Friday, August 31, 2007

That sinking feeling...

I played this hand extremely weakly (haha, because I had that funny feeling), and a player I greatly respect (who was at the table, but not involved in the hand) feels strongly that I cannot overcall the river. I don't know if I can agree with that, so here is the hand for future reflection:

hand #1
live $20/$40 LHE, 9 handed
UTG is a loose player, capable of firing multiple bluffs if he senses weakness, but will also make thin value bets
Poster and Button are unknown players;
preflop: Poster is posting between the Buttton and the SB; UTG limps, mucked to Button, Button raises, Poster calls, SB mucks, Hero calls in BB w KhJh, UTG calls (4 players, pot size 8.5 small bets)
flop: AsAdTs, checked around (4 players, pot size, 8.5 small bets)
turn: AsAdTsQd, Poster checks, Hero checks, UTG bets, button calls, Poster calls, Hero calls (4 players, pot size 8.25 big bets)
river: AsAdTsQd6d, Poster checks, Hero checks, UTG bets, button calls, Poster calls, Hero shakes his head dejectedly and calls; UTG says, "I have an A but there is no way I win". Button tables his QQ, Poster mucks without showing.

Personally, I like my turn and river lines just fine. All the value for my hand gets bet (as could readily be expected) by the opponent on my immediate left. I have a showdown hand, and I get to close the action. I really can't see how I can muck on the river with no history from Button and the Poster. From my perspective, the more questionable decision is am I losing much value by not CR the turn?

BTW, the commentor on the hand claims I should have been able to read that Button had QQ when he called the river? WTF?? (The commentor is often a far better hand reader than me, so maybe I'm missing some visual clue. I'll have to follow up with him...)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weak and bad check/fold

hand #1
live $20/$40 LHE, 7 handed
UTG is a winning semi-TAG player, Hijack is the big fish in the game; consistently calls multiple bets all the way with his runner runner draws. A few times an hour, he makes outrageous river bluff bets (not raises).
preflop: UTG raises, muck, Hijack calls, CO calls, Button and SB muck, Hero calls in BB w 4h5h (4 players, pot size 8.5 small bets)
flop: 4cQsQh, Hero checks, UTG bets, Hijack calls, CO mucks, Hero calls (3 players, pot size 11.5 small bets)
turn: 4cQsQh8d, Hero bets, UTG mucks, Hijack calls (2 players, pot size 7.75 big bets)
river: 4cQsQh8d8s, Hero check/folds.

My friend sitting in Hijack + 1 seat told me he saw Hijack hand's as he mucked: 43o

The river situation is a hopeless one where Villain automatically calls with A high, possibly calls with K high, and calls with any pair (even counterfeited ones like PP smaller than 77, 4s, etc); also Villain will randomly call if he is interested in seeing my hand.

What is Hero's best river play? I just don't see how Hero can profitably put in any money on the river.

(btw, I really really have to get out of the habit of automatically mucking my hand when I feel very sure I am beaten when called on the river)

Final table blow up

During the last week and a half, the large poker room in my area has been holding a series of moderate size Hold'em tournaments ($340->$2080 buyins with field sizes between 100-200 runners). The room holds two large series of tournaments each year, one of which centers on a WPT event running during the beginning of the year and another series that runs in the late summer/early fall.

For whatever reason, the organizers scheduled this year's events at the same time as the running of the Bike's Legends of Poker. In my opinion, because of this, the fields were much softer because the majority of the quality mid-stakes live tournament pros (who will play in live MTTs with buyin's of $2k or less) in this region of the country gravitated to the Bike.

In this series, I finished with a respectable showing. Of the 8 events I entered, I made it to the last 2 tables on 7 occasions, and had a top ten showing in 4 (unfortunately with no wins). I feel that my style of play was strong vs. some targeted weak and/or conservative opponents near the bubble resulting in, among other things, an above average number of walks in my big blind which measurably helped in getting to the final table. Also, in the early/mid stages of the tournament, I think I took some prudent risks - slow plays vs. the right opponents, making borderline coin flip type calls where losing the coinflip would not cripple me, but winning the coin flip would give me enable me to have a wider range of options given my table conditions (along with the metagame influence that make conservative players more wary about getting involved in pots with me without a big hand - at which time, I can just muck; This is the classic scenario about "taking the initiative" -> make them worry about you, and not the other way around).

