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You Decide #40

Number 40 already? Man, how the time flies. This You Decide took place in a $20 180-person SNG on PokerStars. I was playing fairly well, but overall was card dead. We were on Level 3, with blinds of 25/50.

I had 1930, more than the starting 1500. I was deal 4s6s in the cutoff (one spot before the button. Two players (big guy, with T1000 and RAF with 1800) limped in before me, so I decided to limp as well. I always wonder if I should explain my thinking during the you decide. I'm going to save it for after the play-by-play. The button (Rosebud, T2500) raised to 250. The big blind (Fishman, T1000) called. The small blind and big guy fold, RAF and I call.

The flop was 8c 3s 2s. I have a baby flush draw, and inside straight flush draw and an inside straight draw. Fishman and RAF check. I check as well. Rosebud pushes all-in (he has us all covered). Fishman folds. RAF calls (T1545). I take a minute to decide and call.

The turn is a 7h and the river is a Td. I fail to improve and lose with a ten-high hand. Rosebud had 9d9h. Fishman has As8h. Rosebud took down the hand with his overpair.

Now, I can assume where people will have problems. But when I assume I make an ass out of someone somewhere, and I wouldn't want to do that. So, heap on the hate people. In fact, I wouldn't mind if you stopped reading and commented right now before you read my analysis below. In fact, I'll wait for you... ... ... ... ... ...

Done? Good. For those who couldn't wait, feel free to still comment about my analysis or how you would've played the hand.

The initial call was because there were already 2 limpers and the 2 blinds in play. 4s6s is an easy hand to get away from if I don't hit, but if I do hit, it is well hidden. When Rosebud called, I was a bit dismayed. However, before it got around to me, two other people called his raise. That's 825 or so with the small blind and the limper, and all I have to do is call 200. I'm not sure of the actual odds, but the implied odds on a hand like mine are huge, and, as I mentioned, its an easy hand to fold post-flop if I miss.

When the flop comes down, I immediately see my outs. It's checked to me and I'm glad to see a free card, so I check as well. Rosebud bets out a bit TOO big, but if everyone else folded, I probably would do the same. That didn't happen though. RAF called. That meant that I was playing for about 4000+ to call 1500. Also, I'd have a commanding chip position at the table and could either coast or apply pressure from there on out. My one concern was that I could be facing a higher flush draw. But ultimately, I put Rosebud on overs and I had RAF on something close to top pair, if not a lower overpair. I called and lost, but I still think it was the right move.

But what do I know? Shoot me a comment and tell me how stupid I am! Thanks for reading.


After reviewing some comments, I decided to do a little odds calculation, compliments of This is what I found:

To save you the trouble of squinting, let me make it loud and clear for you. I was the FAVORITE after the flop! The odds of me winning was 42.3%. The 99 had a 41.75% chance of winning. The A8 had a 15.95% chance of winning. I know! I was surprised too! My odds on the all-in call was actually correct!

Now, this begs the much more interesting question. Even though the odds were in my favor, should I have layed it down anyway. I'm all for the idea of avoiding coin flips early in tournaments. I've preached it here on more than one occassion. But what if you can triple up and gain a commanding lead and cushion at your table. Is it worth it then?

And then there is this question: Was my mistake that I played the hand as though I were in a cash game? In a cash game, this would be a solid play. Just ask DP/Fluxer (back me up, man!) or some other cash player. At least I think its a solid, if not gutsy, play. So, keep the comments coming, 'cause this one is just getting started.

posted by Jordan @ 3:07 PM,


At 3:48 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

One bad call started the avalanche.

After the flop however, calling the all-in on a draw is also meh since you can assume at least an overpair/set by one hand and someone else probably having the flush draw.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing how early it was in the played this hand very poorly. Basic poker strategy and any inkling of poker intellect tells you to avoid risking your tourney life on a draw. Especially with the weak hand you described.

Maybe you need to re-read one of your many poker books. I am not surprised you are on a losing streak.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger WillWonka said...

Can't say enough about the initial call; but the call of the raise should have sent warning signals into the "not worth it" camp.

Save your chips to when YOU can put pressure on others as opposed to always being the one who calls.

