Sunday, September 23, 2007

Excited About Poker, and Playing Against a Maniac

Well, it's another Monday, which means another week at the grind for most of us, as well as another day spent analyzing fixed NFL games, redonkulous fantasy football losses, and, of course, preparing to be donked at Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt:

See you there at 10pm ET Monday evening, under the "Private" tab under "Tournaments" on full tilt. Password as always is "hammer". We've been having some fun lately all trying to stop RaisingCayne's Reign of Terror over the Hoy, and tonight will be the latest opportunity for you all out there to stop by and take a chance at getting your name and blog mentioned right here by ousting Cayne from tonight's event before he makes it 7 final tables in 8 MATH appearances. That is a sick, sick run, so hopefully you'll be there tonight to experience it for yourself. There's four of us now all in the $1100 club for the MATH in 2007, and the next one of the top four to cash in the tournament should have a good hold on the moneyboard lead as the third quarter of the year comes to a close.

This weekend was my first productive one in some time in the world of online poker. I barely played if at all during the first part of the weekend, but on Saturday late night, after another marathon session of Wii Tennis with my brother in law, I ended up playing of all things cash games and really getting in some great poker. I played smart, tight but aggressive poker, didn't donk around for a change and really made some awesome reads. I saved up a ton of hands just from that session so over the coming weeks you may get to see some of those, including one I will post about later today. But I ended up making over 3 buyins at 2-4 over maybe a couple hours of play, and had a blast doing it. More than that, like I said I played really well, avoided any major mistakes, and barely put any money into pots that I didn't end up winning which is always a good thing. But most of all, I really feel like I got my poker playing back on the right track. It was so great, in fact, that I am actually really excited about playing again tonight, and that's the first time I can say that in some time. For whatever reason my Saturday late night session left me feeling like my game is sharp, refined and ready to take on all comers, and I even followed this up with this minor win on Sunday, which if nothing else is good for symbolic reasons in that this is what I was winning a couple of months back when I was running so well:

Booom. Back to five $75 tokens in the account, just waiting to be donked with. I keep meaning to play those $75 buyin mtt satellites to the Monday 1k guaranteed, but basically that means I have to be starting an mtt at 11:30pm ET on a Sunday night which is not normally what I'm looking to do with my weekday evenings. Maybe I'll start trolling for sng satellites at the Tier II token buyin to this tournament, which is something I haven't thought of before. But otherwise, I generally like to use these badboys on mtt satellites rather than the 24k or 18k or whatever, because those guaranteed tournaments seem to be at off-times for me as a rule. That 24k is at I think 8pm ET, which is generally before I tend to get online these days, and the 18k that I know Smokkee and Iak used to love so much goes off at mignight ET, which is again a bit outside of my wheelhouse, time-wise. Anyways, all this is a roundabout way of saying that I might, just might, be coming out of my recent funk thanks to a great session of solid play this Saturday plus a nice mtt satellite win to start off the new week on Sunday. And that's actually what gets me excited right now. Well, that, and this. I can't do the YouTube embedding thing thanks to my dorkwork, but if you want to see a thorough domination rolled into about 2 minutes of football highlights, then look no further.

Anyways, after having so much fun reviewing that 3-suited flop hand last week, today I wanted to post another hand I played recently and get some thoughts and reaction to that situation. Unlike last week's hand analysis, this week we're going to jump to the cash tables, specifically to the 6-max no-limit holdem tables with blinds of $2 and $4 that I love to play at. This week's hand is actually a specific situation where I had been playing well at this table for a while, and after recently busting a short stack and creating an empty seat, a new player sat down two seats to my right. This guy's name was "sobersucks", and it was late night, and I am convinced in this case that the name was a good indication of the actual mental state of the player behind the cute little green turtle icon in the corner of my screen.

He had played maybe 5 hands by the time this particular hand I want to discuss came up. On the very first hand when he sat down, he had bet allin on the flop in a tremendous overbet of probably ten times the current pot and took it down without resistance. Two hands later he was in again, this time with a large preflop raise of against more than ten times the current bet after three players had limped in ahead of him to try to see a flop for cheap. On the very next hand (mind you, just the 4th hand since he sat down, giving all this action), sobersucks check-raised me out of a pot I was trying to buy on the turn, and since I had nothing more than middle pair and his raise was again oversized compared to the action to that point, I had to lay it down. So, I had formulated a read on this guy already, which was basically that he was utterly full of shit -- no one could normally expect to have that many good cards and hit that many flops so hard so early on in any session -- and was probably either hammered or just bad (or both) and fully expected to lose his entire stack quickly and efficiently. And I wanted to do whatever I had to do to get in there with him, especially since he had shown such a penchant for bets and especially for over-raises both pre- and post-flop.

