Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The lead-out/re-raise is the new check/raise

Royal will attest that back in the "good ol' days" a couple years ago when we played Sunday Night Poker, check/raising and slow playing were well and good. This was because you had some characters like Krazy Karl who you could count on to be hyper-aggressive once he hits his hand or a calling station like Chris who will call an all-in with A7os on a paired board (non-Ace pair btw). Well those days are gone and we're playing with a different crowd now.

So what is better than a check/raise? The lead-out/re-raise! For example. Timid Timmy Transparent opens the betting with an overbet of 14. You can put him squarely on a big pair. He is not going to raise up with a 46 or junky hand like that, he is straightforward and you can gauge his hand strength by his bet. You call with Snowmans and it is heads up going into the flop. Flop comes out a glorious 258 rainbow. You are out of position so what do you do? His and your 14 and some blinds make the pot about 30. If you check/raise, your opponent will probably bet out the pot or so and if you raise then you will take down 60 chips since Timmy is timid and knows that check/raising means strength. However, if you lead out for 30 instead and making it look like you have A8 or 89, something like that, then in order for Timmy to show that he has an overpair and how strong his hand is, he will need to commit AT LEAST 60 to the pot and probably more like a raise to between 75-90. Now if you re-raise him you have made two or three times as much on the flop alone. Timmy's raise may even be enough to pot commit him depending on his stack. An example of this was when Jeh flopped the nut straight against Matt's overpair. With the pot as big as it was pre-flop, leading out even a half-pot sized bet by Jeh would have forced Matt to throw in a huge re-raise to put Jeh in his place. Then at that point I think the money gets in. A lot of cards can kill the action on the turn (like an Ace to a pair of Kings) and you want to let the person with the powerful hand hammer the pot while they are behind.

Another variation on this is what I call a "seed bet", an underbet to the pot that is looking for a re-raise. Let's say you put your opponent on a strong Ace and the flop comes out Ace high but gives you two pair. This is an occasion where being out of position is actually helpful because you can throw in a seed bet knowing that you are going to get popped which opens the door for you to get more money in while you are ahead. If you lead out too strong, your opponent may just flat call and you are stuck sweating out the turn card which may counterfeit your two pair or put a scare card on the board which slows you down. One example of this is against Jay in the lunch game. I flop trip Tens on a KTT flop. Jay has AK and position on me. I give him credit for the King based on pre-flop action. So I lead out feeling quite sure that I'm going to get popped. With the short stack nature of the lunch game, I feel that I can get him committed. Sure enough, Jay puts in a "let's clarify where we stand" raise. I push and for not that much more Jay calls off the rest of his stack on a two outer (which he hit but we are not ROT here). Now if I had check/raised there, Jay has much less invested, can reasonably fear that I have a Ten of some sort, and can get away from the hand.

So bottom line is, if you know your opponent feels they are strong and ahead, a lead-out/re-raise will get more money into the pot faster and will be more likely to get an opponent pot committed than a check/raise which can scare off customers.

Royal overestimates the Royal draw

I meant to post this earlier, but time is a tough beast to pin down.

I thought I had the “perfect situation” hand on Friday night. My hand: {Q-Clubs}{10-Clubs}. I’m not sure who raises to 6 pre-flop, but 5 other people besides myself (UTG) call the bet to see the flop. Flop comes {J-Clubs}{K-Clubs}{A-Spades}. Ivan checks, and thinking to myself “holy crap, how can I lose?” I check to see where the rest of the table stands. It checks around. Bah. Turn comes {5-Spades}. Now, besides the club-flush draw, there’s a spade-flush draw. But, still, I’ve been clearly duped by the flop and when Ivan checks I check behind. But this time it checks all the way to MB, on the button, who bets 4. Then Ivan raises to 8. Good, this is what I was wanting. I call Ivan’s 8 bet, knowing that MB is probably going to bump it even higher, and even if she doesn’t, I’m still going to be good on the river, right? The table folds to MB, who bumps it to 20. Excellent! Ivan folds, and I bump it to 40, knowing this is an obvious bet to most of the table, showing that I’m much stronger than I’m letting on, but hoping that MB won’t pick up on it and will re-raise me. She merely calls.

To recap, how did I get here? I was so floored by the made-Broadway with the open-ended straight-flush/Royal-flush flop that I am throwing all kinds of possibilities out the door: there’s a possible higher club flush draw out there, and a possible higher spade flush draw out there. There’s the full-house draw (which Martin schooled me on later, as recounted here). I’m not accounting for any of these things, obviously, because if I had I would have bet differently.

River brings {K-Spades}. Ugh. What have I gotten myself into? Suddenly it all comes clear. Oh, look: there’s a spade flush possibility! Oh, look: there’s a full house possibility! Somebody at the table says “That’s a great river card. Would have been better if you’d brought the Ace of clubs.” I check to MB, fearing the worst. MB makes a good value bet of 40. She would have gotten a lot more out of me if she’d bet higher, but I call, and she flips up {A-Diamonds}{K-hearts}. I say “I would have preferred the Ace of clubs” and show my crushed straight.

So, I know what I did wrong, but is there anything you would have done differently? I think the only thing that’s going to get MB off of her two pair is an all-in bet on the flop. I had less than a full buy-in in front of me, and I think MB was probably about the same. In my mind at the time I wanted to see all streets because I wanted to turn my great hand into an amazing hand. Most of us are guilty of this when straight-flushes are possible, giving even a gut-shot straight-flush draw way too much credit. So I guess I’m not looking for a critique of my hand. I know I shouldn’t have given my straight nearly as much credit as I did, and I should have taken it down early. But I was clearly not going to make an all-in bet on the flop, based on what I knew. Anything I would have bet would have been called by MB, so with that logic I made out better than I should have.

Knowing right now what to do better next time is clearly different than being in the moment of a Royal draw. Right?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting better odds than I thought with a set

Later on Friday night I call a raise with pocket Sixes. Flop is dealt and the good news is that I hit my set, the bad news is that it is all Spades, Ace high at that. I am in early position and throw out a 20 chips as a protection/probe bet. The typically very solid Royal bumps it to 40. Hmmm. Everyone else is out of the way and it comes back to me. I decide I need more information and I re-raise to 60 or 80 (I forget, I guess I should blog these things immediately after the hand!). Royal pushes all in for another hundred and change (116?). Now I'm stumped. I even say to the table that I re-raised to get more information and now that I have it I'm not sure what to do. I dismiss the idea of set over set because I don't see Royal having Pocket Aces here. The two hands that I see most likely are a strong Ace with a Spade kicker or KsQs. I mull over the hand for a while and finally end up calling. I am ahead as Royal shows A with Qc for top pair/strong kicker but no Spade redraw which is great because a fourth Spade came and the board didn't pair.

I threw the hand on the Poker Stove to see what was what and to my surprise, even if Royal flopped the nut flush with KsQs, I STILL was getting odds to call on the flop as a set is basically going to boat or quad up one time out of three. The numbers that were lingering in my head were 20% and 25% to improve on the turn and river respectively. The odd thing being that if you brick the turn, it actually gives you three more outs to catch a boat on the river. Needless to say, if I were up against an Ace with Spade kicker I'm more than priced in and actually ahead in the hand 70/30. So in retrospect, getting 2:1 on my call makes it a no brainer (as long as I am not up against set over set and even then the book says you just can't worry about that) since I am priced in even against the worst case scenario of the range of hands I figure I'm up against...even though I didn't know it at the time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm behind...why am I calling?

There were two hands where I was very confident that I was behind and yet I called anyway. Both hands were against Ivan. One hand I had AJ and flopped top pair. I believe it was me leading and a smooth call from Ivan. Turn was a blankish looking card. I lead again and get re-raised (all-in?) I know that I am way behind. I can't even beat AK. I put him on two pair and he is speeding up on the turn because he either made his two pair or the board was getting too draw heavy. I have no reason to call but we get all the money in anyway. He shows a set of Nines and I am already drawing dead. River bricks so I don't even get a losing two pair or trips. D0nkerric.

