Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sometimes I'm not sure (WSOP hand)

The setup is the $10k pot limit hold'em event. 250 entrants and it's accurate to say it's a tough field w/ very few weak spots. I get on a very tough table w/ 4-5 aggro Euro kids who know how to play + couple other young kids, Bttech, Jared Jaffee (who busted and was replaced by Sam Stein), and Rick Solomon (the dude that offered Pamela Anderson to pay her huge loss in a Vegas casino for a night of, ummm, fun...eventually they marry and divorce).

We start w/ 30k and I'm down to about 25k playing 250/500. Utg opr to 1200, I flat w/ 45s on the button, bb calls, flop J64r w/ 1 to my suit, chk chk I bet 1700 (to try to win it there, case can be made for checking but I like betting since bp is so vunerable and I should only have to worry about bb because utg checked which likely means he has nothing), bb folds, utg c/r to 4400 (he has me covered).

Now let's assess his range...1st of all, he seems like a young competent thinking player (although even some competent mtt pros don't seem to understand how to play postflop well) so I would expect him to lead w/ all jacks, overpairs, 66, 44 (to get value from jacks), 87, and some random air hands inc. AK. Given that he doesn't cbet flop means he's giving up or is slowplaying JJ, that's pretty much it. Well once he c/r's me I know he has JJ or air, and given that there's a lot more air in his range, mostly due to combinatorics, and his possible line of thinking being "well this good looking asian dude can be just trying to steal it on the button since we both checked to him and w/ the bb out of the way let me put him to the test and resteal vs his possible steal w/ my air + backdoor equity", I call w/ my bp (possibly the best hand) + backdoor draws + position.

Turn 9 bringing 2 hearts (not my suit), chk, chk (I just want to get to sd because my hand is likely good now but I can't stand another c/r so I elect to check), riv offsuit Q, he bombs 11k and I go into the tank. Once he checks the turn we can almost eliminate JJ unless he was going for a weird and rare c/r, c/shove line. Now I go through in my mind everything I just wrote and can't figure out what the heck he has or is repping. Again if it was a bad player, he's liable to show up w/ AQ, sets, AA, etc since they have no clue, but this kid wasn't bad. Also he wouldn't bomb the river w/ top pair type hands because he would know my most likely hand are busted draws or a jack so he'd value bet around 6-8k at the river.

The only hand I think he can have is A4s, T8, KT or air...but A4s is probably not in his range because he probably cbets that on the flop. Well if he backdoored a straight and it's either that or air I should call. My bp is pretty much equivalent to AJ (I won't totally discount overpairs since it's possible some mtt pros take this line).

Here are a few more reasons for calling (pros for calling)...

-He seems like a young mtt pro....probably not experienced in postflop play and just making plays for the sake of it to win a pot w/o having an idea of what he's really repping...this happens more often than you think, even in $10k's

-The field is tough and I don't expect guys to give chips away like they do in the smaller buyins so there isn't much merit to the "wait for a better spot" reasoning, so I need to seize the +ev spots, even if they're marginal

-I have a little over 10bbs if I lose and I can still come back

Here are my question marks on calling (cons for calling)...

-When he bombs the river like that, he's more likely to have the straight, as unlikely as it may seem from the flop I'm not 100% sure if it's +ev to call...I think it is, but not as much as I thought it was at the time

-It's a big bet and chips saved are more valuable than chips won in mtts so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to call in a very marginal spot even though I felt it was slightly +ev

I asked a couple of very good players and they both thought it was a fold but I think they were putting more weight into the actual river bet size (and 'waiting for a better spot") than the entire hand (my thoughts on it anyway)

I elected to make a hero call and lost to KT. I don't feel bad about how I played the hand because my read was spot on and I went w/ it. Again I don't know if that's enough reason to risk most of my stack though.

In a cash game I almost always call since I feel it's +ev, but again it's different in tournaments where it's sometimes correct to pass on marginal spots, including very small +ev spots.

Sometimes I'm not sure .

