Thursday, August 30, 2007

Folding Boats

Martin had a hand against me once where he had a smaller boat and called my push, realizing after that on the “what am I beating” scale, he could have let it go as he had the nut low boat and couldn’t put me on raising with anything losing to a boat. Some said this was silly, that of course you are going to call with a boat, but I found myself in his shoes last night.

Ryan: SB

Matt: BB




Marshall: D

Loblaw limps, Joe limps, TJ limps, Marshall folds. I look down at 44 and complete. Matt checks.

The flop is 4c 5x 8c, 10 in the pot.

I bet 5, Matt folds, then Loblaw, Joe, and TJ all call. 30 in the pot.

The turn is a non-club ace.

I bet 20, Loblaw calls, Joe and TJ fold. 70 in the pot.

The river is a non-club ace. Sweet! The board paired, just like I asked for!

I bet 40, Loblaw raises to 100, and I have about 250 behind. 210 in the pot, offering me 3.5:1.

I had been hoping for the call, and my gut reaction was that a raise was even better, but that quickly turned into worry. Time to break it down. What is his range, and what percentage of it am I beating?

Stuff I’m Not Beating

No way…

AA: Actually possible he’d pull the UTG limp with aces, but not possible that he’d just call with them on the flop.

55/88: Again, he wouldn’t play them that passively, especially on the turn with two potential club draws behind.

A8: A chance, but I think I can take him off A8 since he didn’t raise on that flop. Nothing suggested that anyone had pocket nines or better (Martin wasn’t in the hand, after all), and I think he would raise with top/top in that spot to protect and define.


A5: Definitely in the range, with six possible combinations. Flop non-top pair with top kicker, face a small bet relative to stack sizes, just call it, then runner-runner into a monster.

A4: Same, although only two combinations, here.

Stuff I’m Beating

No way…

Air: I’m betting the whole way, and it’s an oh-so-callable min-and-a-half raise on the river. It’s not a bluff.

Less than trips: I have shown nothing but strength; he is not raising me on that river with a hand that can’t beat a random ace unless he has me on exactly a counterfeited two pair. While that might be in my range, it’s not something he would bank on to the point of a raise.

Straight: 23 or 67: I can’t imagine Loblaw limping UTG against an aggressive group with 23, and even if you suggest he might smooth call my 5 after flopping some extremely vulnerable nuts with 67, there’s no way he smooth calls again on the turn. He would raise out the two players left to act that could easily be on flush draws. Straights are out.

Ax-not-clubs-that-didn’t-boat: Nope. He would raise the big ones preflop, and the small ones would have folded on the flop. You could argue a small chance of Loblaw deciding to call 5 with no pair, no draw on the “strength” of his ace-high, but we’ll say it offsets the small chance he played A8 and didn’t raise the flop with it. I really don’t see either one, though.

AKc, AQc, AJc, ATc: Also would have raised preflop. ATc is borderline, but we’re six-handed, and he’s UTG. I think he raises with ATc if he’s gonna play it.


A9c, A7c, A6c, A3c, A2c

Ace-rag of clubs that didn’t boat is plausible, so I can tighten his range down to 13 suit-specific hands, eight of which are beating me, five of which are not. This raises the $64K question in this hand: does Loblaw raise from 40 to 100 on that river and that action with ace-rag of clubs that didn’t boat up?

This is a tough question to answer, and is the difference between a crying call and a fold, here. If the answer is no, his range is reduced to eight hands, 100% of which are beating me, and the correct thing to do is fold the boat.

Lots of players with the ace-rag of clubs on that turn would think, “Great! Now I have three outs to trip aces in addition to nine clubs!” With that mindset, when that third ace hits on the river, lots of players will go to the felt having “hit their trips” without really considering that they are beat by a straight, a boat, or a better ace.

Loblaw is reasonably cautious about such things, though, and my gut tells me that Loblaw would smooth call with trips there, for the standard, “Don’t open doors on the river if a reraise all in would be a tough decision” reason. I think Loblaw makes the “I think I’m good but I’d better just call” decision with trips, here.

If Loblaw wants to offer up his thoughts on his probable action with trip aces in that spot, great, but what about you junkies who have played against him for many hours, now? Can you put trip aces in his range with that raise?

My conclusion now is, no, I can’t. I can narrow his range to eight hands, all of which are beating me. If I’d managed to process it all in the heat of the moment last night, I could have made the sickest laydown of my life instead of a crying call (I don’t think I’ve ever folded a boat with only one pair on board).

Loblaw shows A4 of spades for aces full, and I show my underboat. The table compliments me on "just calling," and I immediately start processing whether or not a fold was 1) possible and 2) correct...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

High Stakes Poker Season 4 is ON!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatest hand of poker ever played.

Poker Review at Bay 101

Just came back from a business trip in San Francisco. While I was down there for 5 days, I found the time to go take a trip to WPT/PPT stop, Bay 101, in San Jose. (I also made it to In-N-Out Burger... delish!) I had read that there was $5-$200 Spread game with a $200 buy-in, which essentially makes it no limit. But just like Muckleshoot, they have to follow technicalities, and hence, $5-$200 spread.

When I went there, it was a Tuesday night, but it was still very, very busy. They had roughly 35 tables going, with various ranges of limit, some $5-200 spread games, and a $10-$500 spread game going. They also had Omaha. I put my name on the $5-$200 spread list (it was a whiteboard) and waited 45 minutes until my name was called.

