Thursday, November 8, 2007

Your take on this hand please.

This is hand from the Cake Challenge last week:


I will reserve my thoughts for after, but what do you guys think? Do you like the way I played it? Do you hate it? Are there alternative ways to play this hand? Should I have mucked the turn?

I have talked about this hand with Jason via email and Jeh in person, and it spawned some pretty interesting stuff. Jason and Jeh also post your thoughts here if you wish.



Sushi Cowboy said...

I think that it makes sense to either:

a) push on the flop or
b) fold on the turn

I think either of those would be better than the way it was played. You are starting with one of the absolute best starting hands in Hold'em and got about as good a flop as you can ask without hitting. Based on what I've seen of the play on those tables, I'd go ahead and shove with two overs, a gutter to the nuts and the nut flush draw. I don't understand the shove after the board pairs.

Marshall said...

So if you call the flop, you would have folded the turn to his bet?

jsola said...

Yeah, agreed with Martin. Your hand has great equity on the flop and a lot less on the turn. If the other players had bigger stacks I could see calling to try to get more players involved in the pot for when you hit one of your many draws to the nuts, but you have to be ready to dump it when you miss.

Also this guy just bet pot into you on two streets, even after the ten paired. He's definitely not folding to your raise with only $0.75 left, so you have no fold equity in that reraise. I can't imagine you're ahead of anything here other than a crazy aggro player with a draw, and I don't think you have good enough pot odds against two opponents on this board.

Sushi Cowboy said...

In the end, I probably call on the turn and kick myself for not shoving or at least three betting on the flop after the hands are opened up.

Ryan said...

I think I can let that hand go on the turn.

Preflop is standard, and gets $.76 in.

On that flop with hands face up, you have 12 clean outs, and in the heat of it I'd be thinking maybe as many as 17 or 18 if he's betting something like AJ or Jx. You have to figure short stack is getting it in, so it's $.38 to win $1.24 (or more if the sb calls, but he seems done), which is basically there for just one more card on 12 outs (this is why half-pot bets with vulnerable-but-best holdings like two pair is too small, you are giving odds to big draws for just one more card, much less two). Honestly, if it weren't for the pesky possibility of 98, I'd probably have thought that my A and K outs were looking clean enough on the flop to justify a raise. You might have some fold equity (only a half-pot, if it were full pot, you can be sure you have no FE), and I'm happy to get my money in on the flop with 17 outs. 18 outs. Still, with only 12 outs to the pure nuts, I like the call over the push on the flop.

$1.62 in on the turn

OK, now I can fold. Even if you write off the paired board and still figure you have 12 clean outs, you aren't nearly getting the odds to chase it. You have to be certain that A and K are still outs, and you can't really think that with villain potting the turn like that.

Sushi Cowboy said...

OK, I'm having a hard time dealing with numbers with decimal points and am not looking at pot percentages. I agree a shove is way too much on the flop. I do like a three bet raise though with a bunch of clean outs and some presumably good overcards.

I guess my thinking on the option to shove on the flop was based on the fact that you were willing to put in your stack on the turn after all fold equity had evaporated.

Austin said...

I like the raise on the flop. On the turn I would like to think I'd fold, but I'd probably be calling at the least. Since the river hits, I'd call, but not be happy about it. If I were playing perfect poker and thinking about the odds that Ryan is generating, I'd probably fold, but in the heat of it I doubt I have good enough skills to be able to judge that.

Ryan said...

"If I were playing perfect poker and thinking about the odds that Ryan is generating, I'd probably fold, but in the heat of it I doubt I have good enough skills to be able to judge that."

Let's be clear that I am no math machine; I never come up with perfect odds in the heat of battle, I just like looking back with the true math when trying to figure out what the right play was.

That being said, if you are facing a bet with a draw, you should be able to rough the math, especially online where people are conveniently betting in pot and half-pot chunks all the time. Granted, you don't have as much time as in rl, but memorize this:

* A half-pot bet is offering you 3:1, and you need a 25% chance or better to justify a call.