Last hand was stupid, this one was more forgivable based on hand strength but still makes no sense once the hand is thought through. Limped pot. Flop comes T97 two clubs. Perfect flop for the SpainR. Unfortunately I have 97 instead. I can't beat a straight unless I boat up. Ivan and I nibble around the edges with the bets and I'm not interested in building the pot unless I boat up. Turn is a high card (Q?) but not a club, no flush. Again, small bets. River pairs the Seven. I now have gotten the boat that I "wanted". I believe that Ivan opened up for 20 and I could have called. I even remember thinking, I can beat a straight now but a straight would have made no sense since Ivan was not protecting against the flush. I'm also guessing that he would not lead out into a paired board with a straight. So I raise since I get criticized for playing weak/tight so much. I get re-raised all in and I feel that I'm beat. I know I have a house but I have the nut low house. I know that Ivan is a good enough player to know what a paired board means I am behind T7, Q7, 99, TT, and QQ. I'll exclude QQ as very unlikely and even TT or 99 would likely have come in for a raise. I can't see Ivan getting involved in a hand with bottom pair only and raising with just trips. I know I'm beat and I'm calling anyway because "there's just not that much more behind to call".

Throwing money away. Not that hard to figure out. D0nkerrific x 2!

Playing Trips Extremely Deceptively

At poker Friday at Jason and MB's there was a hand I said I'd tell Jason about later, so I'll tell you all.

I can't remember the exact preflop action, but there were a lot of players to the flop, and I believe it was unraised. I have A4o on the button.

The flop was 443 rainbow, and I'm hoping for a bet, but it checks around to me. I bet about 8, figuring the other 4 is in the deck somewhere and I'll probably take this down. Jason calls, though, and everyone else folds.

The turn is a 2. I'm mildly concerned about A5, but I don't really think Jason would call my flop bet with that unless he had me squarely on position bet with weak holdings. He checks and I bet again, about half the pot this time, and he calls again.

Now I think it's likely he has something like 77, with a longshot that he's slowplaying a boat or a solid 4 that he got as a big blind special. I think he would have raised with a weak 4 by now to find out where he stands. Ultimately, he's just not betting like he has a 4, he's betting like he feels he's ahead if I don't have a 4 and he's keeping me honest.

The river is a T that makes a backdoor flush, and Jason bets out 31. Interesting...he either does have a boat, or he thinks his middle pair is good.

I check my cards, and see A5 staring back at me. A5? Oops. The bad news is I've misread my hand the whole way, and the good news is it's even better than I thought it was.

I raise to 100, which feels "standard" at 3x. Jason is mumbling about "two small bets and then a big one," trying to puzzle it out, but I remember my bets being in the 35% - 50% pot range, plus the river raise. Jason finally folds.

In retrospect, that bet was too big, "turning my hand into a bluff," as Joe and Andrew would say. He can no longer call with anything losing to me, particularly the middle pair I put him on, and I'm basically hoping that I've misread both hands, and he's actually on some kind of 4 that he's played cautiously and is willing to call with.

If he backdoored the flush or slowplayed a boat, he now gets to make a big raise that puts me to a tough decision. If I'd raised to 75 or 80, I think he would be priced into a lookup with a middle pair, and it would be cheaper to throw away if he comes over the top and I believe him.

At any rate, that represents the third time I can remember where I misread my hand, but it's the only time where my hand actually improved when I learned what it really was. Interestingly, it's the second time it has happened when I've played ace-wheel card, the flop came with a paired wheel card, and I put myself on trips with an ace kicker. Clearly I'm trying to will myself into a monster; I'll have to be careful with that.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The dreaded Aces versus Kings

Friday Night Poker at Jason and MB's place. Early on in the session. We are playing deep stack poker. Blinds are .25/.50 but you can buy in for up to $100 or 400xBB. Ryan has caught fire early and has shown down KK with a raise to about 12-15'ish? On the hand in question, Tom, who I don't play with much, raises to 20 with maybe a limper or two ahead of him. Something tells me big pair. I look at my cards and I put on my pilot's cap because we have American Airlines in the house. I figure that 20 should be enough to isolate so I smooth call to try to trap. Surprisingly enough, Ryan comes into the pot as well. That was very unexpected and I couldn't figure out what Ryan would be just calling a large bet with and not raising. Flop comes QJx (rainbow?) and I am first to act, so I check to suss out the situation. Ryan checks. Tom leads out for 60 I think, pot sized bet. It is now becoming clear to me that Tom has either Aces or Kings, another pair of Aces is unlikely so I have him exactly on Kings. The range of hands I had him on would have QQ-AA, maybe JJ too. I think that it would take a rather disciplined player to lead out with a set on a relatively dry board. Sure AK has a single sided straight draw but I think the excitement of hitting a big set (perhaps even top set) is too intoxicating to lead out. I cannot give him credit for leading out with a set. I raise, I make it 140. He pushes all in and I'm sticking with my read and I insta-call. He fears that he is now facing a two outer when he asks me if I hit my set and I show Aces to reveal that he is facing a two outer for a different reason. Turn kicks me in the face when a King appears. The river is not as dire as it might otherwise be because in addition to my two outs for the highest set, I also can catch one of four Tens to make Broadway. River bricks and I ship nearly all 400 chips over to the end of the table.

I got the money in when I was ahead but whenever something like this comes up, you still run through the play and try to figure out what could have been done differently. I mostly think that the hand just played out like it would have. If we got into a pre-flop raising war, I think it would be most likely that we would have gotten the money in before the flop and the outdraw would have happened anyway. But I also considered that since it was such a deep stack game, with a first raise to 20, I would probably have made it 60, if the next raise was to 200-ish and I pushed, then if the "third raise means Aces" edict were observed then maybe Tom could have laid it down with only half his stack committed. But then I thought that if I did push, I would have probably done a bit of Hollywood and tried to get the money in so I suppose I was just destined to get felted on that hand and there's just not a lot that can be done about that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Master of the Four Way all In

Since Marsh asked me, I felt a duty and an honor to post on his blog. You can always learn something about this game, and Marsh helped me with a couple tricks early in my poker career.

I thought I would comment on my wife’s play recently, as she has had not one but two four way all ins in her last 2 sessions of casino poker. In all the time I have played, both live and on line, I can’t recall a single four way all in, other than my wife’s. I have seen sets over sets, royal flushes, quads losing to a straight flush (on line), a famous one outer, but never a four way all in. Here is a description of the hands, and then some strategies if you would like to try to duplicate this feat.

Playing in Palm Desert on a loose table with some tourists, locals, and rich people, MB (my wife) has four callers in front of her and looks down at AQ os. Unconventional, I admit, but she min-raises the 5 way limped pot. The flop comes Kc, Jc, 10s. She checks, seat 3, a construction guy who plays aggressively bets $8 into a $20 pot, seat 5 raises to $28, seat 6 folds, seat 9 calls, and MB raises to $60 leaving $28 in chips behind her. Seat 3 looks at MB, says I bet you have AQ and then goes all in for about $75, seat 5 goes all in as well but is covered by seat 3, and seat 9 goes all in too for his last $10. MB then goes all, having everyone covered and capping the action. The next 2 cards blank, seat 3 now famous for not giving anyone odds to suck out, flips over K5 os, seat 5 flips over 9c10c, and seat 9 flips over 8,9 os. MB rakes the monster.

3 months later, playing in London at a $50 pound max table with 1 pound, 1 pound blinds, MB has 3 callers in front of her and looks down at AA in the big blind. Unconventional again, she min raises to 2 pounds. Everyone calls. Since I was not at the table, the replay may be a bit off but it went something like this. The flop comes Q, blank, blank with 2 clubs. MB checks, Seat 4 bets, Seat 6 calls, Seat 8 calls, and MB raises. Everyone calls. The next card is an Ace, not a club. MB goes all in, and seat 4, 6, and 8 all call. Players show AQ for 2 pair drawing dead, the 8 and 3 of clubs, and KJ (the name of the cardroom is the gutshot). The next card blanks and MB rakes another monster.

How did she do it:

• Maximizes value out of premium starting hands. Most all experienced players would have put in more substantial raises preflop. It is tough to min raise with big starting hands, but you are still the most favored hand with AA vs. any other possibilities of starting hands. So even if you are in a four way pot, you may have less than a 50% chance of winning the pot, but will have a greater likelihood of winning against any other starting hand. Min raising with AA in a 4 handed pot is shocking to most players, so few will put you on that hand.
• Look like you don’t know what you are doing when you bet. MB is a very experienced player but she does have an unsure look about her when she bets. Players often think she is a donk and call her down, then get surprised when they lose all of their chips. If you don’t think you can master the donk look when you bet, then make a donk play on purpose for a small amount of chips early in a multi hour session, it may pay off for you beautifully later.
• Play at tables without deep stacks. MB bought into tables where the maximum buyin was 50 times the blind. Obviously, this creates more desperation plays and more donkish behavior.
• Don’t be afraid to be out of position in a multi way pot. Some may disagree here, but I don’t find as much of a disadvantage to out of position play with multiple players involved. You are first to act, but by checking, someone will typically bet top pair, middle pair, or a draw if it is a multiway pot, and then you can make your decision being last to act. Flopping the nuts makes these decisions much easier.

