KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “pocket queens”

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect, a phrase coined by American mathematician Edward Lorenz (an early pioneer in the field of chaos theory) is a concept that states that “small causes can have larger effects.”

From Wikipedia:  “The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. The butterfly does not power or directly create the tornado, but the term is intended to imply that the flap of the butterfly’s wings can cause the tornado: in the sense that the flap of the wings is a part of the initial conditions; one set of conditions leads to a tornado while the other set of conditions doesn’t. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which cascades to large-scale alterations of events (compare: domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different—but it’s also equally possible that the set of conditions without the butterfly flapping its wings is the set that leads to a tornado.”

It is a popular metaphor in science writing, in describing how sensitivity to some set of initial conditions can have a very large impact on some later state of things.

Last night a butterfly flapped its dainty wings at the poker table, and the resulting tornado cost me some money.

We were at a private house game.  It’s late.  The host has announced that at the end of the current orbit, he is breaking up the game and sending us all home.  Consequently, the play has loosened up in an already loose poker game, as some of the players want to be sure not to miss out on one last opportunity to smash the flop and recoup some losses or add to their gains.

I’m in the small blind, when the player on the button posts a live straddle of 4 BBs.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll refer to him as “Chris.”  Chris is not one of those players who always straddles every time he has the button, but this time he does.  I don’t really care whether other players straddle or not; it requires some adjustments and I generally feel confident that I can make these adjustments better than most players.  (Then again, maybe not.)

Anyway, I look down at pocket kings.  There were eight players at the table and I briefly considered just calling the straddle in hopes that one of the seven players to act after me would raise.  If Chris were known to frequently make big raises from the straddle position even with random card strength, as a stealing strategy, I might have done that.  But it seems unwise to risk a cascade of callers, so I raise to 11 BBs.  In hindsight, I could and should make a larger raise and still expect a caller or two.  I don’t want to run off all of my customers with such a strong hand.  Despite Chris’ straddle, 11 BBs is a large opening raise for this game, but I’ll be first to act on all subsequent betting rounds so a multi-way field is not very desirable.

The next player, in the big blind, very quickly calls.  Given the size of my raise and the speed of his call, this indicates strength.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Jeff.”

One other player calls, and Chris also calls, which given his positional advantage post-flop and the great pot odds he is getting (7 BBs to call with 37 BBs already in the pot gives him approx. 5.3-to-1 pot odds), he can call with a very wide range.

The flop is 887.  “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!” goes the voice in the back of my head, and I check.  Jeff bets 20 BBs, and consistent with my earlier thoughts when he called my pre-flop bet so quickly, I think his range is dominated by pocket pairs 99-QQ.  One player folds, but Chris calls on the button.  I call as well.  I’m not ready to put all of my chips at risk, but folding at this point would be way too nitty.  For perspective, Chris started the hand with about 95 BBs, Jeff started with around 175 BBs, and I have both of them well covered.

The turn is a 4.  I check again, hoping to keep the pot small.  Jeff bets again, this time 45 BBs.  So much for pot control. Chris pauses briefly, then takes a deep breath and goes all-in for his last 63 BBs.  I would have called Jeff’s bet, and still feel good about my read on him.  Chris, on the other hand, isn’t risking his entire stack with a drawing hand like T9, nor a middling strength hand like A7 or even 99 on this board.  He doesn’t seem afraid of either of us and has no real fold equity here.  Does he think Jeff might fold for 18 more BBs, with 212 BBs now in the pot?  Hardly.  I fold my kings, and Jeff makes a crying call, declaring that he knows he’s never good here unless he hits a 2-outer.

The minor surprise is that Chris doesn’t have an 8 in his hand, but 65, for a turned straight.  This actually gives Jeff 4 outs, as he flips over pocket queens.  Another queen or 8 would make him a full house.  The river misses, however, and Chris scoops up a nice pot.  I silently congratulate myself on sensing danger and releasing my hand, and tell Jeff and Chris what I was holding as I’m pondering the dynamic of what just happened and wondering how I might have played this differently or whether I simply lost the minimum.

After the hand is over, Chris comments about the impact of his straddle, saying that if he had not straddled, the entire hand would have gone down differently.  He might have called whatever action occurred prior to him on the button, but surely with pocket kings in the small blind I would raise enough to make it impossible for him to continue.  Not only that, but with pocket queens in the big blind, Jeff might put in a big re-raise over the top of my bet, especially if he thinks I’m just trying to steal the dead money in the pot.