A problem that I have had throughout my entire poker tournament career is my failure to get consistent and adequate sleep prior to big tournaments or over a prolonged series of tournaments. Despite this being a local tournament in which I would be sleeping in the comfort of my own home, this problem again reared its ugly head. My nightly average of actual sleep was somewhere in the range of 4.5 hours for the last 10 days. (playing too much cash games after busting out of the daily MTT was a definite factor here as well)

Perhaps fatigue was a factor contributing to my unimaginable semibluff decision from my bustout hand of today's final event - $550 Shorthanded (6 max) NLHE:

hand #1
live shorthanded (6 max) NLHE MTT
9 players remain at 2 tables (5 handed at Hero's table, and 4 handed at the other)
blinds: T$2k/T$3k
Hero's stack T$94k (31.3xbb), SB(Villain)'s stack ~T$100k(33.3xbb)
Average stack: T$65k
Hero and Villain have been at the same table for ~3 out of the 7 hours of the tournament.
preflop: Hero raises to T$10k w 4c4d, muck, muck, SB fairly quickly calls, BB mucks (2 players, pot size T$23k)
flop: Th5c3d Villain leads for T$10k, Hero pauses for 3-4 seconds and calls (2 players, pot size T$43k)
turn: Th5c3dAh Villain leads for T$15k, Hero pauses for ~15 seconds, Hero quietly pushes all in for T$59k more.

During the ~3 hours of play, I never witnessed Villain slow play any big hand preflop (big hand in this 6 max game included hands like AJo which he had made large reraises with vs possible steals).

During the actual bustout hand, I put Villain's preflop range at a small/medium PP, medium A, suited connector and two broadways. When Villain donks the flop, I put him on a small/medium PP, a set, or a medium A (where Villain was hoping to put pressure on Hero's better A).
Hero floats the flop, and it was unknown what range this represented to the Villain, but my intention was to represent a hand like AQ.

An ace hits on the turn and Villain leads again with a modest bet into a fairly substantial pot. At this point, I feel I am clearly beaten by Villain's entire flop range. Despite the fact that I can muck with still an above average chip stack (T$74k), I fairly quickly decide that I am going to win this hand vs all hands in Villain's range except for the monster hands by semibluffing all in with my gutshot (and set draw).

Villain tanks for about 30 seconds, but eventually calls with his A9. No deuce or 4 on the river, and I'm out.

Even ignoring the ridiculously unnecessary risk (of not mucking on the turn), I'm pretty unhappy about the physical aspect of how I represented this hand. I think I should have tanked much longer - say 20-25 seconds, asked him if he really had an A; then tanked another 30 seconds before moving in with the classic shoulder shrug.

Monday, August 27, 2007

T high good?

** OOPS typo in my original post. River was 9c. Hero has T high on river ***

I can't for the life of me figure out if this was a call bluff or a good call. During the actual hand I considered both as a substantial possibility, and hence tanked for an extra few seconds before making the call.

hand #1

live $20/$40 LHE 8 handed
Hijack is new player to game and is posting. He does not know me, but I know he is a thrill seeking action player who plays in the $100/$200 game. He loves to makes moves. Money means nothing to this guy; he drives a Lamborghini.
preflop: mucked to Hijack who checks his option, mucked to Hero in SB who completes with Th7c, BB checks (3 players, pot size 3 small bets)
flop: KcKs4c, check, check, Hijack bets, Hero quickly smooth calls, BB mucks (2 players, pot size 5 small bets)
turn: KcKs4c6s, Hero bets, Hijack tanks for less than 1 second and calls (2 players, pot size 4.5 big bets)
river: KcKs4c6s9c, Hero checks, Hijack bets, Hero tanks for 10 seconds and calls, Hijack mucks.

Who said limit hold'em isn't a fun game?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bubble decision

live $2,000+$80 NLHE MTT

14 players remaining, 12 places pay. Average chip stack is $155k. Hero is the big stack at this table with $197k. Villain is UTG with 2nd biggest stack of $141k.
Blinds are $6k/$12k. Hero is BB.

Villain has not gotten out of line at any time. I actually know Villain fairly well, he is a very honest guy.

