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Neither Cool nor Cooler

I played in the Hoy last night, hoping to cash in my second Hoy in a row. I didn't. In fact, I was crippled within 20 hands (if I'm not mistaken), in a hand that violates the HoP #1 Rule of Poker (say it with me now):

"If you know that you are behind, fold."

Now, before some of you leave a comment adding "...unless you have pot odds," let's just assume that whenever I use the #1 Rule, I am discussing times when you are statistically behind, taking into account pot odds. Got it? Good. Let's keep moving then.

The hand in question saw me losing almost all of my stack to GCox, preflop all-in in a deepstack tournament where we each had nearly 100x the BB. When the hand was done, I accepted my loss, but I couldn't accept the fact that I violated the #1 Rule. If nothing else, it demonstrates to me that I am not where I should be in poker. This is not a new occurrence. In fact, this very same situation happened months or years ago (I remember the feelings vividly, but the details elude me), and after that instance, I remember thinking, "Never again." I wish I could say the same this time, but it rings hollow. The reality is that it will always be difficult to do the right thing in this instance, but it doesn't stop me from challenging myself to live up to that high standard.

GCox seemed uncharacteristically aggressive in this game, so much so that I was having trouble believing it was GCox behind the helm. He was down to 2505 and I had 2940 when the hand occurred.

We were 5-handed when Cemfredmd limped UTG+1. With KK, I raised to 90 (3x the BB) from the button, with the hope that I would get one other player to see the flop with me. GCox, in the SB, raised to 330. It folded to me and I raised to 930. GCox then pushed all-in. This is the actual text from the FT chat box:

HighOnPoker: really, Gary?
HighOnPoker has 15 seconds left to act
HighOnPoker: I mean, really?
GCox25 has been disconnected
GCox25: yup
GCox25 has reconnected
HighOnPoker calls 1,575
GCox25 shows [Ac As]
HighOnPoker shows [Kd Kc]
*** FLOP *** [Ah 2d Jd]
*** TURN *** [Ah 2d Jd] [3c]
cemfredmd: wow
HighOnPoker: really.
*** RIVER *** [Ah 2d Jd 3c] [5c]
cemfredmd: 4 bets means aces
GCox25: thx bro
GCox25: bad spot
HighOnPoker: where were you 20 seconds ago, cemfred
cemfredmd: sorry.n
HighOnPoker: haha
HighOnPoker: its ok
HighOnPoker: do you think you coulda laid that down
HighOnPoker: i sure as hell wanted to
HighOnPoker: i just couldn't do it

I include the chat for a couple of reasons. The most important is the fact that I knew he had AA, but I still couldn't fold KK. Right now some of you are thinking that it was a cooler, and anyone in my position would have doubled up G. Other think that the call was justified because "you never lay down KK online" or "you never lay down KK in a donkament" or for some, "you never lay down KK preflop." Frankly, I understand all of those viewpoints. But the reality is that I sensed the AA. I even asked him about it, demonstrating that I knew my fate...but I still called anyway.

The second thing worth noting was G's response to the "really?" line of questions. Take another look:

HighOnPoker: I mean, really?
GCox25: yup
HighOnPoker calls 1,575

Now, G and I are buddies, but we do not go soft on each other at poker. I play poker to win, and if I have to do it by felting G, I am more than happy to do so. The same is true vice versa, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But G still fell into a common "tell" both live and online. People will lie to you about all sorts of things when playing poker. But oftentimes, when you ask someone directly about their hand while the hand is in play, they will instinctively answer truthfully. This is even more common with monster hands. In fact, watch any poker broadcast and listen carefully. Even at the level of pros, players sometimes fall into that honesty trap. We are willing to bluff at the pot, but its a whole other thing, psychologically-speaking, to lie to a direct question.

So, not only did the situation (tight GCox puts in the fourth raise all-in) seem to indicate AA, but GCox's chat seemed to indicate AA as well. That's two reasons for me to fold KK here.

Finally, the last thing worth noting is Cemfred's advice:

cemfredmd: 4 bets means aces
HighOnPoker: where were you 20 seconds ago, cemfred
cemfredmd: sorry.
HighOnPoker: haha
HighOnPoker: its ok

I was busting cemfred's chops, but he is correct. The fourth bet often indicates AA. That said, I just cannot accept it as an absolute. I agree that in this situation, the fourth bet indicated AA, but I hate rules that are set in stone. To me, it is thinking like this (i.e., every fourth bet is AA) that limits an individual poker players' abilities. It is the same as the idea that you don't lay down KK preflop in NLHE online games or donkaments. The fourth bet might indicate AA, but it is not always AA. But maybe I'm just splitting hairs.