Now, I've been to a few cardrooms in my time and played plenty of poker, but I really felt out of place and was trying to do my best to get acclimated. While I was waiting, I was trying to feel out the players, the blinds, and the accepted betting patterns. Here's what I noticed during my session:

1) The Staff and Players. Everyone was seemingly on crack, both the staff and the players. The staff was professional, but short on words and moved players along as fast as they could. When they called a name, they waited about 10 seconds, and if someone didn't raise their hand or yell out in the very wide open room, they went onto the next name. I was extremely alert to the names they were calling out. As for the players, they were all the typical jaded gamblers type. Not many tourists or n00bies here. Everyone there had been in a cardroom... many a time. It was about 75% jaded, middle-aged, Asian gamblers there. Nuts.

2) The Blinds and Rake. The blinds were ridiculous. Big blind was $5, Small blind was $3... and the Button was $2!! The pot with just the blinds equalled $10. Blinds can all chop if everyone folds to the small blind... The Button Blind also got their money back, except for $1, which the house collected just for 30 sec of everyone folding. Ugh. This leads to the other crazy thing about the casino - they collected $5 for EVERY hand where there was any sort of voluntary action. So say that I have AA under the gun, and I make it $15 to go. Well, if everyone folds, the house takes their $5 rake, and I get $5 from the blinds. Big whoop. The players are very aware of this, so this does two things:
a) If a player is raising, they're doing all they can to raise with a reasonable amount so someone will call;
b) A call is more likely than a raise as NO one wanted the house to just take $5 from a no-flop hand.

As for the players, most were pretty very experienced and knew what they were doing. Still, there were more crazy Asian gamblers than usual... many of them were HUGE risk takers and weren't afraid to splash chips around with just a draw. LOTS of post flop play.

I'd recommend the place if you were looking for a game in the Bay Area. It's truly a unique poker experience, and the people there know their stuff. Just be prepared for the insane rakes and the crazy post flop action.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Big hand in Canada, need some feedback.

Went up to Canada for the weekend, and got to play twice. First night played for about 1.5hrs and lost ~140. Played ok, but payed off some chick when I was pretty sure I was beat with QJ on a J high board. Got tired and decided to bail before I lost it all.

FF to next day: Got in a nice long session. Sat down at the 1-2 table with 200 buy-in, brand new table. Big action table and I doubled up early with AK on a KJX flop when a guy open-shoipped with K3 after cold calling my 30 re-raise.

About 20 min later the same guy calls 30 again pre-flop when I have JJ. Flop is 742 two diamonds, and he open ships for ~200. I call and he shows AKo, and thankfully whiffs on 4th and 5th streets.

So now I have ~550 or so and our big hand comes up. I pick up AQ, and the guy on my right opens for 10 bucks. He was pretty tight player, and I had been chatting with him a little bit. He was a local, and he knew how to play for the most part. He also respected my game cause he was making comments like, "I'm not going to get into a hand with this guy!" and "You aren't going to be giving that stack away easy, I know that". Anyhow, I raise him to 30, and a mid-stack behind ships for ~70 total. He was a kinda tilty/gambler and I don't think anyone gave him much credit for a big hand. Well the guy on my right just calls the bet. I considered raising again to get him out, but decided with AQ I would rather see the flop.

Flop: K J 10 rainbow.


I am OOP. Normally I would just bet out here, but this guy knew I wasn't fooling around when I bet, and I wanted to get all the money in. I decided to check so that he would bet out and commit himself with 2 pair or something like that. He checked behind.

Turn: As

Not a bad card for me. I still have the nuts, but I might be chopping if he has QQ or any random Q. There are now 2 spades on board, (K and A) but I am not worried much about a flush draw. If he had AK or AJ he just two paired, and since I showed weakness on the flop he will probably raise me if I bet out. So I do, I bet 60. Smallish bet into a pot of about 210. I am really hoping to get raised here, he has ~250 behind and I have him covered. He just calls.

River: 5s

Well the last spade got there, but I don't have him on a spade draw (the A and K are both onboard and I am not sure what he is calling 70 preflop with that has 2 non A or K spades). Otherwise I have the nuts and at worst am chopping. I decide to lead for 100, about half his stack. He ships on me and I call. He shows me the 9s 10s for the winner.

I was pretty surprised, but when I looked at it from his side it made sense. He raised with a gambler hand, got raised by me, then got re-popped by a maniac. He called against the maniac because he knew he was coming in light. He probably thought I would fold too. The flop came pretty bad for him, but I checked, so he did too. Now the turn comes, and he has a pair and a flush draw, and I am not showing much strength. He calls my small bet and hits the river where now I start leading into him. He figures to be good and goes with it.

So anyway, someone yell at me or something.

Paying attention? I’m not.

Sorry all for the off-topic posts that keep popping up on here, stick around for an hour or so, then get removed by yours truly. Turns out I keep another blog, full of random crap, mainly for me to stay on top of all the online things I look at. I don’t mean to post those types of things on here, I just simply am not paying attention to which blog blogger is posting the blog entry to. Blog blog blog.

If you’re interested.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crazy Poker Hand

Watch this hand and discuss.

Two club flushes

WNP, Table 1, action quickly settles down to Dave and Steve. Flop is all clubs; Dave bets, Steve flat calls. Turn is a fourth club; Dave bets, Steve just calls. River is (surprise!) a club; Dave bets, Steve pushes, Dave calls. Dave has a King high flush. Steve shows the Ace high flush.

If it were me in Dave's shoes, I have to slow down on the turn. What is Steve flat calling with on the flop that I'm ahead of on the turn? If Steve had flopped a set or, less likely, two pair I think there might be a probe bet on the flop to see if the flush was already there and that Dave isn't just betting top pair or whatever. The flat call on the flop from *Steve* (as opposed to Jason) tells me that Steve's most likely holding is at least the Ace of clubs if not another club as well. So when another club comes I am going to check/call and try to see a showdown as cheaply as possible. Another option is that by leading out on the flop then check/calling the turn it sets up a possible steal on the river if the board pairs.

Now from Steve's shoes, it's hard to be aggressive with the nuts but if you flop the nut flush, what is the best action on the flop? There is a reasonably sized bet to you and you are last to act. First of all I think we can safely exclude folding as an option. So other likely candidates are flat call, min raise, three bet, shove. I think I like the min-raise here. It could look like a probe bet to see if top/top is any good. It also opens the door for someone to re-raise. If someone is betting their set, I think it is likely they will call a min raise and go house mining. The only problem I have with a flat call is there are some action killers in the deck. Eight other clubs and nine cards that pair the board could slow down betting. Would a min-raise scare off the second nut flush? Well if a min-raise will kill the action, what do you think a fourth club or a paired board would do? If someone is so tight that they aren't going to call or bump a min-raise with the second nuts then you aren't going to get much more out of them anyway. I think I like three bet the least of all options. I'd rather push (and hope for a hand exactly like Dave's) and make it look like I'm protecting against a flush draw than to three bet here. I think three betting would most accurately convey the hand that you have, sitting on the nuts and trying to pump up the pot and get someone committed as soon as possible. So in order, I like min-raise, shove, flat call, three bet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Paying off the (potential) underset

Last orbit of WNP (Tuesday edition). Dave raises to somewhere around 20(?), Ryan re-raises to 60. Dave makes a mini-speech about being tired enough to call. Definitely the feel of pair over pair pre-flop with Dave going set mining. I think Dave shoves with AK here and takes his chances seeing all five cards. I also think KK or AA is a Degree all-in moment. Flop comes out Jc 7c and off-suit rag. Dave shoves in the last of his stack which was a plaque and spare change. Do you HAVE to call with an overpair to the board here? Clearly there are no odds to catch a two outer if you are in fact behind a flopped set. I think Dave's range of hands that he could be shoving with would include set mine misses like TT. I can give Dave credit for shoving with a set as he has done before when was deeper stacked than he was in this case. I've also seen Dave shove with relatively nothing especially if is he first to stab. In this case, with a Jack high board, Dave should also realize that Ryan likely has an overpair and it will be very difficult for him to get away from that hand when it only costs him another hundred+ chips into an already 120 chip pot so he is almost certainly going to be looked up rendering a bluff to be somewhat pointless.

It's late in the session, there is a tendency for players to either double up or bust out. Dave has just pushed in for less than the pot. You have an overpair to the board and at least two clean outs. What is the analysis here?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Going south

There was a little incident last Friday at the T&I Card Room and I wanted to post here to discuss.

First of all, the concurrent cash game/tourney play is a little new to me so I'm still learning. We have had plenty of nights with a cash game after a tournament but having both running simultaneously with the option of going back and forth is a rarity. Last time was the "all-in blind Steve night" and once again there was controversy.

Mistake number one for me was cashing people out of the ring game to play in the sit and go. That was intended to free up chips for any other players but in retrospect I should have just plaqued players up and set their stacks aside. This ended up being a minor issue since Chris cashed out for exactly (to the chip) a full buy-in. Tiffany cashed out short but bought back in full. I cashed out up about a rack but bought back in for the same amount. No harm, no foul.

So I thought I smartened up for the second sit and go and just set chips aside instead of cashing out. But by the time the second sit and go was wrapping up there was controversy on the cash table. One of the players wanted to take chips off the table. From what I understand, he was up some, went to the sit and go, busted out quickly, returned to the cash table, won some more, then wanted to sock away some winnings. For everyone's edification the rule as stated in Robert's Rules is: "7. If you return to the same game within one hour of cashing out, your buy-in must be equal to the amount removed when leaving that game." The rule is in place to allow people to win back their chips but it sounded like this wasn't even an issue since he came back with his original stack. But once he hit a big pot and tried to pull chips of the table, things got sideways quickly as a heated discussion broke out.

I wish I had come over from the other table earlier to try to resolve the situation since, as the default floor manager, I want things to run smoothly for everyone. I would have liked to explained the reasoning behind the rule about going south and offered the player the opportunity to replace all or some of his chips. If he didn't care to do so, I think a fair compromise under that situation would be that the WNP crew, as gracious guests, would allow the player who wasn't aware of the rule to take off all but roughly a buy-in. Yes, that would be bending the rules somewhat but I think it would have been better overall. Not only would it have helped keep the peace but if a player is concerned about locking in profits for the session then I don't think you're going to get much action anyway. By allowing him to move back down to a buy-in, I think there would be more chance to get a bunch of chips than forcing him to have his whole "vault" at risk. And by putting it to the player to play all or nothing, the option of nothing can and did happen as he cashed out and left which provided zero chance of getting any money back.

I'm not saying we should allow going south. I'm just saying that in that particular circumstance, I think it would have been better that we let it happen. And I realize that if a player is not listening then no amount of reasoning is going to do anything. But I also think that more could have been done to prevent the outcome that happened.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Should you fold once you know you are beaten?

Sounds really simple. Of course you should fold once you know you are significantly behind in a hand and someone is betting a decent amount at you right? I think a lot of us at WNP find ourselves in a situation (usually on the turn) where they pretty much have to be beaten, but call anyway, then fold the river.

I offer an example: It is WNP, midway through the session. All the players left have about have about 1.5 buy-ins or about 360 in chips. You are in MP and pick up the 6c7c. There is a modest raise ahead of you to 6, and you call along with 3 other players. There is a new player at the table that is a combination of Steven and Martin named Marven. He is tight and plays straight forward poker.

The flop:
7s 7h Kd

Lovely, you have flopped trips on a safe board and you feel like you have the best hand for sure. Marven is ahead of you and leads at the pot for 15. You put him on a good K like KQ or something similar, and decide to raise to build the pot. You make it 45 to go. It folds around to Marven who smooth calls. There is now ~110 in the pot, and you both have 300 behind.


