Monday, May 14, 2018

The case of the overplayed Aces?

Let me preface this retelling of last week's session by saying I *NEVER* run good at MGM National Harbor.  Since it opened around a year and a half ago, I've run like dog poop.  I have no problem frequently getting my money in good, but my hands simply don't seem to hold.  Ultimately, this bout of poor like leads to my strong preference to play at Baltimore's Horseshoe.  There, in addition to having less variance, the games seem easier and I can often get my money in with my opponent drawing stone dead, in effect cutting out variance altogether.  Enough of the sob story at MGM, let's get to the meat!

I decided to hit up MGM because my buddy Josh was in town on business for the week.  We decided to play a session together, go for dinner, and generally catch up a bit.  He was working in Tyson's Corner, and I work out of Sterling -- both in Virginia; therefore, it made the most sense to forge through the traffic and venture out 30 miles to MGM rather than travel the ~60-70 miles to Live! or Horseshoe.  Although we didn't wind up at the same table, it was good catching up with him in the car sitting through traffic, and eating dinner.  We're finally sitting at separate $1/$3 tables and about 3 hours in, the following hand comes up:

I have about $1000, and the villain in the hand has around $900, so we're VERY deep.  I'm in the SB and the villain, from MP, raises to $18 after a limp or two.  I'd been watching the villain for awhile; he seems competent, and more ABC.  Never once in the three hours did I see him get out of line, nor he me.  Most of my money came from the 2 aggro Asian guys to my right who were trying to out-piss one another.  At this point, there was only one of those guys remaining, and he was on his 5th or 6th $200 buy in (trips to the ATM EVERY TIME!!!!).  Anyway, as I was saying, MP raises to $18, gets called in 4 spots and action is to me in the SB.  I look down at two Aces (no idea the color).  Interesting; $100 in the pot and action is open.  I think a raise is 100% in order here, no?  How much?  A mid-pot sized raise seems good - I 3bet / squeeze to $100.  Given my deep opponent, I think he can technically call a wide range because he's getting decent implied odds, but reality-wise, he's going to manage losses and fold a wide range including small pocket pairs and smaller than AQ-.  I realize I'm out of position here, and I don't want him to fold THAT wide of a range, but I also don't want him in there with any two cards because that will prompt everyone else [and their brothers and sisters] to call along side.  I'm looking to isolate here and narrow ranges of my opponents in the hand.  Ultimately, it folds back to him; he thinks for a bit and calls.  The remaining Asian dude shoves his remaining $157 and action is back to me.  I pause for awhile, but I've already done the math - I can't reopen the pot.  I look at the dealer and say, "raise," with a smile on my face, knowing full well that the dealer will decline the request.  He shakes his head "no," and repeat more firmly, "raise!"  He verbally says, "no, you can't do that," and I chuckle a bit, making the call, as does the table at large (including the villain).  The villain makes the call and we see a flop with $368 in the middle.

Jc 9c 5 flop.  I'm not worried about a club draw - again I don't remember the particular suits of my Aces, but I have an unimproved hand that's going with its preflop valuation.  I want to continue betting here, as I want all the money in the middle.  I'm a bit concerned about him holding a pair of Jacks and less so 9's or 5's, but that's a very small portion of his overall range and should not stop me from trying to get all in.  I also don't want him to fold the flop, so I opt to bet $205, little more than half pot.  He thinks & calls.  I pretty clearly know what he has at this point: QQ (less likely) or KK (more likely).  We see a turn in a wildly unmanageable pot or $778 with $595 effective behind.

Turn is let's call it a deuce.  Not sure the color, but it wasn't a club.  I rip in the last ~$700 and he reluctantly calls.  This would be the worst slow roll in history if he has a set.

Thoughts?  Overplayed Aces or make your read and go with it?

I wait for the blank river and flip over my Aces for the scoop, one of the bigger pots I've won in recent years.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Craziness during WSOP at the 'Shoe and a hand history

Life gets in the way of poker constantly.  Whether it's my children, my wife, my parents or friends, life takes priority to a game.  Therefore, I've been trying to shoehorn my poker playing into smaller and smaller time slices.  Over the past 2-3 months, I think I've played maybe 3 sessions, and although online poker is more readily accessible, it's kinda been the same thing for my online game.

Anyway, I was able to play last week -- while the WSOP circuit tour was in town.  For a Thursday night, the action was great and the money was free-flowing.  There were a few easy marks, but overall, my table was nothing to be feared.  So long as one could isolate a little "roller coaster-ing," one could profit heavily.  In other words, embrace variance and the profitable results will shine.

I've been considering the hand I'm about to share - from a 1/3 game at Baltimore's Horseshoe.  It was a sizable pot, and I always tend to evaluate those with greater scrutiny:

I'm in the UTG+1 or 2 (can't remember) and limp A4hh (~$1500) along with 3 others in position.  It gets around to the BB (~$500) who raises to $20.