BTW, I should also heed my own advice as this is something that I struggle with.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Drizz and Wonka offer some good advice. Wonka, I'm not sure what you mean about the "call of the reraise" that should've scared me. Do you mean RAF's call preflop, because, frankly, he had A8 (not too scary) and even without knowing what he had, I would've been more concerned if he folded (leaving one less person to make money off of). Drizz probably hit it on the head. The big mistake was the preflop call (Wonka makes the same point, really).

I'm a bit surprised that the consensus post flop is so negative, but upon review, it really was too early in the tournament for this play. We were down to about 110 players (out of 180). This is a move to do when you are shortstacked and desperate. I just thought at the time that it was a good time to mix it up. If I hit, I'd be a big stack and everyone would think I'm a donkey.

I'm very curious about who Anonymous is, but its clear what he is not: a seasoned poker player. If I wanted to play poker like a bot, I'd just get a bot. I'm not saying my play was amazing. It was borderline or overclever at best.

"Basic poker strategy and any inkling of poker intellect tells you to avoid risking your tourney life on a draw." HAHAHA! You surely kid yourself. Sure, you don't want to risk your tourney life on a draw, but there are times when it is necessary and correct! This might not have been the time, but your statement is insulting to me AND you.

And then you tell me to reread my "many" poker books, and you can see why I am on a losing streak. Well, gather up your balls and name yourself. I have professed here early and often that I am not into the poker book thing anymore, not that there is anything wrong with it. Further, my losing streak has ended already, cupcake, so don't worry about me.

All that said, please continue to comment on my play. I admit that I am not perfect in every hand, but was my thinking THAT far off? Is there any benefit to this gambling style? And will anyone else profess my ignorance and losing streak based on one hand that I admittedly didn't play well and post for your critique and general discussion? Let's see.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger slb159 said...

I think this is sikmilar to the one you posted about me. There, you had an additional 4 outs with and OESFD. Yes, the table action was different, but the answer you got was push. I may have called this too as I like to duoble up early in a tourney. Interesting to hear what The Rooster will advise on this one.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Put me in with the "it was too early to try it" crowd. If the blinds were higher, you'd have better odds to call preflop (although ~3.5:1 ain't that bad).

I wouldn't call that all-in this early either. You have an inside straight draw (with a one outer for the straight flush) to win. The flush, as you said, isn't that strong, so I'd include it on a discount. I really wouldn't be happy about making a flush in this situation unless people checked around to me.

Wonka hit it on the head, though. You want to do the pushing, not the calling. It wasn't worth the risk here.

What really comes through in your description of the hand, however, is you were looking for reasons to call instead of looking for reasons to fold.

Maybe if I read my own comments, I'll learn this lesson too! ;)

At 5:06 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Haha! True, Wolf. I just had a feeling that I wasn't that far behind. Maybe I was looking for reasons to call when I should've been looking for reasons to fold, but I had a feeling about the way this hand was shaping up. The more I consider it, the more I think my error was that I was playing it like a cash-game hand. Take a look at the odds though, and you'll see that my play is a lot less stupid than it looks. Mind you, if the flop came AKQ or even Q92, I'd be folding in a flash.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger slb159 said...

Oh and you should mention you play a mean Omaha game!

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Falstaff said...

I don't hate the preflop call because you can get away from the hand, but I think when you didn't flop the monster you should've been gone. The baby flush draw may not have been good even if it hit, and the inside straight and straight flush draws just put you drawing too thin to put it all on the line like that. For me, in a cash game, I'm tossing that hand to that much action in front of me, even if I can reload easily.

The math may indeed have been right, but was it worth it to put your tournament life on the line drawing to a 6-high flush (the hand you're most likely to make)?

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Chi_Town said...

I guess I would say the limp was questionable, the preflop call was very questionable, the all-in call with 2:1 to hit the flush (not counting the str8) and better than 2:1 from the pot was a proper play... (unless you follow the "If I am broke, I am done" principle that Sklansky talks about).

Splashing with a weak hand is asking for trouble, calling the raise is throwing away money (because you need the perfect flop)...

Calling the all-in was proper because I would think the all-in raiser is protecting a high pocket pair, two pair or trips from the flush... and the all-in caller has a made hand like trips. Thus I would say your draws were good, and you had the right pot odds.

Just a bit questionable to get in with this kind of hand. As TJ says... "I would not have lost all my chips, get me right, if I did not call with what I knew was the worst hand".

