Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hand Analysis Continued, and Knowing When TPTK is Beat

Thank you for everyone's comments on my questions yesterday about how to play KQs from middle position after an early position limper in a 6max tournament as the new chip leader. I am still a little amazed at the lack of support coming in for the line of overlimping this hand before the flop, but I guess I have to give some credit to the thought that perhaps raising generally in this spot is better. I guess the thing is, I would like to know from you guys who favor raising here, what kind of hand do you think is worthy of an overlimp there instead of a raise? Is it only the medium sooted connectors and low pairs? But not KQs? KQs seems like a good overlimp candidate to me. I guess the thing that has me a little baffled about this particular situation is that if you told me you think that raising there with KQs is a slightly better play than overlimping, I would say fine you might be right, just as I am doing here now. But for the most part, the people who have commented in favor of raising there don't seem to think this is a close decision at all. Most of you seem to believe that limping KQs from middle position after an early position limper in 6max nlh is a terrible play and easily worse than the preferable alternative, which is raising. I do not agree with that sentiment at all, and I still think KQs is a very nice candidate for overlimping in this spot, given the near-nut flush and near-nut straight possibilities. With the probability of a playable hand in the blinds, KQ has got to be behind that range. It's behind all pairs and all Aces. It's behind the range.

Where are the really great, thinking poker players out there weighing in with their comments? Here is a list of ten people I would like to get a read from on the question of how they like to play KQs at 6max nlh from the cutoff after the UTG+1 Hijack player had open-limped ahead of you:

1. Chad, who knows tournament poker better than just about anybody we regularly play with (yes, Scott Fischman included).

2. Lucko, fresh off his cool $6700 win by taking down the Pokerstars $27.50 buyin 25k guaranteed tournament. This thing is an abject monster, with 2000 or so uberdonkeys entrants most nights and half the buyin of even the 28k on full tilt.

3. Wes (not Pirate Wes -- but I'd love to hear your thoughts too -- but "On the Road" Wes who plays as high and as well as anyone).

4. Waffles. For $.05 - $.10 perspective.

5. Miami Don. The Vegas cash gamers' perspective.

6. DoubleAs. I doubt if Scott reads here these days if ever, but if you're out there I would be interested in your take on this question as someone who moved up through the ranks before our eyes and someone who has won in both cash and tournaments.

7. columbo, who is Chad's vote for most improved blogger in the past year, and I think it was Drizz who claimed columbo is the best post-flop poker blogger there is.

8. Surflexus, who with 114 Mookie titles has easily earned the right to have his thoughts heard on this important topic.

9. Fuel55. For the $50-$100 nlh take.

10. And lastly, the Surly Poker Gnome, for the perspective of another guy who plays high and plays well and whose analysis of the game and of hand decisions is proven solid.

So everybody go and click on each one of the links there and let's see how many of these guys we can get to weigh in with their thoughts on the KQs debate.

So on Wednesday night after running top and bottom pair on the flop into the flopped flush against eventual tournament winner twoblackaces, I spent a good deal of time reviewing some hand histories from earlier this week. I found an interesting hand that occurred actually six hands in to Mondays at the Hoy this week at my starting table. I am posting the hand history here (anonymized) because I think the hand is a great example of a time where it should have been obvious to one of the players involved that his TPTK hand was no good. Recognizing when one pair is no good is a key skill of any great no-limit player, and this was a situation as I sat and watched the action where I simply knew there was no way TPTK was taking this pot down:

Full Tilt Poker Game #5477492347: Blogger Big Game (40523592), Table 8 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:36:06 ET - 2008/03/02
Seat 1: Big Blind (4,985)
Seat 2: UTG (4,910)
Seat 3: UTG+1 (4,850)
Seat 4: Middle Position #1 (5,465)
Seat 5: Middle Position #2 (4,880)
Seat 6: Hijack (5,030)
Seat 7: Cutoff (4,910)
Seat 8: Button (4,955)
Seat 9: Small Blind (5,015)
Small Blind posts the small blind of 15
Big Blind posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
UTG folds
UTG+1 folds
Middle Position #1 folds
Middle Position #2 folds
Hijack folds
Cutoff folds
Button raises to 90 So here you've got your standard stealy-looking button raise
Small Blind folds
Big Blind calls 60 BB calls 60 into 135 pot, could mean a fairly wide range of hands if he puts the button on a steal.
*** FLOP *** [6c Qc 7h]
Big Blind checks
Button has 15 seconds left to act
Button bets 170 Fairly standard c-bet here of 170 into a 195-chip pot.
Big Blind has 15 seconds left to act
Big Blind raises to 550 Hmmmmmm.
Button calls 380 Notice the lack of delay Button bet, got checkraised and then smooth called the checkraise here. This should indicate a big hand or a big draw in most cases.
*** TURN *** [6c Qc 7h] [Ts]
Big Blind has 15 seconds left to act
Big Blind checks Hmmmmm again. The big checkraise on the flop, he got called, and now he checks it here.
Button bets 1,130 Now this is where I'm starting to get a good picture of what is happening here. The big blind just ran a large checkraise on the last street, and the button smooth called that checkraise. Now the turn card completes one of the obvious draws from the flop -- the oesd with 98 in the button's hand -- the big blind checked and the button went and bet out strongly, even after getting checkraised on the previous street. If there was any doubt that the button is sitting on a monster here after the flop, I believe that doubt is just about gone after this lead bet on the turn, and the big blind should be picking up on this as well by this point in the hand.
Big Blind calls 1,130 Hard to figure what the big blind is smooth calling with here, but I'm sensing that I don't like it.
*** RIVER *** [6c Qc 7h Ts] [5c]
Big Blind has 15 seconds left to act
Big Blind bets 1,000 The river completes the possible flush draw, but with the big blind having checkraised on the flop as large as he did, it is highly unlikely that that checkraise was designed to elicit a free card on the turn for a drawing hand, so I'm not sure what he is representing with this bet here.
Button calls 1,000 Not surprised to see this call, as I am putting the button on a large hand here given his flop and especially turn action.
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Big Blind shows [Qs As] a pair of Queens
Button shows [6d 6h] three of a kind, Sixes Exactly. Here the big blind on the TPTK had to know he was beat after the button got checkraised and yet still bet out on the turn. This is bad hand reading in my view, and an even worse "value bet" at the river with just one pair.
Button wins the pot (5,555) with three of a kind, Sixes
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5,555 | Rake 0
Board: [6c Qc 7h Ts 5c]
Seat 1: Big Blind showed [Qs As] and lost with a pair of Queens
Seat 2: UTG didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: UTG+1 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: Middle Position #1 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: Middle Position #2 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: Hijack didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: Cutoff didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: Button showed [6d 6h] and won (5,555) with three of a kind, Sixes
Seat 9: Small Blind folded before the Flop

So I would love to get anyone's thoughts on this hand. To me, it was as obvious as the day is long that the big blind's TPTK was beat by the time the turn lead bet happened, and if I'm the big blind I am folding my AQ to that bet from the button on the turn. And no way I am betting out on the river in that spot. Am I right or am I right?

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Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I would probably favor overlimping unless raising I think he will fold because he is a middle stack and it wont hurt me much if he does not. Having said this I limp too much in MTTs and my opinion should be disregarded as I only finished 28th last night.

4:14 AM  
Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Sorry to poison the well, but anyone that gives you an answer other than "It depends" is a donkey.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I like your approach and I tend to share it, Duggles. That's what was so surprising to me about the very one-sided comments I got on what I think is a very wide-open issue in poker terms.

4:26 AM  
Blogger PokerFool said...

Yo Hoy, Thanks for railing me in my run at the 50/50 last night. I finished 18th after I called an all-in with AJ (Oops). I wouldn't mind your thoughts on that hand (and a couple others).

As to the limping KQ hand: As a 100NL and 200NL 6 max player, I am rasing KQs pretty much all of the time, especially after a limper. In the cash games, you don't see the really good players open limp, so it is generally seen as a sign of weekness. And us Cash game TAGs love to punish limpers. I hit the pot button and add 1 or 2 SBs.

As far as in an MTT (and I am not a 6 max MTT expert), I would probably raise there at least 90% of the time depending on my read of that particular player. Being aggressive and playing well in position are keys to 6 max success.

