Monday, May 01, 2006


Here's the situation.

You're in middle position with $150 in a 9 handed online 100NL game, you get all five limpers to your pocket eights. You decide to limp as well.

The player on your immediate left in the cutoff has $200, is pretty tight, makes it nine to go. It folds around to you. You believe the raiser is not a moron or maniac, probably an above average player for this level, quite tight, preflop raising about 4%, reasonably aggressive post flop.

What do you do?

Easy decision, fold.

Or is it?

Two relevant questions:

1. Can you put this player on a hand?

Question one, most likely yes. They really don't want to see a flop with multiple callers and the number of limpers requires a big bet. This player is very unlikely to raise here with worse than queens and perhaps not with queens--I've found many tight players facing this many limpers with something like TT-QQ will often either play it for set value or overbet to suss out an overpair or just take it down preflop. A slightly more aggressive player you might include TT-JJ and AK, but let's say you are confident it's about 40% aces, 40% kings, 20% queens.

2. Will they pay you off if you hit?

Several factors here.

You have about a 1 in 7.5 chance of flopping your set.

If you hit when an ace, king or queen falls as well, it's going to get really tricky and you're going to have play much more carefully. Even in these cases you're still way ahead 60% of the time if an A or K has fallen and 80% if a queen has fallen, but your EV after the flop is significantly reduced as you've gone from basically 92% chance of winning to something more like a weighted 70%. This will happen approximately 40% of the time that you hit (assuming he has AA-QQ, there are 10 cards that will be threatening on the flop, with two shots assuming the third is your set). To simplify things, let's just assume that you can only hit "clean" sets but that they only hit 1 in 8.5 times (please feel free to chime in if you think this simplifying assumption is unwarranted).

Let's assume your strategy is to make a pot sized check-raise if you hit, check-fold if you miss.

If you hit and your opponent bets pot, there will be 37 dollars in the pot. Here's the crux of the question. If your opponent is capable of folding here, you made a mistake by calling preflop. Here's why: you paid 8 to win 29 and you only had 1:8.5 odds to do so. To make the call correct, your going to need him to call at least 39 more--even if he calls a minimum raise of 18.5 and then folds to a turn bet, you're still not getting the right odds, especially when you consider he does have two outs.

So let's say you pot it to 55.5. If he calls on the flop and folds on the turn to a push if he misses, you'll be getting 84.5 - 6 (4% of 150 of you losing your stack if he hits on the turn), so 78.5, which is makes your payoff 9:1 and thus good. If he pushes/calls and calls a turn push, you'll make 148 - 12 or 136, which is a pretty sweet 17:1 reward. (I think actually players that make that first call are probably going to make the second one as they are pretty well pot committed, so more likely than not you're effectively going to get the folder or the raiser--in fact the "better" players making this call will almost always push.)

Further breaking it down: the EV of against a 100% folder is approximately -5 (27/8.5 - 8), against a 100% caller is +1.5 (78.5/8.5 - 8) and against a 100% raiser is +8 (136/8.5 - 8).

In most cases you'll be unable to predict the response 100%, but I think this move can be profitable against many players you face at 100NL and below, especially if your "solid" opponent doesn't think you're so solid (if you don't have an aggressive image, this is going to be less effective). I don't have enough experience to know if this holds at 200 NL or above. Also, if the stacks are smaller or bigger, the math will change of course, though I suspect there is some balancing factors in either direction (for example, bigger stacks means bigger rewards but probably a lower chance of being paid off with a whole stack and vice versa).

Time to get cracking?


At Mon May 01, 08:40:00 PM 2006, Blogger DP said...

I always call that preflop, and if I hit my set on the flop, I'll lead out into the preflop raiser if I'm first to act (like in this situation) and maybe check-raise the turn or just continue betting. I check-fold the flop if I miss.

That's how you stack someone -- even a good player -- and it works almost every time, even at $10/$20 NL, and that's why I'll always call to try and bust them if the stacks are deep (100bb or more).

Of course you need an aggressive table image for this to work.

At Mon May 01, 08:47:00 PM 2006, Blogger DP said...

Actually, I played on my friends account when he staked me a month ago for a single session (I changed the name in the HH), and a similar hand came up....

