Friday, May 11, 2007

Reading Cash Hands: TPTK at the River

OK thanks to everyone for your comments on yesterday's post, where to review I asked about this situation, which follows up on my opponent having called a preflop raise, checked and I checked behind on the flop, and then he check-called my 80% potbet on the turn as well:



So here he has now led out at the river for $26 into the $38 pot, the first time he has actually bet in this entire hand, after a seemingly harmless river card. I asked would you raise, call or fold here, and got a lot of well-reasoned responses.

First off, of course you don't raise this, I agree with the unanimous opinion of the commenters. It's not that my hand couldn't be best here. Rather, by betting out he is representing something strong himself, and I think it is highly likely that any raise I put in with TPTK will only be called by those hands he might have to bet out on the river that would also beat my TPTK (set, two pairs, straight). I only even asked about raising to try to mimic the real-life choices I had when I played this hand. I can't raise here because with just one pair best kicker, I have just about the worst hand of all the possibly "good" hands out there.

Now, on to whether to call or fold, the commenters came in about 90% in favor of calling. I cannot believe this. Seriously. After all the guff I've taken here for calling with just top pair in cash games, now I post this hand, where the guy played the hand for sure like someone with an actually strong holding, and everyone says I should call. I guess people's willingness to call at the river with just TPTK is why I've been having such a consistently profitable run at the cash tables, so I shouldn't complain. But IMO this is a clear fold.

Sure, sure, anyone can make up a reason why so-and-so's betting actions look weak. But I'm not buying it. In this case, my opponent checked the flop and then check-called the turn. In light of the fact that he also called a preflop raise from me, this is not a weak betting pattern. It's a strong one. It screams out "I slow-played a good hand and finally got you to bet the turn!" It's how many people would play a flopped set -- call the preflop raise with a hand like 88 or TT, check the flopped set (donk!), check-call on the turn and then bet 70% of the pot at the river. Again, if he had just limped preflop, then his check on the flop and the turn seem more like weakness to me. But he called a preflop raise with his hand, then check-check-called the turn. And then the most telling part of all about this hand -- he led out at the river.

Here he is leading out for a significant bet at the river, knowing that I just bet 80% of the pot on the turn, suggesting some strength in my own hand. Again if I had checked the turn and then he led out on the river, I think the majority opinion that he's bluffing is more of a real possibility again, because I haven't shown any strength in the hand up to that point. But when I've already indicated strength -- poth preflop and again on the turn, and that I'm willing to put real money up on my holding in this hand, and then him to bet out at the river, this hand was played strongly by him, not weakly.

And even look at the size of the river bet. Some of the commenters referred to the "big" bet he made at the river ($26 into a $38 pot), and others called it a "blocking bet", which is typically a smaller than normal bet to try to control the pot size. So we've got different commenters measuring the size of the bet in different relative terms. And it turns out, there's a very good reason for that happening: because my opponent's bet size was perfect! In my mind, betting 70% of the pot on the river is not a blocking bet. I mean, sure he might want to play a small pot with top pair good kicker or a decent two pairs and want to prevent me from moving in on him or something, but I think generally speaking a blocking bet of that nature is going to be somewhat less than $26 into a $38 pot. Similarly, $26 into a $38 pot is not a "big" bet on the river that should scream weakness to you. No, I really think that $26 into the $38 pot is exactly what the guy with the good hand would bet here. Think about it. He's got pocket 8s, so he calls my preflop raise, and then he flops a set so he donkingly checks the flop. He then check-calls on the turn, and then on the river he wants me to call, so he bets out for the first time in the hand, even in the face of my strength on the turn, for 70% of the size of the pot. It's brilliant. It's a bet I'm going to call with any strength in my hand, and yet it's not so small that he fails to get value out of his set or two pair.

One other quick point about the comments, and then I can show you what really happened in the hand. Many of you said I'm probably beat by two pairs or a set, but that I should call anyways given the amounts involved, I can use the information against him later, etc. This is scary to me. This isn't some tournament, where you've got 10,000 chips and a huge chip lead, and you have to call a small stack's 200 chip allin bet, so you can afford to make the call even though you're probably beaten, just to try to snap somebody off with two crappy cards thanks to your bully stack size and the fact that these chips do not correspond to actual monetary cash-value amounts. No, this is a cash game. It's actual cash money at stake here. And you guys are suggesting that it's pretty clear I'm beat by a set or two pair, but I should just throw 26 actual dollars away just to see it. Or I should pay 26 actual dollars for information I can file away for later.

