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, 25 January 2011



md261 on 20th January 2011

$46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: hero (2020 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (2110 in chips)
Seat 3: Seat 3 (1320 in chips)
Seat 4: seat 4 (1400 in chips)
Seat 5: seat 5(840 in chips)
Seat 6: seat 6(1310 in chips)
hero: posts small blind 10
Villain: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Ad Ac]
Seat 3: folds
seat 4: folds
seat 5: folds
seat 6: folds
hero: raises 80 to 100
Villain: calls 80
*** FLOP *** [Qc Qh Js]
hero: bets 120
Villain: calls 120
*** TURN *** [Qc Qh Js] [6d]
hero: bets 300
Villain: calls 300
*** RIVER *** [Qc Qh Js 6d] [Ks]
hero: bets 800
Villain: calls 800
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero: shows [Ad Ac] (two pair, Aces and Queens)
Villain: mucks hand
hero collected 2640 from pot

Pretty straightforward Hand with a straightforward message. The money you make comes from fish, if there were no fish, there would be no online poker professionals. It is best to tailor your play whenever possible to exploit the fish to the maximum, even if this means giving away equity to a reg that is involved in the hand. The table this hand was taken from was full of good professionals, but was still +EV because the Villain was such an enormous fishbowl.

The 5x raise from the SB is an unusual move, but hero wants to try to steal as many fishchips as he can in only 4 rounds of betting. The Villain's calling range for a 5x bet wil likely include a good 30% of his range.

The flop is a mixed bag, there is no reason to suspect Villainhas a Q, but there are not too many hands which have connected, so a 2/3 c-bet is required.

Now that the Villain has shown strength enough to call the flop, it is worth considering his range of hands, J9-JA, KA-K9, any pocket pair and any Ace. Most of those are behind the Hero's pocket Aces, and will likely call a largish bet on the turn.

On the river some of the Villain's range is now ahead of the Hero's Aces, but the majority of it is still behind, and the Villain is very likely to call a large river bet, thinking it may be a bluff (he is an enormous fishbowl). 4/5 Pot goes in on the river, and Villain reveals A4o for A high, a terrible bit of play on his part, but totally predictable.


Monday, 17 January 2011

The Joy of Check-Calling

PezRez on 17th January 2011

PokerStars Game $110+$9 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 2: Hero (2015 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (3950 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1530 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1505 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 50
Villain: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ac Js]
Player 5: folds
Player 6: folds
Hero: calls 50
Villain: checks
*** FLOP *** [Td Jh Kd]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 100
Hero: calls 100
*** TURN *** [Td Jh Kd] [3d]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 200
Hero: calls 200
*** RIVER *** [Td Jh Kd 3d] [Kc]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 700
Hero: calls 700
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [5c 8s] (a pair of Kings)
Hero: shows [Ac Js] (two pair, Kings and Jacks)
Hero collected 2200 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2200 | Rake 0
Board [Td Jh Kd 3d Kc]
Seat 2: Hero (small blind) showed [Ac Js] and won (2200) with two pair, Kings and Jacks
Seat 4: Villain (big blind) showed [5c 8s] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 5: Player 5 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Player 6 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Villain in the big blind is a good, winning player, but to me he looks a little bit too aggressive. When the hand was played, his pre-flop raise percentage was 29%, whilst he had attempted to steal the blinds a whopping 45% of the time. I love to limp in the big blind, which aggressive regulars like Villain here will attempt to exploit. Because of this, I have to sometimes be willing to limp hands I’d usually raise. This Ajo looks like the ideal hand; if Villain raises, as I expect him to, I am happy to shove over the top, thus exploiting his aggression to win a larger pot and dissuading him from raising in this spot in the future. If he checks, it’s not ideal, but he is unlikely to include such a strong hand in my range and I may be able to use this fact to harness his aggression if I do make a hand.

This flop of KJT with a flush draw possible looks superficially dangerous, but if we think about it, it isn’t really. I have second pair with top kicker, which is very likely to be the best hand in a heads-up pot, particularly since my aggressive opponent declined to raise. Meanwhile the only overcard to my pair that could fall is a Queen, which will make a straight for me. As for the straight draw, I have one of the Aces, and if one falls on the turn I could still fill up on the river. The flush draw is also unlikely, given I only face one player. Assuming he has a random hand, with 47 cards unseen and 9 diamond among them, the chances he has a flush draw are about 5.1%. I don’t really need to factor in the presence of the flush draw too heavily in the way I play my hand.

My aggressive opponent will think that this flop will have largely missed my limping range, and when I check, he is likely to bet a very high proportion of his range, the majority of which I am way ahead of. So check I do, and my aggressive opponent obliges with a bet. Many players would raise here and end the hand, but I’m not too worried about seeing another card, as I elaborated previously, and would like my aggressive opponent to dig himself into a hole. So I call.

