KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “continuation bet”

Facing a Shove on the River With Just One Pair

NOTE:  This entry was originally posted on a different site on January 3, 2017 and has been slightly edited prior to re-posting here.

My previous blog entry explored turning a missed draw into a bluff, after my opponent checked on both the turn and the river, soliciting your comments on the villain’s range.

Last night another, bigger decision presented itself via an interesting puzzle. Let’s unpack the puzzle pieces, assemble them, and see if we can find the missing pieces…

This was at a private, house game (no limit hold’em) with blinds of $1/2. I’ve been having a rough night so far. Shortly after joining the table, I lost my entire stack when I turned a full house, only to lose to a larger full house on the river. I had TT, and the board ran out Qs Qh 6h – Th – Kh. Everybody checked on the flop, then my gin card arrived on the turn, also completing any flush draws. Unfortunately, the other player had KQ and got there on the river. Ouch!

I bought another $300 in chips, and continued trending down. Less than a full orbit prior to the Big Decision, I caught my first big break of the night, with AA > KK on a pre-flop all-in with the same player who had cracked my full house. She had frittered away most of the stack from that hand and had slightly less than $150 remaining, which I was glad to take.

Now I have about $395 in front of me, and look down at King-Queen offsuit. There is one limper in front of me and I raise to $12. Four players call, and I quickly decide not to make a continuation bet unless I connect with the flop.  Let’s protect these newly begotten chips.

Flop ($62): Kd 4d 3c

This is a very good flop for me.  Not huge, but my top pair / 2nd kicker should be the best hand, and I can get value from flush draws, straight draws and kings with weaker kickers.  Giving four other players a free card or ceding the betting initiative would be a mistake.  It is checked to me and I bet $35. While not much more than one-half pot, this shouldn’t look like a run-of-the-mill continuation bet with air as there are four other live players.

The player to my immediate left calls, and everyone else folds. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Matt.” While I’m a long-time regular here, Matt is a newbie.  Solving the puzzle is going to require us to know as much as possible about Matt.  What do we know so far?

Matt is a young white guy, looks about 25 (but might be closer to 30). He has straggly hair that nearly reaches his shoulders, a beard, and has been wearing headphones. Before this cash game started, we both played in a small-stakes tournament here, and learned that he is a roving contractor, currently in the area working on the installation of Google fiber.  He’s polite and pleasant when he does engage in any conversation, which isn’t very much.

Matt looks and plays like a stereotypical loose-aggressive (“LAG”) poker player. Early in the tournament, he built up a formidable stack, showing AA, a nut flush, flopping a set of QQQs, etc. I made a mental note then not to confuse his LAGGY appearance and playing style with the fact that he kept showing down big hands. A bit later, he lost a large chunk of his chips in a 3-way all-in where he had AK.

I had joined the cash game about an hour or so after it started. The only open seat was on Matt’s immediate right. At the time, he had over $550 in front of him (the max buy-in is $300), and I anticipated the difficulty of playing with a deep-stacked LAG on my left.  Oy!  He can make my session miserable.

Sure enough, that’s what happened. Prior to my full house under full house debacle, Matt picked off my river bluff, after I had floated on the flop with a gutshot straight draw (that missed), then he checked behind on the turn, indicating weakness.  He has been raising and 3-betting frequently, including an OOP 3-bet as weak as A6o and several other hands that indicated a wide raising range, especially in position. He straddled regularly on the button (always for more than the minimum), demonstrated positional awareness, and attacked limpers often. His play definitely matches his stereotype as a LAG.

And he’s been hit by the deck!  Matt built up his stack to approximately $1,100, with multiple full houses, flushes, flopped sets, and bluff-catcher calls.  Other players commented on how hot he is running, although with his headphones on we don’t know if he heard any of these remarks.

Prior to this hand, however, he has started bleeding away much of his winnings. Some of his lighter, bluff-catching calls have been wrong, and he’s been caught bluffing / bullying several times, including several river bluffs. He also lost a large pot with flush < full house.  He still had nearly $650 at the beginning of this hand.

Back to the hand. After he called my flop bet, Matt and I are heads up, and he has position on me. The pot is getting bloated, with $132 in it.

