Sunday, September 09, 2007

London Calling (a/k/a Fish Soup calls from the dead)

Am I still a blogger? Eh. Well here's a post, call me what you will--and I know what that means for quite a few of you!

I know Pauly used this post title first, but I'll take it from the public domain as I had already used it in a private e-mail to a blogger whose posts I've found unusually interesting as he maps to my poker-finance intersection of the universe an IMHO expresses considerable insight into both, Mr. Peter Birks. That and The Clash are universal.

By the way, if you have no interest at all in SoxLife but seek only poker content, skip the next bit.

I had meant to try and meet Peter at the end of this June when I had ran into London on a business trip but alas that involved flying the red-eye from JFK, going straight to the office the next morning from Heathrow, showering in the office gym facility, working to midnight (GMT), crashing at a crappy hotel (town was booked up due to Wimbledon and other frantic industry), rinse repeat on Tuesday, straight to the airport working on the phone until takeoff, an hour late, 8 pm GMT, flight temporarily diverted to Boston for inclement weather, finally reaching home in Jersey City 3 am EST, had to back in the office 7:30 am EST Thursday to close. I had not worked that hard since leaving BigFirm. At any rate, I missed Peter. But we did close the deal--and that just before the credit markets began tanking a few days later.

But I did know I would be back in London--Mrs. Sox had deferred her field research in Romania for her dissertation after we were blessed with BabySox on the way. But the love of my life is nothing if not dedicated, so it was a deferral, not a cancellation, and we've been planning around getting her and BabySox set up for a few months in Timişoara for nearly a year.

My employer has been quite accommodating, allowing me to work some stretches this fall out of the London office to be closer to my family. After depositing SoxWife and BabySox safely in Romania (13 hours on planes with baby that doesn’t seem to like sleeping on a plane: no fun) and a brief 2 day respite sailing on Lake Balaton in Hungary, my first two week stint in London began after Labor day.

So, background out of the way (boring but hell, I’m making up for the absence of column inches for the past few months), I planned to go yesterday for dinner and a tourney at the Gutshot with Mr. Birks.

Peter was kind enough to come pick me at my temporary digs at Canary Wharf, a corporate apartment furnished soup to nuts at something suspiciously like Ikea

***Start poker content***

While navigating the tube to London proper, I regaled Peter with a tale of poker woe from a hand I played on FullTilt that morning. Peter helped me parse it through, though after reading his description of the hand and going back and actually checking the hand history, I realized I had gotten it a bit wrong in my description to him (which he threw up as a teaser on his journal).

Here’s how the hand went down:

Sox’s big stacking of the day.

Detail I missed with Peter was the BB actually check raised, he didn’t flat call. After reviewing the history, I am still not sure I could have gotten away at all, but want to break it down.

My only real question to myself was could have I folded to MP’s push on the flop. To answer this, I need to come up with respectable ranges and then just run them through PokerStove. With about 100 hands on each (not so much but given Baynesian analysis and a nod to the Mathematics of Poker, this is enough to draw a meaningful inference as to their playing styles, though certainly not enough to fail to allow for changing gears and an unusual variation of hand strengths over that period), BB is VPP 12%, 4.5% Pre-flop raise and post flop aggression 0.8 and MP is 28%, 2.63% and 0.83.

From this, we can see MP really likes to limp a wide range of hands and perhaps raise only a few—hard to say if that means he only raise the top of his range, it could be he only raises, for example, when first in and EP, just don’t know enough to deduce you can chop the of his range. Accordingly, I would assign him pre-flop 22+, A2s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J7s+, T6s+, 95s+, 85s+, 75s+, 64s+, 53s+, 43s, 32s, A9o+, KTo+, QTo+, J9o+, T8o+, 98o, 87o and 76o (this is 34.2% of all hands, which takes into account he is in late middle position and facing one limper, which I think would widen his range). Based on flop action, I think we can narrow this down to 66, 99-AA, 87s or o, Axd, KQd, KJd, QJd, J7d, T9o or s. With the re-re-check raise, I don’t think I can include ATs or ATo, even with Ad.

BB would normally be much tighter starting out, but as BB he has the full range pre-flop. Post flop however, you know he has something. 66, 99-TT (I am dropping over-pairs here based on his pre-flop pass of the option, his numbers and his check raise action, they wouldn’t change the equity analysis much anyway, except for a slight improvement for me), 87s or, Axd (but not AKd, which I would have expected to raise pre-flop), KQd, KJd, QJd, J7d, 75d, T9s or s.

My equity per PokerStove against these two hands is just shy of 31%. I am effectively being asked to call $112 to win $436. The numbers are actually a bit more complex with the side pot, but I don’t think this changes things much—the call was correct. Of course against the hands I did face, I was up shit’s creek without a paddle with 11% equity.
Still, I feel better though not of course about the outcome.

Now Peter says I made two moves that he would not have played the same way.

First, he would have raised to 10 or 12 or so preflop to try and take it down there, with the 89d as a sneaky hand to have if I get called. I will agree that had this resulted in a fold, I could have been quite happy with that result. I am not at all sure however that the BB would have folded preflop, and given what came down, the outcome would have been the same. But for the possibility of getting off the bus with a cheap victory, I will nevertheless grant Peter that this very well might have been an optimization.

Second, he would have flat called the flop bet by MP as my raise essentially committed me to the pot. In the instant case, this too would have made no difference though perhaps if BB hadn’t a hand and had folded, I should be able to get a way on the turn from MP. But against my reasonable range for the MP at this stage of the betting (99+, 66, AdKd, AdQd, AdJd, ATs, KdQd, KdJd, JTs, Jd7d, T9s, T6s, 87s, 7d5d, ATo, KTo, QTo+, JTo, T9o, 87o), I had 54.6% equity with two cards to come (but not with only 1), I am not completely convinced. I think the flop more or less committed me to the pot, though had the BB folded and MP pushed, I would have had a more interesting decision (likely still resulting in a call).

Anyway, the dinner with Peter was a pleasant combination of poker and shop talk—I am used to getting one or the other in isolation but not both together.

Oh, tourney at the Gutshot demonstrated to me that junk kicking beats are not limited to the colonies. No more to be said at the risk of costing £1 to you all.
See the flop...