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.


Marshall said...

I wonder how hard it will be to define our own characteristics when it comes to these different "red flags".

Martin, during the hand you did a few things you don't normally do, but it didn't really trigger a tell for me at the time.. Namely you checked dark which you do on ocassion, but not really as much as say, Royal for example.

I guess we could all use an opportunity to examine whether or not we do these things or not.

jsola said...

I think this hand is really interesting in terms of both players' reactions to the texture of the board. Jeh checks the flop because that's a *really* great flop for two pair. The turn keeps it pretty safe for most hands, so he's got to be really concerned when you 3-bet it. With no draws on the board it's hard to put you on a semi-bluff, so he's got to think you have a monster, and bottom two starts to look pretty weak by that point. Your read of him having Qx makes a ton of sense, so three-betting is great here. It had a completely unexpected result of getting him to fold a hand that had you beat.

Does this mean dry boards are better for bluffing? It's hard to hold onto one pair when someone's going nuts on a totally innocuous board. Although, someone like Ryan is going to think through the hand and say your story doesn't make any sense given the board, and end up making the crying call. Interesting...

As far as alarm-bell-plays, a solid player betting into a multiway pot from some other position than the button is usually a big warning sign for me.

Cold calling a reraise is also something that immediately freaks me out.

These are plays that you often get cornered into doing, since sometimes they're just the best thing to do. I don't know if there's a good way to weed these out of your game other than using them as bluffs from time to time against the right players.

Sushi Cowboy said...

I'm pretty sure that Jeh checked dark on the flop, by chance. He is not one to slow play two pair even on a dry board like that. I especially doubt that he would slow play bottom two.

And this isn't to say that AA/KK is ALWAYS played weird or that weird play ALWAYS means AA/KK. All I'm saying is that I've noticed it enough that I know it is a possibility when weirdness happens.

Ryan said...

That's a good point, Martin, although I think I would narrow it down to AA specifically.

There's something about getting rockets that makes people want to get tricky. If feels like this bulletproof hand, and people seem more afraid of "only winning a small pot" with them than getting them cracked.

Like, If you play AQo, the flop comes queen high, and it checks to you heads up, you are pretty much going to bet. Straightforward.

Yet, replace AQo with AA in that same scenario, and a lot of people are instinctively going to want to get tricky with AA and play it unconventionally.

So yeah, if you smell a rat, while it's not 100%, definitely put strangely-played aces in your opponent's range. People tend to tell really bad stories with aces in an effort to take down a monster with them instead of that one preflop call.

Sushi Cowboy said...

I'd agree that AA is the grand-daddy of silly hands. The reason I threw in KK was because of the "out-flop" aspect of collecting the seemingly inevitable Ace. Maybe they made a big raise or re-raise or even tried to get tricky and smooth called with cowboys. When the bullet comes on the flop then they end up wishing that they had shoved pre-flop instead and taken down the pot so they do the next best thing and throw a lot of money at the pot after someone hits their Ace. I was really surprised to see even someone as solid as Nick shove when the board paired Aces on the turn with his QQ. It happens.

The other weird thing I see with AA is the "mother hen" aspect that after the flop comes save looking that an overbet comes to protect the precious AA from getting cracked. Queen high board with AQ might get a 3/4 pot size bet. But holding AA, here comes the 1 1/4 pot sized bet to ensure that this is taken down right now.

jtrey333 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtrey333 said...

Just a couple of facts to get straightened out about the story:

"Flop was Q- rag-rag (Q74?)"

Yep, the flop was Q 7 4. I held a 7s4s - suited 3-gapper, yes!

"I lead out for a pot-ish sized bet, either 13, 17, or 19 I'm pretty sure."

It was 17... 99% sure that it was, as in my head, I was thinking min raise +1.

And right before the flop was dealt, I did check dark behind Martin. This was where I think things went wrong for me in this hand. I don't think it's a *bad* idea to dark check on the flop, but considering this particular situation (bottom two pair) it certainly was.

On a flop like this, I basically would get married (haha) to it and push it as far as I needed to (unless I had a bad suspecion of a set).

But, when it gets to the turn, there's just another card out there. And when someone dark checks, then the turn hits, and then it goes bet, you raise, and then get re-raised, things become much more scary, especially with two pair. That re-raise is such a sign of strength, and in the face of such strength, bottom two on almost any board just doesn't feel good anymore.

As I analyze it today, I still feel good about that laydown. It was an interesting situation, one that doesn't come along that often, but I think given all the info, that laydown is correct about 80% of the time, IMO. This just happened to be the 20% of the time that it was incorrect, and I can accept that.

Marshall said...

This was a crazy hand to watch.

First, checking dark is lame. I don't understand it.

But more importantly was later streets when the betting got going.

I was putting myself in Jeh's shoes after the hand, and I think I would have gone with the hand. I was looking at the board, and could not for the life of me put Martin on a hand that was beating me at that point. I guess a set is the only possibility, but I think I would have stuck around with that being the only possibility. I thought Martin may have had AQ or something. Tough situation.

I did have the same read as Jeh though, that Marty was strong. I just couldn't think that he had a higher two pair than me at the time.

Ryan said...

"The reason I threw in KK was because of the "out-flop" aspect of collecting the seemingly inevitable Ace."

Point taken, and I have done exactly that: I raise with KK, get a caller, the flop is ace high, and either the caller leads out or raises me if I lead out. I raise or reraise in an effort to "win anyway" despite getting outflopped.

I wouldn't group it with odd "AA" behavior, though, because at least this move still tells a cohesive story (namely, "I have AK"). If your opponent has indeed called with a non-AK ace that failed to two-pair, fronting AK can get them off their ace if they are someone capable of folding weak aces when they make top pair.

I hear what you are saying about KK, though.

Oh, and I'd like to propose a term for the act of playing pocket aces strangely in an effort to get maximum value out of them: "Rocket Intoxication." Add it to the long list of poker ailments that stand between players and their A-games...