Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cash Game Question Redux, and Another 25k Cash?

I have to say, I am very surprised at what I heard from all of your great comments to the cash game hand I posted yesterday. If you recall, at 1/2 nlh in the cutoff, I had two early position limpers ahead of me and I have AJo. I limped in along after the two EP limpers for $2, and eventually saw a 5-handed flop of A63 with two diamonds. The first player bet out half the pot or $6, and the second player called the $6 bet when the action got to me, and I asked for opinions as to how this hand was played / should be played from here. And was very surprised with the results.

What surprised me was not the majority of opinions I got on what to do from here. Many of you suggested a raise, up in the $15-$20 range, to "find out where I'm at" more than anything else. I fully agree with that as a possible approach, including with the advice that, for anyone who reraises me there or really who even calls me there, I am basically done with the hand without more help from that point on. Many of you also suggested I could just fold my AJ at that point, with two limpers already into the pot ahead of me on the Ace-high flop, and that in fact is exactly what I did. I opted to just fold it. I reasoned, I have only put $2 into this pot so far, and even though I would clearly have c-bet at that flop if it had been checked around to me with my top pair Aces with Jack kicker, once I was facing a halfpot bet and a call of that bet from up front, there was just no reason for me to lose any more money into that pot, given the total lack of information I had at that point about the hand. So anyways, I think there is good logic to both of those approaches on the flop, I ended up choosing the less risky one of just dropping the hand right there, but both of those make a lot of sense to me and I was not surprised to hear the two recommendations from you all.

What was really shocking to me was the uniformity with which all of you guys with far more cash game experience than I said I should have raised that up preflop. Not only does that seem like a -EV move to me (I accept that I must not be right, since basically everyone said that's how they would have played it), but most of the books I can find on no limit holdem also seem to suggest a limp is in order there, which is what made this all the more surprising to me in terms of the totally uniform response I received about raising this hand preflop.

Let me be clear here -- I understand 100% the fact that the limp tells me nothing about the other players' hands, while the raise from me will tell me quite a bit about the hands that choose to stay in against me for the additional raise preflop. So I'm totally with you guys on that point. The part that I could not get over yesterday and that therefore led me to just limp there before the flop, is the two limpers already in from early and early-middle position. What are they limping with? Is my AJo really a favorite over their likely limp hands at this point in the hand? What if I get reraised here before the flop? All of these considerations led me to think that limping, rather than raising, was the best move. With AK, or a pair of 9s, that's a different story. Then, I would say there is a very significant chance that my starting hand is in the lead preflop, so raising it up there makes total sense to me. But a cripey hand like AJ offsuit, I am just really surprised at how basically every single commenter echoed the same sentiments -- that I should not have played this hand before the flop without raising it up to get some information.

So, I will need to incorporate this concept into my cash no-limit holdem game. As I mentioned yesterday, I have tremendous respect for a lot of you out there and teh cash games that you guys play. I play very little in the way of nlh cash games as a rule, so I know I have far less experience than most players out there, and certainly than most of the commenters to yesterday's post. So this gives me something to work on. Normally, I'm not much one to pay $15 or $20 just to get information from my opponents, but again normally I'm not a cash nlh game guy either, and I imagine those two points are closely related. So thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on what was, for me, a very difficult and close decision on what I generally view as a fairly marginal hand, at least for no-limit holdem purposes.

Now, on to last night's play. I'm sure you all want to know if my consecutive cashing streak in the 25k guaranteed nightly mtt on full tilt was put to the test last night. It was, as I played the 25k, the Mookie, and the 10:15pm ET HORSE mtt on full tilt all at the same time last night. I did end up in 12th place in the Mookie, and 9th place in the Mookie 2 (a $5 turbo Razz tournament), so my string of consecutive blogger final tables STR (Since The Rant) came to its inevitable end, but I still played well and can't complain much about coming in 12th place out of I believe 45 players who joined up for the weekly Mookie blogger extravaganza.

But let's talk about the 25k, where I was attempting to stretch my string of consecutive cashes STR to four, having finished in 16th, 154th and 99th in this event out of av average 1600 or so players in my last three runs in this, the mtt that has evaded me the longest by far of all those that I have played with some serious regularity during 2007. Well, I knew the poker gods were watching once again right from the getgo in the 25k, when I took one quick look at my starting table:



That's right. Joe Speaker, Jason Spaceman and myself, all at the same starting table in an event with 1535 players. So I took this as a sign early on that the poker gods were involved, and hopefully that meant good things as I have detailed the poker gods' influence that has led me to the three straight cashes in the 25k guaranteed tournament.