Not only all of that, but Chris also notes that the only reason he straddled is because the game is about to break up, so this would be his final hand on the button and he straddled just in case he might get a good situation for leveraging his positional advantage.  15 or 30 minutes earlier he would not have straddled.

As played, I was first to act, so my raise communicated enough strength to make Jeff cautious about re-raising with six more players yet to act pre-flop.

It is tempting to describe Chris’ straddle as the flap of the butterfly’s wings that altered this hand.  But it is more subtle than that.  The initial small change in conditions that led to other changes ultimately shifting chips from Jeff’s and my stacks to Chris was the clock, and our host’s need for sleep.  Our host was the butterfly, fluttering his wings by announcing the game would end soon.

Imagine this hand without a button straddle.  There might be multiple limpers or a raise to around 6-8 BBs.  Chris would over-limp, and may or may not call a modest raise.  From the small blind with pocket kings, I’m definitely going to re-raise.  I cannot say for sure how much, as it would depend on the action in front, but it would likely be more than Chris would call with 65.

With Jeff being the big blind, last to act with pocket queens, he and I could have ended up in a pre-flop raising and re-raising war.  That would have turned out good for me.  If we didn’t get all-in pre-flop but were heads up, I would have been more likely to take a bet/bet/bet line post flop.

Alternatively, what if I had just called Chris’ straddle, as I briefly considered, hoping to trap a raiser and subsequent callers?  Another flap of the butterfly’s wings.  Then Jeff likely raises with pocket queens.  I’m not sure how much, but likely more than 11 BBs given that there would already be one caller of the straddle.  When it got back around to me, I would still re-pop it, having the effect of driving Chris out of the pot if Jeff’s raise didn’t already do that.  Again, this scenario is probably very good for me.

Damn butterfly!

======

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

Math, Combinatorics and Frequencies

NOTE:  This entry was originally posted on a different site on June 16, 2016 and has been slightly edited prior to re-posting here.

I played this hand at a private cash game a few days ago.  On the river, it was obvious that I needed to fold.  Then again, maybe not.

With QQ in middle position, I raised to 8 BBs following a single limper.  This is a bit more than normal for me, however at this game there were frequently multiple callers pre-flop so I decided to let them pay me a little extra.  Or thin the field.  Either would be fine.

There were 3 callers, making the pot 34 BBs, already a bit bloated.

On a flop of K54 with two spades, I bet 16 BBs and the button called.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Adam.”  Adam is a 23-year-old loose/aggressive thinking player.  He likes to play mixed games and finds Texas Hold’em a bit boring, but plays it because that’s what’s available around here.  Although I’ve only played with Adam a few times, he is willing to mix it up, gamble and be aggressive if he senses an opportunity to steal a pot.

One the one hand, I’m targeting a hand that will call my slightly less-than-half-pot bet like 66-JJ, A5s, A4s or 56s.  On the other hand, I’m concerned about Adam holding either a King or a flush draw with two spades in his hand.  If he does have a King, it’s probably not AK as he would be more likely to re-raise pre-flop on the button.  But it could be KQ or KJ, maybe as weak as KTs.

The turn is an off-suit deuce.  I bet 20BB more and he calls.  My bet is deliberately small, hoping he will call with weaker pocket pairs or other non-flush draw / non-Kx hands that might fold to a larger bet.  He will definitely call with a flush draw and that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  If he has a King with a strong enough kicker, he might raise just in case I am the one chasing a flush.  I know he’s capable of playing his draws aggressively, but not 100% of the time.

The river is the 8 of spades, which completes the flush (if that’s what he’s chasing).  Now I’m faced with a situation that Bart Hanson at Crush Live Poker calls “5th Street Chicken.”  This is where I’m out-of-position, and don’t want to put any more money in the pot.  But if I check, I’m opening the door for Adam to bluff if he actually has one of the hands I’m targeting.

Quick recap:  The board is Ks 5h 4s – 2d – 8s.  I have QQ.  Adam is on the button and called my pre-flop raise, and called my flop and turn bets.  There is now 106 BBs in the pot.

