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.


Marshall said...

Nice post.

This is something I could probably take one second longer to consider when I am playing. I have been realizing (a lot from reading your posts Ryan), that I don't think as much as I thought I did while at the table.

I am basically running on feel the whole time. I rarely put someone on a specific hand consciously or calculate pot odds during a hand. And in regards to this post, I also don't consciously consider who I am making moves/betting against.

I don't know how necessary it is to actively think about these factors, but I figure it couldn't hurt.

jsola said...

I like the preflop raise, but it's going to get you in trouble when you run up against A9+. As long as you're confident you can get away when you're beat (which I'm pretty sure you can) it's a minor point, though.

The flop completely changes everything though, and this is where you want to start milking AJ/AQ/AK for mad moneys. Nick check-calls your bet on a pretty dry board, which means he connected in some way. I'm putting him on something like A4s-AJ. Sure, he *could* have flopped a set with 44 but there's so much more he could have here that I'm willing to dump a bunch of money into this pot unless it becomes painfully obvious that you're fucked.

You did well at repping a weak hand on the flop, that was such a noncommital bet you made there I put you on something like 99 or TT. That said, you should consider how weak your hand looks and assume that people will play back at you with much less.

I'd prefer a turn bet here, but I also really like checking behind once in a while. You're pretty notorious for protecting your good hands from draws, and there are a couple hearts out there so I was expecting you to bet this with any sort of good Ace. When you checked I put you pretty squarely on a middle pocket pair and figured Nick was ahead with his ace.

The river's tricky since you've underrepped your hand so much it's hard to tell whether he's betting for value or bluffing. That said, he's going to value you with a pretty wide range (if he has a lone ace he's gotta think it's good) and sets and flushes aren't a big part of it. I'm not sure about the minraise here, but it did get you a little more money. Any idea what the stack sizes were at this point?

Ryan said...

"I'd prefer a turn bet here, but I also really like checking behind once in a while."

Exactly. It took the perfect storm for this to be the "once in a while" where I check behind. The vast majority of the time, I'm betting there.

You read books that say things like, "call 20% of the time, fold 80%" or whatever, but I don't think it's ever a "roll 1d10 and call on 1 or 2, fold on 3-0" situation. It's more like, "80% of the time it will be correct to fold here, but 20% of the time, the conditions will be right for a call."

You have to vary your play against regular opponents or you become easily solved...the trick is finding the spots that are the most conducive for it.

That being said, some intentional play variance can appropriately be a dice roll.

Stack sizes: Nick rebought for $10 after the hand, so he had more than 60, less than 80 after calling the minraise.

nick said...

Eh, I don't like the turn check. It really all comes down to my call on the flop. The flop is so utterly dry that there really isn't any hand that I could be peeling with their, hoping to improve on the turn. I might call in that spot with a marginal hand that's not a draw, but it's mostly because I want to see what the players behind me will do (and in this hand there's only joe behind me). When everyone else folds, I'm very rarely going to be folding to your turn bet on the next street (unless it's a scare card, and there aren't any in this situation) - why would a follow-up bet on the turn change my mind if I thought I was still good on the flop? Also, a turn check here looks like a defense check with a hand that you'd like to showdown without spending too much. If I was playing well and I had something like 99 here, your turn check would actually convince me that I was behind.

So anyways, my flop call means that I've got a hand I like. As Joe said, you don't have to worry that much about a set because only 44 really makes any sense, so now we're down to hands like AQ-AT, or 84s for a lower two pair. You are basically comitted to getting it all in on this one, so bet the turn and hope I check-raise you. Checking behind on the turn has the effect of keeping the pot small and discouraging big bets on the river. If I've got AK and think I've got the nuts, your turn check is going to encourage me to make a small value bet on the river, and my small bet is in turn going to encourage to keep your raise small (because you won't know if I'm really weak or value-betting you). Instead, if you bet something like 25 on the turn, I'd probably check-raise you to 60ish, and by the time that I've figured out just how cooked I am, most of the money's gone in anyway.

Ryan said...

Good thoughts, Nick, perhaps I butchered that hand to the tune of 60-80 chips instead of making a "nice move."

It does come down to how I interpret your check-call on the flop. That could be big strength, or it could be "marginal hand that thinks Ryan is c-betting." Another, "what is his range, here," question.

What percent of the time are you protecting against c-bets with something marginal, what percent of the time do you have a second-best hand that you will check-raise the turn with, and what percent of the time do you have the better hand that you will check-raise with?