* A pot-sized bet is offering you 2:1, and you need a 33% or better chance to justify a call.

(Let that sink in...the massive pot-sized bet *still* only prices out hands that are worse than 33% against you.)

Count the outs you think are clean, and multiply by 2 to get your rough chance of making your hand on the next street.

Getting down to decimal points and odds based on accurate ranges in the heat of battle is unrealistic, but when you are facing a half-pot or pot-sized bet online and you have a draw, you should be able to work out the math roughly and quickly enough to make a good decision. You just have to multiply small numbers by two and compare to 25 or 33.

Just don't forget that if you are facing such a bet on the flop with a draw and your stacks are deep relative to the bet you are facing, you need to calculate your odds for one more card, not two, as you will be charged again on the turn if you miss.

In the Cake challenge, the inability of people to fold flush draws on the flop and turn to pot-sized bets is both the source of my greatest profit and, when they hit, my greatest frustration. But then I remind myself of the profit part and it's easier to take.

And my favorite part when they do hit their flush on the river after calling two pot-sized bets is when they check it to me thinking I'm going to bet for them...NO IMPLIED ODDS FOR YOU!

jason said...

For the record, here is my extensive analysis on this hand. Looks like I agree with Martin on this one, and continue my record of mostly disagreeing with Ryan.

I went back and looked again at the AK diamonds hand. Given the stakes and the amount of donks you play with I am OK with your play. You don't need to take too many risks considering how bad your opposition is. Let us change the stakes to $2/4, with your bankroll now at $23.000. It is year 4, you are successful, but at the $2/4 tables, it takes you nearly six months to double up.

All the players are good and you must now imagine yourself playing in the TNP crowd against the best of the best.

Same situation, you have $932.00, opponent has $293.

Flop is 7,10,J with 10 and J being diamonds. You have AK of diamonds.

Your opponent bets into you for the amount of the pot, or $38.

You have an gut shot straight flush draw and the nut flush draw. What do you do?

First, figure out what your opponent has.

This is not as hard as it sounds.

He bet into you, the original raiser.


Flopped straight? I doubt it, you continuation bet 75% of the time, so why not wait for your bet.
Trips? I doubt it, same reason.
Air. Possible, since you continuation bet so often, some players will do this to keep you honest.
2 pair? possible, but why lead out so strong
underpair, possible, but any good player will realize that the original raiser could have AK, AQ, AJ, or A10 and will likely not fold to a bet here.

More likely:

A pair:

If it is the 7, or 10, likely has a draw to go with it. So it could be 7 of diamonds and any other diamond.
It could be 10,9, or 10,8

If it is the Jack it could be KJ,QJ, or J,9. Unlikely AJ, but possible as AJ may raise.

Q9 is also possible for the open ender.

So now you have narrowed it down to top pair, middle pair, likely with a draw, or bottom pair, likely with a draw. Open ender is a possibility as well.

What is the best move on the flop against these hands.

I like a 3 bet, a 4 bet or a shove.


You currently have nothing, just ace high, but you are mathematically at least a coin flip against the range of hands I described.

You have tremendous fold equity as you are the original raiser.

Particularly with a 3x or 4x bet, your opponent will likely put you on an overpair and will likely fold.

If you shove, your opponent may read that you are on a draw and the gamblers will call you and coin flip.

So I think the best move on the flop is a 3x or 4x bet to somewhere between $114 and $152.

We will have to be that good if we are to consistently beat the $2/$4 tables, assuming we are patient enough to make it there.

Ryan said...

We don't totally disagree, Jason; I don't feel all that strongly either way about a call or raise on the flop. I came down on the side of a call, but that's a lot due to the stakes: you don't have fold equity like you do in bigger games, you have better implied odds, and you are generally more skilled than your opponents.

