the high-hand jackpot.  Some nights this is good enough to win the high-hand jackpot; other nights not.  A couple weeks early I had a 888-99 hand hold up until 11:59 pm, right before payment time, when TTT-QQ stole it away.

Now “Myles” checks.  When “John” called the flop bet, I think he probably has a K or Q, or a straight draw with JT, with a remote chance of a really strong hand with KQ or 55.  I bet $50, about 1/2 of the pot, hoping to get at least one more call from “John.”  If he is on a draw, he may chase it for this amount.  “John” calls $50.  Then… “Myles” slides out $130 for a check-raise of $80 more.  This is really interesting.  He has to consider that either “John” or myself has a strong hand.  So his range is either a bluff, or a very strong hand like AA, AK, KK (quads??? really???) or KQ.

On the other hand, the worst that can happen is I’m going to win the $500 bad beat jackpot, while the most I could lose on this hand is about $260.  Or I’m going to win a huge pot.  Once again, I just call, to see if “John” will put in any more chips.  “Myles” is pretty pot-committed so I should have no problem getting the rest of his chips in on the river.  To my disappointment, “John” folds.

River ($413):  5.  Now the board is KQ5-K-5, or a double paired board.  “Myles” somewhat unhappily tosses out two $1 chips, the minimum bet amount.  Wha-a-a-a-t?  Obviously he doesn’t want to put in the rest of his chips.

Here is where I went on happy tilt.  I’ve fallen in love with my hand, with a flopped set of queens and turned full house.  And the knowledge that I’m qualified to win the bad beat jackpot if somehow I’m beat.  Rather than pause for a second and think about the implications of the river card, I just announce all-in.  The reality is that “Myles” can fold AA here, or anything else he might have that doesn’t include a K.  My raise is totally idiotic – he’s not going to call me with a worse hand, and not going to fold a better hand either.  After considering the possibility of me having KQ rather than QQ, he calls and shows AK suited.  His KKK-55 beats my QQQ-KK.

While I win the $500 bad beat jackpot, I also could have called “Myles'” $2 bet on the river and saved $98 more

“Myles” laughs, thanks me and reminds me and everyone else at the table about the extra $98 I paid him about a dozen times over the remainder of the evening.

Sometimes he reads this blog.  Merry Christmas, “Myles.”  I hope you used it to buy yourself a nice Christmas sweater and matching necktie.

A little while later, against a different villain, my TT runs into AK on a board of KK4-K-9.  The other guy has quad KKKK’s with an Ace kicker, to bump me out of the high hand jackpot.  My KKK-TT again qualifies for the bad beat jackpot, but it has been reset to $25 and the house rule is they won’t pay the jackpot to the same player twice in one night.  I don’t want to sound like a complainer, but a different river card in the first hand with “Myles” and I would have been about $600 richer.

Bliscipline

One of the best poker books ever written is Elements of Poker, by Tommy Angelo.  One of the author’s charming qualities is his invention of words, that heretofore didn’t exist, to describe things that need their own special word.  Word inventions like gobsmacked, tiltlessness, Kuzzycan, and fast rolling.  And bliscipline.

Of bliscipline, he says:  Bliscipline is when you are at the table and you are so totally in control of yourself and so totally at peace in the situation that no matter what happens next, you’ll still have plenty of resolve in reserve.

I needed some bliscipline at the Bellagio in Las Vegas a few days ago, when this hand occurred.  I was playing at a $1/3 game, had bought in for the maximum of $300 and started this hand with a somewhat short stack of approximately $170.  Having lost some pots, I was searching for my bliscipline before topping off my stack.

Villain #1 for this hand (V1) is the BB.  Villain #2 (V2) is UTG+1, and opens the action with a raise to $10.  A young Russian girl calls.  I call with 8h 7h in the Hijack seat, i.e., two seats to the right of the button.  There is another call and V1 calls from the BB.

V1 seems like somewhat of a novice player.  When he first sat down, he made a comment about “being new at this” when he didn’t understand the protocol for something (straddling? string bets? I don’t exactly recall) Then in an earlier hand, I raised to $12 with AQ from a late position, and he called from one of the blinds A6o.  On a flop of AJ6 rainbow, he led into me with a $20 bet, which I mistakenly interpreted as his having an Ace with a weak kicker.  With no history on this Villain, I called his flop, turn and river bets and now my stack is short.  He looks and acts like a tourist or conventioneer, wearing a golf shirt and being social in a way that says I’m here for entertainment, let’s play poker and drink some and yuk it up.