You may not think I'm right about my read of my opponent's strength in the hand, but I know I'm right about this: If you're going to play cash poker, you're not helping yourself if you constantly make calls for more than a tenth of a buyin when you know deep down that you're beat. As I said in tournaments there can be a number of situations where you call even though you know you're behind, mostly due to extreme stack sizes in one direction or the other. But in a cash game, unless you have pot odds working for you, calling 80% potbets when you know your one pair is beat is a losing proposition. Bank on that. Gnome correctly pointed out in his comment to yesterday's post that pot odds dictate that I need to be ahead 41% of the time in this spot ($26 to call / $64 in the pot). From my read, I have to say it was nowhere near 41% that I was ahead. My opponent's betting pattern, from before the flop right up to his 80% potbet on the river, led me to believe that he was probably ahead with an 80-90% probability.

Thus, I folded:



Now as you know, when a player folds heads-up on the river, the other player's cards are not automatically shown, so I shouldn't be able to tell you what he actually had. But in this case, the guy was kind enough to flash me his cards after he took in the $64 pot. Put your guesses together, and scroll down below to see the final screenshot:





















Ha! You effing donks! He called my preflop raise with King-friggin-9 (soooted donk!), and then followed that +EV call up by also calling my potbet on the turn with just an inside straight draw and an overcard. Well donk, I mean well done to him. And well donk to you all as well, most of you who predicted that he was in fact weak. Your reasoning was silly for the most part IMO, but you got lucky. The best part of the whole thing is just how I've gotten berated here over the past couple of weeks for calling with just one pair in cash games, and now suddenly today it's like "oh you should call with your TPTK, his 80% potbet on the river after I already bet out the pot at him on the turn screams of weakness." I love it. Come play me at 1-2 any day you guys. Except the guys who said I should fold. You're the real players, the guys I don't really want to see at the tables. But bring on the calldonks. If you think you had a 40% of being ahead here, please come find me at a cash table and donate.

OK a few more quick things before the weekly signoff. First, for the Lost fans out there, there is just tons of speculation around about what really happened in this week's episode, and what is planned for the finale in two short weeks. Let me present you with one picture, which is a blowup of an actual frame from the episode on Wednesday. In fact, they showed 11 frames during the scene where Ben and Locke went to see Jacob, where they actually showed Jacob's face for a split second. Just 11 quick frames, nearly as quick as the blink of an eye, but it was in there, right around the time when he speaks to Ben. And right here is the blowup of that picture, because there's been a lot of speculation as to just who this Jacob is:



There he is (hopefully you can all see that image on the blog, my server is giving me some trouble so I don't know for sure -- if not you should be able to see the closeup image here). Jacob's face, from frame 11 of the split second where they showed him in this week's episode, superimposed next to Locke. What do you think? Personally I'm not seeing any real resemblance, but there's a lot of people out there saying a lot of crazy sounding things about this screenshot. So take a look and let me know if you have any thoughts. In the meantime, one theory I like is that Ben actually cannot see or hear Jacob, but that he somehow knows Jacob is there anyways, and that when he heard that Locke actually did hear Jacob speak, Ben was enraged with jealousy, leading to the shooting. I also enjoyed the theory that all that black powder that Locke saw surrounding Jacob's house was really the black smoke, in its resting form where it comes back to every night on the island. Apparently we've only ever seen the smoke during the daytime on the show (I guess that's true actually). Interesting theories. Still no idea what this all really means. And there's one other interesting theory I heard that is actually based on a direct quote from the show's producers from a few weeks ago, when they said we will learn something in the finale that "will be like finding out the room you're sitting in is actually much, much larger than you had thought". And yes I totally paraphrased that quote purely from memory from two days ago, so it's not going to be exact, but that is basically what they said. Anyways this quote from the producers his leads me back to a theory I had heard a few weeks back, that there is actually some kind of underground Zion-like city on the island that we will soon find out about. That would be very interesting, would certainly give us a nice way to introduce some new characters on the show, and something which I would enjoy cliffhanging about for the next 9 months until the show starts up again with Season 4 in February 2008.

Ok enough about Lost. For now. A couple of quick pimpages here now. First and foremost, the FTOPS begins tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt with the $216 buyin nlh tournament that is FTOPS Event #1. I qualified for this event a week or two ago so I will be in there this evening for sure, and I know that jeciimd qualified last night as well, and I imagine a number of other bloggers will also be showing their faces in this thing this evening. So come by and rail us as we fight it out to be the first blogger to take down a major FTOPS tournament (a few guys have come pretty dam close). On Saturday is FTOPS #2 which is $109 PLO with rebuys, and Sunday is FTOPS #3 which is the $322 buyin nlh tournament, but I will not be playing in either of these due to familial engagements, but I will be in #1 on Friday night fo sho.

