Friday, April 23, 2010

Dilemma at the River

Well, so much for my plan to evoke historical memories of Las Vegas every week here leading up to my trip back to the desert in early June. Today instead I have a hand post that I wrote most of last week after playing in a home game I have frequented several times before downtown in Manhattan midway through last week. For a change we opted to play straight 1-2 no-limit cash, and there were maybe 7 or 8 of us around the table for most of the night. These were mostly people I have played with before, although in some cases it has been a good long while for some of the individuals. Others I have a very strong read on and have played with enough, and enough recently, that I felt like I would know where I was at with them from the way they played their hands.

Around 90 minutes or so into our game, I was down to about three-quarters of my starting stack of 100 chips, having raised preflop a couple of times but then laid down to preflop reraises or to a raise on the flop. I looked down to find AQs in early position and put in my standard low-limit live poker raise of 4x the big blind to $8. Everyone folded except for the tight player across the table from me on the button, who called my raise. Although I am generally a tight player and had not shown a single poor hand down through this entire session, I know that to this crowd I am known as a hyper aggressive player, so I can't necessarily ever put anybody really on a monster when they call a preflop raise from me, especially in position, but at the same time as I mentioned this guy has been a tight player who likes to hold on to his money in the couple of times I have played with him in the past.

The flop came down AA9 with two hearts, and I figure I have got to be hopelessly ahead here. I figure if I bet this flop and confirm my preflop raise with an Ace, tighty across the way will just fold, so I check. I had not been c-betting hardly at all (hard to c-bet when you see very few flops and don't hit any of them), and the one time I had in the entire session I had folded to a raise, so I figured not c-betting here would not be giving away too much about the nature of my hand at all. My opponent checked behind, and we saw a turn of an offsuit 8. On this street, I figured I had begun the story of me not having an Ace in my hand with my failure to c-bet the flop, so I had already determined that I would check again on the turn, despite the drawish board, to try to stimulate some action from my opponent that I could either just call and risk a scary river, or that I could raise and take down the pot right then and there. Even as the dealer burned and turned the 8 on the turn, I was already loudly announcing my check, deliberately checking basically in the dark as I tried to send the message loud and clear that I was not holding an Ace and did not want to put any more money into this pot. This time my opponent seemed to get the message a little bit, as he bet out $12 into the $19 pot. I considered my options, decided that this guy has played fairly tight, and maybe he has a hand like a medium pocket pair that he assumes his ahead given the two Aces on the flop and my unwillingness to bet on either street so far since the community cards hit the board. I liked the thought of that, and I know I can fold when I think I am beat, so I decided to again tempt fate by just calling. I made sure to delay a bit, such that I am sure basically no one around the table believed I actually held an Ace in my hand.

There was $43 in the pot as the dealer burned and turned the river card, peeling over a black 5, making the final board AA985 with no flush possibility. As I looked up to get a read on my opponent, he was looking at the board and sneering -- literally, sneering, so hard core in fact, that it felt painfully obvious that the guy wanted to be seen doing it. He was acting like he hated that river card more than anything he'd ever seen in his life. Which made me, of course, think he somehow liked it. Still, though, with the way I played my flopped trips this hand so slow heading into this street on the river, I figured the odds were very good that my trips-and-second-kicker was ahead, and that my opponent would call a reasonable bet from me with a worse hand since I had tried so hard to act like I was not holding an Ace. Even though I wanted some value here, I hated the face he had made at the river card -- it was just too, too glaring and overt as I mentioned -- so I literally said out loud to the table as I motioned for some chips, "Well, despite the face you just made at that river, I will lead out for $20." I didn't like the face, but when you play your hand slow you need to "own" that decision for the rest of the hand, and in this case I felt like if I checked and my opponent just checked behind, then I was really not getting value out of the hand the way I had played it. So I led out for $20, right around half the pot.

My opponent took his time, and I became increasingly sure I was ahead since he obviously had to take his time deciding whether or not to call my roughly half-pot bet. After maybe a full minute, replete with more agonized-looking face-twisting, I was shocked to see the guy slide the rest of his chips into the middle and announce he was all in.

