Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday Night Poker, and a Fun Razz Hand

Last night I got a late start at the virtual tables, but I made up for it on the other end by staying up late to grind it out at a particularly weak cash table I was playing at. Remember, a new goal I have right now is to find a way to earn out the entire $500 bonus I am owed right now by full tilt. I took full advantage of their 50% reload bonus after I had removed much of my money from my online poker accounts amid the uncertainty surrounding the initial passing of the anti-gaming-transfers bill in the Senate, and I fully plan to get that entire $500 in bonus paid back to me, even with full tilt's less than generous bonus payout schedule. Yesterday I began this new quest by playing 2-4 limit razz for the first time, earning about $6 of bonus over an hour and a half, and making a nice profit in the game in the process. Last night I kicked that up a notch by two-tabling 2-4 razz on full tilt. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

First things first, I skipped the WWdN tonight as the Hammer Wife and I have a friend in town from the San Francisco area and I wanted to spend some time hanging with the group. I don't usually miss Wil's weekly flagship blogger tournament, but I don't get to see E. often since she moved to the west coast, and hey let's be honest, with the way my holdem tournament game is running recently, I would be the biggest donator in the tournament. So that was a rare miss for me, as was the 20k at 10pm ET on full tilt, which I also skipped while hanging out with E. But although I missed my favorite nightly mtt at 10pm, I did manage to get in to the Midnight Madness tournament at -- well -- midnight, ET. This would be my only holdem tournament of the night, as I am still feeling very tilty in general about nlh tournaments just now after a sick series of bad beats and unlucky draws over the past couple of weeks. But I saw the Midnight Madness tournament about to start when I logged on, so I went for it.

And I went out of it. Less than 30 minutes in (what a phucking surprise!). When I got allin preflop here against a guy I read as making a weak raise preflop:



which brought this lovely board:



I am telling you, where you want to be is playing me in a no-limit holdem tournament right about now. You want to be seeing flops against me, playing pots against me, the more involvement with me, and the worse your cards are, the better. Basically anytime anyone makes a particularly ill-advised move against me in a hand -- like this duncemonkey above who allin-reraised me with just KQ preflop after I had already raised it up 3x from first position -- they are getting rewarded by the poker gods. The dumber the move, the more immediate the phuckage. I mean, look at this guy. I've raised 3x from first position. What is my range there? Any pair maybe, AK, AQ, maybe AJ? And that's it, no? Of course I could have something else, but I had not been playing any kind of crazy thus far into the tournament, and in general I don't play stoopid starting cards from first position anyways, so this guy's range of hands for me could not have realistically been much wider than that, and many people don't even think a first-position raiser would act with a low pocket pair like 2s or 3s either. But my point is, KQs is a 49% dog to pocket pairs 22-JJ, much worse (2-to-1 to 3.5-to-1) against a pair of Queens, Kings or Aces, and is also around a 3-to-1 dog against my most likely high-card holdings of AK or AQ, and more like a 2-to-1 dog against AJs. So, I've already shown maximum strength by raisng 3x preflop from first flipping position, so he has to know I'm not likely to fold to a reraise from him. And, against my likely range of hands, this guy is between 25% and 49% to win. Under no circumstances is he a favorite to win this hand -- none, unless you want to put me on a stone bluff that would make the 3x raise from first position and then also call his allin push reraise. What an effing jackdonkey this guy is. And yet, for his extreme recockulousness, he is rewarded with not one but two kings on the flop, and IGH early. Again. On bullshit. Again. What utter mother fucking shit. It's fucking sludge. Feces-smelling, maggot-infested sludge.

My holdem game has not been working for me lately, have I mentioned that? Yeah, I've been going through a bit of a rough patch.

Anyways, so last night I two-tabled 2-4 razz on full tilt for the first time. I ended up playing both tables for about 3 hours, and earned out around $14 of bonus in the process. It's not a lot, but if I can do $14 a day by 2-tabling a 2-4 cash game for 3 hours, that means that if I can throw in one more cash table at the same time, I should be able to do around $20 a day. It's going to require a lot of determination and frankly less focusing on the nlh tournaments that have been my bankroll's bread and butter thus far over my online poker career, but right about now the idea of less focus on nlh tournaments actually sounds kinda good. I was still mad yesterday about that thought, but after getting refucked and good last night in Midnight Madness, I'm feeling more resolved to just obey the clear commands of the poker gods, much like I did this summer when I went through a similar run.