The pot is really too big for my 1-pair hand.  I don’t even have top pair.  If I bet on this river, am I essentially turning a hand with showdown value into a bluff?  Yes.  Is that a good idea?  No.

I check.  Adam bets 32 BBs.

Clearly I have to fold.  He either has the King, or he hit his flush draw, and he’s betting for value.  His bet is small, which it has to be after I waved a white flag by checking the river, all but announcing that I don’t have a flush, nor a hand that is strong enough to bet/fold (for value).

What would you do?  Leave a comment below…

Math

I decided to fold, but before relinquishing my cards started doing the math.  There are 106 BBs in the pot.  Adding his bet of 32 BBs makes it 138 BBs.  By calling, I’d be risking 32 BBs to win 138 BBs means I’m getting pot odds of 4.3-to-1.  I would have to win 1 out of 5.3 times for calling to be profitable, in the purest poker mathematics sense.  That’s slightly less than 19%, a pretty low threshold.  I was recently reading a limit Hold’em strategy book, and recalled some commentary about calling on the river.  Often you will be getting pot odds of 10-to-1 or more in a limit game due to the constraints on bet sizing.  The author’s point was that while most players should fold much more often pre-flop and on the flop, they should call on the river when they have showdown value and there is any chance they are good as little as 8-10% of the time.  That’s just how the math works.

So I ponder this for another minute.  Adam is capable of turning a weaker hand into a bluff here.  What does he think I have?  I went bet-bet-bet-check.  My range can easily be 99-QQ, AK, KQ, KJ, and is probably pretty transparent at this point that I have a 1-pair type of hand.  After I checked the river, the 3rd spade coming in is a great bluffing card for him.  With a King, he’s more likely to check back after the scare card arrives.  But I think he’s figured out that I can fold when it’s obvious that I’m beat.  And he’s got the stones to take advantage of my discipline and tight image.

Combinatorics

I don’t do the combinatorics at the table, but there are far fewer flush draw combos in his range than other combos.  If I include literally any two spades that include an Ace or have two gaps or fewer, that is about 24 combinations.  Plus 3 combinations of pocket 88’s that binked the river for a total of 27 value combos.  I’ll assume that he always bets with these hands.

His non-flush draw, non-Kx calling range for the flop & turn (66-JJ, A5s, A4s, 65s)  has about 39 combinations.  These are the hands that I beat and was targeting with my small bet-sizing.

Frequencies

Now the questions is how frequently will Adam turn one of these 39 hands that I beat into a bluff on the river?  If the answer is 7 or more out of 39, then the mathematically theoretically correct response for me is to call.  Add 7 bluffs to the 27 value combos, and I win 7-out-of-34 times, or 20.6%.  If I do call his river bet, I’m probably going to lose this pot, but poker theory tells me I’ll lose less over the long run by calling in this spot than by folding.  It feels really messed up to have to think this way.  Nevertheless, I think his bluffing frequency with this set of facts is greater than 7-out-of-39, probably closer to 13-out-of-39 (33.3%) or more.  I feel like I’m about to throw away 32 more BBs because of poker math.

To succeed at no limit Texas Hold’em, however, you have to trust your reads.  My read on Adam says his bluffing frequency is high enough for me to call.  And my read on this situation overall is that the most important question right now is the one about his bluffing frequency.

So I call.

He says “I have a pair of fives.”  With 6-5, the turn card gave him a gutshot straight draw to go along with his weak pair… just enough for my small bet to keep him in.

When he sees my cards, he says he figured it was something like that.  “What do I have to do to get you to fold?”

I start to say “Math” but shrug my shoulders instead.

======

If you like this blog entry, help us get more exposure by liking and sharing with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

An Embarrassingly Bad Call

I didn’t want to write this post, but I’ve been thinking about this hand for several days and need to purge it from my consciousness.  This blog originated as a place to vent and purge bad thoughts, back when no one was reading.  In the hand I’m going to describe, I found out exactly where I stood, knew it, and called off my stack anyway out of sheer stubbornness.  Or stupidity.  Or tilt.  I hoped I could forget about it and move on, not owning up to it here, but it’s still rolling around in my head… THAT’S THE ONLY THING SHE COULD HAVE!  And of course, she did.

I still don’t want to write this post, mostly because I’m embarrassed that people will read it.  Now, dear readers, you have a choice.  Either read on to find out what I did that was so awful, or skip the rest of this post.

