Monday, November 15, 2010

Make The Call...Conclusion

This is a conclusion to an earlier post. Read here first if you haven't.

So I imagine it's obvious that I was involved in this hand in this past Sunday's Venetian DSE. The twist is that I was not the hero in this vignette. The hero is actually the villain and I am the one in the big blind.

I phrased the question from his point of view, because I felt I had a good read on the situation and I was interested to see how others might react in the villains shoes.

The villain was over the age of 60, probably of eastern descent. He was relatively new to the table where 70% of us played together for the last 4 hours. He came with about 10 big blinds, and shoved several times forcing folds and once getting called by an under pair to double up over 30k. He did nothing but shove fold until he tightened up after 30k.

I dominated my first table, I had pretty good control over my second with just a couple of thorns in my side. I was changed to a third table at about 6:00pm with 55k (avg 29k at the time). I was the chip leader at my table most of the day. Unless I'm really card dead it's not difficult for me to run up a large stack early on like this. I wait for strong hands and bet them hard. Most of the time I get called. I remember reading recently a comment by Phil Laak who said, "It's 2010, nobody folds."

This new table was very tough for me. In addition to one of the thorns that followed me there, this table had 2 other very strong loose aggressive players....and yes as fate would have it all three were directly to my left. Really made it hard for me to make any moves without solid hands. The few times I raised pre-flop someone would always 3 bet me. Many times I folded. I was leaking chips and then I really took a nose dive when I tried to bluff one of these guys back post-flop and got put all-in. Ooops! Sigh...

I managed to hang around 29k...rarely had a premium hand, got to see about 12% of the flops and could not manage to get even a marginal piece. I was playing squeaky tight and before I knew it I was down to 21k, and I had ZERO control over this table. I was going on 4 hours like this. I felt trapped like a rat by superior players with bigger stacks...all to my left.

So starts my hand. My mental state was not so good but not off the deep end by any means.
It is almost 11pm. 29 out of 103 left. 13 to cash.
Level I am REALLY the hero

Blinds 500-1000 ...100 antes
Hero in BB with 68off
UTG+1 (62k) loose aggressive - raise 3k
Cut-off Villain calls

Pot: 8.3k

For 2k, flatting gets me 4:1 on my money and opens another opportunity to hit a flop. Here I'm looking for two pair or better, and maybe even a good draw.

Hero calls in BB; Pot: 10.3k

FLOP: 7d9d Ac

I check...hoping to see a free turn, but knowing in my heart UTG will never let that happen

UTG+1 raises to 5.6k
Cut-off Villain calls

Pot: ~21k

My stack: ~ 18k

Here is what flashed very quickly into my brain:

1. I have an open ended straight draw 33% to improve.
2. This table has been kicking my ass and if I don't try to do something soon I am gonna get run over waiting for aces.
2. I'm pretty confident villain cut-off has a weak Ace, and I imagine he would call a loose aggressive player in position with a weak Ace, pre and post. He could have had a flush draw...but he wasn't getting the right pot-odds to call. I would have raised or folded with a flush draw. I would have raised with 2 pair or better. My read was right, and he had an Ace. A little stronger than I guessed.
3. Although UTG+1 was a mystery, he was in this position so many times with his light pre-flop raises and c-bets that I had little regard for him. Maybe I should have had more...but honestly if he had something strong I would chalk that up to bad luck.

So the plan is to shove. Why?
1. I have been super nit...I should have A LOT of fold equity
2. I imagine 50% of the time I will succeed with this play, I have done it before in very similar situations, and it has worked....also my polling about what the Hero with AJ should do yielded 50% fold/50% call response.
3. The other 50% of the time I am called I will win 1/3 of those encounters.
4. That means 2/3 of the time I win.

The flaws of this.

1. I'm not really taking the flush draw enough into consideration
2. The Cut-Off Villain is fairly new. I don't know his tendencies as well as I should and I am judging him by his age. Furthermore he has only seen a glimpse of super-nit, not 4 hours of super nit.
3. I have 18 big-blinds and could have held out a little longer before going into short stack mode. As deep as I was, maybe I didn't need to risk myself so much as Rakewell suggested.
4. It is 2010 and nobody folds.

Without hesitation I push all-in.

Almost instantly UTG+1 folds, after a fairly lengthy deliberation the cut-off villain makes the call. I swear I tasted the fold for a moment.

The turn and river bricked...and I went home, dreaming about the hand over and over.