That influence became more clear when, just maybe 15 minutes into the tournament, I managed to double up for the first time when an opponent moved in on me on the river in this hand:



He turned out to be holding just QTo, inexplicably risking the rest of his chips while just playing the board and running into my quad Kings, and I was once again off to the races early in the 25k. In fact, just two hands later, the poker gods were with me once again as I flopped a boat and went on to win over 1700 more chips by slow-playing my way to my opponent betting at me on all streets:



Again, within the next five hands, I made a call on the flop with just a nut flush draw with AQs and two players betting actively at the flop, proceeded to hit (and check) my flush on the turn, and ended up claiming another 3180 chips as I eliminated my fourth player within the first hour of the tournament, climbing over 6500 chips long before the first break. I entered that break in 47th place out of 651 players remaining in the tournament, in excellent position to continue my improbable streak of consecutive cashes after an unofficial month-long cashless streak before that.

Unfortunately, the incredible poker gods-driven cards and flops and draws that I hit all through the first hour of the 25k completely dried up in the second hour of the event, and I was forced to rely more on sneaky play, reading my opponents, blind stealing and similar types of moves to hold my ground all through the second hour. As a result, by the time the second break arrived, where we were, as usual, just about 20 spots away from the money spots in the tournament, my stack was low and I was within the bottom 20 or 30 places remaining in the event. But I was determined to hold on, and hold on I did, starting off the third round with two large blind steals with playable hands in good position (KJs and KQs), which at that level was enough to get me comfortably about 6000 chips and well ensconced in the thick of the field as the ITM spots neared. In the end, the bubble was nowhere near as tight or as long as it has been for my recent forays into the money positions in the 25k, and before I knew it, someone was commenting in the chat that we had all made the money.

After another 30-40 minutes of play after the bubble burst, my starting card death persisted and I was down to just over 3000 chips, at a time when the average stack was over 4 times that amount, and when I saw AJo in first position, I pushed and prayed:



This time my prayers were not answered, as my opponent in middle position flipped over this:



and IGH in 167th place overall, out of 1518 players in last night's 25k guaranteed tournament:



So there you have it. Four cashes in four attempts in the 25k STR. If you still think this is just coincidence, I literally scoff at you. I'm scoffing right now in fact. I ranted and raved like a lunatic last week, immediately came in 16th place, and haven't missed the cash since. In fact, looking at my four cashes, I have won just a hair over $500 in these last four runs in the 25k, which at least defrays the cost of the last 20 or so buyins into this event. And that is a very meaningful thing, as I haven't won any meaningful cash from this tournament since my $1400 final table appearance in 5th place from earlier this summer, despite playing it many, many times since then. So to basically win back my buyins into this event over the past 2 months or so over just one week of play in December is a fabulous thing, and I plan to continue to ride this streak for as long as the poker gods will let me. Again last night, I hope I've shown with my screenshots above the kind of luck I got, last night more in the form of hitting flops, turns and rivers than from just killer starting cards like I had experienced on a few occasions last week, and this level of luck is just so out of the ordinary as compared to what I've been through just trying to last through the first 15 or 20 minutes in this thing for most of the past several months that I don't know what else I could attribute it to other than the poker gods' magnanimity (is that a word, Thesaurus Boy?) towards me Since The Rant. Again I ask, who knew that ranting like a baby on my blog could go so far towards appeasing a long-standing feud between me and the deities who decide our online poker fates? But I'll never forget this rememdy now, believe you me.

Just to cap off my night, I wasn't quite feeling done when the 25k ended, and in fact I was feeling kind of a rush after cashing in my 4th straight of those mtt's, so I wanted to try to do something quick but fun. Invariably, that combination leads me to cash games, and after enjoying myself playing razz for the first time in days in the Mookie 2, I ended up sitting down at the $15-$30 limit razz tables for what I was hoping to be just a short, profitable jaunt. I elected to sit with $400, larger than most of the other stacks at the 2/3 full table, and almost immediately the low cards starting coming my way. I took down a $245 pot on the very first hand, and another $270 pot a few hands later. I lost a few pots in the $200+ range as well -- believe me, at 15-30, almost every pot that goes to 5th street has over $200 in it at least -- but was still up maybe $150 or so when I ran into a guy who continued to call every bet and every raise from me, despite his first two up cards being a Queen and a King. Sometimes in HORSE you see that when someone doesn't realize we've switched games, but this was a razz table, so I guess he was perfect underneath, but even then it is hard to believe there are people out there even at this level who play the game like that. Long story short, I won a large pot even after making trip 3s on the river, when he even called my bet on the end despite not being able to beat my rough Ten-Nine low:



And then came the kicker of the evening. I got involved in a hand against just one opponent on my immediate right, where by 5th street I had made a 9-low, and he had picked up a King. So, knowing I had a board lock for the low at that point in the hand, I bet out for $30, and he quick-raised me to $60, which I happily called given that I was a lock for the low at that point:



Same story on 6th street, when I picked up a King (having already made a 9-low), and he picked up a Ten, meaning that even if he were perfect underneath the best he could have right now was still a Ten-low, which was worse than my made 9, so once again I bet out for $30. But this time, with just one card left to come, when he quick-raised me up to $60 with what was obviously a killer draw to go along with his made Ten-low, I got aggressive and re-reraised him again to $90:



on the thinking that now he would have to hit something on 7th street or I knew I was impossibly ahead of him in the hand. He really misplayed this hand, in particular on 6th street by reraising to three-bet it on 6th street even with just one card to come and him knowing he needed to hit something lucky in order to win, but as the books always say, our profit in cash games comes generally from other peoples' mistakes, and I was not about to let this guy off easy.

On the river, I got a 2, giving me now a rough 8-low instead of the rough 9 I had made already by 5th street, so I bet out again for $30 since my opponent was showing that King and Ten and thus he would need to have all three of his downcards be a combination of 3,4,5,6,7 or 8 in order to be ahead of me. When he raised me again here on 7th street, I naturally figured I was toast, he must have just lucked out on me and was going to steal a lot of my money here:



But I had to call. This was me having to call one more $30 bet to win $467, so I would have to be behind with roughly a 96%+ certainty in order to fold here, and I was not about to do that with the guy showing two bricks on the board. I called, expecting the worst, and saw:








Bingo! He had made a decent hand in the end given my board, beating my rough 9-low with his smoother 9-6 low, and figured he had just taken the lead at the river with his luckout. Little did he know, my own rivered 2 had actually been crucial for me, winning me this hand and the $497 pot that came with it, easily the biggest individual cash poker hand I have ever won. By a friggin mile.

A few minutes later, and I was outta there, done for the night after leaving with over $1000 in front of me as a result of just maybe 45 minutes at the 15-30 razz tables. Can't complain about that! So in all, another very successful night of online poker, adding over $650 total to my roll at full tilt, and further increasing my confidence in my game, both nlh and otherwise, tournaments and cash, large fields and small. Here's to more of the same tonight, where I expect to be on lateish, but probably not in time for the 25k. Without the lure of one of the big blogger tournaments to get me online by 10pm, I find myself more and more wanting to watch a new episode of Lost with the Hammer Wife. Did I mention that that shiat is awesome yo?

9 Comments:

Blogger mookie99 said...

Ah another Lost convert...welcome.

Congrats on yet another cash. So The Streak continues huh ?

3:13 AM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Nice playing Razz with you in the M2. Man was I on a rush.. no good or really bad play.. just alot of good cards..

I wanna play 5/10 Razz! It seems so profitable!!?!?!?! Anyway.. gl. Hope to sit with you at some mixed games this week? You are going right?

3:44 AM  
Blogger Chuck Turner said...

Even though i may risk the derision of all but what exactly are the rules to Razz and Horse?

3:46 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

good to see you're done ranting on and on about AQ.

AQ RAWKS!

4:40 AM  
Blogger Wes said...

I'll just note that there is not one good NLHE book out there. Harrington 1 & 2 are decent (3 is bad IMO) and Skylansky's NL book has some major flaws in there (although some of the sections are very good).

7:21 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

Nice Razz hand. Coming up on the other side of that, when the guy catches a miracle card on the river to beat you when you know you've been ahead the whole time, however, is enough to make you want to stab someone. But damn is Razz fun.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hey Wes, I agree 100% btw. Nobody has ever written a good nlh cash book. Ever. Plenty of good limit holdem books, but nada for NL. No doubt.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

And Waffles, no Vegas for me this weekend. Hopefully next summer, for WPBT and WSOP time.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Limping from early and early-middle position?

Standard range: Any "blackjack hand", 99-22 (and maybe TT). If they're loose, I'd add any suited connectors, Axs, Ax, and maybe even something like JTs or a suited one-gapper.

The idea of raising with AJo in late position is you want to see how much the other players like their hands. They might be making an "awfuckit" call, after all. On top of that, if they do call you with most of the hands above, they're making a HUGE mistake. If the flop misses you, you can easily fold. If the flop misses them, what the hell can they do with a middle pair or something like KQo there?

In other words, you're risking a few extra dollars pre-flop to either take down the pot right there or cause your opponents to play horribly and give you more money in the later rounds.

Obviously, having a read on a player helps in this situation, but raising with AJo in late position is high-quality "pressure poker" because it puts the onus of making the decision on your opponents and gives you control of the hand.

Let me give you a different perspective. If you're one of those limpers, what the hell does the guy in LP who just raised two early position limpers have? He can't be playing crap cards, right?

8:12 PM  

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