Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fun at Dawn('s)

As usual, while I was getting prepared to go make the doughnuts, the fairer Sox (ok, the much fairer Sox) slumbered away, her dreams slightly troubled. As I approached her side, her furrowed brow deep in thought, she stirred and mumbled her first interrogatory of the day, “What’s with the min raise?”

I shit you not.

The poker bug is apparently contagious.

Last night was another installment of Dawn’s cash game. Some usual suspects appeared, as well as a new (for me) action driver at the table, who immediately declared that for these tiny stakes ($20 max buy-in, 0.10-0.25 blinds, Dawn had adjusted the buy-in for the comfort level of a few, one of whom didn’t make it, and we dropped the blinds to have some semblance of play), he just couldn’t see folding pre-flop as an option. Big stakes almost held up his side of the bargain as he must have played 90% of his cards and raised pre-flop blind if it folded around to him (he’d look at one card first with a limper).

After a few times, I realized that there wasn’t much value in raising myself preflop as he’d do it for me. This became particularly true as a few of us got up to $50+ stacks—with those blinds, most of the table was willing to see a flop for anything less than $2-3 with any interesting hand.

To illustrate the point, I’ll describe my thinking on one of the last hands of the night. I straddled to 50, had 6 or 7 six callers (family or one short) and looked down at aces, the only big pair I the whole session (this is not a complaint). I thought “what bet can I make that will substantially narrow out the field and not tell them I have a huge pair”, knowing in particular that big stakes was quite willing to invest a lot on implied odds. Since this was pretty close to my last hand and I was up quite a bit (I had the biggest stack, but big stakes had about 75% of what I did), I decided the finely tuned appropriate bet was all in, or effectively 20x the pot. OK, it was a bit weak, but it was an EV sacrifice to avoid the evening tilt that would have ensued had my aces been cracked. They actually folded—big stakes thought about it for a while before laying down T4 spades (saying he would have called had the four been a nine). Dawn dealt out a rabbit board: the flop would have given me the set but two spades, with the flush coming on the river.

EV well spent thank you.

Working backward, after an early hiccup stacking off by Mrs. SoxLover, as you can gather the session otherwise went well. The play style was giving people odds to see a lot of flops with relative crap which is my favorite type of game.

Several times I called meager raises in multi way pots with crap with offsuit connectors (gapped as well) and most any two suited cards. I flopped trips twice with garbage, once three fours with 45o and another time three tens with T3s. Both times, Dawn paid me off, once calling my all-in reraise and second time pushing herself all-in over the top of my reraise, that time more amusingly as I answered yes to her question of whether I had a ten.

FTrain refrain on table talk, repeated last night “I don’t listen to people at the poker table. People lie.” Or they tell the truth.

Most interesting hand for me involved FTrain and I trying to get into each other’s heads.

UTG, I had 78d. With 50 or so behind and stacks ranging from 20-60 I made it $1 to go, and got I think 5 callers, including FTrain with about 26 and big stakes with about 60 (Charles and Dawn called too I believe).

Flop was a wonderful Qd 5c 6d, about as good as it gets for my hand. First thing I thought was, boy, I’ve got to raise this. Second thing I thought was, FTrain always talks to me about how I love to play my big draws, maybe I should try to see how the other half lives. So when big stakes bet out $1, I called behind. FTrain paused for awhile, started shaking his head. “I don’t know what you have, but enough of this. Make it $4.” At which point I put him on either nothing or top pair. Big stakes called. It dawned on me that there was a possibility that he might have a better flush draw, but based on his play before I didn’t weigh that too heavily as I thought he would raise there with that draw. It did make discount my outs a bit however. After reconsidering for a moment whether I really didn’t want to raise, I called.

The turn came an offsuit jack, which was not the card I wanted of course. I’m pretty sure I had next to no fold equity and have gone from being a favorite against anything other than a set to being a smidgeon better than a 2:1 dog against any made hand. Big stakes checked as did I. Ftrain went back into the tank for quite awhile before counting out a $10, leaving $12 behind. That made it $24.50 or so in the pot, so upon review I clearly had naked odds to call the bet, but when big stakes folded, I thought I might be close to exact odds if he had been sitting on two of my diamonds. It was a wrong analysis, but I thought it came down to whether I’d get paid off if I hit. I came to the conclusion that there was a better than 50% chance I would, so I called (with the review, I now realize I could have made this call without relying on the implied odds).

The river came a beautiful offsuit 4, giving me the absolute nuts and what I thought was the best fill to get paid, since a diamond just might have gotten FTrain to fold—if his post flop conversation was truthful I was wrong about this as he said he had expected me to go all-in no matter the river card and had resolved to call me no matter what. I tend to believe him as he insta-called my push for his last 12. Since he told me later the jack had given him top 2, I suppose I understand this.

It is interesting for me to think about other ways this hand could have played out.