Overall I feel I played well, especially in a field of many exceptional players.


  1. I think your play is much better than the A-J call. From your point of view, it is unlikely that a LAGgy EP raiser got so lucky as to hit that flop with anything strong enough to call a check-raise shove. Your read on villain is pretty straightforward; if he were any stronger than top pair, he'd raise on a draw-heavy board, rather than flat-call. And once you figure that he has an ace, it makes it even that much less likely that UTG+1 does. I think the estimate of 50% fold equity is about right.

    You can play "Make A Hand," a game in which everybody has exactly equal chance of winning, or you can play poker. You chose poker. I can't fault you, especially given the circumstances you describe, in which just about your only other way to the money would have been folding everything and hoping your stack just barely survived long enough. That's a sucky way to play.

  2. A strong move that almost worked for you, plus you had the outs to make it a good percentage play. Wish he'd folded or you'd hit but I like the way you played the hand because if you don't take those opportunities from time to time you'll be shoving with pocket 3's soon enough anyway!

    I love that Phil Laak quote!

  3. Alright I see the hand very different........

    My understanding from what i have heard from you Doc is that you have stone cold reads on these guys. First of all don't ever put a lot of stock in having great reads on people. Even if you think you are the best reader of hands this side of the Mississippi. Not because i think you didn't, but because i think you need to focus on other parts of the hands more. You pride yourself in this so i don't want this to hurt your pride because I'm saying that. You can never truly know what the other person is thinking at any point. Is he feeling lucky? Does he hate to be raised? Does he have a vendetta against you? Is he a complete moron who hasn't been discovered yet? YOU NEVER CAN KNOW!!!!!!! Especially with this new guy at the table. Its easy enough in this spot to dismiss the big stack because of the way you've described hes played. You can't however dismiss him completely. Which in this hand you have already done.

    I'm going to run through some scenarios of what I think you could have done differently to win you this hand.......

    Maybe it's my generation but with 20BB's it's time to get into shove mode. Even in a 1K buy in which you are very happy and proud to be this deep in. My shove range is 88+ and AQ suited+. Also in position ATC where I know I'm definitely getting positive fold equity. This doesn't mean it's right but this is just a way to look at it.

    First scenario- Fold pre flop. Even with 4:1 or better on a call you're bleeding chips. Quit it. Pick a much better spot to open shove.

    Second scenario- UTG+1 raises, Cutoff calls, HERO- ALL IN. I know you don't like to shove with bad cards but in this spot i haven't even looked at my cards yet and I've already thought of this move. There is already 8500 in the pot and is definitely more than a small victory for the hero if they both fold.

    Third Scenario- UTG raises, CO calls, BB calls. Flop action: BB leads out with 8-10K. This isn't one of my favorite moves but it now shows immense strength and you can still fold to a 3 bet. They see the bet you've now seized the action and they think you have 2 pair, AQ, AK, or A anything really. If you get raised or called out of position here you definitely need to shut it down. You get out of the hand pissed but still with 11-12k. Not great but ok.

    Fourth Scenario- Fold post flop. You've taken your 3k shot and now surrender to get it in later with many more chips.

    These four ways to play the hand are the best 4 ways i can think of. They are maybe "new age" ways but they are ways to maximize your chips and minimize your damage.

    Now I'll give you my opinion on the way you played the hand and why I think it's not necessarily wrong but why it's not the best way to win.

    I think that now that you have seen the flop and in your head you think you can push them off the hand you neglected to step back and realize you've now priced what would normally be worse hands in this spot into the pot.

    They don't know you have a drawing hand and a weak drawing hand at that. Lets say the UTG+1 guy opened the pot with J10 of diamonds or 10 8 of diamonds. You're now crushed. Lets say that he opened with that hand and the Cutoff flatted with A8+ suited maybe even of diamonds. Drastic i know but possible. You're now way crushed.
    Unfortunately at this point you're all in shove is not + fold equity to a even marginal hand. You are only getting called by a much better hand here and so the move has no ground to stand on.

  4. I like the shove squeeze if you start the hand with like 35-40k. Still though not the best spot out of position to shove. You look very weak here and more chips may hurt that weakish image even more. So even with more chips i hate the move.

    Your opportunities to win this hand were never post flop with this board in my opinion. By shoving pre if you get caught you're at least at minimum seeing five cards no matter what. Here you've already seen 3 and they're not even that great. I like the shove obviously a lot more if your cards are suited in diamonds or even clubs for more backdoor opportunities. Not so much clubs.

