shipitfish: (Default)

I had to stop thinking about poker for a bit after losing that grand, and I will be posting more about total donkey plays I made last weekend. But, I want to be clear about the hand that is the subject of this post: I am pretty sure that I love this situation. I made a brief off-handed reference to it in my earlier post. The thrust of the argument against my play below is that the preflop decision leaves me an underdog (i.e., playing AQs against a likely big pair or AK), and therefore it's not worth taking a flop. Furthermore, one could argue that the flop is at best a coin flip, so why introduce so much variance for this? Before I get deep into the analysis, let me first retell the whole situation, which should be stated and considered first before extensive analysis can be at all useful.

The hand begins on 21:09 on last Saturday when readysteady, a tight-aggressive, overpair-overplayer player on Full Tilt raised UTG to $9 in a six-handed NL HE game with $1/$2 blinds. I was right next to him and decided to call with Ad Qd. I could have easily been dominated by AA, QQ, or AK, but felt that it would be reasonably easy to get away for a small raise on the flop if it came A or Q high. Meanwhile, having seen him play aces once before at this table, I felt he'd raised less preflop with AA from early position (probably only $6), trying to induce action. He'd won with those aces earlier, so it was unlikely he hadn't gained a temporary “must over-protect aces” philosophy. He had raise to $6 before from early position with hands like AJ, so I suspected here that he held a vulnerable big pair that didn't want to see a flop out-of-position — probably TT or JJ. But, maybe he did hold QQ or KK; I couldn't rule it out. AK was another possibility, of course.

There was still some chance he had AA, but I figured (at the time) that most of the time, he held a hand like AK or TT-KK as opposed AA. In fact, the real numbers were much better. He's a tight player who almost always holds one of those hands when he makes that raise. With an Ace in my hand, there are only three ways he can make AA, while he has 33 ways to make one of those other hands, so he's about 1-to-11 underdog, statistically, to hold AA after his $9 raise. Why am I so focused on AA in this post-hand analysis? I'll get to that shortly.

To continue with the hand itself: I decided to call his $9, and that I'd get away on the flop if I made merely one pair. I had $259 and he had me covered. He had overplayed one pair a number of times at this table; he fit the typical profile of someone who plays NL HE by being very tight preflop and getting all the money in on nearly any flop where he holds an overpair or top pair, strong kicker. I'd of course rather have a set-building hand against him, but a nut-flush-building hand wasn't too bad, and I'd have position for the rest of the hand, as I expected the rest of the four people to fold unless they had monster.

With $21 in the pot, we see the aforementioned 5c 2d 3d. (My original quick note about the hand had the suit of the 5 wrong, but it isn't relevant since it wasn't a diamond. :) readysteady bet out $15.

I now had him read for an overpair, or maybe a feeler bet with AK (pretty unlikely). Folding on this flop seemed like a bad move; I have too many outs against so many of his possible holdings. I could call and see if the turn hit me, or raise right away. It was highly likely that he would reraise, and I decided that, before I raised, I had to know what I'd do when he reraised. If he reraised, I had to be committed to playing for all my chips. I had limited time to make this decision, but I was sure in about 20 seconds of my one minute to act that I had to be committed.

My biggest consideration was how I'd get paid off if my outs came. I thought he might put one more pot-sized bet in if I hit the flush or the straight, but he might slow down if an overcard came. If my overcards are actually live outs, then I might make another half-pot bet from him on the turn, and when I called it or raised, he'd be done with the hand because he knows that I am not going any further without a pair that beats his (i.e., his “get all money in with overpair” rule no longer applies). Meanwhile, if one of my overcards isn't good (specifically, if he holds KK), I'm a favorite (see numbers below), but it's still tough to play a Q on the turn. I was therefore ready to commit my stack.

I raised to $40, readysteady paused for about a quarter of the allotted time (15 seconds) and reraised to $100. That pause made me even a bit more sure that he didn't have AA. I felt he'd be faster to commit chips with AA, because he doesn't have to pause to consider that I might have an overpair to his. The pause, of course, could have merely been his consideration of a set, but this was a player I'd seen commit quickly to aces once at this table. I felt he would do so again. I moved in, putting my whole remaining $250, and he thought again (this time only about 2-3 seconds) and called. He showed Kd Ks and the board completed to 5c 2d 3d Jh Kh. His set won $521.

Now, in the moment, I didn't have time for heavy math analysis. But even after the hand, I think that the questions are really these: (a) should I fold AQs preflop to an early position raiser, and (b) should I just see if my draw hits on the turn rather than getting all my money in?

As to the first question, I don't think it is reasonable to fold the hand, even against a tight online player. The typical profile of tight players in the six-handed games on Full Tilt — a profile which this fellow fit and had confirmed by his actions — is that they overplay overpairs and/or strong top pair for all their chips. My 9-to-253 implied odds are just too huge to pass up in a six handed game. The other players behind me are highly likely to fold. I'm going to see a flop heads up with position.

