Wednesday, August 02, 2006

WWdN, and My "AK on the Flop" Thoughts

"I just put a static warp bubble around Wil's ass!"
           -- Aquaverse
, approximately 10:15pm ET Tuesday


I'm going to give my comments in a second to the AK scenario I presented in yesterday's post. Thanks to everyone for the insightful comments, almost all of which I found very intelligent, and many of which I agreed with as I'll get to in a few minutes. But first, I would be remiss if I failed to mention what happened in the WWdN tournament last night. Wil Wheaton made his triumphant return to his own tournament after several weeks off partying with poker bloggers / writers in Vegas, and he was immediately seated at a table to the right of my brother Aquaverse, or as I like to think of him, "Little Hoy Boy". As you know it's always fun having Wil at your table because, not only is he a genuinely cool and funny guy, but if you knock him out of his weekly WWdN tournament, you get the next week's tournament named after you. So Aqua hit me on the IM right away to let me know that he was seated next to Wil, and I told him to be aggressive and take care of business while he had the chance.

As an aside, if you're wondering, yes this entire WWdN recap will focus on Aqua rather than myself. Why, you ask? Well, how about Bobby Bracelet just smooth called with AK from the BB when I happened to have put in a steal-raise from the button with KTs. Of course a King hit the flop, and Bobby just sat back while I gave him about a third of my stack early on. But I managed to work my way back up to over 1000 chips, when I put in my standard 4x preflop raise from early middle position with AKo. At the end of the table, Aggro-Boy SoxLover reraised me, but not much. Although it looked almost like a come-on bet, and Soxy is clearly the kind of guy who would make such a trappy play, especially against me and doubly especially given the large stack he had already amassed in the first few minutes of the event, I was short already, and we all know Sox "may have two cards" when he reraises preflop. He'd make that move with the Hammer, with Aces, with AJs, or smtl or any other hand that he felt like pushing me off my hand with. So I re-reraised allin. Sox called for another 800 or so, and flipped up 88. Of course, I didn't improve and IWH in 55th place out of 56 players (thanks Matt for saving my ass at the very last second!), and as per usual with me of late, I'm going to question his play.

I raised this pot preflop from early-middle position, and then re-reraised Sox allin after he reraised from late position. At this point there is almost no way I could possibly have a pair lower than his, and thus, at the best Sox can realistically hope for here is that I'm going to have two overs, and he will be a 51% favorite. So he had put together a nice pile of chips in the first few minutes, definitely over twice the average stack and in the top couple of spots in the standings, and he risked about a third of that stack on what he could only reasonably believe was probably about a 50% chance of him being dominated by my higher pair and thus a greater than 4 to 1 dog, and a 50% chance of him being a 51% favorite over my two high cards.

[Warning: Hyper Simple Expected Value Calculation Coming.]

So, with a 50% chance of being a 20% dog, and a 50% chance of being a 51% favorite, that means Sox's overall EV of making that call is (20% x 50%) or 10%, plus (51% x 50%) or 26.5%. So, 10% plus 26.5% means Sox's overall EV for calling my preflop allin re-reraise is 36.5%. Calling an allin after you've built up a nice stack early, when your expected chance of winning is only 36.5%, is a questionable move in my book. But I say "questionable" and not "terrible" because the pot odds were probably very close at that point for Sox to call, mostly because of the chips he had already put in with his preflop reraise with the pocket 8s. I figure my re-reraise required Sox to bet about 700 chips to win a pot of around 2100 chips when all was said and done. So he was getting around 3 to 1 odds from the pot to make a call on a 36.5% shot in my estimation. So I won't kill the guy for that move. But he could have folded.

