PezRez and md261 are two of the poker world's most consistent 6-max SNG players. Together they run, which offers coaching and staking services. Here they dissect hands and games they've played. Also found at:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A Promise To Call Pt. 3

PezRez on 1st December 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 2: Villain (4945 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1220 in chips)
Seat 5: Hero (1910 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (925 in chips)
Player 4: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [4c 4s]
Player 6: folds
Villain: calls 50
Player 4: folds
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [4h 5h Ts]
Hero: bets 75
Villain: raises 375 to 450
Hero: raises 1410 to 1860 and is all-in
Villain: calls 1410
*** TURN *** [4h 5h Ts] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [4h 5h Ts 2d] [Js]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [4c 4s] (three of a kind, Fours)
Villain: shows [Kd Ks] (a pair of Kings)
Hero collected 3845 from pot

Now I bet you’re all getting extremely bored with the Promise To Call. ‘Do an original post!’, I hear you cry. But when such a good example pops up, I feel like it’s my duty to share it with you fine people.

So the point of this post is to demonstrate that the PTC does not apply only preflop (as in Pts. 1+2). A fishy Villain limps the button and I’m happy to take my free flop with 44. A lovely 4 on the flop, and usually looking at these deep(ish) stacks and tiny pot the cogs would be whirring in my head figuring out how I’m going to unite those two things. As always, betting out is a good start, and then my opponent raises to six times my bet, to 450.

This looks a lot like a PTC! Elaborate plans go out the window; if I think he’ll call now, in it must go. An average player might slowplay here; his thought process will no doubt go something like this:

“My hand is really strong, so I’m not too worried about an outdraw. Plus he’s betting aggressively. I don’t want to lose him, so I’ll let him take the lead.”

Wrong! You’re forgetting about the cooler, son. On this flop, isn’t a pair of tens a really likely hand to make this raise? If that’s the case, and the turn is a 9 or something similarly irrelevant, the average player will probably stack his hapless foe with a checkraise on the turn and then feel very proud of his brilliantly executed slowplay. Problem is if the turn is a J, Q, K or A and our average Hero checks, the Villain with the pair of tens might not be too happy anymore and may well check it back. Our friend will still probably get action in the hand, but Villain might no longer want to stack off so readily. If that’s the case, this slowplay has cost Hero dear.

It is true that sometimes, Villain was pulling some stupid move and will fold here. But nothing is poker is certain, and I’m always surprised to see a fold after a move like this. Fact is, if it looks like your opponent is happy to stack off now, why not oblige him? As you’ve seen, the slowplay is going to be the costlier move in the long run.

Villain actually had KK (nice limp, mate). Hero probably wouldn’t have lost the Villain too easily with a slowplay, but all the same, the all-in on the flop didn’t lose him either. Promise To Call! Watch out for it.


P.S. md261and I really appreciate you all reading the blog and valuing our opinions. If you enjoy reading our posts, let us know by adding your comments or subscribing using the toolbar on the side using the 'Subscribe To' gadget on the sidebar. And do tell a friend!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Watch out, he's got a set!

md261 on 26th November 2010

PokerStars $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: Player1 (1620 in chips)
Seat 2: Player2(1780 in chips)
Seat 3: Player3(1110 in chips)
Seat 4: Player4(1580 in chips)
Seat 5: Hero (1760 in chips)
Seat 6: villain (1150 in chips)
Player4: posts small blind 10
Hero: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [8c 4d]
villain: calls 20
Player1: folds
Player2: folds
Player3: folds
Player4: folds
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [Qc 4c 5d]
Hero: checks
villain: checks
*** TURN *** [Qc 4c 5d] [8s]
Hero: bets 60
villain: raises 60 to 120
Hero: calls 60
*** RIVER *** [Qc 4c 5d 8s] [8h]
Hero: checks
villain: bets 290
Hero: raises 1330 to 1620 and is all-in
villain: calls 720 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (610) returned to Hero
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [8c 4d] (a full house, Eights full of Fours)
villain: shows [5s 5c] (a full house, Fives full of Eights)
Hero collected 2310 from pot

The Villain in this hand is a Fishbowl, and not an aggressive one. On the flop the Hero hits a weak bottom pair. The only thing to do here, out of position against a loose-passive fish who has limped UTG, is to check fold - there is no point building a pot with a marginal hand early in a SnG.

The turn brings 2 pair, now it is a hand worth betting and protecting. The Villain’s min raise sets alarm bells ringing, a passive fishbowl is likely to hold a set, an overpair or AQ here. Seems excessive to make this read from one min raise but he did limp UTG, and his stats showed he was ultra-passive. AA, KK, AQ, QQ, 55 and 44 are the hands he is most likely to hold. You could make a case for reraising here, but since the Hero is often going to be behind, he does not want to gamble all his chips early on, so Hero elects to call.

The miracle on 5 the street: The Hero is now ahead of all of the Villain’s range with the exception of QQ. Getting all the chips in is the aim, but the pot is small compared to the stacks, this is a great spot for a check raise all-in. The Villain will bet every hand in his range if he is checked to, but may not raise with some of the weaker holdings like AQ or KK, therefore it makes sense for the Hero to check, and raise all in after the Villain has bet. It is hugely unlikely the Fishbowl will be able to let go of AQ, and guaranteed not KK, and 0% chance of him folding a worse full house. If he has QQ then you just have to take your lumps, and wave goodbye to your chips.


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Laying Down Trips on the River

PezRez on 21st November 2010

PokerStars Game $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1780 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1660 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (1360 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1220 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (1550 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1430 in chips)
Player 2: posts small blind 10
Hero: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [2s 6c]
Player 4: folds
Villain: calls 20
Player 6: folds
Player 1: folds
Player 2: calls 10
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [2h 2d 3c]
Player 2: checks
Hero: bets 40
Villain: calls 40
Player 2: calls 40
*** TURN *** [2h 2d 3c] [8h]
Player 2: checks
Hero: bets 100
Villain: calls 100
Player 2: calls 100
*** RIVER *** [2h 2d 3c 8h] [5d]
Player 2: checks
Hero: bets 240
Villain: raises 380 to 620
Player 2: calls 620
Hero: folds
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [As 4d] (a straight, Ace to Five)
Player 2: mucks hand
Villain collected 1960 from pot

With trips on this kind of flop, it is the first instinct of average players to slowplay. The trouble is that if they check and Villain bets, what will they do now? A check-raise instantly tips Villain to the strength of their hand, whilst a check-call is usually followed up on the turn by a check-check, and Hero winning a pitifully small pot whether Villain calls the river or not (or worse still, ending up busto because Villain hit his free card). Betting out is distinctly superior, so that’s what I do. Two calls, and I’ll be keeping an open mind about what they might have.

The turn is essentially a blank. With two calls on the flop, it’s likely someone wants to keep going in this hand, so I’ll just continue to bet, and I pick up two more calls.

The river is a good one too, so I’m happy to put a third value bet into the pot. It’s possible that I’ve just been outdrawn by A4 or 55, but not nearly likely enough to make me consider checking here. However, Villain raises me! And Player 2 calls to boot. ..

Here the average player (the type who likely would have checked the flop) will think, ‘I’ve got trips and 5-1 pot odds. Gotta call!’. Against one player, he’d probably be right. But the overcall is extremely threatening, and it’s worth putting some thought into this one.

