Hot Hand #5 (Updated With Results as of Thursday)
Hot Hand #5 is a hand that happened last week in a large mtt, I believe the $3 Rebuy Madness on pokerstars. I had a couple of blogger railbirds as well at the time, and I had been playing a good, solid game thus far, so it was all good heading into this hand.
I am dealt 99 in middle position. It's folded around to me.
Question #1: What's your play? Just limp with the 9s, add a little deception to when you limp from MP later in the game with AK? Raise it up? How much?
In this case, I decided to experiment with just a 2x raise from MP, in the hopes that someone in late position would put me on a weak steal attempt and reraise me preflop, so that I could then re-reraise them allin and push them off their hand. I like this move because it makes something offensive out of a little play like how to play a decent pocket pair in middle position when it's folded around to you. I am always trying to get my opponents' entire stacks, so making moves that could lead to a nice steal-reraise being put in against me when I actually have a top 10 Holdem hand is something I'm always looking to do.
So I raise it up 2x from MP with 99. Both the SB and the BB call, and everyone else folds. So my little 2x move did not work, but it could be worse. The only two callers of my 2x raise are the two blinds, who each already had something invested in the hand and who each just flat called preflop. So neither of them is likely to have anything strong. With the substantial pot odds to each of them of calling my small 2x raise, they could have almost anything but the lowest of cards, one-gappers, two-gappers, etc.
The flop comes T97, with two spades. So I've flopped trips, which is great. But, with already a straight possible (two straights, actually), as well as a spade draw out there now on the board, I can't exactly love this flop. But I do like it. And both blinds check it around to me.
Question 2: How do I play this good but potentially dangerous flop? Do I move hard with my trips to price out any of the draws, and just hope someone has TPTK or an overpair, or is just a fishcaller? Do I check the trips on the flop to further create an air of weakness, and see if a bad card comes on the turn? How would you play this scenario?
In the end, I elected to go with a half-pot bet, wanting to look like a standard Harrington continuation bet. This way someone might raise me with a draw, in which case I could again move in on them and feel fairly sure that I had the nuts at the time. And even if someone had flopped a straight or something on the flop (but who really calls a preflop raise with 68 or J8?), I was still drawing to at least 7 outs to make a boat on the turn, and 10 more outs to a boat on the river if the turn card did not fill me up:
After my half-pot bet, the SB actually check-raised me to 500 chips, almost 3.5x my flop bet, and the BB quickly folded:
Question 3: Now what? Do I straight-up move allin here with my trip 9s, assuming I'm not up against trip 10s or a flopped straight? Do I just call this check-raise move, and give myself a chance to draw at my boat or maybe have the best hand already? Do I even have the best hand right now? What do you think?
In this case, I thought the amount of this raise from the SB was a bit worrisome. I had no real solid read on SooperDuck, other than that he seemed to be playing solidly at the table for the previous 45 minutes or so that I had been there. But his raise to 500 from my 150 bet seemed a little like what Harrington calls a "suck bet", one that is designed just to suck some more money into the pot in a situation where the person making the bet believes they are comfortably ahead. Now, I still think my 9s are the actual best hand here, but I read his raise to 500 as indicative of something good, better than just a draw. I figured the most likely holdings at that time were TPTK (Ace-Ten) or a pocket overpair like JJ or QQ (he did call my 2x MP raise, after all, but did not raise it up preflop like I might expect from him with KK or AA or probably even AK), or maybe a nut flush draw with two overcards, or maybe the A8 both of spades which would give him both a flush draw and a straight draw. So, taking all of this into account, and the fact that I was ahead of most of these hands but not all of them, and since with two cards to come he could have a lot of outs to outdraw me on the turn or the river, I elected to just call here. I could have raised, but having a read that this guy actually had something worth playing here, I did not think it made sense to get more than the 1000 chips that were already going into the pot on this round. When the turn card did not help the straight or the flush, I figured I could make my move then and get this guy off his hand.
Then came the turn card: Another Ten, this one offsuit, making the board TT97 and with me holding 99 in my hand. I had made my boat on the turn, which now meant that I was ahead of any straights or flushes being chased here. Of course, my opponent had check-raised me on a Ten-high flop, so the odds could be fairly good that he had just made trip 10s here. But without holding T7 (unlikely to have called my preflop raise and to have check-raised the flop) or T9 (very unlikely since I held the other two 9s in my hand already), I would still be ahead there. To further complicate things, SooperDuck quickly bet out 1000 chips at me, approximately half the pot:
Question #4: What's the best play here? Can I possibly put this guy on a higher boat than mine? Do I call this 1000 chip bet, or raise it up right here while he still might call me if he is on some kind of big draw heading into the river card? How do I get the most money from this guy, assuming my boat is ahead right now?
In the end, I could not get myself to believe that I was not leading at this point. I stayed in preflop with 9s, hoping to flop a 9 and I did. Then I called a 3.5x checkraise on the flop with trip 9s, hoping to fill up on the turn, and I did. Now I'm still going to fear that I'm still behind? No way, that's just not my style. So, I figured, this guy has over 2200 chips left, and he obviously has something that he is willing to bet with. The fact that he led out for the first time in the hand when the second 10 fell made me think maybe he had just made trip 10s, and was playing TPTK or TPSK on the flop. Either way, I was thinking less than he was on a draw at this point given his 1000-chip flop bet, so I ended up just calling him, and hoping that he would give me the rest of his stack after the river card brought whatever it brought.
And the river card came the King of Spades. Although this meant any straight draws had missed, this card did fill the possible flush draw out there, which was a very good thing since I was holding a boat. My opponent thinks for a few seconds, and then pushes in on me:
Question 5: I have to call this, right? I'm getting better than 3 to 1 to make this call, and in the end, the only hands I lose to are KK, TT, KT, T9 and T7. Most of those hands are unlikely to be left playing at this point, aren't they?
