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.


Ryan said...

First: Martin was destined to get felted. Tom was not laying down his kings at any point in that hand.

Extra details:

Martin is in the SB, I'm the BB, MB led out for 6 UTG, Jason calls 6 in second position, folds to Tom who raises to 20, folds to Martin who calls.

FWIW, I had pocket fives, with MB and Jason both left to act. I don't remember Tom as a particualrly deceptive player from our other session, so with a preflop reraise I immediately had him on a big pair (of course, later on her reraised to 20 with KJs and called a reraise to 50 from Joe, but that was when he was emboldened by his big stack, due in part to this hand).

I wasn't sure what Martin was up to with his call. He may be weak-tight, but by being a total calling station, I sure never know where he's at. I called the 20 becuase of stack sizes, and my feeling that Jason for sure would come along, and maybe MB. My real fear was that MB, being a tighter than average player, had AA, KK. or QQ with her UTG raise, and would put in another raise that I couldn't call.

Instead, she folded, and Jason made the expected call.

I disagree that Tom wouldn't have bet out with a set, there, he didn't strike me as a slowplayer. If anything took him off a set, there, it was the size of his bet. he bet 60 into 86, and I think with a set he bets something more like 40.

That being said, I find the same problem with your preflop play as with MBs. Why are you getting tricky, here? Because you want to give a reason for Jason to call? MB seems to shy away from big preflop calls even though she has the correct implied odds (we talked about this after the hand), so it was reasonable to expect her to fold. Also reasonable to expect me to fold. Jason, though, you know is going to call 14 more with 46 in the pot.

You may have been desitned to lose all your chips in the hand, but you have to put in the reraise with aces, there. Tom clearly likes his hand, and it's safer to price Jason out and get Tom heads up.

Turns out MB had 66, and if she had applied correct implied-odds thinking to the situation, knowing that Jason will call, her calling is almost a no-brainer with 66. She was effectively getting getting 6:1 on the call (14 to win 86, assuming a Jason call), and was 6.5:1 to hit a set on the flop. The implied odds make that an easy call.

Anyway, sure, you don't know that a bunch of your opponents have pocket pairs to set mine with, but that doesn't matter! Tom likes his hand a lot, having reraised preflop early in a session, you have AA in the SB, and there are three players left to act, including a flop addict, and a tight player who raised UTG!

PUMP IT UP! Blow flop whores like Jason and me out of the water, see how MB really feels about her hand that was strong enough to raise from UTG with, and put Tom to a test with this hand he rearised with early in the session!

God, is this whole blog going to be about me telling people they should fucking reraise solidly preflop with AA, out of position against multiple opponents? Boooooooring....

Marshall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshall said...

First things first: this hand was played pretty poorly from the get go. Playing that passively is an invitation to disaster and is also not profiable. Once you have your opponent on KK you should be jamming on every street to insure you get all the money in by the end (especially when deep stacked where it isn't always a foregone conclusion). But none of this is news to anyone that plays on a regular basis.

My point instead is that we each have our own style. Ryan and I tend to be more aggressive than anything, Joe and Jason both have a different mix of well timed agression with crafty bets/calls. Royal plays a more straight forward, solid approach, and Nick is solid, but very versatile when he wants to be. And that brings us to zee Martinov...

Martin plays weak tight. He just does. It's his style. When it comes to asking for advice about hands, we always tell him what we would do (and for good reason),but its not helping him. He doesn't take the advice because its not him. There are many different ways to play this game. Many of the top tournament pros flat call constantly with monster starting hands just to keep pots small. No book I have ever read has recommended this. Martin has his own style and he is going against the grain a bit. I think the key for his game is to be able to take advantage of the good points and accept and minimize the negatives also.

This might be best for another post of its own, but I think its good to get the ball rolling now. One positive he gains by being conservative is that he is more immune to the inherent variance in poker. Also, like Ryan said (and I can back this up), a lot of times you are lost on what Martin has because he will flat call with a lot of hands.

I think at this point, that you should just accept that its your style to play how you do, and try to maximize on it.


Ryan said...

Indeed, there are many +EV styles of poker, and many different ways to play a given hand based on those different playing styles. I can accept that Martin's comfort zone is passive and cautious, and I can offer my thoughts with an understanding of his style. However, not reraising with aces in this scenario is a mistake in any style.

To me, poker is the eternal pursuit of maximum EV, and this forum is a tool in that pursuit. Even if for Martin, poker is the pursuit of maximum EV within his style, then he still needs to work on plugging holes within that style--like failing to reraise, here.

If "sticking to his style" means not even seeking to maximize his EV within it, then there's not much point in even posting hands and seeking feedback. He should further accept that poker against good players is an entertainment choice he pays for in the long run. (Any style with an even rudimentary adherence to the fundamentals of hold'em is going to be +EV against bad players.)