First off, let’s look at it from my Villain’s viewpoint. I’ve bet three times getting multiple calls on each street into a paired board. I’m therefore not bluffing, and he’ll think I probably have a 2 (he’s right, you know). So why would he bluff here? It makes no sense at all. If he were to bluff, he would most likely do it earlier in the hand, not after I’ve shown tremendous strength and there is an active player behind him, who (let’s not forget) has also shown quite a lot of strength and could well also be sitting there with a 2.

So having largely eliminated the possibility that he is bluffing, what hands can raise here? To my mind, he must have three 2s at least. Seeing as with my hand I can only beat 24 and 25 (and he wasn’t likely to limp with those, no matter how big a fish he is), his range has me completely crushed. Against one player I’d probably squeeze out a crying call, but the overcall just makes this laydown all the more easy. 5-1 won’t help me if I almost never have my opponent beat. He made his gutshot on the river, and I save myself 380 for later in the tournament.


P.S. Player 2, if you wondering, did in fact have the 42s, one of the few hands I could beat.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Small pair, Big Fish

md261 on 17th November 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 1: Player 1 (2450 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1640 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (1470 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1335 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain (2105 in chips)
Player 4: posts small blind 25
Villain: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [3h 3d]
Player 1: folds
Player 2: folds
Hero: raises 100 to 150
Player 4: folds
Villain: raises 150 to 300
Hero: calls 150
*** FLOP *** [Kd 6c Kh]
Villain: bets 150
Hero: calls 150
*** TURN *** [Kd 6c Kh] [8s]
Villain: bets 50
Hero: calls 50
*** RIVER *** [Kd 6c Kh 8s] [3c]
Villain: bets 100
Hero: raises 870 to 970 and is all-in
Villain: calls 870
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [3h 3d] (a full house, Threes full of Kings)
Villain: shows [Ad As] (two pair, Aces and Kings)
Hero collected 2965 from pot

Pocket 3’s on the button is a tough hand to play. Some would shy away from playing it against a Loose-Passive player like the Villain, reasoning that he is too likely to call the pre-flop raise; That is a reasonable way of thinking about it. On the other hand a pair in position against an enormous fish is not the worst situation to be in.

There are 2 marginal moves in this hand by the Hero, raising in the first place, and calling the tiny reraise. The reraise from this player is hard to read, could be a real quality hand, or could be A7offsuit. Folding is an option, but the Hero plays against this particular enormous fish regularly, so it is not wise to fold to tiny out of Position reraises too often, in case that encourages the Villain to do it more often.

The flop is pretty good for a rag pocket pair, no need to bloat the pot, but definitely a reason to call the flop bet.
The turn bet is a real sign of weakness, it is unlikely Villain has a King at this point, it would just be too strange if he had played a King like this (though against an enormous fish anything is possible). Most likely hands are AQ-A7o, or a higher pocket pair, again, pot odds demand a call.

Miracle on the river! Villain’ssmall bet again suggests an Ace high or weak pocket pair, but Villain is an enormous fish, and is likely to call an all-in with those hands regardless. If the river had been anything other than a 3 or an A, Hero would have just called, again enticed by good pot odds.

Hero shoves, Villain calls and flips the Aces he was scared were beaten, and he actually didn’t play them too badly (considering it is unlikely that Hero has any more than 2 outs). Shoving was the Hero’s only real option on this river, it is a short shove, less than the pot so could easily appear to be a bluff, and it is impossible for the Villain to put him on a full house. Furthermore it is often good to shove on the river against enormous fish when you are very likely to have the best hand, making terrible calls for large amounts of chips is often a large part of the reason for ROI’s of -40%.

This is a great hand for discussion, you could talk to 4 different people and get 4 different opinions on how it was played, although the Villain had AA this time, his range is fairly wide there, and you could make a good case for folding at 3 points before the turn. This hand will attract many different opinions because it is so marginal.

Please post your thoughts!


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Middle Pair in a Raised Blind-on-Blind Pot

PezRez on 9th November 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 1: Hero (1935 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain (1110 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1420 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (4535 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 25
Villain: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [8d As]
Player 5: folds
Player 6: folds
Hero: raises 100 to 150
Villain: calls 100
*** FLOP *** [2h 8s Th]
Hero: bets 150
Villain: calls 150
*** TURN *** [2h 8s Th] [Ks]
Hero: bets 300
Villain: calls 300
*** RIVER *** [2h 8s Th Ks] [3d]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 510 and is all-in
Hero: calls 510
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Js Qh] (high card King)
Hero: shows [8d As] (a pair of Eights)
Hero collected 2220 from pot
Villain finished the tournament in 4th place

A8o is in the top 15% of hands, so raising from the small blind into a random hand is a no-brainer. I get called, which is not too surprising; my opponent has seemed fishy, and I expect with position he can call here with any combination of medium-high and/or connected cards.

The flop is decent: middle pair top kicker, and the chances he has a ten are not too large. A bet seems necessary to protect a vulnerable one-pair in the face of multiple draws/overcards which could hit on the turn. My opponent calls, and while he may have a ten, on this board a draw, gutshot or overcards is more likely.

The turn is a King; not great, but not too bad. It’s missed all the gutshots and none of those has paired, so unless he had a draw or pair with a King in his hand, I’m probably still good. The overcard gives me an opportunity to put real pressure on; in charging the draws, I may even get him to lay down a ten.

A total blank on the river, and as usual it’s time for me to assess my options. I still like my hand well enough, but my opponent’s stack is now about half the pot. I’m pot committed, but I should still think how best to play it. The way he’s been c calling, I feel like he’s got a draw or maybe a ten. He may have paired that King, but he probably hasn’t. I don’t need to protect my hand anymore, and I can’t see any worse hands calling a bet. However if he’s been drawing he may feel desperate enough to make a last grab for the big pile in the middle.

I check and he shoves; it doesn’t make any sense for a ten, so at this stage he has a King, two pair or a busted draw. I doubt the 3 has paired him, so the bluffs definitely outweigh the real hands and with about 3-1, I need to be correct here only more than 25% of the time. I reckon I’m about 50% to have the best hand when he shoves, so an easy call reveals that my now chipless opponent called the flop with a gutshot, called the turn with an open-ender and shoved the river with a miserable Queen high.


Monday, 1 November 2010

Smelling Opportunity

PezRez on 1st November

PokerStars Game, $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1795 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (2900 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (2030 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (705 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1570 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 50
Hero: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Qh Qs]
Player 4: raises 200 to 300
Player 6: folds
Player 1: folds
Villain: calls 250
Hero: raises 200 to 500
Player 4: raises 205 to 705 and is all-in
Villain: calls 405
Hero: raises 1325 to 2030 and is all-in
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (1325) returned to Hero
*** FLOP *** [5c Th 2s]
*** TURN *** [5c Th 2s] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [5c Th 2s 2d] [Jh]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [Qh Qs] (two pair, Queens and Deuces)
Player 4: shows [Qd Kd] (a pair of Deuces)
Hero collected 2115 from pot
Player 4 finished the tournament in 5th place

Player 4 is a solid regular, and so I know that when he raises to 3x from a 7bb stack, he will never fold. Obviously with Queens, the plan is to put him in, since I’m way ahead of his range and I know he’ll call. But the Villain, a loose fishy player calls in the small blind, and I smell opportunity.

