Monday, December 18, 2017

If a gift horse hits you in the mouth...

Quick post because although it's been a month or two since my last post, I don't have much to report on the poker front.  Things are moving along both online and live, with no major hand histories or review-worthy items.  However, I had an odd occurrence happen to me last Saturday, when I had one of my more rare opportunities to get some time in at the tables:

I'm moving along, my stack is roughly $1000, but I'm into the game for about $500.  It's my standard $1/$3 game at the Horseshoe.  I've had one rough decision thus far, where I opened to $15 with T9s, flopped two pair on a Q T 9 board and got all in against KJ for a flopped straight for about $220 between the flop / turn / river.  That's most of the $500 I'm in for.  Maybe I can delve into that hand a little as a segue because it was mildly interesting:

We see a flop 4-way, with the SB & BB having called and the lone limper calling.  It checks to me and I cbet $30 - the BB calls.

The turn is an Ace and the BB checks; I throw out a second barrel of $45 and get check / raised to $95 (he has $~90 behind).  Decision time: I'm behind all two pair hands better than mine, plus the obvious straight.  He could have flop slow played AK, but he could also have called AT / AJ / AQ / QT.  This guy is fairly passive overall.  I'm not sure if he semi bluffs a hand like AJ or just flats looking to get to a cheap showdown or what.  I guess if he is fairly passive, he's rarely semi bluffing, but he could believe that his Ax just sucked out and is now the nuts -- again, AK is a possibility.  Also factoring into the decision is if I call the turn raise, I have to call the river barring an obvious change to the board (4 straight Ten or Queen, namely).  In retrospect, I'm not sure I like my decision in calling here, but I do make the call --- and call the blank 3 on the river.  I'm shown KJ for the nuts, as I described earlier.  I think there's room for improvement on that hand sequence.  I think there's too much information telling me to fold on the turn when I:
  1. Get check raised by a more passive player and
  2. Don't even hold close to the nuttiest 2 pair hand.
Anyway, enough with the segue; onto the hand of the night which is fairly unexciting.  The overall table is fairly passive, habitually limping, calling reasonably outsized bets and check / folding flops.  I've been taking down a lot of missed opened pots with cbets by taking advantage of the passivity to this point.  I look down at AA in mid position after 3 limps.  I raise to $25, $15 + 3 limps x $3 per limp.  It folds around to the original limper who decides to limp / raise to $50.  I've been playing against this guy for the past 2 sessions, around 12 hours of time, so I'm fairly familiar with his game.  I know that he's only raising the top 5-10% of hands, and I've *NEVER* seen him limp / raise before.  I think it's fair to estimate he has a good hand.  It folds back to me and I have a decision of flat vs. 4 bet -- and how much to 4 bet.  Let's throw some percentages out and say it's 5% bluff and 95% premium hand.  Therefore, I decide on the 4 bet rather than a flat.

Given that he has about $800 to start the hand, I think flatting is a poor option since I'm looking to play a large pot and no matter the flop, even if he himself has Aces or Kings, it's going to be hard to get all the money in the middle because he'll be in constant fear of a set (unless, of course, he himself flops a set) or an overpair on the flop.  I take my time, debating between a smaller raise ($125), or a larger raise ($200).  Given the action, I think he's never folding any hand here -- if he is, then his limp / raise was a simple bluff, which again, I've never seen him do and it wouldn't fit his profile.  Since I'm pretty sure he's never folding, I opt to raise big and go with the $200 option, not settling in the middle or anything.  I'm going for broke, quite literally.

He processes my 4bet and announces "all in."  Hmmm...  Damn...  Does he also have AA?  I think a fairly standard play here (for most of these players) is to just call the $200 with KK and hope to get away from the hand on the flop.  When I'm seeing a push for almost 3 buy ins, I feel like I have to be up against the other two Aces.  However, I waste no time in calling and he shows KK.  I show him the bad news [for him] and he is totally bummed out.  The board runs clean and I scoop one of the bigger pots I've scooped this year for +$800.

In considering the hand, a couple of thoughts come to mind:
  1. If you can get more money into the pot with the nuts, don't hesitate and shovel whatever you can into it while you know you're on top.
  2. Coolers will happen and KK will run into AA from time to time.  It's hard to fold KK pre flop, and when you're sitting on 100BB, it's even harder.  However, when you're sitting on almost 300BB, shoveling it all in with KK after you've been 4bet is a HUGE error against a reasonable player (which fits my image).
  3. It's probably an error to just call 66BB with 200BB behind after getting 4bet with KK, and although it's a tough fold if your opponent is threatening stacks on the flop / turn, you can probably comfortably save ~100BB by folding at some point or simply taking a flop and folding to an Ace high board.
  4. Don't shove ~300BB into a 4bet against a reasonable player when you yourself have been a very tight player -- especially at these stakes.  It accomplishes nothing because you can only be called by hands that beat you and fold out the hands that you crush.
Note that I keep using the word "reasonable."  The rule set above changes quite dramatically when you have an unpredictable opponent or if you yourself are "unpredictable."  Raising and calling ranges change quite a bit when you or your opponent are casually 3- and 4- betting.  To be more clear, if you figure your opponent could 4bet you with QQ, JJ, straight bluffs, etc., which is much more of a rarity at these stakes, then it may very well be correct to shove KK and get a call from a lesser hand.  However, that 4bet that I put in pretty clearly defines me to have only the very very top of my range: AA, KK.  Calling a shove keeps me in the same range, but skewed way more towards AA.

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