V2 is very aggressive post flop; on multiple hands he has tried to push people off the pot when he smells weakness.  He is not overly aggressive pre-flop, but has made several raises to $10, almost as if sweetening the pot to try to take it down later in the hand.

Flop ($50):  6h 5s 4d.  This is fantastic!  A rainbow flop that gives me the top end of the nut straight.  Rather than bliss, I feel s surge of energy and I plan how to maximize my value for this hand.

V1 checks, V2 C-bets $15, and the Russian girl calls.  I decide to call, in part because I’m hoping V1 has some reason to call here as well.  There is one fold and V1 does call.

Turn ($110):  9d.  A safe card, albeit putting 2 diamonds on the board.  Time to build this pot and set up a river shove.

V1 checks, V2 bets $20.  Methinks he might have an over pair, although his bet sizing is weak.  On the other hand, his bets when trying to push people off hands earlier has been much larger, so maybe this is his style for value bets, ie., bigger bets are bluffs and smaller bets are for value.

The Russian girl calls $20, and I raise to $55.  After my raise, I have about $90 behind.  I’m trying to find the raise size that an over pair will call, and that makes it very difficult for anyone with any value who calls this raise on the turn to be able to fold when I shove on the river.  I am definitely not trying to push anyone off this pot.  While there is a flush draw now, there aren’t many hand with two diamonds in them that would have put in $15 on that rainbow flop, just to chase a backdoor flush draw.

V1 and V2 both call, but the Russian girl folds.   Hmmm… flush draws still seem unlikely, but a possibility.  Sets (I think a set would have announced itself loudly by now)?   Over pairs?   Two pair?  Pair + Ace kicker?  V1 could have virtually anything with any value, or could not even know what he has, as he still just doesn’t seem like a very good / thinking player.  V2 still seems more likely to have an over pair than anything else.

River ($295):  6d.  This is a nightmare card for me, as it brings in not only a 3rd diamond, but also pairs the board.

V1 checks again, and while my heart surges up into my throat, V2 suddenly perks up like a race horse coming around the final turn with his ears pinned forward.  He straightens up in his chair and starts cutting out chips for betting, 3 small stacks of 5 red (i.e., $5 each) chips, then stacking them up, and eventually sliding $75 into the pot, in a manner that tells me that I just got fucked.  Or as Tommy Angelo would say, when negative fluctuation occurs, you get fluct.

Hello?  Bliscipline?  Where are you, my friend?  I’d like to find you, ’cause I could really use your help.  Right now!

My emotions go crazy.  I started this hand with $170.  Flopped the nuts.  I’m entitled to get my last $90 in on this river, and win this pot, which will give me an ending stack of $470 or so after rake and tip.

I coined my own term and acronym awhile back, for Sudden Onset Entitlement Tilt.  Or SOET.  Pronounced “SWEEEEET!”  SOET is easily confused with Bliscipline.  At its (sudden) onset, SOET seems like a prelude to bliscipline.  I just flopped the nuts (or I have pocket AAs), and I’m going to win a huge pot, and after I do that I will feel blissful.  I have many times gotten fluct while experiencing SOET, when a nightmare card arrives (i.e., I get gobsmacked!) and despite the preponderance of the evidence that my hand is no longer good, I continue to pour all my chips into the pot.  Suddenly, this looks like one of those times.

I find just enough discipline (but definitely not my friend Bliscipline) to slow down and think about it.  While in the think tank, I glare at one of my travel companions who is at the same table (for purposes of this blog post, I’ll call him “Zach”), in a way that I’m sure he will interpret as I just got fluct.  Zach confirmed to me later that my glare indeed meant I had flopped the nuts.

It is $75 to call and the pot is now $370. I’m getting 5-to-1 odds so my straight only has to be good 1 out of 6 times for this to be a correct call in a mathematical sense.  Poker players tend to do this type of math when they know they are beat, but want to justify calling anyway so they can confirm beyond any doubt the villain’s hand.  I’m about to call, as this was a back door flush so it’s not like he was chasing it from the get go.  And the highest card on the board is a 9.  Did V2 raise pre-flop with pocket 99’s or some other combination that just made a full house?  Wait a minute KKing, think this through.

