Sunday, October 28, 2007

Playing Strong Drawing Hands

I was playing on line, cash game, 6 players, new table with unknown images. Had about 90 times the blind and was covered by villain. Villain opens for 3x the blind and I have Q7 suited in spades in the big blind. I decide to call. Fold is a possible play as well, but I figure Q7 suited is slightly better than an average hand. 3 people to the flop.

Flop is 5 spades, 6 club, and 8 spades, giving me the open ended straight draw and queen high flush draw. At this point, I think any option other than check fold is acceptable. Check call, lead out, or check raise are all viable plays. For this hand I decide on the check raise.

Villain, the original raiser leads out for 2/3 of the pot. Other players fold and I check raise for 3x villain's bet. Villain then thinks and reraises for almost 3x my bet. A call would be for more than half my stack so I immediately remove this from the option list. It is either all in or fold. A call also puts you in a tough spot as if the turn blanks, you really can't call another bet.

Villain's likely holdings at this point are either a set, an overpair, Ax suited in spades. Unlikely but possible are pocket 7's, 2 pair, with a very remote possibility of the made straight, unlikely since villain was the original raiser. Very unlikely is air.

What would you do? In an effort to not be Rotty, I will let you know my play after comments.


Ryan said...


For starters, I don’t think you have any fold equity. He has reraised a check raise, and if you put him in, by my rough count, the pot will have ~148BB and he has to call ~37BB, so he’s just not going away with anything for that much more. That means if you push, you have about 70BB left when he reraises, betting into a pot of roughly 115BB. (115 = dead money in pot, plus his expected 37BB call). 70:115 means you need (70/(70+115))% equity to justify a push, or 38%. I can’t fathom a megadraw like this being less than 38% against any reasonable range, but let’s take a look at some:

If we give him an incredibly wide range (AA-55, As*s, 65, 86, 87, 76), it’s a coin flip.

If we tighten his range to a pocket pair (55-AA), you have 53% equity.

If we say only overpairs or AsKs and AsJs, you have 55% equity.

Basically, no matter how we slice this, it’s a pretty easy shove. If he turns up his hand up ahead of time and shows you AsKs, then you are getting 33% equity and you can fold, but you are easily getting the 38% equity you need for it to be a good shove against any sensible range.

See what I mean? I can be counted on to show you that the math says to be aggressive.

jason said...


I was counting on you to do the math as only you can. Have you thought of statistics as a second career? I mean this as a true complement, I am reasonably good at math but to you it is second nature.

What is the math against a set? The only hands you truly fear are AK suited and a set. I suppose the made straight but this is highly unlikely. Pocket 9's would kind of suck as it takes away some of your outs.

On line you can't do a Jasonland take forever decision so I counted my outs. Roughly 15 unless you are against AK suited. Quick math told me that I was likely in a coin flip situation.

This goes back to my comment that I have made that an open ended straight flush draw is almost always an instapush hand for me if I am raised. With all of the outs you are likely a favorite against any single hand except a set. And you may have, depending on the situation some fold equity.

This hand was not quite as good as an open ended straight flush draw, but an open ended straight and a flush draw is almost as good a draw as possible in holdem.

I was reading Farha's book on Omaha and you can actually be a favorite with a straight wrap and a flush draw against top set.

Thanks for helping me think this one through.

Bob Loblaw said...

"On line you can't do a Jasonland take forever decision so I counted my outs."

Is there any way we can rig up the TNP game so that Jason plays online from a remote location? Might take a lot of set-up time, but I think the in-game time we'd all save would be worth it.

Just kidding, Jason!

Sushi Cowboy said...

First of all Q7 suited being better than an average hand is not the best reason to play it in my opinion plus you are out of position. Additionally I don't like being in non-nut flush situations. If Villain has Ax of Spades (maybe As6s?) then you don't have as many outs as you think.

I think there are two schools of thought on this hand - a) get all the money in the middle and hope to hit your super draw or b) use your semi-bluff to win the pot by making the other player fold.

For option b), if you are trying to sell Villain on the idea that you are strong then I think a lead out/re-raise shows more strength than a check/raise. A player with a truly strong hand there (set, two pair, even a straight) is probably not going to risk giving a free card on a two suited board. I think a check/raise more fits the bill of a semi-bluff trying to buy the pot. Once you lead out for about 7 BB, if you are raised Villain will probably three bet you for 20 BB or so. Then if you re-raise that I think there is more likely a chance to get Villain to fold since you have shown strength twice, look like you are trying to protect *against* the Flush coming, and have kept Villain's investment in the hand down to 20BB, foldable.