And more importantly, what is this guy holding? Did I win this hand or what??
I'll be back to update this post with the answers later on.
Before I forget, I will definitely be at the Mookie tonight, and so should you! It is at 10pm ET every Wednesday evening, it's a $10 buyin nlh tournament on pokerstars, and the password is "vegas1". As I say week in and week out, this event is already one of the most fun and widespread blogger events every single week, and you are really missing out if you don't play in it regularly. Come watch me play tight as a nail tonight and take the whole thing down!
UPDATED WITH HAND RESULTS:
First, thank you all for your very thoughtful comments on Hot Hand #5. I appreciate everyone's input, and I agree with much but not quite all of what was said by the commenters. But without further adieu, let me show the result of the hand.
As a recap, you will recall this guy called my 2x preflop raise from the SB, and then he check-raised me on the flop after I flopped trip 9s with my two 9s in the hole. I flat called the check-raise, and then he led out and bet the pot again on the turn, which I also called after making a full house. Then he moved me allin on the river.
As all of you intuited, I definitely felt I had to call here, so I made the call. My opponent flipped:
So there you go. He had made his straight on the flop. In this case, it didn't really matter how I played this out, because if I had moved in on the flop, he would have almost certainly have called with his flopped straight. If I had moved in with my full house on the turn, he would have called that bet too most likely. And he ended up moving me allin on the river. So one way or another, this guy was destined to slide over his entire stack to me on this hand. Now, on to the analysis.
It seems like the majority of the commenters thought I played this hand a little slow. It's funny, I don't think what I did can be called slow-playing, as I called all of his bets. It's not like I was checking to him and then smooth calling. He was leading at me almost the whole way. On the flop, he checked his flopstraight to me, and I bet half the pot. Maybe that bet was a little light. But I really didn't want to lose him if I had two shots of making a boat and he was drawing, and I had put so little money into the pot that it wasn't the end of the world if I had to give it up for some reason. I guess in retrospect, I would have probably made a pot-sized bet there. Knowing his cards, we know he would have called that larger bet anyways. But, I like my smooth call when he check-raised me after my half-pot flop bet. With a very possible straight draw as well as a flush draw out there, I don't think moving in against his reraise on the flop was the right move. That is two chances for me to lose to a spiked straight, and two chances for me to lose to a spiked flush, still to come in the hand. So why move in right now with my trips on this scary kind of flop? Why take the chance of losing it all with a bad card on the turn or river, when so many bad cards could be out there to beat me (or in this case, when he could already be ahead of me on the flop itself with one of two possible made straights)? I think just calling the check-raise should be enough here, with a likely 17 outs left through two cards for me to fill up and make a hand that can beat his straight or flush. So I don't quite agree with pushing after his checkraise on the flop. Even though I would have won the hand in the end since I boated up on the turn card, the fact remains that had I pushed on the flop, he surely would have called with his made straight, and I would have been behind at that time. So I don't buy that I was right to push there. I think a bit of caution, deception, and a cheap draw or two to a full house was the better approach there.
After the flop when the second Ten came, again most of the comments seem to suggest that I was "slow playing" in some way. I don't think so. He led out with a large 1000-chip bet, about the size of the pot again on the turn. With the top card pairing on the turn, and it being a card like a Ten that many people like to play preflop, I think it was a reasonable assumption at that time that he had tripped up with the turn card. I do agree with the one or two commenters that noted that T7 and T9 (and eventually KT) would be played more or less the way he had played the hand through that point (if you assume he would have called my 2x preflop raise with cripe like T7, although most of you seem to think he would call that raise with almost anything), and again without knowing exactly where I was at, and with a possible oesd and a possible flush draw out there, I was still facing a better than 1-in-3 chance of facing one of those scare cards coming on the river. I like the move of just calling the 1000 turn bet.
I don't think reraising, or pushing allin in fact, is a bad idea either in this situation, having just made my boat, but remember this is no-limit holdem, I was doing well in the tournament so far, and if the guy does happen to have T9 or T7, I'm already way behind. I figured I was probably still ahead, but that there was no reason I couldn't wait one more card, hopefully let him make a draw if he was playing one, and then try to get all of his chips then. Reraising was a good option too that I could have used, and again knowing what his cards actually were, he would probably have called that bet from me on the turn. A super astute player might not call, seeing the top pair on the board pair up on the turn after I had raised preflop and then just called his check-raise on the flop, and if I had lost him there with an allin bet then I would not have made nearly the money I ended up making on that flop. But I think it's fairly likely he would not have been able to get away from the flopped straight, even the ass end of it, so in this case pushing on the turn would have gotten me where I needed to be.
One last point: many of the commenters suggested that the 2x raise was a pussy move preflop, and that they would call or reraise just about anything that was just 2x reraised preflop from MP, and how weak it was, etc. Comments like that more or less prove my point of why I made the move here. If you read my original analysis from the original post, I didn't raise it up 2x to try to chase anyone out of the pot. I knew it wouldn't work. I just decided to try to play some offense with a great hand preflop but one that I don't really look forward to playing for a flop and beyond. I was counting on these people being suspicious but basically calling with anything from the blinds when I only raised it up 2x. As I stated yesterday, I was actually hoping my opponent would react just like many of the commenters, perceive my 2x raise as a weakass move, and reraise me right there preflop, for which I would most likely have moved in as a re-reraise to take down some nice chippage preflop, or go into the flop for a lot of chips with a leading hand. So don't think I use this 2x preflop raise move as a regular weapon in my repertoire, but I like to throw in some variation cheap whenever possible, and it's always good to try out new moves at the poker table, to see what works and what doesn't work going forward.