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:

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.


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Playing A Marginal Hand In The Blinds

PezRez on 4th April 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)

Seat 1: Player 1 (1377 in chips)

Seat 2: Player 2 (1575 in chips)

Seat 3: Hero (4443 in chips)

Seat 4: Villain (1605 in chips)

Hero: posts small blind 25

Villain: posts big blind 50

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Hero [7c 8h]

Player 1: folds

Player 2: folds

Hero: calls 25

Villain: checks

*** FLOP *** [Qd 7h 6s]

Hero: bets 50

Villain: calls 50

*** TURN *** [Qd 7h 6s] [5c]

Hero: bets 100

Villain: calls 100

*** RIVER *** [Qd 7h 6s 5c] [8d]

Hero: checks

Villain: bets 250

Hero: calls 250

*** SHOW DOWN ***

Villain: shows [Th 6h] (a pair of Sixes)

Hero: shows [7c 8h] (two pair, Eights and Sevens)

Hero collected 900 from pot

In this hand I flop middle pair. It is likely to be ahead, but when I am out of position I must bet both to protect my hand and to define my opponent’s hand. If I check, he could bet with any two cards and I will have no information about his hand as we proceed. Since he calls, I figure he is most likely to have a pair, although probably not a Queen as he would likely have raised with it. He would expect me to bet many hands in this spot, so as well as legitimate draws (eg. 45, 58, 89) he will call with a lot of gutshots and maybe some total air hands hoping to bluff on the turn if I check.

On the turn, I have a straight draw in addition to my pair. My decision is very similar here to the one on the flop. He may have a better hand - it is possible he has just made a straight or two-pair, or has a Queen - but he could hold a lot of worse hands and with middle pair and a straight draw I will have to see the river anyway, so I don’t want to check and have to guess. A half-pot bet seems about right as a combination value bet/blocking bet. I would expect him to raise on this dangerous board with a queen or two-pair, so unless he is slow playing a straight when he calls I expect that he has a one pair hand, a draw, or both.

The river makes me two pair, but puts four to a straight on board. This is a perfect spot to check and hope to induce a bluff. If I am right that my opponent was hoping to bluff later in the hand, this would seem to him the perfect opportunity. As to the straight possibility, I wouldn’t want to bet and get raised, but since my opponent is a good player he is not likely to have drawn to either the ignorant-end straight draw or the gutshot to the nine. It is possible he holds either a four or nine with a pair (eg 69, 74) but if that’s the case, unlucky me. I check, he bets 250 and I stick with the plan by snap-calling. He had bottom pair that he has turned into a bluff, and I collect a nice pot with a marginal hand.