Villain pushes for $141k. First player mucks, 2nd player tanks. Villain says very seriously "I have the best hand, just fold". When it is folded around to me, I look down and find QQ. I almost insta call, but immediately stop myself and take a moment to appraise the situation. I tell Villain that I have a very good hand, and he says then "fine, then call". I very strongly feel that Villain is very comfortable with his hand. He very openly has no fear about his hand. Given his behavior thus far in the hand and my previous experience with him, I can comfortably rule out AA. I just do not see him physically behaving the way he did with a hand like JJ, TT or a worse A. I put his range given all the factors available to me as KK, QQ, and AK.

Hero mucks.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Turn: To buy (outs) or not to buy?

hand #1
8 handed live $20/$40 LHE
The table has been seeing moderately high percentage of multiway single raised pots to the flop
L1 is a weak tighty
Hero has been playing tight ABC poker for the last hour
CC1 is unknown
CC2 is a semi-maniac
CC3 is a weak tighty
BB is semi-loose passive
preflop: muck, L1 open limps, Hero raises w Ts8s, CC1 CC2 CC3 cold call, SB mucks, BB calls, L1 calls (6 players, pot size 12 small bets)
flop: 9c7h4c, L1 checks, Hero bets, CC1 raises, CC2 and CC3 cold call, BB calls, L1 mucks, Hero calls (5 players, pot size 22 small bets)
turn: 9c7h4cAs, BB checks, Hero?

Hero's preflop raise was merely for hand deception purposes in a likely multiway 2 bet preflop hand despite my poor position. Whether or not this is a good or bad idea is ignored for now. I definitely try to minimize my frequency of this line.

On the turn, given the preflop and flop action, there is a decent chance that there is an A out there, including AcXc. However, in a larger pot, should Hero represent the A to buy 3 outs from hands like QT, KT?

Given the player tendencies, and the preflop/flop action the only player who may be holding such a hand (that is ~not~ a flush draw) is CC2, and CC2 will not muck for 1 bet on the turn here. Given the likelihood that an A is out there, how large does the pot need to be for it to be worthwhile for Hero to represent the A?

Friday, August 24, 2007

LHE postflop headsup lines

I'm getting more comfortable in playing in the $40/$80 game in which the lineup consists of 1-2 very bad players and 6-7 good-very good players. I used to be more reluctant to join such a line up because I didn't think there was enough value from the very bad players to overcome playing against very good players (particularly with the higher variance associated with playing against their aggression, and particularly if I am unlikely to get a desirable seat at that table).

Nowadays, if I see such a lineup, along with a few bad or weaker players in the feeder game, I will readily play this game (both for value and for learning experience) unless there are multiple good or one very good $20/$40 game(s) going.

Anyways, the reason I started this post was to comment on one interesting pattern I've been noticing in the above described $40/$80 lineup. I am growing more experienced in dealing with headsup blind defense situations (both from practical experience and also from WITHG) depending on the nature of the opponent.

For example, with weaker flopped made hands like 2nd or 3rd pair vs. a selectively aggressive opponent that I suspect may consider me a tighter/weaker player, I now prefer the check/raise, bet/call, check/call line. This line tends to maximize my value vs. semi bluffing and pure bluffing, and costing only 1 extra big bet vs. big hands. I have been finding that such opponents are tending to check behind on the turn with draws and 1 overcard type hands if I try the check/raise, check/call, check/call line. (yet seem to start drooling if I make a weak looking turn bet...)
In order for me to take that line, I really have to suspect that the Villain may consider me to be weak-tight. (either because of specific history I have had in the past with that Villain, or some recent laydown(s) I have made during that session, or even some comments I may have made during the session, and Villain hasn't recently seen me make some thin call down)
Against more simplistic aggressive Villains, I continue to prefer using the check/raise, check/call, check/call line. There is simply much less risk of Villain checking behind with a worse hand on the turn.