Now action is to Marven who bets 100, slightly less than pot sized, into you. This is where things get interesting.

You are at a decision point here, where you need to decide if you hand is best, and you need to decide now. When you look at the range of hands Marven could bet with here, it's very limited. Your original read was a strong K, but now it doesn't seem likely as Marven never goes broke with one pair on a paired board. You can't really put him on KK or AA or really any big pairs, and he wouldn't bet an underpair with an over card and a paired board out there. ALL signs are pointing firmly towards he has a 7. There are just no realistic hands that you are ahead of.

Yet you call.

Now the river comes the Jh, and he ships his last ~200 on the river. If you call, it's a crying call at best and you fully expect him to table a better 7 or a even a boat.

This brings me to my point: should we be folding this turn in this spot against Marven? I don't know how many times I have seen (and done myself) this situation. You have a really strong hand (this also happens with flushes and two pairs a lot), but you just can't help but call that turn bet of 100. Then the river bet comes and we can lay it down. I think a lot of us at WNP are good enough to lay down the hand on the river, because now we have figured out that we are beaten for sure and have to save that last bet.

But not that many (none) of us are laying this down on the turn.

So my question is: Should we be laying this down on the turn? All the signs point to the fact that we are beaten, and right there we should get out of the way and save the turn and river bets, right?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ah, the Slowplay

I don't slowplay much because it runs so contrary to my aggressive image that it is a big red flag for my regular opponents when I do it. Sometimes I find spots that feel right for a slowplay, though...but then, I'll often look back and see that I would have gotten more playing the hand straight up.

Case in point:

At SLP, I call a standard raise from Jay with 77, and the flop comes Q78, two hearts. Jay bets 7, and I smooth call. I'm hoping for a non-heart, figuring Jay will continue his aggression with any real hand if the turn isn't a scare card. The Ac comes off.

Jay bets 23, with about 45-50 behind.

I'm now thinking that ace is either going to get me all his chips or allow him to get away. I put him all in to find out which, and after much deliberation, he folds.

Later, he tells me he has kings. Now, if I raise his 7 to 20 on that flop, I think he's going to repop, probably for all his chips. Instead, I let a scare card come that gets him off the hook. It turns out in this case, there were basically 15 scare cards, with all the hearts, any A and any Q being potential action killers. Two cards stack me instead of him. However, I don't know that aces or queens are action killers. For all I know, they are gin cards for me, giving him a worse hand he can't possibly lay down for 40+ more chips.

I was at least correct that he would continue his aggression on the turn if he had a real hand and a heart didn't come (and maybe even if it did). If he doesn't have a real hand, none of this matters because he's going to be done with the hand as soon as his flop bet doesn't buy the pot.

I hate looking back and seeing that straightforward play would have netted me more than trickery, but I don't want to be all ROT-y and decide that I shouldn't have smooth called the flop because of the results. When you hit a flop like that, in position against an aggressive player, do you like the raise or the smooth call? If you like a mix, what kind of mix, and what factors send you in one direction or the other?

Calling off your stack with AKo pre-flop?

This hand is from last WNP, but I think it deserves a little attention.

You are Marsh, ultra-tight super nit supreme. You have the image of a rock, and you will only call value bets on the river with the stone cold nuts, "just in case"...

Ok fine, you are Marsh and you have raised 19 consecutive pots (All with AK or better naturally).

Jason makes a raise to 7 in EP. Action folds to you and you make it 20 to go with AKo. Martin is to your left and smooth calls (shocking).

Now action is back on Jason and he ships for 260. (!?!)

Whatcha gonna do?

This play absolutely baffled me. I had such a hard time narrowing Jason's range here. It seemed silly to make this play with any hand, so I broke it down one by one and tried to figure what he could have. I got to verbalize most of this to Joe as we walked (hand in hand) to Subway. Some of our thoughts:

AA: He could be just getting way frisky with AA, knowing it would be really hard to put him on it. He obviously loses some value here, but mixing it up is good.

AK: Hard to put him on this hand since I have it, but it really makes the most sense. This was my final answer after all the thinking. (and after the hand was over) He has a drawing hand and wants to get as much FE as possible out of it.

KK,QQ: These make some sense also. If he shoves with KK-QQ, he could get AK/AQ to fold, but he also chases away QQ-JJ-1010. Since there were 2 players after him, he is pretty much guaranteed isolation if anyone calls at all.

Air: This is a good option and it makes a lot of sense here, cause he has so much FE, and probably won't be sharing if for some reason he gets called.

In the end I folded pre-flop. I basically had no idea at the time where I was, and I know that Jason is crafty enough to make this play with AA or KK. I had 20 invested but needed to call 260 more to get in this pot. I would much rather shove and get called here. Also, and this was the tipping point, Martin was lurking behind me. This meant 2 things to me: 1) He might be sitting on AA or some monster and 2) We could certainly be sharing a card (namely the Ace).

Thoughts, comments, opinions?

Should JJ vs. AQ be played like this?

Yet another hand from the wayback machine...this was a hand that Jeh played back right at the end of his bachelor career. Again, I'm hazy on exact specifics but I believe Marshall comes in for a relatively stiff raise (in the teens somewhere?). Hao calls(?). Ryan calls for sure. Jeh raises. Marsh does a min-ish re-raise to the tune of about 80(?). Folds around to Jeh who smooth calls. By that time of the evening, I believe that Ryan has lidded Marsh for a buy-in and Marsh had committed around a third of a buy-in to this hand pre-flop. Flop comes out Queen high (actually, QTx as I recall) and Jeh leads out for a plaque which basically sets Marsh all in since calling will definitely pot commit him. Marsh thinks takes a trip into the tank and folds. He puts Jeh on AQ and that is exactly what Jeh shows.

