Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hey JackAce!

OK. Today is time for another weekly rant, something I am sad to say is becoming more and more frequent on the blog here. I don't ever want to rant, and despite the way I act sometimes, ranting is not actually in my nature, and it's certainly not what I ever intended for this blog to be used for. That said, what I did intend the blog to be for is to post my honest, genuine thoughts and feelings about this game we all know and love, and in that regard sometimes what I feel like writing about is angry, hateful rants about stuff I see in the world of poker. Last night in the Mookie was no exception.

Now, I'm not here to call out anyone specific. Yes this happened to me last night in the Mookie, but this rant is really not about last night. I've seen this happen more times than I can count in my millions of hours of online poker over the past couple of years. When I see it done by some random donque during monkey hour (the first hour of the large mtt's on the major sites), that is one thing. Those people are fucking clowns to the nth degree, but I don't know them, I know they're donks and I don't really care, other than to be sure to make a note of them as uber fucking donkeys (or "fonkeys", as I've taken to calling them in my notes over the past couple of weeks), and I know there are so, so many fonkeys out there playing online poker that it barely fazes me. But when I see this kind of shit in the blogger tournaments, it really tends to drive me crazy. Because you guys should know better. In most cases I know the person who does this shit is not just a good but a great poker player, and that's what really just leaves me at wits' end trying to explain why someone I know is solid would do these kind of fonkey moves. I just don't get it sometimes.

So yeah, today I'm going to talk about Ace-Jack. The rules for proper play of AJ are really incredibly simple, so I'm just going to give a little primer here since somehow, some of you still don't seem to get it. So here's the rules, and I'm going to try to do it in a Sklansky-esque, bold and set-apart format so that it will helpfully sink in to you all. These rules apply for the early stages of all tournaments, where there are no very short stacks involved:

1. AJ is a great hand to raise preflop with if you are the first one in the pot.

2. You should usually fold AJ to any standard-sized reraise preflop if you raised it up, but you can be a little bit fonkeyish and take a flop in the hopes of nailing two pairs, a set, a straight (draw), etc. as long as you're willing to lay it down on the flop if you don't hit it hard.

3. If someone else has raised preflop before the action gets to you, it's the same as above. If the raise was a standard amount, you can call if you're feeling a bit fonkish or chasey, but the money move is to lay it down.

4. Most importantly, if someone else has moved allin for any substantial amount of chips ahead of you preflop (including an allin reraise), you must fold AJ.

I'm going to skip some space here to let that last point sink in to you donkeyfuckers' skulls, because it is unquestionably correct, and I continue to see people who know how to play the game disregard that last snippet there.

OK, you got it? The funny thing is, my advice here can just as easily apply to AQ, which you also only call preflop allins with early in tournaments if youre a fonkey. Period. So AJ is just that much worse, that much more fonkeyish. Now let's think about why this is true. Again, I know most of you don't need to hear this, but some of you do, and more than that, I need to type it all out right now because I still can't believe some of the shizz I've seen lately. And it's my fucking blog so I'm gonna write whatever I want. If you don't like it, go check out this blog instead. It's funny. Or this blog, which is really cool. But here, today you're going to see a lesson on how to play Ace-Jack, so get out of here if you don't want to read it.

So fonkeys, why don't we call allin reraises with AJ early in tournaments, with no very short stacks? Well let's think about what kinds of hands the other guy who has reraised allin is likely to have, to go up against your AJ.

First there are the strong Aces. Do people put in allin reraises with A4? How about A8? A9? Even Ace-Ten? Of course not. There is no chance of that, guys. None. But how about AQ? Maybe, if the reraiser is a big fonkey. You're already a 4-to-1 dog to that fonkey hand. And most players would reraise preflop with AK, another hand you're a 4-to-1 dog to. So among the Ace hands, you're only getting allin reraised preflop by hands to which you are a 4-to-1 dog. Only. Period.

What about pocket pairs? For the sake of argument, let's assume that any pocket pair is in the hand range that might reraise allin preflop. In practice it's not usually going to be the low pocket pairs, but that doesn't actually have any relevance to this discussion, because against any pocket pair 22 through TT, your AJ is basically a 49% underdog. Against pocket Jacks through pocket Aces, it's even worse than that, ranging from around a 35% dog down to closer to 20% again when your AJ is up against pocket Aces.

Realistically speaking, that's all the hands he can have. Do you think people are reraising allin preflop early in mtt's with KQ? They're not. Suited Kings? Not. JTs? Not. Not for an allin bet here, no way. There is literally not one other hand that I haven't already covered that would reraise you allin preflop in any kind of a predictable, expectable way. You need to accept that this last statement is true, or you're a fonkey. And then you can accept that that is true. Fonkey.