You might think this hand is a no-brainer. Obviously we’re just going to reraise, right? But not all reraises are equal in this situation. The important thing to notice is that if I make the minimum reraise of 200 then Player 4’s likely all-in will be another 205 on top: that means if the action is still open when it comes back round to me, I will be able to reraise.

If I three-bet any more than the minimum, I am likely to either drive away the fishy Villain or, when he calls, to be powerless to drive him out of the pot and risk him outflopping me (not too unlikely an occurrence with Queens). However, as you can see, when I min three-bet, Player 4’s all-in seems like a reasonable price for my less capable foe. After he has called, I can shove and give the Villain what might look like great odds to call with the worst hand or better still drive him out and end up in a pot with Player 4 as a large favourite with a 2-1 overlay provided by my hapless opponent. Your expectation with 2-1 odds as a 2-1 favourite is pretty huge, so be on the lookout for opportunities like this one.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Professional VS ****

md261 on 26th October 2010

Villain: You play so ******* bad, you really are a Donk, Putaaaa.
Hero: Hee-Haw :)
Villain: You’re only still here cos you hit that river King, Fish.
Hero: Sorry that was pretty lucky, better to be lucky than good I suppose :)

This blog has never included a post about myself or Marcos, because we realise that no one cares; People want to read a poker blog that is instructional, interesting and helps increase their profitablility.
Everything in poker comes down to money, everything you do should be designed to increase your hourly rate, including any and all chat at the table.

There are many winning players who get into arguments or berate players at the table, if you do this I am not preaching, it is your right to do as you please, but I will explain the reasons why I will never do so

  • Pull out a gun or soothing words: Do you want to escalate a situation, or diffuse it. If someone is spewing venom at you they are more likely to make big moves against you, for all your chips. This is (apart from the early early blind levels) never desirable in a SnG, it will negate your ability to play your standard game. If you respond and taunt back, this escalating ‘Beef’ will happen; if you apologize, or agree with the Villain’s words, he will calm down, and probably feel bad (though never admit it). It is hard to argue without a partner in crime.

  • Mutual respect: It is particularly important to maintain professionalism against Regulars. You will face them time and time again, and if they don’t like you, and they themselves let their emotions influence their play, you will both suffer. Retaliatory words will lead to spite calls.

  • Mental Balance: Implement this "Hourly Rate Only" strategy and you will quickly disassociate yourself from the games you play. This has both upsides and downsides. The downside is that you will not care as much about the games you play, you will get no thrill from outplaying someone, your big wins will not fill you with happiness and you will lose a small part of the passion which made you play poker in the first place. The upside is that the same lack of emotional attachment which makes you not care so much enables you to take “big picture” view of poker, and tweak everything that you do to increase your hourly rate from your on-table plays to improving your PC setup. Though you will not feel happy from the big wins, the trade-off is that you will not be disappointed at all if you suffer a large downswing. In essence you will be treating poker like a profession, you work your hours with the intention of maximising your hourly rate, and win or lose, you are still a happy person when you spend time after your sessions with family and friends.

You need to work on your mindset just as hard as you need to work on your poker game to maximise your hourly rate. It is easy to understand the reasoning above, but that does not make it easy to implement the changes. How can you not to rise to the bait of the Villain in the chatbox?! There are however methods to ‘trick’ yourself into acting the right way, and if you act the right way, the mindset that goes with it will soon follow. People like to feel superior, when someone tells you that you play like a Donkey, you KNOW you are better than him and you tell him so, this is human nature. If you feel the need to feel better than the Villain, you can placate him like the Hero, safe in the knowledge that you are rising above his taunts, because you know that he wants a reaction out of you, and you are not going to let him control you like that. This will let you act in a professional manner, which is a stepping stone towards thinking professionally. Before long, if you work at it, you will placate the Vaillain not to feel better than him, but because you don’t care what someone you don’t know thinks about you, you just want to make as much money as possible.

The final thing is that it’s just not very nice to be an asshole. There are some bad eggs online, but there are a lot of regulars who don’t take anything personally, they understand that it is strictly business, and though you are enemies on the tables, you are still friends. Online poker can be a lonely job, and it can be nice to have the occasional friendly chat with someone who is in the same situation as you. Plus, you never know what might come of it, maybe someone you know decides to start a video site, and since you are both a good player AND a model professional, he might ask you to join. This wouldn’t happen if you insulted his mother and wished him death every time he outdrew you.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Mediocre Top Pair on a 3-Flush Board

PezRez on 16th October 2010

In this hand, I flop mediocre top pair out of position and take a line which looks inconsistent, but which actually makes perfect sense.

PokerStars Game $72+$6 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1900 in chips)
Seat 2: PLAYER 2 (2025 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1345 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (1640 in chips)
Seat 5: PLAYER 5 (1105 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain (985 in chips)
Player 3: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [8c Ac]
PLAYER 5: folds
Villain: raises 50 to 100
Player 1: folds
PLAYER 2: folds
Player 3: folds
Hero: calls 50
*** FLOP *** [7h 5h Ah]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 50
Hero: calls 50
*** TURN *** [7h 5h Ah] [2d]
Hero: bets 150
Villain: calls 150
*** RIVER *** [7h 5h Ah 2d] [9c]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 350
Hero: calls 350
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [8s Kc] (high card Ace)
Hero: shows [8c Ac] (a pair of Aces)
Hero collected 1325 from pot

An aggressive villain minraises, and although I’m not thrilled about A8o out of position, I’ve got 3.5-1 and stacks behind against an aggressive player who I may well have beaten. I elect to call, and flop a pair of aces. Only problem is all those hearts.

My hand, although improved, is still mediocre, so I check to see what my opponent is saying. He minbets, which looks pretty weak to me. If he had hit an Ace, he probably would bet more to protect his hand against the flush draw. I figure I’ve probably got the best hand, but there are so many bad cards that could hit. Checkraising seems too strong for this hand, so I elect to call, but with a specific plan in mind.

That plan is to bet a safe card, and the 2 of diamonds looks pretty safe to me. I reckon I’ve probably got the best hand, and now my opponent only has one card remaining to fill his flush if he’s drawing. If I bet, I can safely lay the hand down if raised, but I avoid a free card and extract value from a flush draw. Just less than half the pot is sufficient to give my opponent an incorrect price to call with a flush draw, so that’s what I bet.