This hand had my weak/tight senses doing all sorts of twitching but apart from that I am left questioning how this hand played out.

Marsh open raising with JJ I have no problem with whatsoever. Totally makes sense to raise with a premium hand.

Jeh re-raises with AQ. I know that it has been discussed before about bumping the pot with AQ to find out where you are. I'm personally not a fan of going to war and building a big pot with AQ. Personally I would flat call and use the money I would have raised with to clarify my Ace after the flop. I don't favor the AQ pop here but with Marsh raising as aggressively as he does I can see this as a reasonable way to sort out hands pre-flop.

Marsh re-re-raises with JJ. For me, by the time the pot has be re-raised, I am looking to set mine with JJ. I have to think that the re-raiser has AT LEAST two overs if not an overpair. Re-raising here puts more money into a pot where you are hoping to be as good as flipping a coin. Marsh said that the reason for the re-re-raise was to isolate. I think that is just opening the door to a hard decision later. I think at this point pre-flop, you have to figure Jeh for either two overs or an overpair. If you think he has an overpair then you can either fold or flat call and set mine. If you think he has two overs then you can push (since three betting will commit you) which can represent a bigger pair than you have and gives you some fold equity. The small bump on the end essentially forces Jeh to call and see a flop. Granted, it gets the other players out so I give credit for doing what it was intended to do.

Jeh flat calls with AQ. What is AQ ahead of here after bump, re-bump, and re-re? I think it is time to figure that AQ is not ahead of anything. It is dominated by AK, it is behind AA, KK, and QQ. Coin-flipping with JJ. I don't know how low Marsh would go with a re-re but you might be also flipping with TT or 99. Anyway, the range of hands typical of a re-re-raise has AQ in bad shape. I guess technically you are priced in to a coin flip and even to try to outflop AK (which is why I'd like to see a bigger bump from Marsh) but that seems like a thin justification for putting more money in the pot with AQ.

Flop comes out Q high. Jeh leads. This is probably the part that I found most questionable. If you put Marshall on AK (why would you be calling his last bet if you thought he had AK?) then I guess you can assume you out-flopped him and start betting but that is about the only hand you are beating. AA will push there, KK will push there. QQ (top set) might try to slow play and smooth call but with nothing behind the money is getting in regardless. TT is not getting away from that hand. Other than AK, JJ is the only hand that AQ is beating. I guess once you call with AQ, this is one of the flops that you "want" so maybe you have to lead out and hope that Marsh has either AK or JJ. Now if the flop comes out Ace high, I can see leading out since you are now ahead of premium pairs lower than Aces (unless there is a paint card that looks like it setted up).

Marsh folds. Well, Marsh put Jeh on that hand specifically so I guess his read was on and the fold was right. He even commented words to the effect of "What am I going to do, fold to any overcard?". Certainly would have been easier to fold to an Ace on the flop.

I am the first to admit that I am weak/tight and that is coloring opinion here but should this hand have been played out like it did?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

King high flush on paired board...what to do

Most of us were there. I was out of the hand and will rely on others to fill in better details but the essence of the hand was that Player A is on a flush draw that gets there on the river. Board is paired. Player A bets 100. Player B raises to 300. Player A pushes. Player B makes the obligatory call. Player A shows King high flush. Player B shows Tens full of Fives.

I think at this point you really need to consider your opponent. The more experienced they are, the more they understand what a paired board REALLY means. To some n00bs, having three of a kind is such a gorgeous looking hand they will go to the mat with it, usually with no regard for their kicker. But when it comes to old salts, even having a house on a paired board is reason for concern. A while ago I made a crying call at Ryan's for the rest of my stack to call his raise of my river bet when the board pairs Eights on fifth street. His Eights full of Kings trumped my Eights full of Threes. I know Ryan well enough that I don't HAVE to call there. If he has trip Eights then he's smooth calling there if he calls at all. If he's raising then he has a boat and I had the nut low boat so what am I beating?

The problem is, even if you happen to read your opponent as a green player, there exists the possibility that they fell into a fluky full house or may have been sitting on a set the whole time. I've even run into a hand where I made trips on the river and a recreational player thought that she lost because she only had a set of lower rank which of course boated up when the board paired.

This is all of course passes over the fact that a King high flush isn't even the nut flush and that there may not even be any boats out there and you could still be behind Ax suited.

So anyway, Dr. Weak Tight says you check/call a value bet on the river.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Red flags? Consider AA or KK

Last night I was in a hand and picked up Aces in early position then threw out a standard raise on the heavy side (eight I think). One caller, Mr. Trey, followed me in to a heads up clash. I check dark and J3 check's dark behind me. Flop was Q- rag-rag (Q74?). Just happened to be about as good a flop as you could hope for with Aces. Since we both checked the flop, the turn came out and it put a 9 on the board. Still, just about the dream board for Aces in terms of not being likely to have hit anyone too hard, certainly not as scary as a connected KQ or three in one suit or anything like that. I lead out for a pot-ish sized bet, either 13, 17, or 19 I'm pretty sure. I think it was 19 because I think J3 made it 35 to go after that or basically a min raise. I am ranging the hands that Jeh has now and my hand history on him tells me that he has a Q/any kicker. I have seen him vigorously defend top pair before. I don't feel that I can flat call here so I bump the price up to 80. Now he goes in the tank. I have committed roughly half my stack to this pot and am considering what I'm going to do if Jeh pushes here. With the board texture what it is, the worst I can be up against is a set. Since Jeh has taken this long to ponder I cannot put him on a set. Top pair still is at the top of the list for what he could be holding and I feel like I will not be able to lay my hand down since I am beating so many of the hands that Jeh would be taking this long to act on. He is even talking out load about the red flags that he sees on this hand and is having a hard time figuring out where I'm at. He finally folds bottom two pair to the strength that I was projecting by (mistakenly) feeling that I was ahead.