So that's where I was at when the following hand came up, again the very next hand in sequence after those described above, and in total the fifth hand since this crazy aggro player had sat down at the table with me. Again, remember the blinds here are 2-4, and the target is seated two seats to my right, which in this case is the small blind since I am acting UTG. I look down to find AQo utg.

How do you play this hand? AQ is normally a very strong hand at shorthanded nlh. Normal raise like always? Bigger or smaller than usual? What do you like to do in this spot, with at least one player in the blinds who is just itching to get all his chips in with what I have to assume is a wide range of hands?

For me, I opted to just limp. I figured, best case scenario, sobersucks in the small blind has a smaller Ace, and by limping here up front, that gives me the best chance of getting him to see this flop, or hopefully to raise again preflop with shit, and that my utg limp should give off an impression of weakness that I would hope to take advantage of from him later in the hand. Honestly, this was the first playable hand I'd seen since sobersucks sat down to the table, and I wanted to do whatever I could to try to get into a pot and see a flop with him, and then outplay him later or hopefully get this donk to move it all in on me with an inferior hand. I just can't stand it when a blatant donk sits down at the table and then is relieved of his chips without me getting a good piece. And to be clear, limping utg with AQ I think in general is -EV poker, but I did this particularly because I had identified a major leak at the table and wanted to do what I could to exploit it. If I raise here, the donk in the small blind will likely fold his shit hands. But if I just limp, and especially if a few other guys limp behind me, then the donk won't be able to stop himself from getting in there:

So, the action then gets around to the button, who bumps the preflop stakes up to $22 to see a flop. Donkeyboy then in the small blind smooth calls another $18, and the action is back to me:

What do you like to do here? Who's folding? Who's calling? And who's raising, and if so, how much do you raise? And why?

Phillies playoff chances meter: 5%

See you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

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Blogger The Poker Grind said...

Im looking forward to my 4th appearance in the MATH...ive been playing so bad in these tourneys that after some careful thought , im putting a $11 bounty on myself...Thats right, if you knock me out, The Poker himself, then i will transfer $11 to your account ...Im hoping this bounty allows me to play tigher and better . I will be playing under the FTP user name stevenwe or joemnznyc , whichever has $$ in it ... later

1:09 AM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Two options in my opinion. I lean towards Option 1 because you have given us no background on the button player. If the button has been raising limpers and raising a lot on the button, then I probably go with Option 2.

1. Fold. You only have $4 invested and you can probably find a better spot to isolate the donk. Flat calling puts you in rough shape b/c you are now in a 3 way pot and TakeUrCheese has position.

2. Raise to $65-$75 if the button has shown propensity to make raises against limpers when he is on the button. Your hand has to look strong in his mind and he will fold some stronger hands and probably shove a hand that dominates you.

If he folds, you got what you wanted - isolated the donk. sobersucks would have trouble folding at this point based on how you described his play. If he flat calls, you have position on him. If he folds, you take down a nice pot preflop with AQo.

I really don't like flat calling, but am definitely guilty of doing it sometimes in this spot. I can see the argument for it, but against a full stack on the button with no read I'll look for a better spot to take on the guy that is spewing.

1:33 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

The thing that sucks about this hand is the idiot didn't raise, the button raised. Granted, it's the button, in a six-handed game, so his range is wider than you might expect, and there's a better chance that A-Q beats him.

But here's the thing. I don't like playing multi-way pots with a hand that will mostly likely play as a pair. I love playing those same pots with a hand like 5-5, sooted connectors, etc. And you know that already.

So you've got a situation where you've got a raise, two limpers, one of whom is a donkey, and one who might call simply because the pot odds are good at this point.

Ouch. How do you know where you are at this point?

I'm a winning player because I usually play these situations weak. I take a flop, and then if it hits me, I bet and decide from there what to do. In this case, if I hit an A or a Q=, and everyone but the donkey folds, sweet. I play it hard and get paid. Otherwise I'm pretty careful.