As usual, I’m playing no limit Texas hold’em in a private game, at someone’s garage.  Most of the players are regulars.  So far, this night has been frustrating as I’ve either had shitty cards, or totally missed the flop with my hands like AK or AQ.  I had bought in for 200 Big Blinds, won a few very small pots, and started this hand with about 170-175 BBs.

The villain is a young woman, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “Stardust.”  In the cutoff seat, she opens the action with a raise to 4 BBs.  The button calls, and with QQ in the big blind, I re-raise to 16 BBs.  Stardust very quickly calls and the button folds.

Immediately, I’m thinking she is set-mining with some sort of medium pocket pair.  With a pair higher than my Queens, she would have made a bigger raise in the first place.  With a really low pair, she would limp.  Perhaps she has AK, but again she would have made a bigger raise.  Stardust doesn’t balance her pre-flop range by using the same bet size regardless of hand strength.  A lot of players don’t seem to notice the bet sizing tells, so with certain opponents this can actually be an exploitative strategy.  Her stack is about the same size as mine, so set-mining is mathematically justifiable.

The flop is Jd 8c 2d.  I bet 20 BBs and she quickly calls.

The turn is 7c.  Now there are two possible flush draws – diamonds and clubs.  An open-ended straight draw with T9 also got there.  I discount that based on the pre-flop action.  Stardust might have raised to 4 BBs with T9 suited, but wouldn’t have called my re-raise with so little hesitation.  But what I’m really thinking about is whether she might have flopped a set of 888s.  How can I get her to tell me?

I bet 25 BBs.  Stardust stacks all of her chips other than the $1 chips and puts them in for a large raise.  I ask the dealer for a count, and it is 115 BBs more.  She didn’t announce “all-in” so I can call the raise and still have a few $1 chips of my own left.  The conventional response, if not folding, would be to put the last few dollars in as well, but that would alter the order of the showdown.  She would be calling my shove, and I’d have to show first.  By just calling her raise and leaving the handful of remaining chips alone, I am the caller and Stardust will show first.  If I call and lose, nobody will know exactly what I have.

The main failure here was not taking enough time to ponder Level 3.

Level 1 thinking is “what do I have?”  I have QQ, an over-pair to the board, which is generally considered a strong hand.

Level 2 thinking is “what does she have?”  She raised, smallish, pre-flop then quickly called a re-raise.  She called a flop bet, then raised big over the top of the turn bet.  Of the hands that beat me, I can safely conclude she does not have AA or KK – she would have raised my larger pre-flop.  She does not have JJ – same reason.  She does not have 22 – she would have limped in pre-flop.  She does not have T9 off-suit – she would have folded to my re-raise pre-flop.  She might have T9 suited – a total of 4 combinations – but I think the speed with which she called my pre-flop re-raise effectively rules that out.  She never has 2 pair here – all of the 2P combinations are too weak to raise pre-flop AND call my re-raise.  That leaves 88, which perfectly fits the betting patterns and our reads about Stardust’s playing style. This along is enough to justify folding here.  With Level 2 thinking alone, I should fold and move on.

What about Level 3?  Level 3 thinking is “what does she think I have?”  I re-raised from out-of-position pre-flop, then led out with bets on the flop and turn.  Doesn’t this smack of an over-pair?  My hand should be pretty obvious to anyone paying close attention.  It might be AA, or KK, or QQ, but at this point in the action, these are all equivalent hands.  With this being the case, and two flush draws on the board, can she be raising effectively all-in here with a flush draw?  Stardust just put 140 BBs with of chips at risk.  Would she do that as a semi-bluff, and have any reasonable hope that I would fold after showing as much strength as I’ve shown?

My turn bet was intentionally small.  There was about 77 BBs in the pot and I bet 25 BBs, giving her about 4-to-1 odds on a call.  With a flush draw, Stardust can justify calling.  On the other hand, she might not have much fold equity, and might not be increasing her expected value by shoving.  My hand looks too strong for that, and it’s not here style to bet that aggressively without a made hand.  The only flush draw she can have is with a combo like Ad Kd or Ad Qd. Anything weaker is likely to fold pre-flop, and any Ac Kc or Ac Qc would fold on the flop and not hang around for the second flush draw that came on the turn.

