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You Decide #51 and #52

Hey folks. It's been a while since I've dusted off an ole You Decide post. You know the one. I post a hand, you tell me I'm a donkey, and we all have a laugh. This time, we'll combine You Decide hands 51 and 52, to give you TWO chances to call me a donkey. Let's get crackalackin'!

You Decide #51

This is a fun one from the Mookie last night. In fact, I wasn't going to make it a You Decide because I wasn't sure that there was much to discuss, so this may be a throwaway. Whatever the case, I know this hand got some fun responses in the chat window last night, mostly, "What did you have?" The guesses were a low pocket pair, AA and 89s, but you were all wrong.

We are at the 20/40 blind level, and I have a paltry 745, the shortest stack at the table. There are seven players, and I am sitting UTG+1 when I'm dealt AKo. UTG folds, and I think for a second before I opt to simply limp. It was clear that the bloggery table was relying on the ole Jordan is Loose read, so I wanted to change things up. I was also a shortstack, so I didn't want to get into trouble out of position with a hand that needs an Ace or King to improve. Newinnov, sitting to my immediate left, min-raises to 80 total. SoxLover calls. Fluxer, in the SB, calls. It folds to me and I limp-raise to 360 total, leving me with 385 behind. All my opponents fold.

I've already mentioned my limping logic, but once that min-raise happened and got so many callers, I could only envision crap hands playing. Once again, I didn't want to push because it would look MORE desperate. I also wanted to utilize the image that a UTG limp-raise usually brings up, namely AA. I figured that none of the players loved their hands, so the bet was enough to win it all, but if they re-raised all-in, I was going to call and hope for an AQ who figured they could take a cointoss against me if they thought I had a pocket pair below QQ. Frankly, even a QQ would be worth it, now that I had all those min raise callers, leading to a pot of 320 before I raised it up. So, what do you think? Clever play, or was I stupid for limping in the first place. This isn't how I would play it every time, but was it a legitimate and optimal play here?

You Decide #52

Same Mookie tournament, but now we are at the 50/100 level. I've chipped up to 1800, and now sit at a table with 8 other players. I'm the third shortest stack, but most players have only 2500. I am in the SB with AdJx. It folds to the button, TuscaloosaJohn, the only big stack with a whopping 4290. He raised to 300, and I opted to call. At the time, I had a good hand, but John had not been stealing that often from me, so I opted to call instead of raise back. NewinNov, in the BB, called as well.

The flop was 8d Jd 4d, giving me top pair top kicker and the nut flush draw. I checked, New checked, and John pushes all-in. It didn't take me long to call. New folds. John flips QQ, with no diamond. The turn and river are both diamonds, and I double up.

So, did I get lucky? I called preflop because of my strong hand, but didn't raise because I was out of position and John had not been stealing a lot, even with his deepstack. On the flop, I checked because I was out of position without any information. I figured that if everyone checks, I get a free card, and if someone bets, I'll have more info to determine if I should raise or fold. When John pushed, it just didn't fit. An overpair sorta made sense, but I had the NUT flush draw, in case he had the overpair. I was hoping for something more tame, like TT or even AK with the King of diamonds. Whatever the case, I won the hand, but should I have called his all-in? Should I have led out on the flop or maybe even raised preflop, given his position and my decent cards to defend from a potential button stealer?

Hammer Revisited
I also want to take a moment to reflect on my hammer trashing yesterday. I don't think it is my role to announce the death of the hammer. Hardly. The hammer is its own beast, and will outlive me, you and even its progenitor. And that beast has bite. In the Mookie last night, I saw the Hammer win at least 5 hands, including one by 23Skidoo, who was apparently sitting out for the tournament. In one of his hands when he was all-in, he held 27o, only to river trips. Well played, sir!

If anything, the Hammer's amazing resurgence last night made me reconsider my analysis of the Hammer's usefulness. A cornerstone of the Hammer philosophy is that ANY hand can win in poker, even the worst hand pre-flop. After all, 27o is not that far behind most unpaired hands. When you hit with 27o, you are also likely to get paid off, too.

So, I may have to reconsider my Hammer stance. I may still use it, but sparingly and in specific situations, thereby removing the randomizing element, but retaining some of the Hammer's benefits, when and where I need it.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:06 PM,


At 2:10 PM, Blogger Matt said...


I think what saved you was NewinNov's minraise. I like limping AK early with the intent of repoping any raisers preflop, but I prefer to do this with a bigger stack. With your stack as low as it was, I'd hate to limp AK, not see any raise, and end up with a 89J flop; I'd prefer to save the chips or come with a preflop raise, but I do appreciate how you mixed up your play.