Turn ($132): 4h. Now the board is Kd 4d 3c – 4h.

Thinking I very likely have the best hand, I bet $65.  I can still get value from flush or straight draws and perhaps a few other holdings.  Matt calls again.

What do you think Matt has here? A diamond flush draw is possible. A straight draw with 65 is possible. At the intersection is a combo draw with 6d 5d, although I think such an aggressive player would raise with that on the flop to apply maximum pressure with so many outs as a back-up. He could have a King and we are in a kicker battle. He could have a four and just made trips, or pocket 33s and flopped another set. But I think he probably would have raised on the flop with pocket 33s to protect against flush draws, as none of the other three players had folded yet when he called my flop bet. I also think he probably would raise now on this turn with any 4x (like A4s), to get value from any AA/AK/KQ or draw that I might have. Even as loose as he is, I don’t think he calls $12 pre-flop with A4o or K4.

River ($262): Th.  Now the board is Kd 4d 3c – 4h – Th

This should be a good card for me, as it misses all potential draws. The only hands that it helps are KT and TT.  I don’t think he has TT – his 3-betting range pre-flop is wide enough to include TT (but not necessarily 100% of the time), and even if he flatted with TT and called again on the flop, he probably would surrender on the turn.

If he has a missed draw, I’m not going to get any more value. In fact, the only hand that can reasonably pay me off on another bet is KJ.  So I target that and bet $85, which is a little less than one-third of the pot and might get a crying call from KJ.

With little hesitation, Matt announces “I’m all in!” and slides his remaining chips out.  The rhythm and tone with which he does this seems very strong.  This is hard to describe, but he seemed calm and confident.  The dealer moves my $85 and a matching portion of his stack to the pot, and there is nearly $450 more on top of that.  I have just under $200 remaining so I’ll have to do any math based on my stack, not his.

I have a collection of short essays on poker strategy from the late Bill “Ain’t No Limit” Hubbard, who was a highly regarded professional poker coach for many years specializing in live cash games. Over the holidays, I’ve been reviewing some of these essays and several concepts now come into play.

In his foundational essay, Bill says to practice SBRTA when faced with a big decision. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Think. Act.  I’m having a little trouble breathing at the moment, considering I’m on my second buy-in of the night and it would really hurt to be down 300 BBs.  How in the **** am I supposed to relax when the realization of what might be happening here almost made me shit my pants?  [Inhaling very slowly…]

In another essay, Bill drives home the strategy of playing small hands for small pots, medium-strength hands for medium-sized pots and big hands for big pots.  My hand is a medium-strength hand.  I have two pair, one of which is the pair of 44’s on the board. So my hand is really akin to top pair with 2nd best kicker (“TP2K”). By the river, this is definitely NOT a big hand, but often good enough to win. Bill says: “One of the most notorious leaks among live poker players is that they break the basic rule of playing a medium pot only with a medium sized hand. I think this is due to most players feeling that they must protect their medium strength hand and thus raise to protect the hand plus find out information.”  Was I doing that here? I thought I was betting for value, to get called by worse hands and draws (which some might call “protecting” against draws), but not really for information.

In other essays, Bill describes the central question for successful no limit Texas hold’em players: “What is the villain’s range and what will he do with this range?” Or “what does he have and how will he play it?” I’ll come back to this later.

In another essay, entitled “The Fold Button,” Bill notes that the most common mistake among live players is that they call when they should fold. Making big, successful hero calls is exciting, but far out-weighed by calling mistakes. Sometimes, we know we are beat, but call nevertheless to get to what he refers to as the “funeral for the hand,” a form of certainty and closure.  Calling forces the other player to show their cards, so now we know and can have closure (i.e., the funeral), albeit at a very high price.   This is closely related to the medium-strength hand –> medium-sized pot rule.  Before calling a large river bet, Bill advises us to ask: Is the villain capable of bluffing (in Matt’s case, yes)? Have we actually seen him bluff (yes)? Should the villain expect us to call this size bet? This is harder to answer. After bringing in my $85 and his raise (i.e., up to my stack size), there is approximately $630 in the pot and it will cost my last ~$200 to call. I’m getting 3.15-to-1 odds.  With those odds, if he is bluffing more than 24% of the time, calling is correct in a strictly mathematical sense.  If you feel compelled to call, what percentage of the time is it due to real factors you have considered vs. the overwhelming desire to call and simply see what the villain is betting with (this is really tough, so let’s consider the real factors)?