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Raveen said...

Im def a big cash game player and of course i would have called that in heart beat. As to tournement situation i still agree completely with ur call high for the sole reason of the Matt Matros article on coinflipping early in the tournement. I can't find the article its in Negranu's forum somewhere and dont have the time to search for it, but basically its saying if u see someones cards they have AK and u have QQ and the AK push all in do you call with ur percentage edge. He does alot of math to explain why pro's who claim they wouldnt call are wrong in doing so. With that being said most pro's would agree that going out earlier in a tournement is way better then going out later and not cashing. Anytime you get your money in as a favorite you have done your job. Because what do we all hope for when the cards have the hand with the best chance of winning go in. Thats what you did and your play was correct.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Raveen said...

just found the article read that and then say u wouldnt call with a statistical edge

At 10:08 PM, Blogger DP said...

I may have folded the 4s6s preflop in that tournament situation.

If I had called like you did (which I probably wouldn't have), I would have definitely gone all in on the flop after Fishman and RAF had checked, in order to increase my chance of winning the hand since I would have no intention of folding such a good draw -- you had odds, but as you know, odds in a tournament don't necessarily justify a call, especially if you think you can wait for better spots and fight for smaller uncontested pots.

I like your pre-flop play for a cash game (I would sometimes raise the limpers in that position with suited gaped cards, as I would a top premium hand, with the intention to out play post-flop, but I'll sometimes limp behind as you did). The only difference, once again, is that in a cash game I would have gone all in on the flop just like in the tournament situation once Fishman and RAF checked the flop (all in is around the size of the pot in this tournament situation, so in a real cash game situation I would likely bet the pot) in order to increase my chances of winning the hand by exerting pressure on my opponents, and putting them to a test with my big draw.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger jjok said...

Cash game - this is a winning situation in the long run. Call and reload if you don't hit.

I will say, too, that I seriously doubt that someone pushes on the flop here in a cash game though.

As for tourney play, I probably make the call here too. Yes, your tourney life is at stake, but the opportunity to triple up is huge and you have a very strong draw. My only concern would be if someone else had higher flush cards......obviously.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous dre said...

I'm anonymous, but not the anonymous from above ;-).

I'm gonna disagree with most people here. I like the hand. I don't mind the preflop call for exactly the reasons you stated in your analysis. As for postflop you got exactly the flop you were hoping to get so how can you lay it down now... especially with the pot odds you were getting with the all-in and call ahead of you. Question for you... Would you ever consider taking the lead on a flop like this?

At 11:46 AM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I did consider takign the lead for a moment, Dre. In the end, since it was checked to me and there was only one person to act (the preflop bettor), I figured that I would rather try to see a free card. If it worked, I could've laid down to any bet when I missed the turn.

In the alternative, I was ready for a bet from the button. I just didn't expect it to be all-in. If it was a pot-sized bet, I could maybe come over the top and scare him off. Or, even better, if there were multiple callers, I could just call. With a drawing hand like this, generally, I want more players in the hand. It helps to get max value if/when I hit.

Dre, I'm glad that someone understands what I was going for. I had a plan throughout, but even the best laid plans blah blah blah. Its good to see that I wasn't entirely crazy. Mind you, I accept the fact that my game is different from most bloggers/players.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Astin said...

Gotta go with the "too early" camp on this one.

The implied pot odds might have been with you pre-flop, but that's just not a calling hand that early in the tournament. It's not a bad limping hand, since it wouldn't cost much and you can get away easily, but on the raise, I would have walked.

Since you didn't, and then you got a bunch of outs on the flop, it's a big raise or even an all-in at that point if you want to play it. You needed to scare off players, and once the pressure was put on you, it takes all your power away.

Granted, you might have lost anyway, since Rosebud had the overpair, and had you covered. Your pre-flop play put you either on a draw (I would have guessed high flush) or slowplay.

Don't think I added any new insights here, just my 2 cents.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Astin, why wouldnt' you want a lot of callers post-flop when you push? All you have is a draw, so more callers = more odds. It's not like I have a made hand that I'm scared will get clipped by someone with overcards.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You surely kid yourself. Sure, you don't want to risk your tourney life on a draw, but there are times when it is necessary and correct!" friend, this was not nearly the time. Early tournament play is reserved for prime hands and then protecting and maximizing profits with these hands...bottom line.

