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Turning Crap to Gold

I've read a lot of bellyaching posts lately complaining about donkey this or donkey that playing a crappy hand and getting lucky. I can understand where these posts are coming from. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the game is accepting losses, especially when you think you played the hand perfectly. However, sometimes it may be too easy to blame it on your opponent's stupidity. Sure, there are donkeys out there. But there are some really solid players who play a different game then the TAG style you've adopted and come to accept from your opponents.

What I'm really talking about is playing crappy hands and turning them into gold. This is actually a topic that I mentioned briefly in my recap of the game at Dawn's apartment last week. To the casual observer, I made some ridiculous plays, calling a 4x the BB raise preflop with J2c or T7s. In fact, I always had a strategy in mind, and I was able to utilize that strategy to get paid off when it counts.

The key to turning crappy cards into gold is all in the selection and timing. Your opponent, ideally, has a deep stack. You need this, because for every 100 times you call with crappy cards, 90 of those times you are going to miss the flop. Out of those 10 times that you hit, only about 5 or less will hit with enough force to actually propel your crap into that golden range. So, its a high variance play, where you will lose a small amount of chips (the preflop bet/raise) often. When you do hit, you want to get paid out by a big stack, otherwise the play lacks the necessary implied value. You also want position, more often then not, so you can take advantage of all the information before you. In a play like this, information is everything, and acting blindly will lead you to winning a small pot with a monster or losing a big pot with rags.

Let's look at two such hands from the I Had Outs game. I was in early position in one hand with J2c. I decided to limp, mostly because I was winning and I wanted to see a cheap flop. I'd easily fold the $1 if I miss, and if I face any real raises preflop, I can let my $1 go there as well. SoxWife, who has good hand selection (i.e., tight-ish), decided to pop it up to $5 total from the SB. The obvious move would be to fold. Who would call $4 with J2c? Here's the thing though. (1) SoxWife likely had a big hand, so if I hit, it'll be hard for her to fold. I put her on TT through AA, and maybe AK. (2) I had position on SoxWife, so I'd know how she was going to act before I acted for the rest of the hand. (3) SoxWife had a decent stack, so if I could get paid off, it'd be worth it. (4) I had SoxWife covered, so I could take all of her chips. Also, I had chips to spare, so the $4 would not break me.

As you may already know, I hit the flop with two-pair. I then turned a fullhouse. I also took her whole stack. I won't go into the betting, per se. It's the setup that mattered.

Similarly, I called a bet from Mary with T7s, another speculative hand. I ended up flopping a flush draw and turning the flush. As it turned out, Mary actually didn't have much (K6o) preflop, but by the river, she hit two pair. My call preflop may have seemed like a donkey move, but she had enough chips to make it worth my while and she hadn't played many hands, so I figured her for a high pair. I believe I bet my flush draw as well. If I did, that's a whole other issue (betting your draws to build a pot and hide your draw when it hits). But they all connect to the same principle: playing crappy cards because if they hit, you can and will win a maximum amount of chips.

So, next time some donkey calls your big bet from MP with 25d and you lose with your pocket Kings after the flop comes down 25Q, don't just label your opponent a donkey. Instead, consider whether that faux donkey is really a shark in donkey's clothing. You just may save your stack next time, and you'll hopefully save your sanity too.

On a wholly unrelated note, things are looking good for Jordan's WSOP Circuit premiere. Surflexus is right now taking his shot at some of the Circuit events in Tunica, and I'll probably make my premiere in December at the WSOP Circuit event at Harrah's in Atlantic City. I have my backer in place, and I'll probably have him back me 50% iun a $500 buy-in event. I'd also like to play in a $300 event, but I don't want to over reach his generosity or my current bankroll. Then again, my birthday is in the middle of the tourney dates (Dec. 9-19), so maybe I can get me some backing from birthday gifts. Who knows! All I know is that I wish Surf well (I have 5% of his action), and I hope that I can make my mark when my time comes.

Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:24 PM,


At 2:47 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I have seen a LOT of this type of play lately and this from players I thought were good players too. They'll take any 2 cards that are either suited or can make a straight and are bound to be "live" cards and play them from late position. They will call a 3-4x pre-flop raise with them and hope the flop will look like it missed the PF raiser. They'll let the original raiser build the pot for them then raise or bet out on the river and pull down a nice pot. Seems to work all too often, especially when you are up against a tight player. Don't fall in love with this play. Your indication that you like doing this cuz you were winning and wanted to see a cheap flop means you're willing to bleed chips. Do this when you have 20X the blinds+antes but be a bit more conservative otherwise. Cheap flops can also end up being killers too when they hit with a well hidden hand.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a good point. However, it's much better to raise with those hands than to call raises. You just need to be able to outplay your opponent on the flop.

One of my friends was bitching the other day about a similar scenario. He raised in a cash game with AK suited and got two callers.

Flop was K 6 3 so he bets 3/4 of the pot and someone else goes all in. Deep stacks, too. He makes the call and the other guy had K 6.

So I asked him: who's the bigger donkey? him for calling a 4 bb raise preflop, or you for going busto with one pair?

I think people just don't want to take accountability for not being able to lay down a hand, so they call other people donkeys or fish.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Tom, I have also bet out with low suited gappers and the like. This is a slightly different concept. Its almost like speculative slowplaying, where you get in for as cheap as possible, but you think your opponent has strength. This way, you can take advantage of them when you hit big, or get away cheap when you don't. When you bet out with 57d, for instance, its more of a semi-bluff bet more than anything, followed by the continuation bluff if you miss. When you think your opponent has AA-TT, then re-raising or coming in with a raise preflop is -EV, because they are going to come over the top, and you really don't want to be calling at that point, because presumably it'll be for a decent amount of chips.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genoa was robbed again last night. i was there when it happened. i lost a G. having a 9mm waved at you really sucks.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Good post, Mr. Guitar Player.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

may be interested in playing in the circuit event in dec, let me know what events your thinking...300 and 500 sound good if the blinds aren't too out of last experience with small buyins was at Harrahs in New Orleans and it was marginally ridiculous but I think they've gotten better...when you setting up another game...I miss home game action.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

#1, Peaker, did I miss something with the Guitar reference?

#2, Anonymous, can you email me (highonpokr AT yahoo DOT com - don't forget to leave out the last E for +EV). I'd like to know more about the robbery and what it was like, if you don't mind.

At 1:01 AM, Blogger Karol said...

I got robbery info over on IHO.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger slb159 said...

Interesting perspective. Don't know if I'll ever be able to adopt it though 'cause it wouldn't work for me. Then again, I should say, "I wouldn't ever be able to make it work for me." If you get what I'm saying.


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