What does he have and how would he play it?  I rewind the hand.  V2 open raised to $10 pre-flop. Then he C-bet $15, which was weak given the pot size.  Then he bet small again ($20) on the turn, and called my smallish raise to $55.  Was that a C-bet with total air, followed by a blocker bet when a flush draw became possible?  This actually makes some sense if he has Ad Kd or Ad Qd or Kd Qd. Maybe Ad Jd.  I suppose I can buy that story line.

His body language, however, is compelling.  When the 6d hit the board on the river, he sat up, leaned forward, looked happy, and grabbed chips like a man on a mission.  While his bet is larger in absolute terms, it is still very small in relation to this bloated pot.  He wants to be sure he gets paid, and shows no fear of 2 other players still in the hand.

Goddammit!  (TILT)  This pot was supposed to be mine. This is where my session is supposed to get untracked. (TILT TILT TILT)

This is a time that calls for discipline.  When you are beat, you are beat.  I finally fold, suffering in silence.  I’ve gotten much better in the last six months at being able to fight off the tilt and lay down hands like this.

A young Israeli guy 2 seats to my right nods in approval.  He mouths the words “he has full house” towards me.  This is fascinating, as if this other player who I don’t know, never played with before, haven’t had any table conversation with, half my age, is suddenly pulling for me to make the right decision.  It is so much easier to see what is happening with great clarity when you are not involved (financially nor emotionally) in a hand.  The young Israeli sees it.  I see it too, although it takes a couple minutes of staring and glaring before I can let go of my cards.

Then, to my surprise, V1 check-raises to $150.  All along, I had disregarded him as a threat after V2’s bet and body language, as he had checked and called every street.  Now he makes a minimum raise. WTF?

V2 quickly calls. V1 shows Ad 8d and V2 tables Kd Qd.  V1’s Ace-high flush beats V2’s K-high flush to drag in a nearly $600 pot.  V1 called the flop $15 bet with a gutshot straight draw and 2 over cards.  V2 did not have an over pair, but made a flop continuation bet with 2 over cards, then a blocker bet when a 2nd diamond arrived on the turn.

According to my Poker Cruncher app, my equity in the pot after the turn card was 81%, V1 was 19% (including his equity in the possibility of a chop if the river was a non-diamond 7), and V2 was already drawing dead.

I’m glad I found the discipline to fold.  But I’m not feeling any bliss.

I continue with my sub-$100 short stack for about an orbit and a half, trying to get my mind right again.  Then on my next button hand, I add $200, and immediately get dealt 9h 9d and call a pre-flop raise.  The flop comes Kh 9s 3h.  When the opener C-bets, I raise him and he spazzes out and shoves (AA, AK, KQ range), probably assuming I’m semi-bluffing with a flush draw.  I call, the turn and river are both hearts and my 9h makes the winning flush to take his full stack (which was under $200).

Slowly, bliss begins to return. I missed you Bliss, you are my best friend. Let’s play on…

Two Pair Plus

How many times to I have to tell you?

In this case, “you” is actually myself.

Last winter, Bill Hubbard showed me some data on live cash games, where a villain raises or check-raises on the flop.  A majority of the time, when there is a flop raise or check-raise by a villain who was not the pre-flop aggressor, said villain has 2-pair or better (2-pair plus, or 2P+.  According to the data, bluffs and semi-bluffs are surprisingly rare at the lower stakes, but raises or check-raises with top pair or an over-pair are fairly common (just not as common as 2P+).

For example, last night I was playing in a local home game, with blinds of $1/2.  With AK0, I raise to $10 and there are 3 callers.  The flop is AT3cc (two clubs).  It is checked to me, and I have top pair, top kicker (TPTK), a very good result for my hand.  I bet $24.  I can expect calls by Ax with a weaker kicker, drawing hands like flush draws or some Broadway gut shots, and some more speculative calls by Tx hands who are not convinced by my C-bet that I hit this flop.

The the guy in one of the blinds (I’ll call him “Rob”) check-raises to $55 and the others fold.  Back to me.

