Today was a good day. I had a nice brunch at Blue Star, my favorite breakfast place in Seattle, then spent the afternoon and evening playing poker. And while my results were disappointing, I feel pretty good about how I played throughout the day.
I started out in a 1/3 game while waiting for a seat at 3/5. Early on I had a hand where I picked up AsKs in the big blind after four people, including the small blind, had limped in. I made it 18 to go and, as sometimes happens at these stakes all four of them called. Frown town. In general I’m pretty happy when my preflop raises get called as I find there’s a lot of money to be made getting one or two callers pre that will play fit-or-fold post flop and fold to a continuation bet when they don’t make top pair or a strong draw. I’m less happy here because I am both out of position and I have a ton of callers. The flop comes Qh3h2c, which is a fairly good flop for us to continuation bet. I bet $40 into $90, which is smallish as a percentage of the pot but it’s a big looking bet at these stakes, and three of my opponents fold. Unfortunately John, the loose calling station in the small blind, decides to continue. After mulling it over, talking about how he probably shouldn’t be in the hand but how he can’t just call with this hand he raises all in for $58 more. I expect his range to mostly consist of bad queens, flush draws, and some weak combo draws, and after doing a little math I figure out that I’m getting about the right odds for a call (my post table calculations determine that I need 20.6% equity and I have between 23% and 24% equity against single paired queens) and make the call. I’m rewarded by finding out that he has Q5 off and while I bink a King on the turn he hits a 5 on the river to redraw on me. I’m happy enough with this hand, however, as both my initial instinct and my at the table math came to roughly the same conclusion as the post-fact calculations.
Shortly after I move to 3/5 where I play for a couple of hours before joining the 7 PM tournament. My 3/5 time is fairly uneventful, although I was involved in three separate 3+ bet pots, which is fairly high for these stakes and is definitely high for me. In the first I was 3 bet fairly small ($50 over $20) when I opened in early position with AhJh. I took a flop given the small 3 bet size and my confidence in playing against this opponent, and was rewarded when I was able to extract another $15o from my opponent’s KK on a AQT flop. The next two times I get in small raising wars preflop with the two players on my right with AK and take down each pot on the flop when they show weakness.
The tournament starts of auspiciously when I double up on the very first hand. The guy on my immediate right opens it up to 150, I flat with Ad7d, and the guy on my left makes in 500 even. It folds around to the original raiser, who folds, and I decide to take a flop mostly on the strength of my Ace, as I expect his range to be heavily skewed towards pocket pairs. I need 29% equity to make this call, which I have against every hand except AA, and I am fairly sure I can outplay this guy post flop, even though I’m out of position. The flop comes out fairly dreamy: 3d4d5h, giving me a double-gutter and a flush draw. I check planning on check-raising and jamming the turn, but I’m able to get it all in on the flop when my opponent bets 600 and then jams 5,500 on my raise to 2,000. He asks me if I have a set and I get to calmly tell him “no, I have an 18 out draw.” I run bad and he has the two red diamonds, which means I have to correct myself and proclaim I have a 17 out draw, but then I run good and hit a deuce on the river to make a straight and double up.
I make another 2.5K over three streets with QQ against AJ an orbit later, but then things dry up for a few levels. Sometime in the third level our table breaks, which was nice since it was filled with competent opponents, and I get moved to a new table next to my buddy Joe. We chat a bit while watching the unpredictable donk two to my left run over the table while getting smashed by the deck. I make a little money before the break on a resteal-into continuation-bet that has my heart going pitter-patter as the donk is in the hand and is capable of anything, but I survive and chip up to about 18K.
The fourth through sixth levels go fine – I’ve got enough of a chip stack that the chip leader at our table is staying out of my way (he even folds AQ when we’re 75 BB deep when I raise UTG and get a caller between us), I pick up good cards in a few crucial spots, and I make two judicious 3-bets. I’m at around 45K when we go into the second break with three full tables.
After the second break I get into it with a 35K stack at my table in this hand:
With 1K/2K blinds and a 100 ante I raise it up to 5K under the gun with black 7s and get one caller.
The flop comes Q86 with two hearts, and I make a continuation bet of 7K into the 14K pot. My opponent tanks for 15-30 seconds and then makes the call. From his body language I’m pretty sure he was deciding between folding and calling. If that’s the case I expect his range to mostly be flush draws and underpairs to the queen. Since I expect that he would mostly 3 bet me with JJ, TT, and the like I expect him to have mostly flush draws.
The turn comes an offsuit 5. I tank for a bit here, which is probably a mistake. The 5 changes things a bit in that I now have 10 outs if I’ve misread my opponent and he has a pair. I had been planning on firing a second bullet on any non-heart non-paint card, but I paused here to reevaluate, which I think my opponent took as a sign of weakness. I then bet 14K into a pot of 28K, leaving my opponent about 10K back, which is also probably a mistake. Given that I expect my opponent to mostly have draws I really want to project an aura of confidence here – I don’t want to give him the sense that he might have any fold equity and I don’t want him to call me since he’s probably got a 12 to 15 out draw and has enough equity that folding would be a mistake given our stack sizes. I think the correct play here is to simply go all in.
My opponent raises me all in and I snap call. He has AhKh for the full 15 outs and he gets there when the Kd comes on the river.
This is basically the end of the tournament for me. I’m able to pick off a small stack and steal the blinds once, but I’m fairly card-dead for the rest of the level and the tight non-folders in front of me keep opening the pot so I can’t steal. Once the blinds go up to 1.5K/3K with a 200 ante I’m quickly blinded down to 5 BBs and get it in bad with Ad3d against QQ and AA to go out in 18th.
I’m pretty happy with how I played, however, and I left the casino feeling satisfied. Most of the hands I played throughout the night felt fairly standard, but there was one hand that someone else played that I thought was actually super interesting:
In the 3/5 game we have a six way limped pot with a flop of Ah2h5d. The first four players check and the guy in the hijack bets $15 into $25 (after rake). The button, who is a kind of crazy old guy (very aggro, loose, willing to make plays at the pot, and a frequent over-bettor) who I think is actually an above average player, makes it $30. It folds around to the hijack and he calls the $15.
The turn is the 2c and the hijack checks. The button snap bets $45 and the hijack makes it $145. Then the button snap shoves! The hijack has a little over $200 left and the button has him well covered. The hijack thinks for not too long and then says that he simply can’t imagine that he is good here and folds the 3d4d face up!
Initially I was floored that this guy was able to fold a straight here – you just don’t see that at this level. Then I started to wonder whether that was actually a good fold. So, let’s do some hand analysis and figure out whether we like this fold or not:
The preflop action leaves villain’s range really wide. On the button facing three limps villain really doesn’t have a bottom to his range – the only question is whether we can eliminate any hands that the villain would have raised 100% of the time here. We can probably eliminate KK and QQ from his range, but paradoxically I don’t think that we can rule out AA. Most players feel like they have to raise KK and QQ because they are afraid of an Ace flopping, but they will feel secure in “slowplaying” AA here because there isn’t the potential for that feel bad moment where an overcard flops.
On the flop we have to interpret what a min-raise to $30 means. This raise, to me, looks like it is about making sure that there aren’t any other callers (or that other callers are going to be charged enough). Raising to $30 isn’t going to chase off the original raiser unless he had complete air but $15 is a small enough bet that the villain may be concerned about a waterfall effect if he just calls.
We can eliminate complete air from villain’s range – he knows he’s getting called by the hero.
We can also eliminate strong flush draws from villains range – if he had a K, Q, or J high flush draw he’s going to want to keep things cheap both so he has better implied odds and to keep in smaller flush draws that will pay him off if he hits.
Villain could have a weak flush draw that he’s raising to knock out other flush draws and to get a free card on the turn. I don’t think this is super likely as I don’t actually give villain that much credit for thinking deeply about the spot, but it is a possibility.
- A gutshot and a pair, something like a 54, could be played this way to get a free card on the turn and knock out draws and other weak made hands.
- We can probably eliminate weak Aces, pocket pairs other than 33 and 44, and random 5s and 2s from villains range – these hands are all likely to simply call and either try to see showdown cheaply or make a play at the pot once we’ve made sure the other 4 players aren’t doing something crazy.
- Strong aces could definitely be played this way, trying to get value from weaker aces and other pairs.
- Similarly two pair, sets, and straights all could be played this way. In these cases the raise is building a larger pot and charging other hands (mostly flushes) more to draw against villain. I tend to discount sets and made straights here since villain is going to feel more comfortable slowplaying and is probably happier if the $15 gets called in a couple places as it makes the pot larger while still allowing a raise on the turn.
- The turn bet doesn’t narrow villain’s hand range too much, but the reraise all-in probably does.
- Villain’s range was weak flush draws, pair+gutshots, strong aces, two pairs, sets, and the straight.
- The turn bet eliminates the flush draws and the pair+gutshots that don’t include 2s.
- The snap reraise all-in probably eliminates strong aces from the villain’s range, as well as A5. While I think these hands could be 3bet on the turn, I think the snap 3bet is indicative that the villain feels that he has a nutty hand. He doesn’t need to actually have the nuts here, he just needs to have a hand that he feels like he would never fold here (and thus doesn’t need to think about getting it in).
- I think this leaves full houses (A2, 52, 55, and the improbable AA), quads, trips (23 and 24), and straights in the villain’s range.
- Based on the flop play I think we can discount flopped sets and straights a bit, simply because villain is going to slowplay these hands some of the time and isn’t going to feel the need to make a “protection” raise every time.
- There are eight combos of 23, eight of 24, three of 55, three of AA, one of 33, nine of 34, six of A2, and six of 52, for a total of forty-four combos. I think we can discount five of the seven flopped set combos and six of the nine flopped straight combos, giving us thirty-three combos.
- Of these thirty-three combos we are ahead of sixteen, tied with three, and behind against the remaining fourteen. We have 0% equity against the hands we are behind, have about 76% equity against the hands we are ahead of, and have 50% equity against the hands we are tied with.
- That gives us an average equity of 41%. We’re calling about $200 into $575 ($25 preflop + $60 on flop + $290 of called turn action + $200 raise), which means we only need about 26% equity.
- If we assume that the villain has all of the non-AA boat combos, all of the straight combos, and Y combos of trips or Ax, villain only needs to have 4 combos of trips or Aces for us to get to 26% equity.
Based on this, I think this is a bad fold. I think it’s pretty unreasonable to exclude straights from villains range, and I think we need to discount the number of flopped sets he could have. In order for this fold to be correct we need to be able to exclude trips from the villains range and we need to be able to exclude any sort of air, combo draws, etc. While the villain is unlikely to have hands that we beat, only a small percentage of them need to be in his range for this call to be correct. Most of this is a function of our small stack size – the more money we have behind the worse this call gets.