After reading your blog, you too often defend your bad play and replace it with a notion of being crafty. Im sorry to break it to you, but your plays are as slick as a piece of sand paper (ie. limping with AK).

Take my advice and avoid early confrontation. Maybe youll finally do good in one of these blogger tourneys that you consistently get bounced out of within the first 3 rounds. The trend is obvious, read the replies, ur play was poor.

-Anonymous King

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Not High on your Poker Play said...

I have to agree with anonymous here. It's early in the tournament, he has you covered, and you're on a draw. Even given your outs and pot odds, it's a too aggressive play, and when all was said and done, you were left out in the cold. If you had him covered, and could make a push here, then it wouldn't be a bad idea to act on this hand. But you weren't, and you lost.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I like Anonymous King!

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Astin said...

More callers also = more hands that can beat you. Yes, you lose the favourite position with less players, but your odds of LOSING don't change much. Your chances of winning don't change much either obviously (although if you can chase off the As8h, then your have a better chance). In other words, the other two hands are playing against each other, and you're just hoping to sneak in between. Not a place I'd call all-in.

With 16.5 BB in the pot, that's not a bad pot to try and take now. A decent raise wouldn't cripple you this early, and would be show of strength for the turn. If you're re-raised, then you can make a judgement with more info than you had before.

Then, at the turn, you have the option of walking, or continuing to represent strength (which in this case would be limited to representing a set, high pair, or 2 pair). The all-in from Rosebud screams "pair" or "high spade flush draw", so you could have made him sweat a bit.

I think what bothers me is that you're chasing the whole time. But my perspective might be skewed by knowing what you had. If I was playing against you, I'd either see weakness or a slow-play, and I'd want to know which it was before the turn.

Your reasoning is sound, IF you hit. But to risk your tournament life this early on a draw that's less than even 50% (favourite or not) feels wrong to me.

Like I said, I wouldn't be there post-flop with that pre-flop play. But then again, I'm not a fan of low 1-gap suited connectors unless I'm feeling saucy :).

Then again, I'm still learning.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous dre said...

I appreciate everybody's opinion here, but does everyone have harrington stamped on their brains or something??? Does everyone play ABC poker all the time. Sure he could have laid down the hand preflop, but he also had a valid reason for calling. Once the flop came, why would he want to lay down a hand with favorable odds. I'm assuming he wasn't simply trying to cash, but actually looking to win this thing.

I like it.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger MrGoss said...

I like the call pre-flop, but not the check for a free turn card. I think you wanted to look for free here just to see how your outs looked. (I haven't read the rest of the comments OR the rest of your post, but that is my thinking after reading your blog for a while.) I would like to have seen you put about 20% of your remaining chips in the middle pre-turn card. This gives you the advantage of acting first to show strength and thins the field to beat. Also, you may have taken it down right then with a flush draw on the board.


At 2:36 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Anoymous King, its not that I think your opinion on my hand is wrong. It's your insistence that a couple of hands that I post BECAUSE of their questionability makes me a poor player. If you would admit who you were, then I would have more respect for your bold comments. But as it is, all you are doing is slinging arrows without being man enough to announce yourself.

As Dre has correctly pointed out, most of the opposition is from the Harrington school. It's a damn good school too. But isn't there room for creativity? Certainly, this hand was misplayed. The BIG mistake overall was the timing in reference to the tournament. I can admit that. Hell, that's why I posted it.

But I still am shocked that the majority of people do not respond to the fact that I was ahead on the flop, albeit on a draw, but ahead nonetheless. My call was mathematically correct. Should I have been there in the first place? Eh, maybe not. Was my postflop call groundless? Definitely not. It was grounded in the idea that my draws made the hand worth it, given the pot odds. I defy anyone to argue that (albeit very specific) point.

But, the point of these You Decide posts is to foster discussion, throw around ideas and see what people think, so I don't mind any criticism. It's how you critique that I might take exception with, but I don't block those comments either. 'Cause my balls are fucking huge!

Finally, let me add this. I would LOVE to play Anonymous King heads up, mostly because my honor hath been challenged. So, if you aren't a panty-waist, bring it.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Astin said...

Well, you can't argue a mathematical fact too much I suppose.

