Thursday, November 8, 2007

Avoiding Bad Situations in Cash Games, Part 1

Or Why KQs is a Dangerous Hand

The Setting: A $1/2 NLHE full-ring blogger cash game

The Players:

Simon ($244.45), the UTG raiser (standard $7 amount);

Yours truly ($105.70), the UTG+1 caller (I'd bought in short);

Bayne ($200), the UTG+1 over-caller;

Fuel ($600.60), the small blind who decides to 3-bet. (to $21.50)

At this point, Simon flat-called the raise and I’m left in a quandary. Fuel’s likely range for 3-betting out of the SB is something along the lines of [55, 77+, AQs+, AK and maybe 10% suited connectors]. Simon, for all the grief I like to give him for his loose preflop standards, is a fairly solid player who is not going to call a 3-bet with two players left to act behind him without a pretty powerful hand. His decision to merely call here leads me to believe he is likely to have AQs+ or a pocket pair.

So I have two unpalatable choices: I can commit 20% of my stack preflop with what is essentially a speculative hand looking to flop a straight draw, flush draw, or two pair+ (I can’t count on my kicker being good if a bare king or queen hits), or I can reluctantly fold with $7 invested. I am getting 3:1 on my money (which almost certainly will end up as 4:1 if Bayne calls with any two cards, as he should if I call ahead of him), but I’m in poor relative position if I miss the flop, as I will nearly two-thirds of the time. With $80 behind, I will only have enough of a stack to make one pot-sized bet, so a bluff on a later street is unlikely to work.

What should I have done?

If you said fold, give yourself a pat on the back.

However, as you’ve doubtlessly guessed, I decided to gamble with a reckless call (and quite properly Bayne did call behind me getting 4:1 on his money). On cue, I hit a monster flop of [2s Qs Kc] for top two pair.

What happened next? It was checked around to me and I made a weak lead for $25, hoping to see some action without anyone realizing just how committed I was to showdown. Bayne and Fuel folded but I got all the action I could want as Simon took the bait and re-raised me all-in. I insta-called and, sure enough, he flipped over AKh for TPTK for the second-best hand.

Unfortunately for me, the FTP server decided to give Simon one of his three outs on the turn and I got felted as Simon raked in a nice pot.

What lesson can we take from this hand?

Well, KQs is a vulnerable hand that really shouldn’t be played multi-way with this much action preflop with a 50BB stack in front of you. The odds are strongly against you if you hit a top pair hand that you are best, as you are more often than not out-kicked, or, as here, you face the possibility of being outdrawn if you outflop AK or AQ. In the long run, making this call is definitely –EV. I just happened to lose in a particularly painful way in this instance. This is a situation to avoid unless the stacks are very deep.

[Edit] NB. Oh, and Simon, I rarely, rarely make that bet into 3 players in a re-raised pot with a hand that doesn't have one pair crushed. (!) And if I can't beat top pair, I'll have a big draw. Which is not to say that you shouldn't at least call my small bet, but it's lighting money on fire to raise TPTK in that situation, in my not-so-humble opinion.


simon said...

lol, AK is gold baby

Shrike said...

You want to wager that amount of money on that hand ... oh, let's say one hundred times. How many do you think you'd win? ;)

Running with Spades said...

Nice write-up. Avoiding those bad situations is something I've been learning the hard way lately. It's especially important when you're short-stacked because you just can't afford to play so much of your stack without the best hands.

It's still tough to lose top 2-pair on the river though :)

SirFWALGMan said...

Simon go brokey quick? Love playing with people who can not fold top pair. Bad luck for you but what can you do.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Personally, I woulda folded initially. I'm not calling an UTG raiser with KQ. Like you said, more often than not, it gets you in trouble. As a matter of fact, I'm not opposed to folding KQ in EP regardless of whether there's been a raise or not.