So anyways, the fun news is that I played tons of great razz last night. And, as a result, I have a fun razz hand to review today, which I think illustrates a number of good points about how to play winning razz, and how you can get scrooged if you don't.

So, the game is 2-4 Razz with seven people at the table. A Jack brings it in, and the next player completes the bet for $2 with an Ace showing. Action is to me. I have 543 with the 3 up. To my immediate left is another Ace up, followed by an 8 up.

My razz strategy generally involves (1) playing the best hands, (2) using my upcards to the fullest advantage possible, and (3) throwing in deception wherever I can to help me get more bets on the later streets when the bets are doubled. So for me, with someone already raising it up on 3rd street with an Ace up, I don't want to alert anyone to the fact that I'm working on three cards to a wheel on my first three cards. I especially want to get those two other low cards behind me to stay in and pay me off when I make a wheel or close to it with a little luck and a lot of cards to come. So I just call here, even though I more or less know I am ahead at this very premature point in the hand with three wheel cards:



Then things were looking even better for me when 4th street fell:



So now I have four cards to a wheel through my first four, and I'm now facing an 8-Ten showing and an A9 showing. Here I am faced with a similar question as I was on third street: Do I try to slowplay here and check? Or just lead out with the small ($2) bet?

In this case, with a 32 showing against a Ten-high board and a 9-high board, I actually think it will look stupider (and more suspicious) if I check here than if I bet. So while on the last street I went out of my way to check in order to disguise the strength of my hand, now on this hand I'm going to bet it out to accomplish that same disguising, just like I would do if I had a good 4-card low or a good 3-card low draw or if I had two bricks underneath. I want to be sure not to set off any bells letting these guys know just how strong my hand is right now -- I went out of my way to check so as not to set off those bells on 3rd street, and now I want to be sure not to do that again here on 4th street, but this time, with my clearly leading board, I need to bet in order not to set off those warning bells in my opponents' heads. So I bet it out. It's a small bet still on 4th street, so I just need someone to call me with something good and hoping I will catch bad on 5th street:



The T8 folds his hand, and the A9 guy calls my small bet. We see 5th street, and I am dealt a 6, giving me the 23456 for a 6-low through 5th street, a very strong holding for this point in any razz hand. Happily, my one remaining opponent also picked up a 7, for a board now of A97 through five cards, so hopefully he is now working on a made 9-low himself through 5th street and might be willing to give me some more action here on the big money streets.

So here I've made a hand that is almost certain to be a winner at the end, especially with a 7 and a 9 showing on my opponent's board. I'm showing 326 in my upcards so this guy probably knows I mean business. How do I extract the most from my opponent on this hand I am almost sure to win the whole pot with sooner or later?

This is where the hand gets really interesting to me. Basically, by betting on 4th street with a 32 showing, and then picking up an open 6 on 5th street, I am thinking my action probably just got killed here. Any reasonably good razz player is not going to call a big bet on 5th street with me showing a 6-low and having bet on earlier streets already as it is, not with two cards above a 6 showing on his own board. So even though I don't know if this guy is a great razz player or not, I felt hamstrung here, that I had to check this street or I knew he would bolt if I bet (or he certainly should have). I figured my best chance given my strong open board was to win maybe 1, maybe two more big bets from him in the rest of the hand, but that's the maximum. My hand just looks too good right now for him to be willing to get into a raising war with me at this point in time. So I check it:



Keep in mind, this check serves another significant purpose in addition to just keeping my opponent hanging around for one more street. Since I'm already thinking I'm only good for 1 or 2 more big bets from my opponent, maximum, in this hand anymore, I am giving this guy a chance to bluff at me with his made 9-high right now, if he is not a skilled player and cannot read me for the strength I obviously have at this point. Maybe I've been bluffing with KQ in the hole. Maybe I have a 6 in the hole and I just paired one of my low cards. Or maybe I have K6 in the hole, and now I've got two bricks already in my hand through just five cards. I never know what my opponent may be thinking, what he may have interpreted one of my previous actions to mean, what exactly he is sitting on in his hand, his tendencies, etc., so sometimes it's nice to give someone a chance to bluff and see where he's at.

And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what this guy did here:



So just like that, I managed to get one more big bet out of my opponent with what I know is the best hand right now and almost surely will be the best hand at the end, where I don't know at all if he would have called on 5th street if I had led out with my huge hand. So now I have to decide how best to respond to his bet on 5th street. Do I just call his raise, and hope to win another big bet or two on 6th or 7th if he hits something good? Or do I check-raise here? Again, my strategy needs to be dictated by whichever approach I believe will maximize my profit from my opponent in this situation.