1. I think you have to call his all in with TPTK & the nut flush draw, especially considering you have AJ. If it was TPTK on a 874 board I'd be a bit more leery, but pairing your J means you're more often than not ahead.

2. I'm fine with the call and no reraise preflop. You had a read that he wasn't stealing and went with it. Curious to know, since you thought he wasn't stealing, if you put him on a range of hands preflop.

3. I don't know if leading out preflop does any good. If you did, are you going to fold to any reraise or a push? If you do think he's stealing, you have to think you're ahead, and I'd give him a chance to c-bet.

I'd make the same call 98 times out of 100. Maybe that makes me a donkey, but even if you are behind, I think you've got enough outs (any J, any A, or any diamond) to make that call. I'd imagine that, within the range of hands you would put him on, there are more hands that you can beat than there are hands that beat you.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Jordan said...


I like your analysis of hand #51, but there are some points I want to clarify. I didn't intend to reraise when I limped. I wanted to see a flop for cheap and disguise the strength of my hand. When it came back around again, I had more info that led me to re-raise. Oddly, your example (limping with AK to see a J98 flop) actually supports my contention. Whereas you see it as problematic if I limp and see that flop, that is the exact reason why I limped. I knew I needed the flop to help me, so I wanted to see it for cheap in case I miss entirely. If I limp and see that flop, I can get away from AK easily, as opposed to raising preflop and feeling like I can continuation bet to win the hand.

In #52, I actually didn't have a read on him preflop, other than a fear of AK.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

#51: I like your play here, although I liked it more until I read your comment above which is not the way I would view this hand as a rule. Especially given your short stack, AK should IMO be a hand you want to get as much in preflop as you can. In fact, often it is suggested that getting it allin preflop with AK is the best move since it assures you of seeing all five cards on the board and therefore preserves the roughly 50% winning chances of AK against any pocket pair but Aces or Kings hot-and-cold. But AK is a great starting hand (obviously), and again especially with your short stack, if it's me I am looking to get it all in before the flop if at all possible with the hand in an attempt to get back into contention in this tournament in a hurry. Like I said I liked your play, I think if you push with the preflop reraise then no one is likely to call, but pushing with half your stack at least gives you some chance of getting some blonkeycalls. Again it was only your comment above about not wanting to repop the AK preflop but rather wanting to see a flop cheap so you could fold if you didn't hit it that I do not at all agree with. #1 I think that is playing losing poker, not to be willing to raise it up preflop with a non-made hand like AK even though it is clearly a moneywinning hand as opposed to a moneylosing hand over time, and #2 again especially given your short stack, putting up over 1/20 of your now short stack and not being willing to gamble any more before the flop with AK, that is just bad poker IMO. I'm going to pretend you always expected to repop your AK when you limped UTG, and then I like the play just fine.

#52: This is the one that I think is very easy and obvious. Of course you do whatever you have to do to get it allin on that flop! You have top pair top kicker on the flop, and what's more you also have two draws to the nut flush which you more or less know will be the stone nuts in the hand, barring any odd board pairs and such in the last two cards. To me this is the easiest decision in the world, and I am quite sure that you'll be hard-pressed to find any bloggers who won't agree with being aggressive there on that particular flop. Johnny's play was actually very common and transparent -- the guy with the clear winning hand but has no part of the flush draw so immediately pushes allin to chase out all those other flush drawers. You of course have to call with your TPTK and the nut flush draw. Easy decision.

Two nice hands to analyze, Jordan. Fun stuff.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Good points. I think it comes down to comfort; considering your stack size, I'd be less comfortable limping to see a flop with AK. Myself, I'd probably prefer a stack of at least 900 with the blinds of 20\40. But perhaps this is something I should look to adding to my arsenal.

I will agree that I like using this play in a different position - in the blinds. Especially when I know that the opponents that limped in won't fold to a standard or even a bigger than standard preflop raise, I like to check AK in the blinds. If I miss the flop, only my BB is lost. Granted, I lose my share of hands, but I'm also fairly confident enough to identify when I might be beat, and I find myself winning a lot of chips when I flop TPTK against some unsuspecting donk with KJo or A7o.

Good discussion - thanks for the post!