In another essay, Bill describes the principle of Occam’s Razor. Named after William of Ockham, a 14th Century British mathematician and logician, this principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. More simply, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it is most likely a duck!” When we combine this with the medium hand / medium pot rule, Matt’s all-in bet fundamentally says “I like my hand more than you like yours.” Occam’s Razor instructs us that Matt has a hand worthy of playing for an $800+ pot, and I’m toast.

But still, I’m not convinced. Nor am I unconvinced.

First of all, what am I beating? In reality, the ONLY thing I am beating here is a bluff. There is no possible hand that he can be raising all-in for value here, where he is hoping I will call, thinking he has me beat, but he’s actually behind.  To do so would violate the medium hand –> medium pot rule even worse than I did.

There is a finite range of hands that beat mine, so we can explore each of them to figure out if Matt has it.  This is a reverse-engineering approach to Bill Hubbard’s central question of what does he have and how does he play it?  I went through this earlier in my turn betting analysis, but it bears repeating now.

  • Could he have Pocket AAs or KKs…?  Nope! He would have re-raised pre-flop.  Since he didn’t, I can eliminate AA and KK from his range.
  • AK… nope!  Again, Matt would have re-raised pre-flop. I’ve seen him 3-bet much lighter than that and use his position to put me in difficult spots pre-flop with hands weaker than AK.  Besides, if he had AK and planned to raise, he wouldn’t wait until the river.
  • KT… maybe, but I don’t think so. He might call me pre-flop with this, especially if suited (which would leave only 2 combos), but I don’t think he would shove all of his chips in on this river.  The way I’ve played this hand, betting every street, he has to consider AA as part of my range.  With the pair of 44s on the board, it would be a mistake for him to raise instead of just calling again.  But this combo worries me more than the others.
  • TT… nope!  As noted earlier, I think he 3-bets pre-flop with this hand at least some of the time, and also think he releases this by the turn when I show continued strength. My betting looks a lot like I have AA or AK here, especially when I C-bet into four opponents on the flop.
  • 4x… nope!  He might call $12 pre-flop with A4s or 54s, and call the flop C-bet too. But if that were the case, he would raise on the turn after improving to trips, to get value from flush draws, as well as the fact that I might have trouble letting go of AA or AK against a raise as it would look somewhat bluffy based on the board pairing and his image (if he has that level of self-awareness). I don’t think he calls $12 pre-flop with K4, although K4s is a very slight possibility. That would have flopped two pair, which I think he would raise on the flop, again to get value from flush draws.
  • 33… nope!  Again, I think he raises on the flop for the reasons mentioned. Keep in mind there were five players in this hand, it checked to me on the flop and I bet $35. He is on my immediate left, so three other players were still live when he called my C-bet.  He shouldn’t just call there with a flopped bottom set.  If he did and then improved to a full house on the turn, just calling my turn bet and waiting for the river to shove – perhaps hoping to see another diamond in case I’m the one chasing a flush – makes perfect sense. I don’t think he has 33, but this also worries me a little bit.

So here we are.  Out of six groups of hands that beat me, four are a definite “nope” and the other two (KT and 33) are probably “nope” too.  For better or worse, my analytical thinking concludes that with every possible hand that beats me, Matt would have done something different with that hand somewhere along the way. All that remains are bluffs, contradicted by Occam’s Razor and the medium-hand –> medium-pot rule that is screaming inside my head that I’m about to make a big calling mistake.  Matt’s all-in bet looks like a duck, which rhymes with ‘I’m about to get fucked!’

What would you do?  Taking a deep breath, I finally called and Matt tabled Kh 6h.  My hand was good!  He may have thought he was ahead with top pair and a weak kicker on the flop, but by the river realized he need to turn it into a bluff to take this pot.

=====

Dear readers, if you like my blog, please like / share /retweet on Facebook or Twitter, and enter your email address in the top right corner to be notified of all new posts.

