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, 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.