Another blank on the river, and I now need to consider my opponent’s range. When he calls the turn, he probably has an Ace (in which case I’m probably behind), a flush draw (maybe with a pair) or possibly some kind of WTF hand. Value betting doesn’t make much sense, as there are few worse hands in this range that will call. But there are myriad missed draws for an aggressive villain to bluff with. I check to induce a bluff and snap it off, and WTF indeed: K8o.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Overshoving for Value

PezRez on 23rd September 2010

PokerStars Game $36+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1500 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1500 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1500 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (1500 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1500 in chips)
Seat 6: Hero (1500 in chips)
Player 2: posts small blind 10
Player 3: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Td Jc]
Villain: calls 20
Player 5: folds
Hero: calls 20
Player 1: calls 20
Player 2: folds
Player 3: checks
*** FLOP *** [Kd Ac 3s]
Player 3: checks
Villain: bets 20
Hero: calls 20
Player 1: calls 20
Player 3: calls 20
*** TURN *** [Kd Ac 3s] [2c]
Player 3: checks
Villain: checks
Hero: checks
Player 1: checks
*** RIVER *** [Kd Ac 3s 2c] [Qd]
Player 3: checks
Villain: bets 20
Hero: raises 1440 to 1460 and is all-in
Player 1: folds
Player 3: folds
Villain: calls 1440 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [Td Jc] (a straight, Ten to Ace)
Villain: shows [Qh Ks] (two pair, Kings and Queens)
Hero collected 3090 from pot

It’s the first hand of the tournament, and Villain limps UTG. As he is one of the biggest reasons I’m playing this table, a chance to mix it up with him cheaply with a speculative hand should not be missed, and I limp behind with JTo. We take the flop with four players.

When Villain minbets, I have 5-1 pot odds with my gutshot. On a rainbow flop, I have four clean outs to the nuts; trouble is, I only hit on the turn about one time in 11.5. However my implied odds look good. Only 20 to call, with 1460 behind, means that the potential payoff is huge. It’s my favourite fishy villain doing the betting, so there is a good chance I can get some decent value from him if I hit. And the turn might get checked round, in which case I get two chances to hit my hand. Even though I don’t close the action, this looks like a call to me.

Sure enough, the turn was checked round, and I hit my miracle card on the river. Villain now minbets again. The first thing to note is that the players behind me won’t be giving me much action – they have shown no strength and so I am better off trying to maximise my value against Villain. He bet the flop, which suggested he had a little piece, checked the turn perhaps from lack of confidence in his hand, and now he is betting the river. He might have very little, but he might just be betting because the Queen has made him two-pair.

I don’t believe that Villain is ever capable of folding two-pair. If I make a pot-sized raise of about 200, I might just get some value from a raggy Ace or even a King. But if I make the drastic all-in for 1460 into 190, if it gets called any significant percentage of the time, it will be the superior play. Even if he calls the raise of 200 80% of the time and the all-in only 15% of the time, it still works out to give me a higher cEV. As it is, I don’t think there will be a huge difference in his calling ranges for the two bets, so my choice is clear: in it goes!
As I suspected, Villain just couldn’t lay down two-pair.

Any time that you have the nuts and there is a hand your opponent may just not be able to fold, you should consider moving in, even if it is a ridiculous overbet (as in this case). Other examples would be a full house or nut flush when an opponent may have a lower flush; or to push a straight if you think your opponent may have flopped a set. In the long term, it will help your bottom line, even if you don’t feel very sophisticated shoving 1460 into a pot of 190...


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

"I can't fold trips!!!"

md261 on 15th Sept

PokerStars Game $70+$6 - Level V (75/150)
Seat 1: player1 (1360 in chips)
Seat 2: Hero(3170 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain(4470 in chips)
player1: posts small blind 75
Hero: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero[7s 6d]
Villain: raises 150 to 300
player1: calls 225
Hero: calls 150
*** FLOP *** [5c Ad 3h]
player1: checks
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 150
player1: folds
Hero: calls 150
*** TURN *** [5c Ad 3h] [4c]
Hero: bets 525
Villain: calls 525
*** RIVER *** [5c Ad 3h 4c] [Ah]
Hero: bets 2195 and is all-in
Villain: calls 2195
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [7s 6d] (a straight, Three to Seven)
Villain: shows [As Tc] (three of a kind, Aces)
Hero collected 6640 from pot

Hero somehow finds himself on a particularly juicy bubble, against a couple of enormous fish. Player1 is a standard big fish, and Villain is a classic Loose Passive hyper-fish. Villain Raises on the button; although he is chip leader, he is not raising to put pressure on, he is playing his cards, and raising with at least a semi-decent hand. The pot odds due to the Small blind calling combined with the fact they are both fish makes it a mandatory call with unsuited low-medium connectors.

The flop comes down and it is bad news for the heroic Hero, with a raise from the passive player, and a call from the Small blind, it is very likely that someone has hit the Ace. It gets checked round to the original raiser who min bets, the SB folds, and Hero calls. The fact that the Loose Passive Villain bet at all strongly implies he has an A, and the fact that he min-bet suggests he wants action with his "monster top pair". The other effect of the min bet, is that it gives enticing pot odds to Hero, the implied odds are such that if he hits his gutshot he may well be able to extract some serious value from the Loose Passive Villain.

Hero has his prayers answered, and the miracle gutshot hits on the turn, giving him the Nuts. It is now time to extract value. Given the chip stacks, Hero intends to put in 2 resonable size bets which Villain will definitely call, and will leave Hero as big stack.

But then another A hits on the river. This should actually make no difference, because from the Villain's point of view, it is unlikely that that card turned his hand from a loser into a winner (Hero would have to have a low 2pair like 34o for the A to make a difference). However, true fish find it hard to lay down Big hands on paper, you just can't fold Trip Aces! They are just too good a hand! If you get beaten when you hold trip Aces then it just wasn't meant to be, right?
Obviously this is wrong, but Hero takes advantage of this common line of thinking Big Fish have, and ups his river bet into an overpot stack, safe in the knowledge that Villain will suspect he's behind, but will be unable to make the "big laydown". Thus Hero extracts maximum value from his hand.

On a side note this approach has the opposite effect on quality players, if you stack rivers when you have monsters and suspect they also have a pretty hand, most will correctly work out the situation and chuck their hand into the muck. However, you can counteract this making the occasional big river bluff, safe in the knowledge that they will fold any big hand that it is obvious that they might hold (such as a staight when a flush comes out). Unless they are clairevoyant, they will be faced with a tough choice between calling to catch the occasional bluff they know you are making, and paying you off all those times you are not bluffing.


Sunday, 29 August 2010

Overplaying Your Hand Heads-Up Against An Aggressive Opponent

PezRez on 29th August 2010

Sometimes heads-up you need to change your line dramatically in order to react to the dynamic of the heads-up. In this hand I flop middle pair, bad kicker on a classic bluffing flop against an aggressive opponent heads-up.

PokerStars Game, $70+$6 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150)
Seat 1: Hero (2890 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (6110 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 75
Hero: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [8c 6c]
Villain: calls 75
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [As 8d 3c]
Hero: bets 150
Villain: raises 300 to 450
Hero: raises 450 to 900
Villain: raises 5060 to 5960 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1840 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (3220) returned to Villain
*** TURN *** [As 8d 3c] [2s]
*** RIVER *** [As 8d 3c 2s] [2d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [8c 6c] (two pair, Eights and Deuces)
Villain: shows [9h Qd] (a pair of Deuces)
Hero collected 5780 from pot

This has been a long heads-up, and I have frustrated my aggressive opponent by frequently check-raising him. Lately I have bet out more frequently to avoid this line, which I suspect he is anxious to play back at.

A83 rainbow is one of those flops that everyone knows no-one has hit hard 95% of the time – especially in an unraised heads-up pot. Checkraising with my middle pair would seem a good idea – but he has lately been checking back a lot of hands to avoid my checkraise. Although my hand strongly rates to be best, I don’t want to give him a free card as there are many overcards that could hit him. I decide to bet out, fully expecting my opponent may want to make a play at this flop.