Advertisements

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.

Bottom Set = No Good on Dry Flop

Here is an instructional hand that I played online recently, in Bovada’s “Zone Poker” game, at the micro stakes level with blinds of $0.10 – 0.25.

For the uninitiated, Zone Poker is a lightning fast game, where you can click “Fold Now” at anytime after the cards are dealt, and not only is your hand automatically folded when the action gets to you, but you are also immediately re-seated at a newly formed table with a new group of players to start another hand.  This takes anonymity to a new level.  In Bovada’s regular cash games, all players are anonymous – i.e., only identified by their seat number and not by any actual or screen name – but over the course of several dozen hands you can observe each player’s habits – loose, tight, bluffs a lot, defends blinds aggressively, etc.  But you cannot recognize a player from the previous day or last week and recall that “PokerBum123” is a certain type of player based on the prior sessions.

With Zone Poker, EACH HAND is with a new group of players, so you don’t even have the benefit of knowing how they played the last 10 or 20 hands in the current session.

This results in very polarized play:  a lot of players play in a very straightforward, “ABC Poker” manner, or they make large and frequent bluffs.  Any style in between tends to get crushed.

Here is a link to a replay of the hand.

I am at a 6-handed table, and have the dealer button, and a starting stack of $30.35 (the maximum buy-in at this table with blinds of $0.10 – 0.25 is $25.00, so I’m up a little bit.  I look down at 33 and it seems like I’ve had 33 or 22 dealt a lot in the last several sessions and surely one of these times I’m going to flop a set and win a huge pot from some unsuspecting villain.  (Of course, I have similar thoughts about many starting hands, but I digress.)  The Hijack and Cutoff seats both limp in for $0.25 and I raise to $0.75.

Some people might not raise here, but my rationale is to build the pot a little bit just in case the set comes, so the next round of betting one-half pot or three-quarters pot sized bet will be large enough to mean something.  Plus, with certain flop textures, I may be able to take down the pot with a strong continuation bet even if I miss.  The Big Blind (BB) calls and so doe stye Hijack seat (HJ = 2 to the right of the button), and the Cutoff folds.

Here comes the flop:  ($2.60)  9s 4c 3d.  Cha-ching!  Now it’s time to make some money off these chumps.  Because I raised pre-flop, whereas most players would just limp in if their strategy is set mining here, my set of 3’s is well-disguised.  Think about it:  if you were developing a range of hands for me based on my position and raise (remember, I’m a totally anonymous player), would 33 be part of that range?

The BB checks and HJ bets $0.25, the minimum amount.  That’s a strange and fishy amount, and probably means (1) he’s just a bad player who doesn’t know what he’s doing, or (2) a blocking bet hoping to preempt me from making a larger continuation bet, typically indicating a player chasing a draw (the only possible draws on this flop are straight draws with 76, 75, 65, 52, A5 or A5), or (3) a weak made hand like 9x, 4x, or 88-55, and trying to find out where he stands, or (4) some kind of disguised trap or setup for a bluff on a later street.

I’m not going for any of that, so I raise to $1.50, trying to think about the bet increments that will be needed on the turn and river to build up the largest pot possible.  To my delight, BB calls.  Then HJ re-raises to $2.75, the minimum re-raise amount.

Huh?

Zone Poker only gives you 15 seconds to make each decision, with no option to request extra time (their regular cash games give you 30 seconds, with the option of requesting 30 extra seconds if needed).  So I must process this quickly.  FIrst I note how dry the flop is.  943, rainbow.  No flush draws at all.  Not many straight draws – see above – and many of those hands should have folded to my pre-flop raise.  I’ve learned that most of the time a Villain raises or re-raises pre-flop, they have 2-pair or better.  After that, they probably have top pair or an over pair.  Over 85% of the time, they will have one of these possibilities.

Rather than shovel my money in as fast as possible, I decide to call and buy a few extra second to think about this.  The BB also calls.

