Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Raising out of turn... a lesson in how not to play

As I was watching Tim "The Trooper 97" 's vlog, I was reminded of a hand I played in the other day.  Playing in my usual Thursday night session at the 'Shoe, I'm sitting on a pretty good session.  There's a guy to my immediate left who's straddling every hand from every position (which I'm loving, because I'm almost always acting second to last).  Action [in]frequently gets to him and he'll shove his stack of almost a full buy in.  It seems to be a random occurrence.  I'm fairly certain he's not drunk, but he seems to be pushing his stack to get a rise out of everyone else at the table.  One hand, he took down a $400 pot with 85dd vs. KK when he flopped trips, but he'll take down other hands when he raises the limpers (who haven't learned) all in.  Again, it's random, so he's not doing this 100% of the time -- making limping a premium hand somewhat dangerous.

To date, I raised KQo to $26 against 1-2 limpers and he open shoved / 3bet me to $250.  Action folded to me and after a long pause, I folded, not wanting to commit stacks with KQ high.  I realize there's a lot of hands I'm ahead of - a TON of hands, in fact - but I just can't logically call in that spot with that hand.

A few orbits pass before the following comes up:

My Huckleberry straddles from the cutoff, and his neighbor calls the $6 from the BTN (he's sitting on roughly $80).  They start talking as action arrives at me.  I have AQdd and am considering a raise when the conversation between the two guys leads the guy to announce (to the table, directed at the BTN limper), "I raise you to $100," without realizing that I have yet to act.  Looking over, I think he became sort of mortified, realizing his mistake of acting out of turn.  He had the look that he did not realize I was still active in the hand (I think it folded around to me for this particular hand, besides the BTN who he intended to raise).  Mind you, I've been in this spot many many times before - wanting to raise myself but getting raised ahead prior to my action.

With no straddle, the rule at the Horseshoe is that out of turn actions are binding assuming there have been no changes prior to action (i.e. if I announced raise instead, it would void his raise and he could act anew).  However, this hand had a straddle element, so I was unsure whether that rule would apply.  Wanting clarification on the rules, I asked the dealer, who called floor and would not give me an answer on the ruling.  The floor, echoing the dealer, simply told me action was to me.  Floor would not give me an answer as to the ruling for the out of turn player.  Action was to me, and reasonably certain that the rule would play whether the hand was straddled or unstraddled, I decided to call the straddle bet and see what would unfold (pun intended?).  As soon as I called, floor announced a raise by the cutoff to $100.  BTN hesitated and called, unhappy with me still being in the hand, and kinda realizing what was going to happen when I called the straddle: I shipped all in over his $100 raise, which amounted to around $275 effective.  Cutoff called without much hesitation, which did not mean a lot to me, since he didn't seem to care about the cards he held.

I have no idea what our table maniac held (he didn't show, but I think he had 97o) but the BTN held JJ for a 42/43/15 for the main pot and a ~65/35 flip for the much larger side pot.

To me, there were 2 takeaways from the hand:
1.  The goal of poker is to get others to make mistakes that you wouldn't make.  Make sure to use those mistakes to your advantage.  Acting out of turn... especially raising out of turn... opens up a world of possibilities that would not have ordinarily been there.  When you have guaranteed action ahead of you if you just call, you have a pretty golden opportunity to get a nice check raise in, with the advantage of trapping all that dead money that isn't thinking about you check / raising.  Punish the players who make mistakes against you!
2.  Wait for good spots to get your money in.  Take those bets that put you at a greater than 50% advantage!  Who knows what would have happened in the KQ hand?  I'm a better player than the maniac who can be shoving a wide range, but includes a ton of Ax hands.  Why not wait for a spot until I'm fairly certain I'm ahead or at least a coin flip?  I do think about whether I would have been ahead with that hand, and whether that was the correct fold, but I'm far more certain about AQs than KQo!

Oh yeah!  Q in the window sealed the hand for me!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The pros and cons of buying in short...