TPTK hand: If I am the BB, I for one would be 3-betting that button raise with AQ pre-flop. A check-raise on the flop is fine, but after the button calls my check-raise, I would probably lead out on the turn. If the button calls or raises, I am done with the hand and will not put any more money in the pot. The check-call of the turn bet isn't that good, imo.


4:29 AM  
Blogger lj said...

i concur w/ everything pokerfool said about the AQ v. 66 hand. i would definitely 3 bet pre, i like the cr, and i would lead out the turn, and fold if rred.

one of the funniest things to me about the KQs hand is that i would never, NEVER limp that in a 9 handed game. i'm either raising or folding every time. that is part of the reason i like the newish math format of 6 max, because i don't play 6 max a lot, i'm fairly inexperienced, and i think adjustments do need to be made. one way that i adjusted was limping in that spot, but i can see now why it's almost more important to raise, especially given that i'm generally a more aggressive player.

4:47 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

If my check-raise gets called, and only called, and all I have is TPTK, I give up on the hand, period. Maybe that means I get outplayed by someone like you or Lucko, but mostly it DOESN'T mean that, it means you're beat, and we're talking about what to do in most situations.

When he bets on the turn, I fold. If I stay in on the river - I wouldn't, but if I did, it's actually possible that the river bet is better than calling the bet on the turn because it's a blocking bet.

Only possible, though.

Though would I do it on the river? Hell no. And hell no am I even in this hand by the river anyway. He made the right move on the flop to find out where he was and then ignored the information he received.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

You keep calling it an MP limp but it's NOT. It's the CUTOFF. Yes, 6-handed preflop that means it's 3rd to act with 3 behind, but with a limper before you, you're giving the button, SB, and BB odds to call here by limping. This means you have no position at all on the flop, and no idea what ANYBODY has, plus you COULD be worried about AK, AA, or even AQ from the limper (which you were extolling the past two days). So post flop you're blind, with possibly 3 people acting before you, and one after, who could have any combination of cards. You flop anything but two pair or better here and you're clueless. A raggy flop could bring a set, a straight, two pair, or a draw. A K or Q could be beat by two pair, or you being dominated by the earlier limper. If the KQs was in EP, or even really in MP (UTG, or UTG+1), then they can bet on the flop to see where they're at, but postflop they're in a terrible position if there's any action before them.

Limping the KQs pre in this case, with a limper before you and 3 people who will get the odds to limp if you just call only works if you catch hard. The position is terrible for that move because it makes it harder to read the texture of the board.

Move the seat back a spot or two? Get rid of the UTG+1 limp? See a small raise beforehand? Different story. Like duggle says, "it depends", but you'd need some serious reads on every other player at the table with this position, this betting action, and those stacks to change the situtaion in my mind.

On the flipside, I'm sure if the flush had come on the river, everyone would be praising the limp as brilliant for drawing in so many flies. I'd call it lucky then.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

As a cash game player, my instincts tell me to raise KQs in this spot because you might pick up the blinds, narrow the field to heads-up with two high cards, improve postflop bluffing opportunities and reduce the risk of getting sucked out on if you hit.
You can put me in the category of those thinking that raising is slightly better than calling. But I can see the justification for a call, especially in a tournament setting at times when you want to see a flop.
I do not like limping here solely for purposes of mixing up your play. I think whether you limp or raise in this spot, you should have a specific reason and plan for doing so after considering stack sizes, blinds, table image, etc.
In sum, I would raise KQs but there are valid reasons for limping it too, especially in a tournament where pot control and survival are sometimes more important than pure "my range beats his range" analysis.

6:30 AM  
Blogger $mokkee said...

is this KQ hand really worth three days (or more) of discussion?

i'm so done with that hand already.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

Playing KQs in 6-max games at the $10/20NL level and up:

Scenario 1: If you overlimp KQs from the CO there are three potential squeezers behind you and one of them will RR about 90% of the time.

If it is the button who RRs then you are in a sandwich, if a blind raises you have position for the rest of the hand.