Hands that I can bet include:  2-pair?  That requires starting cards of 94, 93 or 43.  Nope, not in any decent player’s range, not even at this low level.  Over pair?  Nope.  The flop is 9-high, so over pairs include TT, JJ, QQ, KK and AA.  I think ALL of those would have raised pre-flop from the HJ seat, either right away (when he limped) or as a re-raise after I raised on the button, having set a trap by limping with a very strong hand.  Top pair?  Maybe but not likely.  A9 or K9 should be wary of my enthusiasm for the hand.  I raised pre-flop, indicating strength, and raised on the flop, further suggesting that I might be the one with an over pair.  Certainly AA-TT is in my range here.  A thinking player would slow down after I raised to $1.50.

Besides, the BB called both my re-raise and HJ’s re-re-raise from out of position.  Is he the real villain in this hand, sitting there with a monster?

After eliminating 2-pair and over pair hands, and reducing the likelihood of HJ having top pair, now I have to worry about sets.  Since I have a set of 33’s, either or both villains here could have 44 or 99 (the latter being more likely for BB as a calling hand after my pre-flop raise, and less likely HJ as a limp/calling hand from the outset).  If this is the case, I’m toast!

Turn card:  ($10.85)  Jh.  Now no flush is possible, and nothing really seems to have changed.

BB checks again, and HJ bets $1.50.  Being wary, I just call, and BB now raises all-in.  HJ quickly calls, and both villains have more chips in their stacks than I do.

Holy Bankruptcy, Batman!

I’m not positive which one of them has a bigger set than mine, but surely one (or both) of them does.  I fold.  One of them might be an idiot, and I’ll find out which one in a few seconds, but not both of them.  (Not that i can use the information for any advantage in Zone Poker, however.)

BB shows J9 for top 2-pair.  HJ shows 99 for top set on the flop and wins the final pot of approx. $70 – which is freaking huge at these stakes.

I’m thrilled to have ‘only’ lost five bucks on this hand and $25 + change remaining in my stack.

Ok Bovada, how about giving me 2 more cards and let’s try again…

Daily Debacle – All-In Tennis Match

At the end of the following sequence of hands, another player at the table (not involved in any of these) chatted:  Wow, I feel like I’m watching an all-in tennis match!

So let’s set the stage.  I’m playing $0.10 / 0.25 NL online.  My stack is a little bit short as about 2 orbits earlier my AA got cracked with a villain with KQ hit a K on the flop and another K on the river.  Dang!

In this first hand, I am the small blind.  The hijack seat raises to $1.35 and the cutoff calls.  I squeeze to $5.15 and will be happy to take down the pot now rather than play the full hand out of position.  The original raiser folds, but the original caller calls again.  Over 80 hands, he is VPIP = 41 and PFR = 16, so his range is pretty wide.  I miss the flop, but have represented big pair (or so I think) and have less than a single pot-sized bet remaining.  I decide to go for maximum fold equity and shove right away.  He calls, and shows 5d 3d.  My overcards miss on both the turn and river.  My inner Phil Helmuth goes crazy:  “FIVE-THREE SUITED???  YOU CALLED A RAISE AND 3-BET PRE-FLOP WITH FIVE-THREE SUITED???  OH MY GAWD!!”

 

 

 

Slide1

Now I sit out one hand while re-loading to a full stack of $25.  The very next hand, my good friend of the FIVE-THREE SUITED opens with a raise to $0.75 and I call from the cutoff seat with Qh Jc.  He continuation bets $1 on the flop and I call.  Then he bets $2.25 on the turn.  I’m going to raise here and decide to shove it all in, hoping to represent TILT more than anything else and perhaps induce a call from a weaker hand.  He calls and BA-DA-BING! I’m back in business.

Slide2

Exactly 5 hands later at the same table, this happens.  Seats P7 and P8 are not in the hand, so I’m the small blind.  The button, a fairly tight player with VPIP = 13 and PFR = 8 over 39 hands at the table, open raises to $1.10.  According to the stats tracker, he has not had any “steal” opportunities so far, so there is no “steal percentage” to use as a guide to his play.  I call, then flop the stone cold nuts.  I check-raise all-in on the turn, and he fills up his boat with my chips on the river.  Sonofa…….!

