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Hand Reading at the Hoy

So, I won the Hoy, even though it only had 15 players. Damn, you point-freaks love your big series like the BBT3. Ironically, I've probably played more post-BBT events than BBT events, but that's probably because I like smaller fields.

My win yesterday was one part great hands at the right time and one part being screwed down. For those not familiar with the vernacular, being screwed down denotes playing ones best. Even though I had suffered a bad beat earlier in the night in a separate event and was generally feeling like the world was against me, by the time I started up the Hoy, I was ready to play smart poker. And I followed through.

The strategy was much the same as my past success. I started fairly tight in the 6-handed event, followed by bursts of activity when I would hit a string of cards (not all premium hands, but I like the streakiness of 6-handed) or when the timing felt ride (i.e., the other players were getting into fold mode). Once I accumulated some chips (I turned a straight against Surflexus' AA), I kept the pressure on, taking breaks here and there when I thought my opponents were adjusting to my overaggression. In fact, let's look at the hand with Surflexus, even though I didn't save the hand history.

Basically, I was in LP or on the button with 3500-4000 in chips when I decided to min raise to 80 (blinds of 20/40) with 67h or similar suited connectors. I believe by then, there were two limpers ahead of me and we may've been 5-handed, so if it wasn't a family pot, it was damn close. Surf, in one of the blinds, raised to 200. He got one caller before me and I called as well, with position and a great drawing hand. The flop was 89X with one heart, giving me an open-ended straight draw and a backdoor flush possibility. Surf led out for 200 into the 600+ pot. The other player may've folded. Whatever the case, I flat called, hoping to see the next cheap card. It was a Ten, completing my straight. I think Surf bet 400 and I chose to min-raise. Memory is a bit fuzzy here. I knew I was ahead and wanted a call, so I think I tried to keep him in the pot with a min-raise. The river paired the board (9?) and he checked. I value bet for a decent amount (1200?) and he called. Damn details. The point is, I saw an opportunity, I took it and it paid off.

I have to admit some "luck" such as flopping top two from the BB with Q9o after calling a preflop raise from, I believe, TwoBlackAces in the SB. It felt like a steal from him and I took my time before calling, reasoning that if I hit my hand, I may beat his lower pair OR his unpaired hand. On the flop, he checked and I bet out. He raised (if memory serves) and I pushed. He was pot committed for the tiny amount more and called....with Q8o. Sometimes, these things just fall into your lap. However, if it weren't for the correct call preflop, I wouldn't have had a chance to bust him postflop.

I busted another player later (perhaps earlier...come to think of it, it was Surflexus) when he pushed over my raise when I had AK. He had KQ. Hand in lap, once again.

As we neared the final table, I tightened up considerably. I had a monster stack compared to most of the players and chose my spots rather than splash around too much. There were a few periods when I'd raise 5 or 6 hands in a row and take down each pot, but I balanced that with lots of folding.

By the final table, I reverted to a strategy I learned from Lucko many moons ago. It was one of Lucko's first (if not first) blogger tourney wins when he taught the blogger community about exploiting the bubble. Lucko was willing to fold to the short stacks to take advantage of the timidity of the middle stacks on the bubble. It was a concept that I, at least, never considered before he did it. In fact, more than a few bloggers questioned collusion, since we were all so used to the idea of the big stack going after the shortstacks to burst the bubble.

With that strategy in mind, I accumulated chips and alternatively folded while down to 6, then 5, then 4 players. Once the bubble burst (in no part due to my own efforts, as I was folding away at that point), I went back to concentrating on the game. Hoy was now in first with me in a close second and Katitude in third. I dispatched her, taking first. I played HU with Hoy for probably 20 mins before I dispatched him too. In the final hand, he re-raised all-in preflop with KTs into my AA. I suppose my relentless raising and my penchant to folding to his rare re-raises set up that hand. With HU poker it is all about feeling the flow of the game. In that situation, it was almost like jujitsu. Rather than attack my enemy, I merely coopted his attack on me.