When he raises, I cannot credit him for a hand. True, he may have limped with a raggy Ace – and if that’s the case, he’s got me. I cannot fold this hand, but again I cannot afford to give him a free card. It looks like I need to raise.
Many players might lose confidence given the weakness of their hand, in an absolute sense (one pair of eights with a six kicker)and decide to shove to avoid a headache. However if you think about how he will respond when you do this rather than make a smaller raise, it is clearly wrong. If he was bluffing, he will have no choice but to fold. In this case, the value of having a pair of eights is wasted. If he has me beaten, I will be called and will lose.

I make the smaller raise to 900, however. I don’t give him odds to hit an overcard on the turn, and I will still lose my stack when he has me beaten when he repushes and I call. However if he was bluffing, which will often be the case, he will often see this tiny three-bet as a counterbluff to his raise (which it usually is). Few aggressive players, especially not those with a touch of ego about them, will be happy to fold if they strongly suspect they are being bluffed. And if they have the opportunity to pull a TOTALLY SICK FOUR-BET BLUFF based on their AWESOME READ, few will shy away.

My opponent stacks, I call and dodge the 25% likelihood of a Q or 9 to take a dominant lead in the heads-up.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Bubble Punishment

md261 on 21st August

Stack Sizes matter:

PokerStars Game $72+$6 - Level VIII (200/400)
Seat 3: Hero(4680 in chips)
Seat 4: player4(1445 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain(2875 in chips)
Hero: posts the ante 25
player4: posts the ante 25
Villain: posts the ante 25
Hero: posts small blind 200
player4: posts big blind 400
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ah Js]
Villain: raises 1200 to 1600
Hero: calls 1400
player4: folds
*** FLOP *** [3s 9s 2d]
Hero: bets 3055 and is all-in
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (3055) returned to Hero
Hero collected 3675 from pot

It's the bubble, the Hero is the Big stack, and the blinds are high. No 2 opponents have more than 8 Big Blinds, so it should be push/fold time. The Villain raises an amount which appears to commit him to the hand - AJo is a good enough hand for the Hero to call him all in, and most people would just ship it in and rely almost exclusively on the strength of their hand, and hope to squeeze a tiny bit of preflop fold equity (hoping the Villain is foolish enough to only look at the ICM situation, and ignore the astronomical pot odds he is being offered), and could maybe fold.

AJ is easily good enough to get it all in pre flop here, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to play it. By just calling pre-flop, the Hero makes the pot substantial, but also leaves the Villain and the other opponent with 1000 chips each. When the Hero goes all in on the flop, the Villain may well be facing a tricky decision with high cards or suited connectors, having missed the flop, clearly being behind, but still having as much equity in the SnG as the other opponent, and may decide to fold.

Thus the Hero has made it much easier for the Villain to fold, increasing the fold equity, and leaving himself with 2 cripple stacks on the bubble...Perfect for some bubble brutalisation. This move only really works because although the Villain is cripple stacked if he folds on the flop, he still has as many chips as the third opponent on the bubble. If the third opponent had more chips, this move would be inadvisable.


Monday, 16 August 2010

A Promise To Call Pt. 2

PezRez on 16th August

Just in case you weren’t convinced by my post on the Promise To Call (20th April 2010), here is another example of the same phenomenon.

PokerStars Game $36+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200)
Seat 2: Villain (2660 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (3890 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (2450 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 100
Hero: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [As Js]
Player 5: folds
Villain: raises 600 to 800
Hero: raises 3090 to 3890 and is all-in
Villain: calls 1860 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (1230) returned to Hero
*** FLOP *** [2s 7h Ah]
*** TURN *** [2s 7h Ah] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [2s 7h Ah 5s] [2d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Jd 8c] (a pair of Deuces)
Hero: shows [As Js] (two pair, Aces and Deuces)
Hero collected 5320 from pot

Even as the middle stack on the bubble, the Villain calls off his whole stack with J8o, for no other reason one can imagine other than that he raised to 4x the blind. If this situation seems familiar (and you’re the Villain), you would do better by thinking about whether you will call an all-in before you raise. If the answer is yes, but you aren’t happy about it (for instance if you have J8), it would really be a much better idea to just push in the first instance.


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Has it come to this?!

md261 on 1st August 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)

Seat 1: Player1 (848 in chips)
Seat 2: Hero (1672 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain (2390 in chips)
Seat 5: Player5 (1550 in chips)
Seat 6: Player6 (2540 in chips)
Hero posts small blind 15
Villain posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ac 5s]
Nemitz33: folds
Papenfuß: folds
tshiflett: folds
Hero raises 60 to 90
Villain raises 150 to 240
Hero calls 150
*** FLOP *** [8c Qh Qc]
Hero checks
Villain bets 315
Hero calls 315
*** TURN *** [8c Qh Qc] [4h]
Hero checks
Villain checks
*** RIVER *** [8c Qh Qc 4h] [5c]
Hero checks
Villain bets 400
Hero calls 400
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain shows [Ts Js] (a pair of Queens)
Hero shows [Ac 5s] (two pair, Queens and Fives)
Hero collected 1910 from pot

The Villain is a reg. But not one of those respectable regs who understands it is business and never personal, this one makes every hand personal, and tries to turn every situation into a -EV one for the both of you. His play is directed more by his ego/pride than by what is profitable.
If I limp my weak Ace, the Villain will probably raise. His reraising range is so wide that A5o is good enough to call, plus I can't just throw away 80%+ of hands against him blind vs. blind, I have to mix it up.
The flop is pretty good, if an A comes out if would tough to play, but with this paired flop, I would not expect the Villain to play a better A high very strongly.
Since I believe myself to have the best hand, and I know the Villain will definitely bet if he misses, I check call.
The turn card is a blank, it puts the flush draw on board, but there is no reason to think he has that. I think the Villain is correctly worried that I may check raise all in on this turn, so decides not to bet, more evidence that I am probably ahead.
The river gives me a pair, but makes absolutely no difference, this is one of those way ahead/way behind moments, either A high will be good enough, or it won't - there is no situation where my weak A high would lose, but my pair of 5's will win, because the Villain wouldn't put in the river bet with anything other thean a good pair or trips, or total rubbish, his river bet "Polarises his range".
I call, as per the plan, I wouldn't have been too surprised if the Villain flipped JJ or KQ, but it was more likely that he had the kind of hand he did have, 10Js, or even something like J7o.

