Wednesday, February 28, 2007

W-W-Donk-N, and Starting Hands Part III

How the fuck did I ever win a WWdN?

You have got to love the WWdN. There's probably more than one reason why, but for whatever reason, the quality of play in the WWdN can be really funny sometimes. I mean, all the blogger tournaments usually see a few nutty plays here and there (especially when Waffles is playing), but the WWdN is a rare bird. I'm guessing it's because in our other regularly-scheduled blogger events, it is mostly poker bloggers -- guys who actually play a lot, and think a lot about poker, and spend some amount of time analyzing their plays and the plays of others, etc. Whereas, Wil tends to attract a slightly more diverse crowd. Sure you've got your regular run-of-the-mill poker bloggers, but you've also got a certain amount of TNG geeks fans, and a sometimes even larger number of just general "celebrity" hounds. And, for the most part, people in these latter two categories don't really know a whole lot about the finer points of no-limit holdem strategy. So, when you play the regular Tuesday night WWdN tournament, you really never know what you're going to be up against as far as quality of play goes, and as most of you know, you can't really put your opponents on a hand or on a particular play if you can't even put them on a poker thought.

Last night, on my way to being eliminated in the middle of the pack from the 46-person field in the latest WWdN, I saw truly one of the worst plays you're ever going to see in an organized poker tournament, in particular from someone who I know plays in at least this tournament with a fair amount of regularity. Let me set the setting for you.

It's maybe 30 minutes into the tournament. Probably 37 or so of the 46 starting players were remaining, and I was a bit under my starting stack of 1500 chips, around 1250 or so, as I failed to get a good hand dealt to me in the entire night of play. I'm UTG and am dealt AKs. I make one of my favorite plays here, which is just to limp UTG for the 50 chips. Unlike AA or KK, AKs is a hand that plays great with multiple players in the pot, so I don't mind if nobody raises after me preflop here. And what's better is that if someone does raise behind me before the flop, I can go ahead and re-pop it with high confidence that I can still win the hand no matter what my opponent is holding. I don't make this play very often UTG with AK, but maybe 15-20% of the time in this situation I'll just limp and see what develops.

So, I limp for 50 chips UTG with AKs. Two folds to my left, and then the player three seats to my left (let's call this person "Fonkey" for lack of a better term, in keeping with my belief in not identifying anybody specifically when I "question" their poker play) pops it up 3x more to 150 from middle position. I'm lovin' it. Then the next player to act calls the 150 chips (you have to wonder what that person has, no?). Then the player after that also calls the 150 chips (hmmm. Wonder what "Fonkey" is thinking about his raise now?). Then the last player to act also calls another 100 chips out of his big blind, and action is back to me, with 4 other players already in the pot for the 150-chip raise after me UTG limp.

Me, I can't believe my good fortune. There are now 625 chips in the pot, and while someone could easily have some kind of pocket pair here, nobody appears to be particularly strong, and I #1 probably have the best hand right now anyways, and #2 even if I don't, I have no worse than a 49% chance of winning if this goes to showdown. And I've got a ton of fold equity, with about 1200 chips behind here and nobody else in for more than 150 chips so far, so I know I can push with my at-worst-50/50-shot hand, and each of the other four players involved has ample reason to fold. They don't seem particularly strong so far, and it will cost them another 1000+ chips to see what I limped and then push-reraised with UTG. So I go for it, allin for my last 1200 chips.

Fonkey, the initial raiser, mulls this over for a loooooong time. His problem is that he not only has to call me for the rest of his chips, but he's got the not one, not two but three players behind him still to act, each of whom already happily called a 3x raise before the flop when he put it in a minute earlier. After letting his time run down to almost zero, he goes ahead and calls my allin limp-reraise from UTG, with the three raise-callers still to act behind him.

All of you out there, do me a personal favor and take a second and think, what would you need to make an allin call in this spot? Again, I limped from UTG, you kicked it up 3x more, got not one not two but three callers of your raise. And then to top it off I allin-reraised all four bettors from UTG, where I had limped from originally. So you've got to call your last 1200 chips into a 625-chip pot against my UTG limp-allin reraise (scarrry), plus you've got to worry about all three of your preflop raise-callers behind you still to act and who might get into the hand as well. Do me a favor and think of your calling range here. I don't want to influence you at all, so just take one second and think about what you would need to have in order to call here, and maybe some hands you would never call with here.

I'm going to skip some space to give you a chance to think this one over.