I realize you will have some losses on big pots with this strategy, but if you can win a multi-way pot for every pot you lose, I think the strategy can work and create a positive EV.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Good Player" Moves

Lunch poker...I'm on the button. Nick is SB, Martin is BB. Joe limps in mid-late position, then it folds to me.

I have A8o. Hardly premium, but with position and what I figure rates to be the best hand at the moment, I raise to 5. I'm expecting Nick to fold, but I fail to process that Martin is likely to call, at which point Joe will as well. Oh well...

To my surprise, Nick calls, Martin folds, and Joe calls.

The flop is A♥ 8♣ 4♦, and the action checks to me. I bet 8, half the pot. This is such a standard flop bet for me when I'm the aggressor that I'm not sure how it will be taken, but I'm thinking it will probably buy it right there.

Nick calls, and Joe folds.

Interesting call from Nick...I'm not exactly sure what to put him on, here, maybe an ace or a mid-pocket and he doesn't fully buy that I'm on an ace.

The turn is 6♥, and Nick checks to me.

I'm awfully sure I'm good, now, but I check because Nick is a good enough player to read it as a c-bet/slowdown. It's blatantly giving him a free card, and I'm not totally comfortable with that, but at the same time, it's what will sell Nick on the c-bet/slowdown. I figure he either has two outs to his set or three outs to a better two pair, and a very longshot of two hearts, but the ace is out there, so I have a hard time putting him on two hearts, and I have mentally discounted a heart as an out for him.

Which is good, because the river is 3♥.

Nice and low, though. I don't put Nick on calling my raise out of position with something like 75, and now I'm hoping for a bet. He obliges with a bet of 15, and I think for a bit, and raise to 30.

The minraise is uncharacteristic of me, and I'm not entirely sure why I did it. I guess I felt like, if my move had worked, he was betting out fairly light on the premise that I had missed and was done with the hand. A bet like 40 would actually induce a fold, in that case, but it felt like he would look me up for 15 more, and he did. He mucked and I took it down.

I thought the hand was interesting because it was one of those instances where I got a perfect storm to pull a move I wouldn't normally do, and the storm was heavily dependent on Nick being a good player. I would not have checked behind on the turn against most of the lunch game players, both because I couldn't be sure they would feel the "failed c-bet" I was projecting, and because I couldn't be sure many of the other players weren't playing something like 75 or two random hearts.

Nick could have been on a set, at which point I would have been destined to lose money to him, because a deceptively-played set does fit all his actions, including smooth-calling a bone-dry flop and checking to an aggressive player on the turn who had bet every street so far. Fear of a set almost led me to smooth-call his 15 on the river, but I had that moment of, "Ryan! If you are going to get tricky and your plan appears to have worked, either go with it and accept the results, or stop the fucking trick plays!"

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting hand because of how I would only play it that way against a good player. Very representative, I think, of the sentiment that good players would rather play against other good players instead of donkeys.

In the end, I think I like a mix at my tables. 100% donks is really not that fun, even if I can make it profitable (bet good hands, value when they hit, check/fold when they miss, repeat, repeat, repeat). 100% sharks is fascinating poker, but the EV suffers, so I'll take a nice mix any day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pass the Trash stepped limit

Today was dealer's choice Tuesday and it was my turn to select the game. The game I ended up with was Pass the Trash but instead of the standard betting limit structure, I wanted to ramp the limits up each street. Previously, limit games have been .50/1 and I thought those limits were too low for this crowd. Ryan has even noted that the variance on limit dealer choice days is far lower than on other days.

First of all, the way the game is played is that everyone is dealt seven cards. Pick three cards that coordinate the least with your best four and pass them to the player on your left. After you've picked up the three from the person to your right, you have to ditch two cards and the remaining five cards are your hand. You then order the five cards face down. Each card is revealed one at a time with a betting round in between each card. After the fourth card, each player must declare their hand as either hi, low, or both. All declarations are done simultaneously by opening your hand to reveal zero, one, or two chips.

So the way we played, everyone had to post a single chip ante to get cards. After passing the trash, ditching your two cards, ordering them, and revealing your first card, a round of betting limit style in increments of two chips capped at three raises. Reveal the second card then a round of betting with four chip increments. Third card then betting in eight chip increments. Then the fourth card is revealed and the final betting round in sixteen chip increments. Overall, I like having higher limits. A bet of four on the end just isn't enough to bluff in my opinion. I am not married to the stepped limits but I think it echoes the increasing bets in NL.

What I didn't like was the fact that the hi/lo nature pretty much split up every pot but with no scoops today. I also think that solid fundamentals would add to your chips stack. Nothing too fancy required. Get a good hand, observe other hands developing, put the chips in when you are good and there you go. Anyone losing large amount of chips I think had plenty of warning that they were behind. One thing that a lower limit structure would have done is prompted more showdowns just because they can be seen cheaper. It did get expensive because betting got three-bet or capped on late streets but that is because hands were still multi-way in late streets and one person typically is just feeding the pot to be chopped by the hi and lo.

So what to do for next time. I definitely think playing limit should use limits higher than .50/1. Stepped limits allowed for players to "chase" or try to represent hands and get more money into the pot before it got chopped up. There wasn't as much declaration drama as expected but that may have been because the field got thinned so much from the higher limits. Maybe the Fibonacci sequence as suggested by others for next time will allow for more players to the showdown and some more interesting declaration play.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Nut straight versus possible flush

Lunch game. .25/.25 $25 buy in. I limp in with 3h4h in middle position. Dave raises to 4(-ish?) from the SB. Maybe three others see the flop with me. Comes 25x two diamonds. I have an open ender and it checks all around. Turn is Ad which gives me the nut straight but puts a possible flush out there. Dave leads out for 20, folds to me and I call. Folds around and it's heads up. Rive is a glorious blank. At this point, I'm fairly certain that Dave does not have a flush. In retrospect, him checking the flop with two diamonds should have been the first hint that he did not flop a flush draw. The more that he waits after the river card is revealed, the more I feel like he does not have a flush. My read is that there is no way I'm beat here. Having the nut non-flush hand helps because if I had two pair, I'd have to consider a higher two pair or a set being out against me but with the strength of my hand, I knew I just had to contend with the flush or no-flush dilemma. I am telling myself that I will call whatever bet Dave puts out there. After some more camera time, Dave pushes all in for about 4 stacks. I actually make a reactive quick call. Also in retrospect, pushing all in is a "go away" bet and not a value bet. Dave shows a black Ace and Kd for the nut flush draw and top/top.

So it occurs to me later that I could have raised the turn. I had an inkling that Dave did not have the flush at that point but I certainly can give him credit for a diamond draw. I hadn't noticed him checking his hole cards at any point in the hand though there were many players to the flop and turn. I also hadn't solidified my read of him not having a flush at that point of the hand either.

So to tear this hand apart, let's assume that I had the same certain read that Dave did not have the flush. Is it a valid "right" play to let a blank peel off on the river instead of popping the turn? Previously on the blog we've discussed pushing all-in with a set against a possible flush draw in order to snap off the action even though more money could possibly have been made by pricing out a flush draw and letting a blank fall. Taking the pot down early was an attempt to minimize risk of a redraw at the expense of making the maximum on the hand. If you are fairly sure that your opponent will bet a flush draw aggressively, is it OK, to flat call the turn in the hand described above to keep the pot small and cut down on stack swinginess? I know, you are supposed to get your money when you are ahead and in the long run you will be ahead but if you raise the turn and you open the door for someone to push on the turn as top-top/nut flush draw may very well do. Is that controlling pot size or just good ol' weak/tight?

Avoiding Tilt

In the "Ryan Blows a Hand" thread Austin asks:

"I'm curious if there's any mental mantras you try to go through when you know you just made a stupid play and are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. I've noticed that every once in a while I'll go on a binge of terrible calls and they all seem to be related to one another."

The general subject of tilt avoidance is a topic worthy of its own post. Here are my thoughts…

The first thing to do after a frustrating hand is to make a conscious effort to tighten your hand selection to the extreme, and to stay focused on the hand…at hand.

