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:

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.