Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Playing a Drawing Hand in Cash Game -- Part I

Calling all cash gamers!!

Today I'd like your suggestions and comments regarding a large pot I was involved in last night at the 1-2 6-max nlh tables. To be honest, I left the hand with more questions than answers as to how I played it out. I'd love to hear your thoughts out there, especially those of you who play a lot of holdem cash, but really from anyone with an opinion as to how I played this hand, and what I did right or wrong.

So the setup again: We're playing 1-2 6-max nlh, and I am in the cutoff at a full table. The blinds are in for $1 and $2 already, and then utg raises it to 7, a standard pot-raise that is just part of the 1-2 6max "formula" that I've been writing about. Everybody does it every time they have a hand they want to play, so he's got something. Then UTG+1, immediately to my right, calls the $7 raise. So the action is to me and I look down to see 86s.

Question #1: What do you do here? Fold, call or raise? I think this is actually one of the rare instances where there are decent arguments to be made for all three options, so I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

Now as I wrote about last week, in most tournament contexts this is a hand that I am chucking and chucking quickly, and I used to trash this thing just as quickly in the cash games until I started playing a bit, and in particular playing with the cash game blogger crew. A couple of weeks ago these guys finally got through to me on the whole thing about playing multiway pots with small soooted connectors and hands like that that you can hit big or get away from easily on the flop. So, with two guys already in for $7, and two more blinds who are that much more likely to call as well if I also call ahead of them, I figured this is a big pot in the making, and it only costs me $7 to try to nail the flop hard. So I made the call, in line with how I have won some of my biggest cash pots in online play:



The button to my immediate left also calls the $7 bet, and then the small blind up and pops it to $29 to go. So now it's a $22 raise to four other guys who had already called a preflop raise to $7.

The big blind, who was only into this pot for $2 so far, folds, and the UTG player who started all the raising before the flop, folds as well. UTG+1 calls the allin for the rest of his chips, which just covered the $29 total reraise by the small blind, and then action is to me. So again, I've got the small blind in for $29, UTG+1 to my immediate right allin for $29, and still one guy left to act behind me who has already called one preflop raise in this hand, a total of $77 in the pot, and it's $22 to me to call the reraise. With 86s.

Question #2: What do you guys think about this decision now? Is this even a decision at all? Do I fold here rather than put in another $22, around 7% of what I now have in front of me, with a hand like 86s? Surely I'm not re-reraising here with this shiatty hand, but is this worth a call for 7% of my chips against all this strength with genuine 100% 1-gapped sooted shit? Please, tell me!

This to me is a key point of cash games where I am still trying to find my way around. Calling raises and reraising myself I've already got down at 1-2 6-max. But what to call reraises with is a much more complex question for me. I mean, if his raise had been from 7 to 12, I woulda called this in a heartbeat. Remember those math skills I've written about in the past, the ones I abandoned after high school but which have left me with pretty awesome math instincts? They're telling me that the implied odds of this hand are worth putting in another $6 at odds which would probably be greater than 10-to-1 for me to see a flop.

But those same math instincts are telling me that for another $22 on top of the just $7 I have invested so far, that changes the risk-reward ratio significantly, and does not necessarily leave the math in my favor. I agonized over this decision, taking up almost my entire time which is something I never do because it actually takes me that long to think about a situation. And you know what I did in the end?

I asked myself what would Fuel do? What would Lucko do? What would Don do? I've played enough cash games with these guys to believe that every one of them would make this call, even for the too-high amount of $29, because of the implied odds. For just $22 more, I can have the chance to really stack some clowns, or I can get away from the hand on the flop with only a $22 loss, not really more than if I call a preflop raise, c-bet the flop, get raised and I lay it down. No biggity. So I opted to go for it.

The guy after me called the $29 as well, taking us 4-handed to see a flop of Q♣5♣4♥. With the 86 of clubs, I have a flush draw on this flop as well as an inside straight draw with the four 7s in the deck, which together gives me what I think are likely 12 outs to win this pot (one of the 7s is also a club so I can't count that card twice). With $119.20 in the pot, the small blind -- the guy who made the big preflop reraise to begin with -- checks it, and the played to my right is already all-in, so action is to me.

Question #3: Check here and try to hit my big draw on the turn? Dare I bet into this already large pot?

I'll be back later with Part II but I'd really like to hear everyone's thoughts on the three questions above first. And I really do appreciate all of the thoughtful and helpful commentary I've received in particular regarding cash game play over the past few weeks on the blog here. I may not agree with every single thing that is said, but I am definitely listening and incorporating everything you all have to say into my game in appropriate ways.

