Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sometimes you gotta give 'em enough rope...

It's been a few months since my last post - I haven't had much of an update to bring you, so I've been radio silent.  I'm presently fully engaged with my new gig, working an absurd amount of hours just to keep my head above water.  The new role has been very challenging, and I’m very happy I pursued it – if nothing else, from a career perspective, I’ll come out far ahead because I’ve moved from a front line management position to a mid-level management of managers.  I’ve had to work with personnel problems and issues, hiring, interviewing and coordinating new employees, maneuvering with upper management including corporate oversight, all the while ensuring program success.  It’s been fun, without a doubt, but it leaves me with little time to play poker even though by all rites, I should have more free time available than when I’m back in DC with my family.

I’ve been typically playing on the weekends while here – putting in a Saturday or Sunday session good for about 6-8 hours, which is nice.  I’ve always had a hunch that weekend sessions would be far more profitable than weekdays / after work sessions, but never had a chance to really prove that theorem out with hard data.  Given the time I’ve had to play since being out here, I can say with some authority that yes, indeed, weekends are far more profitable than weekdays (though it’s not a true apples to apples comparison since I’m playing weekends out in Blackhawk as compared to weekdays / after work sessions in Charles Town, WV or Maryland Live! Casino.  Regardless, I digress; the crux of this post is to not regale you with tales of what is a good day to play, or how to spend your free time – I wanted to write about a hand that I played this past Tuesday night (first weekday session up at Blackhawk).  It has to deal with checking the river to induce, and the fact that I’ve noticed more bet bet bet than bet bet check – I feel as though in the right situation, a check call is warranted when you feel your opponent is on a draw rather than going for 3 straight streets of value.  See below:

I had been around for a few orbits and was showing myself as a fairly reasonable player.  The old man to my left was joking with me that I played like an old man; a “rock” was his exact wording…  Fine – believe as you may though I am rarely rocking it up by just calling in a hand; I’m usually raising / folding or betting and am the general aggressor at the table, but I’m not going to try to disprove his image of me.  So we’re set up that I’m in the SB and look down at Ac2c; an appetizing hand to limp but not generally a raising hand.  After seeing the kid to my left limp his button (my prior comment to the aforementioned old man to my left was “Chop?” before seeing the button limp) – I opted to raise as a punishment.  I chose $16 to really hammer it home that in my mind, it’s bullshit that this kid is limping his button to block our chop.  Old man folds his cards, as old men are wont to do when facing a decent raise – and kid gets sticky and calls.

As an aside, I never understood the whole limp / call a large raise idea…  Unless you feel like I’m blowing smoke up your bunghole, you have to drop that hand – particularly as it works its way around to heads up.  There’s simply no real value to your hand unless you slow played (and continue to slow play) a monster PF hand.  This kid is the type to be coming in for a raise on the BTN with AJ+ and most pairs, so he’s clearly weak – and calling $16 further solidifies my read of weakness.

Anyway, the flop comes 2s7sJs – mostly an airball to all hands not holding 2 spades.  It’s fairly unlikely he’s limp / calling 2 spades – particularly premium spades here – so I’m not all that concerned by a flopped flush, and I’m semi-concerned for a Jx hand –JT, QJ, but that’s no reason to not continuation bet – there are tons of blank spades that will call along to try to get a 4 flush board.  I’m fairly certain that my bottom pair deuces is the best hand here at this point, and I want a spade draw to pay.  I bet $20 on the flop and he quickly calls – another dead giveaway…  He can flop the flush here and just flat, but a monster non-flush hand has to raise here, in addition to his quick call almost always pointing to a draw (when a player quickly calls, that’s a common tell to a drawing hand).

$75 in the pot going into the turn 9x.  I’m pretty sure that misses his hand; at this point he’s on a definitive As, Ks – type hand, and more likely a KsTx or KsQx hand.  He can show KsJx and Ks9, but his AsJx is out of the question (he limped PF) and As9x would have likely folded to my raise.  He’s now halved his equity  at this point in the hand, and I’m very confident my deuces are good – I bet $40 into the $75 pot – again, snap call.  This solidifies my drawing assumption – most made flushes are raising the turn here given that I’ve put a bunch of money in the pot already and $40 is a “sizeable” turn bet – notwithstanding pot size.
Anyway, $155 in the pot and the river is the 5x, making a board of 2s7sJs9x5x.  At this point, I’m getting no more value by betting the hand.  I’m only getting called by better and only folding out worse hands – and I do have showdown value.  Besides, my hand has showdown value.  From my out of position SB, why not just check and see what he does?  I can opt to call or fold to a potential river bet, allowing him to hang himself (see title line) based on how I read the situation.  Moreover, my bet sizing is questionable on the river; I have to bet pretty big to keep in line with my pattern, or make a small “suck me” bet of like $20 – both feel like throwing money away regardless.  Therefore, I opt to check – and true to form, he bets $50 – a shockingly small bet for the pot size and the action I’ve given.  One additional thought is that he’s called 2 streets and now all of a sudden wants to take control?  What can he possibly be betting here for value and not checking through for safety?  I snap him off and wait for him to show: busted flush draw with KsQx.  I show my Ac2c and he’s mystified.  Bad enough I called his bluff, but I called with the lowest pair.  It was a nice pot for A2.

In retrospect, as I’m writing this post, I’ve been doing this type of move more and more often – both online and live.  I’ve found that I’m getting around a 50% success rate in this kind of check / call out of position rivers – which is awesome because it’s pure profit; these are mostly hands that are folding to a bet, but feel they have a chance to fold out the best hand on the river and therefore take a chance on the river.  Think about the above the next time you find yourself out of position, against a guy clearly on a draw, where you’re never getting any more money committed to the pot unless he’s betting it.  Obviously, use the reverse when you’re the one with no showdown value but have bet two streets – sometimes you need to force the issue rather than let the stupid pairing 3’s on the river counterfeit your Ace high hand…

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