In other news for this weekend, tonight at 9pm ET is also The Donkament to top all donkaments, Katitude's $1 rebuy private tournament on full tilt. This thing is always a blast, and a great way for everyone to stop by and let off some poker steam after a rough week at the tables. Push your stack in as soon as you see any of those sooted donk cards, allin with every hammer, do whatever makes you happy and gives you the best poker therapy, and then just buy in for another one dollah. It's always a blast and I plan to be there tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt, password as (almost) always is donkarama.

And lastly but certainly not leastly, come out and play in Al's Sunday night 7pm ET Bloggers/Chasers Bracelet Race, also on full tilt:



This one is open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike, and as always is located under the "private" tab under "tournaments" on the full tilt interface. Some come one and come all on Sunday night at 7pm ET for a chance to send one or more bloggers to the World Series of Poker!!

Labels: , , , ,

26 Comments:

Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

I think you got your analysis a little bit wrong in this hand. It is BECAUSE this is a cash game that you have to make this call. I would consider folding here in a tournament as your chips are limited, but you can always rebuy in a cash game. If you fold here, you get no information on your opponent at all. You have NO IDEA what he had, despite your strong feelings. You need to make this call to find out how he is capable of playing. Did he actually slow play a set? Will he call a preflop raise with J9? Is he capable of making a stone cold bluff on the river? $26 with a $64 pot is a fairly cheap price to pay for that kind of info IMO.

Also, the fact that you are calling with an actual $26 instead of T26 shouldn't mean anything to you. Chips are a tool. If calling $26 in this spot makes you uncomfortable, you might be playing too high of a limit. (I'm not talking bankroll here; I know yours can take it. But unless you can use it, it won't do you much good.) Personally, I think you were priced in to this one to get some very valuable information as well as have a good chance of winning the hand. I think the fold was a bad move.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Raveen said...

hoy matt is right and I was about to make the same comment, in a tourney you fold that hand however in a cash game you should call for future situations and information. Thats why most people thought it would be an automatic call because the way the guy played the hand was either he had a monster or he had air.

But more importantly i just finished watching the last two weeks of lost and the information u put on here is really interesting. Love the theory about the black smoke....

10:47 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Pay 26 actual dollars for that information? That is an atrocious decision IMO. In a tournament where the chips have no actual value, maybe. In actual cash? Not on your life.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

So are you going to fold every time he (or anyone else for that matter) does something like this on a non-threatening board? You are going to lose a lot more than $26 if that is true, both from lost previous bets as well as pots that should legitimately be yours. Not to mention the information you will not have from other players who do not show their hands.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Goat said...

Gee Hoy, I think I was the first in the pool last post and I did say call. The whole thing screamed 'buff' to me, or else a dominated queen.

I think it's the fact that you played it weak. Checked to you, you make no C-bet on the flop. Your bet on the turn could be mis-read as a steal attempt.

I think you basically convinced him that you had nada, or a pretty weak hand that he could make you lay down. I guess he was right.

He played the hand awfully, though, right down to showing you his crapola.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

When I was a little boy, I went to engineering college, where I learned to survey. The first rule in surveying, is be consistant in your measurements, as you are never truely on the 8ths or 9ths of an inch, always somewhere in between. So if you average up to the 9ths on one measurement, then down to the 8ths on the next, you have compounded the error, and may be off by near 2/8s of an inch.

The moral of the story, since this play is so boarderline (i.e. at 50% chance between 2 measurments, weak or strong), just be consistent. Bottom line you are not making significant money either way over the long haul.

For $16 you recieved the same info Matt and Rav would paid $42 for, since bluffers tend to show. Sounds like you got a deal.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

I need to go back to school, 2/10ths of an inch.

J_Goat, hard to say the guy played it bad, it looks like a pretty sofisticated play to me, the longer the hand plays out, the easier it is to convince someone to fold to a slow play. If the flush hit on the River, he represents the flush, if a miricle jack comes, he delievers a beatin, so he had implied odds all along. Instead of a "bluff with outs", its more of a "Check call with outs".