It is rare and disgraceful that regs play this way against each other. There is scope to play and mix it up, without resorting to the "I will screw myself over to screw you over, so stay out of my way" attitude. Poker is a game which attracts alot of people who can't deal with authority well. People who find it hard to have a boss tell them what to do will naturally be drawn to playing poker online, where they are their own boss.
Unfortunately, it ofter means that personal battles and vendettas become the order of the day for people with this personality flaw. It not only hurts your bottom line, but also makes poker permeate the rest of your life. If you are too personally involved with online poker, you can't just stop playing when your working day is done, because you don't have that professional detachment, and it can negatively affect the rest of your life, which is what is truly important.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Major adjustment for a major fish

md261 on 24th July 2010

PokerStars Game $23+$2 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)

Seat 1: Player1 (780 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (2420 in chips)
Seat 3: Player3(1350 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (1470 in chips)
Seat 5: Player5(1560 in chips)
Seat 6: Player6(1420 in chips)
Player1: posts small blind 10
Villain: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to md261 [As Kh]
Player3: raises 40 to 60
Hero: raises 130 to 190
Player5: folds
Player6: folds
Player1: folds
Villain: calls 170
Player3: folds
*** FLOP *** [3h Jd Jh]
Villain: bets 220
Hero: calls 220
*** TURN *** [3h Jd Jh] [6h]
Villain: bets 460
Hero: raises 600 to 1060 and is all-in
Villain: calls 600
*** RIVER *** [3h Jd Jh 6h] [5h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Qh Kc] (a flush, Queen high)
Hero: shows [As Kh] (a flush, King high)
Hero collected 3010 from pot

The Villain in this hand is an enormous fish, it is hard to convey quite how horrendous he is, his VPIP was 80% and his Pre-flop raise was 65%. When he calls on the flop I know this will be a tough hand to play post-flop, but at least I have position.

The flop is about as good as it can be when you don’t hit with AK. The Villain bets out nice and strong, I have already decided that on this flop, against this opponent I am going nowhere, but in that case, why not try and extract as much value as possible. Since I’m not going to fold, I might as well try and get him to commit as many chips as possible to maximise the number of chips I win when I am ahead. With this in mind I just call the flop bet, there is no need to raise all in here as many of the hands he may 2-barrel bluff with could fold if I stack it all in on the flop. My plan is to call his turn all in, or raise him all in if he bets. If he checks, I will probably shove it all in, unless an A comes out (in which case I will check or put in a small bet), or another J or 3, in which case i will also check.

The decision on how to play the turn on this hand was made before calling the flop bet, I knew this was how I was going to play it at that moment. This looks like very unusual play, but the Villain is such a huge fish, that the Hero is correct to make the huge adjustment.

md261 on 24th July 2010

Sunday, 11 July 2010

When the fish defines his hand

md261 on 8th July 2010

PokerStars Game $55+$5 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150)
Seat 2: Hero (4470 in chips)
Seat 3: Player3 (1568 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (1057 in chips)
Seat 6: Player6 (1905 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 75
Player3: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to md261 [9d Qs]
Villain: calls 150
Player6: folds
Hero: calls 75
Player3: checks
*** FLOP *** [Jc 9s 7c]
Hero: bets 225
Player3: folds
Villain: calls 225
*** TURN *** [Jc 9s 7c] [As]
Hero: checks
Villain: checks
*** RIVER *** [Jc 9s 7c As] [5d]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 682 and is all-in
Hero: calls 682
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Td Qh] (high card Ace)
Hero: shows [9d Qs] (a pair of Nines)
Hero collected 2264 from pot

The Villain in this hand is a flat out fish, the kind who will check and call with the draws, bet with the good hands, and make tiny bets with his great hands; reminds me of the good 'ol days when the tables were full of players like this.Player 3 in the Big Blind is a solid winning regular.
The Villain limps with a stack of 7BB, normally suspicious, but in this case, just fishy. On the flop I would not expect him to bet unless he had me beaten, therefore checkraising with my medium pair is an unattractive option, because if he bets, there is a large chance I am beaten, and he will often just check when he has missed, giving himself a free card.
I bet the flop, normally this would pot commit me against the Villain, but this Villain is a special case. His call tells me he has some form of draw or maybe a weak pair like JT or A9(he could also have a monster like AA or trips, but that is unlikely so I will just ignore that possibility).
By checking the turn, it is clear he does not have an A or he would have pushed as the board is dangerous, so I am fairly assured in my previous read.
When he pushes all in on the river, it is worth considering what hands fit the actions. The 5 cannot have helped him as the only hand with a 5 in it he would limp would be A5, and he would have bet that on the turn, if he had a weak J or a strong 9, if he didn't bet it earlier, he certainly wouldn't push it now. He either must have slowplayed a monster like AA or J9, which is unlikely compared to the alternative, that he has a missed straight and/or flush draw and now is pushing in a desperate attempt to win the pot. If he had put in a tiny bet, I would have been more likely to fold.
This hand went to plan; bet the flop to get an idea of his hand strength, check the turn to see if he had an Ace, then check the river when the draws all missed to induce the bluff.
If only more players followed this ABC poker...(sigh)


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Destroying Value Pt. 2

PezRez on 29th June 2010

As I looked at in my post ‘Destroying Value Pt. 1’, sometimes you have a hand that is likely to be best but you can play it in such a way that minimises the value you get from it. Here is a common situation, in which I have pot-committed myself preflop with a big pair and an overcard has flopped. I certainly can never be folding at any point in the hand – but do I have options besides pushing all-in at the earliest opportunity?

PokerStars Game $110+$9 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 1: Player 1 (3007 in chips)
Seat 2: Hero (2568 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1490 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain (1935 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 50
Player 5: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Qh Qd]
Villain: raises 200 to 300
Player 1: folds
Hero: raises 500 to 800
Player 5: folds
Villain: calls 500
*** FLOP *** [3s Kd 5h]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 1135 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1135
*** TURN *** [3s Kd 5h] [8d]
*** RIVER *** [3s Kd 5h 8d] [Qc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [Qh Qd] (three of a kind, Queens)
Villain: shows [Th Jd] (high card King)
Hero collected 3970 from pot

Obviously this play will not work against a thinking opponent. Against an opponent who understands pot-commitment and knows that you do too, your check will appear very suspicious. In this case, you may as well ship it in as soon as you can, as that is what he expects you to do with your entire range. However against a less-gifted opponent, particularly an aggressive one, giving him a chance to make a last, desperate move with his speculative ‘nothing’ hands is very much superior to pushing all-in and destroying the value you can get by inducing a bluff. There are few free cards to worry about. If you know you’re not folding, you may as well give him one chance to fish himself with no outs. As you can see, he’ll do it surprisingly often.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Avoiding Ruin with a Non-Nut Flush

PezRez on 1st June 2010

A lot of players feel like when they fill a flush, they have to raise. If you strongly feel that your opponent has a flush too, it might be unwise to raise with your non-nut flush. Here’s an example of what I mean:

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1500 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1500 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1500 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (1500 in chips)
Seat 5: Hero (1500 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1500 in chips)
Player 2: posts small blind 10
Player 3: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Jd Qd]
Villain: calls 20
Hero: calls 20
Player 6: calls 20
Player 1: calls 20
Player 2: folds
Player 3: checks
*** FLOP *** [4d Ah 2d]
Player 3: checks
Villain: checks
Hero: bets 60
Player 6: calls 60
Player 1: folds
Player 3: calls 60
Villain: calls 60
*** TURN *** [4d Ah 2d] [9c]
Player 3: checks
Villain: checks
Hero: checks
Player 6: bets 40
Player 3: folds
Villain: calls 40
Hero: calls 40
*** RIVER *** [4d Ah 2d 9c] [8d]
Villain: bets 320
Hero: calls 320
Player 6: calls 320
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [9d Kd] (a flush, King high)
Hero: shows [Jd Qd] (a flush, Queen high)
Player 6: mucks hand
Villain collected 1430 from pot

When my opponent bets 320 into 470 after check-calling twice, what else can he have but a flush? I gave some consideration to raising as my flush is a good one, but I have to remember that he limped UTG, and so is more likely to have suited high cards than suited rags as might be the case if he was in the blinds. Also, my call doesn’t close the action here. I’m pretty sure my flush will beat Player 6, so rather than shutting him out with a raise and getting heads-up with the player who may have me beaten, a better plan is to call and go for Player 6’s overcall. That way, I limit potential losses as well as maybe getting a little extra value for my hand if it is best.