Whaaaaa? That face he'd made really did mean strength, didn't it?

My opponent had me covered, so the bet was basically another $40 to me to win $83.

Are you sure enough to call here?

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Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

Dont be Matt Damon, fold!

10:38 PM  
Blogger Traggy said...

Well he seems to be showing strength. I believe that he has a boat of some sort. From the read you stated you can almost be sure that he is holding a pair of fives. However, he could also be on a slow played AK, AQ, AJ. You almost have to lay it down. The all in reraise on the river is defintely not something to call. The main reason I put him on fives is the check on the flop and 4th. He can definitely be hold that hand. So the only hand that you can beat here would be AJ, A10 and there is no way he doesn't realize at this point that you actually have the A, the hand screams of it.

10:57 PM  
Blogger RedXBranch said...

It's $40 bucks.....make the crying call and pay off the rivered boat. Re-buy. Repeat. Sometimes slow playing is a bitch, ain't it?

11:50 PM  
Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

I am sure enough to fold here. But then again, I would have planned a check-call on the river, not a lead out.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Thorn said...

If your reads are usually right, and I assume they are given your poker skills and how you described his play as tight, I'd fold. He more than likely has you crushed.

Here's my analysis below. I'm definitely not an authority on cash games, but if someone sees a flaw in my reasoning, please let me know.

Flop: If he knows how aggressive you are, a tighty would definitely have checked the flop with AT, AJ, AQ, AK, 99 hoping to induce a bluff on the turn or a lighter call, just like you were trying to get him to do. And those are all very possible holdings for him. Of course, if he had a middling pocket pair or an underpair or air, that would've fit the action here, too. Not much to go on.

The turn: Any decent player with a monster wants to get someone's whole stack. Depending on how good he is, your own loud announcing of a quick check might have clued him in to the fact that you're just acting and might have an ace. Reading goes both ways. If he makes that read on you, then he either has the AK, AQ, 99, or 88 and wants to build a pot. AQ is just a maybe, given the tight image you've assigned him, because he could be afraid of the AK.

If he fell for your acting and read you as weak, I still don't think he'd bet KK-TT. There's just one card to come, so those hands which are likely ahead don't really need to be protected too much and still might be afraid of you having JJ-KK yourself, and you won't be read for a flush draw if it looks like you have absolutely no interest in the hand. If he reads you weak, he has air, a flush draw or flush draw, or an underpair and is trying to push you off the hand right there. Given your description of him as tight, I doubt he has air. So on the turn we've mostly narrowed it to: monsters that beat you, small pocket pairs, flush draw/straight draw.

And then the river. He was definitely acting according to your post. He was trying to rep a missed draw; that's the only type hand that would sneer on a 5 of spades. He certainly isn't afraid that it hit you. That, combined with his hollywood shove and tight reputation, lets us safely cross the draws off of his list. Also, a tighty doesn't shove his stack in with air or an underpair. You said yourself how surprised you were that he shoved. That means you've never seen him do it before when you thought he was weak.

If he thought you were bluffing, he'd have just called with TT-KK. No need to shove.

So I say with 90% certainty that his range on the river here is AK, 88, 99, or 55, and he was just hollywooding a monster. That's definitely what he's representing with the information that you've given.

Unless I've seen him pull a shove like that on someone else and show up with air, I'd definitely fold.

Sorry for the long post, but I like analyzing hands :)

2:32 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

It sounds like 55 to me. I'd fold.

2:34 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

You are SO behind here, even if by some miracle he has a very unlikely straight you're still behind. Fold. And I'd check that river.

6:31 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Ditto everyone. Check / call the river instead of lead / fold. Check / call would have gotten you to showdown instead of facing an all in raise / fold and no showdown. I actually think he has A5 or A8 or something like that, not a rivered set for the boat.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Fred aka TwoBlackAces said...

Your most likely beat here for all the reasons stated. Tight cash players don't make moves, especially not being deep. I think the play would be more interesting, if you both had deeper stacks.

2:08 AM  

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