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?


  1. I'm with you, PM. I find this happens a lot at 1/2 1/3; you think you can range someone based on their pre-flop action, but they may not be good enough poker players to be playing in accordance with the range they SHOULD be playing (awkwardly worded, I know).

    There's no way he should be bumping that pot pre from the BB with A9o. You had him ranged as large pair (I do think you would include AA, AK and maybe AQ, even with 2 aces gone post flop) based on his raise with awful position. I think your only "mistake" was that you mis-ranged him because you thought he would play smart poker.

    As played, he either had a soul-read that failed at the end, or he played the hand poorly start to finish. I think it's the latter. It's tough to range players that aren't actually playing their range...

    congrats on the nice pot! Did you finish up 2k?


    1. Yeah; it was a nice session for me. I'm still confounded by the hand, but maybe I need to take for what it was: I got lucky at the end, but the guy WAY overplayed his own hand, and took a weird line to get there... Also, I take away that not all bluff catchers can catch bluffs - if the river is indeed a blank, my A4 bluff catcher can't beat his A9 bluff shove...

  2. "He snap shoves $340. I therefore argue that his river shove turns his hand into a bluff not a value bet."

    I agree that it looks like a bluff. From his point of view: he bets $20 and you call. Flop he checks and you bet $45. I don't think you'd lead with 8-9 or 8-4 on a A-3-6. You would do this with A-x, 3-3, 6-6, or 4-5. A-J+ or 7-7+ you bet pre, so if it's A-x it is A-10 or lower. 7 on the turn and he leads $75. When you call, I'd be ready to slow down. If I was in his place, I would not shove on a 5 or 10 river. I like his shove on a 2 or a J river. I think you'd have to fold a river shove if you don't catch your straight.

    P.S. As PPP would say, I suck at poker.

    1. Either way, every card except for a 9 turns his hand into a bluff, no? I do indeed think I have to fold the river if I don't catch my straight, but that's why I'm wondering if it's bad play to call the turn. I argue that if he can shove A9 there, then he likely can shove KK, QQ, JJ as well. Doesn't that open up my river calling range to his shove?

    2. I should not have included the 2 on the river for a shove since 4-5 was a possible hand from the start. I think it does open up your river calling range but not on a river shove. If it was check-check on the turn, then his river bet of ~$120 you can call. But when he leads $75 turn and then shoves $340 river, it's time to get out of his way.

    3. I tend to agree with you; I won’t be happy folding the river but I think it’s a “discipline fold” as they say

  3. If there is room to improve how you played the hand, I think its on the flop. I think a check is in order. There are too many players in the hand to expect everyone to fold to a $45 bet, and anyone who calls a $45 bet in that situation has you beat most of the time (save for stubborn pocket pairs). You mention that you planned to check the turn for pot control, but I think the flop is where you need to check for pot control. But otherwise, nice hand.


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