I’ve played with Rob a lot.  He calls pre-flop raises from any position with a very wide range.  He is capable of bluffing in a wide range of situations, although I’ve picked off enough of his bluffs that he should be somewhat reticent to try this with me.  Nevertheless, he could make this play with Ax and a weaker kicker, or with a flush draw.  And certainly with 2-pair or sets, given the draws that are out there.  His range starts so wide, it is always hard to figure out what he is doing.

He has about $115 more behind and I have him easily covered.

On the one hand, I should just fold.  Once Rob likes his hand, he also likes to fire multiple barrels, and the based on stack and pot sizes, the next one could be an all-in bet.  Why risk this much when I’m not sure where I’m at?

On the other hand, I have TPTK.  Earlier this evening, I folded AT on an A-high flop to a check-raise from another guy at the table.  Again?

My inner Tom Petty kicks in…

I raise all-in and Rob quickly calls, turning over A3dd.  His two pair holds up.  I buy another $200 in chips.

How many times…?

Too Much Information

One of my loyal readers (thank you, dear readers!!!) told me recently that I should post more hands where I win.  It seems that most of the time, I’m analyzing, sharing or commenting on hands that I lose, and this is true for a couple of reasons.  Originally this blog was all about bad poker play.  More recently I’ve shifted slightly, but one of the reasons I blog is to get “badness” out of my system.

Last night at a local $1/2 no limit Holdem home game, I played this hand which is replayed here.  It was nearly 2:00 am and I’ve been playing since about 8:00 pm.

So far the night has gone well.  I was up to about $640 on an initial buy-in of $300, but have slipped down to just over $500.  Still a tidy profit, and I’ve announced to the table that I’ll be leaving soon.

See the link to the hand replayer for the detailed betting action, ’cause I’m not typing it all out here.  A summary is that I raised to $10 pre-flop with JTo, the flop is Jc Ts 6c, giving me top 2-pair on a very wet (i.e., draw-heavy) board.

There is a bet, raise and 2 calls on the flop, then the main villain (I’ll call him “Jason”) check-raises me on the turn (low, off suit, irrelevant card), raising my $55 bet to $110.  I call, cautiously, but suspecting he flopped a set of 666’s.

On a river 7d (which would complete a straight if he had exactly 98), he open shoves all-in.

Grrrr… I was having a really good night, slipped back a bit, and plan to leave soon.  He has me covered, so I risk going bust and being stuck $300 if I call and lose.  Alternatively, I can fold here and take home a $50 profit.  Or, even though I have top 2-pair, this feels very much like a hero call to make and if I call and win this will be a huge pot.

My first option is folding.  When someone goes all-in on the river, they usually have what they consider to be the best hand.  He could easily put me on an over pair (AA, KK or QQ) here given the betting action, so his all-in bet says “I can beat your over pair!”  He called my flop raise (over a 3rd player’s bet – he later got out of the way) quickly and in rhythm, then check-raised me on the turn again very quickly and in rhythm.  He looks confident, although I also know he’s lost badly tonight and has a history of amping up the aggression when he is losing.  That just doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Then Jason does the most wonderful thing:  he offers to let me see one of his hole cards.  “Pick either one,” he says, spreading his cards apart, “and I’ll turn it over for you to see it.”

Poker is a game of incomplete information, so getting extra, voluntary information from a villain here is good for me.  My read on this situation is that he flopped a set of 666’s, so if he shows me a six, I can confidently fold and avoid a big loss.

I point to the card closest to me and he turns over the J of diamonds.  He also says “I have better than just one pair of Jacks.”

Whoa!  That changes things quite a bit.  First of all, he does NOT have pocket 66’s, and did not flop a set of 666’s.  Secondly, he didn’t pick up a straight on the river with hole cards of 98.  If he flopped 2-pair plus, it is either a set of JJJ’s, JT (and we’ll just chop the pot), or J6.  I point this out and he states that he doesn’t have J6.

JJ or JT?  That is the question.  He has one J, I have one J, and there is one J on the board.  That only leaves one J left in the deck.  Low odds of him having it, but he did just shove all-in on me.

I know Jason doesn’t like to bloat pots pre-flop with JJ, especially out of position.  So while other players at this table would discount the possibility of his having a set of JJJ’s based on his calling but not re-raising pre-flop, I won’t do that.  With other villains I might, but not with Jason.