Of course, I may be dominated. I need a lot of help on the flop (which I got, IMO) to put any more chips in the pot. But when I do get that help, I'm going to get his whole stack. I am focused on taking stacks in NL HE; not making sure I make the absolute direct odds pre-flop EV play. This is why I decided that for me in this hand “hitting the flop” did not include merely top pair. I definitely needed two pair or better.

Two pair would be tough to play, but this fellow was likely to slow-play a set, so it'd go check-bet-call or check-bet-raise on an AQx flop should he hold a set. Either way, I would have slowed down and eventually folded two pair in that sort of situation. I might lose a bit more on the turn, but I'm only going to bet a quarter of the pot on the turn when he checks again, worrying specifically about the check-raise by that set of aces of queens. Once he check raises, I'm done — I've folded two pair many times in such a spot. So, while there are some negative implied odds for two pair against a set, I also get paid off pretty well from AK, with which he bets out rather than check-raising in that spot. (I should note that despite lots of advice out there about betting out with a set, few players do it; I didn't think readysteady was likely to.)

If I flop Broadway, I'm getting all my money in on the flop while winning. In that spot, he puts it all in with AK most of the time, and a set all the time. If I flop a flush, I almost always win but I admittedly don't make too much from him, unless he flops a set.

If I flop what I flopped, overcards, a flush draw, and a gutshot, I have to tread lightly if the flop is ten high or bigger, but in this case, with all babies, I'm in great shape.

Yes, he can wake up with AA in that spot, and I get my money in as a 36% underdog. But, going back to the hands he likely to have, given his preflop action and flop lead, he's a 1-to-11 underdog (about 8%) to have specifically AA. So, 8% of the time, I'm a 36% underdog. Another 8% of the time (when he has QQ), I'm a 44% dog. Meanwhile when he has KK (18% of the time), I'm a 51% favorite. Against the rest of the likely pairs (TT, JJ), which he holds 36% of the time, I'm about 58% favorite. I'm of course crushing AK (the extra 30%), but if his flop lead was actually a feeler bet with AK, he folds any AK when I raise.)

Anyway, I'll even set aside my read that he didn't hold AA. I'll just do the pure EV calculation that his lead bet gives us no new information (i.e., it may be an AK feeler), and that he gets all the money in with any pair (i.e., we assume no fold equity). I do the calculation by assuming I win right there when he holds AK, and that I have to face the odds with all my chips when he has any other holdings.

With these assumptions, my flop EV (when I raise on the flop, expecting him to reraise and we get it all in) is as follows:

HandProbability of HoldingEV formulaEV component
AA 8% 36% × $271 + 64% × $-250$-5
KK 18% 51% × $271 + 49% × $-250$3
QQ 8% 44% × $271 + 56% × $-250$-2
TT, JJ 36% 58% × 271 + 42% × $-250$19
AK holdings 30% $36$11
TOTAL: 100%$26
(The EV “component” field is the “percent he has it” column multiplied by the “EV formula” for that situation.)

Now, I agree that introducing $250 of variance for $26 of EV is nowhere near the best spot I can get find in these tight-weak games online. But, it's still a good spot that I'd take every day for $250! I believe in keeping a large bankroll (larger than most proposed recommendations), in part so you can take these tight marginal edges.

There are also meta-game considerations here to think about. I have chosen to play short handed NL HE tables precisely because the players there tend to be tight-weak preflop and play one pair too loosely after the flop. I play best in NL HE against tight-weak players who overplay one pair.

When playing against these players, I want to sometimes take these tight-edge gambles. I want them to know they are going to get action when they overplay one pair. More importantly, I want them to know that sometimes they won't be a huge underdog against me when I give them such action. (Indeed, I engaged readysteady in chat window discussion about the odds precisely to make sure he realized that I'd pushed an extremely tight edge.)

You see, I want readysteady (even his username exudes tight-weak play, did you notice that?) to overplay that KK every time. I want him to continue to believe that folding an overpair is impossible. I want everyone at the table to feel the same way. I want readysteady to call up his poker buddies, and tell him about the huge fish who pushed in with AQs with “only” 15 outs. I want them all to react this way, because, if I didn't have straight draw outs as well, I wouldn't have played the hand the way I did. I would have called with 2-to-1 direct odds on the flop, seen if I made the flush on the turn, and folded for a pot-sized bet if I didn't. It would have been a little mundane pot that wouldn't even have made it to my blog. But, I had at least three extra outs, and went for it. Sure, the math shows I'm risking $259 to chase $26 in EV. But, most of the time when I get the money in with him, I have a set of fives, not the nut flush draw with one (maybe two) overcards and a gutshot.

Some might argue this is a reckless way to play NL HE when I could sit and wait for more of lock. I'm going to ask my coach to read this one, but I'll probably need a lot convincing from him that I made the wrong move. I watch these tight-weak players bleed away money playing ultra tight and making themselves like textbooks. I want them to fear me at the table; to worry that they can't fold because maybe I have some big draw, not a set. I don't move in every time with AQs in that spot with every player. It felt right in this situation, with that board, against that player.