Remember, even with all of your outs you are still on a draw. Villain is almost certainly ahead here and shoving the rest of your chips in when Villain is pot committed is justified only because you manufactured pot odds for yourself to get your chips while you are behind.

But I wonder what Villain is re-raising a check/raise with. I think worse case scenarios against your super-draw is if Villain has a hand with redraws or a better flush draw. Still, holding the 7s is key here and Qs7s is still 39% against a range of 88, 66, 55, As6s. I think the hand you want to see least of all is As6s where you are about a 2:1 dog.

jsola said...

Agreed with Ryan 100%. Shove over his bet, like Ryan says you're rarely worse than a coin flip here and there's too much in the pot to give it up, even after he's shown a ton of strength. Flat-calling sucks, you have an awesome draw but it's only awesome if you get to see both the turn and the river. If you call, you'll whiff on the turn more often than not, and might even have to fold if he puts you in on a blank. Also, if you were deeper, he could potentially get away from an overpair/TPTK sort of hand when the flush comes.

Sushi Cowboy said...

"See what I mean? I can be counted on to show you that the math says to be aggressive."

Yes Ryan, I don't dispute the numbers telling you to be aggressive. I was just saying that Marsh is more prone to rely on aggression regardless of the numbers.

jason said...

OK I have to disagree with Ryan just a tad. And for Martin's sake, I will state a somewhat unorthodox point of view.

As I have said before, Ryan's math analysis is spot on. If I take on Ryan with math analysis he will eat my lunch so I will concede that Ryan's math is 100% accurate.

What I don't like is the range of hands. It is way too wide. Let's think this one through. I can't yet do this on line this fast as I don't know a site that will give me Jasonland type time.

The opening raise of a pot size bet tells us nothing. The bet on the flop of 2/3 size of the pot still tells us nothing. Let's make the assumption that villain is a good player, after all he is the stack leader at about 125 blinds at a 25cent/50 cent table.

What does the reraise tell us at about 48x the blind or $24 leaving me with about $20 behind (villain has me covered). This tells me a couple things. Villain has a very strong hand, would not mind a call, and is not overly terrified of seeing another card. He also took time to raise to $24, indicating even more strength. So now let's narrow the range.

AA, yes very possible, we have all seen all types of behavior with AA.

KK, still possible, less likely as if I have Ax suited, villain sure does not want to see an Ace.

QQ, JJ or 10,10. Very unlikely. First of all the 2/3 bet when you see all undercards and a big draw possible. Doubt it. Then another raise where you seem to want a call. Doubt it. Timid, weak players will call in this situation to my check raise. Aggressive players will shove. The weakest of the weak will fold.

99, and 77. Possible. Marsh would make this kind of play.

44 and below. Doubt it. Only the maniacs.

Top,top. Still doubt it.

Now how the 3 set hands. Yes, makes sense. Don't really fear another card, as if I call their bet and it blanks they will shove. If it looks like I hit, villain will then make a judgement call as to whether to draw for full boat outs. So 55,66, and 88 are all possible.

Now the Ax suited hand, the 2/3 bet makes sense but the raise to $24. A bad play for the same reasons I should not call a $24 bet with a draw. If I call villain's bet with top pair, 2 pair or a set and the turn blanks and I shove, then what will villain do. Villain is in a pickle. Ax suited either calls as villain has position or shoves as villain wants to see 2 more cards.

So this makes the likely hands

AA,KK,99, or 77, hands I should shove against and
88,66, and 55 are hands I should fold to.

There is also, unlike TNP the rake factor. I can't play in too many situations where I am only marginally ahead. The rake will eventually get me if I am a 1-3% favorite vs. the equity I have in the hand. When we play higher stakes the rake factor is almost irrelevant, but at these levels it matters.

So there are 4 probable hands I should shove against, 3 probable hands I should fold against.

Based on this analysis, I think either a fold or a shove are acceptable plays.

Bob Loblaw said...

OK, raise or fold, then, Jason. Which is it? Please make your move before I call "clock".

Ryan said...

Honestly, I didn't read your whole comment, Jason, I skipped down to the part where you named what you felt his range was.

