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...


Bob Loblaw said...

In response to the question about what I would have done if I just had a good ace (say, AJ -- I don't think I'm limping with AQ pre-flop, AJ is the best limpable hand I can imagine here). I'm reminded of a hand a few months ago. The details are fuzzy, but I'll try to recount it here.

The scene: Wednesday night poker, at Jason's house, in the down period between the the good WNP days at QPass and the good WNP days at Surreal. Marshall and I are in a hand. I don't remember the sequence of cards, other than I know Marshall flopped a less-than stellar spade flush, and I hit my king. For whatever reason, Marsh slow-ish plays his flush, and I call him on the flop and the turn, and on the river another king shows up, giving me trips. Marsh bets out fairly largely relative to the pot, and I quickly go all in over the top of him. Looking back now, this seems like such a desperation bet to me. I've got trip kings with a crappy kicker, and there's three cards to a flush on the board that I can't believe Marsh has made a flush out of because he played it so slowly. If I remember correctly, I've convinced myself my trip kings are good because I think Marsh has been playing a now-busted flush draw. Why go all-in, though? DESPERATION. Anywho, he thinks about my bet for a long while and eventually lays down his flush, thinking that I've either got a higher flush (he didn't have the Q or the A of spades, and the K was on the board) or a boat. When in actuality I only have trip kings. Granted, if Marsh made a small boat with that 2nd king, there's no way he's folding. But the point I'm making is, there's precedent for me overplaying trips on the river when there's a good possibility I'm beat. It was a smart laydown from his perspective, and a VERY lucky laydown from my perspective.

Concerning this past WNP hand, this was the 2nd time this night that Marsh determined I underbet the relative nuts. For whatever reason, I only raised Ryan 60 because I was afraid that Ryan was playing A8, or even A5. Based on his betting (limp, 5, 20, 40) it all made sense in my head. So for me, even raising the 60 was questionable. I don't think I would have been able to lay it down if Ryan re-pops me here, but I also wouldn't have been able to forgive myself if I didn't get ANYTHING extra out of it. So what do you YOU think -- did I underbet my boat? Or was it a good, albeit misguided, value bet?

Marshall said...

Well damn Ry, if you had presented that case to me at the time I would have said lay that fucker down right there.

When you break it down so completely, it does seem to point towards actually folding. I don't normally recommend folding boats, but in this case, I think you could have. I think what made it really hard was that Royal made it pretty easy for you to call by making it nice and valuey. I think that folding there might not be a good play in any case really. Since he made it affordable, I think its ok to call. If he shipped on you, then you would have to consider folding a lot more.

I would have liked to have seen Senior Bacon ship or make a bigger bet there, but he looks like a genius now because I seriously wonder if Ry would have called a bigger bet...

Sushi Cowboy said...

Definitely depends on the player. If that's online play...totally different circumstances. But when we have such good book on each other, I think you have to assume you are beat when Royal is value betting you there. I'm not saying not to pay it off (after all a proper value bet is designed so that you can't NOT pay it) but it's a crying call.

But back to the original point, I agree that there are times when you just know that your opponent MUST have a bigger boat than you to be raising on the end like that. We are all experienced enough to know what a paired board means. And even it it does happen to be a case of Bacon Madness (like pushing with Aces full on the board), Royal will have you beat way more times than he is bluffing/steaming/d0nking that it is safe to just say not to paying him off in that situation. But again, it is a valuriffic amount so I'm OK with the payoff. From Royal's side, I think a larger amount is warranted so Ryan has a harder decision. There are enough times when Royal has bet hard with losing hands (i.e. set of Kings versus Ivan's third nut flush) but since he is so solid overall, I think it is OK to make incorrect folds once in a while against him.

Bob Loblaw said...

Excellent advice, Cowboy. I think we’ll all benefit greatly if everybody would start making incorrect folds any time I bet big on the river.