And make no mistake--if you shove, chances are extremely high that you are getting a call, here. You turned it into a 1/2 game for your argument, but it's not, it's a .02/.04 game. The fact that it was a half-pot flop bet kept me from declaring the fold equity at 0%, but in all my cake hands, I've never seen someone pot into me on the flop of a hand where I was the preflop aggressor, and had them fold to a raise. And shove vs. "raise" hardly matters, as if you raise less than all in, villain will shove themselves with as much frequency as they will call your shove.

So by shoving, you have no real fold equity, you remove your implied odds, and you remove any further chance to outplay your opponent. Villain has given you a fine price to see another card, and by calling, you accept that your fold equity is tiny, and retain both your implied odds and opportunity to outplay on later streets. Which is why I hate the turn call so much. The whole justification for calling instead of raising on that flop is to have options on the turn. If you can't get away from it when you are potted on a worse-than-blank turn, then by all means shove on the flop.

Shoving/raising is a completely valid flop play. How much I feel like gambling at the time, and how much better or worse I feel I am than the villain is going to influence my own decision on a flop like that.

jsola said...

I agree with most of what you say, Ryan, and I don't HATE a call, but I still think a raise or a shove is better.

If I push, I don't care how he reacts. If he folds, I win. If he calls, I still (usually) win. You say most players aren't folding, and that's true, especially here since he's a little short stacked. But I don't care! I *want* him to call with his crappy second pair, because every time he does I'm making money.

You also say that you're giving up implied odds by shoving, and then later you say you're removing any chance to outplay your opponent. If he's not folding anyway, how can you outplay him?

Also, if you call and fold the turn, you've just given up the best hand when he's bluffing and semi-bluffing. I don't think that's incredibly likely here, but it *has * to form some percentage of an unknown player's range. I'm not saying don't fold the turn, I think that's a clear fold, it just sucks to have to do that.

One rationale for calling that I can get on board with is reducing variance. Shoving on a semi-bluff is always going to be a high variance play, and calling with correct odds and folding when you miss will cost you less money in the short term.

Ryan said...

“If he's not folding anyway, how can you outplay him?”

By folding when you are beat and not getting the right price instead of paying him off. “Outplaying” doesn’t always mean “winning.”

“Also, if you call and fold the turn, you've just given up the best hand when he's bluffing and semi-bluffing. I don't think that's incredibly likely here, but it *has * to form some percentage of an unknown player's range.”

It’s a stakes thing again. I just haven’t seen it. You can insist a bluff is part of the range, but being led into strong on the flop and turn after you were the preflop raiser at mircostakes…the first time I see that and it turns out to be a semi-bluff or bluff, I will snag the hand and post it. I haven’t seen it yet, though; so far, it has been a signal of genuine strength.

“One rationale for calling that I can get on board with is reducing variance.”

Yeah, and that ties into my basic question here, “Why gamble with an inferior opponent?” Why make a high-variance move that turns the hand into roulette when you are the superior poker player?

The ultimate goal of poker is to cause your opponents to make mistakes, and to not make mistakes of your own. Again, shoving is fine here, and I will absolutely do that myself; it is actually my preferred play if I feel I have fold equity.

Remember though, that while you aren’t making a mistake by shoving, your opponent isn’t making a mistake by calling your shove, either. Calling keeps it a poker game, and gives your opponent the chance to make a mistake.

I think a shove with no fold equity is +EV against Villain’s range--I just want Hero to be conscious of the advantages he’s giving up in the hand with that move.

A minor point worth mentioning in favor of the call is the presence of the SB. When you have so many clean draws and no made hand yet, you don’t mind another player coming along. As I said before, it feels like the SB is done with the hand, but at microstakes especially, you never know. He might come along for the nice 4:1 he’s getting after you call.

So, my bottom line is: make either move (again, echoing Martin's initial post), but be conscious of the pros and cons of your choice.

Sushi Cowboy said...