That in itself is fine...many self-aware, "within limits" gamblers play casino games where they know they can't make money in the long run; they simply enjoy the game and the experience. I like playing Pai Gow occasionally even though I know that every time I bet, it is -EV. So sure, play weak/tight poker if that is what is fun, comfortable, and provides a cost-effective entertainment experience.

I won't accept that it represents a viable style for someone looking to come out ahead in the long run against good players, though.

If failure to pursue maximum EV is a comfort-level thing, then I would suggest playing online at $.01/$.02 or $.02/$.04 with the goal of playing outside one's comfort zone at it, exploring different strategies and play styles.

jtrey333 said...

I noticed Marsh put everyone on a certain style except for me. Is my style the only one that's d0nkey?

Sushi Cowboy said...

OK, thanks for the details Ryan. I forgot that MB opened for six. I seem to recall that now. I think I remember a begrudging fold too after you called. I don't recall Jason calling the six but that certainly doesn't surprise me. I definitely don't recall Jason calling the 20 but I've been wrong before. Wouldn't be entirely surprising if he did though.

At that point of the night 20 was the largest pre-flop wager and to me was clearly sending the message of big pair. That was my definite read. As I mentioned, I felt 20 was enough to isolate. That was incorrect but I did not know that at the time that I set up my play.

The range that I had Tom on was QQ-AA and maybe JJ. If he had JJ or QQ, I think a popping him may lose him. Yes, it is a risk but I want to get both stacks in. I did not know that he had KK for sure but it was definitely in range. He might also have had AK but I hadn't seen that from him yet and didn't know how he played a strong drawing hand.

If he does have say, JJ, QQ, or KK and the board comes out all low, I think he will not be able to get away from an overpair and cannot fold to any amount (which ends up being what happened). In fact, he was so attached to his KK that he pushed all in with KK to a player who *check-raised* on a QJx flop. What is is KK beating on a QJx flop that's been check raised after calling 20 pre-flop? KK is behind AA, QQ, JJ, and chopping with KK. About the only think KK is ahead of is an AK semi-bluff which you would figure would lead out in first position instead of check raising.

Yes, he may have lead out with a set but I feel there would have been some Hollywooding, a "speech", or at least an underbet as Ryan suggested. I definitely felt that he was defending his overpair with his bet on the flop.

Upon further analysis, I noted that I had only posted 20 pre-flop when I was 80/20. I actually got the vast majority of the money in post flop when he had only two pulls to a set left and when I was 90/10, an even bigger favorite.

I also let that hand affect my play as I started playing looser to chase my winnings. Not good. But the swing of two full buy-ins when I was so far ahead got in my head. That's a leak...a somewhat understandable semi-justifiable leak but a leak nonetheless. I wasn't playing too crazy or too loose but I definitely shifted gears after that hand.

Ryan said...

I'm certain Jason was in, because I remember Tom betting three stacks into four stacks and change with his flop bet of 60.

My main problem with the move is the prediction that 20 would get Jason out when he already has 6 in and a dear love of flops. He's going to be calling with a pretty wide range, there.

Maybe you lose Tom and his JJ with a reraise, but I want to see Tom lay down JJ, QQ, or AK preflop before invite Jason and his wide range of hands into the mix with a smooth call.

What flops can you get away from, given the dead read of "premium hand" from Tom? If Tom had bet that flop differently, could he have induced a fold, successfully representing JJ or QQ? Do you think you can consistently get away from AA when you are beat on a flop, and call when you are still ahead?

If you can't, then the 80/20 vs. 90/10 difference doesn't mean much. Personally, I can't easily get away from AA on flops like that, and when I do, I'm not sure I'm correct.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Well, like I said, I don't recall Jason even being in the hand so pricing him in to a call was not what was front of mind for me. If my read was that Tom had made a set then yeah, it would have been difficult to lay down. I'm sure I would have check/called at least the flop to see if I could improve. I'm certainly not raising or pushing on the flop. But my read was that I was ahead and I felt comfortable getting my chips in after the flop.

Marshall said...

I wanted to make one other comment regarding this hand. You put in a lot of effort trying to figure out what he had. You however were holding the nuts preflop. I think we covered pretty well that a re raise preflop was in order, but you openly said you were trying to trap. You can't dothing exactly the same every time so you decided to mix it up a bit. Nothing wrong with that. But once you had the read on him that he had KK or another super strong holding, you need to do anything you can to jam the pot. Its a pretty standard on limit to just lead out ehen you have the goods out if position instead if check raising, and this applies here too. If check, he bets 60 then you raise, you give him the chance to get away from his hand. If you lead out and he raises you, you can put in a raise raise that commits him and hope he comes along.

I think that one thing you have to remember is that with AA,you want to get as many chips as you can. You don't need to be a hero and make a big laydown all the time,