Bad read. I did not even consider two pair based on the flop. If there were two connectors then I could see a two pair more easily or maybe a semi-bluff raise to try to push me off of a (street delayed) cbet or a pair. Turns out the double check in the dark saved me. If I had led out on the flop and Jeh raised me, I think it is much more likely that Jeh is going all the way with that hand. When the turn comes out there is now much more ways that I could be beating him. Pocket Nines, Q9, 97, are all now ahead of him but none of those hands would be beating him on the flop. Jeh and Marshall both correctly read strength especially with the lead-out/re-raise which I think is stronger than a check-raise. It obviously shows that you are more committed to the hand because you are not only committing more of your chips to the pot but also do so knowing that your opponent is more invested in the pot as well. If Jeh had called, I certainly wasn't drawing dead. I had two Aces, three Queens, and three Nines which could have still won me the pot, sure, not a ton of outs but in a better spot than just pairing a Queen and needing to catch my side card or pairing only one board card.

Anyway, the point that I wanted to get to and what I had alluded to in the middle of the hand was that I was going to write a post about strange behavior/red flags. I have noticed that Aces (primarily but Kings too) can really change the play of hands. I don't know how many times I've seen odd behavior in a hand and it turns out someone was holding Aces or Kings. I also have noticed that when a player is lost as to whatever the other person has, that it turns out to be Aces or Kings. One example was when Ryan and Jason were in a hand. Jason had played his AA a little slow and was sparring with Ryan. I think Jason may have even check/called the flop and the turn. Then when the board rivered the fourth of a suit, Jason leads out for a sizeable bet. I forget if Ryan called or not but he remarked words to the effect that he didn't know where Jason was at. Jason ended up showing AA with A of the suit to make the nut flush. And I know we have all seen a player holding KK get aggressive on the flop when an Ace comes out trying to get their money after being outflopped. Those rare big pockets can be intoxicating and make people do funny things. So whenever odd behavior shows up on my radar, one of the possible hands I will throw into the range is AA or KK.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Defending JSola

Bit of a misnomer as I consider Joe to be an excellent player. He commented to me that his raise to 50 was "bush league" but if we analyze the hand, it turned out to be a good play. To recap the action, the hand went as follows:

Chuck under the gun raises to 8, Martin calls behind, and I see QQ and raise to 28. Joe has the button, I really don't want him to call behind me and I figure my raise will entice Martin to try to bust me with action from Chuck unknown. Joe won't call unless he has a monster and I may be able to accomplish one of tonight's missions which is to steal Marsh's big blind of 2 chips.

Joe of course gets AA and raises to 50. Everyone folds to Chuck who also has QQ. No problem with Chuck's call as he also has QQ and right of first stab. In Chuck's mind he may be up against AK and AK from myself and Joe. If the flop is all low cards, he can bet and see if he gets called or raised. Martin has 88 and decides to call as well and set mine. A bit expensive to set mine in my mind for the 42 chip call. He is getting about 5 to one to call, assuming I call, but he is up against 3 other live hands with likely one or two higher pairs. His implied odds are also unknown as Joe is capable of making amzaing laydowns. Let's give Martin the benefit of the doubt and say his call was OK. I call of course with the extra 22 chips.

Now let's look at the hand from Joe's point of view. He has successfully built up the pot to 203 chips. The hands out there are relatively easy to deduce. Chuck and I can really only have big pairs or AK. I raised to 28 with UTG raising to 8, a caller in front of me and Joe and the blinds left to act. Chuck was the original raiser and then called a preflop raise of 50 with just 8 invested. Only Martin's hand is a true unknown but is likely a pocket pair set mining with an outside chance of suited connectors.

As it turns out Joe's hand is about an 87% favorite to win on the flop. Chuck and I are drawing dead on the flop and can only win on the turn or the river. Martin can hit a set which will likely put him in front unless it is set over set. 203 chips in the pot preflop and an 87% favorite to win after the flop is a fantastic result. Joe could only have built the pot preflop to 203 chips with the raise to 50. A bigger raise would have likely got Chuck and Martin to fold. An all in would likely had all of us fold. A smooth call would have built the pot to 129 chips.

Granted it was lucky for Joe that Chuck and I had the same hand. But even if I have we have Queens and Jacks, it is possible that Joe would be able to fold his AA on a flop with a Q or a J in it and an all in comes on the flop or on the turn. Joe will likely lose all of his chips if an 8 is on the flop but this is a chance worth taking, especially in this case as Joe is an 87% favorite after the flop.

The rest of the action is somewhat uneventful as Joe hits a virtually perfect flop where he can only lose to bottom quads on a flop of AJJ. Plus he would have the one outer suckout chance for quads over quads if someone does have JJ. There is honor in losing to quads so I am sure Joe is not concerned. I take my stab after seeing Chuck and Martin with their deflated checks after the flop. Joe calls and the hand is essentially over. I realize I really can't beat anything and Joe's call tells me that the 1 in 1000 chance that he raised to 50 preflop with 4,6os is not a reality.

I like Joe's play as given this set of preflop hands and the action before him, I see no other way to maximize more value.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

High Stakes Poker Season 4 Details

Clicky clicky.

Important deets:
  • First episode airs August 27
  • 17 episodes, up from 13 last season
  • Confirmed players: Hellmuth, both Brunsons, Negreanu, Gold, Matusow, Harmon, Greenstein, Eli Elezra, Phil Laak, Sammy Farha, David Benyamin, Patrik Antonius
  • The last seven episodes will have a minimum buy-in of $500,000

Monday, August 6, 2007

Showdown Etiquette

Executive summary of my quasi-rant: if you are called and your opponent doesn't instantly and obviously reveal out of turn, failing to reveal your hand promptly is an annoying breach of etiquette.