If I have any lingering doubts about her having 88 after the Level 2 thinking, they should be totally erased by the Level 3 answers.

What is weird sometimes is the precision of the hand analysis.  It’s also disconcerting.  Surely there is something else she can have… but there isn’t.  After removing my hole cards and the flop & turn cards, there are 46 unknown cards.  Out of those, there are 1,035 combinations of two cards.  My Level 2 and Level 3 analysis reduces this to exactly three combinations that Stardust can really have.  They are:  8s8h, 8s8d, 8h8d.

After thinking through Level 2, I heard “Trust your reads,” from the imaginary gremlin perched atop my right shoulder.

“You have an over-pair!  Won’t it feel great to bust her?” asks the imaginary gremlin atop my left shoulder.

I call, knowing inside I’ve just made a colossal mistake.

Despite each of us having between $5-10 remaining in $1 chips, she immediately flips over her pocket eights.

The dealer delivers the river card, the Kc.

Technically, we aren’t all-in yet, and her set of 888s is laying face-up on the table.  It’s not like I can bluff her into folding, as if I have KK or made a flush.  So I announce loudly, “I check.”  Stardust looks sheepish now, and also checks.

I buy more chips and two hands later, lose half of them again when a different villain hits a flush on the river after getting all-in with me on the flop against my top pair / top kicker.

I buy more chips.  This ain’t going to be my night.

Dear readers, if you made it this far and enjoy this blog, please follow / like / share / post / tweet all about it to help spread the word.

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.

Do-Over

This was a really weird situation at a $1/1 cash game last night.

Effective stacks are about $110.

I have QQ in middle position and raise to $6, which is a fairly typical raise for this game.  There is one caller after me, and one of the blinds also calls.  The dealer burns and turns over the flop, J-x-x.  I don’t recall the other cards, other than they were lower than the J.  I’m pretty happy with that flop and start developing my strategy for the hand.

Then the cutoff seat (I’ll call him “Tom”) says “Wait a minute!”  He had his back to the table as he was counting out a new stack of chips for someone who had gone bust in the previous hand and needed to re-buy.  The action passed by him before he could turn back around, so he hadn’t even looked at his cards.

Since this is a home game, with no rake and each player deals when it is his turn, we have to stop and figure out exactly what to do.  It can be tricky when the dealer is also a player, as well as when there is no floor supervisor to call for help.  I keep quiet – it was a good flop for me, but weighing in with a biased reaction might give away the strength of my hand, in addition to being bad form.

The group does the right thing.  The flop cards (but not the burn card) are scooped up off the table and put back on the deck, and the remaining deck is re-shuffled.  Since Tom was at the table when his cards were dealt, but performing an administrative function for which there is no non-playing person to handle, he should be allowed to act.

Tom looks at his cards, and after some hesitation, he calls the $6.

Great!  (Note the heavy sarcasm.)

Now I have one more person in the pot, who has position on me post-flop.  And a good likelihood of a flop that contains trouble for my Queens.

The new flop is delivered:  KQ6, with 2 clubs.

Yahtzee!

But also very drawy.  I cannot give a free card to someone with a flush or straight draw, and can expect to get called by quite a few hands, both draws and Kx.  The player in the blinds checks, and I bet $18, about 75% of the pot.

After one fold, Tom – the same Tom whose distraction caused this do-over – raises to $60.  I’ve played with him enough to believe his is pot-committed here, as he only has about $40-50 behind and I have him slightly covered.  The blind folds and I go all-in.

Tom turns over AA.

A few seconds later he is turning his back to the table again, to count out more chips for a player who just got felted.

I feel like this should remind me of a popular song about getting a do-over, but cannot think of it at the moment.  If it comes to me later, I’ll make a quick edit.

 

Who is the Dummy This Time?

After my last post, “Slow Playing for Dummies,” I’m reluctant to be caught slow playing any hand, lest it turn out that I am (or become) to Dummy (or Donkey).

Nevertheless, here is a sequence where I was dealt AA twice in a short span of 5 hands, and BOTH times there was a pre-flop raise and re-raise in front of me.  And both times, I just called to disguise (i.e., slow play) the strength of my hand.

Let’s compare, as these hands played out quite differently.

