Check It: DADI |


Dark Loss

I played poker last night. It wasn't too exciting, though, and my loss was a typical bad-beat-like situation. I won't call it officially a bad beat, mostly because the money went in when I was already behind, but the hand did get me to question one of my past statements.

The game was a $35 buy-in single table tournament at the Wall Street Game. We all started with 3,000 chips, and had reached the second level, 50/100, when my final hand ocurred. Until that hand, I had been mostly quiet. I was down to 2,400 because of some preflop calls that went nowhere. I was UTG or thereabouts when I was dealt black Aces.

My first goal was to bet enough to thin the herd without scaring off the whole lot. 300 would be standard, but I chose to go for 400, hoping that my loose reputation would aid me in getting a bad call. As it happened, it folded around to Darko, in the BB, who asked how much I had left. "You got 18 back there?", he asked, referring to 1,800. "No," I replied, "a bit more than that." I counted it out and added, "okay, not much more. 2,000."

Obviously, I wanted a raise. Obviously, Darko, who is a skilled talker, was trying to get information out of me by asking me about my stack size. I don't remember specifically what I was doing, but I wanted to plant the seeds that I had a weak holding. Whatever the case, he opted to call and even checked blind before the flop came down, 77T.

In this spot, I figured I had only one move. "All in," I announced. I figured that my push would actually look weak, since a solid hand would try to milk his opponent with a lesser bet. The All in was an attempt to look like I wanted a fold. Darko is a sharp one, and I figured he may even call me with AK in this situation. Certainly, he'd call with any pocket pair 88 or better.

To his credit, when Darko called, he kindly said, "I won't even make you wait." He showed TT for a flopped boat. I showed my Aces and when the turn and river failed me, I made my exit.

So, here's the question. In the past, I have opined that checking in the dark is just stupid. It gives up control of the hand, which is something I am loathe to do. But does Darko's dark check show that there is a good use to the hand?

I still say thee nay. As it were, it worked out for Darko. However, anything that Darko did there would've worked. If he pushed, I probably call expecting that he is pushing weak to take down the pot or otherwise betting that I missed the paired flop. If he makes a small bet, I raise. If he sees the flop and checks, I bet or push. In this instance, checking dark looked effective, but as I said after the hand was done, the all-in would've happened anyway. The dark check definitely helped to speed things along, but time was not an issue in this hand.

I still don't see the purpose of checking in the dark, even though the results were promising in this one hand. I'm tempted to try it myself, even, but I will temper that desire because ultimately, unless I see why it can be +EV, I just cannot make that play.

Whatever the case, losing sucks so I have plans to make my money back this Thursday at the WSG. The Thursday game occurs every other week and involves a bunch of suits. It's a different group and slightly higher stakes than usual for the WSG (1/2 NL instead of .50/1), so I'm contemplating if I should change up my style. I can show up as my usual t-shirt wearing self, or I can suit it up to fit in with the rest of the crowd. It's a minor decision, but an interesting one, since I'm essentially trying to predetermine the best image. Assuming that this group isn't the most skilled but have expendable cash, I figure the donkey image might be best. It could get me the action I want, as long as I play tight. On the other hand, blending in may make me seem harmless, one of the guys, as opposed to the outsider tempting all the "locals" ("locals" as a reference to the tables that are filled with locals who know each other and really only want to take money from the rare tourist who sits down).

Not a bad problem to have.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:36 PM,


At 3:15 PM, Blogger ToddCommish said...

A check in the dark practically screams out "medium pair". He's hoping for one of two things on the flop; all undercards or a set. By checking blind, he removes the temptation to put out a feeler bet on an Kxx or Axx flop that you likely hit.

If the flop is all undercards (or he hits his set) and you have AK or AQ, you'll like put out a continuation bet, and he'll pop you. If the flop has an Ace or King, you'll likely bet it and he can fold quietly (or just call if he senses weakness).

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Set aside the AA v TT hand, which I agree, given a flop of T77, would've played out the same way, 95% of the time. This might've played out differently if the stacks were 100-200 BB deep.

A hand should always be discussed in its full context. But, a general truism in poker (specially in NLH) is this: if you're uncertain about the strength of your hand, you need to fold it. Phrased another way, if you can NOT put your opponent on a hand, and you're faced with a big bet, you need to fold.

So, how do you measure uncertainty? A gut feeling? A recall of the betting pattern leading upto the river? A facial tick you saw, etc? It's all in the context of a the game, right? A better question is: how do you introduce uncertainty into the equation?

(assumes Level 1+, or 2+ players)
Examine two hypotheticals, taken out of context, here are the highlights:
Case1, heads-up, deep stack, you hold AA on the turn, with a rag board, no draws, four suits, and the turn was say J-high. You're in position, and the EP checks to you, and you bet pot. EP raises to 3-4x your pot bet. EP has a hyper aggro image. Your read is 90% that EP player is stealing with a bluff. And, your read has been spot on throughout the 4 hour session.

Case2, same exact scenario as Case1. Only difference is that EP checked blind before the turn card flashed. You're faced with the same raise as before. Is your read still 90% accurate? Or, is your judgement now tainted somewhat?


The check-blind comes for a weak position (naturally), and, generally, it's used to project an image of extreme weakness or extreme strength. Could an open-check depict the same image? Of course. Will it inflict the same 'mental' damage? :-), prolly not. The contrast above is just one example of when/why it should be used.

Other uses would be to freeze the action get free cards, or just simply to exhude a stronger bluff. "Mix it up" uniformly with your bag of tricks, and it'll come across as random.


At 4:31 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Check dark does give one the illusion of having position. I agree with you in that I don't like to check dark but if you do check dark, then you are foregoing your duty to act first. In other words, now you get to see how the later position player react to the flop and then decide what to do as opposed to having to react to the flop first. Just like any other move in poker, there's probably a time and place and a proper application for it if used cleverly. Most people don't, which is probably why it seems like a terrible move but if you are willing to mix it in to your arsenal, it may not always be terrible.


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