So let's review. It is early in a multi-table tournament. You put in a standard (and correct) 3x open-raise from MP with AJo. Now someone in late position reraises you allin preflop. He's either got AQ (you're a 20% dog), or AK (you're a 20% dog), pocket 2s through pocket 10s (you're a 49% dog), pocket Jacks through pocket Kings (you're roughly a 35% dog), or pocket Aces (you're roughly a 20% dog). Sometimes it's useful to assign probabilities to each possible hand there, and then multiply those probabilities by the odds of your hand winning in each case, and that helps determine whether a certain play is positively or negatively profitable overall. But here we don't even have to do that. You know why?

Because every single hand on the possible list is ahead of you. Every. Single. One. Now I'm going to let this sink in for a minute as well here.

That's right fonkeys. If you call an allin reraise preflop early in a tournament with AJ, there is literally no hand you are ahead of. Ever. Could someone be in there with 76s? In the realm of possibility, of course. Should you ever, ever, ever even consider that possibility when deciding whether or not to call the allin reraise with your AJ? Not unless you're a fonkey. It's recockulous to even be having this discussion, what I'm saying is so obviously correct. I'm ashamed and embarrassed to even me boring most of you with this blatantly obvious discussion today. But somehow, some of you out there actually need to hear this again and again, have it drummed into your head again and again.

Given the analysis above, now I'd like to spend a minute going over some situations where it does make sense to call an allin reraise preflop when you're holding AJ:

1. If you are a fonkey. 'Nuff said.

2. If you honestly don't care about winning the tournament you're in. Because you won't win any nlh tournament if you make calls like this early on. Ever. Seriously. Just like last night, I always watch the people who luck out and get rewarded by the dickling poker sites for making allin calls with AJ and AQ early in poker tournaments. They never, ever win. How can you? If your mindset is such that you're making calls early in a tournament when you know you have to be behind, and probably well behind, when you could have just folded and retained your nice-sized stack for a better situation, then you're never going to win that night. It's impossible. So don't kid yourself and think you will stop being a fonkey after this one play. If you call there with your AJ, even if full tilt or pokerstars rewards your fonkery, you're still done for that tournament. Done. Don't ever forget it.

3. If the allin reraise is coming from a very short stack, such that calling the allin reraise only requires you to put in an additional amount that is roughly equal to or less than the amount you already raised preflop. In other words, if you had raised it preflop from the 100 big blind to 300, and then a shorty moves in for 600 total, you might consider calling another 300 chips for the chance to win 600 chips. Now make no mistake here -- you are still most likely behind with a fonkey allin-calling hand like AJ. But, this situation I've described gives you 2 to 1 (or better) pot odds on calling your shorty opponent's reraise, so if you think you have roughly at least a 1-in-3 chance of winning the pot, it makes some sense to consider calling from behind as long as you don't have reason to believe your opponent is on a higher ace or high pocket pair. Like, if you have an actual good reason to believe you're probably up against a middle pocket pair like 7s or 8s, and you have to call a shorty's 300 more chip allin reraise into a pot of 600 chips, you can make that play because you're calling with 2-to-1 pot odds for what is roughly a 50-50 shot. But you have to be pretty damn sure of your read here, because you are doubtless calling from behind, and for that reason the real man still folds AJ in a lot of shorty-type of situations like this.

4. If it's near the end of a tournament, where even a player in the middle of the pack among the few remaining players still has an M of, say, 4 or 5. In this situation, that player might easily justify pushing with something like A9s (though this is still usually going to be a bad play to call the allin reraise here).

That's it. There are really no more scenarios where you can call an allin reraise with AJ and avoid being a fonkey. And I'm not talking about avoiding being called a fonkey by me. I'm talking about actually being a fonkey.

So one more quick review here. If you call any kind of substantial allin reraise when you're holding AJ early in a multi-table no-limit holdem tournament, you're a fonkey. Period. And if you try to defend your play after the fact, you're not actually convincing anybody of anything. Except that you're an even bigger fonkey. And you can go on your blog, make shit up about why it was a good play, lie to everyone, lie to yourself, argue that it was a good play, claim you figured the other guy was pushing with just 2 unsuited, unconnected low cards, etc. All any of this does is make you a bigger fonkey. That's it. Period. Calling preflop allins early in tournaments with AJ is a fonkey move, and only fonkeys do it. If that's you, you should check yo'self before you wreck yo'self.

Don't defend it.
Don't lie about it.
Don't convince yourself of it.
Don't argue in favor of it.
Don't try to explain your rationale after you've done it.

It's like the opposite of Nike -- Just Don't Do It.


Blogger BuddyDank said...

Wow, you seem to feel fairly strong about this to write up that much about AJ.
Interesting read. And I like your rants just as much as your other analysis of tourney play and what not.
Plus, I'm fairly sure I've been that Fonkey before but I'm learning. Fonkey. I like that term. It's fun to say and type.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're climbing the ladder Hoy and moving closer and closer to Waffles territory with the rants. Too funny.

I've yet to play a MTT at any buy-in that wasn't at least 50% donks/fonkeys and it's the hazard that comes with being a tournament player.

