Monday, January 23, 2006

Meta game considerations

I've been putting in the majority of my recent poker hours in the online setting, mostly multitabling, and this is not a great environment for me when it comes to spending time thinking about hands or situations (other than perhaps late SNG or mid-late MTT situations).

As a diversion and perhaps an educational kick-in-the-pants, I went to play some live $20/$40 LHE at a local poker room. I still have a fair number of Party points to accumulate by Friday for my VIP promotion, but I figure worst case is that I'll have multitable the BBJ tables for a few extra hours to get there.

The table was very beatable with a pretty high variance. Almost every hand saw a flop with between 3-5 players, about 25% of which were limped, 50% were raised, 20% were 3 bet, 5% capped (3 and 4 bets were very ineffective at cutting down the field). There were a decent number of 15+ BB pots, and a very large number of 8-10BB pots.

There were only 2 good players (from the combined point of view of hand selection, aggressiveness, hand reading, postflop play, etc) who happened to be seated on either side of me. Although none of the remaining players was terrible, each of them had some substantial problems with their game - mostly just too loose, although a couple were stupid over-agro and another couple made very poor slow play choices.

To a relatively high degree, almost all players were paying attention to the game as many hands were commented on at their conclusion. I had only played with 2 of the players at the table before, and this did not include the 2 good players as I just recognized them from playing bigger games and how they played the hands that I was able to observe. (Perhaps those judgements are made too loosely, but I feel comfortable with those characterizations)

About a quarter of the way through the session (and btw, I knew this was 1/4 of the way because I had a fixed time that I needed to leave), I was faced with a river decision that, given the number of observant opponents at that early stage of my session, I wonder whether or not I should have played differently for metagame reasons.

Button does not get out of line bluff raising, but he might bluff bet in last position if he senses weakness. BB often tries to make fancy plays.

Hand #1 - 9 seated $20/$40 live LHE
- preflop: folded to me in MP+2, I open raise with JhJs, folded to button who cold calls, SB folds, BB calls. (3 players, 6.5 small bets)
- flop: Jc9h4s, BB checks, I bet, button calls after a brief pause, BB folds (2 players, 8.5 small bets)
- turn: Jc9h4s8c, I bet, button calls, again after a brief pause (2 players, 6 big bets)
- river: Jc9h4s8c7s, a player not in the hand calls out "pocket tens is good", after a small pause, I bet/fold.

(i) Likely hands that check behind, but will call a bet: QJs (1 way), AJ (4), KJs (1); 6 total
(ii) Hands that will almost certainly raise: TT (6), JTs (1); 7 total
(I exclude QTs because button raises 100% on the turn with a straight, and no other sets or PP are likely given the action)

The problem that I have with checking the river is the relative ratio of (i) to (ii). I have no intention of check/folding, so at the time I thought that bet/folding was the best choice. However, the huge problem of making such folds in front of observant players is simply that others will start taking a shot at you on scary boards.

I believe that online, on average, fewer opponents are paying attention to the action, and secondly if I am concerned about opponents taking advantage of such things, a table change is just a click away. Hence, online I am pretty comfortable with check/fold.

Confronted with exactly the same live situation again, I would check/call. If this hand occured close to the end of my session, I would revert back to bet/fold.

(Should I consider bet/calling?)

Ironically, I believe that only 1 situation actually ended up occuring where someone took a shot at me. All I can say is, nice check raise, bad timing.

Hand #2 - 6 seated $20/$40 live LHE (a few of the players had stepped out for a smoke)
- preflop: Hero dealt Ah3h UTG; Hero raises, folded to button who calls, BB calls (same BB as from Hand #1). (3 players, 6.5 small bets)
- flop: Ac7h3d, BB checks, hero bets, button fold, BB calls (2 players, 8.5 small bets)
- turn: Ac7h3d8h, BB check/calls (2 players, 6 big bets)
- river: Ac7h3d8h9h, BB check raises, hero 3 bets, BB turbo mucks.

Given what BB has seen of me, I think he made a very reasonable check/raise bluff (although were I him, I would have bet as a bluff because I think it would be just as effective at half the cost). In very many scenarios, I will hate being check raised on the river with top pair crappy kicker (remember it was a 6 handed situation) on this board. Not that I fold here getting 9:1 but BB might think so given hand #1, and getting 6:1 I would be very unhappy calling (perhaps if I was really having a terrible session and mindset, I would be even more inclined to muck).
He will also often knock me off TT-KK in these situations if I am stupid enough to bet this river (which makes a straight bet by BB an even better play since I am very frequently checking behind on the river with better hands that might fold to a bet).

Anyway, getting back to the metagame, only 1 hand came up where someone took a shot at me, but I also believe this happened because I won a few decent pots in roughly the 3rd quarter of my session to have a very substantial stack of chips sitting in front of me (during the 2nd quarter I had also bought a second rack of chips since I dislike having few chips in my stack). Had I lost a couple of more hands in the middle of the session, I'm certain that my opponents would have been emboldened to put much more pressure on me. Metagame considerations do matter.

No comments: