Friday, July 13, 2007

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?



Sushi Cowboy said...

That's a fold to me. Maybe someone is getting frisky with a new table but the range of hands that I put someone on to re-raise, I am a coin flip at best. If I had been at the table with the player longer then I'd have a better idea of how to play it. I'll look for a better spot than to commit a quarter of my buy in where I am probably between 20% to 50% max to win. But then again, I'm weak/tight.

jsola said...

Who raised, the second limper or the first?

This is such a shitty spot, but I think you have to fold (unless it's really obvious that this guy sucks, but you have no reads other than how he acted when he put his limp in).

Early on I'm going to play this very conservatively, calling or folding depending on how deep we are. Since you're gonna be out of position and you're not getting set odds, I'd just fold it and make a mental note.

I mean, either he's a total d0nk and he's limping behind a limper with AA/KK/AK, or he's a total d0nk and he's re-raising with no reads.

This is one of those hands where you'll look back at it in three orbits and know exactly how to play it, but against an unknown d0nk he's gonna turn up AA or AK too often for me to feel good about pushing here.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Ahhh. I missed the detail in the original post. This guy limped after another limper? Knowing exactly which position he is in would help. It could be the old limp/pop maneuver.

Or it could just be a guy finding an opportunity to put a move on someone. I ran into a similar situation in a tourney at Caesars. Second hand of the tournament. Darn near a family pot with as many limpers as there were. 25/50 blinds and 2500 starting stacks. I am in the BB and pick up Jacks so I make it 500 to go, happy to just take it down right there. Seat 2 calls. Hmmm. Then Seat 8 pushes all in. What? Could Seat 8 truly have a premium hand? He must have been either the cutoff or button so that is taking a huge risk that one of the last couple players will raise in order for him to push. The player looked the prototypical loose aggressive punk kid with baseball cap and street look clothes. I stew over the decision for a while before saying "could be a quick tournament" (though I had already lapped Oliver Hudson's quick exit) and called. Seat 2 begrudgingly folds and Seat 8 turns over JcQ?. My hand holds and I more than double up.

So I guess you'll have to depend on your reads too. If you think that the re-pop is a move because they are putting you on making a move then JJ have a random hand dusted. Still it is likely that they have a reasonable starting hand and you could still be facing two overs with any combination of A, K, or Q.

Ryan said...

Wow, very interesting. Ship or fold for sure. The safe thing to do is fold and learn the table a bit before you get into it, but let's consider the push for a minute. First of all, the guy who came over the top is obviously a bad player; you know that much no matter what.

He did one of a few things here, all of which are terrible poker, and only one of which is actually beating you:

1) He has played QQ, KK, or AA in the first hand of a new low-limit table by limping second in, with at least three more people left to act.

2) He has pushed on you with two overs and is trying to semi-bluff you off your hand by betting big with a hand that's slightly worse than a coin flip if you see all five cards.

3) He has reraised with JJ or worse in this spot, and you are tied or just crushing him.

Option 1 is just a horrible way to play one of the big three. If you push, he calls, and it turns out to be this, take your 20% shot. If he beats you, at least you can rebuy and go right to work on a big-stacked d0nk who butchers his premium hands, and is now probably looking to get into pots with you.

Option 2 is also terrible poker...would you ever play two big cards in his position in this scenario this way? Of course not! You're a good player! If it's a coin flip, the dead money and excellent image management make it well worth your while to call.

Option 3 is ludicrously bad; he's raised an unkown player in the small blind on the first hand with marginal, crushed holdings. You are probably going to induce a fold if you push in is the case, and if he calls, great.

In all three cases, you are either getting the other guy to fold his mistake raise, or you are showing the table that you raised with a premium hand and then had a willingness to take a stand with it. If that happens, the better players at the table might even recognize the levels behind your play because they'll see no matter what that your opponent played his hand badly. No matter what, the table will immediately see you as someone aggressive that they can't push around, even if they don't see what hand you did it with.

I'm not sure I would pull the trigger on the push in the heat of the moment, but the more I work it through from the sidelines, the more I feel like you should go with the jacks here.

This actually makes me think about stake levels and how they affect your game (which is a good topic for its own post). One reason I might have trouble pulling the trigger realistically is that the stake level is slightly above my current bankroll-management comfort zone. It's the smallest game in town, but it's hard to put $200 at risk, even if it's the right play, when losing would be a significant hit to my bankroll for two minutes of poker.

It's safer to protect my stack and give up the 15, but scared poker is bad poker--that's why it's ideal to play for the biggest buyin you are comfortable losing if the play feels right. I'll consider that topic further in another post...

Anyway, I think the right play is to push...if the d0nk has you dominated and it holds up or is gambling and gets lucky, rebuy and take it back from the idiot.

Ryan said...

His position is fairly relevant, too. The later his position (is he 2nd to act, or in the cutoff seat?), the worse his play would be with QQ or better.

Sushi Cowboy said...

So in other, not an easy hand to play. Actually, very few of them are.

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

Woo ho! Internet access from our little oceanside condo...

There were a couple of times I suggested that the guy "pushed on you" or whatever. I just mean "came over the top."

So, is there no way to edit a comment? I'm classically a "post now, edit five minutes from now" kinda guy. I guess I'll actually have to edit my comments more carefully than my posts...