Don't forget you want someone calling all their chips with shit hands like AJ its just frustrating when they hit.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Classic stuff. Just awesome.

Long live Fonkalism!!

Hoy's rants rule.

12:24 AM  
Blogger jjok said...

Hoy, what's your feelings about calling allin's with AT.....especially offsuit?

Thanks in advance......


12:38 AM  
Blogger manik79 said...

So now... why don't you tell us how you really feel about AJ?

1:23 AM  
Blogger Goat said...

Let it out, son. Let it out.

It's not your fault.

It's not your fault.

It's not your fault.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...


Listen to Don. Don is wise; Don is smart. Losing these hands is the price we pay for having fonkeys try their best to feed us their stacks.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hey guys, no doubt Don is right. Believe me, I'm not mad at the guy who did this last night. As I said, I actually like him and respect his game quite a bit. I want him on that call, I need him on that call as Jack Nicholson would say.

It's full tilt that I'm angry at. Rewarding the fonkeys for making these calls is the problem. I've made a lot of money off of people who think the allin AJ calls are good moves. But I have to say, it seems between pokerstars and full tilt that people get rewarded for these bad plays more often than they get punished. That's the frigging problem.

2:38 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

jjok- LOL, I was coming in here to ask the same AT question.

3:06 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

But what if it is suited?

Don't the rules change?

Know I went through a streak in December where I busted out of MTT eleven times in a row holding KK. 6 of the times was to AJ, three times money was in pre-flop, three times money was in after no Ace on flop.

AJ may have special powers on FullTilt and Stars as a special fonkey bonus in RNG.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Zeem said...

but it was s00ted...

3:53 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from. As a rule A-J is a great hand to raise with from late position (I will often limp it from early-mid) but a horrible hand to call anything with.

There are, however, situations where I have called with it fairly certain that I would be ahead. Such as a push from an aggressive player on the button while I am in the blind. It is entirely possible, and often happens, that he is pushing with far worse than A-J not expecting a call (I don't make a habit of calling that, but I have done it a few times). Also, in three or four handed play someone is likely to both raise and re-raise with A-10 or two face cards.

Plus there are times, particularly early on in large mtts, when you just know that the other guys are full of shit. That isn't a particularly good reason to make the call, but when you keep laying them down to re-raises only to see the other two guys flip over K-Q and A-6s the "A-J has to be behind" logic starts to fade a bit for me -especially so if that guy got lucky with his K-Q and is pushing again.

In general though, A-J is not a hand that I call with. It is a hand that at least half of the field in a large mtt will call with though -and something I keep in mind before laying down that A-Q- If I do call with A-J, it is far more about my read of the other guy than the cards I am holding (though I suppose that could be my inner donkey trying to justify making a horrible call).

3:57 AM  
Blogger iamhoff said...

Great rant, Hoy. The one thing you failed to mention about Fonkeys (and I've certainly been one my fair share of the time) is their reliance on outs. Instead of a braying "hee-haw", the sound is a braying "I've got outs!" AJ looks cool. Ace-paint, and it's above AT! I agree completely that AJ is a loser in the all-in reraises, but it's still going to get played because it is one of the stronger aces. A weaker, stronger ace to be sure, but Ace-paint is a seductive siren song. And I completely agree with your rant about the sites rewarding fonkalicious plays, usually on the river. But then we all know online poker is rigged...

4:02 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

Some people (probably including myself) know they have absolutely no chance in hell to take the likes of you and your ilk down in an MTT.... unless they pull off a fonkey move. I don't say it's right and I don't condone it either but maybe sometimes aggressive players have it coming? What if the all-in player has a reputation of pushing the table around? What if he's been doing this all night long? Against AK, AQ and any pair AJs is a 3:2 dog and some players will just roll the dice. Especially if it is early in an MTT and they don't have that much time or money invested. It's a gamble to make a quick double up.

4:04 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

It legit took my five minutes before I realized I wasn't reading Waffles' blog.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Wil Wheaton said...

Note to self: Implied tilt odds when playing AJ against Hoy = Infinity.

5:56 AM  
Blogger jeciimd said...

Well stated Mr. Tilty, well stated.
ONLY a complete fidiot makes that call with't...type....laughing....too....hard.

9:59 AM  
Blogger jeciimd said...


10:00 AM  
Blogger BuddyDank said...

I cannot believe you moved in with the hammer with only a couple people left to go in the 30K qualifier tonight. I guess they don't call you hammerplayer for nothing.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Barrett said...

Congrats to you too, Buddy. Hopefully you lasted longer than I in the 30k itself, as I got sucked out on by a runner runner runner runner straight to beat my TPTK on the flop. Effing frustrating.

And yeah man, I play the hammer religiously. My game has improved significantly ever since I started doing it.

1:35 PM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

FMD's first rule of MTT play: Always call allin raises from Hoyazo when holding AJ. The opportunity to be on the receiving end of a Hoyrant(TM) is too good to pass up.

2:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home