Slide3

On the VERY NEXT HAND, the same villain open raises to $1.35 from the hijack seat (P7 is not in the hand) and I call from the button.  Now twice in a row I flop the stone cold nuts.  Wowzer!  He bets $3.30 (pot-sized bet) on the flop, and again I represent TILT by immediately going all-in.  This time he has top pair, top kicker and quickly calls.  As Gene Autry sang, “I’m back in the saddle again!”

Slide4

Year-to-date online results:  (- $1,717)

Month-to-date online results:  + $147

 

Daily Debacle – Did I Really Shove Here?

Playing $0.10 / 0.25 NL online this afternoon and got a little tilted over a pattern of folding mediocre hands that would have turned into huge winners (example:  folded Jd 7d in small blind, flopped came with Td and 8d and turn was 9d — watched from sidelines as two other players bid up the pot) while none of the mediocre hands that I did play turned into anything.

In this hand I decided to attack.  After a bunch of folds, the cutoff raised to $0.85.  This was his 2nd hand at this table, so I have no information on which to make a read.  But I do have position, so I 3-bet to $2.70 and he calls.

I continue to be aggressive on the flop and decide the only logical thing to do on the turn is to shove all-in.  He calls.  Uh-oh…

Did I really shove

Which song title fits this hand the best?

a.   “Nobody Told Me” – John Lennon

b.   “Days Like This” – Van Morrison

c.  “Come and Get It” – The Beatles

Year-to-date online results:  (- $1,727)

Month-to-date online results:  + $137

Daily Debacle – Trapping… myself!

Over and over, non-standard plays seem to backfire more than they work.  Deceptive play is believed by many to be the biggest key to poker, so making non-standard plays (looking weak when actually strong / looking strong when actually weak) is recommended by some as a way to keep opponents off-balance and improve results.

On the other hand, I’ve been particularly focused lately on adhering to the more standard play of never calling pre-flop.  If the cards are good enough to play, they need to be good enough to raise.  Conversely, if they aren’t good enough to raise, you should simply fold.  This has three benefits:  (1) you are more likely to be starting out in the lead on the hand.  If the opponents are behind and have to catch up, you will win a higher percentage of the time.  Simple math.  (2) you are always the aggressor when starting a hand.  This buys more flexibility post-flop, as opponents will likely defer to you in the betting.  If you are last to act and everybody checks, you may make a bet to take down the pot even with unimproved cards based on weakness shown by the other players, or you may check behind and take a free card.  (3) reading your opponents hands is easier.  If an opponent re-raises pre-flop, they are signaling a very strong hand and you can easily fold the weaker part of your range.  If they limp and then call your raise, you can begin narrowing their range more easily than if you had let them see the flop more cheaply.

I recently posted about a tournament hand where I limped, then call after a raise and one other caller.  Before I knew what hit me, 90% of my stack and 100% of my tournament hopes were gone.

Last night playing $0.10 – 0.25 NL online, it happened again.  I had decided that for this session I would stick to the mantra of never calling pre-flop 100%.  Then a hand came along that seemed like a perfect exception to the rule.  I had QQ in the big blind.  Everybody folded to the button, who had just joined the table a couple hands earlier, and he raise to $1.00.  I was about to make a pot-sized 3-bet when a flash of brilliance overcame me, that I could make more money here by slow-playing the entire hand (as long as an A or K didn’t show up).

Flop ($2.25):  9h 8c 6h.  I check and button makes a continuation bet of $1.75.  Standard-ish continuation bet, and I call.  I don’t have a really good read on my opponent, but I do know that most flops miss most hands (thanks Dan Harrington!), and my overpair should still be good.  My call probably represents a draw to either a heart flush or a straight with me holding a 7.

Turn ($5.75):  8d.  This doesn’t change anything unless he has an 8 in his hand.  Now that there are two 8’s on the board, this is even less likely, and his range is still too wide to be able to write it all down.  The button now bets $3.50.  OK, now it is more likely that he has something with showdown value, or maybe he puts me on one of the draws and hopes to push me off the hand now or on the river if a safe card comes.  I call again, thinking my QQ is good.