A couple of points. First, I was actually pretty intimidated going against Hoy HU. It is his tournament after all, and he is an accomplished player. In fact, he is one of the few people I would likely buy a piece off of, and while it sometimes is tough to admit it, he probably is in the HoP Poker Role Models for his shear success. At first, I wanted to just attack him into submission, but I knew Hoy was too good for that strategy, so I switched to my usual Ebb and Flow HU Strategy. To a lesser extent, I also followed my Inverse Theory of Aggression in HU poker. Whatever the case, It's easy with Aces! (c), so I have to give the poker gods their due as well.

I think it is time to bust out the hand that really got me over the hump. First, I will give you the hand without commentary. Then, I will explain my thought process.

I had 9,540, almost twice my nearest competitor. We were six-handed, and I was in the BB with AQo. With blinds of 30/60, Fuel55, the 2nd chipleader with 5520, raised 3x the BB to 180. It folded to me and I raised to 480. He called.

The flop was A54, with two spades including the Ace. I bet out 960 and Fuel called.

The turn was an 8 of spades, completing any flush draws. I waited until the 15 second warning before betting out 2160. Fuel insta-pushed all-in for 4080 total, 1920 more to me. I waited for the 15 seconds and then requested Time, ultimately calling. Fuel showed ATo (no spade) and the rivered 2s was a blank for both of us, securing me the pot.

Fuel started the flames immediately, to which I replied "boo hoo hoo" and "poor Fuel" before remembering to throw in, "CHOO CHOO". Jordan don't suffer no fools and when people want to bitch in the chat box about my play, particularly when it was "correct", get no sympathy from me. I suppose I could show a bit of restraint and ignore their steaming, but I can't help but gode them on, if for no other reason than to underscore in my head just how silly it is to blame the other guy.

Fuel and I have since emailed back and forth about the hand. His argument is that AQ beats nothing in that spot. My argument is that AQ beats AT in that spot, and in fact, did. It wasn't an easy decision to call there, but I had a serious read from the onset of the hand and I didn't want to fold out of fear. I read him as having a weaker Ace and I was correct. But let me offer a different way to look at it.

Right away, with the initial 3x raise by Fuel, I had Ace-little in his range. I don't remember how the table was acting, but I think I was in one of my folding jags. Whatever the case, when the action got around to me, I raised for a very specific reason. If he had AK, he'd probably re-raise. If he had a strong hand in general (JJ-AA, and probably 99 and TT, six-handed) he would've re-raised. When he flat called, it fit my initial thought...a weaker Ace, such as AJ. Fuel seems to think that I should consider his range to be a lot wider, and I agree that it is not only weaker Aces, but at this point in the hand, it still looked like a weaker Ace.

The flop was good and bad. I didn't like the flush draw, but I hit my Ace. I opted to bet out 960, which was my standard just-less-than-pot bet. He flat called, which sorta concerned me. However, if I thought he was holding a weaker Ace, a flat called made sense. The only other possiblity there was a monster or perhaps the flush draw, although I failed to see how he could be on the flush draw. After all, the only flush draw that would make sense is KQs or suited connectors perhaps. Keep in mind, the Ace of spades was on the flop, so AXs was an impossibility. I also did not want to overly fear the flush draw because (a) it was only a draw [hence my bet] and (b) the likelihood of two spades against one opponent seemed slim.

The turn was an 8s, which sucked, since it would fill the flush draw. I took my time with this decision because I didn't know what to do. I still thought my AQ was probably good, but if he had any spade, he had a flush draw to beat my TP2ndK. That's why I waited until the 15 second warning. I was deciding what to do. Ultimately, I knew a check would be handing the pot over so I bet out about half of his stack, which was also significantly less than the ~3k pot. His insta-push sealed the deal for me. It just seemed so premeditated, as though he was trying to exude strength, or conversely, as though he had decided that no matter what, he was pushing there.

