Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hot Hand #7

Well, I had so much fun with Hot Hand #6 last week that I thought I'd profile a new hand today for your consideration and thoughts. Like with my other Hot Hand posts, I've got another hand here for you that I think is instructive and interesting, but also subject to reasonable debate and disagreement about the right way to play it, even on multiple streets. Since I "record" so many of my hands in screenshot format, I am able to review hundreds of hands to find the best ones to use for my Hot Hand posts. As I've mentioned many times here on the blog, the potential for immediate reaction and interaction through commenting is what I think makes bloggery so unique and useful as a media, and I have had a blast hearing from everyone and discussing the last few of these Hot Hands. Hopefully you have too.

Hot Hand #7 finds us in the first round of a $10 buyin multi-table nlh tournament on pokerstars. The blinds are in for 10 and 20, 3rd position has opened with a call as well, and the action is to you, holding 64s.

Question 1: What do you like to do here? Obviously there can be no argument with folding here. But what about an argument for calling? Anyone like to raise in this position? What's your move?

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I'm on kind of a kick lately with playing some sooted and (almost) connecting cards for cheap. In this case, one player was already in the pot, and the two blinds were sure to stay in for 20 as well since they'd already put up most or all of that bet. So, feeling confident that there would be at least three other players in this pot with me to be able to pay me off if I hit something with my sooted one-gapper (probably more, as our early limps make the pot odds better for others to call from later position and see a cheap flop), and for only a measly 20 chips, I decided to go ahead and call it and see what happens:

And keep in mind, I know going in that if this thing gets raised up preflop one time, even the dreaded minraise, I am folding the hand, so I know my maximum loss preflop is just the 20 chips. And I also know that I will have to be very careful postflop with this hand after the flop is out, because I can get myself into a world of trouble with a hand like this if I only kinda hit it, but then can't get away from it in the face of heavy action.

OK so, thanks partly to the increased odds from the first limper and my own limp-in to this pot, we end up with six limpers to see the following flop, which was then checked around to me:

Question 2: What's your play? Do you bet out with your third pair, backdoor straight draw and backdoor flush draw? After all, it has been checked around through 5 of 6 players to you, and there is that Ace on the board. Or do you check it and try to take a free card to hit further on one of those backdoor draws you're working on?

This is a point I will be very interested to hear your comments on. As with the choice to fold your 64s preflop from early position after a UTG limp, I do not think the decision to check here and hope for a free card can be questioned as a safe play that still lets you be in the hand. Obviously, you have nothing that is likely right now to be the best hand, and you're just one player out of six away from getting a free card. As I mentioned, with two backdoor draws working for you, getting a free card is especially good to see if you can maybe turn an oesd or a flush draw. So checking it on is a fine play in my book.

However, that's just not the way I play. After 6 players limped into a pot, and then the flop comes with a single Ace on it, and five of those players check it around to me, I am definitely tempted to make a stab at the pot. There is absolutely no reason to believe that any of these players has an Ace and a high card that they are willing to call a correct-sized bet with here, and the 120 chips in the pot is, to me, worth stealing right now if I can get this pot closed down quickly. Throw in that I already made third pair and the two backdoor draws on this flop, and I am definitely willing to make a play. So I bet 100 into the 120 pot. Unfortunately, the button called my 100-chip bet, and then the UTG player right in front of me called this flop bet as well:

Not good. OK so personally, I am pleased that I limped into this pot from up front for the measly 20 chips, and I am also fine with having taken a stab on the flop in what looked like a reasonable situation to take down a decent pot early in the tournament. So far I've lost only 120 chips into this pot, which isn't great by any means, but 1380 isn't so different from 1500 chips early on in an mtt, so I'm not going to fret over it. However, I also know here that I'm not going to lose any more chips into this pot, unless something happens and I really hit the turn card hard. If I had to guess, the button calling my 5/6 of the pot bet on the flop probably means that he has some kind of weak Ace and is willing to see one more card -- if he had a high Ace, he would probably have raised preflop or at least on the flop -- and the second guy just calling seems more like a draw of some kind. I only say that because his odds to draw to whatever he is drawing at just got better when I bet not so big and then the button already called the bet in front of me. And if the third caller UTG had a solid Ace, I assume he would be re-raising here. All that is subject of course to what their actions on the turn tell me about their range of hands, but from what I know so far, that's what I'm thinking about these two players' hands.

On comes the turn card: The 8♣, giving me a flush draw, an inside straight draw, and an inside straight flush draw to the 5♣. As I ponder whether this means I will lead out at this pot again or not, the first player to act, the original UTG player, leads out for 100 chips into the 420-chip pot.

Question 3: It's getting near decision time in this hand. With the flush draw, inside straight draw, and longshot inside straight flush draw, and the pair of 6s, do I call this small bet here? Does the presence of one player still to act behind me, who I have previously put on a weak Ace, change the decision at all? Does a raise here make sense? Or should I just follow my own advice after I was called in two places on the flop, and simply place my cards into the muck, living to fight another day? How would you play this hand right now?