I was pleased because I successfully misrepresented my hand, but I guess you are saying I lost money in doing so.

I don't think I can assume, though, that just because you called my flop bet that you will surely call (or raise) a turn bet after a fairly harmless card comes off.

Well, if I did misplay this hand by being too tricky for my own good (the curse of the slowplayer), it is important to vary your play, especially against regular opponents, even if it is sometimes at the cost of EV for that hand.

But yeah, you've given me more to think about on this one..

jsola said...

(WARNING, long rambly response with a lot of math follows)

Alright, so you two are both fairly deep at this point. Let's see if we can't work out the right thing to do on the river.

Preflop his range is something like 22+, KJs+. There's very little trash in it, but some other mediocre hands like suited connectors could show up every once in a while.

It's hard to put him on a hand here since he's given away very little info. I think it's safe to say he has at least a pair, either a pocket pair (most of them un-setted) or an ace (most of them bare and mediocre). You're beating most of his range here, and out of the hands you beat, he's going to bet out Ax and 99+.

You're losing to 33,44,66,88,AA, and various flushes. He's not very likely to have backdoored a flush here, and 88 isn't all that likely with you holding one of them. He's usually folding 33/66 on the flop and AA he'd reraise pre so that's unlikely as well.

I'd say you're ahead on the river like 85% of the time, which includes a 5% chance of a complete bluff that will call no river bet. And yes I just made those numbers up, but he's betting out a much larger number of hands that you still beat. He'll also bluff every once in a while since you've acted so weak up to this point.

The pot has (5 * 3 + 8 * 2) = 31 chips in. Let's split the difference and say you both started with 100 and are at about 85 now. He leads out for 15, you'll obviously call, and probably raise, so we have a pot of about 60 and both of you have 70 behind.

To make the math easier, let's say you will raise, but always fold to a reraise. And these numbers are all going to be conjecture, but I'll try to keep it as intellectually honest as I can.

If you minraise, I think he'll call 80% of the time (when he's behind), fold 5% of the time (total bluff), and raise 15% of the time (when he has you beat).
EV = (0.8 * 15) + (0.05 * 0) - (0.15 * 15) = 12 + 0 - 2.25 = +9.75

Let's say you push all in. I think he'll fold about 75% of the time (he folds his bluffs and almost every hand that you beat), call while behind 10% of the time, and call while ahead 15% of the time.
EV = (0.75 * 0) + (.1 * 70) - (.15 * 70) = 0 + 7 - 10.5 = -3.5

What about raising 35, to 50 total here? I think he'll call with a worse hand 50% of the time, the rest of the time he'll fold it. He'll still call and be ahead around 15% of the time, and he'll still fold all of his bluffs.
EV = (0.5 * 0.8 * 35) + (0.5 * 0.8 * 0) + (0.05 * 0) - (0.15 * 35) = 14 + 0 + 0 - 5.25 = 8.75

The type of hand he can have that you've got beat is pretty weak. AK is about your best chance to get money out of him here, and that's a tiny portion of the range that's betting into you on the river. He won't call much with a weak ace or an underpair to the ace. I actually feel like a minraise (or something close to it) is your best bet on the river here. He'll call down with a HUGE number of hands, just to keep you honest, and it doesn't leave you incredibly invested if you end up beat.

... wow, that was a lot of words to say "nice minraise"...

Sushi Cowboy said...

Well sorry I didn't oblige by calling on that hand. I do recall that something smelled fishy on that hand. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time. Ryan did sell the cbet/slowdown to me. And I couldn't understand the speed up on the river. First thought was 33 which fit the cbet then taking a free card on the turn. While I think that the play disguised the hand, I'd agree that some money was probably left on the table because of it. A3 suited would have been another possible holding to explain the play on that hand.

nick said...

I've been thinking about this hand a bit more and I think it comes down to a relatively simple idea. You've got a very big hand here, and there's some chance that I've got a very good second-best hand. If you play this one fast, you will make a lot of money the times that I've got a good hand, and you'll lose a little bit those times that I'm weak and you could have squeezed a little bit out of me. The fact that you consider me a good player (the jury's still out in my mind :p) makes this even more true, because I'm just not that likely to pay you off very much with a crappy hand - no matter how much you slowplay - but you know that I'm willing to go the felt if I really think I'm good.

Joe's analysis of why minraising is correct on the river just drives home this point - the fact that you have to minraise shows why it's a mistake to wait until 5th street to put your money in.