River ($12.75):  4s.  A safe card for the button if I am indeed on a draw.  He bets $8.50 now.  I wonder what he has, still suspecting it is most likely 2 high cards or maybe a busted draw of his own.  This is also a safe card for me.  If I was ahead on the turn, surely I am still ahead.  The only hand this river card could help is 44.  I call again.

Button turns over 8h 9c for a full house!  I shoveled $14.75 into this pot (59 BB’s) never knowing where I stood but thinking I was the cleverest guy at the table.  (Cleverest?  Is that even a real word?  Spell-check didn’t flag it, but I digress…)

Had I make a pot-sized 3-bet before the flop, he probably folds and I win $1.00.  That’s $15.75 better than the actual result.

Before the flop I was an 84% favorite.  I should have made him pay for the chance to try to catch up.

Thinking about Phil Collins’ song title:  Against All Odds.  Gotta try rewriting the lyrics to make this a poker song and not a stupid love song.

Year-to-date online results:  (- $1,831)

Month-to-date online results:  + $74

Daily Debacle – Blind Leading the Blind

This was the very first hand I played tonight – at $0.50 – 1.00 NL online, with my standard and table max starting stack of $100.  I have not played much online in the last few days, with relatives visiting and then a live tournament last night (finished 2nd out of 26 players!), so I’m planning a good long session tonight.  Let’s get started!

I am the big blind and dealt Qs Js.  One of my favorite hands.  Everybody folds to the button, who limps in.  The small blind also folds.

Flop ($2.50):  Qc 8s 9h.  Nice!  I have top pair and a gutshot straight draw.  I check and the villain bets $1.50. As a matter of habit, I try play the first hand of a session really tight, unless it’s a huge hand.  Call me superstitious on this point, but for many, many years I’ve repeated the saying that whoever wins the first hand ends up with a losing night.  I call.

Turn ($5.50):  Ts.  Bingo!  Not only did I make my straight, but also with a redraw to a flush (including a possible straight flush).  Time to try to get some chips in the pot.  I make a pot-sized bet of $5.50.  Now the villain raises to $15.  I guess he also has a Jack and we’re going to chop the pot, unless either (A) my flush comes on the river, or (B) he’s holding exactly KJ – a strong enough hand that he should have raised pre-flop instead of limping, or (C) he’s bluffing (including possibility he just turned a 2-pair type hand into a bluff or a semi-bluff with a higher flush draw).

I’ve vote for (A) or (C), and re-raise to $37.50.  If he has a Jack, it’s not possible for him to also have a flush draw.  If he has a higher flush draw, I have two blockers, leaving him only 7 outs rather than 9.  If he has 2-pair, I’m going to find out if he’ll dump in some more money.

Well, humpty-dump he does, going all-in (and has me covered).

This is starting to remind me of another hand played over the weekend.  (if this were a TV show, we’d now queue some dreamy music and there would be a big swirl on the screen as my mind goes back in time.)

It was just a couple of days ago, and I’ve been at this table ($0.50 – 1.00 NL online) for just one orbit of play.  Now I am the big blind and dealt Js Tc.  The UTG player raises to $2.10 and everybody else folds.  Why not see a relatively cheap flop?  I call for $1.10 more.

Flop ($4.70):  Ac 9d Qs.  I have an open-ended straight draw, to the nuts on either end.  I check to the pre-flop aggressor, and he bets $2.  An easy call.

Turn ($8.70):  8h.  Bingo!  I have the stone cold nuts.  Since he continued to show aggression on the flop, I’ll check here in hopes of putting in a strong check-raise.  One more bet is probably all I’m going to get here, but for a “big blind special,” I’ll take it!  Alas, he temporarily foils my plan by checking behind.

River ($8.70):  Th.  Not a great card for me, as any Jack now has a straight and we could be chopping the pot.  Plus, with a one-liner to a straight (i.e. a gutshot on the board), it will be much harder to get any action if he has anything weaker than a straight.  Gotta try though, so I make a pot-sized bet of $8.70.  He quickly raises to $28.  Holy moly!

