Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MATH Recap, and Monsters on the Flop

Out of the blue, 39 runners showed up for the MATH last night, the largest crowd in the 1 1/2 year history of Mondays at the Hoy other than during the BBT, lending further support to my contentions that (i) 6-max is a fun break from the normal grind in the blonkaments, and more importantly (2) the blonkaments as an institution are at an all-time high right now in terms of popularity. I think that is a really great thing, and it shows how much fun we are all having as a group and that the general level of interest in online poker and in our little community is still going strong as ever. Look for a big turnout for Chad's Skill Series tonight at 9:30pm ET, which will be pot-limit holdem on full tilt, as well as for Smokkee's Bodonkey on Bodog.

So anyways, we had 39 runners in the MATH, making for a sweet $936 prize pool, again the largest ever outside of the BBT which is all good. As usual since the switch to 6-max format, the action was fast and furious right from the getgo, with several players getting bounced out in just the first few minutes of play, and around half the field gone by the end of the first hour. Personally, I managed to get dealt pocket Aces not once but twice I think during my run in the tournament, which of course I was able to ride to a near-bubble at the final table. In my elimination hand, I was in the big blind with A2s, and the action folded around to the small blind who raised it up the size of the pot, still about 10% of our respective stacks. With the Ace in my hand, and it being soooted, I decided to make an aggressive and yet I think good move of pushing allin, attempting to add 10%+ to my mid-sized stack and knowing that if I got called by an average sort of hand, I was likely to be roughly a 60% favorite or less. It was an aggro move, but even holding a soooted Ace I won't quite call it a setup because I know the risk when I am holding a 2 as one of my hole cards, so when my opponent quickly called and flipped up AK I knew it was over. As the flop came down AKx, it is obvious that I would have gone to the felt on that flop in any event with my top pair hand, so I don't feel too bad about the play but it ended up sending me home in 11th place, just short of the final table.

Unlike previous weeks I did not stick around to watch the final table action this week, so I can only report on the final results, which included the following cashers:

5. $84.34 -- VinNay, whose blog I mis-linked so badly all through 2007 that he actually had to create a separate blogger page just for all the people who tried to link through to his site via mine (sorry guy, that has been repaired as I hope you have noticed).

4. $112.32 -- bayne_s, making his first appearance on the 2008 MATH moneyboard after a top-3 finish in 2007.

3. $149.76 -- buckhoya, my good friend from college who first got me in to online poker several years ago now, but is too afraid to blog.

2. $215.28 -- Donkey Shortz, a relative newcomer to the blonkament scene, whose name I recognize only from the last few blogger tournaments. Donkey, if you have a blog, please let me know in the comments and I will link you up here.

1. $374.40 -- fuel55, everyone's favorite high-stakes player who is starting of 2008 just like he started of 2007 with some strong blonkament performances early in January after overcoming a solid chip deficit early at the final table to take down his first Hoy of the year and also make his sceond appearance already on the 2008 MATH moneyboard.

And here is the updated 2008 MATH moneyboard, including this week's results:

1. surflexus $488
2. fuel55 $445
3. Jordan $332
4. twoblackaces $298
5. Donkey Shortz $215
6. VinNay $203
7. buckhoya $150
7. Miami Don $150
7. Astin $150
7. Mike Maloney $150
11. chitwood $127
12. bayne_s $112
13. thepokergrind $95
14. bartonf $89
15. Hoyazo $67

So Fuel jumps up to the early 2nd place on the moneyboard, joining two-time cashers Surf and Jordan in dominating the top three on the list through the first month of the new year. VinNay also recorded his second cash of 2008 as we are already beginning to see who some of the best, aggressive players are in our group given the nature of shorthanded nlh tournament play and how it tends to cater to the more aggro players out there. I look forward to more fun times in the coming weeks as we move into February with our Mondays at the Hoy tournament on full tilt.

I wanted to leave you today with a little tidbit I found in one of my latest poker books I am reading, which seems at first glance to be very simple and yet I have found myself thinking about it a lot as time rolls on. As you know if you read here often, I am always on the hunt for the simple little pearls of poker wisdom that I can share with you guys here on the blog from the books I am reading, and this one is a very simple concept and yet something that, the more I think about it, the more I think it is true in most cases. And here it is:

Where you are the preflop aggressor, and your opponent unexpectedly leads out at the pot before you have a chance to act on the flop, it is highly unlikely that he or she has hit a monster hand. With a good hand they might be betting to protect their hand or find out where they are at, but it is very unlikely that they have made a monster hand.

