Saturday, May 24, 2014

Poker Hands III

1) The KQ Off Hand

Recall the situation is as follows: you open for 8$ with KQo UTG (or Early Position).  Several players call and the button reraises to 22.  My play is a fold.

Gary, however, argues as follows:

The button re-raising to 22 strikes me as a pretty standard 1-3 buy-the-pot-because-no-one-has-shown-any-strength move. Even if the button gets a caller, they can shove a mountain of chips on the flop and rake the pot against anything shy of a set. And by calling the $22, we're pretty much guaranteeing at least one player behind us will call with a hand no stronger than ours. With no ace on the flop and position, I like my odds of winning the hand with a 3/4 pot sized bet.

This may just be an agree-to-disagree situation.  However, in case it's not, I would argue, against Gary's post

1) At 1-3, reraising on a bluff is rare.  Opening light is common--but reraising?  I don't see it very much.  Gary thinks it's more common, however, and so he doesn't want to fold.

Which is fine.  But if you think the button is on a steal, I think the wrong play is to call.  We're now going to be out of position on a flop that is likely not going to hit us.  Gary advocates a call followed by a lead bet into the rest of the players on any flop other than an A.  I am skeptical.  What hand can we represent, given this line?  99, maybe?  But we're basically putting our hand face-up on the table.  If the button player is savvy enough to have squeezed us pre flop why is s/he now going to fold to a donk?  I know I wouldn't: I'd call the flop and plan on betting the turn on any sign of weakness.

A better play--assuming we have the button read as being on a steal--is to 4-bet.  Making it something like 58$ here is, I think, a better tactic to use against someone we read as weak.

But, to make that play, I'd have to have a real read on the button.  Because 90% of the time, this reraise--at 1/3--is not a bluff.  It's a big hand.  And since we've only 8$ in the pot, at the time of the raise, I think it's better to save our bullets, give up the eight bucks, and live to fight another day.

2) The Pair of Fours

This came from an actual hand I played recently at 1-3.

The key to this hand is the UTG opening raise.   Betting tells are one of the more reliable ways, I've found, to put your players on hands.  At 1-3 the usual opening range is about 8$.  Someone opening for more than that usually has a big hand.  And when they open for a lot more than that--say 14$--they usually have a big hand that they're scared to see a flop with.  Meaning: QQ.  (Or JJ, sometimes).

The (meretricious) logic of these huge opening bets goes like this: I want to make a big enough bet pre flop to chase out any bad aces or junk hands.  I'm not getting called by A10 here!  I'd rather scare everyone away.

Which is stupid on any number of levels.

But let's not worry about those levels. Instead let's exploit this play!

If you see someone at low stakes make a huge opening raise, they will often have a hand like QQ/JJ/10 10.  Given that range, I will call any flop with an A or K on it, no matter my hand.  If they then check the turn, we can usually steal the pot with a moderate bet.

Which, on this end, is exactly what I did.  Dude checked the turn, I bet, he folded QQ face up, moaning about his bad luck.

Of course, if the guy bets the turn we have to fold.  If he check calls our turn bet, we have a decision on the river.  Depending on my history with the guy--how much (if at all) he's seen me bluff at the table so far, I may fire again, or I may check.

3) AA

This was the worst hand ever.  Also, as above, a hand I played.

I played the hand as noted.  On the river, I debated between checking and betting.  In the end I bet.  Why?

Because I've read several times--and generally find it useful advice--that when you're faced with this circumstance--not knowing whether or not to bet on a river where you may or may not be ahead--the play to make is 1) figure out the maximum amount you'd be willing to call, if you had checked and your opponent had bet 2) bet that amount (or less).

In this case, I decided I would be willing to call about 75$ on that river.  So, that's how much I bet.  The guy snap called, and turned over 3-6 clubs, for a turned straight.  In retrospect, I wish I'd bet less, but oh well.

Note by the way how bad the villain's play was on this hand.  He called with a massively speculative hand, hit his flush on the turn and then...just called both turn and river?  Madness.  If he raises the turn there I would have gotten all the chips in, and he wins a huge pot.  A lesson in why low suited cards are not that great; even having made the flush, villain was afraid to bet it (presumably b/c he thought he was beat by a better flush?)  If you're going to play those junk hands, you have to be willing to bet if you hit.  Otherwise you're getting zero value from them.