Monday, September 10, 2007

Ryan controlling pot size

I'm just going to make a blanket disclaimer for all blog posts from here on out that I can have really crappy hand recall. So if I ever screw up a hand just correct me.

Anyway, as I recall, this hand with Ryan went something like this: Shorthanded five way action at Kahlua's table last Friday. Based on the action I think I must have been in one of the blinds and Ryan was in position on me. He tells me later that he had AQ so I have to assume that he raised (probably to seven or eight) and I called with Ac3c. As Ryan knows, Ax suited is definitely within my range of hands. I'm a sucker for the nut flush, it gives me an excuse for hitting low paired boards, it is simple to calculate pot odds if I hit four to the flush, gives me a disguised two pair, and I can get away from hitting my Ace/crappy kicker. So back to the hand, the flop comes out 9TQ two clubs so I fire a pot-ish sized bet. Ryan hems and haws and makes what appears to be the most painful call of his life. Turn comes a non-Club K. Well now my hand is improved to a double nut draw because I can catch a Jack for Broadway or a club for the nut flush. I fire a second shell with my Ace high/no kicker double-nutter. Ryan makes a reluctant fold.

Immediately after the hand Ryan jumps into the confessional and divulges his hand, AQ(os?). I remarked that I found it surprising that he didn't pop my bet with top/top. He then went on to elaborate that he knew that I (being stuck at that point) was willing to gamble and if he raised that I could very well re-raise him if I had any reasonable draw, then he would have to either commit more chips or fold. At that point of the night I think Ryan had already had his stack dented in a JJ-AK race with Marsh but with still a healthy stack to worry about which I think entered into the measured response. During the play of the hand I specifically recall being perplexed by Ryan's call on the flop. It truly struck me as an odd response. I did not read it as a slow played monster hand. I did not read it as a "let me calculate odds" pause. After Ryan's explanation the whole thing made a lot more sense. The strategy was to let a blank fall on the turn and then proceed from there. Worst possible card would have been Kc but the K alone was enough for Ryan to be done with the hand. I was surprised that he took that tack because Ryan attacks pots as much as I bleed of chips on draws. Can't say that I blame him though. That flop was certainly not the most AQ friendly Q high flop ever invented and his read on my state of gamble was definitely spot on so it ended up being a reasonable exercise in not getting involved in a pot bigger than he wanted. As is he got away with only investing about 30 chips in a hand that I could easily have dumped my whole stack into. I'm actually reading a book currently that has a lot of information about controlling pot size and pot commitment so seeing Ryan base his unorthodox (for him) call on the flop made a lot of sense since it achieved his objective of trying to not invest too much until he saw the board develop more.


Ryan said...

Here is what I wrote up about this hand in my personal notes:


I also had a weird hand against Martin. I raise from the button with AQo and Martin calls. The flop is QT9 with two clubs, and Martin bets out 17 or so. I am very uncomfortable...I think I have the better hand, but he could easily have two pair or the made straight with KJ or J8 (and let's face it, whenever J8 has you crushed at WNP, you have to be careful). Martin is clearly in a gambling mood, too, so he's likely to play a nut draw like it is the made straight.

Psychology is definitely a factor, here. My stack has gone from 850 down to 250 and back to about 500+. I've been on the rollercoaster, but I'm finally on the rise again. Martin and I have about two buyins each, and I really don't want to lose it all, or even risk it all on top top with that board. Disregarding the session as a whole in a given hand is something I need to work on for maintaining my A game, but I think it's legitimate to ask yourself how far you are willing to go with top top here, and then act accordingly.

So, it feels like Martin is on a draw, but I can't rule out two pair or a made straight, either, as I've seen him lead out with the nuts already. Unless his draw is weak, I'm thinking if I raise his flop bet, he's going to reraise me for a huge part of my stack with most of his range, and I'll be staring at top pair wondering what I've gotten myself into. Yet, I think I'm good! Shouldn't I raise if I think I'm good? Especially me of all people!

This is one of those spots where Martin's wide calling range and willingness to gamble has me flummoxed. I think I'm ahead, but I may be crushed. Perhaps that means the right thing to do is make a "definition" raise, but since it feels like he's going to reraise with most of his lead-out range, I'd rather see another card. If he is on a draw, I can actually bet him off it if there's only one card to come, so I decide my plan is to call the flop bet and raise hard on the turn after the blank I'm wishing for comes off.

Turn is a non-club K, and things are looking worse. Martin bets again, and I fold, not willing to put any more chips into such a scary board. He says later he was on the nut flush draw, but I couldn't continue with one pair, there, as a flush draw is the only thing I'm beating anymore. Maybe I played that one like a pussy (and in a big shocker after showing my hand, Marshall tells me I did), but I felt like raising the flop would have led to a potential raising war I wasn't prepared to fight to the felt.

My big problem with the board was that KJ and J8 were already made. If the flop had straight and flush draws but nothing made, I would have brought the hammer down on the flop no problem. Martin could have or rep the made straight if I raise here, though, and that's ultimately what slowed me down, as Martin is capable of leading out with made hand, especially one vulnerable to the flush draw.

Maybe it wasn't the right way to play that hand in theory, but the fact that I still felt fine about it even after hearing I was ahead at least tells me that I played it OK for that specific situation. Martin was ready to gamble and I wasn't, and that gave him the edge he needed to beat me out of that hand.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Holy crap! How many hands do you take notes on? It must take forever to transcribe the action after poker nights!

Not sure why Ryan would be worried about J8 being out against him...seriously, who would play that? Overall I like his play here. Not because he folded (I would rather that he doubled me up when I river a flush) but because of his correct assessment of the situation. I know how much Ryan likes top/top and the fact that he was able to restrain his normal tendency of hammering the pot due to the board texture and his read on my "gamble factor" led him to play the hand for a small pot that he doesn't mind getting away from. If he three bets me and I smooth call he's in a tough spot. As Nick pointed out at lunch an information raise there really doesn't tell him anything. I suppose a fold from me answers the question but a flat call or a re-raise from me just digs him in deeper.

I'll look for some good text-bites from this book I'm reading about controlling pot size and commitment and post some stuff here when I find some juicy morsels.

Ryan said...

Heh, well, that was the only hand from that night that I wrote up with that level of detail.

I'll usually jot down a quick play-by-play of my session-defining "big pot" hands, but frequently there's nothing much to learn from them, they just explain why I was up or down for the session.

I take more time in writing up a hand that really gets my gears going, though; those hands where I'm not certain of the correctness of my play even after mulling it over. Those stick in my brain and are worth a full this one, or the "folding boats" hand I posted earlier.

(Actually, I write six paragraphs about ever single hand from each session, even the ones where I fold 92o UTG.)

Marshall said...

Why are we praising this play again? Basically there were a few scary hands Martin could have. Everything else conceivable he should want Martin to have and be very happy getting as much money into the pot as possible with.

If Martin wants to gamble deep with a flush draw, let him!

I know its sort of ROTty to say this stuff now, but since when has Ryan started laying down hands that strong because he was scared? He didn't even bother with an information raise at all, and I think that would have told him quite a bit. Even if Martin smooth calls, Martin is checking the turn 99% of the time there if he whiffs, and a good % even if he hits. If the scary flush card comes then Ryan can re-evaluate.

I HIGHLY doubt that Martin re-shoves on the flop there with a flush draw. If he has 2-pair or up, he might ship.

I understand why Ryan folds here, but it has nothing to do with the optimal play he strives for every time he plays. Martin having a wide range is not a bad thing here, it's good. Ryan just wanted to pick a better spot and wanted to protect his stack (like a wuss). Understandable.