Friday, July 25, 2008

Thoughts of Running Bad

I've got nothing fresh or original about poker swirling around my head today to be quite honest. The truth of the truth is that this past week has been one of my least enjoyable weeks of poker in a looooong time. The thing with being me is that when I run bad, I will take 15-20 bad beats a night. It is sick. I've learned to handle a ton of bad beats, and really I can't remember the last time I even close to tilted from any particular beat. But as mostly a tournament player, these bad beats never seem to come at a good time or in an unimportant pot, and lately they have been ending some nice runs I've been building up over several hours, most often just short of the bubble in the nightly majors.

Consider just the most painful ones from just Thursday night. I lost a ragingly monstrous stack in the Riverchasers when I got it in with my AA against KK allin preflop, and I still couldn't find a way to win the hand. When I caught someone bluffing with their 74o allin reraise vs. my pocket Queens late in the 32k, the guy rivers the straight. And in the $150 satellite to the $1060 buyin FTOPS #10, first my JJ loses to 99 allin preflop to rape half my stack, but through my greatness I managed to rebuild and was back in the top third of the field with about half of the entrants eliminated, and then my AA loses allin preflop to QTs when the guy flops a migga fligging flush on me. I mean WTF.

Anyways even I have to admit some digghead ranting about the bad beats he took last night is no kind of good blog reading. It doesn't even feel good to write it, believe me. Suffice it to say that I when I run bad, I take a lot more bad beats than most people could deal with, and it can really sap away my enthusiasm pretty quick if it continues for long. So today after yet another night of spankage, I got nothing fresh.

So be it.

Let me change things up then by asking a few questions of the readers today.

First, Esquire80 left me this comment to yesterday's Bet or Check the River post:

"I've got to agree w/ shrike, your optimal play is to bet out right into him. In this particular case he would have most likely folded but he could have called, folded or you would have induced a bluff which you were prepared to snap off.

Based on your read you are assigning him something like a 10% chance of a flush?

Overall, you are losing value here unless your plan is to check raise the river with your strong holding in an attempt to squeeze more out of him. In this case he didn't have anything to squeeze but if he had someting like Krag w/ 2 pair or got a cooler w/ a set you could felted him.

Frankley, to be results oriented I don't think you could have got any more value out of that hand given his holding but the value bet on the river is the superior play in the long run."
(emphasis added)

This is a very black-and-white-ly stated position, and in my experience in poker such matter-of-fact strategies generally prove not to be nearly so cut and dried. So I get it, my presumed fellow lawyer guy, you say that betting is better than checking in this spot. But not once do you say why that is correct. And the why is at least as important as the what. So do tell, I am all ears.

Secondly, let me ask a more general question here. Am I the guy everyone is talking about who uses too many commas and uses them too liberally? I mean, I like to think I'm pretty self-aware, and it's not like I don't know that I seem to write more and longer posts than most people. But when people are out there commenting on how people use commas all wrong, have they actually been talking about me this time for real? That would be fucked up.

Here's another good one: Who the fuck would ever be betting on an NBA game right now? Go read that link. I have to credit our man for the inside scoop on the betting lines in Las Vegas Miami Don for that link. But dayummm, who on earth is betting basketball these days? Think the NBA might have to revise its stance that this was an isolated referee, acting alone, all along? Christ, that shit just gets worse and worse.

Oh and before I go, for those who don't know, Bayne and Waffles have a $100 staight-up bet going where Waffles bets that he can climb to the top of the year's Mookie leaderboard within I think two more months or so. When the bet was made earlier this week, I think Waffles was in 7th place or something, and was basically $260 or something behind the current leaders, LJ and Surflexus. Well, already Waffles busted out with a third-place finish in this week's Mookie tournament, climbing a bit on the board and narrowing the amount he has to recover in the next several tournaments. So today I am going to establish some odds on this bet, which I will plan to track the rest of the way through the challenge.

When Waffles agreed to bet $100 straight-up that he could climb Donk Mountain enough times to overtake the leaderboard top spot in just a couple of months in the Mookie of all tournament, in my own head I set Waffles' chances at about 3% of winning that bet. Now, however, after this week's performance alone, I'm going to kick those odds up to about 12%. That is a big jump right there, but think of it this way: what kind of odds would I be willing to offer someone who wanted to bet me, say, $50 that Waffles would win. So I get to keep his $50 if Waffles does not take the Mookie lead, but if he does take the lead at any time in the next two months, would I be willing to pay $500 in exchange for the $50 now? I would not, not quite. I'm setting that line at around 8 to 1 odds, like I would take the $50 now if I knew I would have to pay out $400 if Waffles wins the bet. So 8 to 1 is where I'm setting "the Waffles line" for now. 8 to 1 everyone, place your bets, 8 to 1.

