Thursday, February 26, 2009

A deepstack tournament situation

From last night's Mookie, your standard enormous coinflip situation for review.

I hate gettting all my chips in the middle preflop this deep (50BBs) with AK, but this was an exception since I figured this opponent was highly likely to be making this move only with medium-to-large pairs and big ace-x hands, but would not shove AA or KK for fear of losing all of his customers. This is a high-variance gamble for me to take, but the reward for winning this flip is of tremendous strategic value. Since I do genuinely have the top of my range here (KK+, AK), this pushes my decision towards calling, but the countervailing factor is tournament survival. I could afford to pass up a marginal situation here and try to maneuver my chips in the middle with a bigger edge.

Context: I had opened the previous hand in EP with AQs and chipped up nicely when I bluffed unimproved in position vs. a big blind defender when the board four-flushed (clubs always get there). So I was happy to see AK the very next hand since I was even more likely to get action.

Long-term I believe calls like this are -EV. With only 240 invested and 4K behind I could easily -- and often would -- have folded and looked for a better spot to chip up.

As an aside, I think the villain here played QQ about as sub-optimally as I can imagine; results notwithstanding. He is basically turning his cards face-up and letting me play with virtually perfect information against him. Last I checked, poker was supposed to be about deception (unless of course you are able to put in the last raise with aces).

I also used PokerStove to see what the numbers said after the fact. I incorporated a couple of assumptions when estimating villain's range of hands: villain didn't shove with AA or KK or small pairs; and that he could make this move with some big aces.

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 48.017% 40.16% 07.85% 41263988 8067397.00
{QQ-77, AJs+, AQo+ }
Hand 1: 51.983% 44.13% 07.85% 45339458 8067397.00
{AcKh }

And here is the actual result:

Full Tilt Poker, NL Hold'em Tournament, 40/80 Blinds, 8 Players

CO: 7,665
BTN: 4,425
SB: 2,175
BB: 8,455
UTG: 9,455
Hero (UTG+1): 4,405
MP1: 2,560
MP2: 2,275

Pre-Flop: (120) K A dealt to Hero (UTG+1)
UTG calls 80, Hero raises to 240, MP1 calls 240, MP2 folds, CO raises to 7,665 and is All-In, 4 folds, Hero calls 4,165 and is All-In, MP1 folds

Flop: (9,250) 6 9 J (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
Turn: (9,250) T (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (9,250) 4 (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
Results: 9,250 Pot

CO showed Q Q (a pair of Queens) and WON 9,250 (+4,845 NET)

Hero showed K A (Ace King high) and LOST (-4,405 NET)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blogger cash game shenanigans and Mookie flameout

Hard to avoid losing a lot of chips here in the Mookie. I still had 25K left and was in second place after this fiasco. But then at the final table I lost several consecutive races to flame out and bubble. Fortunately, I'd earned some blogger money in the cash game that was running ...

I had to chuckle to myself at this remark in chat before he called my large river bet ...

ScottMc: i might have a soul read here PL

And I should be pleased that he 3-bet the flop with no pair no draw and spiked top pair on the turn to set up the hero call on the end!

PL08 Missed Opportunity

Sadly, my opponent didn't have anything here, and I won a small pot.

Later on I flopped the overfull with AA58 and had to make a low on the turn to chop vs. flopped quad sevens. Sigh. It was that kind of session.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A PLO8 deep-stack tournament hand

Over at HoP, Jordan has blogged an interesting hand we played in Tuesday's Skills Game. He also took me to task for my table chatter, as I've been known to make mildly sarcastic remarks at the tables when I know the players I'm playing against and have logged a lot of time with them at the (virtual) felt. It's all meant in good fun, of course (especially when it's West Coast lawyer vs. East Coast lawyer).

Anyhow, here is the hand in question. It illustrates, I think, some important differences players need to recognize between big-bet Omaha and limit Omaha. In L08, if you flop the nut low with an A2xx hand and any sort of high, that's a ticket to showdown. In PL08, however, I think you should exercise caution. The risk of being quartered is a much more expensive proposition. For more on this key concept, I suggest further reading of Jeff Hwang's excellent Pot-Limit Omaha Poker, especially pgs. 277-287.

To sum up: betting the bare nut low into a field of players is rarely correct.

So here is how the hand played out. It was early in the Skills Game and Jordan had lost about 7% of his 3K starting stack. I had dipped just below the 3K mark and was on the button, acting last with best position. (I value position in PLO8 more than in just about any other form of poker, so I will play a lot of hands in this spot.)

TBA limps in for 40 and Jordan makes an oddly aggressive raise from early position with what turned out to be [Ac 4d 2h Qh] -- kids, don't try this at home! -- and I had a trivially easy call with my [Td 2s 5s Ad]: a double-suited A25T hand is plenty good enough to see a flop with in last position. TBA calls as well and 3 of us see the flop of [4c 7s 3s].

