Friday, August 19, 2005

Unfortunate color change

I've had three straight losing sessions at $20/$40 live. The last session has the dubious honor of changing my net results for the last month and a half of $20/$40 from black to red. I'm down exactly 1.2 big bets from my last 70 session hours; that's -$48 for those of you who aren't math majors.

The true test of poker players is not how they play when running well, but how they handle things when running poorly.

Again I am having doubts on whether or not I am paying off too much on the river.

There are 3 hands from my last session that I've at least had some second thoughts about whether or not I should have called the last bet on the river. A simpler way for me to have handled these hands would not to have gotten involved at all, but how the heck am I going to learn anything if I never put myself in questionable situations?

Perhaps paying off on the river is not the main issue. Perhaps, I am just not paying enough attention to my opponents' tells. I'm allowing myself to get check raised far too often on the turn when I have just fallen behind on the last card. I could sure save a lot of money if I could spot tells of strength more often.

All of the following hands are 9 handed live $20/$40 limit hold'em. They are all very simple hands that occured within the span of 25 minutes with at most 1 new player at the table during that time.

hand #1
MP is an average player, MP+1, and the blinds are loose passive. MP+2 is aggressive when he has a legit hand, but is otherwise loose passive while drawing
- preflop: fold, fold, MP raises, MP+1 cold calls, MP+2 cold calls, I cold call in the CO w QhJh, button folds, blinds both call. (6 players, 12 small bets)
- flop: KhTc6d MP bets, MP+1 calls, MP+2 calls, I raise, all fold to MP+2 who calls (2 players, 18 small bets)
- turn: KhTc6dJd, MP+2 checks, I bet, MP+2 check raises, I call (2 players, 13 big bets)
- river: KhTc6dJc2s, MP+2 bets, I call, MP+2 shows Qd9d.

Preflop, I know that QJ is a frequently dominated hand, but as I'm sure you could tell from my frequent posts about wanting to fold, I won't get too married to top pair (or even 2 pair) if there is a lot of raising and reraising postflop. I expect multiway action for just 2 bets, and that is what I get.

Originally, I had only raised the flop to get a free card on the turn. However, I was able to get heads up. MP+2 plays some real trash hands and is quite the chaser. 78, 79, 89 suited and unsuited are well within the range. AT or in fact ~any~ A is quite possible. I didn't notice any tell from him, so I keep firing on the turn.

I know I am behind when he check raises the turn, and when I don't improve on the river, I don't have much choice but to pay him off. The pot is too big.

hand #2
button and BB are loose preflop, and chase reasonable draws post flop.
- preflop: fold, fold, MP (villian from previous hand) calls, I raise with KsQs, fold, fold, button calls, SB folds, BB and MP call (4 players, 8.5 small bets)
- flop: Kh7sTd, checked to me, I bet, everyone calls (4 players, 12.5 small bets)
- turn: Kh7sTd8d, checked to me, I bet, button and BB fold, MP check raises, I call (2 players, 10 big bets)
- river: Kh7sTd8dJd, MP bets, I call, MP shows 8s7d

This looks like another ABC hand to me. Does anyone play it any differently? (with the same information, i.e. I, yet again, have no tells on my opponent(s))

Okay, come to think of it, I don't have any doubts about whether or not to call on the river for these first 2 hands. In both hands I hesitated for 3-5 seconds before calling. Given the way these hands played, could I have saved a bet on this hand which happened only a few minutes later?

hand #3
MP, MP+1, BB are loose, passive with med str hands and draws, raises have always been with legit hands, no semibluffs yet; button is a solid player
- preflop: fold, fold, MP calls, MP+1 calls, MP+2 calls (villian from previous 2 hands), I call in CO w Kh9h, button raises, SB folds, everyone else calls (6 players, 12.5 small bets)
- flop: Ks6c8h, checked to button who bets, BB folds, MP, MP+1, MP+2 call, I check raise to see where I am at, button folds, MP and MP+1 call, MP+2 folds. (3 players, 20.5 small bets)
- turn: Ks6c8h7c, checked to me, I bet, MP folds, MP+1 check raises, I call (2 players, 14 big bets)
- river: Ks6c8h7cAh, MP+1 bets, I call, MP+1 shows Kd7d.