Real quick, do not forget to play in the Mookie tonight, the first BBT event of the month of May. 10pm ET, password as always is "vegas1". Everybody who's anybody in the world of poker blogging shows up for this thing every week, and it is clearly the place to be in the poker blogiverse every Wednesday night, so what's stopping you from loading up full tilt and registering now? Seriously.

Personally I don't believe I will be online until after the Mookie, as Lost is heating up really good right now and it really is the most fun thing I do all week with the Hammer Wife so I don't think I'm gonna miss that. I don't do spoilers as I've mentioned, but I do read some boards where a lot of Lost rumors are posted, and let me just say that I am pretty much 100% positive that tonight is gonna be a great episode. Lots o stuff is going to happen, some of it with lasting consequences for everyone there, but these last several episodes of the the Lost season are all going to be pretty awesome. Take it from me. So get those DVRs crankin so you can play the Mookie at 10pm ET, and then watch Lost starting at 10:15pm ET after your donkeycall allin with the jackace sends you to an early rail. I should definitely be in the Dookie tonight at 11:30 on full tilt (password also "vegas1" as always), so I'll see you there if not before. Now go leave me a comment on how you would play in each of those three questions I asked above, because I want to hear what you have to say.

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26 Comments:

Blogger cmitch said...

Question #1 - I think this definitely a fold here preflop based solely of the fact that you have no implied odds at all because of the size of the preflop raiser's and caller's stacks. IMO, the key to playing suited connectors/one gaps is the implied odds of playing them in multi-way pots against deep stacks. If you flop a monster, you can possibly stack someone and you can get away from the hand fairly easy after a flop that misses. If at least one of the preflop guys to your right is deep, then I'm calling this bet most of the time.

Question #2 - At this point, I'm calling unless you think that the button is going to shove all-in. Based on the way the hand has played that seems extremely unlikely.

Question #3 - I would be asking myself why is the SB checking on this flop. If he has AA or KK he is betting on this flop to chase away the possible flush draws. He might check QQ to try and disguise his hand, but is possibly leading out into all these callers (if any of you have shown aggression on previous hands). He may have JJ, 1010, AK.

I think that I would bet about $80-$90 when it checks to me. I think that this looks stronger than shoving all in because it looks like you want action. It also commits you to calling any shove. The button is going to fold unless he flopped a set, has an overpair or possibly if he has AQ. The SB (preflop aggressor) is probably folding AK, JJ, and 1010 here. If he calls/shoves then you aren't that far behind most hands. Between your fold equity and the 12 outs you are going to win more often than lose. If someone calls with a higher flush draw then that is just bad luck.

All the above assumes that you are playing your monster hands the same way.

People will see that you push your draws hard even if everyone folds since the short stack is all-in. You will get more action on big hands if you play them the same way because they can't pigeon hole you to specific hands when you are making large bets.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Craig Cunningham said...

I'd say fold/fold and check. I think you have to fold first with the others to act as well as the blinds. The guy being all-in actually keeps me from calling after the sb re-raise as it limits the big payoff. I don't like this guy's no continuation bet on the flop. Maybe big slick, but I'd definitely check this. cmitch is probably a better judge on this, so I'd defer to him.

9:16 PM  
Blogger lucko said...

Q1- Auto muck agaisnt a shorty. You need deep stacks to win big pots. The implied odds are not great when the original raiser is a shorty.

Q2- Tough spot. I would like to have some reads before I make calls like this. I think I fold more often than I call here.

Q3- Check. Guy is all in, you need to improve to win. If you do improve, you want the others in. There is no benefit to betting here that I can see.

9:22 PM  
Blogger lucko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:28 PM  
Blogger lucko said...

Looked at the stacks a little closer, I fold to the RR. Part of the power of sc'ers are that you can flop big draws (like the flop you got) and then make big semi-bluffs with them. The all in means in front of you means you are going to need to show down the best hand at the river to ever win any part of this pot. I am definitely folding to the RR.

Honestly though, you probably shouldn't have been sitting at this table. Its pretty terrible. You got two micro stacks to your right and big stacks to your left. Its like a recipe for losing money.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

To be clear, they were only microstacks thanks to me over the past hour or so. The table was so weak across the board that I didn't want to leave because I was killing it. I had won over 25% of the pots at this table over the past 90 hands or so.

9:44 PM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Q #3 - I see Lucko's and Craig's points but I still like getting the money in on this flop (even if I lose to the short stack that is all-in already) because of the value that it creates for you on later big hands. IMO, there are times (this being one of them) when you can make a calculated play that may be slightly -EV or neutral EV, that will greatly increase your EV on future hands. You know your hand will go to showndown and if the button and SB fold you aren't losing any additional $$ - if they call, you have 12 outs (so approximately 35% against a flopped set, 45%-48% against an overpair, 55%-60% against AKo)

10:02 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

It's all about the guy to your immediate right......haha


1. I fold against 2 shorties.
2. I fold assuming that only the SB is the only one you'd be fighting with.....you don't know what the button will do here.
3. I check because someone is allin. You still have to make your hand and you want to keep the big stacks in if you hit.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Wow I guess I effed that up with not focusing on the short stacks. Personally I stayed in on the flop because I figured the player after me as well as the two blinds were also likely to call if I called, and they all had juicy stacks.