Or he could have JT, we chop the pot (which has about $350 in it prior to his shove) and I get approx. $175 back which would be a very small profit from the chips put in by other players.  But I have to risk $350 to win $175, so I’m laying odds.  Not happy about that.  This is twice as likely as his having JJ, as I have one T, there is another T on the board, leaving two more unaccounted for.  From a strictly math standpoint, if the only possibilities are he has JJ or JT, he will have JT twice as often as JJ.  If he sometimes re-raises pre-flop with JJ, then he should have JT here more than twice as often as JJ.  If he might be bull shitting me when he says (as he has now done multiple times) his hand is better than one pair of Jacks, that puts other possibilities in his range, such as AJ or KJ, which reduces the frequency of his having the only hand I fear – pocket JJ’s – even lower, perhaps to 1/4 or 1/5 of the time.

If this exact scenario were to play out 100 times, how many of those will have have JJ and how many will he have something else.  It occurs to me that my decision is almost mathematically neutral.  Let’s go back to him having JJ 1/3 of the time and JT 2/3 of the time.  So 1/3 of the time I will lose my remaining $350.  The Expected Value of that is ($117).  And 2/3 of the time we will chop and my half of the pot is $175.  The EV of that (2/3 x $175) is $117.  The net EV of calling is zero!

If there are any other options in his range, this pushes the EV into a positive number for calling and I should call.

Finally, after a very long time in the tank and a couple of apologies to the rest of the table for taking so long, I decide I have to trust my read.  My biggest regrets in poker are when I DON’T trust my read and my read was correct.  Here my read is that he has JT and we will chop the pot.

Reluctantly, I call, and turn over my JT.

Jason turns over Jd 9d.  All he has is one pair.

I’m stunned… I just won the whole pot, which is over $1,000.  I’m pretty sure this is the largest pot I’ve ever won at a $1/2 game.

Had he not turned over one card, I probably would have folded.  His play fit the initial read of him flopping a set of 666’s too perfectly, and I would have to trust that read.  Instead, he gave me too much information, which led me to a different read and the right decision.

Jason was very gracious afterwards.  Privately, he told me that he read me as having an over pair, and that it didn’t occur to him that I would put him on pocket 66’s.  Thus he figured showing me one card and then telling me that he had better than a pair of JJ’s was his best chance of getting me to fold.  He also said he purposely put the J closer to me than the 9, figuring I would select the closest card (which I did… at the time thinking both were 6’s so it really didn’t matter).

What if I had selected the other card and he flipped over a 9?  That brings a possible straight into the equation, although his betting patterns don’t seem consistent with a straight draw.  On the other hand, referring to Jason’s betting as a “pattern” when he’s losing and/or tilting can be another mistake.

Clearly the extra information saved me from a mistake here.  Thanks Jason, I hope you are reading this…

KK v. AA, part 3

Here is another in a lengthening series of hands where my KK runs into AA.  This is the 3rd time in less than a week, including this one vs. “Cinderella” who never raised me and this one I managed to lay down the following night.

Now I’m playing online in Bovada’s Zone Poker game, at the micro stakes (6-handed).  Blinds are $0.10 / 0.25.

Here is a replay of the hand, on ShareMyPair.  The key question here, as always and to be explored in detail below, is “what is his range?”

To recap the hand, I have KK on the button.  UTG raises to $0.75, UTG+1 calls, and I 3-bet squeeze to $3.10.  UTG and UTG+1 both call.

Flop ($9.65):  Js 8s 5c.  At first glance, this is a somewhat drawy board, but should be a good flop for my hand.  I hope somebody has AJ.

Both villains check, so I bet $6.00.  UTG then check-raises all-in.  He has me barely covered.  UTG+1 is short-stacked, with only $4.25 behind and calls.  All this action is rather unexpected.  Now there is $41.50 in the pot and it will cost me my remaining $15.60 to call.  I’m getting 2.66:1 pot odds.  Should I call?  I need to have equity of at least 27.3% to justify calling.

I call.

Let’s look at this hand on Flopzilla.  For starters, I’m going to ignore UTG+1 since he is short-stacked and I’m not calling his bet.  Then I’ll explain why that might be a mistake.