MP+1 is a loose player, but he does pay attention to the action since he loves to talk about hands later. I've played with him for well over 15 session hours. I have no doubt in my mind that he had remembered that I had been paying off on the river 100% of the time thus far. Even getting 15:1, I think I can fold here, but I pay him off anyway.

I didn't see him doing the "looking quickly at his chips" tell or the "looking away from the action" tell. I was looking right at him when the turn card was dealt, but I extracted nada from it. Gosh, it is really frustrating that I'm not learning to read opponents better.

1 comment:

eric said...


A little late reading these hands, but I'll give my thoughts anyways.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad decision to have played the cards you did. KQs is a raising hand. QJs and K9s with everyone and their mother in and in the CO aren't that bad, especially at a loose game where people will pay off. Even QJs for a raise isn't horrible, although I tend to lean towards fold with that one.

However, they are hands that I happen to recommend against highly for anyone fairly inexperienced to play. I'm not saying that's you--I imagine you have plenty of experience--just saying. The reason is that people get themselves into tough spots with those hands--when you don't hit a straight or a flush, it's very easy to find yourself with a very expensive second-place hand.

But regardless, preflop I think you did fine and your flop play on hands 1 and 2 are fine, also. Your turn bets are fine. Even on hand #1. That one sounds like an excellent value-bet that many players would miss. Keep betting until they let you know you're beat, I always like to say.

You also have to call the turn CRes since you have very legitimate draws in big pots.

No, I think you pinpointed exactly where your problem was--paying off bets on the river. I think at least two and perhaps all three hands could easily be gotten away from on the river. Because, well, they did end up letting you know you were beat.

Especially at lower limits, check-raises from the loose-passive, unimaginiative crowd usually means a very strong hand, and so one should typically be able to get away from just about any one-pair hand.

Hand #1, what could he possibly have that you could beat? You know he plays draws slowly, and only bets legit hands. On a board of KJT62, a pair of jacks with a Q kicker is not legit. He can beat you. Call the turn, fold the river. Easier said than done, I know, and I would make the same call against any unknown. But if you know the player, use that knowledge to save yourself some bets.

Hand #2, same, although there you at least have TPGK. I could imagine someone playing Kd-xd the same way--and many of the more thinking players would play it that way. That's more read dependent. I would have a tougher time folding that one (okay, doubtful I would without a very clear read on the player). But if you do have that good read, use it.

Hand #3, why not bet the flop? Your hand isn't great--you actually want the button to raise and help protect your hand. You bet, he raises, hopefully you get heads up. The pot is big, and anyone with a pair or gutshot or whatever is getting a good price.

But like hand #1, it sounds like an easy fold. A possible straight just hit the board, you don't have a good kicker and many of the Ks with kickers worse than your 9 are now two the turn with your straight draw, but auto-muck the river. He's not even scared of the A. Let it go.

One trick I play when deciding whether to call is I try to pinpoint a specific hand someone could play in that manner that I could beat. I ignore even the pot. If I can find a possible hand I can beat, then I worry about the pot size. But if I can't think of anything, well, the pot size doesn't even matter--my chances of winning are essentially 0%.

But ultimately, don't be too hard on yourself. If your biggest leak is paying off river bets too much, you're doing fine. It's better to pay off a few too many times than a few too little. As I'm sure you're well aware, a river payoff is 1 BB, whereas giving up a pot is often 10-15 BBs.

Also, finally, don't worry too much about physical tells like you'll read in Caro's book. I find that, at least as I move up through the middle limits, many people don't have any of those tells, and the ones who do have tells often have their own unique set--usually it deals with timing or how they bet, or what they say. Try to find those, instead.

I hope you're finding the Bellagio 30/60 game to your liking. I know you had at least that one huge hand I'm sure you'll tell everyone about (I won't steal your thunder!).