When will I stop sucking at cash games.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Miami Don said...

Fun Stuff. First let me say if you have not bought NLHE Theory and Practice I reccommend you buy it. It's a great book for cash games and it covers many area including this example where you have to decide whether to semi-bluff a draw.

#1. I definitely call the first $7 and hope to see a cheap flop. Chances are the button and one of the blinds come along for the ride making for a nice pot and giving you the implied odds you are looking for.

#2. I put the small blind on some sort of pocket pair probably TT or JJ, but perhaps QQ, KK, AA, or AK. and I think the purpose of his bet is to get one or both of the shorties HU while getting you and the button to fold. I'm calling here definitely. You're up $120 and this to me is a perfect spot to gamble and try to bust the SB or perhaps even the button depending on this play.

#3. Insta-check. Does the SB have TT or JJ and is he afraid of the Queen or does he have a monster and is he trying to induce a bluff so he can check-raise? I know that if I have QQ, KK, or AA I'm checking regardless of the two clubs on the board in the hope of getting action and if I have TT, JJ, or AK, I probably C-bet to get some info. So I guess my point is I'm taking the free card in hopes there is a monster either on the button or SB or another overcard club comes on the turn and if either of these play out I'm probably going to get their stack. Of course I 7 non club is probably best as it hides your hand better.

Semi-bluff smaller boards with no overcards higher than 9, check bigger boards with overcards T+ is usually my game plan.

10:30 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

as a side, those 2 aren't just shortstacks, they are micro-stacks with 20BB or less. If either or both would have had, say, half a buyin ($100), I can definitely justify calling the initial raise preflop.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Don, thanks for the recommendation, I have read through NL Theory and Practice 2 or 3 times already, and will be starting up review #4 shortly now that I've really taken the plunge into cash games.

Glad at least somebody has some testicles around here with calling that preflop bet. And lord knows Fuel would call even the preflop reraise there as well.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

I have to say this was a fascinating hand based on the extremes, shorties to the left, fatties to the right, and basically an all-play pot six handed.

I would not be so quick to credit the SB with any kind of hand, all 4 to act were in an opened pot without a re-raise, which stinks of dominated hands like ace jack, king queen, so a lot of players my make that over bet from the blind. He could have something like ace 7 or 9 at best, or big slick if he were lucky. Even if he has queens, fuck him, it all comes to you finishing your draw.

As for Q1, at first I thought this would never be a raise, its call or fold, but with 2 shorties, and 3 to act, a CC has a 50% chance (I made that up) to elicit a re-raise or push steal from the blinds. So a re-raise could net you the pot and steer clear of a blind steal, which is highly likely.

Q2. I would fold this a lot of the time (80%), but once in a while its fun just to say what the hell and take a shot. I have to fold pre-flop to a button re-re-raise though. Also, I have no fear of the blind raise since his range of hands are so wide. This is a perfect case, though, where you are screwed with a hand like ace queen, and why suited gappers have so much potential for +EV. Plus you are playing with house money, so I like the call.

Q3. I don’t think there is one correct answer, sure the book says play for free towards your draw, but if the 3rd club hits, the smart ones aren’t giving you any action, if it hits and the sb pushes, then what, he could easily made a bigger draw. I don’t like hard decisions like that, so I might just push and prey, it might be enough to push out a better draw, and if you get called by 1 or 2 hands that are currently ahead, you have a near 50% chance of a monster pot. So I think it comes to 40% check (passive and get ready to get out), 20% raise and see how they react (I have to defer to C-Mitch as being the best technical play, especially if the money matters), still may need to bail to a push, or grab your balls and jam (40%); Its not like $200 is life changing money, so have some fun.

Great post, balsy call pre-flop.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

sorry, got my fatties and shorties mixed up in text but not my thought process.

10:51 PM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Question #1 - Fold, players that have put money in are too short to justify "stacking" with suited connector

Question #2 - Call, now you have a big stack involved and big stack on button will probably call.

11:30 PM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Question # 3
If we put SB on QQ, all in on AK you are 35% to win hand.
If we put SB on JJ, all in on AK you are 50% to win hand (3 way) 63% HU with all in.
If we put SB on AcKc you are 27% to win and getting hurt if turn has club anyways.

I go ahead and bet and am willing to call a push.

