Friday, September 01, 2006

One-Gapper Poker

If you're like me, you've turned into quite a televised poker junkie over the past three or four years. There were times that I watched a lot more poker on tv than I do nowadays, but that is much more because of the two Hammer Kids pooping running and crawling all over the place and less about a lack of interest in this game. I probably only watch 30 minutes or less of tv on an average day, down from probably more like 3 or 4 hours a day some years ago before the lovely Hammer Wife, before kids, etc. And what little time I do watch is often reserved for favorites like Seinfeld reruns, Sopranos, Entourage, etc., so poker on tv doesn't make the cut nearly as often as it once did. Still, like many of you I'm sure, I have found myself watching more and more of "High Stakes Poker" on the Game Show Network. That show is just great. It feels like they show a lot more of the hands than, say, ESPN's poker coverage which is edited to only show the hands they think we want to see. Plus, I have to admit it's refreshing to see some big-time cash game coverage on television instead of all tournaments, all the time. Lately I find myself DVRing every episode on GSN so I make sure I don't miss any of the action. And how can I forget watching Sammy Farha take $700,000 off of Barry Greenstein on the last hand of the night earlier this year, when Farha's pocket Kings bested Barry's pocket Aces? Classic stuff man. And here I get pissed when I bust out of a $10 buyin tournament with my Aces beaten by Kings. I guess it's all relative.

One thing that I've started to incorporate into my Holdem game lately is something I see many of the big pros do on High Stakes Poker -- I've started limping in, and even calling middling raises, with position with some of my suited connectors and even some suited one- and two-gappers, and some non-suited connectors as well. This is something I almost never used to do, at least as far as calling a raise with this type of hand, but lately I've started doing this if I can take a flop relatively cheap and I might be able to win a pile of chips.

Of course, most of the time, the outcome of this exercise has me folding these hands on the flop. As I've discussed many times with my play of middle pairs, blind steals, etc., I always make it a point to be very careful with a crappy hand once I see a flop with it. I have a very low tolerance for flops when I'm holding, say, J9s, and if I don't hit the flop solidly with that hand (say, at least top pair, probably with some draws necessary as well), then I'm not going to give anyone any action on the flop. But as long I don't make this move too often, I've found it can be profitable in a no-limit type of game where one big pot can make up for many missed attempts and calls preflop.

Just last night (I have screenshots but I'll spare you them today on this pre-Labor Day Friday), I was playing in the nightly 20k guaranteed tournament at 10pm ET on full tilt poker. Early on in the event, I was on the button with 86s, and it folded around to the guy in the cutoff, who put in a standard 3x preflop raise. I considered mucking like I usually would, but then I started channeling the spirit of Daniel Negreanu and suddenly found myself calling the raise from the button. This is the first time I can ever recall calling a raise with 86s. Ever. I sat there lamenting why I would ever make such a move, and what this kind of play is going to do to my bankroll if I'm going to try to incorporate this into my game, when the flop comes out.

Ace-Eight-Six, two spades. Bingo! There were 4 players to see this flop, and they all checked around to me. Now you know at least one of these guys has an Ace. So, given that bottom two pair is such a dangerous hand, I led out at the pot. Just to be tricky, I made my bet about 2/3 the size of the pot, after always betting the full pot up to this point in the tournament. I will often do this early in a non-blogger event, because it quite often catches someone who thinks he is clever enough to have spotted a pattern in my play. Last night was no different. The first two players folded to my flop bet, but then the original preflop raiser goes and quickly reraises me 3x my bet. At this point I sat for a good 20 seconds, always knowing what I was going to do but wanting to make it appear believable. Then I push in, and he calls instantly with....

Ace-Ten offsuit. What an idiot. I thought at least AK or maybe AQ if he's a fish. But I guess this guy just didn't see how I could have called the preflop raise with just 86, and he claimed to "know" I did not have an Ace. I guess he was right about that. And I took down a big pot and got off to a great start in the 20k, a lead I quickly squandered by being too aggressive (what a shock!) on a flop where it turns out my opponent had flopped huge. But, I have to say, at that table for the good 30 or 40 minutes after I made this move with the 86, I got a lot more action when I just called a raise or even when I raised it up myself from late position.

And for me, that's the best part, the real reason for someone like me to play these hands on occasion. I want people to starting thinking, when I call a raise from LP, that I might be holding anything. I might have 87s, I might have KTo. I might have 53s. And I might even have pocket Aces.

You'll never know unless you call me.


Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

I had a similar situation in the $10NL tourney I won last night. In like level 4 or something, I completed with 8To in the SB, and the flop comes down 8TJ. I led out, got raised, and I pushed. Unfortunately, the other guy had limped with Q9s (doh!), but I pulled a four outer on the river (woo!). You cannot defeat the Mook! Those kind of hands can be good, but they can also be very bad.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Well played, Matt. Incredible score btw, way to go man.

And yes, I definitely plan to incorporate these hands into my repertoire, on occasion. Determing when is the right occasion will be the issue me thinks.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

I am pretty much at the point where I hate watching televised poker now, with the exception of High Stakes Poker. I am so addicted to that show, it really is awesome.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

I don't get to see any poker on GSN, but from watching what they show on the other channels, it is pretty clear that a lot of people you meet online are getting all of their information from them. Unfortunately for them, the majority of what you see on the other channels is the late tournament, short handed, final table action, which as we all know is vastly different than the beginning of the tournament. So when they make a move in level 1 of the tournament, pre flop, at a full table, holding nothing but an A-3o, they really think they are playing like a pro. It's no wonder that people who don't play the game much think that it is all luck and no skill.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Marxst1 said...

Goot one hammer.... welcome to my world... I hope you do better with this play than I do.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...


There are tons of High Stakes Poker clips on YouTube to watch, even an entire episode! Check it out.

2:15 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Do you run pokertracker? You might want to look at the EV of suited connectors and one gap suited. Most people play the mid to low ones for a loss. Calling raises with a low one gap suited is prolly -EV for all but Daniel Negrano, but good luck. On the hand you discuss, you hit your 40-1 shot of flopping 2 pair or better, and still were pretty exposed to the AT sucking out (ie not a huge favorite there). The human mind works in funny ways. You always remember when you flopped 2-pair for a big pot, but tend to forget the other 39 times you missed the flop. Pokertracker doesnt forget.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Blinders, it's a good idea but I'll never use pokertracker, it's just not my thing.

That said, no doubt I'll miss the flop tons if I continue to play these hands. And I totally agree it's a -EV play overall. Although I don't know how one measures the resulting action you get after playing these sorts of hands at the table for a while. Nonetheless, I agree with everything you've said in your post.

11:36 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

A10...what else can I say. Lol.

6:34 AM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

I see you have been chanelling your inner-Waffles. Try it next time with 35o.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

I have been preaching the 1-gappers for a while. Nice work joining the club.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

I did some analysis on suited card play a few months ago (here and here). I came to basically the same conclusion. It is very profitable when you hit, but the odds are long to get that perfect flop. Nice post!

12:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home