Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pushing the Edges in Hilo

Last night was another fun night of poker for me, albeit not on the holdem tournament front (what else is new). The Mookie was a blast as always, with a whopping 60 players signing up in another all-time record for the Mookie since the switch to full tilt (thanks in part to Al for the ongoing pimpage). I did ok and lasted I believe to early in the second hour, but I got no cards to speak of throughout the tournament, which eventually led me to push in with AJs, which ran into Al's AQo, and IGH around the middle of the pack.

I also played Mookie's Second Chance tournament, which is a $5 turbo event that Mookie has started running 90 minutes after the start of the original Mookie event, and that one was even more like my recent nlh tournament experiences. There I limped in from late position with KTo to see a heads-up flop with just Lifesagrind, who was in the big blind. The flop comes KQJ, giving me top pair decent kicker as well as an oesd. Grind bets out at this flop for the size of the pot (200). I put him on some kind of pair, Queens maybe, but remember he did not raise it preflop so I'm not putting him on a monster or anything. I proceed to count my outs with my KT hand. #1 I'm probably ahead now, but assuming maybe Grind has made two pairs with QJ or something, I'm figuring any King likely wins it for me (there are 2), and any Ace (4) or any Nine (4) gives me the nut straight as well. Plus, a Ten on the board would make a possible straight, but again since Grind did not raise preflop I can't exactly predict he has an Ace in his hand. I will count the Ten possibility as maybe 1 more out (even though there are actually three left in the deck). So, that is 11 outs. On the flop, I've got 11 outs to win, plus I am probably already ahead, and there is lots of fold equity as well. So I push with my KT on the KQJ board. Grind smiles slyly (of course I can't see his face, but I know a sly smiler when I play one), instacalls and shows me....

T9s. The limped-in and then flopped straight, when I also flop top pair good kicker as well as an oesd. Gotta love it. And IGH, the 4th one out of the Mookie 2 as I recall. So unsurprisingly, it was not a fun night of holdem for me, though I was loving the 60-person gathering at the Mookie in terms of sheer breadth of participation among the blogging crew.

Other than the Mookie tournaments, I spent my poker time last night playing lots of cash games. I played in a PLO multi-table tournament where I am profiling a hand for Card Squad today, so I'd love if you want to head over to Card Squad and give your comments to this hand as it goes along -- I think it will be very instructive on smart tournament Omaha-high play. I also two-tabled 2-4 razz again for a bit, ending down around $30 overall after a pair of sickening beats, both by players who had 3 perfect cards face-down in their hands and two of the brickiest bricks that ever bricked face-up for me to see. I'm talking like boards of 6K4K and QJ52 showing, and both busting out with a wheel or A2346 low hands. Not much you can do about that, sucking out is a major part of any 7-stud game like razz, which is why you don't usually find these games played in no-limit format. Some form of limit is just much more conducive to a game like 7-stud or Omaha, where there are no really big edges early on in the hands, and where drawing out on people is just how the game works. In holdem, on the other hand, no-limit is more pallatable as a concept because you can get your money in more or less knowing you are an 80%+ favorite with just two cards to come.

I also played quite a bit of stud hilo cash for the first time in a while, also at the 2-4 level as I try to grind out my bonus on full tilt. And I thought I would review a hand of hilo yesterday that illustrates one of my major tenets of hilo cash play -- pushing hard when you have an edge.

As I was saying above, in 7-card stud games, things can turn on a dime. Since there are not 5 common cards out of everyone's 7 cards from which to make one's best 5-card poker hand, really anything can happen in stud games with the release of one more card for everyone in the hand -- players can pick up hidden trips, two pairs, straights, flushes, and all variations of these hands, or draws to these hands. For this reason, I always try to practice the virtue of pushing the edges when I know from a look at the board that I am most likely currently ahead. At the end of the day when I review my play, the big hands I've won more often than not occur in situations like on 5th street where, although anything could have happened with the later cards to change things, I chose to force my opponent to either fold or to put in extra bets when I was taking the best of it. Either my opponent fails to improve and folds to a bet from me on a later street, or stays in to the end and loses to my hand, or since I have a strong enough hand to be ahead on 5th street, sometimes I improve my hand to a real monster and take the pot down in the end. Either way, it is because I pressed my opponent early and forced him to commit chips as an underdog that I make much of my profit in stud-format cash games.