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Hoy, thanks for the comment, but I respectfully think that you are wrong in some of your analysis. I'm going to accredit it to different styles, but why would I want to lead out with a bet with AKo UTG+1 in a situation that will end with either getting only the blinds, or essentially playing for all of my chips. The way I played it, I either lose a little when I folded the crappy flop or I win a lot when I reraise it. The more I think about it, the Limp is PERFECT in this spot. Look at the possible scenarios:

(1) The one that happened. I limp because I have no info as to what I could be facing, and when there is a weak raise and weak calls, I now know everyone is weak, so I can bet out.

(2) Everyone limps and I miss the flop. I only lose 40 out of 745. 700 is as workable a stack as 745, so it wasn't a big loss at all.

(3) Everyone limps and I hit the flop. I probably got a weaker ace to limp as well, so they will likely gift their stack to me, since no one expects AKo to limp UTG.

(4) Someone raises big preflop. Now I have more info, including WHO raised big, how big their bet was and how the other players reacted. I might reraise all-in or fold, but I'm doing it with more info than if I pushed when I was UTG+1.

If you call that "losing poker" then I don't know what to say. I'd call pushes with AKo in UTG+1 when you have almost 20x the BB losing poker, since you are essentially gambling everything to try to pick up the BB and SB.

I don't take your critique personally, but I do think you are a bit off. We agree, generally, that the way it played out worked well. Perhaps there is some confusion about my willingness to limp-fold or limp with the hope to see a cheap flop. In reality, I was going through these scenarios, but I would've been happy to have seen the flop for cheap. The key was, I needed more info to act with AKo UTG+1.

Since you know the game, I'm curious as to what you think about the scenarios I just ran through. If you come back here, lemme know.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#51. You have to limp-reraise as a bluff sometimes on top of limp-reraising with Aces. AK is probably the most reasonable limp-reraise-bluff that you can make. I'm not sure if the this is the spot that I make the play in, but I think, despite Hoy's comment that your stack is just right. Your equity from other people folding comes from them assessing that you have a big hand. You'll push with a wide range of hands, but limp-reraise with only a pot sized bet left in your stack SCREAMS "Value! Value! Value!" in that you are going to push no matter what on the flop, and you are trying to squeeze some call-action in. This only adds to the limp-reraise-bluff aspect of the play. I like how it turned out in hindsight.

#52. Johnny is a good player and is playing a fair number of hands from the button. Not a big fan of AJo for domination reasons, but it's a play getting 2.x:1 on your call, where you might be, in the neighborhood of a 2.(x+y):1 dog. Give up a little preflop equity for some play equity later. You just have to be able to find folds if you flop a naked ace.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

#51. I can understand both sides of the argument about how to play AK when short stacked. I will push with it generally but sometimes limp depending on how short I am and the general assertiveness at the table. I don't fault your logic at all and it makes sense to me. If you push you probably just win the blinds, especially since you are UTG but if you limp and feign weakness then you can push after the flop if you hit. Sure it is a gamble as someone might be set mining or hit two pair but probably they will be on a drawing hit if they call your push after the flop and you hit with either an Ace or King.

Don't you like my min raise UTG+1. Doesn't that make baby jesus cry? I really didn't expect tht many callers but just wanted to see where I was at and also get some (little) info about the blinds and maybe you. It worked. Your push told me that you actually limped with something decent. I can't remembe what I had but probably a low to middle pocket pair. Your push didn't necessarily scare me that much but I had all these unexpected limpers behind me that I couldn't call. Serves me right for the min raise but it served it's purpose.


Agree with your assessment of John and that he generally wasn't a blind stealer so any raise would have to get some respect. But he was the big stack and it was folded to him so when he raised to 300 and you called the 300, that gave me some odds to call 200 for a pot of 700 (3:1). Your check meant nothing to me because any short stack that hit will normally check raise if they hit. Like others said, if you can't call TPTK with the nut flush draw while short stacked, you need to find another hobby.

Hammer: I'm not a big fan of the hammer, sorry. Probably because I play with auto-muck. But I will play it if I'm in late position with a great number of limpers..some of the time.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

New, I would love to know what you had in these two hands if you remember and care to share.

I'm a bit confused at everyone's thoughts on the first hand. It seems to be popular sentiment that I was shortstacked. Yes, I was the shortstack at the table but with about 18x the BB, I was not near the danger zone yet. If I had 10x the BB or less, then I would push outright to win the blinds. But in my position with 18x the BB, I wanted to risk a little for the hope of a big payoff, hence the limp. Once the conditions changed and there was sufficient money in the pot, I was willing to push to take down the pumped up pot and/or double up now that there was more equity in the pot.

So, although I was THE shortstack, I wasn't shortstackED.


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