Now, I've always sucked at statistical math, but I think your pot odds post-flop were around 2.56:1, or around 39.06%. Your odds of winning were 42.3%, so that's a whopping 3.24% difference. So yes, you were mathematically correct to make the call. That 0.55% difference between you and pocket 9s is miniscule as well.

Bear in mind, I could be completely and utterly wrong here. Like I said, I suck at stats. So correct me if I'm wrong.

But you can't ignore the non-mathematical input of the tournament being on the line 45-60 minutes in a 3-5hr tournament. Is a 3.24% odds difference and being a 0.55% favourite worth it? In short, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? ;)

At 3:47 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Astin, I'm not defending my play. I don't think it was the right play, and it certainly wasn't at the right time. Some people, though, value the idea of running up their stack or getting the fuck out. I'm not really that guy though.

Let me also say that my response about playing Anonymous King heads up is just plain silly. It's the stock answer for any tilting donkey, so I'm even embarassed that I typed it. I'll still play him heads-up though.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Astin said...

And I'm not attacking it. Or at least, I'm not trying to. Just debating/discussing. Sorry, I don't usually delve into the statistical side of poker outside of a high-level view, so I'm having fun :).

Far be it from me to criticize anyone's play (barring the extremely bad variety), but open it up to discussion, and I might just jump in.

I'm all for creativity, especially at affordable levels or loose games. If nothing else, I find going all donkey in a cheap SnG to be stress-relieving, and it even occasionally opens up a few possibilities that might not be found playing a standard tight-aggressive game. Heck, if everyone played the same, it'd be boring and easy.

After all this, I have no doubt you'll knock me out of the WWdN tonight with 46s.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I have no problem with that play especially early in a tourney. I do not get why people are on your ass about it so much.. Later in a tourney I would like this less since you have spent alot of time already and it is a small margin. I think people get too hung up on what two cards you played pre-flop. Sort of like my 53o conversations. I would have put all the chips in the middle on that flop and let it ride.

BTW - Slb signed his last comment on my site Annonymous King.. hmm..

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is only one Anonymous King and it is me. Not some Slb dork.

- Anonymous King

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous RU said...

Hey Man, good blog. I came across it accidentally while trying to kill some down time at work.

I would say my general style of play is definately more Harrington-esk than Hanson-ish. I don't know if I set out that way on purpose, or if I just morphed that direction having lost too many tournaments by calling too many pots simply because the odds dictated it.

So for me, I probably wouldn't have even limped here, because flopping something like a straight flush draw is only going to get me into trouble.

A few years ago I really improved my game when I started to understand the importance of recognizing strength and weakness in the other players. It seems whenever I ignore it, that's when I lose. So I have been placing more faith in my decisions based on that, and have been considering pot odds less important. (I should point out that I play mostly on-line SnGs, and my style may not be as impactful in multis or cash games)

So... If I do want to limp with my 6-4s from the cut off with the idea of seeing a cheap flop, having seen no real strength in front of me, I really don't have any issues with that, even with my usually tight style. Problem is when the botton raises 5xBB behind you. Could he be trying to steal from the limpers? Absolutely, but I'm usually going to need something better than small suited rags to challenge, especially when he gets a call from the blind. You have to know in that situation, your hand is the worst out of the three.

So, if you call, you do so knowing you need to get very lucky. I just don't think that's good poker so early in a tourney.

The pre-flop raise was your chance to get away from the hand. Once you see the flop, you again ignore the strength of the other players AND decide to risk your tourney on a draw.

The odds you gave for winning the hand were based on the actual hands held by your opponents, but it would be very realistic to think the button had an over pair and the blind has your spades covered. In that case, you would still be going in with the worst hand and wouldn't have much more than the four fives to help you (or runner runner for small two pair or trips that avoid the flush no less, which still may not be good enough here).

Pushing post-flop may have been a good decision if you read your opponents weak, but I don't like the call.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Thanks for the analysis, RU. It's been over a year since this post, and I think you make some very good points that I would now consider. I still think that indications that my opponents are strong preflop ENCOURAGES a call with the baby suited gappers because I'll felt them if I hit, but overall, I probably shouldn't have played the hand in the first place.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous RU said...

LOL, yeah I noticed it was old, but thougt I saw somewhere you encouraging the replies regardless.

Keep up the good work.


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