Friday, September 29, 2006

Hot Hand #8 (Updated With Results)

***See bottom of post for an update including the final results of the hand. Keep reading if you have not yet read the original post from Thursday***

This is a fun hand that happened to me recently during the first hour of the full tilt 20k guaranteed tournament, and it has a little bit of everything -- some preflop decisions, some drawing and pot odds considerations, and even some slow playing or other strong-hand possibilities involved. As I reviewed my mtt hands this week, this one jumped right out as a good candidate for Hot Hand #8, so I wanted to get this up here today for you all to consider and, hopefully, to comment on.

The Setup: First half hour of the large 20k guaranteed no-limit holdem tournament on full tilt. Blinds are 20/40. I am in the BB holding QTo. Early position limps in for 40 chips, it folds around to the button who also limps. The the SB limps for another 20 chips.

Question 1: What's your move here? To me this is fairly easy -- I check and see a free flop. I don't have a great hand, and in fact it's a hand that is fairly easily dominated on either of my hole cards, so I don't want to raise it here, especially with the early limper into the pot preflop. I could see very rarely (say, 10% of the time or less) putting in a standard 3x or 4x preflop raise here, purely for deception purposes and to help me win some nice chips when I do happen to pick up a monster preflop behind multiple limpers into the pot, but for the most part this is not in my view a good spot to do anything fancy. Just take the free flop and see if I nail it.

The flop comes KJ8 rainbow, giving me a naked oesd. There are 160 chips in the pot.

Question 2: Do you bet here, or check and hope to see a free card? In this case, I opted to check. Typically I don't like to bet at flops when I have nothing and when the flop contains two cards above a 9. Those just tend to hit too many hands that stick around to see flops -- one pair, two pair, straight draw, trips, etc. So, when my hand is weak and the board contains two high cards, I like to keep things as cheap as possible, especially where I'd like to stick around and see another card. I check.

The next player then leads out at the 160-chip pot for 40 chips. The button calls, and then SB folds:

Question 2a: What about now? Do I fold where I have only a draw and at least one of these two players has almost surely made something already? Do I call and try to draw cheap? Or is a raise a good strategic play here?

To me, this was another fairly easy decision. I have to call 40 into a pot of 240 right now, so I'm being given 6 to 1 odds to make my draw. My oesd is a 31% chance of filling by the river and around a 17% chance to fill on just the turn card. So, at 6-to-1, the pot is laying me more than enough odds to call even just to see if I can make my straight on the turn card alone. Folding is out of the question. And I don't like the raise, as my earlier comment still applies, and I am likely to be behind to someone with at least one pair on this board with two high cards, so I don't want to get too involved when I know I'm behind. I have a 2-to-1 oesd with 2 cards to come, and I can see the first card for 6 to 1. Gotta take it. I call.

And the turn card cometh:

Bingo! I've made my straight. And it's even the nut straight, as anyone holding T7 has also just made a lower straight than mine. No pair and no three of a suit on the board, so my nut straight is the stone nuts at this point in the hand.

Question 3: How do I extract the most value here? Do I check and let someone else do the betting for me? Will someone bet this hand now if I check it? Do I bet small and try to draw someone into raising me? Or, do I go for the overbet and assume someone who has hit this board hard will call or raise me further? How do you play it?

Given that the 9 on the turn was in the middle of the other straight cards out there from the flop, I didn't see it as very likely that any other straights were made by this card. Rather, I figured, an oesd is a more likely holding after the turn for my opponents, or even more likely, one pair or maybe two pairs. I can't even put much credence in the flush draw since there was only one club on the flop and I'm not sure why anyone would make or call even a minbet with just a backdoor flush draw on a high flop. So, I just didn't see there as being much realistic upside on this board given the 9 on the turn, and thus I chose not to go with a big bet that I might otherwise have put in here given the high board at this point in the hand. I also, however, did not want to check since I had something good, and since all the minbetting went down on the last round of betting, I was afraid this could be checked around since as I mentioned above I thought it unlikely that the 9 filled any straights other than my own. So, I went with one of my least favorite moves typically:

The dreaded minbet. I figured, let's just get another 100 or 200 chips into the pot on this round, and if I'm lucky someone will think I am weak and put in a decent raise, which I can then reraise and take down a nice-sized pot. And that's exactly what happened:

theboatman simply could not resist my showing of weakness. Again I am reminded of my mantra when bluffing -- I always strive to tell a consistent story from the beginning of the hand if I want to maximize my ability to slow-play a strong hand (or bluff big with a weak hand). If I had come out with a 4x raise preflop in this hand, then my weak lead on the turn here could be interpreted by an astute player as me trying to sucker some more bets in with a weak bet when I am holding a strong hand (overpair, trips, etc.). But here, I just limped preflop, and I checked and then just called a minbet on the flop. Then on the turn, I led out with just a minbet of my own, which I was hoping would continue to give the impression that I was still weak, probably even on a draw as a result of the 9♣, which made not only a number of straight draws possible but also the new flush draw on the turn. Having acted weak all throughout the hand, my weak lead on the turn was immediately interpreted by theboatman as another weak play with what was likely a weak or drawing hand on my part, so he went ahead with the big raise with what was likely some kind of made hand on his part.

Anyways, I'm sure you can guess how the rest of this hand went. I immediately reverse-hoyed the guy, still holding the stone nuts and with just one card to come:

and he called my hoy bet (actually he reraised the 1 more chip to get allin, which I of course called).

Any takers as to what this guy is holding here? Is he on a draw or a made hand? I'll post the answer shortly.


Thanks again to the many commenters and for the different opinions of how I played this hand, and the guesses of what theboatman is holding here, which I will post below after a bit of discussion.

Interestingly, most of the commenters have this guy on some sort of slow-play. I don't know if some of that maybe has to do with the fact that I've chosen this hand as a Hot Hand post, or if his play really does smack of slowplay. From my online mtt experience, when I see a minbet on the flop in a regular donk-filled tournament like the nightly 20k, the vast majority of the time it does not represent a slow-play so much as a weak lead, a guy with a draw or with some other so-so hand like 2nd pair decent kicker, etc. who just wants to see who he can chase out here before another card falls and potentially makes his hand a little weaker. Quite often it's the drawing hands who try to put these bets in because they want to try to ensure that they give themselves good pot odds to make their draws. Why else bet 40 into a 160-chip pot? Most slow-players, and again this is just based on my online mtt experience, are much more likely to check when they slow-play. The minbet is not often used as a pure slow-play tactic in my experience because it just reeks of weakness, and most players are concerned that their slowplay will be obvious when they put in a minbet. Personally, in this kind of a tournament I would more expect either a check, or a slightly larger bet than a minbet from a slow-player here. To me, this seems like a drawing hand or a hand that has hit a little something on this flop, but not something great with which I would expect a larger bet on the flop here.

Jordan and a few other posters also commented specifically on my own minbet after the turn card. The commenters in general seem to think that this was a weaker move than I should have made here. I don't necessarily disagree. Let me explain it this way: if theboatman had not minbet on the flop to begin with, I would have almost certainly not minbet back at him on the turn. I would have been much more likely to have put in a larger bet, still fairly small overall, more or less right in line with the criticism of the play from the comments. In this case, with theboatman having led out with a minbet on the flop, and then with another card falling that could make more straight draws on the turn, I thought another minbet would seem like I clearly have not hit anything big, but rather maybe myself just made on oesd or a flush draw with the clubs with one card to come. Maybe it has something to do with just "being part of the flow of the game" as The Zen of Poker is always talking about, but the minbet there just seemed to go right along with theboatman's minbet on the flop, and seemed to me in a split-second decision to convey just the right impression that I was still weak but now was hoping to make a draw heading into the river. This impression was key because what I wanted was for someone else to raise me here on this street. If I had made a larger bet, certainly theboatman would have called but who knows if he would have raised or not, since my bet would suggest that I might have a decent made hand at this point. But with the 9 falling on a board with KJ8 already on it, I really thought this was the perfect card to just continue the minbet theme with, which was my attempt to clearly suggest I was drawing heading into the river. That is what gives a player like theboatman the impetus to raise me here on the turn, because as you all (hopefully) know a basic tenet of aggressive, strategic poker play is to make your opponents pay to draw on your made hands.

