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You Decide #63 & #64

I took fourth out of a couple of hundred people in a $5 rebuy at Bodog a couple of days ago. It felt good to go deep in a tourney, and I attribute it largely to Every Hand Revealed, Gus Hansen's book. When I'm reading a book, any book, I become immersed in the writing. When I was reading a lot of the Dalai Lama's books a few years ago, I felt a sense of peace and patience with the world. When I read books by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) or Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), I felt like a scumbag or rebel. And as I read Hansen's book, I feel like a poker player. I'm willing to make unpopular plays if I think it is the right one. I'm willing to let my aggressive donkey flag fly because I recognize that what might seem like aggressive donkey play, when utilized correctly, is actually part of a sound tournament strategy.

I saved two hands from the tournament. Both are a bit questionable, so I thought I'd ask for your input. So, without further adieu,

You Decide #63

We are at a very loose table in a rebuy tournament. At least two or three of the players have demonstrated the all-in-on-every-playable-hand strategy. As a result, some players, myself included, have adopted the limp-with-pushable-hands approach. Basically, instead of raising, just limp-call the all-ins. I have 4860 in the BB with KQo. Blinds are 50/100.

Preflop, IceBuddy (3210) limps in MP for 100. KD, the SB with only 170, calls the 100. Lord only knows why he didn't push in his last 70.

We see a flop, AAK, rainbow. It's an odd flop. On one hand, the two Aces help, since it makes it less likely my opponent has an Ace. On the other hand, it is easily likely that a player at this table in MP limped with a strong Ace like AJ-AK hoping to trap call one of the LP pushmonkeys. Still, if I check, I give up control of the hand, and it is still a possibility that my opponent had a pocket pair under Kings or, frankly, any two drawing cards like suited connectors or suited high cards. It's not as though he raised. He just called preflop, so his range is huge. I decide to raise 280. I was doing this most of the tourney, choosing numbered bets that were slightly askew. Amazingly, the shortie, KD, folds, keeping his 70 for the next hand. Ice, though, calls.

The turn is a 3s, creating a Spade flush draw. The card seems harmless enough and my opponent has been passive. I once again cannot fold, in my estimation, since it gives up the hand pretty much outright, and I am not convinced that my opponent has an ace (incidentally, he needs an ace or KK exactly to be ahead). I decide to bet again, 480, as much of a blocker bet as anything, as the pot is now 860. He calls.

The river is an offsuit 5. This is a tricky one. He's been flat calling me the whole way. If I check, he bets, probably enough to push me out of the pot, as I have to seriously consider that the flat calls were with an Ace. If I bet large, I might be betting the worst hand. Ultimately, I decide to make another blocking bet, with the hope that if I am re-raised, I can assess the situation then. The pot is 1820, so I bet 860. I had already put 860 into the pot and had ~2400 left. So, I bet one third of my stack as a hybrid value bet if I were ahead and a probe/blocker bet if I were behind to a weak Ace. My opponent called. He had KTs and I took down the pot.

The results were good, but this was a weird hand. The fact that KD was essentially all-in actually played a factor in this hand, since I assumed that my flop bet would bet called by him, so I'd have to show my cards regardless of what IceBuddy did. My goal was to push Ice off of the hand, mostly to grab whatever I could without risk, but I failed in that endeavor. Were my bets too low for an online game? Did the blocking bets make sense in context? Should I have pulled out the big guns earlier just to take down a fairly significant pot?

You Decide #64

By the time this next hand happened, I was sitting on over 50k in chips, almost twice my nearest competitor at 27k, and more than three times the next nearest competitor with 16k. I was absolutely rocking the tourney and putting a lot of pressure on my table. Blinds were 300/600 with a 75 ante, making each pot worth 1,575 preflop with just the blinds/antes alone. That's about 10% or more of the majority of the players' stacks at the table, not that they saw much of those pots. I was definitely taking advantage of my big stack and apparent good luck (I didn't hit many showdowns, so my opponents must've assumed that I was just very fortunate to get so many good hands -- and a lucky player is much more scary than a skilled one).