Surreal Lunch Poker (hereafter SLP) used to do tournament-style all ins: by house rule, both players would show their hands, and the hand would be dealt out. Now, we have gravitated towards true cash-game style: in an all-in situation, neither player is required to reveal his hand until the river, at which point, the player who was called is obligated to show his hand first. Then, the caller may opt to show a better hand to take the pot, or just muck. (Or show a worse hand, of course.)

Now, it's the responsibility of the caller to force the called to reveal by leaving their hand face down until the called player shows. Many players, myself included, are aware of frequent opportunities to avoid showing their hand when their all in is called, because many players habitually flip their hand up tournament style after they make the call. The called player sees that they are beat, and opts to muck.

Martin pulled this on at least two people today: TJ called Martin's all in, showed his hand, the board was dealt out, and Martin mucked. It happened again against Dave, even as I was telling him, "You called Martin, make him show his hand."

We discuss this aspect of our game a bit, and Martin said something along these lines: "If you call someone's all in and you have a really strong hand, though, you should show right away; it's bad etiquette not to."

As someone continually frustrated by having to ask Martin to show me his hand when I've called his all in, I vehemently disagreed. I went as far as to say that Martin's tactic of never voluntarily revealing his hand when he moves all in and is called is, in fact, a far worse breach of etiquette. (To his credit and to the amusement of the table, Martin agreed.)

I want to take it a step further and say that:

1) Forcing someone you have called to show his hand when you are holding the stone-cold, unchoppable nuts is not in any way a breach of etiquette. Poker is a game of information, and you should absolutely get every shred of information that you paid for.

2) When you are called, refusing to show your hand until you are verbally requested to do so is a breach of etiquette, and is in fact, borderline angle shooting when done habitually in an effort to avoid showing hands.

I'm talking to you, sushicowboy.

You are the king of reverse slowrolling...even though you know you have been called and you know it is your obligation to reveal your hand, you sit there at the river and wait, hoping to induce your opponent to reveal first. Many of your opponents at SLP and WNP eventually oblige you in this spot because they don't have these fine-point rules down pat, and figure they must have to show.

Or, my other "favorite:" when they don't reveal on the river, you slooooowly staaaaaaaart to tuuuuuuuuuurn your haaaaaaaaaand ooooooooooover....your opponent sees you doing this, turns their hand over at normal human speed, and you muck before revealing yours.


So, since it came up today, I'm officially calling you out on it, Martin. It's BS. Stop playing head games at the river, trying to induce your opponents into showing first when you were called. You were called. Show. Your. Damn. Hand. It's especially frustrating to watch you attempt it against players like Nick, Joe, myself, and others, who are only going to let you get away with that crap in our very weakest, distracted moments.

I don't blame you for the hands like the ones against TJ and Dave today, they both revealed their hands while the final card was still being dealt, and I would happily muck my losing hand in that situation as well. However, if someone calls my all in, it gets to the river, and they have made no move to show me their hand, I show mine without hesitation.

Because that's good etiquette.

Running It Twice

I mentioned running it twice in my last post, and it reminded me that I've been meaning to post on the subject.

First, a "running it twice" refresher: when two players are all in with cards to come in a cash game, they can agree to run it twice: deal out two sets of the remaining cards to come. A player must win on both boards to win the hand. If each player wins on one board, the pot is chopped.

For or against? We never run it twice at WNP or the Surreal lunch game, but it's an acceptable practice if both players agree, and an interesting variance reducer. I keep trying to remember to offer it up in an all in situation with cards to come, but I always seem to forget in the moment.

I'm no mathematician, but the EV on the hand supposedly doesn't change much if at all, it just dramatically reduces the variance. So, if two players are all in and it's A @ 50% vs. B @50%, without running it twice, A will win all the chips 50% of the time, and B will win all the chips 50% of the time. If they run it twice, A will win all the chips 10% of the time, B will win all the chips 10% of the time, and they will chop the pot 80% of the time.

That's a made-up simplification to convey the point that EV is maintained, but short-term variance is reduced, and a chop becomes likely. The EV of these situations is maintained even when it's more like 90% vs. 10% or whatever.

I am generally in favor of running it twice if I could just remember to offer, but the metagame question is: does knowing that someone is for or against running it twice change how you play a hand against them? Perhaps players are more willing to make a "bold" all-in semi-bluff against a player they know will run it twice if they are called...

Pure Odds Poker

Imagine poker where, when all players end up all in, they win a percentage of the pot equivalent to their percent chance of winning the hand. "Running it twice" taken to the mathematical extreme. "Want to run it a billion times?"

I could see that being a strange mode in a computer or console game, but obviously not practical (and maybe not that interesting) in real life. A fun idea, though. There's no gambling on an all in, you get exactly the slice you deserve.

Could it be taken to a further extreme? You divide it up based on each street...If you bet $10 with AA preflop, and I call with 99, you get 80% of that $20 if we see a showdown. If the flop comes 972 rainbow and I move in for $50 and you call, I get 91% of the $100 and you get 9%.

Would people make bad calls just to see showdowns because they know they get *something* back if they call (barring drawing dead), and nothing back if they fold?

Just a random thought to share.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Trip Report: Four Winds Casino

I'm back home in Indiana to visit the parents for the weekend, and got a chance to check out a brand new (just opened three days ago) casino, The Four Winds. This place is huge, has about a billion and a half slot machines, a huge table gaming area, and more importantly, POKER!

Long post follows, click here to read it!