Last night, for example, I was playing 2-4 hilo on full tilt, and I picked up a totally hidden two pairs on 5th street (2K)2QK, with both my opponent and myself clearly going high and not low. So I knew the whole pot was at stake, and I checked my hidden good hand to my opponent, who bet out $4 with a board of 8TJ.

With an 8TJ showing and him raising on 5th street, I have got to put this guy on some kind of a straight draw here, or maybe two pairs of some kind (but not as high as my two pairs). So I figure he's probably got a 9 underneath. Could he have a made straight already on 5th street? Of course it's possible, but looking at my hand I am holding one Queen and two of the Kings, making those cards less likely holdings for my opponent. With the general unlikelhood of making a made straight through 5 cards, combined with my holding 3 of the 8 cards he would need to make the higher end of the straight his board is showing, I should still be in front here, and it's far more likely that he's on a straight draw than an actual straight. So, since I've got him on a draw that is behind my made two pair hand, I want to punish this guy now and make him pay me extra big bets when I'm fairly sure I'm ahead. Sure it's easy for me to just call his raise and leave it at that, picturing the Q9 he must have facedown on his hand, but that is simply not nearly as likely as just a 9 and something else under there, even given the betting so far. I believe I'm ahead, so I raise him up to $8.

My opponent pauses for a few seconds, and then this:



A reraise to $12. Now I've got to consider that he's definitely at least open-ended, maybe open-ended with a pair or an Ace. Or maybe trips, since I see a lot of people willing to bet hard with trips in an early round of stud games due to their chances to boat up and win a big hand with a monster. Either way, with the two high pairs (and him with no Aces showing), I still like my hand here -- either I'm ahead, or I have a draw to a winning boat. So I kick it baby one more time:



Sixth street brings my opponent a raggy 5, and me a 3 of diamonds, which also gives me a flush draw heading into 7th street that would also be a winning hand against the range I believe my opponent is holding. I have to bet out here again -- if he reraises me here, then I will more or less know that he's got the made straight. I'll still call at this point because of my redraws to the flush and the boat, but at least I'll know for sure I'm behind. If he does have a straight, there is no way he will let me get out of this round with only one bet and call. He'll reraise with any made good hand here since we're already on the expensive streets and since he'll only have one more chance on 7th street to get $4 more out of me if he doesn't get paid on his made hand now on 6th and again on 7th. So I bet out for $4, and my opponent smooth calls.

With the smooth call on 6th after the raggy 5 fell, I'm thinking this guy probably is just open-ended with a pair of some kind. As I said, he is a jackmonkey if he's slowplaying me here with a made straight, so I'm not going to put him on that kind of donkeyplay without a good reason. He is not as happy now as he was on 5th street, which again tells me that the 10 he got on 5th made him open-ended, plus something else probably to justify the max raising on 5th.

And 7th street cometh:



Bingo!! I've made my boat. Now, since I think he was drawing but missed on 6th street, and the odds are significantly in favor of him having missed again on 7th, I don't want to check-raise here. He's not going to put $4 more into the pot unless he hit his unlikely oesd draw on 7th street, which is about 5-to-1 against at this point in the hand. So I need to make him put in the $4 here just to see what I have. And since I have made my boat here on the end, I don't have to worry a bit about him reraising me. That would be my dream. I'll reraise his ass with that board showing every day of the week and cap it on sunday. So I bet it out for $4 more on 7th street, and again my opponent smooth calls, indicating that I have obviously beaten him. So there is little surprise when he flips up:



Just as I suspected, he drew a hidden pair early in the hand, and then went a little crazy when he also spiked an open end straight draw on 5th street with still two cards to come. Ironically, since he hit trip 8s on the end himself, I actually needed that 2 on 7th street or else I would have lost a big pot. But this is why I always try to push the edges in hilo. I make my opponents pay to stay in almost every time when I believe I am ahead, betting, calling and even raising when I think I've got the best of it right now. I can win with this strategy if my opponent folds to my bet, or if he calls when he's behind then I'm also winning right there from a strictly EV perspective. Plus, when I've got a strong hand that also typically gives me a decent shot in 7-stud games to redraw to something even stronger, and again it behooves me to have forced my opponents to put in a lot of chips to get to where I hit my monster on the end. Slowplaying in limit stud-format games has a time and a place, usually in my experience either very early in the hand, to plant an impression of weakness and spread misinformation about your starting cards, or at the very end of hands to try to elicit extra big bets by using the checkraise. But in the middle of stud hands, I believe in pushing the edges I find, and this has doubtless been a long-term profitable stud strategy for me over my poker career.

7 Comments:

Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

I have started playing stud hi-lo lately myself. I am not quite confident enough to play at the 2-4 level, but I have ventured into the 1-2 level, and I have to say that taking people's money is just about too easy. For reasons that I can't understand (possibly because they are HE players that are new to stud?), people put way too much value on high pairs, and especially on trips. They will continue to call bets -and even reraise- when I am showing a 4 flush or straight, and generally can't even let go of it on 7th street when it should be clear that their hand is beat (unless they just assume that I am really betting that hard on a missed draw; assuming that my Jack high is good enough to take it down?).

I absolutely agree with pushing hard through the middle of hand. If you are playing a hand that can be drawn out against, particularly something like 2 pair, you really want to make them pay huge to try to hit their outs. Unfortunately they do hit those outs sometimes, and you will lose some hands when they catch their straight on 7th street, but if you continue to push hard through the middle of a hand, everyone at the table will know that they are going to have to pay big for the chance to hit their draws. Of course that is assuming that the people at the table actually pay attention to your play or betting patterns, which is probably giving them entirely too much credit; it wouldn't be so easy to take their money if they actually paid that much attention.

One other thing to note about playing cash hi-lo is that I generally don't get mad when I lose to the miracle card on seventh street. That just means that my opponent was willing to call big bets on a couple of streets when he was drawing to 4 (or fewer) outs. Those are the type of players that I want to give my most sincere compliments to in Ye Olde Chat Box. You really want to keep around the guy that is going to pay you off 80% of the time.

2:50 AM  
Blogger Poker Jones said...

You might want to check your hand histories (or maybe not). I was in that hand in the Second Chance with you. You opened for 150 from LP and I called the extra 100 from the BB with 10h-9h. Lucky break for me.

3:01 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

He could have had trips on 4th (88)/J8... FT resets Stud hands at showdown.

That would explain the 3-bet.

3:01 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Hey Hoy. I want your opinion on a style of play when playing Stud H/L or any of the Stud games (razz included). I play a very dumbed down strategy for the most part, betting whenever I think I'm ahead (and sometimes when I think my board will force out other players, but that's another thing altogether). I never slowplay because I think there is more potential to be sucked out, since its a limit game and people love draws. So, I bet bet bet, hoping that players will fold and I'll win outright, even though I'm already ahead. If they call, so be it, since I think I'm ahead. As I mentioned, its a very dumbed down strategy that involves playing your cards with some reference to the other boards, but little analysis as to when you can check-raise successfully. Opinion?

3:28 AM  
Blogger Lifesagrind said...

I didn't actually play in the 2nd chance last night so it wasn't me.

I can see how I would be an intimidating enough player though that everytime you got spanked you would think of me. :)

4:54 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Ha yes Hacker is right, my bad. It was hacker and not lifesagrind in that hand. Well played hacker in any event. Or should I say, well flopped.

7:14 AM  
Blogger GrayCalx said...

Hoy, I'm sorry to get off topic but after viewing the CardSquad link I read the article about how Netteller has decided to conform to the Gambling/Bank Act that was just signed. Are you going to comment soon? I'm looking forward to hearing your views now...
CardSquad article

11:44 PM  

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