UTG’s range (for calling my 3-bet) should be something like this:  77+, ATs+, KQs, AJo+, KQ, QJs.  I’m giving him “credit” for calling a bit wide here, as many villains would be expected to play tighter.  On the other hand, he might interpret my 3-bet as a light squeeze play, since I have the button and there was another caller, and I have no other information about him (or her?) as this is Zone Poker and everybody is anonymous on every hand.

Now I’ll narrow the range to hands that can check-raise all-in, as sets, two pairs, overpairs, top pairs, flush draws, and open-ended straight draws. Based on this portion of his original range, here is what he can be shoving with:

Set                   15.8%   (JJJ or 888)

Overpair         34.2%   (AA, KK for a chop, QQ)

Top pair         39.5%   (AJ, QJs)

Flush draw     10.5%  (AsKs, AsQs, AsJs, AsTs, KsQs, QsJs)

OESD               0.0%   (T9 and 76 not in his original range)

Against this range, my equity in the hand is 54.5%. I definitely have to call.

What if I narrow his range for calling my pre-flop 3-bet from out-of-position, perhaps removing QJs and AJo?

Now it looks like this when he shoves on the flop:

Set                   23.1%    (JJJ or 888)

Overpair         50.0%   (AA, KK for a chop, QQ)

Top pair         11.5%     (AJ, QJs)

Flush draw     15.4%    (AsKs, AsQs, AsJs, AsTs, KsQs)

OESD              0.0%     (T9 and 76 not in his original range)

My equity is now down to 43.5%.  Things aren’t looking so good, but I’m still well ahead of the needed equity of 27.3% to break even on my call.  This still looks like a proper call.

I guess I shouldn’t feel to bad here, but this is the 3rd KK v. AA hand I’ve played in about a week.  When do I get to play AA v. KK?  Hopefully soon… hopefully at higher stakes… hopefully mine will hold up.

But wait, there’s more!

After UTG+1 put his short stack all-in, there are 2 separate pots.  The main pot has $22.40 in it, and the side pot has $19.10 including the portion of my flop bet that exceeded UTG+1’s stack, along with the portion of UTG’s all-in bet that exceeded UTG+1’s stack up to the amount of my stack.  It will cost me $15.60 to call, so my odds from the side pot are 1.22:1.  I need equity of at least 45% to justify calling based on the side pot alone.  If I fold, I sacrifice my equity in the main pot.

The key point here is that my equity in the main pot is different from my equity in the side pot due to the presence of another player.  If these villains’ hands were reversed, for example, I would have lost the main pot, but won enough in the side pot to wind up with a profit on the hand.

To get this entirely right, I should develop a range for UTG+1’s hand, as he called twice pre-flop and then shoved in a short stack on the flop.  I’m still not going to do that, as I’ll never, ever put 76o in his range and that’s what he had, for an open-ended straight draw on the flop.  If I plug his actual hand into the equation with my actual hand and UTG’s ranges, my equity in the main pot goes down.  There are now more outs against me.

With the wider version of UTG’s range (including QsJs and AJo), my equity against both of them is 33.4%.  Removing QsJS and AJo from UTG’s range, now my equity against both of them is 27.7%.

I still thing calling is correct, but it’s much closer when looked at this way as my equity is inherently lower with another player involved.  If I were to slow down – not really possible on Zone Poker as you only get 15 seconds to take action when it’s your turn, but imagine this were a live game and the stakes were higher – I might be able to reason my way into folding here.

On the other hand, folding to a check-raise all-in on the flop when I have an over pair to the board, is never a huge mistake.  Time and time again, I’m simply beat by 2-pair+.  Time and time again when I’m not beat, the villain will draw out anyway.

On the other hand, I would have cheerfully stuck it all-in pre-flop had UTG simply asked for it then.  Sigh.  By waiting until the flop, UTG actually gave me a chance to be able to fold…

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.

Trail of Tears

This happened Sunday while at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, in Cherokee, NC during the World Series of Poker Circuit stop.

For the uninitiated, this casino is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the only federally recognized Indian tribe in North Carolina.  Prior to the opening of this casino in 1997, this tribe was best known for its forced removal from its traditional home to a designated area west of the Mississippi River in 1838, under the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  An estimated 4,000 Cherokee died as a result of starvation, cold or disease.