As for the tournament I built my stack up from 6k to 32k (illustrating why calling isn't bad since I can come back) and got it in at the 400/800 level w/ TT from the bb vs a Euro kid in the co in an obvious squeeze spot (button had called as well and we were playing 7 handed w/ 5 more hands left for the night) and busted to QQ.

Thoughts and comments are appreciated (and yes you can tell me my call is bad as long as you give reasons why).


  1. Why not reraise the flop and end it there? Calling just puts you in difficult situations later in the hand, and and I don't think you had a plan for any of those, and other than "fold to a turn barrel." With bottom pair no kicker and a backdoor flush draw, you want to win it on the flop or see a free showdown, especially without super deep stacks. How often do you expect to get to showdown without facing another bet, especially against someone this aggressive?

    If your read is solid on the flop, then a reraise to 11k should fold out his air 100%, and and I think that his range may be weighted toward air even more than you estimated. Is a young aggro player really going to think that the best value for his top set is to c-r a thinking opponent in an obvious steal situation?

    Also, reraising here helps your table image. If you take this down on the flop, anyone who is paying attention will be less eager to make a play against you in the future.

  2. RR on the flop is about the worst thing he could've done. Well played JK. Calling there is tough.

  3. RR on the flop, at the worst, only puts him exactly where he ended up anyway, if the aggro goes all in and JK has to fold. I don't see how it would've been the worst thing he could have done.

    I don't think most people have anywhere near your hand reading skills JK. For your skill set, calling in that situation is more of a profitable play than it would be for most people.

    The river call is not something I would do but obv. I'm not even 1/4 as skilled.

  4. I didn't put much thought into reraising the flop but I can see it's merits (as mentioned by Cadence and Kyle). A downside is that if he's a capable hand reader I'm repping nothing really. W/ tp type hands I should just be flatting and evaluating the turn ip. W/ sets I should be flatting ip and let him barrel off. Maybe I'm guilty of assuming my opponents can think at this level so I thought he would see through a reraise (goes w/ playing vs. tough online cash game opponents I guess).

    Another downside is that since a lot of his range is air I thought there are a lot of turn cards that would allow me to shove over a turn cbet...any 3, 4, 5, 7 or a club and if he checked the turn it probably means he has around 6-8 outs at most so it's not bad to try to get to sd (I don't think a turn bet is best because I can't be 100% certain my hand is best) and to possibly induce a bluff since we know a lot of his range are air on the flop.

    Since I took a line that under repped my hand and we know villain's range is mostly air on the flop I'm almost forced to call on the river, but again, based on his river betsizing I'm still not 100% sure.

    I will still ponder the flop 3bet though (unique spot due to it being a tournament).

  5. If your going to label him on a decent player, your right if he c/r the flop he has air or set. When he checks the turn I would mostly lean towards air and thats where I would bet on the turn. I think you could rep a jack here and he would fold kt because he could put u on kj and he would only need the Q for the gut shot. Its really hard to play your hand the way you did passively even in position against a decent player.

  6. I agree Matt, thanks for your input.

    Poker is hard sometimes.

  7. Yeah I think in this specific situation you out leveled yourself (lol take that as a complement) . Live poker is hard because you have to try to think on your opponent's level to understand his tendencies with limited history. Thats why online poker is a lil different where you have alot of hand history with the person and hud stats that tell you more accurate tendencies. My experience with live poker is to just keep it simple so I don't over analyze things and get into trouble. lol speaking of online poker do you play online to get that fix?

  8. JK loved the way you played the hand and your analysis, don't think you did anything wrong by calling. Keep it up!

  9. Hey Matt, you bring up some good points. Believe it or not but I've been trying to "dumb" down a little vs players, including "name" mtt pros because I assume they think at a high enough level yet they surprise me and don't. I do end up outleveling myself, including this hand and another hand I'll talk about next time. Don't get me wrong, there are some good mtt pros, but overall I'm surprised at their lack of hand reading ability and their post flop (sometimes preflop) play.

  10. Thanks Stoops...I do think preflop should be a 3bet or fold though. Otherwise I don't hate myself for any play postflop although river call is iffy.