Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another Day, Another Blogger Race Lost

Yep. It happened to me again last night. I made it about halfway through the Mookie's 50-person field last night, and then I reraised Jules allin preflop with a short stack and holding AKo. Everyone else folded, and Jules thought for about 2 seconds, and then called, flipping over JJ. Good call by Jules I'm sure, as I would have been likely to make this move with TT, 99 and maybe even 88, and I guess conceivably with 77, all of which Jules is an 80% favorite over. Or I could make the move with AK or AQ, which she is a 51% favorite. So clearly calling with those Jacks is the right move. But I was in fact just a 49-51 underdog when the cards flipped, and for the the 4th time in the three blogger events I've played in this week, my stack was decimated by me losing a race. Oh well. At least I know that all three times, I was the one doing the pushing allin, not the other way around. That's the way I want to be playing my game, yknow? Aggression still wins in this game, in all its variants in fact, so that's where I want to be.

Which leads me to the real topic of my post today. Yesterday I made it 9 profits out of 10 sessions of stud hilo cash after the Mookie ended for me (congratulations to Tripjax for taking that tournament down in a big way, having held the lead through more than half of the tournament as far as I could tell). This time I even had my boys drraz and jeciimd there with me to see the action, and even to donate a little to my cause.

The link between holdem and stud hilo here is, as I said above, the key to all the major poker games of which I am aware -- Aggression. Aggro or no go. That's my motto. Or it would be if I hadn't just made it up and didn't think it was pretty ghey now that I actually read it. But seriously. Aggression is king in Holdem, there is no doubt about that. All the great players are out there, betting at pots when they have nothing but are confident no one else has anything worth defending either. Bluff-raising with nothing on occasion to deter stealing and restealing. Betting their drawing hands aggressively. That is what truly playing winning Holdem is all about. And the exact same is true about being a winning hilo player as well.

A perfect example of how aggression pays off in stud hilo was this hand, near the beginning of my playing session last night on pokerstars:

Having not bet out on the fourth street, this player hits a Jack on 5th street, and now suddenly he bets out. That tells me he must be going high. So what do I do, with what is basically a nothing, worthless hand here? I raised it up. Why? Because I had three clubs showing, and had opened for half a bet on third street, and had bet out after my opponent's opening check on fourth street. So I figure there is no way this guy can't fear my three clubs showing at this point, and I have him on a high hand because he did not bet out until "catching bad" for low with his Jack on 5th street. I expected he might fold here, but figured he might not since it only costs him another $2 bet to see 6th street, but at the least I knew I was setting this guy up such that if I made another open club on 6th street, or he caught a worthless card, I was going to double-bet him again and he would have to fold. This is a perfect example of an aggressive play, where my actual hand is more or less terrible here and almost surely behind his, but where I think I can set up my opponent to fold and allow me to scoop the entire pot on a later straight. It's really very similar to limping in with Kh6h in holdem, the flop brings Ah9h3s, and you bet out on the flop after three checks to you. You're betting your draw, you don't have anything yet and are likely behind, at least to anyone holding an Ace, and yet you bet it, hoping to either win the pot right there, or to be able to bet someone out of the pot (or hit your draw) on the turn or the river.

So 6th street comes in the hand above (my opponent called my raise on 5th street above), and for me it's basically a dream card:

You will notice that this guy led out again, when he presumably open-paired his Aces to go along with his split pair of Jacks for a two pair. And at this point, I had to raise again. I had raised him with an obvious high hand on 5th street, representing a flush with my three clubs on the board, and now I made a fourth club. He doesn't know that I'm full of shite with the flush business, and given my betting, I think it was a hideous move on his part to lead out again with what was most likely two pairs, against what he had to think was a made flush at this point. So he led out, and I raised him again. Shockingly, he called me again, at that point presumably just hoping to make a boat on 7th street, or something (I never can understand these hilo players at the $1-$2 level).

