Tuesday, September 8, 2009

March of the Queens

It's been a long time since I posted an interesting poker hand for discussion. I was involved in such a hand a week ago that might generate some good arguments ... not that many of you play live limit hold'em cash games, but here goes ...

Last Saturday night, I found myself at my regular live 4/8 LHE kill game -- in fact, this hand took place during the session I mentioned in my previous post. I am up for the session and have consistently shown down winners. I have noticed that some of the players have begun to realize that when I raise preflop, I usually have a premium hand. The table is the usual mix of loose players who will play any two cards preflop. Postflop the play becomes a bit more aggressive, but not significantly so.

In this particular hand, the UTG player limps in. He is an older player who is the epitome of the table. LAG preflop, TAG postflop, calling station when on the draw: very exploitable; I will always know where I stand. He pays off more than most with second best hands because he hates to be bluffed. I paid him off earlier with AA when he flopped a small set; I got my revenge soon afterwards by extracting maximum value in a kill pot with TPTK (where I held AQo in the big blind *with the kill* but I didn't re-raise preflop; the flop came queen-high with a flush draw and he called my turn check-raise and river value bet with worse). Four other players limp in and I look down at my cards and see QQ.

Because of my table image and innate dislike for being out of position, I check my option (there are sound arguments for raising here with a preflop equity edge, to be sure).

The flop comes down with a rainbow board of J98. The pot contains five small bets.

I check, looking for clues on how to proceed from the actions of my opponents. Depending what happens behind me, I was definitely planning to check-raise. Somewhat to my surprise given this dynamic flop, it is checked around. Before seeing the turn, I quickly formulate a plan of leading out almost 100% of the time.

The flop brings a very interesting card, a queen (no backdoor flush draws have materialized). So I've improved to top set in a very small pot, and it's reasonable to suppose that one of my four opponents might very well have improved to a straight. I decide to execute my plan and lead out, but this is a close decision. The UTG player immediately raises. I decide that if it's folded around to me I should reluctantly fold the river unimproved, because I think my opponent is never bluffing here (given my read of the situation, this is a fairly easy laydown but I'm not in the habit of regularly folding top set before seeing all five board cards). However, a third player calls two bets cold, throwing a new wrinkle into this situation, and I opt to close the action with a trivially easy call. The pot is now 8.5 big bets.

The river is a jack, giving me the overfull. I lead out hoping that I will get raised by my left-hand opponent, but the UTG player pauses for a few seconds and only calls, the third player folds, and I drag the 10.5 BB pot.

Comments on how this hand was played on every street are welcome. What, since folding is not a palatable decision at any point, would you do differently to maximize your positive expectation in this situation and others like it?


DrChako said...

Everything about this hand is bad. Sorry, dude.

First off,I will assume you were big blind (I don't know if you specified). Secondly, I'd like to question what you consider TAG. In my experience, there are very few truly tight aggressive players at 4/8 LHE.

Preflop, checking here is reasonable. Sklansky advocates always raising when you have the best hand, but at 4/8, getting beat by 9-2 off is so common that I can understand just checking here. There is some value in surprise.

The flop is horrible for queens. Check raising will never work. What are you trying to accomplish? Sure, you announce you have a good hand, but you are really just pricing in all draws (they really wouldn't fold anyway. It's4/8! They will check call heads up for any draw regardless of pot odds). You should lead out here and plan on re-raising if you get raised.

The turn kills your hand at this point. You have to believe you are beat. When you are beat, you should just check call. If there is a bet and a raise, you could even argue that folding top set is reasonable, but it's very close given implied pot odds.

If you actually thought about folding just because of the bet (even before the call) then you should review pot odds. You have 10 outs (1 queen, 3 jacks, 3 tens and 3 nines) to the probable nuts. You are more than priced in.

The river was nice.


DrChako said...

EDIT: Just re-reviewed your post. The flop was J98(not J-10-9). A 10 probably gives you a chop, but someone is often holding a king here, so I wouldn't count on it.

When calculating pot odds, it's reasonable to assume that one or more players is holding some of your outs, but it might drop your calculation from 10 outs to 8 outs. 8 cards help you and 38 don't. There's even an outside chance that your top set is good, but it should not factor into your calculation.


Fuel55 said...

if yer goin' play QQ this badly in a limit game you should just fold preflop.

Shrike said...

@Doc: yes, I was in the big blind (as stated in my post). No, I never considered folding on the turn.

@Fuel: how can I fold preflop? I get a free look at the flop. ;)

F-Train said...

How often do you lead the flop and how often do you check in this spot? If you're leading more often than checking than you may as well raise preflop, no? I realize you're just building a pot and making it more correct for all the donkeys to chase their thin draws after the flop but you also have the equity edge.

I agree with the doc that a check-raise on this board is horrible. Only about 3.4 billion cards can hit the turn that will make you vomit. The check-raise only works if the very last player to act bets and you get the chance to make it two cold to everyone else.

Turn is a horrible card. Check and hope to see the river for one bet. Against this many opponents you are beat here more than 90% of the time.

Shrike said...


My plan for this hand is to check-raise almost 100% of the time if no overcards come down vs. my QQ. If I were going to regularly lead out, I should just raise preflop, as you pointed out.

And yes, the check-raise works best if I can get a LP player to bet for me so I can make everyone else have to call two bets cold.