As you can see, my flush was beaten, but I lived to fight another day (or play later in that Sit‘n’Go, whatever).


PS. Player 6 had A6, if you were wondering.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Taking an Unusual Line

md261 on 18 May 2010

Against bad players, especially passive ones, sometimes the best strategy is play a hand unusually, to maximise it's value.

PokerStars Game $36+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VII (100/200, ante 25)
Seat 2: Player 1(3010 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero(1830 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain(4160 in chips)
Player 1: posts the ante 25
Hero: posts the ante 25
Villain: posts the ante 25
Hero: posts small blind 100
Villain: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero[Qs Qc]
Player 1: folds
Hero: raises 275 to 475
Villain: calls 275
*** FLOP *** [Qh 3d 8h]
Hero: bets 250
Villain: calls 250
*** TURN *** [Qh 3d 8h] [6s]
Hero: checks
Villain: checks
*** RIVER *** [Qh 3d 8h 6s] [Ks]
Hero: bets 1080 and is all-in
Villain: calls 1080
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [Qs Qc] (three of a kind, Queens)
Villain: shows [Js Kh] (a pair of Kings)
Herocollected 3685 from pot

The Villain is a very loose, super-passive opponent, the kind of player you ONLY value bet, and rarely bluff.

ALthough it's the bubble, I am the clear short stack, and therefore can take some minor risks to try and chip up.

I put in a tiny raise pre flop from the SB, expecting the Villain to call with about 80% of his hands, even though the raise would look super-suspicious to a good player.

The flop is beautiful, so juicy that I almost checked out of position! Luckily I regained my senses and put in a tiny 1/4 pot bet, the kind of bet that this guy is never going to fold to.

The turn card is another blank, I still have the nuts, however there are still potential straight draws and a flush draw out. Normally I would stack all-in, since that may be interpreted as a sign of weakness, but the opponent can have SUCH a wide range of hands, as he is so loose-passive, that there is no reason to think he has much of anything, so I check. This check is very strange, as I am confident that he will not bluff, or do anything other than check behind, so in essence I am giving a free card, as any pair on the river will probably be enough for him to call the 2/3 pot size stack.

The river card is an offsuit King, which is my favourite card at this point, I still have the nuts, and I am confident he will call all-in with any pair, any Ace high, and now, any King!

I stack, he calls, he had KJo for a whole bunch of nothing until the river, but to him, he had a good hand, even though the flop missed him, and the flop bet was so small that he just couldn't fold, and he was never going to fold a mighty mighty Top Pair!

As an aside, another acceptable way to play this, would be to put in a tiny 1/5 pot turn bet, thus chunking my stack into the pot, however, I thought that checking the turn would make him doubt the strength of my hand so much that he would call the all-in on the river with almost anything. Upon reflection, both line have merit, and I would find it impossible to say which I think is more effective.


Monday, 10 May 2010

Getting Creative in the Blinds

PezRez on 10 May 2010

When you play a hand from one of the blinds against the other, you need to realise that if your opponent is aggressive, he will often try to move you off your hand. Consequently you may have to get creative with some hands, both to take advantage of the fact your opponents hands will be weaker than average and also defensively, to stop him making plays at you.

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 1: Player 1 (855 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1800 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero(1480 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain(2580 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (2285 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 25
Villain: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero[4s 9s]
Player 5: folds
Player 1: folds
Player 2: folds
Hero: calls 25
Villain: checks
*** FLOP *** [Ks Jc 2s]
Hero: bets 50
Villain: raises 75 to 125
Hero: calls 75
*** TURN *** [Ks Jc 2s] [Ac]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 200
Hero: raises 1105 to 1305 and is all-in
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (1105) returned to Hero
Herocollected 750 from pot

With a flush draw, I minbet to try and take the pot now if my opponent has nothing. However, he makes a small raise. This opponent knows I would often bet without much of a hand on this flop, so I know his raise may not represent much strength. Having said that, I’m getting odds to call, so although my opponent may have little, I don’t like a reraise here too much; it’s still early on the hand, so I call and look to keep an open mind about how to play it.

The Ace is an interesting card. My opponent, if he raised with a pair on this flop, shouldn’t like this card - it’s an overcard to his pair, and although he shouldn’t think an Ace in my hand is likely, he will probably check behind to control the pot and avoid a check-raise bluff. This card might make him the nuts if has QT, but if unlikely to make him two pair as he would have raised preflop with either AK or AJ, and probably just smooth-called the flop with A2. If he has been bluffing, he will probably see it as an opportunity to put pressure on the King or Jack he thinks I might be holding. So I check this flop, expecting if he has a real hand that he will check behind most of the time, while he will bet most of his air.

He bets 200, a strong bet, which doesn’t ring true with my analysis. If he had bet small and given me odds, I might just call with my flush draw, but this big bet looks suspicious. So… I drop the hammer and move all-in. He might have QT, he might have two-pair, but in a blind-on-blind pot, he probably doesn’t. And hey, I’ve got outs, right? He folds and I collect a few chips.


Monday, 3 May 2010

Recognising a Hand's Value

md261 on 4 May 2010

The hand below is a heads-up situation against a good regular, who I haven't played with much, so there is not much meta-game.

PokerStars Game $55+$5 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200)
Seat 1: Villain(2800 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero(6200 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 100
Hero: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to md261 [Qs 3h]
Villain: calls 100
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [7c 7s 8s]
Hero: checks
Villain: checks
*** TURN *** [7c 7s 8s] [Kc]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 200
Hero: calls 200
*** RIVER *** [7c 7s 8s Kc] [7h]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 600
Hero: calls 600
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Ts 4h] (three of a kind, Sevens)
Hero: shows [Qs 3h] (three of a kind, Sevens - King+Queen kicker)
Hero collected 2000 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2000 | Rake 0
Board [7c 7s 8s Kc 7h]
Seat 1: villain (button) (small blind) showed [Ts 4h] and lost with three of a kind, Sevens
Seat 3: hero (big blind) showed [Qs 3h] and won (2000) with three of a kind, Sevens

The way that the cards have been dealt in this heads-up have meant that I have been super-aggressive, with lots of small bets, raises, and check-raises. Consequently my image is very aggressive and tricky, with lots of moves.

Bearing in mind my image, I would expect the Villain to bet any piece of the flop, thinking that I would be likely to check-raise him as a stone bluff. He checks behind, and a King appears on 4th street; this is a good card, as I was already behind King high, and it is now less likely he has a King.

I check the turn and the Villain bets, I decide to play my hand for showdown value, as his bet suggests he either has a King, an unlikely slowplayed 7, or most likely a worse hand which he is bluffing with. I feel he would have bet any piece of the flop, such as an 8, flush draw or straight draw/overcards, with the intention of stacking all in if I were to check-raise. An Ace high also doesn't make much sense, as if he didn't bet the flop with it, he would be unlikely to do so on the turn.