When I tricked this guy into betting into me on 5th street, my immediate reaction was definitely to slowplay and just smooth call his raise, sticking with the weak theme I had been trying to subtly plant in his head all through this hand. But as I thought it over, I returned to what my expectations had been once I was showing 326 against his A97 -- with such a stronger razz hand showing for me, I thought I would be lucky to get one more big bet (or two, maximum) out of him on the hand. Well, by checking I had gotten one big bet, and it occurred to me that if I raised it up here, very rare is the player with the self-control to lay it down after realizing they've fallen victim to a checkraise on 5th street for just one more big bet in a pot with some 9 small bets or so already in. If he folded to my checkraise, then so be it, I had done my job and gotten one more bet out of him. And I figured he wouldn't fold here, he would wait to see one more card and then make up his mind. But what I just couldn't stomach happening was I just smooth call his bet on 5th street, and then on 6th he picks up a King or something, and then folds without me ever having a chance to get a second big bet from him. With all the cards that he could catch or that I could catch on 6th street to make him shut down, my best chance of getting a second big bet from him in the hand was right now. So I raised it up, letting the cat out of the bag about the strong hand I must have, and hoping for a call anyways from a guy who is just too stubborn to give up yet:



He called! Just as I'd hoped he would. Now I had him in for 2 big bets as well as 6 small bets in the hand, and I was all but assured of winning. This became a guarantee on 6th street, when my opponent caught a Queen and I caught a 7. Now this is where the concept of having a "board lock" comes into play. Not that I had been concerned about the possibility that I was actually behind in this hand, but when I have a made 6-low in razz, and my opponent is showing A97Q, that's called having a board lock. Even if my opponent is perfect underneath in his hole cards (23), and even if he also catches perfect again on 7th street (4), then the best possible low hand he can make now is A2347. Still not as good as the 6-low I already have made. So now I know I am a lock to win the hand with my 6-low. With the hand mathematically won at this point, now I just need to decide whether or not I bet here, or alternatively just check and hope my opponent hits something on 7th street that he's willing to bet with.

To me, I think the cat is pretty clearly out of the bag here. He is working on a 7-low as the best possible low hand he can have, and meanwhile I am showing an excellent 4-card 7 low already just on the board, not counting any low cards I have hidden underneath. He's hit a 9 and a Queen, just on his upcards, whereas I am low across the board at this point. I'm not going to give him a free card when I'm clearly ahead now, in both of our views. If he has something he wants to draw one more card with (maybe he really is perfect underneath -- that happens sometimes!), I want to try to win one more big bet from him to do that. So I bet it again here with my clear favorite now:



And he called again! Now I know two things I did not know for sure before this round of betting. #1, this guy is a bad razz player. Not good, not average, but downright bad. This is what happens to you when you do not pay attention to the cards around you and to the messages your opponents are sending in razz, nor to the bricks you keep picking up in your own hand. Remember, in razz you only get to have two bricks before the third bricky card you pick up will need to be part of the best 5-card razz hand you can make. This guy called bet after bet on a purely chasing situation, where it turns out he was drawing dead almost all along. And #2, I know as well that he is basically perfect underneath. Unless someone forgets you're playing razz, nobody is going to make this call here without virtually perfect cards and a draw to a good 7-low working for them.

Just for good measure, I picked up an Ace on 7th street, making me my even more unbeatable wheel, so of course I bet out again, on the same reasoning as the last street:



which my opponent also called, having made a 7652A low. Normally a rough 7 is a perfectly strong razz hand. But not against a guy who was calling bets early in the hand and then went on to make 3627 on the board after those bets were being called. I like to think that my check on 5th street is what really threw him off here, as I acted like I had just paired one of my hole cards, and for whatever reason my opponent could not shake the idea that I was actually weaker than I was acting on every street after pairing my 6 like that on 5th street. And that's the power of deception, which undoubtedly plays a huge role in all the stud games. Anytime you can get your opponents to be fairly sure that your holding is weaker than it actually is, you are setting yourself up in a stud game to make a huge pot, because it is often thought to be easier to read someone else's hand in stud without the whole community cards thing that flop games like holdem and omaha deal with hand-in and hand-out.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about the bad hold 'em MTT luck recently. I'm sure things will turn around.

That's a great RAZZ hand, and having never played a hand of the game, it was a great way to learn about some of the intricacies.