But this story is about my own trail of tears…

I was playing a 2/5 cash game in the main poker room, having played in a very large tournament the previous day. For a long time I felt I was being too passive and my image was not good, but the cards and action weren’t giving me many opportunities to change that, at least without too much risk of spewing away a lot of chips. I topped off my stack a couple of times, for a total buy-in of $800, when I looked down at 5d5h, and raised to $20 after an opening limper. My stack was approx. $620 and I am 8 hours into the session.

5’s had been hot at this table all day. I made quad 5555’s once and I’ve seen at least 4 other sets of 5’s.  Two players call, then a very good but loose/aggressive girl in the BB calls and the opening limper calls. On a flop of Ad Td 2s, it checks all the way around. Now comes 5s on the turn and it checks to me. I bet $75 and one old man calls. He has a grumpy scowl that say “you can’t push me off a flush draw with that bet.” After another fold, the girl in the BB check-raises all-in, and she has me covered. WTF?

She has been hopping out of her seat a lot to go chat with a boyfriend at the next table, massaging his shoulders, discussing hands, making out, whatever. Since she joined the table, she made several very aggressive moves, like 3-betting with QTo (which pushed a AQss out of the hand but got re-raised by a very short stack so short that she had to call and show. AQ would have made top 2 pair, but here QT held up to win with just one pair). On another hand she called a raise on the button with something like 53o and made a wheel straight and won a nice pot. More recently she has twice bet $200+ on scary boards and got caught bluffing. Once another woman at the table had QQ and was betting on the flop and turn, then checked the river when a 3rd diamond appeared on a T-high board.  Another time a different old man had pocket JJ’s and flop was JJx. She tried to push him off with a big all-in bet on the turn.

I got the impression that she and her boyfriend are traveling WSOP Circuit grinders. While some of her plays may be questionable or her ranges may be too wide, she clearly knows what she is doing and her strategy is to put lots of pressure on weaker players. Clearly she knows  that most ordinary / routine players make their decisions based on the bet-sizing and not due to the logic of the play. She bought in deep and keeps putting other players to difficult decisions with large bets. I had actually moved to an empty seat two seats to my right to get closer to her left.  This is the first time we’ve tangled with each other with any sizable pot.

It’s hard to put her on a range here, as the board now has both diamond and spade flush draws on it (Ad Td 2s 5s), and she over-called pre-flop from the BB knowing it would be a multi-way flop. But let’s try:

She could have the Nuts (or could she?):  43, suited or unsuited, 16 combinations. But really, did she call a pre-flop raise out of position on everybody, with 43?  It’s very hard to give her credit for that, but if somehow that is what she has here, I suppose it is consistent with the Check/Raise All-In on such a drawy board.

Other hands that beat me:  TT, 3 combos.  I’m not going to include AA here, as she certainly would have re-raised pre-flop after my raise and two callers.  After my raise to $20 and 2 callers, I think she might have made a large 3-bet with TT from the BB, but I cannot be 100% sure.  So it has to be in her range now, and checking the flop with her set would be OK with an Ace out there and so many players.

Strong hands that I beat:  22, AT, 12 combos.  Again, I think these are more likely to lead out on the turn after no one bet on the flop, for all the reasons mentioned.

Draws:  The biggest imaginable draw would be ATss, for top 2 pair plus a nut flush draw. But there are other combination draws with KQ, KJ, QJ of either diamonds or spades having flush draws + gutshots, Txss having middle pair plus a spade flush draw, Axss having top pair plus a spade flush draw. If I include any Ax spades, T9ss+, any KQ, KJ or QJ spades or diamonds I get 19 semi-bluff combinations (not including ATss, which I have already accounted for in the prior paragraph).

I would expect her to lead out with a healthy bet on the turn with all of her strong hands – straights, sets, top 2 pair, due to the presence of both spade and diamond flush draw possibilities.  With 5 players, it would easy to have at least one player chasing diamonds and another player chasing spades.  This is the time to punish the drawing hands, and once one of them calls, the others will too.  Why risk letting it check around again and giving them a free card (plus any gutshots to a Broadway straight) when a strong bet is likely to get called at least once?  If she checked, and everybody else also checked, and the river is any diamond, any spade, or any K, Q or J, her poor position leaves her in quite a pickle trying to figure out where she stands.  So the Check/Raise All In play, which typically represents great strength, appears more consistent with having a big draw than having a big made hand.