Tournament decision with the San Francisco treat in the BB

$5 buy-in mini-tourney. Blinds are 150/300 with starting stacks of 500. Six handed to start. Top three pay 15/10/5. Royal, (Krazy) Karl, and I are all in the money. Royal is short stacked and can't even call the BB with 250 in chips. Karl is chip leader with approximately half the chips. Royal is on the button and moves all in. Karl in SB moves all in over the top. I am in the BB and pick up 49os. Blinds elevate each orbit and are about to move to 200/400 where they cap.

What do you do...what DO you DO?

I assume I have live cards. I assume Royal has a random hand. I assume Karl has any Ace, any pair, any two cards Ten or better.

There are six possible hand strength orders:
R, K, M - I am out in third place since Karl has me covered, Royal triples up
R, M, K - Royal triples up, Karl is crippled and I am in good shape
K, R, M - Karl wins tourney, I take second, Royal takes third
K, M, R - Karl wins tourney, I take second, Royal takes third
M, K, R - I eliminate Royal and Karl is severely short stacked
M, R, K - I eliminate Royal and Karl is severely short stacked

I have roughly 25% of my stack invested already in the BB.

In the end, my head hurts, I get lazy and don't calculate the entire equation through and fold. Royal makes a K high Spade flush and I would have rivered a Nine to take the side pot from Karl who pushed with a random Ace.

Not that we are worried about results but I ended winning the tourney.

Let the discussion begin!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Leaked script from movie Rounders II: Euro-Rounders

Found a link to this post in a poker forum where there is leaked dialogue from the upcoming sequel to Rounders. Not really a spoiler but I should mention that knowledge of the first movie and Omaha is critical to understanding the exchanges between characters.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Min-raising pre-flop with Aces

So here's the scenario. You pick up Aces pre-flop. There is a raise ahead of you to triple the BB. You want to felt someone...or better yet...multiple someones! You have the absolute best starting hand in Texas Hold'em in fact your hand is essentially bulletproof, I mean really, they're POCKET FREAKIN' ACES!. But how do you cash in on this monster of all monster hands? First thing to do is get more money in pre-flop. How? The clear, obvious, and correct answer is none other than the min-raise. So in this example. SB is 1, BB is 2, there is a standard open raise of 6 and it's to you so you cleverly MIN-RAISE the bet. This accomplishes the following objectives:

  • It starts the inevitable flow of chips from other people's stacks to your stack.

  • It cleverly disguises the strength of your hand because if you had a really strong hand, you'd raise it up big right? So if you raise the absolute minimum then you are communicating to the table that you have a very very weak hand. Almost not even worth raising in the first place.

  • By keeping the raise small, you are making it affordable for others to come into the pot. It will only be another six chips to the original raiser, so they will HAVE to call, and anyone else left to act knows that the original raiser will call the extra six so they are more likely to come into the pot as well since they will be getting better pot odds, right? The LAST thing you want to do is scare off potential customers.

  • It will increase your chances of winning a huge multi-way pot because if you raised too much, you will likely only get one caller instead of, say, three callers. Plus, the people who are likely to call are the ones you probably have dominated, i.e. lower pairs or big Aces like AK/AQ.

It's almost not fair to take player's chips like this. If you are lucky they will flop a strong hand (but not stronger than your Aces of course) and they will get the money in the pot...errr, rather your stack(!) as fast as you can say "flop, turn, river". And if no one bets ahead of you, it's probably best to check behind to let them catch up because it would be a shame to waste this once every 221 hands opportunity. If you bet at the pot when all the other players have is an open ended straight draw or a (obviously lower) pocket pair waiting to set up then you aren't going to get any chips and all the work from your cleverly crafted min-raise will have all gone for naught.

So there you go, that is the sure fire way to take down a monster with everyone's favorite hand, pocket Aces. I had some reservations about blogging this master strategy because I don't want to give away TOO many secrets but I make an exception in this case because I want to encourage others to adopt this winning formula whenever they pick up AA. Ohhh, and keep in mind this it works for pocket Kings too!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Which top/top do you want with Big Slick?

Some people love AK and some people hate it. The big selling point is that if you pair either card, you have top pair/top kicker...but which TPTK do you want? If I had my choice, I'd take flopping a King every time. Why? Because people have funny notions about collecting Aces. For some players, any Ace is worth holding onto regardless of kicker. Then there is the Ax suited contingent who are always looking for the nut flush draw or even better, flopping the flush (and getting action of course!). All that adds up to a bunch of two pairs that are lurking out to bite you and your TPTK. I was in a tourney once and raise it up the standard 3xBB. Get three callers. Flop comes out Ace high. I'm relatively short stacked and making a pot sized bet would pot commit me anyway so I shoved. Two callers and a begrudging fold. Turn brings a Seven and the guy downstream of me pushes, called. We three are now all in. Guy to my left shows A7, he called my all in with A7(!) and turned two pair. The third guy flopped top two with his AT and was in the driver's seat heading to the river. I make a comment about getting MY two pair but it bricks and I rebuy after getting felted. Yep. Flop me a King and I have a lot less to worry about since players are less likely to play King/trash and the threat of random two pair minefields is diminished.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lurker Roll Call!

OK, so you read this blog, but you never post or comment...just lurking around, hoping to pick up some info to use against us at WNP. (Or, by some amazing chance, you have no idea who any of us are and just happened to start reading the blog.)

Who are you? Show yourselves!

Stadnicki! You there?
Hemeyer, stop hiding in the corner, I know you're over there.
Ivan and Tiffany, are you in here somewhere, too?

Come on, we're baring our poker souls, here, sharing our secrets in the pursuit of better poker. The least you can do is offer up the occasional, "Nice post" and let us know you're in the room...


(You may click the "comment" button now...)