So anyways, getting back to the real WWdN story on Tuesday night, after I went out second, I didn't follow the tournament much for a while. I loaded up two different 2-4 stud hilo cash tables (yes, the other day I moved up from 1-2 to 2-4, and have since had two winning sessions in three attempts). And I also played the ftp 20k, along with Iak who went out earlier than I because I saw him later in the 15k and not in the 20k while I was still in. So I'm grinding away at the hilo cash tables and just starting off in the 20k, and suddenly that fateful IM pops up on my screen from Aquaverse:

"I just put a static warp bubble around Wil's ass!"

Now I'm not a huge star trek fan, but if that isn't the dorkiest way of saying you just eliminated Wesley Crusher from his own poker tournament, then I don't know what is. Nonetheless, little bro you got it done, nice work, and we'll all be seeing Aquaverse's name up in lights for next Tuesday night's WWdN tournament.

And the worst best part about it is, Aqua went on to take down the entire WWdN tournament as well, winning himself $165 in cash money, and about 10 grand in glory dollars that he will get to gloat with for at least the next few weeks. Never mind that I can play circles around Aqua at Holdem or any other form of poker. And don't think about the fact that I've played in probably 30 WWdN tournaments and have never finished higher than 3rd place, and this is maybe Aquaverse's 6th WWdN or so and he's already won one now. I keep telling myself not to think anout those things, not to be jealous and just to be happy for my brother. The guy knocked out Wil and went on 2 hours later to win the entire tournament, so again don't forget to congratulate the little hoy boy the next time you see him online. Biatch motherfucker.

OK, so about the AK hand I presented in yesterday's post. For a recap, here is the setup:

So Mr. Victim is in early position and looks down to find AKo. He raises it up 3x preflop from EP. It is folded around to the button, an aggressive player who has been known to play all kinds of junk even for small raises preflop. Mr. Aggressive calls the 3x raise, and we go to a flop heads-up. The flop comes 9-9-7. Mr. Aggressive checks. Mr. Victim moves allin with his Ace-King high, and is quickly called by Mr. Aggressive, who flips over 96o for a set of flopped trips and the victory, eliminating Mr. Victim from the tournament in a most unceremonious fashion.

First of all, let me begin by agreeing with many of the commenters, calling a 3x raise preflop with 96o is not good poker. Period. I don't want to hear about implied odds, or how Daniel Negreanu plays this kind of hand all the time on High Stakes Poker, or about advertising. I'm all for all these things, at the right time. 96o against an early position preflop raiser is not that right time. Ideally, you'd rather play the weak hand as the first raiser in the pot, and when you do it, you want to have some kind of connecting cards, sOOOOOted cards, moderate-to-high cards, something to go on. Deciding to call a 3x preflop raise from EP with 96o is bad poker. You can do it from time to time if you so choose, but don't kid yourself that just because Danny Boy excels sufficiently in reading other players that he can get away from this hand when he flops to it, that means you can too. There's a reason why Daniel Negreanu is sitting on TV on the Game Show Network throwing 5 wads of 100 grand each into the pot, and has written a chapter in Super System 2, while we sit in our underwear nightly at our computers until 2am every day trying to win that lousy $3 rebuy tournament against 1500 other donkeys. Daniel can do that. You cannot. Calling with the 96o there was foolish, plain and simple. Implied odds my ass. If you're going to use implied odds to justify that play, then you can justify any stoopid donkeymove by just saying "implied odds". Stupid.

The more interesting piece of my question yesterday, however, was the AK pushing on the 997 flop after a check from the guy who called the preflop 3x raise. Most of the commenters seem to agree that this was a bad move. I'm here to tell you it is not a bad play.
It's a horrendous play. Donkey doesn't even begin to describe how bad that play was in my book. Here's my reasoning, much of which duplicates points made in the comments to yesterday's post. There are two major issues with pushing the AK on the flop here:

1. Betting at all. You raised 3x from EP, and the guy flat called your 3x raise. Putting him on a range of hands, a low to medium pair is the most likely holding in my view. AK, AQ or maybe KQ is always possible, but those would be truly bad plays on his part. Reraise with those hands if you want to find out early if they're good. But don't flat call and then hit a flop, only to find out at the river about 2000 chips later that your KQ was dominated by the EP preflop raiser's AK all along. So I don't think two high cards is as likely to smooth call here as a middle pair. Another real possibility is middle suited connectors. Lots of people like to call a not-too-large raise preflop with 78s, 89s, T9s, etc. If your opponent is a bit looser, you can even throw the middle suited one-gappers into the mix of possible calling hands there as well -- hands like J9s, T8s (commonly known as "The Mookie"), etc. But I figure a high pocket pair would have definitely reraised there, and high cards would have more likely raised or folded than flat called there in LP preflop.

So, long story short, it is likely that this guy has some kind of middle suited connectors or a low to middle pocket pair to have called your preflop raise. Now on the flop of 997, you have nothing, and he likely has a low to middle pair, or middle connectors which could in many ways have connected with this hand. He could have T9 or 98, he could have J9s or 97s, all of which give him top pair. He could have any low to middle pair. He could have 86s or T8s, giving him an oesd. I'm not saying you know he is ahead, but you do know that he called an EP preflop raise, indicating that he has something. And now on the flop you know that you have nothing but Ace-high, against a player who already told you preflop that he most likely either has a low to medium pair, which your AK is behind, or some kind of middle connectors, in which case you are also likely behind. Why would you ever want to get too involved here, let alone ever move in on the flop like that? Take into account that this was against a known aggressive player as well, and his check to you on the flop doesn't give me much comfort either. I'm figuring, if he had called my 3x preflop raise with an AQ or AK type of hand, wouldn't he have likely bet out here to try to take it down against what could have been a 44 or 55 type of hand from you, or even an AQ or AK type of hand yourself? Again, I'm not saying that the check made it obvious or anything that he was strong, but it gives me no comfort at all.

2. The size of the bet. This is the most key point I have to make about the push in this scenario. Many of the commenters picked up on this point, and it is absolutely correct. One of the basic precepts of any complete poker strategy is that you never want to make a bet that will only be called by hands that beat you. Almost every poker book I've ever read says this, but I'm not sure everyone fully understands it, so let me explain with an example. In fact, we can use this example since it so perfectly shows what is wrong with the AK push on the flop here.

Once Mr. Aggressive called the 3x preflop raise by Mr. Victim, Victim can put Aggro on a range of hands as discussed above that includes mainly low to middle pocket pairs, and middle suited connectors. It's also possible that Aggro called with two overs like AJ, AQ, KQ or even AK. Somewhat unlikely as I mentioned above, but possible.

However, once the 997 flop hits, when you bet allin into a 600 chip pot for your last 2500 chips, let's see what happens.

If your opponent has AT, AJ, KJ, KQ or a similar hand with just the two overs, he almost certainly folds. AQ he probably also has to fold since he's got nothing and not even the two highest kickers to go with that raggy flop. Even if he is also holding AK here, I think it is more than reasonable for him to assume that, since you came out raising preflop and have now moved allin on a raggy flop, you have some kind of a pair or some hand here, and he would fold his AK as well. And those my friends are the only reasonable hands you can beat here. So, with the hands he could reasonably hold given the preflop action and the check on the flop, he will fold his AT, AJ, QJ, etc. all the way up to and including AK. So anything you could beat, he will fold.

The problem is, if he has as much as a pair of 2s, he might call. Move that up to a pair of 5s or 6s, and he will almost certainly call. And of course anything with a 7, a 9, an oesd, all those things he is likely to call you with. And you're going to be behind, in most cases very behind, with just two cards to come to catch one of your six outs. Unless you like more than 3-to-1 underdogs, that's not a good place to be moving all your chips in with.