The second thing to do is to be self-aware when you are failing to do the first thing, and pull yourself from the game when that happens.

If you realize you are playing less than premium hands less than optimally because you are still distracted by the emotions or details of a previous hand, then you have to take a break. Playing tilty and refusing to get up from the table is like driving groggy and refusing to pull over. Both are dangerous exercises in denial:

"The fact that my eyes keep closing means nothing--there's no way I'm going to fall asleep on the interstate! Sure, I'm singing out loud and rolling down the windows to stay focused, but I can handle this."

"The fact that my mind keeps obsessing over that hand from last orbit means nothing--there's no way I'm tilting! Sure, I've made a loose call here and there lately, but I can handle this."


"I'm all in..."

BAM! Disaster.

Get up from the table and take a walk, go have a snack or a smoke, but get the hell away from the table before disaster strikes.

Another thing: measure your tiltiness not by your blood pressure, heart rate or rage levels, but by where your head is at. Some people don’t tilt in a visible, emotional way. Maybe you aren’t obviously flustered, but if you are playing one hand while thinking about another, you are probably tilting.

If you are adding extra layers into assessment of the current hand after a rough previous hand, you are probably tilting. He’s not raising because he has a good hand, he’s raising because he thinks I’m tilting, so I should reraise with my crap hand…

One way to avoid tilt if you are an emotional player, like I am, is to go ahead and vent the steam right away. I’ve been known to shove neat stacks of chips to the winner in a big messy pile (don’t splash chips around if you do this, though, that is way uncool), and vocalize my frustrations after a brutal hand.

I can contain this…I never do this at a casino, for example…but among friends, it can help me avoid tilt to let out the steam while it’s fresh. I basically fold the next couple of hands (barring monsters) while I grumble, mutter, shake my head, etc., so that I can clear it all out and move on. Do not sit there muttering about a hand for more than one or two hands after, though. After that, nobody will have any empathy or tolerance (if they had any to begin with), and you’ll just be the annoying dick who can’t take a beat. If you can’t clear the tilt in a timely fashion, get the hell up and walk away.

Opening up the vents can be a way to prevent a more damaging steam buildup, but I’ve been working on not needing to do this to avoid tilt. (Seriously, guys, when’s the last time you remember me do anything blatantly steamy at the table?) Despite being an emotional gamer, I’m also a very logical one, and I’ve been using my logical side to process potentially tilty situations. (“Decisions, not results, decisions, not results, decisions, not results…”) These days, I take bad beats fine when I made the right decision…it’s when I am angry at myself for a mistake that I need to watch out for.

The main thing, though, is to be good about knowing where your head is at, and be honest with yourself about it. One night, in a shorthanded game in which Martin schooled me first for all my sugar and then for all my chips, I was furious with myself for how badly I'd played. I stood up, put on my coat, curtly said goodnight, and bee-lined it out of there, obviously at full boil.

Maybe it wasn’t my classiest moment/exit, but the key here is that I did not reach into my pocket for another buyin. There was no way I could play anything even close to my A game at that point and I knew it, so I quit.

Know your own steam, and get away from the table if you can’t successfully process it after a hand or two.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ryan Blows a Hand

I'm back online, playing at cakepoker on the advice of Mr. Sola. I play this hand a half hour into the session...

I'm making a conscious effort to only open raise, no open limp, so I make a standard pop in late position with 55.

Villain repops me, so I'm putting him on a nice pocket pair. We're both relatively deep and he's get me covered, so I figured it's worth the set mine to call. Pot has $8.75.

The 346 rainbow flop gets me into trouble, giving me the open-ender and what I figure is a ten-outer.

I check, and as expected, he bets out for $5.

Stupidly, I raise to $15. This was a terrible play. I mean, he's not going to fold, and the extreme likelihood is that he's going to reraise me and put me to a test. I regret the raise the moment I click it.

He puts me all in, and I'm mentally slapping myself. I could have called the $5 if I wanted to chase my 10 outs, with solid implied odds to do so (although if I hit a 5 he might not pay me off), and instead I put myself up against the wall.

Now, I have 15 seconds to decide whether or not to call.

I fold, and in retrospect, it was a bad fold. Not as bad as the raise on the flop, but bad.

$74.85 in the pot, I've got $36.110 left, so I'm getting about 2:1 with ten clean outs. I could stove it for the exact numbers, but we know it's somewhere near 40%, enough for the mathematical call.

I'm hating myself so much for the bad raise, and I so don't want to go broke on the back of that mistake, that I fold. It's not a huge mistake, but calling that all in is +EV by that point in the hand.

This is certainly not an isolated case of this mistake for me: making a blunder, realizing it, and then wanting to bury my head in the sand with my tail between my legs (I love a good mixed metaphor), instead of clearing my head, putting it behind me, and making the correct play post blunder instead of compounding it.

So, you can feel free to analyze the hand, but my main point in posting it is: don't let a recognized mistake on one street shame you into making yet another mistake on a later street...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lee Watkinson's blowup at the Main Event

I know some of us follow the Tournament Circuit more than others (and some don't want to know results), so you can safely ignore this post if you're one of those people. But if you were interested in the WSoP Main Event and its results, I'd like to discuss the following hand.

Tacoma's own Lee Watkinson entered the WSoP Main Event Final Table last night 6th in chips. Chip counts were:
Seat 1 - Raymond Rahme - 16.32 million
Seat 2 - Alex Kravchenko - 6.57 million
Seat 3 - Lee Childs - 13.24 million
Seat 4 - Jerry Yang - 8.45 million
Seat 5 - Lee Watkinson - 9.925 million
Seat 6 - Tuan Lam - 21.315 million
Seat 7 - Philip Hilm - 22.07 million
Seat 8 - Jon Kalmar - 20.32 million
Seat 9 - Hevad 'Rain' Khan - 9.205 million

And blinds started at 120000/240000, with an ante of 30000. More importantly, Watkinson was the only pro at this table, and is widely considered by other pros to be a "pro's pro", meaning that his game is widely respected.

On hand #21, Watkinson was involved with the following hand. Everyone folded around to the blinds, and Jerry Yang, in the small blind, raised it from 240k to
to 1 million. Lee Watkinson moved all in from the big blind for 9.715 million, and Yang started deliberating for a few minutes.

Keep in mind here, Yang in the first 10 hands had already doubled his chip stack substantially and went from 8 mil at the start to 21 mil at this point. You could say his confidence was now pretty high.

Yang eventually calls, and shows {A-Spades}{9-Diamonds}. Watkinson shows {A-Clubs}{7-Hearts}.
Flop: {6-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{2-Clubs}
Turn: {K-Diamonds}
River: {J-Spades}

And Watkinson is eliminated from the tournament.

Now, my question is: If you're a pro, and the blinds aren't substantially high yet, why do you make this move? Is there any excuse for this? Watkinson's image is tight, and he's known for making good reads and laydowns, but in this case, it went from battle of the blinds->SB raise to 1 mil->Watkinson overshoves with 9 mil->amateur calls. Can anyone really feel so good about A7 off? Even if he's just making a move there for the $1 mil small blind, I'd actually rather have two numbered cards, just to have the higher possibility of live cards if you actually get called.

I realize that almost any other raise from Watkinson in this case essentially commits him (1 mil -> say, to 3 mil is 1/3rd of his stack) but why not just fold here? He only has the big blind invested. Is this a case of spotlight shell-shock, brain fart, gutsy play, bad read, something else, or any combination of the above? Really, as the only pro, he had more ability and experience than anyone else at the table, and instead, looked like he was playing an amateur's kind of game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Live Internet Radio Broadcast of WSOP

FYI...at www.worldseriesofpoker.com, you can hear live play-by-play and commentary on the main event final table.

I recognize Robert Williamson III, but not the other guy. Almost sounds like Kevin Collabro (sp?).

Are you a wuss like me? Tournament payouts..

Looking at the WSOP main event final table online, and a thought crossed my mind. I think I would be a total bitch and just fold my ass off to climb the payout ladder even one spot. I normally don't play that way at all, but in a significant, huge money event like the ME, I think maybe I would. Here are the payouts for this years ME:

1$ 8,250,000-

2$ 4,840,981-

3$ 3,048,025-

4$ 1,852,721-

5$ 1,255,069-

6$ 956,243-

7$ 705,229

To me these payouts seem pretty standard, but if you look at the differences, they are pretty boggling . Even from 2 - 3 is 1.8M. 1.8M US dollars. Hmmmm.