I spent a long time agonizing over this play myself. I went and counted my likely outs and figured what my opponents are likely sitting on. Nothing I've seen has changed my mind about my opponents' likely ranges of hands. The button hasn't acted yet in this round, so I still have him on a weak Ace for top pair on this board. More interesting is the UTG player, whom I had put on a draw of some kind before the turn card. Now here he is making an almost unbelievably small bet of less than a quarter of what is in the current pot. So, I had him on a straight draw of some kind before, and now a third open-ended straight card has fallen here, so I could be worried about that. But this 100-chip bet is just so weak, I simply cannot put this guy on a made straight at this point. Here we're already at the turn, and unless you had the nut straight (with T9 in your hand), giving such a cheap card here with a made straight, basically forcing people to stay in to see one more card, would be suicidal. And I can't put him on T9 here since he would have had to call my 100-chip bet on the flop with just the inside straight draw and two crappy overcards, which I am giving this guy too much credit to have done.

No, if anything this cheapo bet on the turn looks more like a weak lead bet than anything else, which in my experience is typically done when a player wants to slow down the action so that the weak lead bettor can see another card for just the cost of his cheap lead bet. And that my friends would only be done by someone who is still working on their draw. So now I'm thinking that in order for this guy to have smooth called on the flop, and still be on the draw now with the 8 falling, he probably has made some kind of an oesd, or maybe a straight draw plus a pair, maybe with 85 or 65 in his hand. Either of those holdings might explain the call on the flop with two other players already in for the 100-chip bet, as well as this incredibly weak lead at the pot here on the flop. If this guy is playing a made straight in this way, I guess he can have my money because I just can't put him on this hand. With that bet, my gut tells me this guy is on a draw. And it's not a club draw because then what would he have called with on the flop? It's gotta be the straight draw, and if he had some kind of a draw on the flop, and still on a draw now with the 8 on the turn, then he's probably on some kind of osed or maybe a low pair/draw combination of some kind with a 6. Either way, I think my 6, plus a freeroll to a flush and the open-end straight flush draw,is worth at least 12 or 13 outs for me to at least tie for the best hand, for odds of better than 25%. Easily worth calling another 100-chip bet here into a 420-chip pot to try to see the river card for way cheap. I call:

Then all hell breaks loose. Before I can even react, the button raises the bet up to 320 chips, and then UTG moves allin for his last 820 chips:

Question 4: Now what? Is this an easy fold? A call would cost me 780 chips to win a pot that is $1720, so the pot odds I'm being laid are just more than 2 to 1. Does my current hand have more than a 30% chance of winning this pot? Is that even the right question, with the button, who already raised once in this betting round, and whom I put on a weak Ace, still waiting to act behind me? What do you do now? And how did I ever get into this mess in the first place?

Let me know your thoughts. I will post the stunning conclusion to this hand later one people have had a chance to respond with their opinions to how this hand has played out so far.


Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I'd play the hand pretty much the way you have so far (although I'd be more inclined to check the flop as a knee jerk reaction at this point so that's something to work on).

If I'm going to call the 780, I'm going to be shoving due to the guy behind me. So, get it all in there. If you're not willing to take a shot with 10+ outs, then you shouldn't be playing tournament poker.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

Question in the first. Personally I wouldn't call it even for 20 chips this early in a tournament. Sure it is possible that the flop will hit you hard and you will take down a nice pot, but how often does that happen? 1 in 30 times maybe? So hypothetically it isn't really about this particular 20 chip call, but the 600 in chips it will cost you to get the 1 in 30 shot at the flop hitting you hard enough to stay in it. That being said, we all occasionally play the low cards looking to get lucky, and when we do we really want to get into the flop on the cheap.

Once the flop hits, and it checks around to you, I think you should stick some chips out there. Everyone limped into this pot, making one and two gappers (like yours) a real possibility. The last thing you want to do is give someone with a drawing hand a free card. Third pair isn't something I would normally bet with, but with the 6-7 on the board, and an ace, a small bet could scare off the guy who may be in it with such cards to give him a straight or flush draw. If you check it here and it is bet back to you, you will have to fold it, no question. Put a bet out there to force the other guys to make the decision.

The lead bet on the turn looks exactly like you said. The guy saw that 100 chips went unraised to the next card, so he is trying to dictate the cost of seeing one more. The lead better is definitely on a draw as well. You do have a lot of outs, so I can see making the call here to see if you can outdraw him, though with the button still to act, I am not sure if I even call the 100.

When the button makes the raise, followed by the guy on the draw pushing them in, I think you have to lay it down. Seriously. The button has played this hand exactly like someone who hit two pair or trips on the flop would have played it. I would like to think that he would have raised it preflop if he had a pair of 6s or 7s, and lord knows he would have with aces, but it is possible that he didn't want to get that many chips into it with a low pair and so many guys limping ahead of him. If I was holding a pair of 7s and saw that 5 guys were likely to see the flop, I would probably limp since the odds are so good that one of them will pair an over card. Your boy on the button has two pair or trips, and even with the number of outs you have, I can't see putting the tournament on the line with nothing but a draw. It is still possible that one of them was in it with something like 10-5 clubs as well, meaning that even if you make your flush you still might not win.