The turn is a diamond – not a good card, but as I explained, he is almost 20-1 against to actually have the flush. The main danger it brings is actually the flush draw, which increases the likelihood he’ll draw out on the river, but that may be a risk I’ll have to take. If I check here, my opponent will likely put me on a Queen, figuring I would have bet any made hand on this draw-heavy flop to protect it (think again, Villain). Thus an aggressive player like this will see it as a great opportunity to fire another barrel. Another check seems like the appropriate move.

My opponent bets again, and after the customary 5-second Hollywood I just call again. I am risking the river filling the straight or flush draw but let’s think about what happens if it doesn’t (which, don’t forget, is most of the time). My opponent will have seen me check-call twice on a draw-heavy board. Aggressive players tend to overestimate the proportion of weak hands in your range, optimistic as they are that their consistent plugging away will reap the desired rewards. I am quite sure that he will be quite sure I have a Queen, possibly with a diamond, and if he holds a hand with no value whatsoever he will feel that it is mandatory to bet, given I’m folding that Queen high (which often beats him in a showdown) every time.

The King on the river is a fantastic card, failing to help any hands I beat whilst also increasing the likelihood my Jacks are good. Without hesitation I check, confident my opponent will bet far, far more hands than he would call with in this spot. He bets 700 into the pot of 800, and I snap-call him, beating his eight-high and taking the chiplead in the tournament. To those that always thinks aggression trumps passivity, I ask: could I have extracted 1100 chips from my opponent’s 58o (which, by the way, was a 25-1 dog) in any other way? Answers on a postcard, please.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Irritating the Volcano

md261 on 11th January 2011

Seat 2: Hero (5770 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (3230 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 75
Hero: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero[8s 7s]
Villain: raises 450 to 600
Hero: calls 450
*** FLOP *** [8d Qs 6s]
Hero: bets 400
Villain: raises 2230 to 2630 and is all-in
Hero: calls 2230
*** TURN *** [8d Qs 6s] [3s]
*** RIVER *** [8d Qs 6s 3s] [2c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [8s 7s] (a flush, Queen high)
Villain: shows [Kc Th] (high card King)
Herocollected 6460 from pot

The Villain is a new player, his play up to this point has revealed him to be a fish.
The Heads-up has been long and gruelling, having gone on for over 20 minutes from 25/50 Blinds. The stacks are barely fluctuating, though there has been a slow trickle of chips from Villain to Hero.
In the last 10 minutes Villain has been getting frustrated by the Hero's persistent small bets and raises, and has recently resorted to shoving any hand that he wants to play on the flop.

Knowing how likely Villain is to stack off with a marginal or non-existent piece of the flop Hero calls the large pre flop raise with Suited Connectors. The flop is brilliant, giving Hero middle pair and a flush draw, leaving only the question of how to get the chips into the middle. There are 4 options in this spot generally;

Option 1: To stack all-in - This isn't as bad an option as it may first appear. Villain raised 4xthe Big Blind, he very likley has a pocket pair or an Ace, both of which he may strongly consider calling an all-in with, thinking that Hero's all-in must be a draw or a bluff. The risk however is the Villain folds.

Option 2: Check-raise all-in - Very unlikely to actually happen against this opponent, if Villain bets the flop, you can be fairly certain it will be an all-in bet, however it is not impossible that he would check behind, perhaps being wary of the pre-flop call. This would be a poor result, giving him a free card.

Option 3: Check-call - Realistically against this opponent this is the same as option 2, if Villain bets, it will be all-in. He has been consistently shipping any hand he wants to play for the last 10 minutes, so there is no possibility of the Rope-a-Dope slowplay.

Option 4: Donk Bet - Hero has been sticking in these tiny bets all Heads-Up, there has never been any reason to bet more than 1/4 pot because Villain either stacks all-in or folds. This looks weak, and Villain knows the Hero has often folded after leading out small. The risk is that that he floats with overcards, taking his 4-1 pot odds, but even this small bet denies him the pot odds he would need to profitably float, furthermore, the Villain hasn't called any of these bets before.
Basic human nature says that Villain is unlikely to be able to fold to this tiny bet, and since he never calls, that leaves him with only one option (in his mind there is only one option), to raise all-in, regardless of his cards.

Hero went for option 4, the Villain stacked it in with KTo, which was not an unreasonable play considering how often it has worked before. Villain was a victim of his style, he would stack all-in on the flop about 40% of the time to win tiny pots, this meant that Hero could take down many small pots, whittling Villain's stack down, at the same time waiting till he actually hit a top pair or strong medium pair to call one of Villain's all-in's. The Villain risked his stack 20-30 times in this Heads-Up, the Hero never risked many of his chips. Being a new player and unfamiliar with Heads-Up play, the Villain's frustration at the slow pace built and built, until he exploded, resorting to stacking for huge amounts with a wide range of hands on many flops. It was just a matter of time before Hero picked up a hand and got his chips in the middle as a favourite.


P.S. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!