I hate to admit it, but if I found myself in that spot, I am probably folding my ass off until I move up some spots or the blinds just FORCE me to play.

I have nothing to back this up, I might just end up playing it as I normally would, if I was there in real life. But I have to admit that looking at the numbers, I would be playing to go up a few spots rather than trying to win the whole thing like you are supposed to.

What would you do? (Be honest)

Monday, July 16, 2007

They have poker on computers now

Here's an online hand my roommate played yesterday.

He was in the small blind and got K♦K♥. One d0nk in early position limps. Dude with a big stack (covered us and we're up to about 150 BB) raises from middle position. He calls, d0nk folds.

The flop is 2♣3♦4♠. He checks, bigstack checks behind.

Turn is Q♦. He bets $3 into a $4 pot, villain raises to $8. He calls.

River is a J♣. He bets $10 into the $20 pot, and villain calls.

Normally I'd reraise this preflop but smoothcalling can trap the limper and disguise our hand. The flop is great for us, since he raised preflop so he probably doesn't have a set or twopair or a straight. Most likely he has either an overpair to the board or two unpaired big cards. There's only one hand in that group that beats us, so we should be trying to get paid off now.

So how do we get our money in? We could bet out here, but Andrew argued that we're blowing him off too many hands, which is true since most of the hands he's raising with are unpaired and he'll likely just fold here. So we check, but do we check-raise? Check-raising is going to make the turn awkward. Plus, either he'll just fold and we'll win a small pot, or he'll slow way down and we won't get as much as we can. Check call seems really weak but I think we need to give him a little rope before we can pull the trigger.

He checks behind on the flop, which means he's probably got two big cards. Here's where we have to put out a bet and start building the pot. Either he just hit the queen or we weren't getting paid anyway. So Andrew bets 3/4 the pot, and the dude raises us, which is sweet. Do you call here or three-bet? He could have something like AQ and think he's sitting on the nuts, but he could just be testing the water.

The river's interesting, I'd probably just check call here. QQ, JJ, and QJ have just caught up to us, and all of those would reraise us hard if we bet. But on the other hand, you're missing a lot of value from Qx hands if he ends up checking through the river.

If you do end up betting out, do you call a reraise? What about a push?

Structure feedback for Dave's Birthday Tourney

I'm always looking for feedback on how stuff went in order to improve the experience for next time. Here is how the tourney was structured:

$10 for 290 in chips (Dave's 29th birthday)
100 greys playing as 1, 18 reds playing as 5, and 4 greens playing as 25.

Blinds start at 1/2 for an hour (this was because Kasie wanted to start at 8pm and was supposed to allow for players to show up late). As it happened, everything started late (like 8:50) and we only did 1/2 for 20 minutes. The intent was to have the first hour to be pseudo-cash game which was why I gave such large grey stacks. But I think the majority is used to playing tourneys with different denominations and I wouldn't need to use as many greys.

After the first round, blinds go for 20 minutes along the following schedule:

Color up happened here. Having Marsh and Jeh running the color ups at the two tables made it go very quickly. That really worked out well I think. At the end of the first period (again, it was supposed to be an hour) everyone gets the option of adding on 200 more chips for $5. This was intended to build the payout pot but mostly to prevent people from intentionally trying to go broke on the last hand when they are short stacked in order to get a full stack...even though I tried to bust out short stacked by getting into a pot with 35os but ended up backing into the sucker end of a straight and taking down a pot. Violette ended up in a bad spot when she called Dave's all-in and had him covered by ten chips on the last hand. Felt bad but couldn't do anything but allow her to get her add-on.


Color off the reds now. At this point it got down to 10 players and we went ahead and merged tables as well as colored up. Didn't realize it until later but we actually cut the 15/30 round short by about 8 minutes by coloring up. This was initially not going to be a break in action but since we were merging tables, it turned out to be a break.


Color up the greens to blacks now.

I think the tourney ended around here which follows the rule of thumb of the tourney ending about when the BB matches they buy-in stack amount.

With Dave, Marsh, Tiffany, and me all cashing in the top four spots, I think the deep stack nature of the tourney served it's purpose of trying to weed out d0nks, "gamblers", and luck boxes from the money. Even players at the final table had a chance to bust out with decent hands, Tim showed down KQ. Sun went out on pocket Sixes. Marsh suffered horrible beats twice to the luckbox in the corner yet was still able to catch 4th place money. I think there was relatively low "crapshoot" or ATC mentality as people were eliminated.

Not sure how the format would have changed things with a more experienced tournament crowd. But I like how players could make mistakes (like me calling off 100 on the end with KK to a n00b holding a Three after the board paired Threes on the river, 25 pre-flop btw) and have their stacks dented but not being crippled by it.

Anyway, let me know what you thought of the format and what changes you'd make. Keep in mind that I'd want to apply this to a more serious poker tournament in the future. Thanks.

LOL Marsh rUlz (Tournament poker play against inexperienced players)

Marsh rulz, but this post isn't *really* about that. This post is all about tournament play when you have passive, inexperienced players in the field, and the blinds are super-low compared to your starting chipstack. Last night, Martin, Marshall, and I were playing a $10 entry, (unlimited rebuys for 20 minutes) tournament with a bunch of friends and some other associated people (some of who were very inexperienced, passive players). Since Martin was Tourney Director, he had built in a structure that allowed a lot of play: 290 starting chips with 1-2 blinds to start.

Martin and I were seated at the same table with 6 other players. As I knew the people at the table really well, I could point out two very inexperienced players, two players with some experience (but fairly weak), two good players, and Martin (aka D0nk King). After the first couple of hands, it became very apparent that it was a "family pot" type of game at our table, and that no one was interested in raising preflop with anything less than AA or KK (and even those hands might be limped by some of the players involved).

In these types of games, I'm very confident in my ability to outplay players after the flop, and to see every flop possible, even when its junk. I understand that every good, tight player's instinct is to fold what is normally unplayable, crappy hands such as 8 3 or 7 2 unsuited, but I strongly suggest to play ANY hand in a "family pot", blinds-low-relative-to-the-chip-stacks type of tournament. The action in these kind of tournaments typically have all limpers 90-95% of the time in the early rounds, with no concept of pot odds on later streets. You can chase flush or straight draws with minimal risk, especially if you're the first to bet. "Family pot"-type tables usually just call bets, without any raising - so say the pot is limped around 8 ways. If you hit a flush draw, you can bet low to build a pot and get almost all the other players to call, and if you don't hit on later streets, you've only invested, say, 10 chips total. But, if you do hit your draw, you can overbet, and someone still is likely to call with any pair and get paid off!

It also should be easy to get away from any hand, as inexperienced players in these situations will raise a huge red flag if you're beat. Say you hit a flop with top pair and a crappy kicker, and you bet. If you get raised, it'll likely be a significant overraise - you *will* feel the heat or pushback from a n00b player, if you are beat. It should be very easy to lay down these hands, and you will know when to do so.

If you're confident that you can value a hand correctly, and apply basic principles such as pot odds and position, you have more than enough to have a significant advantage over inexperienced or semi-weak players in these kinds of tournaments in the early stages, and build up your chip stack without significant risk by calling with *any* two cards. Who knows, maybe you'll hit two pair and double up right away (that's what I did!).

Keeping up with posts on here.

Ok I have read the previous stuff and have looked around a bit online.

Where we stand now: For those of us who don't subscribe to numerous RSS feeds, the way it is now isn't really an issue. But for those that do, not being able to see new comments in a reader or get email alerts can mean extra time. I set up Ryan to get emails whenever comments were posted, but unfortunately that feature is only available to one email address (presumably the author). You guys can check in Settings>Comments>Comment Notification Address to see if it's an available option to you.

For now, we will keep the comments in the thread, not as separate posts. This thing will become a pretty ridiculous mess if we made a whole new post just to say "LOL Marsh rUlz".

Basically we have 2 choices as far as our web presence goes: 1. This blog. 2. A message board. The blog is cool cause it lets us post hands, ask questions, and also do article type posts, all while being accessible not only to us, but also to the masses. Message boards work better as a back and forth conversation because that's what they are designed to do, but they virtually eliminate any article type posts, and they limit accessibility severely by requiring registering. Another point about the message board is that they require monthly hosting costs and some upkeep.

So basically both have strengths, but I decided to go blog because I really like it that other people can read and access it very easily, and because it's free.