At this point, TBA checks and Jordan bets the full pot with the nut low and a pair of fours. I like this play as an effort to pick up the pot right here, but if I'm faced with resistance, I would probably shut down because if an opponent is showing an interest in the pot, I have to assume I have little chance for the high half of the pot and I could be getting quartered for the low -- or even worse, being counterfeited for the low if a deuce hits.

Now, when I see Jordan come right out and bet the pot, I have to assume he also has an A2 in his hand. But if that's the case, I have position and a strong drawing hand (flushes and straights and perhaps three tens) to take three-quarters or even scoop if one of the two remaining deuces comes off.

(A brief list of good cards that I can hit: a deuce, a six, a ten, any spade, etc. and I can represent a wider range than that by virtue of my positional advantage, which puts a lot of pressure on my opponent.)

So I make the dreaded min-raise to 840, which Jordan calls. Running some numbers in my trusty hand equity calculator, we discover that I have a 16% chance to scoop the pot, and a 60% chance to take the high half of the pot. I think this is the key turning point of the hand, right here. As a matter of tournament strategy, I think this is probably the time to get away from a marginal spot with the bare low and a pair of fours. Move on, suck up the loss, and retain a stack of 2240 chips which can be put to better use in future situations where you have better position and better situations to exert leverage.

Instead, we see a turn card -- the 7h. Jordan checks, and I make a "please call me" bet of 600. Jordan opts to check-raise for his last 1820 in chips and I make, in the end, a fairly easy call. And I'm saved when one of my outs hits on the river, the mighty Th giving me top two pair for the high half and the two of us split the low half.

The net result? Jordan lost about half of his stack by playing a speculative hand out of position and, I'd argue, overplaying it postflop. But of course, this is a blogger tournament and I can't fault anyone for deciding to not find the fold button; I've been guilty of that more than once myself.

Of course, you can also argue that I erred in not making full-pot-sized bets, too. Or that I overplayed my non-nut spade flush draw. Or that I should have smooth-called the flop bet and raised on the turn. Or ...

Comments are welcome. This was an interesting hand.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I blame Doc Chako for this. But I'm amused that I got a character from my all-time favourite sci-fi show as my answer: Kosh.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A reclusive seer shrouded in riddles, you reveal very little and only what is deemed congruent with your plans.

Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side, and the truth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flying Seattle visit

I seized an opportunity for a quick trek down to Seattle this weekend to see some old friends. Not so coincidentally this was also the weekend that several Seattle-area poker bloggers had chosen to hold a home game, so I crashed the party.

Saturday did not have an auspicious beginning. I endured a ridiculous 90-minute wait at the Peace Arch border crossing. This delay pushed back my Seattle arrival to 1pm, and caused me to miss the first of my planned rendez-vous. I can't blame my friend Wolfgang, he was being a responsible parent to his young daughter and nap-time is inviolate for any sane father having to pull solitary child-care duties.

So, I shifted gears and parked down near Pioneer Square to take a walk, eventually ending up at a favourite bookstore -- Eliott Bay Book Co. and happily browsed the shelves and after making some purchases, I ducked downstairs to the cafe and snarfed down some good soup as I waited for the arrival of Zeem. He was a bit late and I found out that a humourless traffic cop had ticketed my car during its 12-minute window of vulnerability. Of course, I discovered the bad news AFTER I had purchased another two hours' worth of parking.

Undeterred and unwilling to have my good mood spoilt, I rode shotgun as Zeem took me over to a nearby bar, Shorty's, where I embarassed myself with an abysmal performance in its pinball arcade. The games were in generally good working order but I felt a bit curtailed by the lack of adequate lighting in the room.

Then, we proceeded along to the evening festivities, a blogger home game with a few luminaries of the Seattle poker landscape. I was the proud Gigli of the 8-player NLHE tourney where the host slaughtered me in an early pot where I flopped a 9-high club flush and raised Doc's opening bet (he had a mere two pair). Chris, the gracious host who had made sure I had copious amounts of Guinness in my system at all times, came over the top. Zeem folded what he later showed was the queen-high flush, and I announced that I wasn't good enough to fold my 1-out redraw to a straight flush and promptly got busted by a king-high flush. Yes, three of us had flopped a made club flush. It's always crubs, as CK would say. Always!

However, this proved to be a blessing in disguise because it left me with my hands free to devour food and drink without constraint. It's rare that I go bananas over tapas, but The Wife makes a mean guacomole which I could not get enough of. I doubt Astin could match it. I am willing to judge that competition and adjudicate any and all prop bets on this. I washed it down with yet more Guinness and a couple of glasses of a fine shiraz I'd had before and was happy to sample again. The Doc knows how to live well!