On a side note, I acted a bit peeved by cemfred's comment, but it really is okay. Donkaments should be the only place where it is appropriate to discuss strategy immediately following a hand. So, thanks cemfred. You made a good point, especially in that hand. But I still say hard-set rules are limiting to a poker player.


I was reading through PoBloS (Poker Blogo Sphere) when I came across a gem of a post from CC. CC asked if anyone could fold to a re-re-re-raise early in an online tournament and then posted a hand history. If you want to read the hand history as it appeared, click on the CC link. Otherwise, I'll provide a quick narrative now.

It was the same Hoy tournament, at the same 15/30 level and the action folded to Hoy in the SB. Hoy raised to 90, and CC, with the hammer (27o) raised to 245. Hoy re-raised to 735, and then, after waiting for the 15-second warning, CC pushed all-in for over 3k. Hoy called with about 2700, and showed TT.

CC's play was definitely bold, but his point is valid. The fourth raise is usually indicative of Aces, so CC was trying to represent Aces. Yet, Hoy called what was 'obviously' Aces with TT. Why, Hoy, why?! I really would like his input on this. It may've been an awfukit play. It may've been that Hoy knew CC was smart enough to make the push-bluff, although admittedly that is a longshot. Most likely, Hoy figured CC for either AK, AQ or perhaps a weak pocket pair, and saw the push as an attempt to push Hoy off of the pot.

Whatever the case, it fits nicely into this discussion because in the CC-Hoy hand, we have an almost identical situation, with a very different result. Did CC shoot himself in the foot? What if he was facing QQ, KK or AA, instead of Hoy's TT? Did Hoy make a bad call, regardless of the outcome? And can you possibly have a different opinion of the Jordan-GCox hand as opposed to the CC-Hoy hand without being entirely results-oriented? I have a lot of questions, but zero answers.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:04 AM,


At 2:47 PM, Blogger Lucypher said...

I have a very difficult time laying down my pocket Ks, too. FWIW, everytime I run them into pocket As, the proverbial "fourth raise" comes over the top of me and I foolishly call. On the other hand, I have also called the fourth raise and found the raiser to have A-Ks, Q-Q, and J-J. I suppose it depends on the opponent. GCox is pretty tight so I am not surprised you figured he had Aces.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

1) I have not folded KK pre-flop yet.
2) I have not faced a 4th bet from Gary while holding KK pre-flop.
3) CC plays AK that strong too so I can see making that call on CC.
4) All that being said I have seen Gary put in a 3rd bet with the hammer in a situation where I was priced in to call if he showed Aces 3 handed.

You have to go with your read on situation and accept that sometimes read is wrong.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Gnome said...

The HoP #1 Rule of Poker is what separates good players from bad ones. I know I've recently been playing like crap because I try to bully my way through. The rule could almost read, "If you know that you are behind, fold (dumbass)."
That said, I wouldn't feel too bad about calling with KK there. Laying down KK to a lesser hand is a bigger error than calling against a possible AA hand, in my opinion.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

Here's the reality:

If this were a live tournament at Bellagio with $1000 buy-in both you and hoy fold your hands preflop.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Fuel, are you suggesting that folding is the right play or are you suggesting that the stakes affect the play?

BTW, I tend to agree with you. I knew I was behind, so if I was playing a $1k buy-in, I couldn't justify felting out that quick with KK. I still might not fold, but I would be a lot more likely to fold. Also, live games add the 'shame' component. Online you can make these calls and you don't have to face the rest of the table when you do something stupid. The shame-factor may also make a fold more likely live.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger CC said...

Your wish is my command (debrief of my hand posted). On your hand, I think you have to have some kind of read to lay down kings pre-flop in almost every situation, putting aside getting in the money when x number of players all win a seat into an event, on the bubble short-stacked, etc. To fold kings, you have to know the player is extremely tight, has shown a pattern of tightness in the event, and won't make moves. I've laid down kings preflop I think once ever, and I certainly would have called there.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger lucko said...

You really think the right thing to do here is to fold Kings getting three to one? I doubt anyone has ever had a strong enough read to make a fold here the right play. I think you are overvaluing your read.


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