So as of now, we will keep it like it is. Hopefully for the RSS freaks, they can set it up to either get emails or find a reader that supports new comments. Let's keep the book open on this though, and anyone that has any suggestions, just post them (in this thread ahha) and we can take it from there.

On a final note, it's pretty awesome how much action we have gotten on here, let's keep it up!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Reader demographics

Before we dive too much deeper into the blogosphere, I was wondering who the target audience is for this blog and what "rating" the content should adhere to. Should this be all G-Rated that all kids who just saw a Disney movie should be able to read? Or are we more like PG-13 where we might throw in a four letter word here or there. Or is it just no holds barred and we can say whatever we want?

I disagree

I’m going to side with Martin on the reply vs. comment discussion. If you’re an avid RSS-feed reader, I don’t see how you could want it any other way. Ryan said at the last WNP that he was a cave man when it comes to RSS. So, maybe this should be put up to a vote (RSS feed users versus non-RSS feed users).

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of having all replies to a post in one place, but that means I’d have to sacrifice the ability to stay on top of all posts and replies easily in my feed reader. When I only have so much time in the day to read posts and replies, every little second counts.

I vote for replies as posts until we get the forum software that Marsh and Martin are talking about.

Maybe there’s a way to use “labels” (you can assign a label to a post as you’re writing it). See how I’ve assigned the label “one topic per post” to this reply? You type “one topic per post” in the upper left-hand box in the main window, hit “search blog”, and voila: all the entries relating to that particular topic in one location.

I’m open to other suggestions, too, such as the email alerts. How does that work? Tell us, oh Master Marsh!

Oh, and I also agree with Martin (and duly note) that I shouldn’t have had a 1-4 list of observations. It should have been 4 separate entries.

The dirty little secret of Hold'em

I read this in a Hold'em book. Can't remember the exact one and it would take for freaking ever to find it in my stash. Here it is. Statistically speaking, Straights are MORE likely to come in Hold'em than three of a kind. This is because it is a lot easier to make five straight cards out of seven (two hole cards and the five on the board) than it is out of just five cards like in five card draw. Yet in Hold'em the hand rakings still reward Straights more than Trips even though they are more common. So there ya go.

One topic per post?

One player per hand. One topic per post? Not that I wouldn't do the same thing but do we want to make it convention that each post speaks on one topic only? If we have multiple topics then the comments can sprawl and it is harder to track the topic in question while having to wade through responses on other things. And if we start replying to posts via reply-posts instead of via comments then it will help keep things straight.

Some Observations

Observation #1
Does anybody know if there is a way to be alterted when somebody has posted a new comment on an entry, other than mentally keeping track of how many comments have already been given to a particular post and noticing when that number has increased? I read a LOT of RSS feeds, and it’s clear that reading That’s Not Poker through RSS is not the best way to go, because I don’t get to read the comments that way. That’s Not Poker has quickly become the most interesting blog I read.

On my other non-poker blogs, ones that only I post to, I get a notice in my email when somebody has created a comment on one of my blog entries. I believe only Marsh has that ability on That’s Not Poker because he’s the one who created the blog.

Observation #2
Does anybody else use Firefox on a Mac to read That’s Not Poker? I ask because the super-duper special suit HTML code that Joe started and Ryan elaborated on apparently doesn’t work in Firefox on a Mac, my computer/browser combo of choice. The suit font comes out looking like horizontal and vertical lines (as seen in this clip from the earlier post):

I guess I’ll probably have to come up with a key and start remembering what they look like for future suit posts. But wait, Joe did it for me:

So, I will from now on start to refer to hearts as “two-pixel vertical line” and diamonds as “one-pixel dotted horizontal line.” SO much easier.

Observation #3
After reading thoroughly all of the posts and comments here, it has become clear to me that I am the weakest player of the bunch. I know I play poker the least out of all of you, and I love the game as much as the next guy, but my level of play is clearly not as high as the rest of you. I’m pretty sure you all have me nailed as the somewhat weak/tight player that I am. Up to now I’ve been happy to limp through a hand when I’ve got the nuts, letting people bet into me and never letting on that I’ve got the best hand.

Every once and a while I’ll make a great bet when I flop a monster (Ryan can attest to that when a flop came ddd and I bet 40 into it when I had the nuts, and so can Martin when his QQ was thoroughly bested by my AJ that had boated up but still bet aggressively). But rarely do I accomplish such feats (and Martin’s always very kind to point out how great they are to me. Thanks Martin!).

As witnessed on Wednesday when I hit the quad jacks, I should have been on the offense when the j99 hit. And later, when the KsJs2x hit on the flop making a set out of my ducks against Ryan, Martin correctly pointed out that I should have min-raised (still a substantial 100 raise) after Ryan bumped it to 120, rather than simply going all-in (for a major over-bet), and I may have gotten a call out of Ryan. Chances are Ryan would have folded, and he has said as much upon reflection.

But my gut said, when the set of 2s hit for me, and Ryan bets 100 over my 20 bet, that I should take the money and run. Don’t try to eek even more out of Ryan (by min-raising), but go ALL THE WAY and make Ryan fold right now. I was content to take the smaller pot now versus risking the larger pot later.

And now I’m starting to see the error of my ways. I can feel an “adjustment period” coming on for me. I’m not sure how much my betting style will change (or if it really will at all), but having read everything here over the past week, I’ve learned a TON. So I guess this is my way of saying thanks. I’m glad to be one of the “TNP Warlords” even if I feel more like I’m the 1-star general to all of your 3-stars.

Observation #4
And lastly, in case you didn’t know it, if you go to your blogger dashboard (and each of the warlords has a dashboard they can go to) you can set up an email address that you can use to post directly to That’s Not Poker. Which leads to, as we’ve all seen Martin’s fabulous posts from the field in Vegas, posting from your phone. Don’t know about you, but I’m sure there will be a couple instances where I’ll be posting directly from WNP shortly after a big hand from my Treo (rather than using the analog methods of Ryan and Joe, using a pen and pad of paper to log hands).

The SpainR in the media

I must first note that flickr, the inspiration for the term SpainR, actually uses a colored "r" instead of an upper case "R". So maybe the typographically more accurate spelling of SpainR should be Spainr, no?

Now back to the topic at hand. On Poker After Dark (http://www.nbcsports.com/poker/feature1.html#) Week 5, Friday's full episode, Segment 3, about a third of the way through, we see the SpainR in action. The play is three handed with Laak the chip leader, Esfandiari and Harman trying to collect chips in the PAD winner take all format. Esfandiari folds 62os on the button. Harman picks up Jd8d (suited SpainR) in the SB and pushes for $25,800 and Laak in the BB picks up pocket Nines. Laak calls off $24,600. Then the dialog goes like this:
Laak: (pointing at Harman's hand) That's the Unabomber Ultra Deluxe. Actually...
Esfandiari: (interrupting) No, Jack Eight of Hearts
Laak: (re-interrupting) Right. That's just Deluxe. Jack Eight of Hearts is Ultra Deluxe.
Harman: Jack Eight suited has always been lucky for me.
Laak: Are you kidding me? (Pointing at Harman's hand) This is super-durable, super-pure, super-juicy hand.

Board runs 4c4h8s Kc Tc and the SpainR suited goes down in flames and puts Laak at a 3:1 advantage over Esfandiari going heads up.

This concludes today's look at hands in history.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A pocket pair needs four suited cards to flush

I was IM'ing Marsh about this earlier and thought I'd share. Touched on this a little in a different post but will break it out into its own post as well. If you have someone on a pocket pair, they can only have one card of any suit...despite all the jokes about having "suited Aces". This can be critical information. Everyone has different tells but assuming you correctly have someone on a pair, if the complete unpaired board only has three of a suit, you can be sure your flush is good regardless of how small it may be. It also opens the door to bluffing someone off their hand since players are generally overly concerned about flush draws.

In one hand, a player I knew well raised pre-flop and I was positive she had a pocket pair. Flop comes out Ace high and all Diamonds. I actually caught a six for a low second pair and I'm positive she has a bigger pocket than that. Nonetheless I lead out undeterred because I know that she cannot have a flush nor could she have caught an Ace because she had a pocket pair. She then raises me! That is awfully spunky for someone who can't beat a paired Ace on the flop. I shake my head and proceed to move in because she doesn't have much left behind and I will either take the pot down or see her hand. I actually assure her that she is way ahead of me to coax the rest of the chips into the pot. She the board completes and she shows down pocket Nines including the 9d. Logic was correct just had a stubborn player who didn't know when to fold.