As an aside, I would be quick to leave the game if it degenerates into one where there are frequently only headsup blind stealing/blind defense situations. However, in games where there are only 1-2 very bad players, there will be times when those fish are lobbying away from the table (e.g. conducting their business on their cell phone - these guys have to make money from somewhere other than poker!, smoking, etc...), and such shorthanded type situations can frequently (but just temporarily) arise (and the better players ~immediately~ adjust to the changing game conditions).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Theoretical vs. Actual Pot Equity

Here's my I-hate-myself hand of the month:
(In the same breath I ask myself how people can play so much "better" than me?, and also how can people spew so much????)

hand #1
9 handed $20/$40 LHE
Limper1 is unknown
Limper2 is a loose tricky player who slow plays big hands, but is also capable of making moves
Limper3 is unknown
Limper4 is a LAG
Limper5 is a semi-LAG
Hero is in SB
BB is a TAG
preflop: 5 limpers and a couple of muckers, Hero completes with Ah9d in SB, BB checks (7 players, pot size 7 small bets)
flop: 9c5h3d, checked to L4, L4 bets, L5 raises, Hero 3 bets, BB mucks, L1 cold calls, L2 cold calls, L3 mucks, L4 and L5 call (5 players, pot size 22 small bets)
turn: 9c5h3d2d, Hero bets, L1 calls, L2 raises, L4 and L5 muck, Hero tanks and folds, L1 calls (2 players, pot size 16 big bets)
river: 9c5h3d2d8h, check, check, L1 tables 6h3h, L2 tables 5d4d and scoops.

Hero is getting 15:1 immediate pot odds, not closing the turn action, and is out of position with little chance to measurably improve.

I had no history with L1, but at this point in the hand I can put L2's made hand range as: 33, 55, A4s, 46s, 53s, 95s. His semibluff hands are going to be straight/flush/pair combinations.

Assuming a range for L1 of A5,A3,87s,76s, 64s; Hero's blended pot equity on the turn is less than 5% or less than 0.75 big bets. How can I call in this spot? (Hero's actual equity on the turn is 54.75% or 8+ big bets; GEEZ! What a huge divergence between "theoretical" equity and actual equity!!!)

Questionable LHE hands of the day

Below are a couple of hands from yesterday's $20/$40 LHE game. I posted the first one at 2+2 and got a variety of different responses. I guess that is a good thing in that the decisions must be pretty close if no one can agree??

hand #1
live $20/$40 LHE, 9 handed
- Hijack+1 is a bad player (~70/12/0.5)
- Hero is in hijack and probably has a relatively solid ABC image
- Villain (~20/15/1.5) is in CO and has a fairly wide preflop 3 betting range (probable range QJs+,88+,AQo+; although I'm not sure about AJo), will slow plays monsters, but not good vulnerable made hands. Villain is unlikely to raise with 2nd nut flush on a 4 flush board. Villain is likely to check behind with 4th-5th nut flush on a 4 flush board, but will call heads up.
- SB is a very loose very bad player (70/5/0.8)
- button and BB are tight players

preflop: mucked to hijack+1 who calls, Hero raises with Ks9s, Villain 3 bets, button mucks, SB calls, BB mucks, limper calls, Hero calls (4 players, pot size 13 small bets)
flop: Kd6d2d, checked to Hero, Hero bets, Villain calls, others muck (2 players, pot size 15 small bets)
turn: Kd6d2d9d, Hero bets, Villain calls (2 players, pot size 9.5 big bets)
river: Kd6d2d9d9c, Hero bets, Villain calls

I bet the turn under the assumption that close to half of Villain's flop range includes no diamond (and hence bet to protect my equity with the most preferred result being that Villain mucks). I will call a turn raise getting 10.5:1. When I am called (drat!) I know I need to improve to win.

The decision that I felt the most unsure about was whether or not to bet or CR the river. My initial post-hand reaction was that I should have CR'd. However, (and this line of thinking is emphasized in Stox's book "Winning in Tough Hold'em Games" WITHG) betting provides the opportunity to bet/3 bet if Villain holds the Ad (and of course, prevents the undesirable outcome of the Villain checking behind with a medium diamond).

Another commenter questioned the value of raising preflop with such a loose 3 bettor behind me. I'm unsure about what my range should be in this situation. My thinking was dominated by the players in hijack+1 and SB, and also the tightness of the BB. During the actual hand, I had given CO very little thought before my preflop raise.

hand #2 - "FPS from boredom?" or "Miss my 29 outer?"
live $20/$40 LHE, 8 handed
preflop: UTG limps, mucked to Hero in SB who completes with JsTc, BB checks (3 players, pot size 3 small bets)
flop: Qh9h9c, Hero checks, BB checks, UTG bets, Hero tanks for 3 seconds and calls, BB mucks (2 players, pot size 5 small bets)
turn: Qh9h9c7s, Hero bets, UTG tanks and calls (2 players, pot size 4.5 big bets)
river: Qh9h9c7s8c, Hero bets, UTG immediately raises, Hero tanks and calls. UTG's JhTh chops the pot.