Against this entire range, my equity is 59.3%. On the other hand, if I were in her position and had one of the hands that beats my 555’s, I would lead out with a strong bet here, so it is questionable whether 43 or TT even belong in her range.  For that matter, it is questionable whether 43 belongs in the range from the pre-flop action, but I want to include it as a way of thinking about all the hands that could either have the strength for such a large bet or could have enough equity via a big draw plus whatever fold equity they might have to make this a +EV play.

It seems like most of the time she is going to have a big spade draw with the ace of spades. That gives her top pair plus a nut flush draw picked up on the turn, giving her plenty of equity (or so she might think).  A narrow range looks like mostly 22 or AsTs, although it would be a mistake on my part to try to narrow her range that much.

So… (drum roll please) I call for my entire remaining stack, over $500, and she turns over 43 off suit. The river is 6c and I go searching for a beer into which I can pour my trail of tears.

Here is a link to watch the hand and its resulting $1,350+ pot on ShareMyPair.

Two days later, I’m still trying to figure out if I am supposed to be good enough, or to become good enough, to be able to fold in that situation.

I’m also fascinated (whilst participating in) the emotional and financial variance that comes from one card.  When I called, I still had 10 outs to make a better hand and win.  If one of those had come, I’d be singing a happy tune and buying dinner for friends.

Am I supposed to become detached enough not to feel the pain (or pleasure)?  As a human being, it just seems wrong to want to strip away all the emotions from losing / winning in a competitive activity, however much pain I’m still in today.

Same Same, but Different

One of my daughters spent most of the last two years living in Cambodia.  They have a saying there, which translates as “same same but different.”  I guess the closest comparison here is “same shit, different day” but using that in the title for this post might violate the family friendly (?) orientation of this blog.

But I digress.

On Thursday I played in a no limit Hold’em tournament in a local pub poker league.  There were about 30 players.  In the first 3 levels, I kept getting awesome cards (AA twice, KK, QQ that flopped a set, broadway straight, among others) but very little action.  A couple other moves I made backfired, so my stack didn’t grow like I wanted.

When the blinds were up to 1,000 / 2,000, I have 23,000 chips in the Big Blind with A-4 offsuit.  No raises pre-flop, so I checked my option.  The flop came down J-4-4 with two clubs.  Bingo!  SB checks, I check, a middle-position limper checks, and the button bets 5,000.  SB folds, and I check-raise all-in for 16,000 more.  I debated smooth calling here, but consider the possibility of button being on a flush draw and decided shoving was better.  After some thought, he calls and turns over J-T off suit.

He has only 2 outs.  On the river, another J hits, giving him J-J-J-4-4 to beat my J-J-4-4-4 and knock me out of the tournament.

One night later, I’m in a private tournament with a similar format, starting with 25 players.  Early on, I get AA but no action.  Then a steady slide to a short stack.

With blinds at 800 / 1,600, I have 6,800 chips in the Big Blind with As Qs.

Now if you’ve read my blog much at all (or know me personally), you know that I hate playing AQ.  It’s a cursed hand.  For me, the “Big Chick” is more like “Anna Quornikova,” who looks good but never wins anything.  But I have to make an exception to my rule of always folding this hand in tournament play when my stack size reduces me to shove-or-fold mode.  Even then, the results have been bad.  At a WSOP Circuit tournament last spring ($365 buy-in), I shoved with AQ suited, a smaller stack also shoved, and a larger stack called both of us.  Turns out the smaller stack also had AQ suited and the last guy had AJ suited.  Of course you know how that ended, as a J appeared quickly on the flop to send both of use to the rail.

Anyway, Tony (yes, the same Tony from this prior post) has a big stack now and limps in from UTG and the SB calls.  I decide to shove, otherwise I’ll be down to 5,200 chips and one hand later down another 800 after posting the Small Blind.  This is as good of a time as any. I shove, Tony hesitates then says he “has to” call and we end up heads up.  He turns over Kc Qc.  Looks good for me.  The flop and turn are all low cards, and the turn is a second spade, giving me a flush draw thus canceling the Ks as one of his outs.  He is down to only 2 outs for the river.

Kh hits on the river.  Time to head to the cash game.

Same same, but different.

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