Sunday, June 12, 2005

First AC Thoughts

FTrain, a non-poker playing friend and I went to Atlantic City this weekend and just got back. Brief of summary before the first of what may be several detailed posts below is that I had a quite good weekend, with wins in every session except for one short 10 minute 2-5 session at the Borgata where I was slightly nicked for $45--this table was quite shark infested and I am glad that FTrain suggested the very plus EV move to the 1-2s once we finally got to the top of the list (even at 2:15 a.m. Sunday morning, the Borgata poker room was packed). You might think the move from 2-5 to 1-2 at the Borgata would be a huge change with only a 300 versus 500 max buyin, but at least in our particular case it was like we jumped three or four spots up the food chain. I'm not sure how low we were at that 2-5 table since we didn't even get a full orbit in, but we were picking plankton off our baleen at the 1-2s: it is really hard to describe, but one hand we saw had an all in reraise of an all-in raise where the board was showing all sorts of straights and the last raiser acted with his J4 making top pair on the river. Opener had a straight, raiser had a lower straight and re-raiser had a reach into his pocket.

Anyway, one very lucky hand I had this afternoon at the Taj 2-5 I think was quite interesting from the perspective of figuring out whether my benefactor really made a mistake in pushing against my flopped nut straight.

Hand went like this:

2nd UTG opens by limping, one before cuttoff (we'll call him Bubba) also limps, folds around to yours truly in the big blind with 6h 3h. I declined the option.

Flop comes kaboom 2s 4s 5c, giving me that sweetest of big blind specials, the flopped nuts on top of crap. Well, only 17 in the pot and nothing likely to have hit anyone else (so it seemed in retrospect), I just wanted to extort some value and make an flush draw pay for cards. I opened for 10, small but still over 50% of the pot, and got called by 2nd UTG (who later claims to have flopped two pair, though if he did he had no excuse for not raising there even if it caused him to save his sorry ass from what should have been a two stack killing hand; he was otherwise passive enough not to be lying about calling there). Anyway, Bubba quickly raised up to 30.

Pause for me, obviously I know I'm ahead but what could I be facing? Best case here is an overpair, though it would seem to have to have been a low one since there was no pre flop raise. Trips? Could be trips if he put me on a semi-bluff and wanted to make me pay for a card, though it would have been a strange semi-bluff from me in first position. Most likely I thought was the hand I had to make pay, a two spade semi bluff, perhaps with a pair. So I made it 100 to go. 2nd, if he had his hand, made a great laydown, and Bubba then proceeded to turn several colors as he thought and thought. I'm thinking, he is going to call with his frucking spades and suck me out. Boy was I surprised when he finally RAISED all in, earning a world record insta-call from your humble narrator. Bubba said he was really quite concerned I had my hand, but with As 3s, the ignorant straight and the nut flush draw, he had no choice.

Obviously, he had to at least call me there, but FTrain and I spent some time in the car ride back to the city discussing whether the raise made sense from his perspective. The result would have been the same as with no spade on the turn, I would have pushed the 190 remaining behind me and he would have had to call with his bigger stack, but I am interested in thinking through the numbers to understand what I should have done had I found myself in Bubba's unfortunate shoes.

Assuming Bubba thought there was no chance I was bluffing or semi-bluff reraising (which is probably too conservative; as as fellow sox lover Harrington says, there is always some chance even the tighest player is bluffing, and I'm not quite the tightest player), and very little chance I am playing an over pair here with my pre-flop decline of the option, there are only 4 hands Bubba can put me on making the bets that I did. Here they are, as well as the EV of his hand against it according to the free poker odds calculator at two dimes:

(1) 3-6 (12 combinations since he has a 3) 0.398
(2) a set (9 combinations) 0.691
(3) A3 with no backdoor flush possibility (8 combinations) 0.682
(4) A3 with a backdoor flush draw (1 combiantion) 0.659

I believe the way the EV stat works is that if you multiply by the number of callers plus one, you get the amount you would get back if you bet a dollar. Thus, the weighted average of Bubba's As 3s versus these hands heads-up is $1.14 per dollar in the pot (if you include bluffs and mistakes, this number can only go up). Thus, the more money Bubba can get in the pot, the better, as subsequent cards really are unlikely to help his situation:

(1) if a spade hits on the turn, he may lose his only customer
(2) if a blank hits, it helps marginally if he's ahead, but simply delays the moment of truth
(3) if I have 2, 3 or 4 above, he really has no upside in giving me free cards
(4) Most of all, if I have one of the above hands, I have to call his raise and as we've established, every dollar he gets called nets him $0.14.

In the two minutes he took, I somehow don't think he broke it down quite this far, but I think my opponent absolutely made the right move in raising me all in rather than just calling or folding, even if in the real, hard case he had the worst of it and his spades never hit the board (thank you poker gods).

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