Case 1: Button raises and UTG calls – now if you call (2 or 3 bets into 7 or 8) you have no idea really of the hand strengths of TWO opponents and you are in a sandwich (this is BAD)

Case 2: Button raises and UTG folds (unlikely) – now you are playing KQs out of position against a player who has AA and 53o with about equal frequency (this is BAD)

Case 3: A blind raises and UTG calls – now you must call (for pot odds) and you have no idea really of the hand strengths of TWO opponents but at least you have position (this is OK)

Case 4: A blind raises and UTG folds (very unlikely) – now you are playing KQs in position against a single opponent (this is GOOD)

Case 5: Either the button or blind raises and UTG 4-bets – you autofold and lose 1BB

Scenario 2: No one raises behind you and you are playing 3-way (if SB folds) (very very rare) and 4-way (if SB calls a half bet) (this will happen the other 10% of the time). In either case you have position but have no idea what your three opponents hold (this is BAD).

So of the 6 possible variants the only one you want is Scenario 1/Case 4 which might happen 2% of time. Thus overlimping is HORRIBLE in bigger games.

If you raise KQs and either the button, blinds or UTG 4-bets you can fold losing only 3BB. At least you know where you are. If only the UTG players calls you play HU in position (this is GOOD).

So you do the math …

In tournaments where the stacks are undoubtedly shorter maybe this play is defensible but I doubt it.

8:13 AM  
Blogger crushmastac said...

I would change a bunch of things with the way BB played it. For one, I hate playing AQ out of position, so on an average day, I'm 3betting preflop. As played, after the flop I like the check-raise, and after he gets called, I agree that he should be aware that button is sitting on something big. KQ (maaaybe?)/set/AK clubs/KK/AA/combo draws are all possible candidates.. But with the turn only completing an unlikely draw (Only hand I think button would have to call the c/r is 8c9c) and still holding TPTK, I'm never checking the turn after this flop action. If I lead the turn and button calls again (or raises), I know I'm in a bit of a bind.

And I totally agree that the "value bet" on the river is a huge mistake. At that point I'd be reluctantly c/f or c/c.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I only say this for myself.

Personally, I rarely limp. Regardless of suited connectors, middle pocket pairs, high pocket pairs, AK, KQ, whatever... it's rare that you see me limp. I don't limp to mix up my play. I raise with suited one gappers as well as small pocket pairs, AA, KK, whatever, etc to mix up my play. In other words, when I raise, I could have a good hand or I could have a so so hand. Either way, I'm raising so I guess that's my basis for saying, I would raise. I'm not saying the CO should raise. I am saying that if I'm the CO, I would raise.

Only time I would be ok with not raising is if I'm on the button and I am assured of having position. From the CO, if I limp, I am making myself very susceptible to a squeeze play and I don't like that. Again, I personally like to take control of the aggression and position.

I am actually surprised that you are advocating the overlimp here because I thought that in an MTT, there's still a lot of value in stealing the blinds and potentially the extra BB (UTG+1 limper). Of course, because it's 6 max, stealing is valuable but maybe not as valuable as a full ring game where the blinds don't come around as fast. Maybe that's why you advocate the overlimp? I don't know.

But again, I just don't like the overlimp in this particular situation. Again, move me to the button instead of the cutoff and I am perfectly fine with the limp. If the villain (UTG+1) has shown a propensity to be a trappy/tricky player, limping is fine. If it's just some unknown playing in a blogger tourney where personally, I am starting to think the level of play is not sophisticated enough to give them credit for being trappy/overthinkers, then there's no reason to believe that an UTG+1 limp is strong. So, I would just raise and try to take down the pot there. If not, at least I'll have position on the player who limp called OOP.

As for the AQ hand... all I know is that at the blind levels of 15/30 and with a deep stack, I can't imagine playing such a big pot with TPTK OOP. But that's just me. I apparently have position fetish.

9:26 PM  
Blogger actyper said...

I hate sunday night games, played tired and played that hand like crap. I don't often 3bet early in tournies oop, would prefer a smaller pot, but my play post flop didn't coinside what my small pot mentality.

The turn was my worse play IMO. Not sure why I checked there, that should have been my make or break point.

The river wasn't a value bet. Sort of a blocker / I just hit my flush enticing small bet.

12:11 AM  
Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

TPTK hand

There is no way I want to watch TPTK lose at the 15/30 level. I can get away from this before the turn, but cetrainly at the turn. I dont want to play a giant pot with TPTK in the first hour.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice play. I found the hand is easier to follow like this:

You can embed the visual right in your posts so that it's easier to understand.

12:14 PM  

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