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:

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.