But first, a reminder that this is micro stakes (blinds of $0.10 – 0.25) on Bovada’s Zone Poker, where all players are anonymous and a new table is formed for each and every single hand.  So all we can assume about the Villains is that they are “ordinary, routine” micro stakes players.

In the first hand (click here to see it in the Share My Pair hand replayer), I am the Big Blind.  The Hijack (HJ) seat, two places to the right of the button, raises to $0.75, and the next player (Cutoff, or CO) re-raises to $2.00.  Both the button and small blind fold.

I decide to flat call here, hoping the original raiser HJ has a strong enough hand like KK, QQ or AK to come over the top with a big 4-bet or shove.  Instead, he folds, leaving CO and me heads up, with me out of position for the rest of the hand.

Flop: ($4.85)  5s Qc 4d.  This is a pretty dry flop and mostly good for me.  Other than CO having exactly QQ, I’m still way ahead.  His range for 3-betting should be something like 99+, AK, AQ, AJs, KQs with a few other random hands.  Many players will just flat an opening raise from HJ with JJ-99, some will flat with QQ, and very many will flat with any unpaired hand other than AKs.  We just don’t know if he is loose/aggressive enough to 3-bet with anything weaker.  Best case:  he has AQ, KQs or KK (24 combinations) and we can crush him.  Worst case:  he has QQ (3 combinations) and will crush us.  Weird case:  he has AA (1 combination) and we are going to chop this pot.  All others:  about 28 other combinations where he probably slows down after firing a continuation bet.

He bets $2.50, slightly more than 1/2 pot and a fairly standard-ish C-bet.  I call.  While I’m way ahead of his range with 85%+ equity, up to half of his range could fold to a raise here on the flop and I don’t want to chase away my customer.  While this flop makes it hard for him to put me on any sort of draw, maybe he’ll still fire one more barrel with some of his weaker holdings.

Turn:  ($9.85)  9c.  This card only changes our status if he has exactly 99 (3 combinations), but I still have 81%+ equity against his entire original range.  I check, and he checks behind, so now I can eliminate QQ and 99, both of which would be strongly here given that flush and straight draws are now conceivable (albeit unlikely…  am I calling on that flop with JT, KJ, KT, J8 or T8?  What 2 clubs am I calling with?  But poker players tend to see monsters under the bed, so I can still eliminate these hands).  I also think his top pair and over pair hands – AQ, KQs, KK – also are betting for value with this turn card, so now I conclude the weaker part of his original range – AK, AJs, JJ, TT – is his most likely holding.

River: ($9.85)  4c.  I have to bet for value now.  While there is an outside chance he just hit a flush on the river with AcKc or AcJc, this is only 2 combinations, and the only 2 combinations from his original range that could have hit.  Remember that he 3-bet pre-flop, which narrowed his range.  It would be a mistake for me now to see the monsters under the bed and add ‘any 2 clubs’ to his range when the lower holdings never would have 3-bet in the first place.  I bet $4.00, hoping this looks like a somewhat random attempt to steal the pot, having played passively up until now.

To my delight, he calls, and shows 77.  I win a pot of $17.85, for a net gain after the rake of $8.45.  His hand wasn’t even in the range I had developed, albeit compatible with the low end.  Most players are not 3-betting this light, and his call on the river can only beat a bluff.  I guess he thought I was bluffing, so my goal of playing AA deceptively worked!

Would an alternative line been more profitable on this hand?  Knowing all the facts now, probably not.  If I had 4-bet strongly pre-flop (a pot-sized 4-bet would have been a re-re-raise to $6.85 and most players will simply fold 77 there).  If I had made a smaller 4-bet and he called, then he folds to my continuation bet on the flop as my range is very narrow and mostly big pairs.  And I would not 4-bet too small, as I’m out of position in the BB seat, and still have to worry about the original raiser calling and making it a 3-way pot.

While I rarely recommend slow playing AA before the flop, this one worked out for me.

Just 4 hands later, I get AA again, this time on the button.  Click here to see this hand in the SMP replayer.

NOTE TO SELF:  Don’t complain that you never get Aces.  You do!

Once again, HJ raises to $0.75 and now the CO 3-bets it up to $2.10.  Hoping as I did previously for the original raiser to spazz out and come over the top, I call.  Both blinds fold, and HJ calls.  We are 3-handed going to the flop, and this time I have position on both villains.