And here was 7th street:

Talk about a miracle card! Notice, finally it dawned on this guy that I must have a flush, as he checked to me, I bet my made flush on 7th street, and he had to call:

and I took down a huge pot for this game. Now, mind you if I had not hit my long shot flush on 7th street, I would have ended up losing this big pot to what I'm sure was his two pairs. But, that doesn't change the fact that I liked my play, especially when I made the 4th open club on 6th street. Any reasonably skilled player would have had to fold his hand at that point. Aggression is key.

Another great aspect of the aggressive nature of good hilo play is betting out, even if you don't love your hand right now, when your board is either the clear highest or the clear lowest of the remaining players (and there are more than two total players left in the hand). In other words, if you have KQA2 (with only the A and the 2 showing), and another player is in with xx3K, and a third player with xx7J. Yes, you know you don't have shite for low. But they don't know that. All they see is a guy who called a bet on 3rd street, and clearly now looks like he's building a great low hand. And they both just caught bad, so my board is significantly better for low than both of their hands that are visible right now. Here is a great opportunity to bet. It gets (at least) one of those players out of the hand in most cases, which increases your chances of winning the hand in and of itself, and it also has a chance of chasing out both players, if they don't like what they have for high, and they know I have an Ace showing (for a possible split pair of Aces already).

There are lots of examples of just this kind of play:

Here is a situation where I actually figured I was currently ahead on both the high (pair of 5s) and the low (three card low so far) here, so I bet out, even though I don't exactly have much of a hand yet here. My opponent quick-folded after this play:

Similarly, here is another situation where my opponent quick-folded to my betting out on fourth street, when I had 2 cards to a low and a possible straight showing, and I guessed (correctly, it turns out) that my opponent had nothing but a busted low draw when that King fell on 4th:

Next is a great example of a hand where I figured I was probably behind, at least on the low side and probably going both ways, on 4th street, but I went ahead and led out anyways. Why? Because my board was the lowest, lower than even the guy to my left with the 72 showing. I had an A6 showing, so that could be not only a low hand but a very good low hand. The guy to my left thought for a few seconds, clearly (to me) indicative of him having one more decent low card underneath (but not two more, or he likely would have called to see one more card to him and me here), and decided he had to fold his drawing hand. And then the other opponent also folded because he had just "busted" his low with the 9 on 4th street, and didn't want to go up against my Ace showing for high (a correct hilo decision, in my view). So again, in all of these examples, I am betting without much of (or in some cases, any) real hand to speak of, and yet I am doing it in controlled, planned ways and in the proper strategic context, and I am winning a lot of small pots in so doing where I didn't really have anything, but neither did anyone else. Does that sound like the way I play any other poker games to anyone out there? Exactly:

This is another very similar hand to the one immediately above, where I had not much showing on the board, but figured that my AK in the hole was probably, at this point in the hand, the best high hand out there. So, I bet at it with 3 players in the pot:

In this case, the play had the desired result as the guy to my left quickly folded, leaving my other opponent up top to fight for the low, and I ended up pairing my Kings to take down the high part of the pot. And who knows if the guy to my left would have beaten that pair of Kings for high if I had allowed him to stick around. Instead I won 4 or 5 dollars by making a solid, aggressive play early where I felt I likely had an avantage, and that advantage seemed vulnerable if I continued to let others stick around and see more cards.

Here is a solid pot I won when I made a very well-concealed low hand, and played it along the way as if I was going high all along. This enabled me to put in a stealth raise on the end, and get the crying call from an opponent who might even have known at that point he had lost:

Another $19 and change to my stack:

God how I love seeing that "Muck" on someone else's avatar on pokerstars.

Lastly, I will end today with this hand, probably my favorite hand from last night's hilo action, not only because it was a large pot to me, but because I nabbed a good $10 from drraz, the formerly successful Hoy tournament player, by playing aggressively with what started out as an excellent drawing hand and ended up flourishing into a downright kickass hilo hand for me. Things started innocently enough, with me calling with a great low hand on 3rd street:

Notice btw this is one of my hilo secrets -- I very rarely raise it up on 3rd street. Although I will raise with the true monster starting hands in this game -- rolled up trips, or three suited low cards with straight possibilities -- in most cases, in general I like to disguise my other good starting hands by usually only limping in. So here I am in the pot early, I've got an excellent starting hand, and yet no one can really put me on nearly as excellent of a hand as I have, because I limp all the time in this game.