The instant I saw the flop, I decided to represent the 9. The pot was small (yeah, so why the heck am I taking such risks??) so I felt that check/call/lead was very believable to these thinking opponents. (also, UTG is the type that automatically would bet this flop if the blinds check).

Monday, August 20, 2007

BIG Missed river raises

I'm continuing to play a substantial amount of live midstakes LHE.

Within the last few days, there is one particular mistake I've made that really sticks in my mind:
"Calling on the river in a big multiway pot with a hand that is very likely to be better than or equal
to the bettor's but possibly not better than one or more of the opponents behind me (for whom which calling 2 bets would be a tough decision)."

I have 2 examples of this: (granted some of my earlier street decisions in these hands are poor or at least debatable; I will comment on those as well)
hand #1
live $20/$40 LHE, 8 handed; Hero is posting $20 in the CO; SP1 is a solid and smart player, Button is unknown player, SB semi-solid player, BB is a very solid player, LWP1 and LWP2 are both loose and intermittently wild players. LWP1 tends to be more wild preflop and on the flop; LWP2 can be wild on any street, and also has a very frequent tendency to bluff (or bet, depending on your point of view) very weak hands on the river
preflop: muck, SP1 open raises, LWP1 and LWP2 both cold call, Hero calls $20 more with 8h8c (I would have 3 bet with no cold callers even with SP1 range given few loose players behind me), button mucks, SB calls, BB calls (6 players, pot size 12 small bets)
flop: 2h3d5h, checked to SP1, SP1 bets, LWP1 and LWP2 call, Hero raises, SB mucks, BB immediately 3 bets, SP1 immediately caps it, LWP1 and LWP2 call 3 more, Hero tanks and calls (I don't like this call getting only 15:1 vs BB and SP1's ranges on this board with this hand; one modest consolation is that Hero holds 8h, I definitely muck here without the 8h) (5 players, 32 small bets)
turn: 2h3d5h6h, checked around (5 players, 16 big bets)
river: 2h3d5h6h4c, checked to LWP2, LWP2 bets, Hero calls, everyone else calls. Pot is chopped 5 ways; (BB tables 64o, SP1 tables QcQs; amusingly Hero holds the ~only~ heart)

The river situation should be an easy raise for Hero (and calling a 3 bet from LWP2 is mandatory, while folding to any other 3 bet). During the actual hand, I was too busy cursing myself for calling on the flop and reflecting how far behind I was in the hand to be mentally preparing myself for a situation where I could steal the pot (some or all of it). This type of situation is a frequent one - namely that in order to be successful in poker, you can't dwell on the past; you must focus on the present and the future.

hand #2
live $20/$40 LHE, 9 handed; Hero is posting $20 in the CO; SP1 is a semi-solid and smart player, Hijack is an action player (and is well known for how much action he brings to the table), Button is a tight player, SB is unknown, BB is semi-loose passive. For the players that Hero has history with, Hero has a tight table image.
preflop: muck, SP1 open raises, mucked to Hijack, Hijack 3 bets, Hero calls 2 more with 9h7h (semi-loose call getting somewhere between 5-6:1 without closing the action), button mucks, blinds and SP1 call (5 players, pot size 15 small bets)
flop: TcTs8d, checked to Hero, Hero bets, all call (5 players, 20 small bets)
turn: TcTs8dTd, checked around (5 players, 10 big bets)
river: TcTs8dTd6h, checked to Hijack, Hijack bets, Hero calls, SB calls. Hijack tables A high, SB wins with 4's full.

I'm going to be paying particularly close attention for these types of situations/opportunities in the future...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What's good for the goose, good for the gander...

Lately, I've been giving out a lot of advice to someone who is very near and dear to me. I've come to realize that many of the things I am being critical of and/or making suggestions about are just as applicable to myself (albeit in different ways).

I'm re-committed to self-improvement, and I will endeavor to do as I say.