Flop: ($6.65)  9d Kd Tc.  This is a much scarier flop than the first hand above, as there are more higher cards and both flush and straight draws are possible.  In fact, a flopped straight is possible if either villain has QJ.  I think the CO range is pretty much the same as the 3-better from the first hand above.  HJ’s range includes some smaller pairs like 88-55, and some players will call the 3-bet – even out of position (remember, it’s the micro stakes) after I called with just about any 2 Broadway cards or suited connectors that would have opened.  My call results in him getting pot odds of 3.9-to-1 to call CO’s 3-bet.

Both villains check.  Hmmm… monsters under the bed?  KK, TT, 99 (18 combos) are in both of their ranges, and 2-pairs with KT (9 combinations) and flopped straights with QJ (16 more combinations) are in HJ’s range.  Draws include any AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, QT, JT, QQ and JJ, some of which are also flush draws such as QdTd and JdTd (all draws = 70 combinations).  Note that I have the Ad, so neither villain can have a nut flush draw.  If I bet here, there are 43 possible combinations that are ahead of me and another 70 that are likely to call at least once to chase a draw.  The only really strong hands that I’m way ahead of are AK (6 combinations, after eliminating the 2 aces in my hand and one on the board).  I decide to check behind.

Turn: ($6.65)  8d.  This doesn’t complete any of the straights, and now gives me a nut flush draw heading to the river.  HJ checks and CO bets $2.15, slightly less than one-third of the pot.  This is any easy call.  If I were to raise here, and get re-raised, I would have to fold as now he would be revealing a monster hand.  But there is also a very good chance that I have the best hand right now and this is a delayed continuation bet or thin value bet with QQ or JJ.

River: ($10.95)  3c.  This card changes absolutely nothing.  If I was ahead on the turn, I’m still ahead and not getting much if any value here.  If I was behind on the turn, the board is scary enough that he could check the river with 2-pair or a set.  He checks, and I check as well.

He shows Qh Qc, and my Aces take down the pot, for a net gain after the rake of $6.15.

Unlike the previous hand, a more aggressive line pre-flop might have paid off.  Would he have called a pre-flop 4-bet shove with QQ?  Maybe; maybe not.  We just don’t know enough about this Villain, but the odds of a call there are pretty good.  Would he have called a smaller 4-bet?  Probably, although the flop and turn are going to cause one or both of to slam on the brakes just as we did as the hand actually played.

I don’t regret the slow play, as I gained a little bit of value from HJ when he called CO’s 3-bet, and gained some additional value from CO’s bet on the turn.  I also know by now (although some of my friends would tell you otherwise) that if the pot gets really big after this flop and turn, my AA is ‘just one pair’ and no good!

Daily Debacle – Fold QQ vs. pre-flop shove?

To appreciate this post, please be sure to read my immediately prior post, about folding KK pre-flop in a live cash game.  I also posted that hand on a Two+Two forum to get some feedback (good, bad and insulting) from the broader poker community.

Two days later, I’m playing $1 / 2 NL online and dealt QQ in the cutoff seat.  We are 8-handed, and the UTG player opens with a raise to $7.

Everybody folds to me.  I’ve been playing extra tight lately, part of which includes not 3-betting open raises from UTG with less than KK.  I’ve run into UTG AA’s several times lately.  So I flat call $7, leaving $155 behind.

The small blind also calls, and then the big blind re-raises to $32.  So much for getting to see the flop cheaply!  BB stats are VPIP=11 and PFR=2 over 183 hands.  Super tight, so his raise suggests he has premium cards.  He has $204 more behind.

UTG now quickly ships all his chips in, a total of $120 including his original bet.

If there is ever a clear-cut fold of QQ before the flop, this is it.  I cheerfully fold, anticipating which player has AA and which one has KK, and pat myself on the shoulder for being a good thinking player.

The big blind calls and turns over KK.  UTG shows AA.

The board runs out like this:  6s Qc 9s 3h 7h.

Had I called, my gain on this hand would have been $280-ish.

Later in the session, I lose a huge pot ($500+) when one villain hits a one-outer on the turn and another huge pot ($290) when a different villain and I both flop flushes, mine Q-high and his K-high.

Why do I have to cry myself to sleep every night?

Year-to-date online results:  (- $1,107)

Month-to-date online results:  (- $598)

Post Navigation