OK so you got it? What are you calling with here? I'll tell you my thoughts. I just saw a solid player (ahem) UTG limp and then allin-reraise four raise-callers preflop. That guy alone has got to have a medium-big pocket pair (probably 9s or Tens or better) or AK. Not sure what else makes that play. Plus, with three other raise-callers behind me, I've got to be looking at at least one decently high Ace, maybe a big suited connector like KQs or something, and probably one pocket pair. These are guesses but all educated ones, and are probably more or less right on. So, just to call the UTG player I would need to have a big pocket pair myself or maybe AK if I was feeling frisky. But with the three raise-callers still to act behind me as well, at least one of whom almost certainly has a pocket pair of some kind, there is just no way I'm even making that call with AK. Not this early in a tournament, with this few chips invested in the pot so far. Presumably your thoughts are similar to mine here, but if not I'd love to hear about it.

Well either way, what did it turn out Fonkey made this call with?


Niiiice. You have got to love these people. So he's taking AQo up against the UTG limp-allin reraiser and three other players who've already called a preflop raise. That is awesome. Just great, intelligent poker right there. Everyone else folded after Fonkey called my allin reraise, and when the cards were turned up, showing my AKs as an 82% favorite or whatever it is, I had to laugh. How you make that call with AQ is completely and utterly beyond me. The WWdN is great.

Pokerstars, of course, is even greater though, and let's just say I failed to win the hand thanks to the river card, and leave it at that. As I've written about here profusely of late it seems, it is just unreal how often these fuckyfonkey calls get rewarded by the poker sites these days. Absofuckinglutely unfuckinreal. AQ calling an allin UTG limp-reraise with 3 raise-callers still to act behind. That is fucking scary folks, absolutely scary. You will be extremely surprised to note that Fonkey still didn't manage to even outlast me in last night's tournament, which totally shocks me given the tremendous tournament mindset he must have had to make that call there, as I've also written about a lot lately.

Now jump ahead maybe 30 more minutes, about half the original WWdN field is gone, and I am short stacked but still holding on. UTG limps for the 150-chip big blind (let's call her "Fonkette", just to keep the gender right), and I'm UTG+1 with pocket 7s. I'm short (around 700 chips as I recall), so I go ahead and move it all in which by all rights is quite likely to be the best hand preflop here. And since UTG has a decent stack, I'm hoping against hope she might call with whatever Ace she is limping with here, or maybe if I'm real lucky, with a smaller hand like pocket 6s or pocket 5s and I can get back into this thing. The action folds back around to Fonkette, and she thinks and thinks. She thinks so long that I now know I'm ahead, and am considering that she could actually have a hand like 22 or 33 or something. Anyways, she finally calls -- admittedly for only another 550 chips, but it was 550 chips into a pot that was at the time around 1100 chips. But take it from me, Fonkette hasn't got a clue about pot odds. I don't even think Fonkette knows what a "pot" is, let alone what "pot odds" are. Trust me on this one. She just fonkey-called me here for another 550 chips, and with what hand, mind you?


Another brilliant move. It's unreal. Now again I understand that at 2-1 it was reasonable for Fonkette to assume she had maybe a 35-40% chance against a likely Ace with an undercard in my hand. But the whole thing is still funny. This player doesn't know what pot odds are, and most certainly doesn't know what her specific odds of winning are with KQ against an Ax in my hand. And she had to know she was behind here. Had to. Am I pushing here for 700 chips with KTo? 98s? Come on you fonkeys. But never fear, pokerstars to the rescue. King on the river, and IGH. Oh what a night.

Did I mention how recockulously often the poker sites reward players who make allin calls with dominated hands like AQ, AJ and KQ? It's effing sick.

OK, now before I get to yesterday's Stud High starting hand, I want to post a couple of really great items here.

First of all, if you have not yet read Miami Don's incredible retrospective on the past year, then you are severely missing out. Go check it out right now! As you know I read an effing fuckload of poker blogs, and I will say without hesitation that this is my favorite post I've seen on any blog so far this year. I've already read it 3 or 4 times and it only gets better. Go click that link and take a read of some of the background of one of our favorite cash gamers and all-around great guys. Simply unbelievable.

Secondly, I wanted to personally mention how thrilled I am that the Iggy, the uberdrawrf himself, is returning to his rightful home at Guinness and Poker. Iggy, you will always be my one and only when it comes to poker blogging -- not only the first, but clearly the best -- and there still can never be anything like a genuine Iggy uberpost to destroy my workplace productivity like nothing else. But to echo some sentiments voiced by Al earlier this week, there were two main problems with your move to pokerworks. First, as Al mentions, my dorkwork blocks all the pokerworks blogs, and frankly my work day is where I do about 95% of my daily blog reading. I will admit that over the past few months since Iggy's move, I have gone from reading 100% never-possibly-miss-one of his posts, to instead reading probably 25% of them, and almost never in a timely fashion. Sadly this is true for most of the pokerworks crew because I simply cannot get access to them during the weekdays ever, but with Iggy it was by far the worst because you couldn't have paid me money to ever miss anything Ig had to say before 2007. So for that reason alone, the move back to Guinness is obviously the right thing.