So that was the thinking behind my minbet on the turn. Although as I mentioned above, I have no disagreement with the commenters who think I should have bet a little bigger here. Without the minbet trend having already been started on the flop, I would have been likely to make exactly that kind of bet. Just remember, though, with my bet on the turn, after making the nuts, I did not just want to get more chips into the pot. That was surely one of my goals, but even more specifically I really wanted to get raised on the turn so I could get it allin right then. If I wait until the river and then try to push in my last 1000 chips, anyone who was drawing would have likely missed their draws, and with no further cards to come, they're going to fold to my bet. By getting them committed in little increments on the turn and convincing them that I am myself drawing, I know that I will often be able to get more money into the pot from people who are themselves drawing, or have middling hands that they're hoping can make trips, a boat, etc. on the river, because there is still that one more card left to come.

I think Jordan also questioned my allin reverse hoy reraise on the turn, suggesting instead that I could have min-reraised to stick with the weak story I had been consistently selling from the beginning. With a bit of a deeper stack, I would have doubtless done just that. At the time, however, my stack had so little left in it that I didn't care at that point if he knew I was obviously strong then or not. At that point once all those chips are already into the pot -- due to his own raise in fact, not mine -- I'm assuming he has something which he'll be willing to call another 460 chips with. If not and he had folded to me there, I would happily take the free 2000 chips when he would have gotten more than 5 to 1 odds to stay in for the river with me. Nothing would make me happier than to have all of my 5 to 1 pot odds draws get folded by all my opponents when I reraise them on the turn. That would be way, way +EV for me overall. But again, with deeper stacks involved, I definitely would have reraised there, but reraised small, sticking with the weakish impression I had been setting up throughout the hand.

OK so without further adieu, here is the final screenshot showing what theboatman is holding in his hand that he got allin with me with on the turn:

Just J9s. Kudos to Donnie and Joanne who basically nailed this one. The guy hit two pairs on the turn, which explains his big raise of my minbet on the turn, which worked to a tee. Also notice what theboatman was holding when he made that curious minbet on the flop -- just 2nd pair (Jacks) with a 9 kicker. Certainly not the way I would have played the hand with that holding, but it does fit the profile of what I find is usually behind a bet like this in my experience in online mtt's. Thanks to my betting of the hand from the beginning through to my reverse hoy-raise after the turn card, this guy never even considered that I had my straight or that his two pairs on the turn could be behind. And that is exactly the way I want my slow-play like this to be.

Thanks again for all the comments from everyone. And I know I promised Nijle that my next Hot Hand post would be about stud or hilo. My apologies. That hand post is still coming, I promise.

Have a wonderful weekend and best of luck at the virtual tables! I am hoping to play more of the ftp 20k this weekend after taking a few days off from the big tournaments this week as the Hammer family continues to adjust to both of the Hammer girls sleeping in the same bedroom. But they're coming along, slowly but surely. Especially the slowly part.


Blogger NewinNov said...

9J? Didn't get there. I had in order of priority, AJ, AK, KJ, 88. I did like your play and did like the min bet as a prodding bet. Liked your idea of mixing it up every once in a while with a raise preflop but believe this wasn't the time. Nice hot hand.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

Just one little note - you said "The guy hit two pairs on the flop" It was actually one pair on the flop, second pair on the turn.

Hey - that is just what I predicted, does that mean I win a prize? ;)

12:31 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

Yeah, his hand looks about like I figured it would. That is exactly the type of play you would expect early in the 20k. Unfortunately since I see so much of that (betting second pair or worse) early on in the 20k, I rarely read people as holding quality hands during the first hour or so.

Seeing that he actually was holding the Jack, I think you played that as well as it could have been played. I think if you even min-raise his weak bet on the flop, he lays down the second pair weak kicker. If he hadn't caught his second pair on the turn, you would have taken down a very small pot.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Joanne, your prize can be that I will personally bust you from the 20k on full tilt any night this weekend that you like. Sound good?

1:19 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

Sounds good to me, tonight work for ya?

5:34 AM  

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