We can argue about “risk vs. volatility”. We can disagree that introducing $259 of variance into one's bankroll for $26 of EV is too much variance. (Although please consider that the limit HE player frequently puts 30 BBs at risk to win at most 2 BBs for a given evening — and that this situation is much better.) But, I think that's the most important point of this hand: varying a little bit from playing “by the book” (i.e., calling with AQs after a preflop raise, moving in with a big draw that may be at best a coin flip) builds a complicated table image that keeps your opponents guessing and forces them to respond to you.

We'll see what Bob says when I ask him to read this — if I'm full of crap, I'm happy to eat my words if he tells me to. :)

Update:Bob finally answered me on it.

shipitfish: (u-club-stack-2006-03)

Back at River Street once, I called a bet that was somewhere between $300 and $400. Until last week, that was the biggest single bet I'd ever called (or made, for that matter) in a poker cash game. Thursday night, I made that new amount $452, which yielded the largest pot I've ever played as well: $1,012.

Work Dan (since there are two Dans commonly mentioned in my journal, I'll start being more careful to distinguish) and I went to the U Club for an evening of poker last Thursday. The $1/$2 NL ($300 max) game was more happening than usual. There were a number of calling stations, and a number of would-be “strong” players who would make big all-in raises when they should have just called (e.g., when holding a straight made on the turn on a board that made a three-flush on the river), or who would constantly overplay one pair.

I had built a stack from my $300 buy-in to $475 when the following hand came up. I limped from middle position after one limper with 5h 7h. Most pots were seeing flops with no raises for the preceding fifteen minutes or so; the table was quite passive. Two more limped behind me and the small blind completed. The big blind (BB), a regular who has good starting hand selection but couldn't fold an overpair at all once he saw a flop, raised, making it $25 to go.

The limper between us quickly folded, and I looked to the left. I got the feeling that one of the two limpers behind me was ready to call (a calling station who would pay almost any amount for a draw). I figured the small blind and the other limper were likely to fold. I was offered 25-to-60 (roughly 1-to-2.5) direct odds to call. These weren't great, but I had a really clear idea of what the BB held. He had AK earlier, and had raised a smaller amount from the blind with roughly the same number of limpers. However, with QQ, he'd raised about this amount. I really eliminated the no-pair hands right there — I felt pretty strongly he wouldn't commit that much (he was a bit of an “absolute amount” better) with even an AKs. I decided TT was maybe a possibility, but JJ-AA were the most likely.

The BB was also very deep; he had me covered for sure (I eye-balled it at around $500, turns out it was $580). I decided to call, because if I flopped two pair or better, he would have trouble folding and put a lot into the pot drawing thin. Two folks actually called behind me (the calling station I expected and the button), and we saw the flop four-handed with $108 in the pot.

I watched the BB watch the flop. He didn't love it, but I felt before I even looked myself that he held an overpair to it. He stared for a moment, then looked at his chips and aggressively said “All in”. I began thinking why did he make such a huge overbet? as I looked down to see 5c 7c 5s. Wow! Ok, so I have the second nuts, and someone likely drawing to two outs just bet $450 at me!

I looked behind me to see if there was any way I could showboat to get the short (relative) stacks to call, probably drawing at a flush. They looked as ready to fold as anyone could look, so I said Call and watched their cards hit the muck. He tabled the As Ah, and stared at me, looking worried. When the fourth five hit the board, I turned my hand up saying: You have outs to the bad beat jackpot, I think. (As it turned out he didn't; the bad beat jackpot at the club had been hit the previous night, and they'd increased the requirement from “any aces-full beat” to “aces-full-of-kings beat”, but I didn't know that until after the hand was done.)

I counted out my chips and said, $452, I think, dealer, please recount me, though. Meanwhile, this guy was going ballistic. I didn't listen to most of it; it went on for a full minute. The last utterance was: what do I need to raise preflop to get you off that donkey shit?. I didn't know what to do, I wanted to remain silent but felt bad and wanted to say something. I gave the only answer that came to mind: If you went all-in preflop, I wouldn't have called. I should have kept my mouth shut, because that probably made it worse, but I didn't know what to do with the guy flipping out. (He fortunately wasn't the beat-you-up-outside-later type, but I made sure waited a full half after he left before leaving.)

He kept muttering but I just ignored it as the dealer squared and shipped. There was a lot of chat after the fellow left (an hour later after he dumped his rebuy to Work Dan — more on that later) about why he'd made this overbet. My best theory remains that he was focused on the other stacks, which were only about $200 at most. I think he thought that he was overbetting by about 2-to-1 instead of nearly 4.5-to-1. It's a great example of making sure you know the stack sizes. I didn't feel bad because I'm always careful to keep my stack visible with all greens up front.

In the end, considering his reaction, I think he was more angry with himself for the overbet than he was at me for playing 57s. And, hey, maybe I am a donkey. But, knowing he'd often overplay an overpair, I think I had reasonable implied odds to call. What do you all think?

Obligatory stack pictures are available as always.

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shipitfish

November 2016

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