I've been talking poker with a few friends this weekend. We've been texting back and forth as well as talking one-on-one about strategies and ideas.  I'm curious whether any of my readers have any insight with the following premise:

My friend (and I swear this isn't an "I have a friend who..." when it's really me, 'cause this is not about me) was talking about his poker sessions being few and far between.  When he (or she, to keep it completely anonymous) gets to finally play, it's usually a massive series of sessions (i.e. 6-7 nights and days of poker), so I'd best describe his discussion as "rust" on the poker game.  However, his complaint was that during his first and/or second session, he's so eager and excited, he quickly finds himself behind a buy in or 3.

I've had this happen to me when I first started playing live poker, so I can relate to his predicament.  I thought about his issue for a while and started to discuss possible solutions.  The one solution I really focused on was trying to buy in short.  At a 1/2 game, this means buying in for the $60 or so minimum... or even starting with $100 if he must.  We talked through the pros and cons and here's what we came up with:


  • Limited down side.  Buying in 3 times and shooting that off can be less than a full buy in of $200.
  • Gives him time to get a feel for the table and top off later.
  • Gives him time to get a feel for his own game and top off when his heartbeat has baselined and the rust has been shaken off.
  • Forces him to play on the tighter side because he knows full well that he shouldn't be calling raises with suited connectors and broadway, nor should he be calling raises with non premium pocket pairs since set mining is unprofitable.
  • He can ship over raises (i.e. squeeze) more frequently as a short stack; 3-4 callers @ $8-10 a pop; he can cavalierly 3bet all in to $60 and be profitable a helluva lot!
  • Limited up side.  If he hits a nut hand, he won't get a maximum payoff.
  • He may forget to top off (I don't know if this is really a con though)
  • He's playing less than 10% of the range, which is kinda boring ABC poker.
Do my readers have any other suggestions?  Any other pros / cons that we're not considering?  How do you approach live poker when it's been a month [or longer] since your last session?  Does that approach differ if it's around a month until each session that you play?

Monday, February 1, 2016

What would you do from the archives

This is a simple spot from a few weeks ago - I captured it because it was interesting at the time:

I'm dealt KQo UTG, and raise to $11.  I can limp or raise in that spot but this time, I opt to raise.  Tightish older black guy calls in UTG+1, as do 5 others.

We see a KK8o flop (BINGO).  I decide to check since there's not much that can call my lead bet and the UTG+1 bets $15.  As expected, it folds around to me and I call.

Turn is an 8, giving me the second nuts to quads.  I check again, and he checks behind.

Here's where the action falls: River is an A and I lead for $45 - hoping to salvage some action out of the top boat.  I do get action - perhaps more than I wanted (side note: careful what you wish for...) and he raises a step above min to $95.

As I see them, the options are: Raise all in (probably around $300 to start the hand), call the $50 raise, or fold.

Thoughts?  Why?

Click to see results

Can I ever fold here with top boat?  (Stupid question; I can fold as I choose; if I want to fold quads here, I can fold quads...)  Realistically, can I fold top boat?  For $50?  What beats me?  2 hands: AK, 88.  It may be wrong to discount a fold here, but I just can't seem to find the fold button.

The argument for re-raising: Is a tightish player raising 8's full?  Probably not.  Is a tightish player raising King's full?  Perhaps.  Is a tightish player flatting AK from early position and raising the river?  Very strong possibility.  Is a tightish player raising quad 8's?  Absolutely.  So what value am I getting by re-raising?  I probably fold out 8's full.  I'm almost never folding out the King's full.  So I'm probably not accomplishing anything by re-raising here; only chops and better hands are calling / re-re-raising.

The argument for calling:  Much of the arguments above should be recycled here; I'm concerned about AK, 88 and that's it.  Is my opponent raising as a bluff or a hand he believes has value given the way the hand played out?  Sometimes he shows up with AA, QQ, etc.  But I think a tightish player is very rarely raising the river - the traditionally most expensive and costly street.

Therefore, given the above, I opt to call and am shown AKo. Oh well... I still scratch my head as to whether I can find the fold for $50...

One quick edit / addition: If you find yourself in this situation with the tables reversed; i.e. you're sitting on the AK, raise *MUCH* larger than a min raise. You may want to consider shoving in this spot since it is rare that people can fold a full house. I think overall, you get a ton of value from worse hands by raising much larger.

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