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You Decide #61

Once upon a time, I used to post hand narratives fairly often and ask my readers to decide what play would be best or whether a given play was good or bad. It's time to dust off that old formula because I have a hand here that has got my brain going overtime.

Davey Ruff, who I recently visited for poker in the middle of a hurricane, sent me the following hand:

Dave Ruff, a bright, conservative player with the ability to play aggressively when appropriate, was playing heads-up $1/2 NLHE online against Shucks, who was playing fairly aggressively.

Preflop, in the SB/button, Ruff ($126.40) called with 87c. Shucks ($168.50) checked.

The flop was 7x5c4c, giving Ruff top pair, weak kicker with an inside straight draw and a flush draw, and a straight flush draw. Shucks checked and Ruff min bet $2. Shucks raised to $10 (pot-sized raise). Ruff re-raised to $26. Shucks pushed all-in, essentially a bet of $100, since he covered Ruff and Ruff only had about $100 behind.

I won't tell you what Ruff did. I'll hopefully save that for Monday, or perhaps just later today, depending on the responses. I will, however, give my analysis.

My first instinct is to fold. Those re-re-raises are scary and clearly represent a monster hand. Then I began thinking about outs, and thought that it might make sense to call. My analysis for calling is as follows:

Hand rage is key here. From the preflop action, one can presumably eliminate the uber-high pocket pairs and some other premium hands, but not much else. After all, our opponent checked in the BB, so he could have any two cards, literally (including those premium hands if he was playing tricky).

Once the flop comes out, Ruff was correct to bet out to build a pot while he drew to a better hand and to ferret out his opponent's hand. The re-raise to $10 by the opponent doesn't tell us that much either. He may think that Ruff's min-bet was weak, so he wanted to take the pot away immediately with any two cards. In hindsight, a pot-sized initial bet from Ruff on the flop ($4 instead of $2) might have defined his opponent's hand a bit better, but overall this is a minor difference.

The re-raise by Ruff to $26 is a solid three-bet play. It once again allows Ruff to get information from the undefined hand of his opponent. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Ruff thought he was ahead here, and wanted to take down the pot without much fuss. However, once he is confronted with a re-re-raise all-in by his opponent, everything changes. Suddenly, hand ranges became more defined. And once that happens, I think it best to go through the possibilities.

At its most basic, Ruff is either ahead or behind. Yeah, VERY basic. But its the behind stuff that concern me, since the re-re-raise all-in shows strength in the face of adversity. An initial raise all-in may appear weak, but a re-re-raise is another story. The chance of a stone cold bluff is suddenly near nil, as is a weaker single pair. So, this really becomes a hand about outs, given the possible hand ranges of Shucks. Let's go through the different scenarios:

As previously stated, an overpair is less likely because of Shuck's preflop action. However, it's a possibility, particularly in aggressive heads up games, where players may be willing to limp in a pot if their aggressive plays have not received the type of action they would want with a solid pocket pair. While the possibility is remote, if Shucks has a pocket pair, he can't have a flush draw, so Ruff's flush draw is good, and he can't beat a straight, so the three 6s are good. Also, an extra 7 will give Ruff trips and another 8 would give him two-pair, so that's a total of 17 outs twice (9 outs for the flush, 3 for the straight, 2 for trips and 3 for two-pair). Not too shabby. But that is only one possible outcome.

If Ruff's opponent hit the miracle set (44, 55, or the unlikely 77), Ruff's flush draw and straight outs are still good, for 12 outs twice (9 flush cards, 3 straight cards).

If Ruff's opponent hit top pair with a better kicker, the flush draw is still good, as is the straight draw and an eight for two pair, so Ruff would have 15 outs twice (9 flush cards, 3 straight cards, 3 eights for two-pair).

If Ruff's opponent hit the miracle straight (definitely possible, given the action), Ruff has the flush draw outs and maybe even a higher straight draw, provided that his opponent had 36 instead of 68. That's 9 outs for the flush and let's do some rough justice and go halves on the outs for the higher straight, for an additional 1 out (10 total).

In contrast, if Ruff is ahead, it probably is to a hand that he dominates. He may be ahead to a simple straight draw (open ended), for which he holds one of the 7 outs. He may be ahead to a better flush draw, for which he has two of the 9 outs and would win with the 6c, negating another flush out for his opponent. Whatever the case, these are all acceptable scenarios, given the pot odds.

Even so, I would say that the problem scenarios are way more likely than not. Since the pot was about $150 ($4 preflop, $26 from Ruff post-flop, $124 or so from Shucks post-flop), and Ruff has to call $100, I think the proper move is to fold. Frankly, I'm just about ending the math here. It's rough justice in Jordan's world, and I recognize that at a table, I won't have my calculator to work through all of the scenarios. But overall, I get the impression that Ruff is behind and 1.5:1 doesn't seem to be the right price. I would want higher pot odds, probably 2:1, to feel comfortable calling with what I consider to be a drawing hand in this scenario.

So, to recap, my initial impulse is to fold because Ruff is likely behind. Then, I considered that the outs are numerous depending on multiple scenarios, so a call isn't crazy. But finally, pot odds were the deciding factor and it is my opinion that folding was the proper play.

So, what do you all think? Am I talking out of my ass? Is folding the proper play and if so, did you come to your decision based on different ideas?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:42 AM,


At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that you are more than likely behind here. There are really no hands that villain could have that he/she would want to risk that much $ and not be ahead. This really looks like villain is trying to not give odds to the straight and/or flush. I would fold and save my $ for the next battle.

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Gnome said...

My impression is that this draw + top pair is just too strong to fold heads-up. Ruff has as many as 17 outs (9 flush+3 gutshot+2 trips+ 3 two pair), and in a heads-up game, I don't think you can be folding with so many possibilities.
This is a simplistic analysis, but I would get it in without worrying too much about it.
I wish Ruff had raised preflop, bet bigger on the flop and re-raised bigger on the flop.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I would call here too. Getting 1.5:1 odds on the call and folding where the hand ranges defined could actually have you be a favorite in the situation is pretty bad. You just have too many outs with two cards to come to fold here.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

i'm not sure I would have reraised on the flop - for 8 bucks you get to play the turn...guy I think has a set or 2 such you are drawing to 35% it goes I would sometimes make that all in bet putting your friend on a read, but I can be over aggreisve.


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