So some caveats. Some players like to play AK suited like a big pocket pair complete with re-raises and willingness to push with them. If your opponent is like that then you will need to be able to differentiate between AK suited and big pairs or even just bail on this tactic for those players. It is also possible that they may settle for a high or nut flush redraw if they feel they are behind a flush so you might want to wait for the board to complete before pressuring them to fold.

So there you go. A page from the playbook for you to consider.

Is this an easy hand to play?

We are in Vegas and have just sat down at a brand new 1-2 NL table at a major casino. Everyone has bought in for 200.00. On the first hand we get JJ in the SB. 3 limpers in front, it comes to us and we make it 15 to go. We get one caller, the next guy makes it 50, and the last guy folds. Now it's on us, what do we do?


Bob L. are you a graphic designer or something?

Dude if you are, help me out with the colors for the crap on this blog. It looks like a 3-year old did it. Normally I am ok at this stuff, but I am struggling.

If you are in fact a business Analyst of some sort, please disregard. Thanks.

Giving/taking critisizm on here.

We have no guidelines here for conduct. Anarchy will rule in this land, but here is how I think this place should be.

It should be like a locker room for a Poker team. We are all on the team. You can give people shit all you want, call them d0nks, insult their mothers etc. If someone takes offense, then you back off, if they fight back, you fight harder. At the end of the day, we are all on the same team, the goal of which is to become better at poker. Open debate will fuel this fire, while apathy and non-posting will see it die.

Some other rules: If you put spainR in a post, it had better be a capital R. Also, it's J8, suited or not, final answer Regis. Also, d0nk will be spelled with a zer0 at all times. This is pretty standard, folks.

Last but not least, have we missed anyone who would like to post? If so just let me know and we will get them on-board.


Suit Symbols in Posts

Hey Joe, How'd you get suit symbols in your posts? Just cutting and pasting from somewhere else? I guess so, because I just did from yours.

Well, if anyone wants a quick C&P source, here you go:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How NOT to play the nuts (a story on not getting max value out of your hand)

Wow, there was a lot of activity here today... which is awesome! Honestly, in the busy-ness of the day, I forgot to check the blog - but here I am now.

I think I'll mostly post about my d0nkey-ass perspective about topics, styles, and strategies rather than hand recaps and thoughts (as we seem to have enough of that from the WNP crew), but today, I'll go with the flow and post about a hand last night involving Matt, our new player (Welcome Matt!).

The hand involved Matt, Royal, me, and Ryan. Royal was in the big blind, and I look down at 7c9c, one of my favorite hands to get into pots with: a middle, suited one-gapper. (These are seriously my favorite kind of hands.) I limp in, and the action folds around to Ryan, who in the cutoff, makes it 7. Matt, sitting next to him, makes it 17, Martin folds, and Royal calls. 69 chips are now in the pot.


5 6 8 rainbow

This gives me the 9-high straight: the nuts. Royal checks, I check, and Ryan checks to Matt, who I suspect has a pocket overpair or possibly c-betting an AQ/AK. Matt bets about 30, and Royal folds. I call 30 and Ryan folds.



(Scare card for any pocket overpairs, except for AA.) I check, Matt bets about 35, and I raise to 100. He calls.



I still have the nuts. The board is unpaired, no flush possibility. I bet 135, and after some deliberation, Matt folds. I rake in a pot of 269 (doesn’t include my river bet).

Where did I go wrong in this hand? Absolutely, positively, on the flop. One of the hardest things about poker is extracting maximum value out of a great hand, and I messed up getting max value on the flop. I wrote about this hand because it was a tricky situation – flopping the nuts with three other people in the hand, with my read on Matt being a strong starting hand (pocket pair 10s thru As or AQ/AK). As Ryan and Royal just called pre-flop, I can assume that they didn't have a big starting hand, and at best, have a set with some middle pair, two pair, or an open-ended straight draw with a 7.

In this situation, with 3 others in the pot, there are two possible ways of getting max value out of the current nuts:
1) Get the most chips in the pot from the most players possible. Attempt to build a pot by keeping everyone in the pot, with them calling a modest bet. For example, if the bet turns out to be 30, and everyone calls, that's 90 more in the pot (and my additional 30, to make it 120).
2) Check-raise Matt, who will bet to get value out of his pocket pair (if he has one). Check-raising, however, will likely scare anyone else off who is on a draw. If they are on a set, or two pair, it will be known right away if Royal or Ryan raises.

In this hand, I somehow ended up with a different option: Option #3, just calling Matt’s bet. For some reason, in my mind, I was carrying out Option #1. At the last second, I decided that I was going to be sneaky and let Matt build the pot for me. Talk about playing things too tricky. This was a BIG mistake in getting max value out of the hand, as I missed a chance on the flop to build a larger pot on later streets. The flop bet is SO crucial in building a pot, and I missed my chance in this hand.

That's the moral of this story - There's one thing to keep focused on when you have the nuts: Have a plan on how to get max value out of your hand. As long as you have a plan (clear or not) and follow it, that's the best you can do.

Limped Aces

I am UTG and pick up two red Aces. Full table so I will take a chance that it gets raised and I can decide what do later. Limps around and I am now looking for a favorable flop. Flop comes out with the top two cards a Six and a Nine. A few limpers make the pot about 10 or 12? I lead out about that much. Jeh raises me and makes it about 30 I think. Folds around to me and I am running through possible hands. I certainly know Jeh is capable of playing 69. I tell him after the hand that I didn't put him on that hand because he limped in. He tells me that he limps with that hand sometimes too. Noted. Anyway, the thoughts going through my head were from the charity tourney night where he re-raised Ryan's two pair re-raise with just top pair. I put him on a 9. Maybe K9 like at the tourney. I am quite sure that he does not have me on an overpair so I raise to 80. Smooth call. Hmmmm. Good and bad. I figure that if he had two pair then he'd push in for the remaining 67 chips in his stack. I am now looking for a blank on the turn and I'll ship it. Board pairs Sixes on the turn. Well, my read was a 9 and another Six is about a good a card as i could hope for so I put Jeh all in. He calls and says he has a Nine, I show my donk-played Aces and they hold up.

I read an article in CardPlayer from Annie Duke regarding how to play big pairs UTG. She runs some numbers and makes a convincing argument for raising instead of limping and re-popping later. The problem for me is how to size a bet to get exactly one caller. Too low and one caller will start a domino effect of subsequent callers getting pot odds. Too high and you pick up three chips. Personally I am OK with taking a chance with a limp. If the action gets sideways then I have no problem letting it go. In the future though I am going to open more pots for a standard raise to help keep my hands disguised.

re: The Night of Sick Beats and Sicker Laydowns Hand #1

Why do I not f'in raise? First of all, I have already put you on a hand after your bet so I don't need to collect any more information. I gave you too much credit for your pair because I assumed I was notched and needed to catch up. I was also ready to raise your cbet if an Ace flopped and smooth calling will sell AK better. So the flop comes out 9 high. That's good and bad. We are both on overpairs to the board but I assume that I am still behind. Ryan bets, I flat call because raising is only going to balloon the pot and I'm assuming that I'm behind. Turn is a third club, low. Since I have Ryan on a pocket pair, I am positive he can't have a flush. He bets and I raise figuring that he can't call an *obvious* I-have-a-flush pot builder. At some point he checks his hole cards. Did not realize that he had a GSSFD. If a club comes on the river I am done with this hand but will pay a modest value bet just to confirm my read on his hole cards. If it is Jc then I'll pay a little extra. If the river is a blank then I think I can steal the hand from Ryan with a sizable bet on the end representing a flush and knowing he cannot have a higher flush. River is a glorious J and I know that I have the better hand here. The only pocket pair I'm losing to is pocket Sevens and that was absolutely too low a pocket for me to put Ryan on. It is checked to me for some reason? Ryan has been looking me up a lot lately so I try to figure out a good number. I take the $9.99 pricing philosophy and discount a little off of four stacks into a fairly decent sized pot by then. A little surprised Ryan calls (good thing I didn't need to sell a flush!) but I show down a hand that was ahead all the way anyway. Ryan feels better about that.

Two (probably dumb) bluffs

I wasn't getting too many real hands last night so I had to make do with taking down pots where I could. Overall it was a pretty tame night (for me at least). I wasn't involved in the big conflicts because I didn't have hands, but I still ended up $20 ahead so I'm alright with that.