In EP/MP, I raise to 1200 with A4s. This was a much smaller bet than usual, probably because I had been betting so much that I wanted it to appear suspicious. Most players folded and the BB ($14,300) called the 600.

The flop was KKQ, rainbow. I found myself in a similar, albeit different, situation as in the last hand. A paired board is ripe for bluffing, particularly when you are heads up and have a lucky image and chips to spare. The BB checked so I bet $1,600 into the $3,300 pot. Remember, I was winning lots of pots uncontested, so I wanted to look like I was value betting the pot. I figured he'd fold with anything less than a King, Queen, or significant pocket pair, and his min bet call preflop followed by a check led me to believe that he didn't have much of anything. The $1,600 bet was also worth more than 10% of his chips. Even so, he called.

The turn was another Queen, creating two pair on the board. As long as my opponent did not have a King or Queen, we were going to tie at best (if he had an Ace) or I was way ahead. Any lower pocket pairs he may have had were counterfeited. The BB checked to me again, so I decided to take advantage of the situation, betting $3,600 into the $6,500 pot. I figured that bet worked with my value betting story but would still push out any player without a King, Queen or Ace. He called again.

The river was another King. My opponent open pushed all-in for $7,800+. The pot was $13,700 before his push. I had already put 4,275 into the pot and I could definitely afford the $7,800, but did I want to call and, if I lose, create a new $30k stack while bringing myself below the $40k mark. Momentum and perception are huge things in poker and if I reached showdown and lost, my momentum would be destroyed. I might be able to survive a fold with image intact, though.

I considered my opponent's probable holdings. A King was my only fear, giving him quads on a deceptive full house board. This was a distinct possibility, though, as his check-calling could've been a slowplay throughout the hand until the very river, where he saw that the table had made a full house. His bet could be a con, suggesting that I call no matter what since we were both playing the board.

The alternative was that he was straight bluffing the river. He knew that we were going to chop and decided to at least try to steal the pot.

Both scenarios made sense, but in the end, I went with the assumption that a King was very unlikely, since he needed the case King, AND pushing with ATC on that river was a whole lot likely. I decided to call. At showdown, my opponent showed Q9o. He was ahead until the river and essentially slowplayed himself out of a pot. Even so, my play in that hand was pretty bad, if you consider what my opponent really had the whole way. Does my stack size make my loose-ish play ok, though? How could I have played this better?

Give me your two cents, if you have the time and inclination. I'm sure some of you will wonder why I'm raising with A4s in the second hand, and if that's' the case, I'd like to hear reasons why I shouldn't play that hand, given chip stacks. I'd also love to hear any critique on bet sizing, since that is something I've been focusing on during my games.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:47 PM,


At 2:08 PM, Blogger KenP said...

OK let the voting begin

Jordan is:
A. The Enlightened One
B. Rebel Scumbag
C. Poker Player
D. None of the above
E. All of the above

At 7:14 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

Hand 63 - no issues here. A medium pot is just fine. Lose less if you're behind/win less if you are ahead is just fine here.

Hand 64 - no issues open raising A4s. But I would probably dump it on the turn since villian looks like a queen to be. If you get to the river you cannot fold the way this played out.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I think you played #63 just fine. There's no reason to bet big there due to the possibility of an Ace.

#64, I'm not sure about the turn bet. But, if you hit the river, I don't see how you can fold.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger MattyEbs said...

"The turn was another Queen, creating two pair on the board. As long as my opponent did not have a King or Queen, we were going to tie at best (if he had an Ace) or I was way ahead. Any lower pocket pairs he may have had were counterfeited. The BB checked to me again, so I decided to take advantage of the situation, betting $3,600 into the $6,500 pot. I figured that bet worked with my value betting story but would still push out any player without a King, Queen or Ace. He called again."

I don't know if this follows the story of you having a queen or a king...if you have a queen I think you have to check here,if you have a king I thing you make a much smaller bet inducing a raise not a block...How would you have honestly played a queen or king in this spot I don't think you would bet 3600 (I could be wrong) When bluffing or spotting bluffers the play has to match the hand very curious play though...the river is unfortunately a must call...if he played a king that way he gets paid off with quads


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