After futher digestion of the hand, I guess what it boils down to for me is: If you aren't going to semi-bluff on the flop with two overs and 11 clean outs (plus 7d likely) to the nuts, when are you going to? PPT says you are 58% to win...with Ace high so far! So I think the SBRFV (semi-bluff/raise for value) is definitely in order for the flop. It is effectively an all in based on the stacks but I think a three-betish raise looks less desperate and more like you *want* him to come along.

Even if the guy flopped the nuts you have clean outs though you could take away some if he *happens* to have 8d9d. If you make it a litle over a buck to go and he calls (with second pair and a gutter) then you are still probably priced in to call with the remaining outs you have.

Ryan said...

If you aren't going to semi-bluff on the flop with two overs and 11 clean outs to the nuts, when are you going to?
When I’m at a level where I have fold equity. Then, raise raise rasie every time, here.
I have done my best to remove semi-bluffs in this kind of spot (facing a lead-out after being the preflop aggressor) from my repertoire at cake microstakes because of the lack of fold equity. It goes to the strategy I’ve been employing all along in the challenge: don’t be tricky. Cake microstakes is a place where fold equity is small, implied odds are huge, and I’m usually the best player at the table; I’ve adjusted my game plan accordingly.

This specific hand would be my toughest test for sure. All of my instincts would be screaming to raise it, and again, it would not be incorrect to do so.

Marshall said...

Here is what went through my head in the heat of the moment.

I am leading in this hand preflop, and getting as much money as I can in the pot; I make a pot sized bet.

I get 3 callers, nothing notable there.

I flop a monster draw. I treat it like a monster hand, I am not folding this hand under almost any circumstances given the normal stack sizes. When I call on the flop, I am effectively slow playing. I don't want to scare away any customers. When the 10 comes off on the turn, it means almost nothing to me. He let into this pot on the flop, how can I put him on a 10 realistically? I have him on a shitty J or something like that. If he has a 10 or a boat then so be it. He bets pot and I get the rest in to make sure that I get paid off in full if I hit.

Looking back now:
I am fine with how I played it, but I wish I had possibly min raised the flop bet to get more money in early in the hand. Against decent players I will semi bluff this every single time, and even go to the felt with it. But there is 0% chance I semi with this hand here for a few reasons: 1. Limited fold equity. 2. I don't want people out of this hand. I am 60/40 favorite against an under-pair here.

Now the turn: I don't regret pushing on the turn and I don't think it's a mistake. He pot bets for almost all of his money, and if he has a 10, he is 78% favorite, but if he has a J, or any other pair (which is just as likely or even more so, I mean this guy pot bet into the original raiser with a 10 8 on a J high board) I am still 40% to win. I am getting 2:1 on that pot call and I am comfortable with that.

The thing is, you can't realistically put together a decent range for these guys, and when I have that strong of a drawing hand, I am not dumping it for one buy in.

jsola said...

"I flop a monster draw. I treat it like a monster hand."

Truth is, this is not a monster hand, it's a monster draw. It's worse off than an overpair here. Are you ever playing AA/KK like this, against these people? No, you're going to raise it up to get more money in while you're ahead and because they're too dumb to fold.

This is even more important for big draws, because they NEED to see both the turn and the river to get all the equity they have on the flop.

"1. Limited fold equity. 2. I don't want people out of this hand."

If both of these statements are true then why wouldn't you raise?

Marshall said...

I guess the main difference for me is that I was drawing to the nuts here, where an overpair is never the nuts.

Interesting point about what I said about keeping people in. The thing is, I said limited fold equity, not non existant. With a huge hand like this, I am aiming to win a monster not take down a smallish pot on the flop usually.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Ryan says "implied odds are huge" but are you really going to get paid off by a guy with second pair when a third diamond hits? Granted I don't play at the same stakes/tables/games as you guys but I think there would be a TON of cards that could come to kill the action (which goes hand in hand with mega-draws not surprisingly).