But more than that, I have got to say that the whole pokerworks thing just was not the same IMO for the original uberposter. I never got the same feel with Iggy's pokerworks blog as I always had for it when it was at G&P. Even though Iggy still called them "uberposts", they were just not quite the same thing. Different feel, different structure, something. It's intangible, but it was real, trust me. I went through a smaller-scale version of the same thing when I was writing for Cardsquad, so I know what I'm talking about here. Writing for the two blogs was fun and all, but believe me when I say that #1 it was draining, and more importantly #2, I never felt like I could be quite myself on Cardsquad. For one thing, the structure of the blog was totally different from my own corner of the blogiverse here. Also, I felt pressure for my posts to be shorter, smaller, and more structured. Writing as part of a larger group of writers kinda builds in its own pressures as it is, and while I loved every minute of it -- don't get me wrong -- it was definitely very much different from what I was doing here at good ol' hammerplayer dot blogspot dot complain. I never wanted to rant quite as personally as I do with abandon here, and I know for a fact that the overall tone in my Cardsquad posts was just not nearly as edgy, or ultimately not nearly as real, as what I do here on a daily basis. It's hard to explain unless you live it, but I have and so I'm here to say, Iggy, the blogiverse was sorely worse without you at your rightful home, and I for one could not be happier for you, and for us all, that you're now back where you belong. So go give Iggy a look at his new old home. And for those of you who've never had the honor of meeting the man, the myth, the legend before in the flesh, there is an awesome picture of him up on G&P right now if you want to go see one of the rare times he'll ever let someone take a snapshot of him close-up.

Lastly but not leastly, go check out Blinders, who has a couple of great posts up this week where he scours the pokertracker details of his recent ladder challenge. For a guy like me who never uses pokertracker, it is highly interesting and entertaining to even see just how powerful a program like this can be to analyzing your game, your strengths, your weaknesses, and I think more than anything else, just your tendencies in how you play no-limit holdem. After reading Blinders' last couple of posts, I am quite sure that if I were a cash game guy I would be downloading pokertracker immediately. I think its usability is far less for an mtt-only guy like myself, where you're constantly getting shortstacked and end up pushing with lots of utter garbage hands from late position, the blinds, etc., but for a cash game specialist, Blinders does a great job this week of (1) showing all the great details you can get from a program like pokertracker, and (2) providing the kind of analysis of one's play that one can get by just using this program and keeping an open mind about what the results are telling you. I've read Blinders last few posts several times, and am still captivated by all his pokertracker stats have to show him, and by how objectively the man is able and willing to analyze his own play by use of tools like this. We should all be so objective and introspective about our play as Blinders is here. Really, really good stuff, and super cool of him to post since on some level it does give away some information about his style of play.

OK, with that out of the way let me turn back to yesterday's Stud High starting hand post. If you'll recall, I had posed the following hand to you all:

where I am in middle position with QJ(T), straight possibilities, flush possibilities, and only one other high card showing. Unfortunately, that high card is a King, and double unfortunately, that King has already raised it up before the action gets to me. This hand in particular interested me because, unlike my first two omaha hands this week where I feel like the right move really is to fold both of them in most cases, with this one I thought it was a little more up in the air.

I got a lot of good comments here, which seemed basically pretty evenly split between calling and folding. Even the posters who suggested calling were pretty unanimous that if I don't improve on 4th street and face another bet from King Boy, then I would have to lay it down, something with which I defintely agree if I even decided to take one card off in the first place. That said, let me show you what I did here:

Yeah. I folded it. I'm still not at all sure this was the "right" play or "best" play here, but it is an example of my generally tight strategy in most of the HORSE games, and in fact mostly all the poker variations I play. I have made more money than I've lost in my life in HORSE games of all kinds (cash, tournament, individual or in HORSE format) by generally giving people credit for what they represent on the early betting rounds. That is, when someone plays their King upcard as if they've got a pair of Kings, sometimes I try to chase them down, but for the most part that's been a losing strategy for me, and I've been much happier and much more profitable by playing my hands on the assumption that the guy really does have the pair of Kings that he's representing. Maybe in this case the guy was bluffing. If that's true, I probably lost my chance to win a few chips in this particular hand. But, I barely lost any actual chips in my stack, so that's not a bad outcome at all for me in any event. And if he did have the pair of Kings, I was a big dog in the hand the way I see it.