11:40 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

normally, i wouldn't mind a LP call in a multi-way pot with a sooted connector. but, the 2 players in EP just don't have enuf chips to bother.

now that you've made the $7 call and a bigger stack makes a reraise, i'm def folding. it may just be a std squeeze play. but, you'll end up playing a big pot with a marginal hand post flop.

since u called and hit a miracle flop. i would just take the free card on there after SB checks it. why would u want to lose him at this point? u don't have a made hand to take down this pot against the all-in shorty.

take the free card, hope to get lucky and get more chips outta the SB.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Its not having balls to call the micro stacks, it that you have no implied odds to push with a draw.

In cash games your object should be to bust the big stacks at the table (so they reload for the max as well).

Short stackers generally are there for one purpose, to push any decent hand double up and leave (if they're smart). They take away any post-flop decisions you may want to make, which turns the hands you play against them into a turbo tourney instead.

For extreme cases of this watch a NLO8 table. People push entire stacks preflop with no previous raises.

1:16 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

I play a lot of cash games, though it's at the $25 and $50 NL level, so I dont' know if you'll take anything I say seriously. Although I do play three tables when I'm playing those levels, and I'm a consistently winning player.

So, here goes:

#1 - I fold for two reasons:
a) Sooted connectors haven't really hit for me as often as everyone seems to think they do, so I rarely play them to raises unless it is indeed a multi-way pot like the one you were describing. I think your reasoning is sound because it was a multi-way pot, and I also think anyone who does call here has a good case for it. But I fold there.
b) You have people behind you. I really hate calling raises in multi-way pots with people behind me unless I've got a hand I don't mind taking all the way. And how many hands are there like that? 8,6 isn't one of them.

#2 - I fold there, too, because at this point there's a decent chance someone is going to push and you're screwed then. I think this is how people lose a lot of money by convincing themselves they are continually priced in and hoping for a miracle flop.

#3 - Well, OK, nice flop. I protect my draw by checking, as Harrington advocates. If I bet, given the action, I think someone will try to raise and take it down there. It's a nice pot already. Checking is the best thing I can do to keep the pot small for now, which I think is our goal.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

#1 I would have folded only because the two stacks involved were shorties and it just wouldn't be worth it at this point. I don't hate the call but that's not an instance I would call with.

#2. I would fold here only because one of the short stack is all in. Maybe I don't have enough gamble in me but I'd rather have a situation where the stacks are deeper. Even with one deep stack, I don't feel that that's worth it. I could be wrong. Not sure but again, if it were me, I'd fold.

#3. I'd check. Wow, my answers look weak tight. But at this point, you have a very good draw, you already have to get to a showdown to win what's already in the pot so I can't see any bluff value here. Sure, you might let someone with two overcards catch up but they only have 4 outs in that case since it can't be a club. If someone has a higher flush draw, that's too bad too but I'd rather see a free card here.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Fold, Fold. It is pretty simple. 86s is a limp late multiway hand in cash games. You could play it as air, but not +EV in cash games either. You don't call raises preflop with it unless the whole table is coming. As for calling the reraise preflop, you are not even close to priced in and need to fold. I would want at least 40-1 to call with that garbage. Also, drawing hands like that would seem to go down in value at a 6-max table.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

Of the previous answers, I like MiamiDon's the best.
In most situations, I would advocate a bet or raise on the flop, but I'm more inclined to check because of the all-in player.
I think this is a pot you want to be in though, despite the shorties to your right. You were right in your assessment that your call would encourage callers behind. Strong drawing hand on flop + big pot = profits!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I wouldn't take any advice from guys who talk about "balls" and "gamble". If you make these calls on each occasion the opportunity presents, you will lose money. And the idea that you should play more loosely because you are up is one I really do think you'll do better without. Surely you should be making the correct decision regardless whether you're up or down. Today's up partly balances out tomorrow's down, so you don't want to piss away winnings when you have them.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

gnome, it looks to me like his call encouraged a reraise (so he was actually wrong in his assessment that it would encourage callers), so he ended up paying a great deal of money for his chance to flop something good. Trash before flop + big pot = no profits at all.

8:09 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

1. With short stacks I probably fold. With bigger stacks I'm probably calling

2. Difficult question because now you can play for a big stack, but you have to invest quite a lot preflop. I tend towards folding because there's already someone all-in (which means no value for a semi bluff in case that chance appears)

3. With someone already all in I check hoping to hit. In other situations I would be inclined to follow Cmitch and bet 80% of the pot.

Very nice post which shows all the thinking and reasoning that has to be put into cash games.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

well after reading all of these comments, it confirms what I have suspected for some time, poker has driven me insane, since I'm the only post flop push monkey in the crowd.

9:48 PM  

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