$2000 NL Texas Hold'em - Friday, March 10, 21:55:58 ET 2006
Table Table 95442 (No DP) (Real Money)
Seat 5 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: Determinatio ( $2174.50 )
Seat 3: tigliger ( $437.50 )
Seat 5: War_Eagle86 ( $2166 )
Seat 6: morello05 ( $2117 )
Seat 7: Im__Your_ATM ( $5623.02 )
Seat 9: illuminite ( $1990 )
Seat 10: ratgutz ( $1205.83 )
Seat 8: ME ( $2114 )
Seat 4: pit540540 ( $1930 )
Seat 1: josshouse ( $1980 )
morello05 posts small blind [$10].
Im__Your_ATM posts big blind [$20].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to ME [ 5s 5h ]
ME calls [$20].
illuminite folds.
ratgutz folds.
josshouse folds.
Determinatio calls [$20].
tigliger folds.
pit540540 calls [$20].
War_Eagle86 folds.
morello05 folds.
Im__Your_ATM raises [$80].
ME calls [$80].
Determinatio folds.
pit540540 folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 2c, 7s, 5c ]
Im__Your_ATM bets [$175].
ME raises [$600].
Im__Your_ATM is all-In [$5348.02]
ME is all-In [$1414]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Kd ]
** Dealing River ** [ 6h ]
ME shows [ 5s, 5h ] three of a kind, fives.
Im__Your_ATM shows [ Qd, Qc ] a pair of queens.
Im__Your_ATM wins $3509.02 from side pot #1 with a pair of queens.
ME wins $4275 from the main pot with three of a kind, fives.

At Tue May 02, 12:32:00 AM 2006, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Ya, I think with those stacks, and that much of a chance to really do damage to someone tight who might overplay AA or KK on a low flop, you NEVER fold there. NEVER! 9$ is nothing. Especially with some dead money already in. If you miss your flop it is an easy fold.

At Tue May 02, 02:33:00 PM 2006, Anonymous mookie99 said...

Enjoyed talking this hand over with you and Fluxer last night. Thanks for sharing. One of these days I will get setup a headset or at least a mic.

At Tue May 02, 02:41:00 PM 2006, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I'd say to raise preflop to find out where you are. Bump it to $20. Otherwise, you may be ahead if you call and will still be ahead when the flop comes and you miss anyway.

So, bet preflop to $20. If he raises significantly, fold. If he raises the minimum ($11) or maybe up to another $20 on top, I'd call and hope for my set then. If he raises $20 or higher, I'd have to think and probably fold.

When the flop comes, I throw out a continuation bet of about 3/4 of the pot, no matter what. If he reraises, I fold.

If he re-raised me preflop and I miss, I fold.

That's at least how I would play it, but you guys have more experience with Cash NL than I do.

I think the key to my play is that I want info, and if the info is right, I don't care what cards I have. If he is tight, he is likely going to fold if he misses the flop.

Now, you think he has AA, KK, or QQ? I don't know why you limit it so much. How about AK, TT, 99 or AQ. You mention them, but you seem to think AA, KK, or QQ are more likely. I dunno. You may've had a read I just don't have from the info.

At Tue May 02, 04:47:00 PM 2006, Blogger SoxLover said...

Jordan, key point you are glossing over is the fact that this player only raises preflop 4% of the time. In general, that is pretty tight (though not quite just AA-QQ). Couple that however with the multiple limpers and the size of the raise, the narrowing to those top hands with a bias toward AA-KK is generally correct.

I am not sure what you are advising, betting out 20 instead of limping (which is outside the realm of the hypothetical) or near min-raising to 20 after he bets out 9 (which is akin to lighting 11 on fire).

At Tue May 02, 06:30:00 PM 2006, Blogger smokkee said...

ya, i'm calling that bet all day long. i'll fold to an obnoxious preflop raise of 20x or more unless there is another caller. implied odds through the roof. but, you do need to be careful if the flop brings A K or Q. you might go broke there.

At Tue May 02, 06:50:00 PM 2006, Blogger DP said...

Jordan, I think the key is that Sox "knew" this guy had a big hand (it less about math and hand ranges, and I've had reads like that), and most likely an overpair 99 or better, so you don't want to put more money in when you think you're behind, it's more of an implied odds question.

At Tue May 02, 08:33:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

go all in!


At Wed May 03, 09:11:00 AM 2006, Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

I going to call and let him take the lead. He has to feel good if a shit flop comes and if it is a Q on the flop, well you see how much he bets at the pot. I'm much of a no-limit player like yourself, but I think you have it right...if a flush draw his on the flop...well I have to bet big. Because that A-K he's holding might be suited.


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