Lest anyone (read: Fuel) think I'm just blowing smoke up their asses, I can tell you with all sincerety that the reason why I asked for Time was that I was seriously conflicted. Every fiber of my being said that Fuel was on a weaker Ace, but I was mostly concerned with A8, which was good for a turned two-pair. Plus, even if he had A2, if the 2 was a spade, I'd be vulnerable. I literally asked myself, "What are you going to do? Are you going to follow your read or wait for a better spot?" And in the end, I said, fuck it. I would still have over 3k in chips if I lost the hand and I HAD a read. I couldn't just ignore it.

And that's that. According to Fuel (I hope he doesn't mind me sharing this), "Given the board texture on the turn...[I could estimate his range as] AA, 88, 55, 44, ATs+, AKs, ATo+ at worse to which you are still a 3:2 dog." To which I say, huh? Where did you come up with that? I already explained that I didn't think he had AA or AK due to the preflop action. 88, 55 and 44 were possibilities, but I imagine he would've raised the flop with a flopped set with the flush and straight draws out there. Also, his preflop call would've been odd with 44 and 55, so I didn't consider them real threats. So, what's left? 88, ATs+ and ATo+. Well, I have all of those beat except for 88. AND, frankly, I saw Fuel's range as including weaker Aces like A9. I should add that Fuel admits that I had good pot odds to call, but whatever the case, I still can't agree with his range analysis. In fact, if Fuel did anything wrong in the pot, it was his overaggression on the turn. If he had waited until the river, he may've pushed me off of the four-flush board. If he paused a tad more before his push, it may've been more scary as well.

After that hand, I was so proud of my read and more importantly, my conviction to follow my read, that I felt on top of my game. The rest just fell into place.

I'd love to hear more thoughts on that hand if anyone has an opinion.

All's I gots to say is Ka Ching! And with that...

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:36 AM,


At 4:04 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

Same scenario - $1000 buy-in

Please tell me you fold?

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

That's a silly statement. You buy me into a $1000 tournament and we'll talk.

Dude, get over it. You lost. Whoopdeedoo! You won't convince me that I was wrong to follow my read because I have proof that I was write...I won the hand.

I really don't get why this hand disturbs you so much. You seem to think that because you make a play, I have to fall for it. Well, Fuel, unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. I know you are a smart player and I read your play for what it was. When you can accept that, then look at your own play to learn how not to lose this hand against me next time. My suggestion is to fold to the preflop raise.

Which is easier: forcing your opponent to make the wrong play or making the correct play yourself?

I'll be waiting for the $1000 buy-in. Let me know when you have it ready and we can follow up on your proposed question.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Ken C said...

just whip 'em out and get it over with :)

At 2:10 AM, Blogger JD Schellnutt said...

If the hands and betting were the same but the player holding each was reversed...fuel would have snap called and justified it with the "I knew you didn't have the flush." Nice hand...well played...and congrats on the win.
JD<--most hated of all by flail55

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Jordan is getting like 5 to 1 on his call and losing the hand wouldn't bust him out of the tournament.

Going all-in with what amounts to less than a min-raise seems pretty spewy in this spot.

Seems like Fuel put Jordan on a lesser Ace because Jordan chose a line of leading out with large bets on the flop and turn and he happened to be wrong.

Folding when getting 5 to 1 there is a large fundamental flaw.

Fuel also flat called the re-raise which someone would almost never do with AK so what exactly should Jordan be afraid of on the turn? KQ or JT suited? No. Because Fuel would shove the flop with a draw there.

A set? Maybe. But coolers happen. Seems like a pretty standard hand to me.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger MHG said...

Congrats on the win!

And I have been playing more poker recently, just not the blonkaments or live poker (which might or might not have to do with my micro-bankroll).

Fun playing chess with you and Schaubs this past month, and thanks for all the second lives.


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