The BB is aggressive and wonky; he's somewhat on tilt from a prior hand where he got it all in with K2s against AA for $130 on the flop with a gin Q22 which runner-runnered Queens for the AA scoop.  He's been quietly containing his emotions for about 2 hours, but his aggression is way ramped up.  He's in his late 50's / mid 60's and appears to be kinda dumb.  His image of me is early 40's, tight, aggressive, sitting on a big stack by only showing down big holdings, which is why I'm sitting on my $1500 stack.  Ultimately, with my call, the 3 others call rather quickly.  ~$100 in the middle.

We see a flop: A 3 6 rainbow (I think there was one heart, so straight and flush backdoor draws are available).  He checks and I, with my backdoor(s) and top pair, decide to lead for $45.  At the time, it seemed like a mandatory bet.  I don't want to see it get checked through, and I want to see how the other 3 players respond.  I'd love to take down the pot with a middling Ace, but I also want to thin the herd going into the turn.  The plan is that if I run into resistance from any of the other players, I can be somewhat certain I'm behind, and I'll plan to check the turn to give up control / pot control with significant action and/or bricks.  FWIW, I realize the other players can be holding 3x or 6x types of hands and a $45 bet into a $100 pot is purposely not a very imposing bet.  I want those 3x and 6x hands to stay involved.

I get folds around to the BB who just calls: ~$190 in the middle.  I initially put him on an under pair (KK, QQ, JJ specifically) who is just stubborn.  He also could have Ax (all combos of Ax for his raising range from the BB beat me), but I discount this thought since I think he charges the flop instead of check / calls.  As a factor, I don't think he raises 24/ 23/ 56 / 45 / etc. combos out of the BB (nor any position for that matter, but not to the degree of certainty as out of the BB), as I simply haven't seen that from him in the 4 hours I've been sitting with him.  At this point in the hand, given his play, I'm pretty sure I'm ahead.  I plan to check all turn cards and bet river, as I think if he does indeed have a QQ, KK type hand, he can't pay off back to back streets, but will more likely pay off a flop bet / turn check / river "smallish" $75-$100 bet.

Turn is an off suit 7, completing the rainbow, but this time he takes control of the hand and leads for $75.  I reconsider my options and reconsider his range - I'm surprised at this line.  I still weight him heavily towards KK, QQ hands, but I guess I need to weight his Ax hands a bit heavier.  I'm still fairly certain I'm ahead, but I'm not loving his bet and my resultant options.  Call, raise and fold are all on deck for options:
  • Raising will effectively fold out his bluffs and under pairs -- I only get called by better hands (i.e. all better Aces).
  • Folding leaves a lot of money on the table against his "bluffs" which I mentally still include KK, QQ, JJ, TT.
  • Again, I'm not as confident, but I think calling makes the most sense; the 7 gives me 4 of my backdoor outs, plus the two pair outs of hitting a 4.  Therefore, I have 7 outs going to the river -- 14% in the worst case that I'm currently behind.  Therefore, I call: $340 in the middle, with ~$350 effective behind... $75 to win $265 against $350 additional implied; ~3 to 1 immediate with ~8 to 1 total implied odds which is cutting it close for the percieved clean outs.  Against his range, though, I think I'm getting the correct mathematical odds, factoring in that I'm ahead some percentage of the time.
River is a big, beautiful 5, making the final run out: A 3 6 7 5.  He snap shoves ~$340.  I think for a brief couple of seconds, but I can't see any way I'm behind given the run out.  Obviously, 89 and 84 are the only hands that beat me which make no sense given the way the hand played.  It's just that the shove makes no sense and my issue with the whole hand.  Over the years, I've definitely learned to take my time when making calls for stacks, and which is why I take a couple of seconds here, worried that I'm missing some glaring error.  River shoves when the nuts are present on the board -- especially 4 card effective nut hands, hidden as they may be - is a rarity at 1/3.  I make the call and he [proudly] flips over A9o.  I show my filled gutter for the scoop and continue to stew over the hand which is why I'm reproducing it here.

Now clearly, he either had one helluva read on me on the flop / turn, or he way way way overplayed his hand (the latter more than the former).  What I'm questioning is: Where did the hand go wrong?  Did I misplay it?  It's obviously easy to win when you river the effective nuts, but do I check through the flop?  Fold the turn?  Did I discredit his premium Ace / nutted hands too much?  Granted, A9o is hardly a "premium" hand -- certainly not a 3 street ~$500 hand -- but I guess what I'm also conflicted by is the whole thought that my A4 hand is a bluff catcher on the river that would not have caught his "bluff."

I therefore argue that his river shove turns his hand into a bluff not a value bet, but if I call the turn, shouldn't I call any blank river?  Or should I be calling turn and folding a river shove?  There aren't too many bricks, save for an A, 3, or 6 but let's count bricks also as 10's and 9's -- hands that don't help his perceived range and don't help me.  For mental reference, I'm purposely staying away from calling a Q or a K a "brick," because it completes many sets given his range, and also gives him 2 pair given his would-be revised [turn betting] range.  Also, consider that he's shoving any river - with both bluffs and values.  If I second-guess my flop bet, his sizing by the river is not a shove, and more readily called (i.e. checks through flop, turn bets $50-70 and now there's $190-$210 with ~$380 behind by the river; an awkward overbet).  Am I overthinking / over-analyzing this hand?

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