It feels like you are trying to craft a range out of the situation that justifies folding as a legitimate option, but fine. You say the range of this guy you don't know anything about is AA, KK, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55. It's still a coin flip. You say the hands you need to fold against are 88, 66, 55. Let’s narrow his range down to “hands you should fold against.” It’s 39.4:60.6 against that range. Even the range you said you needed to fold to is getting the equity (over 38%) to make the call. Tell me the stakes and I’ll run it with rake if you want.

My official prediction is that Jason either folded this hand or called and lost. He is now desperately trying to find a way to justify his fold in the face of the numbers so he can roll around happily in a big pile of ROT like a hog in shit. Jason, if you folded, it was a mistake. Admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Or, keep rolling in your shit; I don’t ultimately care whether or not you are consistently able to look back honestly at your hands—I just enjoy holding up the mirror.

Sushi Cowboy said...

"My official prediction is that Jason either folded this hand or called and lost. He is now desperately trying to find a way to justify his fold in the face of the numbers so he can roll around happily in a big pile of ROT like a hog in shit. Jason, if you folded, it was a mistake."

If Jason folded, let me be the first one to say that it was *The Worst Fold Ever*.

Bob Loblaw said...

That's a very good point, Martin. I'd like to be the first to say that that's one *sick* laydown.

Ryan said...


Ryan said...

So? Out with it! How did the hand end up? Just because I don’t employ ROT doesn’t mean I’m not curious about how you played it…

Ryan said...



I am so surprised. Of all people, I thought you would not care about the ROTTY results. For the record, here it is.

When, the villain puts me to the test, as to whether to go all in or fold, I had to think quickly, at least for me. My basic thought process was that I had 15 outs. I figured I was roughly a coinflip against an overpair and should push given the equity in the pot. I should fold to a set or AK suited. Hinsight being 20/20, I don't think AK suited is likely. After playing so much Omaha, I figured against a set I was not way behind given the equity I had in the pot.

So I moved all in. Villain had 88 for top set and the next 2 cards bricked for me.

The interesting part of this hand was that if villain flipped over his cards, I would have folded. It would have been an amazing laydown.

I don't think I would play the hand differently in the future, other than I may consider a fold, especially with the rake factor. Playing on line you have to take advantage of fish and donks to win long term, especially at micro to low stakes. Participating in too many coin flips will not get you far, unless the stakes are huge.

Ryan said...

I like a good poker-hand story as much as the next guy, I just don’t decide what the correct play was based on the outcome. Big difference between ROT and curiosity.

You seem to talk about coin flips like anytime you are 50/50, you can justify folding because hey, it’s a coin flip. If there is significant dead money in a pot, you must absolutely call with 50/50 odds to be +EV in the long run. If he turns up his hand and you have time to do the math, I think it’s *still* a call, although marginal. I’ll do the math with rake in a bit.

Well, you didn’t fold, but I knew there was no way you won this hand. You put way too much effort in your post defending the fold as an option to have taken down this pot. If you’d hit an out and won that hand, I suspect you’d be singing a completely different tune about what the correct play was.

Ryan said...

If he turns his hand face up, it's still a (marginal) call if my earlier estimates were correct.

The rake is going to be capped, and thus 6BB at .25/.50. My earlier calculation said you were betting 70BB into (effectively) 115BB, so if you pull the rake, you are betting 70 into 109. This changes the equity needed from 38% to 39%.

If he turns up his hand and you do the math, you have 39.4% equity, so it's a slim call, but frankly, you could flip a coin to make your decision every time this hand came up (and he SHOWED HIS 88, mind you...against the range, it's an easy call) and it wouldn't have much of an impact on your long-term EV.

Which is why it was a terrible statement to say, "Participating in too many coin flips will not get you far." You can't make -EV plays and expect to get far. If a play is +EV, it's +EV. It doesn't matter if it's a coinflip, or if you are calling with 3 outs. If it's +EV, it's a good play, if it's -EV, it's a bad play, and the closer you are to neutral EV, the less important the decision is to your long-term success.

What this REALLY underscores, again, is bankroll management. If you are folding in +EV situations because, OMG, you are risking your stack on a pot where you are a dog to win, then you are probably playing above your bankroll.

It's never about your strict percent chance to win, it is about whether the net is positive in the long run given the pot odds and your percent chance to win, so don't generalize about "participating in coin flips" being a bad thing. "Participating in coin flips" as a vacuum statement has no value or meaning at all.

Marshall said...

Ryan rules.

That last comment was the best of the bunch. Jason, did you read that? So awesome.