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Blogger Shrike said...

I'll follow up with a blog post. I've been thinking about this quite a bit and I don't think I can do it justice with a brief comment. Short answer for now: a small-ish value bet in this spot should average to produce a larger pot size (which you win way more often than you lose). This is pure math, really.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Esquire80 said...

OK I don't have a blog and I'm not a math guy but in the context of this particular hand I'll give my reasoning.

First, you are heads up and/or very short handed and you flop the joint. This is perfect set-up to get your opponent's entire stack.

On the flop you bet pot and he flat calls. So that narrows his range somewhat since he didn't give it up. I put him on Ax having paired one of the low cards; he thinks he flopped big w/ some raggy 2 pair; he's slowplaying a set; or he's floating you w/ 2 high cards or a draw.

The Kh on the turn is a sweet card for this range, perhaps he thinks he's good w/ a king or maybe he's hoping you hit the K (assuming he has 2 pair or set). So you check turn and he fires out just about the pot on what we later find out was a semi-bluff. I would intrept that turn bet as a made hand protecting from the flush draw and straight draw. NOTE: I would have repopped him right there on the turn.

Then you get to the river. A "scare" card possible backdoor flush appears which you yourself rightly discounted in heads up play. Having played my share of heads up, if you play scared like your opponent has the nuts every hand as you would in Homohaw, you are doomed in HU NL.

So he showed some interest in calling your pot bet on flop then he potted on the turn. I gotta put him on something decent. So on the river, you bet out and if he does have something decent he calls or best case he raises allowing you to re-raise and potentially stack him.

Going w/ my "read" (which of course was completely wrong btw), just bet out for value $40. Worst case he folds and you win the pot;or he calls and you win +40; or he re-reasises and you can go for a chunk of his stack if not his whole stack +100 to whole stack.

Now that's based on how I see the hand play out and assuming he liked his hand as opposed to semi-bluff. Certainly, you caught him w/ his hand in the cookie jar and as it played out you got him to make a $50 bet on the river, $50 that he would have otherwise not lost had you bet into him knowing what he ultimately had (busted draw). So being results oriented you had a great outcome winning and exta $50 on his last stab at the pot.

BUT, then you get gun-shy. Instead of re-popping his bet on the river you chicken out and just call. Once again, going w/ my incorrect read and assuming he really likes his hand enough to bet $50 on the river, you lost value by not re-raising the river.

To summarize, you flop very strong and opponent behaves as if he likes his hand. If he was bluffing, by value betting the river you give him one last chance to try to blow you off the hand with one last bold and daring bluff that you snap off w/ the straight for maximum profit. If he likes his hand just a little perhaps he makes a crying call and you win the last bet on the end.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

I don't know man... I think the why here is pretty obvious.

I love the check on the turn. And your reasoning for it.

But with that line I think you get a bluff shove more times than not in that situation

12:37 AM  
Blogger grieta said...


Im grieta from . I have a partnership plan in my mind, benefical for both of us. Lets dicuss it.

Awaiting your reply, so that we could discuss more.



3:19 PM  
Blogger Esquire80 said...

OK so I am revising my topic and will quote from Harrington on Cash Games Vol. II. pp. 80 and 81:


Suppose you have a hand which is very, very good, but not the absolute nuts. How should you play that hand on the river? To handle these situations, I ask myself a simple question. If I were to make a good-sized bet, let's say a bet the size of the pot, and my opponent then puts me all-in, could I get away from the hand given how the hand has been played so far? If the answer is "No, I'd have to call that bet," then I'll simply treat the hand as though I had the nuts and play accordingly. If, given what I knew about my opponent, I actually would fold my hand to a big bet, then I'd play more cautiously,...."

This was the point I was trying to make in my comments.

So on the river assuming I have the nuts I go for BIG check-raise or bet out for value with the average weighted heavily in favor of the value bet.

Your opponenet reacts to lead on river:

He calls value bet and you win 40.
He re-raises you on a bluff or w/ a weaker hand and you re-raise BIG for even more profit.
He folds.

Also, you had a very, very strong hand, and you should have re-raised his river bet in the heads-up context.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I do think I probably should have reraised his bet on the end in retrospect. A lifetime of runner runner flush beats in cash games I guess has had a horrible effect on me.

8:26 PM  

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