Scenario 1:
On flop, I bet out say $4 on my monster draw, he raises me say to $12 find out where his TPMK is, I push, he--folds though the odds are pretty good, not worth the risk he his drawing to 3 or 5, particularly with big stakes still behind him even if he highly suspects I might be raising on the come, though the size of his bet may have committed him (on second thought for this reason perhaps more likely he smooth calls my initial bet and it gets nasty on the turn). (Dawn would definitely call me.)

Scenario 2:
On the flop, when the action comes back to me with $3 to call his raise and big stakes calls, I push.

He thinks of me as a player that always plays my big draws fast, so he might very well have (correctly with top pair) called. I would have been the favorite, but the money in the pot would have made the call correct. He gets stacked, but has not made a mistake in the hand. He also might fold.

Scenario 3:
On the turn, he pushes. Now I’m being asked to call $22 to win $36.50. I don’t have odds to make this call. I believe I would have made the correct lay down.

The reason why he didn’t do this I presume is the range of hands he had for me and big stakes. If one of us had a strong made hand that’s weaker than his (56 for example), he really wants a call and knows he’ll probably get paid off on the river (he could bet less to try to string along top pair, but that is really bad since it opens him up to us both calling). If one of us has a normal draw, say a flush with 8 outs since Jd is death or an OESE with the same, he’s being offered $10 to win $24.50 but is worse than 4:1 to win—some danger we both call with such draws, making a collectively correct decision, but that is heavily mitigated by the fact we might have the same draw.

Against a set it really doesn’t matter, he’s in deep trouble, but at least he can consider laying it down if he faces a check raise right then and there.

It is only against my specific holding that his $10 is a mistake. In other words, although I thought he had made a mistake at the time, after thinking it through I believe $10 was pretty close to a perfect bet in that situation.

I find this stuff fascinating even if no one else does.

Toward the end of the evening, Dawn, perhaps fondly remembering her stacking of me two Fridays ago, suggested that my play was substantially better when not exhausted or under the influence. Yeah, it’s also better when I avoid her going runner runner up my cornhole.

What’s that Charles? You say the last session I went over the top of you with a draw and gave you my stack once too? Please mention it again in the comments, I can’t get enough of it.
See the flop...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Dawn put up a post describing the lunacy that was my play at her tourney and cash game last Friday. I must admit to having been a wee bit more LAGgy than my normal sedate self.

[Update: math below corrected by FTrain, see him ream me in the comments too...]

Dawn mentioned a particular hand I played with Ugarte:

"The first hand I remember was Ugarte pushing all-in with a set of tens and Sox
calling him with a flush draw. He never got there and Ugarte doubled up."
I think this hand was actually quite interesting and not really at all like she described it.

What I remember happening was Ugarte opened in early position preflop I think to like 2 (0.25-0.50 blinds), so I put him on AK or a big pair (he is a very solid player). There were two callers to me, and I called behind with A4 clubs.

The flop was ten high with two clubs and a four.

Ugarte's bet out 6, which was consistent with the range I had him on except for AK. With some players, I might reduce the changes I was facing TT on the theory he wouldn't bet out a set, but I think he is a conservative enough player not to want let a flush draw sneak in cheaply behind him, particularly against 3 other players.

It folded around to me and I had the standard fold, call or raise choice. I had 14 outs twice against all hands in the range except TT and AA, 11 outs twice against AA, and 9 outs twice with 10 redraws (!) against TT. Only against the last hand am I really in trouble.

With 14 in the pot already, I can’t see a fold here, can you? I am nearly certain he is going to push the turn if I call, and if that is the case, I would be better off folding.

Pushing with the additional 20 or so I have behind seems to me the correct play—he is going to call me with that range most of the time, but perhaps not—he needs to worry about a set or even 2 pair. Of the hands in that remain in my mind in his range (AA-TT), he has 18/24 combinations of JJ-KK, 3/24 combinations of AA and 3 combinations of TT.

Let’s say he folds JJ-KK 30% of the time and never AA or TT (I think he might occasionally fold AA, but probably not against me, also he’s more likely to fold JJ than KK, but this is just a thought piece anyway), this means:

Scenario A (JJ-KK)
30% +14 = +4.20
35% +27 = +9.45
35% -20 = -7.00
TOTAL = 6.65

Scenario B (AA)
43% +27 = +11.61
57% -20 = -11.40
TOTAL = +0.19

Scenario C (TT)
29% +27 = +7.83
71% -20 = -14.20
TOTAL = -6.37

Total EV: .75(6.65) + .125(0.19) + .125(-6.4) = 4.99 + 0.02 + -0.80 = 4.21

Could I make more by raising less? I don’t think so because I think the added EV from the fold equity against JJ-KK is not compensated by the small chance Ugarte will just call twice and win with AA or TT (the only way I can save money since I’m pot committed).

Back to Dawn’s narrative:

“Well, that was the right play,” Sox says watching Ugarte stacking his chips, “I think I played that right.”

“Yes, I too think you played that just right,” Ugarte says smiling broadly.
Of course, had we been playing the cards face up, I would have folded. I’m not a lunatic.
See the flop...