Plus, Hoy played it as weakness (Which is completley fine to mix it up), so he probably had Hoy on Ace high nothin and knew he had to make a bet to win the hand wit King high. Just my thoughts, but I don't play poker anymore, I just make comments on blogs.

11:48 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

Riverbetting with air isn't as uncommon as you'd think. The board isn't exactly coordinated either. While I would think there's a decent possibility you are beat, 13 BB's is not a worthy fold with TPTK at a cash game on the river......especially considering the pot size prior.

An example of my donkiness (especially my turn play), but a relatively cheap call on the river for just over half the pot.......again, I had a feeling I was creamed, but it was "cheap" enough to make the call.


Dealt to jjok [Qd Qh]
jjok raises to $5
OPPONENT calls $4
*** FLOP *** [5s 7c 6s]
OPPONENT checks
jjok bets $10.50
OPPONENT calls $10.50
*** TURN *** [5s 7c 6s] [6h]
OPPONENT checks
jjok checks
*** RIVER *** [5s 7c 6s 6h] [5d]
OPPONENT bets $17
jjok calls $17
*** SHOW DOWN ***
OPPONENT shows [Ts Qs] (two pair, Sixes and Fives)
jjok shows [Qd Qh] (two pair, Queens and Sixes)
jjok wins the pot ($62.50) with two pair, Queens and Sixes


The busted flush draw and betting with Q high.......all because I was a tard and checked the turn.

Happens more often than you can imagine.....and is a part of the equation of why making this call is a good move.

11:50 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

weak tight


:D

12:01 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Yikes...I was sure right on the money with my analysis.

Sure you got this guy on your favorites list.

12:31 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

Hoy, I'm not the biggest cash expert although I've played my fair share of hands, but as I told you in my last post, that kind of play screams total weakness, not strength, unless the player is really awful.

If he actually had a set like you were saying, he would have to raise the turn to build the pot, especially since he's OOP. Let me explain this:

You first showed weakness by not c-betting. Then when checked to you a second time we know that you hit the queen, but you would have probably fired if checked to you twice anyway. So, if he believes you have a hand and he has a set he should raise there to build the pot and then fire another bet in the river. If on the other hand he believes you are trying to buy the pot and he has a set, he could flat call in order to check again in the river trying to induce a bluff from you. There's no reason for the sequence "check-call the turn and fire first in the river" except that he's reading you as weak and is planning to steal the pot.

A totally different play could be deduced from a call in the turn if he was in position. He could flat call your turn bet in order to bet if you check the river or raise if you bet.

If you go "into his shoes", he thought: this guy doesn't have anything, so I'll call here trying to catch my draw and if I don't I'll just fire because I don't think he has anything".

12:39 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Anguila, it is a highly common play for guys who flop sets to check-call the flop, check-call the turn, and then bet solidly on the river. So your statement that he would definitely have bet the turn if he had something is factually inaccurate. Correct, it turns out, in this particular hand, but not a reliable piece of information when it comes to reading someone's hand generally. To think of all the times I've been in this spot with a good hand but not bet the turn...let's just say it happens a lot.

Otherwise, one point of clarification here is that I don't think this guy is a donkey at all. Yes he made a terrible call on the turn with just the inside straight draw and an overcard, but look what he just did to me on the river. You guys are the ones who should think he's a donkey, because you're all the ones who picked off his "obvious" bluff in a heartbeat. I think he played the hand masterfully on the end, leading out after my turn bet for the first time in the entire hand, choosing the absolute perfect bet size on the river (which btw jj, $26 is not "just more than half" the $38 pot, it's 70% of that pot, but still), and just generally getting me to lay down a very vulnerable hand. The donkiest thing he did other than the call on the turn was to show me his bluff at the end. Terrible decision by him. Otherwise, he played the river perfectly IMO.

But yeah, I guess I got that valuable information about what he was holding for a lot less than $26, huh?

You cannot pay $26 for this "information", that is downright silly. Seeing what he has is probably worth zero to me, or possibly a buck or two, but no more than that for sure. $26? No effin way. I'd sooner play the 26k on full tilt with that $26 and face that nightly donkfest rather than just give it away to this guy just to see what he had.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Goat said...

Re: The Villain's Play

I think the call in the blind with K9o was fine, esp. six handed.

I think the check on the flop was poor, as the uncoordinated flop was a good time to try to take it away.

I think that the call on the turn was awful, EXCEPT that he clearly put Hoy on a steal from the weakness shown on the bet, so he figured he could just take it down right there.

I think that the bet on the river was an absolute necessity given his call with nothing on the turn. Only way to win the pot at that point.