    I think that you are too good of a player to put yourself in a spot where you are getting it in 13 from the money with a weak draw at best. You play to win i hope Doc and this play a lot of the time is getting you knocked out of any tournament. Image or no you are looking too weak and need to dump the hand after the flop. I still think you are a great player, i mean i wouldn't have bought some of your action if i didn't Doc.

  5. Matt:

    What would you think of the move if he had started with a medium pocket pair and flopped a set?

    In my response to the first post, I correctly sniffed out that the BB was most likely on a draw, but the perfectly plausible threat of the other alternative--the set--was too great for me to like the call with AJ.

    I think this is what makes it a defensible move--the fact that opponents cannot tell whether it's a draw or a monster, and are reduced to pure guessing. Nobody likes to be put in that spot.

  6. Matt...It’s nice to see you have opened your mind a bit more to this play. I know you respect my play and I don’t take your criticism personal. You are just stubborn to ideas at times and I think you like the sport of arguing for the sake of it to some to degree.

    Everyone judges another’s play by how they would have played it. Clearly this is a play that would not have worked if you were the cut-off…and you are right, I didn’t have enough experience with him really to judge his tendencies. In my mind if UTG+1 has anything good I’m just unlucky…he is raising so frequently that its not just premium hands, small pocket pairs, connectors and suited gapers, a lot of garbage is in his range as well. Sure he might wake up with a monster, but this is unlikely and so UTG is a non-issue to me. Rakewell and DHat are more conservative players, and this play works well on players like them. Rakewell makes a strong point as I would have played 77 and even 99 exactly the same way. With AK I might have led out but might have check raised. It certainly maybe a difference in generation in what we consider a short stack. You are a loose aggro, and a big stack is vital for you to have that tool of three betting light, and so I imagine BB of <30 cripples your play.

    "First scenario- Fold pre flop. Even with 4:1 or better on a call you're bleeding chips. Quit it. Pick a much better spot to open shove."

    I wasn't truly leaking chips with calls. I was leaking chips by constantly getting three bet and folding in late position by people to my left, or I would see a flop after raising with pocket Jacks and see a board with an A and a Q and have to fold. It was so hard for me to get to see flops that a >4:1 call for 2 more big blinds was an opportunity that was rare. I'm not looking to shove/fold quite yet. 18bb does not cripple my play, just brings me that much closer to true shove/fold mode, which you already think I am in.

    "Second scenario- UTG+1 raises, Cutoff calls, HERO- ALL IN. I know you don't like to shove with bad cards but in this spot i haven't even looked at my cards yet and I've already thought of this move. There is already 8500 in the pot and is definitely more than a small victory for the hero if they both fold."

    This is a valid option, but felt too risky to me with a 68off, I like to have something that has potential to be strong before I shove and risk my whole stack just to increase it by 30%. It probably would have worked though as I cannot see either of them calling me. Now you loose aggro guys have this different culture of 3, 4 and 5 betting light. And so its fun to watch 2 loose aggros fight each other with crap, and if I was perceived as LAG, AJ would have been a snap call by another LAG. It's all relative. In retrospect, with my image you are probably right that I would not have been called with a pre-flop shove. Does that make me feel any better about shoving with 68off pre-flop,’s not my style and its not in my blood, especially not after a raise and a call.
    "Third Scenario- UTG raises, CO calls, BB calls. Flop action: BB leads out with 8-10K."

    Funny how you like this move so much as I think it is the weakest. I'm getting called by the Ace here, almost always, and now I am pot committed with 8bb left and a 16% chance to hit my draw on the river. I think check-raising looks stronger...clearly you disagree…but 80% of the time I check raise I am way ahead.

    "Fourth Scenario- Fold post flop. You've taken your 3k shot and now surrender to get it in later with many more chips."

    This is also a good option, and usually this is my action here. I decided not to do this because I felt trapped at this table. The players were better than I was and I felt shoving gave me my best chance to get back into a strong chip position. Regardless of how you feel that I had no fold equity that is simply not the case...UTG disappeared after I shoved before I could blink and the caller almost folded.

  7. It was easily one of the toughest tables I have been in (except for one of the WSOP tables I was at). I appreciate everyone’s input. Part of why I love poker is that it is not black and white. Poker is a good game for an internal medicine doctor. We don’t really just fix things like a surgeon might (ie sick gall bladder? Cut it out). We like to hem and haw, try this, maybe that, take our time and ruminate about our decisions.