Let’s think about this:  the only thing that beats me is exactly KJ.  He made a very small bet from UTG pre-flop, a rather weak continuation bet on the flop, checked back the turn and now bombs the river.  That just doesn’t seem like a play for KJ to me, more likely for JJ (aside from the combinatorics – one Jack on the board, another in my hand, so only one combination of JJ is possible) or TT, both of which I beat.  On the other hand, if he doesn’t have exactly KJ, he should worry a little bit about the possibility that I do.  On the other hand, that presumes he is a thinking player, and here we are playing 100NL online.  Nahhh, not a thinking player.

I call, and he turns over KJ.  Exactly.  Exactly.  Exactly……..

[END OF DREAM SEQUENCE.]

So here I am with the second to the nuts straight and a redraw for a flush, and the villain on the button goes all in.  The only hand that beats me is exactly KJ.

Have I seen this movie recently?  Don’t I know how it ends?  On the other hand, the villain is on the button and KJ surely would open-raise in this spot.  Right?

I call, and he turns over KJ.  Exactly.  One hand played, down $100.

After reloading, the very next hand I piss away another $19.50 on an attempted steal / C-bet in a state of mini-tilt.  Two hands played, down $119.50 at 100NL.  I wonder who the biggest fish is at this table???

Year-to-date online results:  (- $438)

Month-to-date online results:  + $71

Daily Debacle – Mini-Tilt

I played this sequence of hands at $0.50 / 1.00 NL last night.

The players to my immediate left and immediate right were engaged in a lot of chat in the chat box.  On my left was a complete fish, with VPIP=42 and PFR= 5 over 55 hands.  Yet somehow he was up more than 2 full buy-ins.  On my right was another weak player with VPIP=37 and PFR=13.  The chat was a bit annoying, about how the site might be rigged, the poor guy on my left never connecting with enough flops, general whining, but nothing too egregious nor directed at me.

So I am UTG and dealt Tc Td, and raise to $3.  Everybody folds to the BB (on my right) who calls.

Flop ($6.50):  Qd 9c 6d.  One overcard.  Villain checks and I decide to check back for pot control

Turn ($6.50): 5s.  Villain bets $3.  This looks like a pretty weak bet.  Perhaps he has a straight draw, diamond draw, top pair or middle pair.  87 just made a straight.  He could also have air and be stealing based on my failure to make a c-bet.  I think I’m ahead of his range, with only the top pair or better hands causing me trouble.  I call.

River ($12.50):  Ah.  He checks.  This is a great bluffing card for me.  I could have called with overcards (i.e., AK) or a hand like A9s or A6s.  To a fishy player, an ace on the river is a scare card if he doesn’t have one, regardless of whether he is thinking at all about my hand.  I bet $9.50, trying to make the same bet as I would with A9.

He quickly calls and shows QJ to win the pot.

Now the fish to my left enters some chat about my failed river bluff and they have a quick back-and-forth general guffaw over my play.  I’m steamed a bit about making the bluff and also that it didn’t work.

The very next hand, the same villain is now the SB and I’m the BB.  Everybody folds to the villain, who raises to $3.  Still steamed, I decide to show him who is the boss and 3-bet to $9 (I only have Jd 3s, but who cares?  He’ll fold and wimper back in line.)

He calls.

OK, now I just gotta outplay him.

Flop ($18):  Qc 5h 4d.  A pretty dry, rainbow flop.  I’ve represented strength; time to represent more of it.  He checks, and I make a c-bet a bet of $13.  He calls again.

Turn ($44):  4h.  Now the pot is rather bloated and I only have $53 behind, slightly more than 1x pot.  He checks again.

Do I want to risk the rest of my stack on this hand?  I have total garbage.  The villain is a loose-passive player who could call me down with anything that has even marginal showdown value based on my failed bluff on the immediately previous hand.  I’d never be playing this way had that not happened.  Aha!  I’m on MINI-TILT!

“Dude,” I tell myself.  “Calm down.  You can out play these ****ers (I’m including the fish on my left in my imaginary conversation just because he is chatty), but you must do it with better cards.”

I check back and we both check the river, another Q that puts 2 pair on the board.  He shows TT and takes this pot too.  Both players now chat some more, har-har look at that terrible bluff with J3, what a fish!  That’s how you play pocket tens.  And so on…

I deserved every bit of it.

Year-to-date online results:  (- $626)

Month-to-date online results:  + $580

Post Navigation