I think I'd have called if I were Hoy.

I think at least 50% of anybody reading this probably now thinks I'm a donkey. But I'd have called.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Goat said...

Oh, and I think that showing the bluff was terrible.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Miami Don said...

As I commented yesterday I love that play from you opponent.

He represented and played it exactly like he had a big hand. Mixing up bluffing with having made hands and playing them both the same way are +EV IMO.

I also think you're too harsh in your criticism towards some of the comments. Some of those guys are very good DS players and while you may disagree there are some valid points.

The higher up you go, the more you'll see hands like this. Good players will call preflop raises with any two and plenty of flops bets with air if they know they can push tight players off hands.

Keep the posts coming, they make for some very interesting insight.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Don, I think I agree 100% with every single thing you said in your comment up there. Even the part that I was maybe, possibly just a tiny bit too critical of some of the commenters. I stick with my original point though, folding here is the better move rather than calling.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Raveen said...

Hoy this is a max 6 table where I'm way more likely to call in situations like this because more often then not the player is full of shit. People dont have hands as much as you think at 6 handed play which you well know..If this were max 10 it would be an instant fold

3:36 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

Hoy, I'm not saying that 100% of the times all the players will play the hand by raising the turn with a set. The main point that I wanted to get across is that since you showed a lot of weakness through the hand (your bet in the turn clearly looks like a delayed c-bet), he is in a good position to try and buy the pot if in fact you don't have an actual hand (think of AK for example). But in this case you do have a hand (TPTK) and IMO, it's a call to be made.

In any case, this call is based on the read you have on that particular player.

Keep up this good posts, because we all learn a lot through this kind of discussions!

PS I agree with our comment that he's not a bad player at all. He read you as weak and played the hand accordingly, since betting the river was his only chance to win the pot.

4:25 AM  
Blogger PokerFool said...

You need need need need to get PA HUD if you are going to be playing Cash games.

The only way I would ever fold here is if villain's "Bet River" stat is less than 15%.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

PokerFool is right.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Will said...

sorry to be nitty, but the math is off. calling 26 in a pot that is 64 right now is like investing 26 into what will be 90 after your 26 are in. so you only need to be head 29% of the time.
i would actually call this. even when your ahead only 10% of the time the information should be worth it.
10% * +64 -(90% * -26) = -17
so actually only pay 17 bucks for it.
i'm actually not good enough so i might still fold it as i wasnt sure whether he was a total tard (looks like) or overly brilliant setting you up for big pay outs by misleading you and still having lots of fold equity in this pot too (even though this is unlikely i guess)
(i would actually call because i cant think about all this while my timer runs down and would be in love with TPTK to much and i would like the pot odds to much)

great blog by the way. i appreciate it very much even though its tl;dr most of the time for me.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Achiel said...

@will: sorry to be nitty about a nitty comment, but why would you count your 26$ call in the pot odds? The 26$ is only money you can "lose" right now, not win, as it is still yours before the call.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

Achiel, they usually give your money back when you win. HTH.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Will said...

26 to call, 64 in the pot:

win 41%:

.41 * 64 - .59 * 26 = 10.9

"according to ... i need to win the pot 41% of the time"

you actually win almost $11 if you was ahead 41% of the time.

actual win% required to make calling 26 for a 64 pot breakeven is:

x * 64 - (1-x) * 26 = 0

=> x= .28888

calling is profitable here if hoyazo was ahead about 29% of the time not 41%.
nitty as i said since hoyazo said he thought he was beat 90% of the time. it might still make one tend towards calling if you compare 41 and 29

4:43 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

A rule of thumb I use in cash games is, Full stack = Good player, Short Stack = Bad player. The betting pattern you discovered represents some pretty good play if he has you beat, but this is not a good player given his stack size. I probably lean towards the call based on this in the absence of any other info. Bad players love to bluff the river, good players not so much.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Hey Hoy, just wanted to let you know I love the Blog, you have inspired me to play tournaments and chase the FTOPS sat's along with the token sit go's (Wish I had better luck with the Ftops Sat's.) But I may just buy in directly now, I need to TY, Last night do to some of your advice, I won the 26K NL Gar tourny last night (Actual 36K) - this is just the second time I have sat for a LG tourny like this. This was MY Ftops as I could not buy in for a grand or even 200 a week ago - TY for all your advice and It was cool Saying hi to you about a week ago in the 3 Buck rebuy Ftops sat -
WildDuces234

11:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home