But what you probably should do, and I know you have no problems with this, is you should re-raise., and you should probably re-raise it big, to avoid giving the limpers odds to call. What you hope will happen is the button will fold and the limper will fold and donkey boy will call. And he probably will, and the button will probably fold. If he doesn't fold, well, you know you're probably beat. At least you'll know where you are then.

I would play the hand the first way I described it, but at my levels, raises without a premium hand are rare. Everyone plays tight and predictable for the most part. At the level you're playing, and in a 6-max game, I'd go with the re-raise.

1:46 AM  
Blogger L'artiste said...

Go ahead and go for the squeeze. I'm 95% sure that button has nothing and is trying to buy the pot. SB is a fish. What you really want is for the button to fold here since you'll have position on the fish for the rest of the hand.

Here's another thing for the button to consider, what is this guy limping in utg to 3 bet-me like this? You could make him fold a better hand like 10-10, 9-9 and such. So go for it.

If you get 4-bet, than yes, fold.

1:46 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

Wow, CMitch read my mind and posted while I was typing.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

Fold or raise. I'd probably re-raise to $115 or so. Isolate the donk. However, if the button isn't one who raises in that spot a lot, I'd definitely be okay with folding and picking another spot.

2:17 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

insta-fold. best you could hope for is you're up against two players with JJ or lower and you still have to hit the flop.

AQ OOP ?? no bueno

2:32 AM  
Blogger crazdgamer said...

Speaking from personal experience, I limped with QQ UTG when a maniac was at my table. He ended up folding, and I ended up running into AA in the SB.

I'd be scared of what the button has. If he's willing to raise with you limping and the maniac left to act, I'd want to be in a better spot. Fold.

2:38 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

All things are possible. I really dont mind folding. You've got $4 invested and no one is giving you credit for AQ which could be good or bad. Squeezing is OK since you are UTG and could be limp/raising a monster. But then if you are 4-bet you will be out $70 instead of $4. Calling is also ok but i'd be extremely cautious postflop. Just one of those yucky situations that develops. Ughhh.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I would reraise. The whole idea behind limping with a hand that's pretty strong in 6 max is so that you could play it like you have a monster hand. The button raise, I don't think, is indicative of any strong hand. I don't know what the guy has but with one limper, regardless of UTG or not, I'd be raising with a fairly wider range. So, if you come over the top, you can quickly assess the situation. I am not too crazy about calling since I would have someone behind me and I already look weak when the flop comes. If it misses you entirely, what would you do? Especially when the donkey in question bets out a big amount? You'd have to fold because of who is behind you. So, I would go and try to isolate by reraising it to like $90+.

Again, I only advocate because you limped UTG with AQ with the intent of disguising your strength which you already have. Now, I think you need to reraise to at least have position on the hand and also to indicate you have a big hand.

I don't mind the fold here but then again, if you're folding to a raise with AQ, you never shoulda limped in the first place and you already mentioned that in your post.

3:52 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

See you tonight! I have no dillusions about three-peating, but I sure am lookin' forward to the tournament! I'm confident this recent "reign" is due to be replaced with consecutive early exits soon enough. I gloated to my roommate recently, and he read this blog detailing my recent wins... so now he's entering tonight's MATH with the sole intention of knockin' me off my high horse! My money would be on "the field" to take this one down, that's for sure!

Regarding the hand scenario you mention: I'm in the "fold" boat myself. My cash game record shows I'm a complete tool at these "real" games though, so take this with a grain of salt. I'm just too scurred of the button's raise to think this is a good time to isolate the donkey. While I too would be lookin' for every opportunity to play against the fish, the $22 pre is enough for me to concede this hand to the button, and consider AQo no good. I'm too big of a pansy to re-raise here to really see where I'm at, and I think flat calling is just too -EV, permitting both a fish and a raiser in position to see a flop. Although... I would be willing to bet this is a spot where a better player puts in a nice raise considering the fish's smooth call... I'm just not gonna pretend to be that "better player" when I know I'd fold in this spot myself. (Of course, I wouldn't yet be playing with more than $50 in front of me...)

4:34 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

I would also raise, but I would have never limped in the first place. It's much more difficult to win a large pot off a donk if you allow him to get in cheap and then pay him off with top pair, which is what you're going for with a hand like AQ.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I fold. I hate AQ and my plan's gone to shit. I too would have raised in the first place, allowing donkey to show me who's boss.

10:30 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

This spot right here is why you don't open limp AQo. It just looks like FPS to me.

9:37 PM  

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