Your guy on the button has two pair or trips, the other guy is drawing to something, possibly on a flush draw, possibly on a straight draw, possibly holding 10-5 clubs and drawing to both. Since you are behind to the button, and you know that you will have to get a lucky draw or or the other guy may hit his, I don't like making a call here.

And that is why I wouldn't have even limped in with it that early in the tournament.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I put one of them on AcXc, a set, a straight, or maybe even two pair.

Heads up I'm inclined to call, with two in the hand and being squeezed, I'd fold.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

Question 1:
I fold.
There are only four possible scenarios in which I would play this hand, this early in the tournament.
- On the button, if everyone before me limped into the pot.
- In the big blind, if it remained unraised
- In the small blind, if at least half the table were in the pot and I could simply call the remainder of my blind
- If I hit the wrong key by accident, clicking 'call' rather than 'fold' But hey - that's just me :)

I need to be valued into this hand, so at the very, very least, three players must have limped in before me. Obviously that isn't possible in this scenario, so I would fold.

However for arguments sake let's say that I felt inspired to play this hand (and stranger things have happened) I could limp in at the very most. This early in a tournament, being this early in position, and not having enough information on my opponents, I wouldn't want to raise it up here.

Question 2:

I really found this part interesting. Other than the guy in first position and you, everyone else was more or less valued in to see a flop. With three checks to you, and holding bottom pair, you have to define what it is that you are now trying to accomplish with this hand, and it can really only be one of two things at this stage:

1. You are trying to buy the pot right here
Your best case scenario in this hand is that everyone will fold and you will collect the pot, so is $120 going to be a large enough bet to scare them off their draws? Not likely. Is it worth risking more to scare them off? Not to me, with only backdoor/backdoor/set draws working in your favor.

2. You want to draw to the turn card.
In this case, it seems to me that if your urge to bet here is to prevent someone in late position from outright buying an uncontested pot, hoping that your bet will induce smooth-calling around the table so that you can draw to see the turn card. If this were my reasoning, I would personally bet out 3x - 4x the BB. You know that anyone else's raise here will cause you to fold, so why 'waste' even the extra 20 or 40 chips to make it pot-sized, when a bet of 100 will be just as effective for this particular purpose?

I don't believe either of the above situations really suit you at this stage, and that alone makes the correct play here to check/fold to any bet. But a much, MUCH more important reason (and often overlooked) than all that is this:

Since the three players before you simply checked, it is fairly safe to assume they will probably fold to any bet put on the table. (That or they will check-raise, which makes your participation in this hand moot.) It is also reasonable to assume that with a bet of $120, one or two players after you may call to see the turn. (Which in this case they both did.) That leaves you first to act, completely out of position, for the next betting round. This is extremely important, and IMO should have been the single deciding factor to get you to check here.

Had you checked instead, and the player to your left was the one that bet the $120, you would have had a positional advantage to see how ALL the other players at the table would react. Button still would have called, three three players to your right still would have folded, and then you would have the luxury to decide if you have been valued in to see another card, or if you should bail now, knowing that you will be first to act in the next round. These should have been the deciding factors on how you played the flop.

I could go on to question #3 and beyond, but this is already long enough and I'm pretty sure I made my point. Get out of this hand, the reward isn't worth the risk at any stage here.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Poker Jones said...

I fold. And I'm (very) likely to play this hand for $20 as well, hoping to hit the flop hard. I follow the same line as you, calling the crappy lead by UTG on the turn. If UTG only calls the button's raise, I guess you'd have to relucantly call the extra 200 for the odds. I wouldn't like it, though. I insta-bail on the UTG re-raise, cursing myself for ever having gotten into the hand, but knowing it's going to happen again.

6:40 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

1. UTG+1 is a bad position for playing that type of hand. I'd fold because the most likely thing is that somebody will raise behind.
2. Once you were able to see the flop, at the early levels of a MTT I would only carry on laying the hand if I hit the flop hard or if I had a monster draw. Backdoor draws and third pair isn't good enough to make me put any chips in the middle. I would hope for a free card.
3. Turn: I'd definitely call such a weak bet but I would fold for sure to the all in bet. You are getting just above 2 to 1, and your only realistic outs have to be the 9 clubs that would make your flush, and that's a 4 to 1 shot.

It's very weird the smallish bet on the turn that UTG made, but after seeing what he did, I'd say he has a set of 7s (maybe 6s but that's more difficult because you already have one), and I go with your read that the button has a middle Ace (probably made two pair)

5:50 PM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

1) I fold this, personally, but there's no harm limping early in a tournament to see if you hit the flop hard.

2) Do NOT bet here, especially the almost pot sized bet that you made. You risk making this a big money pot that's actually worth winning while holding a really crappy hand (which is what happened). This is a $10 tournament, you can not expect anyone to fold an ace in this situation, no matter how bad the kicker.

3) Getting to this point, you most definitely have to call the measly $100.

4) Fold. Not even a question.

10:06 PM  

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