There it is. Now let's think about where this principle is applicable in all of our regular poker play for a moment:

You have pocket Queens earlyish in a 1-table sitngo, and you are in middle position. UTG raises the 40-chip big blind to 120 chips. You reraise from MP to 450 chips. Everyone else folds around to the utg player, who flat calls your 450-chip raise. The flop comes down KK8 rainbow, and there are 960 chips in the pot.

Your UTG opponent now suddenly leads out for 400 chips. Most of the time, using the principle above, you are safe to move in the rest of your stack here without too much worry that you are beaten. Yes of course every once in a while you are going to run into pocket Aces pocket 8s, but as a general rule, think about what your opponent just did here on the flop. He knows that you are the preflop aggressor, since you put in the last raise, a sizeable one at that. So he knows that if he checks on this flop, you are almost certain to bet given your preflop aggression and given the size of the pot already here on the flop. You've represented something strong and you almost "have" to bet out here if UTG checks the action to you on this flop. So, if he has something like big slick or KQs and has just flopped trip Kings, why would he ever bet out here? Why would he not instead wait for you to bet and then raise you allin? That's what I would do. Wouldn't you, with a monster hand like that if you were the UTG player in this example? Probably.

And that's exactly why this point is so valid. Knowing that you are going to bet the flop if he checks, your opponent in most cases would not want to bet out on this flop, especially in a sitngo where the stacks are not all too deep, because check-raising you allin is such a stronger and more profitable move for him if he has in fact flopped a monster. Now think for a minute about what this kind of lead bet from your opponent does likely mean in this scenario. As we've discussed he is not likely to lead out with a monster like trip Kings here, since he can so much more profitably check-raise you in this spot. But what if he holds a hand like JJ or TT? Those would be perfect candidates to lead out here. He knows if he checks this flop, you are going to bet and he will likely have to lay down a decent pocket pair hand. And, with the pair on the flop, he may think he has a reasonable chance of being ahead if you are holding something like AQ or a medium pocket pair yourself, something like 99 or TT. Same thing if he holds a hand like A8s, or even 98s if he is a preflop raise-callin donkey. Those are the much more likely candidate hands for your opponent to be betting out with UTG on the KK8 flop, because with those hands he might want to find out right away if he is ahead or behind, and he knows he will have to lay down to your likely bet if he checks to you in this spot. Whereas, again, if he has just flopped trip Kings, he will usually want to check to you precisely because he knows you will bet out here, which he can then check-raise and either make you lay down or take all your chips.

Now of course, as with any rule, there are exceptions, and in this case the exceptions primarily relate to either the really dopey players or the really tricky players. The dopes aren't even going to realize the tremendous check-raising opportunity they are presented with here when they flop trip Kings after your preflop reraise, and they may just bet out because they like their cards and they've connected well with the flop. Similarly, but different of course, a very tricky player -- in particular, one who thinks that you are a thinking player as well -- might well have the presence of mind to bet out with the trip Kings here purposefully because he knows it will seem as if he does not have a monster hand if he bets out. That is a somewhat advanced play, but even in our blonkey group, and certainly among the "real" poker players out there, you are apt to run in to a fair number of people who will bet out with their trips in this situation. All that being said, as a general rule, if you have been the clear preflop aggressor and an opponent unexpectedly leads out into you on the flop, you will do far better over time by calling or raising with your own strong hands than you will by folding to what is not likely the way he or she would be playing a true monster flop in this situation.

See you all tonight for the pot-limit holdem Skill Series at 9:30pm ET on full tilt!

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Blogger jmathewson_III said...

I read a comment by Lucko saying he thought he could raise the donk bettor 100% of the time and have it be profitable. It almost always means a medium strength hand. I've taken that line of thinking and now raise nearly 100% of the time playing cash. Most of my exceptions are in multiway pots. I think this has been a nice profitable addition to my cash game.


3:36 AM  
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3:40 PM  

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