This deception comes in very handy, when on 4th street I hit a high card, and one that is suited, and then I call a $1 bet with that:

Here, I figured that my AJ probably gave me the highest high hand right now, and plus deep down I also knew I still had a very solid low draw, so the call with two players already in, and with two of the three players still alive in the hand both pretty clearly going low, was pretty automatic here when you take an aggressive standpoint.

On 5th street, I got a 2, giving me 4 cards to a very solid 6 low. The player on my left had picked up an open pair of 9s on 5th street, so he bet out, drraz just called, and I just called too even though I had this great drawing hand for low. This play worked because I had already bet out from the get-go as if I was working on a high hand, maybe a possible flush, etc. So I thought it made sense here to feign a lack of strength, take one more card and see where I'm at before pounding it with what would hopefully seem like a lot of deception about what kind of hand I was on.

Then on 6th street, Drraz picked up an 8, giving him 2478 on his board showing, for an obvious low. But I nailed my 6, making me the 6-low that I had been after, and basically almost ensuring me the low end of the pot (drraz would have had to have been absolutely perfect underneath, and have caught perfect on 7th street as well, in order to beat me with a 6-4 low). So when the player to my left, who had two 9s showing, bet out on 6th street, drraz made the mistake of raising it up to try to isolate and get me and my potential low hand out. And this was where I sprung the trap, re-reraising it to 6 with what I more or less knew to be the better low hand:

Thanks to my aggression and deception earlier in the hand, drraz clearly didn't know what to make of this play, so he just called. My only regret is that the player going high to my left did not have the good sense to cap it there at 8, putting drraz in the middle and getting an extra $2 for each of us on this round of betting. But you know, you can't make the fish play well, you just have deal with what they bring to the table, so what can you do. And incidentally, I also liked this raise here by me, because I had a draw at an inside straight that I had reason to believe would beat the two-pairs that the guy on my left was most likely working on at that point. If I had hit the 3 on the river, I had a great chance of scooping the whole pot, and I already knew I had the low half more or less locked up as it was, so that extra raise by me there was pure freeroll. In the end, I did not make the inside straight, but I did take the low half of what had grown to be a pretty good-sized pot, and sent drraz to grumble to me on the girly chat about how he needs to learn this game better.

In all, another winning session of hilo and I'm not going to complain one bit about that. Hopefully this has been illustrative for those of you who are interested in learning about some other poker variants. At the least I hope it shows clearly again how aggression is the name of the game when it comes to most poker games, in particular online and at the $1-$2 limits.

I might be able to do the WWdN Not tonight, but it may be unlikely. This is Hammer Wife's birthday today, and we're going out to a fattay dinner and who knows what else after that. Heh heh. Either way I'll be back tomorrow for my final post before a week's vacation at the beach. But more on that tomorrow.


Blogger TripJax said...

Yeah, I played uber-aggro from start to finish. It felt right and is the only way I feel comfortable playing. I obviously switch it up when need be, but more often than not I'm striking it up.

Thanks for the props.

6:47 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Nice stud hands Hoy. You know, I've only been reading for a month or two and haven't gone through you're archives, but I STILL haven't seen a post from you that has anything to do with anything but poker. An all-business blogger. Keep up the good work.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Falstaff said...

Good stuff, it reiterates some of what Absinthe and Maigrey were telling me at the HORSE game about working the low and backing into the high, especially the last hand. Are you as stoked as I am that Stars will soon be spreading Razz?

9:14 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I didn't know Stars was going to start with Razz, Falstaff. That is great. I will definitely check that out. Anything to get away from full tilt and their HORSE tourneys where I have to go from getting nothing but high pocket pairs in Razz immediately to getting nothing but crap in the hole in stud high. The FTP Razz games really drive me crazy.

12:01 AM  

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