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You Decide #62 Revisited

I received some comments on You Decide #62 and thought I should take a moment to give my complete analysis. I will start with a quick reminder of the hand:

We are in the 6-handed NLHE MTT on FT with ~4500 with blinds of 60/120. After an aggressive player, Jewel, who has me well-covered, raised preflop to 360 from the CO, I called with A2d from the BB. The flop was 2c 3d 4d, so I checked, allowing Jewel to bet 555 before I check-pushed all-in. After requesting time, Jewel eventually called with A2o, I turned the flush and doubled up.

I think the preflop play should be addressed first, particularly since RecessRampage and Hoy seemed to think it was a poor call.

After focusing on super-tight play in satelllites for a while, I had found my starting hand requirements had shifted across the board to tight hand selection. I think for any player, tight hand selection is an important way to start and develop ones game. For some players, it is even their individual optimal strategy. But I don't think this readily applies to me. My play is generally aggressive and I had decided to play more hands under the right condition to maximize my stack early in events. The result is that I find myself shortstacked a lot more often in early stages. However, I am a self-proclaimed short stack specialist, which merely means I can manage a short stack well and can accumulate chips with appropriately timed aggression, even when my stack is not formidable.

All that said, I recently re-opened my starting hand requirements in MTTs, adding a lot more speculative hands into the mix. To do this effectively, one needs to be able to play solid post-flop poker AND be able to choose your opponents carefully. These things came together in this hand.

Remember, I labeled Jewel as an aggressive player. I don't have specific hands to provide, but I saw her raise with junk (T8d, if memory serves correct) earlier in the tournament. In a 6-handed game, that's not terribly surprisingly. Players seem to think that 6-handed games require an excessive level of aggression. Whatever the case, her open raise from the CO did not completely scare me. In the brief period of time, I went through the usual decision tree, following each branch of possibility to its logical conclusion.

First things first. I could affort 240 (the amount I had to call) and fold happily to a shitty flop. Now, the tree. In one scenario, he has jack shit. I'm out of position, but I can bet a ragged flop and probably take down the hand, even if he has a better Ace, provided that he doesn't hit. In another scenario, he has a great hand or hits the flop. I will probably still bet at a ragged flop or even an Ace-high flop, but if I get re-popped, I can fold. The key, once again, is the fact that I can afford to make this play. If I do bet a flop, it'll likely be in the 480-540 range. So, added with the 240 call, we are talking a net loss of about 780.

On the flipside, if I hit my Ace, bet, and he folds, it's easy money. More importantly, with her aggro stance, I can probably pull some money from him if I hit big...which is essentially what happened.

Let me make this clear: during the hand, I did not go through this logic aloud or even in my head. The quick though was, "I can fold if I have to, or I can win big if I hit. I can even take down this hand with shit if it sets itself up right."

So, on paper, calling a raise out of position with A2d is a terrible play. But when you are in the throws of battle, absorbing and working through all of the information available, it suddenly became a very real option. Call and see what happens. You can afford the ticket; now, take a ride.

Once the flop came down, I had to work out another decision tree. If I bet out and she doesn't have anything, I win the hand outright. Not bad. BUT, if she has a hand or even just has a set of cajones, she may raise me, at which point, I very well may be facing a tough situation. A flush draw is nice, but my opponent could very well have a pocket pair, and I don't want to have to rely on just my flush draw when facing a considerable re-raise. This basically told me that I did not want to bet out in this situation. Most losing hand folds, and a winning hand or a clever player can take the pot away by making a painfully large raise, given my stack size and the inflated pot.

So, I check. I want to see what he will do, since that will hopefully give me more information about his holdings. I have a monster draw and even my bottom pair might be good, since my check could embolden a player with KQ or KJ to bet the flop. If he bets small enough, I can call and see another card. If he checks, I'll see a free card and hopefully know if I make my flush before the hand gets any more expensive. Yet, he bets 555, which is an awkward number, so I immediately begin reconsidering his range.

The short answer to his range is this: No matter what, I have my flush draw and probably my inside straight draw. If he has a monster, I still have a good chance of winning the pot. If he jas crap, then he'll probably fold and I'll win the now-sizeable pot without needing my flush. Probably most importantly, if he has marginal holdings that beat me (A4, 77), I may get him to fold by pushing. Essentially, the pot got big enough, at around 1200, to make it worth risking my 4k stack.

And so, I did. The fact that Jewel called me with A2o just goes to show you that, (a) my read about her preflop range was right, and (b) you cannot expect your opponents to make good plays. Her call was terrible. She wasn't ahead of anything but an outright bluff or a flush draw. Perhaps that's what she expected. But from my vantage, calling an all-in check-raise with bottom pair is a losing play 9 times out of 10.

Once again, most of these decisions are made on the fly. I consider possibilities and as long as most paths seem safe and survivable and some paths seem very profitable, I'll make the play. The rest is up to luck and my opponents.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:11 PM,

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