Here's a couple bluffs I ran last night that, in retrospect, don't seem too hot. But hey, they worked!

Spain v Spainr
I'm in middle position and look down at J8 offsuit (nothing beats the spainr!) and limp behind one of the new players. Ryan calls behind me, and about two other people come along for the ride.

The flop is 8♦6♥6♦, giving me a weak top pair. Weak player to my right checks, I put out a little bet of 4 into the 10-ish pot. Ryan raises to 12, it's folded around to me and I quickly call.

The turn brings a 4♦, completing a flush and a straight draw. I think for a second, check, Ryan puts out his standard 22 bet and I, again, quickly call.

The river is a 2♣. I lead out into Ryan for 35 and he folds. I guess I was representing the flush here but he would have looked me up with any sort of decent hand so I'm not in love with the play. I think I could push a lot of weak overpairs and 8x sort of hands out, but he's going to call me down here with most 6s and obviously any flush or straight. Plus, my hand actually has show down value. I felt check-call was too weak here so I tried to put out a number that would slow him down. So maybe this was more of a blocking bet that turned into a bluff?

Semi Bluff v. Royal
Earlier in the night, I again have a weak ass hand (K♣T♣) in middle position and want to see a flop. Newb player to my right limps, I limp behind, we get one or two more limpers until Royal raises it to 8 from the small blind. One caller ahead, I call as well, and I think one more caller behind me. So we've got a big pot going into the flop...

The flop is T♠Q♣8♥, giving me second pair and a backdoor flush draw. Royal leads out for 15 into the 30-ish pot, I call, all others fold. The turn brings a blank but it gives me a second nut flush draw. Royal again leads out, this time for 22, and I raise it up to 60. Royal thinks for a while and ends up folding.

I'm pretty sure I was semi-bluffing with the best hand here, unless he had something like JJ and was scared of the overcard. But at the same time I didn't want to just call down and end up putting more money in on the river, so I felt like I had to raise to get more information on where I was at.

2 other nice ones for me

Karl and I arrived a few hands into the night, sit down and start playing. 2nd hand of the night for me and I look down at QQ. I bet 10 UTG, folds to Karl, who makes it 40 to go. Folds back around to me and I smooth call him, thinking he's merely trying to take down a small pot early with a weak pocket pair.

Flop comes Qxx and I'm first to act but before I even get to THINK about what I want to do, Karl jumps ahead of me in line and ships it.

I say, slowly, “I… check,” giving Karl another opportunity to say “I’m all in”

I begrudgingly call and take all his money, 2 hands into him sitting down at the bigger-stakes WNP table for the first time ever.

Hand #2 (only maybe 4 hands after the set of queens above).

I've got JJ and I can't remember where I am in the pecking order, nor do I remember who's in the hand or what was bet pre-flop. All I remember is, the flop comes J99. Matt throws 40 out there, and I call. Turn brings the case J and Matt throws another 40 out there. I call again. River brings a blank (K). Matt goes 40 one more time, and I throw another 80 on top of it. He reluctantly calls and I take down another major pot with little to no effort.

Martin mentions something about me taking down more than one pot with quad jacks, but his memory is better than mine because for the life of me I can't remember hitting quad jacks before.

It wasn't just me...

Seriously, there was a ton of big hands last night, and reverse domination was in full effect. Lots of chips flying around in big stacks...

The Night of Sick Beats and Sicker Laydowns

I had the best card rush I've had at WNP in a while and only finished up $11.25, but when I look back at the laydowns I made, I really have to be glad I wasn't down $100.

Hand #1

First hand of the night. Five handed, Ivan is on the button, and Tiffany, Joe, Ryan, and Martin around from there.

I raise to 7 with TT

Martin calls

Tiffany calls

F: 9 6 5

Tiffany checks

I bet 20

Martin calls

T: 8

If I could have picked one card in the deck I didn't want to see, it was probably 8. Flushes and straights abound, now.

I bet 30

Martin raises to 60

I call, hoping for the 7 to fuck his shit up

R: J

I check

Martin bets 77

I call, stupidly, knowing in my heart I’m beat

Martin shows JJ.

Calling Martin's minraise on the turn was questionable. Calling Martin's river bet was just dumb, not even worthy of an orange belt. I didn't even have him on a hand, I just called because I was in denial that he "caught up" and desperately wanted to put him on a "scary board" bluff.

How about that smooth call preflop and on the flop from Martin, eh? Martin! Will you f'in raise?! You cite fear of overpairs for your conservative play, but a raise will sure help clarify whether those fears are founded! What if I’m on AK and you let the overcards get there!

Hand #2

9-handed...Ivan, Jeh (D), Karl, Tiffany, Joe, Ryan, Matt, Martin, Royal

Joe limps

I call with Q3 (Shut up. I do that sometimes. It was soooted.)

There is a cascade of limps, and most of the table is in to the unraised flop

F: K Q Q

Royal's friend bets 2

Tiffany calls

Joe raises to 10

I raise to 30

Fold to Joe

Joe raises to 75

I fold, showing a Q

Joe shows J

I say that I would bet a ton of money that Joe's other card is a Q. Frankly, if it's not the case Q or T, then it's a pretty bad play by Joe (he said later is was the case Q). I'm flat-out telling him I have a Q with my raise, and he can't assume it's a Q I can fold like it was. If he has JT there, he would either call or raise bigger. We can each rule out AQ and KQ from the other, as neither of us would limp against that table in that spot with those hands.

Hand #3

Still 9-Handed..Ivan, Jeh, Karl, Tiffany, Joe, Ryan, Matt, Martin(D), Royal

Two limpers

I raise to 9 with JJ

Matt re-raises to 19

Folds to me

I reraise to 50 to figure out where my jacks are at

(You hear that Martin? To figure out where they are at! Try it sometime!)

Matt calls

Interesting, I expected a fold or another raise, so right now I'm thinking AK or a non AA/KK big pair that he wants to see a flop with, but AK is the big blinking neon for me.

F: T 8 8

I bet 70

Matt says, "Well, I think it's all getting in anyway," and pushes for 180+ more

Pot is offering me 2:1 at this point, and I have him on AK, TT, or maybe QQ, but it really felt like AK. AK is a coin flip, which I'm definitely getting odds for, but everything else I'm inlcuding beats the snot out of me, so I fold face up. He shows QQ and compliments the laydown.

Hand #4

8 or 9 players, can't remember if Karl is in at this point.

Ivan, Jeh, Karl, Tiffany, Joe (D), Ryan, Matt, Martin, Royal

Royal raises to 8 (sizeable early-position raise from Royal, I have to give him credit for a good hand)

Ivan calls

Folds to me, I wake up with AA in SB

I raise to 30

Folds to Royal

Royal calls

Ivan folds

F: A K X


I bet 40

Royal instantly raises to 100

I have 340 total. Push, or call then check the turn? I know he's not semi-bluffing the nut flush draw since I have the As, but he is clearly strong, but I also think if he has KK he re-raises me preflop. I have to hope he's strong enough to call an all-in at this point, because if he's not, he probably won't bet for me on the turn unless he gets a spade to draw out on me. I push, and he folds after some thought. Later he says JJ, and indeed, short of him hitting a J on the turn, I wasn't getting any more money.

Hand #5

Late, we are within a half-hour of finishing. Six-handed.

There are some limpers, and I raise to 8 with AK in one of the blinds. I think two limpers call, including Royal.

F: KJ2 (rainbow? Can't remember. Maybe suited because of the size of my next bet)

I bet 20

Royal quickly raises to 40

Other caller folds

I raise to 120

Royal pushes all in, again, quickly. I have him covered, but it's a big raise.

I fold, Royal shows 22

There isn’t a lot beating me right there that Royal limp/calls with preflop, pretty much only KJ and 22, but I also don’t think Royal is making that move on me without being able to beat me, so I let it go. The 100 I won off Royal with a set of aces goes right back to him.

Other hand of interest:

Tiffany moves all in preflop for 62 in middle position with a couple of limpers. I have QQ in SB, and iso-raise another 100. Everyone else folds, she shows 99 and spikes a 9 on the flop...

Ivan raises, at least one or two people between him and me call (probably Joe, he'll call anything), and I call with 22.

Flop comes 235 rainbow, which is nice, but I wish it were less scary, like 269, because Ivan is pretty tight and is probably on two big cards or an overpair.

I can't remember the exact action, but I value him all the way, and he shows KK and I take a monster.