So you can see the problem here. When you move allin on the flop with your AK-nothing, if he has a hand you can beat (AQ, AJ, KQ, etc.), he's going to fold. So you're not getting paid one penny on that bet when you make it. And, if he has a hand that can beat you, like the pair or the middle connectors that he has represented since calling your EP preflop raise, then he's likely to call your allin bet on the flop, and you're going to lose. So, jumping back to our EV calculations for a minute again, there is I would say a 33% chance that he has just two high cards, in which case you will make 0 dollars with your flop push since he's going to fold. And I would estimate, given his preflop action, that there is a 66% chance that he has a pair, a 9, a 7 or a powerful draw, in which case you're going to lose all of your chips. So, the admittedly overly-simplistic formula for your Expected Value for the flop push here is:

33% x 0 chips if he has just AQ-high or worse, plus 66% x -2500 chips if you do lose. Or, 0 plus negative 1700 chips or so. In actuality it is not that bad because there is still some chance in many of those scenarios that you would hit an Ace or a King on the turn or river and steal a victory, but even that will only change the mathematics of this calculation in a minimal way, leaving the EV at well south of negative 1000 chips. In other words, pushing here is a horribly negative EV move. The much better move, other than just check-folding like I would have opted to do in this situation unless an Ace or King came on the turn, would have been to bet half the pot, or maybe a bit more. Enough to win the pot if he has the AJ or AQ hands we mentioned above, but also little enough that if he calls or raises, you know you're not putting one more dollar into this pot, unless again maybe an Ace or King comes on the turn (even then I'd be wary about sinking any more chips here after the check on the flop followed by the smooth call of your half-pot bet).

When people say you can't make a bet that will only be called by hands that beat you, this is exactly what they mean. If you're going to put your tournament on the line by betting it all here, you had better at least make sure there are some realistic hands that your opponent could be holding given the way he has played so far, that he is also likely to call your allin bet with if he actually has them. Otherwise you are basically just giving your opponent a freeroll in case he's been slowplaying something. Never make a bet that can't be called by a weaker hand than yours.

10 Comments:

Blogger jjok said...

very insightful.....good post man.

11:04 PM  
Blogger aquaverse said...

That was my crowning achievement last night. Thanks for the props bro. Don't worry, you'll win the WWDN eventually. And, as an aside, I still think "Mr. Victim" made the right play.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

"Mr. Victim" is a phucking idiot.

11:22 PM  
Blogger SoxLover said...

I think the action was someone on my left 150 (25-50) blinds, I called, and you raised. Many players I fold to there but not you. I think that the range you have me putting you on is too narrow also. Sensing weakness (you know me, would I smooth call with a monster preflop? Ok maybe) you might be making a squeeze play knowing the first player has to worry about both of us. So my range for you was much wider than just overs and overpairs.

Overpair was definitely a possiblity, but I put overs most likely, and did not rule out someting worse like A7 or 55 (I don't think you'd intentionally put those hands in a 2 or 3 way situation, but they're not a bad fall back if your main play is to get us to fold).

And as you said, I had a lot of chips (having busted Matt first, yw), and knew that even if I lost, I'd still have an above average stack. Plus, I knew that if I won, I wouldn't have you on my left anymore...

12:11 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Versus zero fold equity no way is that AK worth pushing on a 9 9 7 flop.

You hear the pros at the WSOP talking about "overly-aggressive internet donkeys", that's a prime example.

12:45 AM  
Blogger NewinNov said...

Thanks for your comments about my dokey play at the WWDN. Now on to read your latest post, as jjok says, it's "insightful".

12:48 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

If you keep this sort of posting up, a large number of bloggers will owe you drinks at blogger gatherings, Hoy.

Rock on, bro. Well done.

2:02 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Lol...don't feel bad for not winning one Hoy. Has nothing to do with your abilities. Aqua played well and deserves it, but even I donked my way to a WWdN win. But I wasn't blogging then, so doesn't count really.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

My new motto: "I bust first so you don't have to." Glad I could save what little dignity you have left. ;-)

3:51 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Thanks for making it to The Mookie last night. It was cool playing at your table and even dropping a Hoy.

10:36 PM  

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