I just added you to my feeds yesterday, and really love your in-depth hand analysis. If you find yourself with some spare time, I'd love to have you stop by and take a look at some of my hand reports. Specifically, I had a tough hand yesterday that really has me reeling.

Great post(s), and I look forward to reading and learning much more.

12:24 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

mr tilty,

hope to see you at my table in the mOOk. GL

12:48 AM  
Blogger jjok said...

From the countless hours (sarcasm) of razzing I have played, I would narrow your hand down to this.

1. I call on third
2. I bet on 4th
3. Check or check call on 5th. (he's a total tard for bet-calling here)

And then open betting from here on out.

Check raising on 5th is dangerous because anyone with any decent amount of knowledge will probably fold here.

The way the hand played out, it would have been nice to see you hit a Q or K on 6th because you probably could have gotten him to raise on 6th and 7th......alas, you got the 7 card wheel and took a nice chunk from him.

Well done sir.

Fun hand man.....

12:52 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Oddly, I also posted a Razz hand today, with similar results. My opponent didn't take the time to think through the board, so once I was a lock to win, I just kept betting as fast as possible because he was calling as fast as possible. In stud games, and Razz specifically, people get so blinded by their own cards and their draws that they neglect to look around them and see what they are actually facing. Nice write-up.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Haley said...

She, being that 'LookyMyHooky' eyesore over there on the left, had A-3 under that hand at the start. So she was priced in to see the one card, that ugly ten, but her at the least you weren't fooling on fourth street, given your own reasonably tight, steady play. Oh, and that guy was a fish, indeed; if he hadn't rivered me twice I'd have busted him long before this hand ever took place... but you know that.

One thing that you might have overlooked --- when you have two or more fish at the table, it's okay to make one blatant chase yourself, just to plant in their minds that there's lots of money here to be had. I left this one +$30 for two hours, and probably should have done better.

Oh, and cute 'do, but larger earrings are considered proper evening wear!

Haley (aka Cawt, Chayse... and Looky)

2:38 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

You write:

I am telling you, where you want to be is playing me in a no-limit holdem tournament right about now. You want to be seeing flops against me, playing pots against me, the more involvement with me, and the worse your cards are, the better. Basically anytime anyone makes a particularly ill-advised move against me in a hand -- like this duncemonkey above who allin-reraised me with just KQ preflop after I had already raised it up 3x from first position -- they are getting rewarded by the poker gods. The dumber the move, the more immediate the phuckage. I mean, look at this guy. I've raised 3x from first position. What is my range there? Any pair maybe, AK, AQ, maybe AJ? And that's it, no? Of course I could have something else, but I had not been playing any kind of crazy thus far into the tournament, and in general I don't play stoopid starting cards from first position anyways, so this guy's range of hands for me could not have realistically been much wider than that, and many people don't even think a first-position raiser would act with a low pocket pair like 2s or 3s either. But my point is, KQs is a 49% dog to pocket pairs 22-JJ, much worse (2-to-1 to 3.5-to-1) against a pair of Queens, Kings or Aces, and is also around a 3-to-1 dog against my most likely high-card holdings of AK or AQ, and more like a 2-to-1 dog against AJs. So, I've already shown maximum strength by raisng 3x preflop from first flipping position, so he has to know I'm not likely to fold to a reraise from him. And, against my likely range of hands, this guy is between 25% and 49% to win. Under no circumstances is he a favorite to win this hand -- none, unless you want to put me on a stone bluff that would make the 3x raise from first position and then also call his allin push reraise.

The villian (donkey) understands:

I have two paint cards, I push.

Good thing there's an endless supply of them or tourneys would become much more difficult.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Razz, at least at the low end, seems to be about where Hold'em was a year or so ago -- lots of truly clueless fish swimming around. The Hold'em waters have been horribly overfished, but Razz is still a fertile sea. Though I suspect in a couple months the bloggers and blog-readers will invade and the party will be over. It's so much easier making money at these games when there are one or two awful players at each table.

Nice hand analysis.

3:21 AM  
Blogger L'artiste said...

While I agree that the idiot had no business calling any all-in with KQs, you have to realize that if you're gonna be jamming hands like AQ and AK pre-flop early in tournaments you're gonna experience lots of crazy swings and many early exits. Not worth it IMO.

3:54 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Ding Ding Ding...full bonus points for the full RAZZ wheel...A-7!
They should have given you some jackpot prize for that, haha.
Nice 5 card low, dude.

5:31 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Thanks for playing in The Mookie last night. Also congrats on your Cardsquad gig.

10:18 PM  

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