I was allowed to choose the format of the second tournament. It went on a little long, but I redeemed myself by winning the HOOSE event we put on (double Omaha in place of Razz). I think I won something like 22 of the 24 Stud08 hands that were dealt? It was pretty sick.

We capped the late night with a dealer's choice cash game and most of the bloggers enjoyed my pick of Crazy Pineapple for an orbit of play -- and I proved how to go broke with AAx. Later I also demonstrated my poor judgment in not folding the flopped nut straight in a hand of Omaha, and got stacked when a gutterball draw got there on the turn. But I ground back up close to even by the time the game broke.

The party ended about 2:30AM as some of the bloggers made grandiose claims of needing to do healthy exercise activities early on Sunday. I think this was merely an excuse to avoid giving me any action on my Wii Golf challenge even though I promised to play wrong-handed.

I then took advantage of Chris' offer of a spare bed, snatched a few hours' sleep, and drove home late Sunday morning after seeing a few other old Seattle-based friends for a quick chat and a late-morning cup of coffee.

It was a fun whirlwind of a trip.

NB. Rough count of gibes at token Canuck: 19
Rough count of phone calls made by Doc & Wife to other Canadian poker bloggers to mock my Gigli performance: 2

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stud8 exercise, part four

This hand demonstrates -- and this is not about the profitable result for your hero -- how and why you should push edges and generate a lot of dead money in low-level Stud8 games. In this situation, I had only been playing at this table for four hands until I picked up a premium hand, (2d3d)Ah. The bring-in, with a 2c showing, completed immediately. A 7c called. As did another player with the 2s as their upcard. With the ace showing and last to act, I took the conservative route and just called, since a lot of low cards were clearly out already and I was going to need a good card on 4th street to feel comfortable about continuing. Also, representing split aces would not get anyone to fold. Finally, if I caught good on 4th I was going to be able to generate an awful lot of dead money and a nice overlay to make my hand.

4th street was fairly strong:

*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Villain 1 [7c] [2h]
Dealt to Villain 2 [2s] [6c]
Dealt to PirateLawyer [2d 3d Ah] [5d]
Dealt to Bring-In [2c] [3c]

I took the unorthodox route of check-calling. I have four clear outs to the wheel, 3 baby diamonds towards a flush, and the best low draw, but a lot of low cards are out there so it's not quite time to raise. I want to lurk until 5th street where I can make big bets.

*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Villain 1 [7c 2h] [4s]
Dealt to Villain 2 [2s 6c] [Kc]
Dealt to PirateLawyer [2d 3d Ah 5d] [8d]
Dealt to Bring-In [2c 3c] [Td]
PirateLawyer checks
Bring-In checks
Villain 1 bets $4
Villain 2 calls $4
PirateLawyer raises to $8
Bring-In calls $8
Villain 1 raises to $12
Villain 2 folds
PirateLawyer raises to $16
Bring-In calls $8
Villain 1 calls $4

And here the trap springs. Once I make an 8-low with a flush draw, and redraws to the wheel, boom! Nothing is stopping me from jamming the pot and my opponents co-operate by contributing lots of dead money. I'm not unhappy about two of my opponents capping it here with me as we go to 6th street.

*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Villain 1 [7c 2h 4s] [9d]
Dealt to PirateLawyer [2d 3d Ah 5d 8d] [Kd]
Dealt to Bring-In [2c 3c Td] [9s]
PirateLawyer bets $4
Bring-In folds -- I'm happy to get headsup vs. one opponent, this dramatically increases my chances to scoop a monster pot
Villain 1 raises to $8
PirateLawyer raises to $12 -- automatic raise, if I'm not ahead for both halves of this pot I'm freerolling to improve to a better low.
Villain 1 calls $4

*** 7TH STREET ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [2d 3d Ah 5d 8d Kd] [5h]
PirateLawyer bets $4
Villain 1 calls $4

And the result? A fun scoop against Villain 1's unimproved rolled sevens, with a lot of dead money going along from with a low that never got there to boot. Note how many bets Mr. Bring-In contributed once he caught bad on 5th; I was able to get him in a truly horrible sandwich position with the co-operation of Villain 1. That is precious dead money you want to seek out and trap!

It is situations like these that you should seek to find and aggressively push your equity edge against the field.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm not in Hawaii

Which is sad, because that would be a fun birthday trip (my birthday is in ten days).

But my parents are, so I get to housesit for them and take care of the family cat, who is 21 years old and finally showing her age.

I think I've resolved to treat myself to a tropical vacation next February, when I'm clearly a part of the mid-30s crowd.