Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting back up

Sometimes the biggest losses happen in the best games.

Maybe I should have quit once I had recouped nearly all of my losses.

These are poker cliches, and today I'm the poker player voicing them.

I recently put some money back on FTP, to end my rather lengthy hiatus from online poker. Unlike some other poker bloggers, I don't have a big tournament score to report. I like to play cash games, and I'd been told by reliable sources that Rush PLO (6max) was a goldmine. Sure, I thought, I can grind out a profit there. I have 30 buyins for this game, I'm properly rolled if I remain disciplined, and I've got a bonus to clear to boot.

A couple of thousand hands later, I'm down eight buyins.

How did this happen? The usual litany of suckouts, one or two coolers, and a mammoth pot shipped to a fishy villain when the stacks were ultra-deep. I need to go over this particular hand in some detail because I really would like a sanity check from other Omaholics regarding situations like this.

So to set the stage, here is what happened. I'd lost four buyins earlier in the day. I lost four more but had developed some very good notes and had learnt the tendencies of most of other players in the relatively small player pool rotating through the Rush PLO10 game. I proceeded to get paid off and win four buyins back and was consequently sitting with 450+BBs in my stack. Several other players were nearly as deep, and I was eager to see if I could take all their money. (I should have listened to that little voice in my head that said to use proper BR management and quit since I had an overly large amount of my BR at one table.)

I opened with a fantastic speculative hand in early position, the A778 ds (nut hearts and clubs). Two weak players (each sitting with less than 100BBs) call. The button, my main target whom I've observed closely and whose play is transparent -- most importantly of all, he overplays his hands and can be taken to value-town -- makes a pot-sweetening raise. I call, as do the other two players. The button still has 370BBs in his stack, and I cover.

The flop comes out a dreamy AA8, giving me the stone cold nuts.

I bet pot, since I figure the button will get stubborn and pay me off. Sure enough, the button calls as the other two players get out of the way.

The turn is the safest of cards, a seven of spades. I bet pot again. The button calls. The pot is now 420BBs and the button has less than half a pot-sized bet left (about 170).

The river is a king. I throw up in my mouth, since I figured the villain's range is heavily tilted to AKQJ hands (in other words, an ace with some Broadway sidecards), but I also know I am going to call if he shoves the river. So I do the betting for him and sure enough, he shows up with the nuts. In retrospect, as Bayne pointed out in the comments, this is probably a mistake. The longterm +EV play is probably to check-call (or even check-raise for value when he bluffs AQxx) in a spot like this where I might have been drawn out on since the board is so dry. This requires a lot of poise and ruthless composure to pull off, and I wasn't cold-blooded enough to do so here. On the other hand, the villain might pay off with trips on the river but not bet if checked to, so I'd lose a ton of value. It's hard to know which
line is best.

And thus I lost the biggest pot of my poker career (over 750 BBs) in terms of bets wagered. Did I do anything wrong? What arguments, if any, are there to play more conservatively? I'd welcome feedback on this.

So the next day I sucked it up, and played some lower-stakes NLHE. And won some money. The comeback begins - again.


Bayne_S said...

Biggest mistake is violation of Chris Ferguson rule of having too big a % of bankroll on table.

Since button re-raised preflop why not just check, KK hands are going to check behind on flop and AK hands will lead out giving you a chance to build bigger pot since you have nuts and no redraw.

I do have to question since you 'know' villain has AK why not check call or check fold?

a) When he does have AK he might make more of a value bet

b) when he has AQ, AJ you might pick off a bluff that he might fold to your river shove

Shrike said...

Good points all.

I will say that I had had considerable success leading out with the overfull: they just didn't believe me. Nor did this villain here, so my plan worked (up to a point).

I didn't *know* villain had rivered me but I did get that sick feeling in my stomach when the king fell. And like I said, I wasn't psychologically prepared to fold (especially given the stack sizes), so I figured when in doubt, bet. But a river check is probably a good idea against a lot of opponents.

BWoP said...

At those stakes, you're not getting a hand like A-K-x-x to fold. It's just another 9-outer (I'm assuming villain had something like A-K-Q-J) when the stacks are pretty deep to begin with.

Given the action, you have to assume that opponent has an ace with one or more strong kickers. Clues: pre-flop re-raise and then flatting both the flop and turn.

Given the likely number of outs, wouldn't it be just like playing a flopped straight with no re-draws against a likely flush draw?

In your hand, I feel that any broadway river card is going to be reason to give pause.

Shrike said...

BWoP: In this instance, it was a six-outer, but you are correct that I can't be comfortable with any K, Q, J (or possibly even a T) that comes. So the analogy to a straight fading a flush is useful. I could have done better by check-raising the flop and leading the turn to commit myself to the hand with less money behind which would make the river play even more simple.

VinNay said...

This hand is strikingly similar to my biggest pot loss (about 550BB) in a 5-10 cash game at the world series 2 years ago.

I felt like I got kicked in the junk, but had to call my last 600 into about 5K.