With all these factors in mind, I decide to call, there is still a fair chance I am beaten, but i am getting pot odds, and my hand is well disguised. I haven't been calling in this Heads-Up, only betting and raising, so he could well think I have a weak hand like a flush draw or some form of straight draw, rather than a weak, but made hand (Q high).

The river 7 is perfect, all draws the Villain could THINK I may be holding have missed. I check, as just like with the turn, If I bet I will only be called by better hands, and may be forced to fold if worse hands decide to raise me (the curse of being out of position). The Villain puts in a stout river bet, which polarises his range, he would not be betting his own Q high or even A high this strong, as he would only be value betting himself, as I would be unlikely to call with a worse hand.

Hands which would follow the line he has taken are an unlikely case 7, a King, or a bluffing hand on the turn, which has been followed up by a desperation bluff on the river.

My Queen high beats all bluffing hands, and the Villain most likely has a King or nothing. With this in mind I call. If I had bet out at any point in this hand I feel fairly sure that I would have lost this pot, but I used the good turn and river card to maximise my hands showdown value, by catching all bluffs.

Queen rag certainly looks weak, but there are not too many hands which beat it, and all slightly superior hands are unlikley to have been played the way the Villain has played it. Essentially my bluff catching hand is almost as good as pocket Queens here, as he either has a pair of Kings or better, or worse than Queen high.


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A Promise To Call

PezRez on 20th April 2010

When a weak player raises an unusually large amount, it is often not because he has a weak hand, or a very strong hand. Usually it’s a marginal hand that they feel a little insecure about, and the reason for the large raise is to make it clear to themselves (and maybe you) that if you reraise them, they’re not going to fold. I call this phenomenon ‘A Promise to Call’ (PTC) - and here is an example:

PokerStars Game $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1945 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (1020 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (4840 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1195 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Kh Ks]
Player 6: folds
Player 1: folds
Villain: raises 200 to 250
Hero: raises 3000 to 3250
Villain: calls 770 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (2230) returned to Hero
*** FLOP *** [5h 6c As]
*** TURN *** [5h 6c As] [9h]
*** RIVER *** [5h 6c As 9h] [4c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Tc Ah] (a pair of Aces)
Hero: shows [Kh Ks] (a pair of Kings)
Villain collected 2040 from pot

Recognising the promise to call for what it is can be very worthwhile. In this hand, many people would slowplay their Kings, hoping their opponent pushes all-in on the flop. But if you know about the PTC, you know you may as well get your value now! This fish ain’t folding now - but he might just when he’s missed the flop. In fact, it’s a similar concept to that I discussed in my post ‘Avoiding the Cooler’ - you know he’ll call now, but he might not one street later.

Learn to recognise the PTC, and not only will you collect value when you can, as in this hand, you will also avoid trying a resteal when it has little chance of success, which can save you a lot of chips.


PS. Remember, for the PTC to apply, your opponent must be a weak player - a strong player probably will not broadcast his hand so blatantly.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Testing The Aggressive Opponent's Self Control

md261 on April 16th 2010

PokerStars Game $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)
Seat 2: Player 2 (3305 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1890 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (2470 in chips)
Seat 6: Hero (1335 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ac Kc]
Player 2: folds
Player 3: folds
Villain: calls 25
Hero: raises 100 to 150
Villain: called 100
*** FLOP *** [Ad Ks 2c]
Villain: checks
Hero: bets 115
Villain: raises 220 to 335
Hero: calls 220
*** TURN *** [9d 8c 2h] [3d]
Villain: bets 350
Hero: raises 500 to 850 and is all-in
Villain: folds

The Flop decision

The Villain in this case was aggressive and tricky. I would usually consider checking behind but I thought that would probably raise suspicion with this opponent, as opposed to sucker him in, as I have played with him many times before, and I C-bet often.

With that in mind, I decided that the most likely way to get action from all made hands, semi-decent hands, and nothing hands, would be a small C-bet. This opponent may lack the self-control to avoid check-raise bluffing with nothing, out of position with a weak hand like 77, or just total air. He would be hard pressed to fold a King to a bet this small, and may feel he should raise for value with an Ace as I look so weak.

An important consideration here is that I am clearly way ahead and the best case scenario for my opponent is that he is check raising with a gutshot and has 3 outs (technically I could be beaten, but I'm just losing my stack in that case anyway, so I'll remove that from my considerations and just focus on extracting value from inferior hands).

Rather than checking behind and attempting to induce an unlikely small bet on the turn, against this aggressive opponent the weak bet may look like a scared pocket pair, a cheap steal attempt, or just may be too disrespectfully small for his aggressive blood to fold to.

The rest of the hand played out pretty standard. I called behind as I wasn't really worried about being outdrawn, and it may get an extra bet out of a bluffing hand. He followed up on the turn and I didn't have many chips behind, so I stacked it in giving him great odds for a call, but he folded.


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Great Luck With The Nuts

PezRez on 9th April 2010

Luck in poker is so much more than who wins the all-ins. There are myriad factors which affect your results in real ways - cold-decks, even seating arrangements, and let's not forget that sometimes you just seem to be lucky in all the hands that matter and unlucky in the ones that don't. Sometimes you get really lucky even though you had the nuts all along. I had one of those hands today.

PokerStars Game $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)

Seat 1: Villain 1 (1000 in chips)

Seat 2: Player 2 (2420 in chips)

Seat 3: Player 3 (1460 in chips)

Seat 4: jag024 (1060 in chips)

Seat 5: Villain 2 (1120 in chips)

Seat 6: Hero (1940 in chips)

Villain 2: posts small blind 15

Hero: posts big blind 30

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Hero [8s 8h]

Villain 1: raises 60 to 90

Player 2: folds

Player 3: folds

jag024: folds

Villain 2: calls 75

Hero: calls 60

*** FLOP *** [5d 8d 8c]

Villain 2: checks

Hero: checks

Villain 1: checks

*** TURN *** [5d 8d 8c] [9c]

Villain 2: bets 30

Hero: raises 120 to 150

Villain 1: calls 150

Villain 2: calls 120

*** RIVER *** [5d 8d 8c 9c] [9h]

Villain 2: bets 150

Hero: raises 1550 to 1700 and is all-in

Villain 1: calls 760 and is all-in

Villain 2: calls 730 and is all-in

Uncalled bet (820) returned to Hero

*** SHOW DOWN ***

Hero: shows [8s 8h] (four of a kind, Eights)

Villain 2: shows [9d Ah] (a full house, Nines full of Eights)

Hero collected 240 from side pot

Villain 1: shows [Ad 9s] (a full house, Nines full of Eights)

Hero collected 3000 from main pot

Weird hand. Only running aces or running nines would win me a pot this size, and there are only two of each left in the deck.

On the river I agonised for a while over what to do. I didn't think Villain 1 had a 9, but I knew he had something. Villain 2 however I strongly suspected had exactly that. Should I stack, and lose Villain 1? Should I make a very small raise, to extract value from Villain 1, assuming that Villain 2 will come back over the top with his 9? But would he definitely come over the top?

In the end I thought 'F♣ it - Staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack' and it turns out I needn't have wasted my time over it. I went runner-runner for a huge pot, and I had the nuts the whole time.