Here's the thing -- if I had had KQJ, and he had a Ten up and had bet it, I would have surely called. I might have raised it even. Then I've got three overcards to the pair he's representing, and with no other high cards showing in anyone else's hand here, I've gotta love my chances of pairing any one of my three cards and being ahead of my opponent with the exposed Ten on 3rd street. Given my aggressive nature and my faith in the math of poker and odds, I'm probably even calling here if he has a Queen showing and I have AKQ. Then I think it's that much less likely that he actually has a pair of Queens since I've got one in my own hand already, and even if he does, I've still got the Ace and the King to pair and take the lead over him at some point later in the hand. In fact, given my confidence in my ability to lay good reads on people, I would definitely even consider calling if I had QJT and he had a Jack up and had raised it on third street like this. Again I've got one of his jacks buried in my own hand, plus I've got the overcard Queen, and I've got the straight possibilities working here (plus of course the high two pair chances, etc.). But, in this case, since I have nothing but three undercards to the pair he's representing here on 3rd street, and since I haven't lost a dime into this pot yet so far in the hand other than my measly 25-chip ante, I figured I'm laying this thing down here. The two-flush doesn't do much for me at this point (unlike a 3-flush on 4th street which I certainly like a little more), and the straight chances are nice, but with one of my Kings and even an 8 already out as jeciimd points out in his comment, even those straight chances are tempered somewhat. And I just can't escape the thought of what happens here if I, say, pair my hidden Jack on 4th street, and then King Boy bets into me again. Not only am I already still behind to his likely Kings, but even if I make a backdoor two-pairs on 6th or 7th street, he has just as much of a chance of that as I do, and his pair of Kings will win the pot from me in that situation. So I laid it down. As I said earlier, I'm still not sure this is the exactly correct play, and if anyone thinks I screwed it up please feel free to say so, but what I am sure of is that it was the safest, and lowest-risk play since like I mentioned above I didn't actually put any chips into this pot yet other than my 25 that automatically went in for the ante.

OK so lastly today, I'm going to profile a starting hand from 7 Stud Hilo. This incidentally was the game of choice for last night's WWdN 2nd chance tournament, which I again lasted through the middle of the pack until some clown guy called me down on 6th street for all my chips -- no, he raised me actually for all my chips -- with nothing. That's right, nothing but a flush draw. I called with the pair of Jacks that I had so skillfully camouflaged all the way through the hand, because that's just how I roll, and boom! Flush on the river, and IGH. Unreal the quality of play in Wil's tournaments. It should make them easier according to all you donks who claim I should want the lowest form of poker clowns in my mtts. But you're wrong. It makes them much, much harder to survive in. I want the donks, don't get me wrong, but just not the lowest form of donk who doesn't have a clue when they're beat, and therefore is just constantly getting bailed out by these fucking asshole poker sites. Disgusting.

Anyways where was I. Oh yeah, Stud Hilo starting hand. It's the same HORSE satellite from this weekend, but a few minutes later than in the Stud High hand above. I'm still around 5th place out of probably around 16 players remaining, with the top 3 winning seats to the big HORSE tournament, and I'm dealt (24)5 in middle position. The low card, a 4, brings it in for 20 chips, and the next player limps for 20 with an Ace showing. The next player, showing a Jack, folds, and then the player to my right limps as well with a 6 up. Now the action is to me, with 3 players still to act after me, all of whom are showing high cards on 3rd street. So again, I've got a 4, an Ace, and a 6 already limping in ahead of me for 20 chips, and I have (24)5 rainbow in my hand, with nothing but high cards to act after me.

What do you like to do here? Obviously I've got a very strong starting low hand. But, I'm also looking at a number of other low upcards, and with them limping into this pot, they've probably got at least one other low card each underneath. So this takes away some of my potential low hits here and makes my low hand less "live" than it otherwise may appear. And I don't have much good for high, especially with an Ace already in the pot ahead of me. Does anybody fold this 5-low on 3rd street? If not, does anybody raise it up, or are you just calling here? Why?

As always I'll be back later with my analysis of the comments as well as what I did on this particular hand and why. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful comments on yesterday's Stud High post.

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Blogger I Like Cake said...

Again, not always the "right" play, but I'll tell you what I would have done: call the limp. See what everyone else does after you. You'll probably get everyone limping and then you can decide on 4th whether to hold on to the hand or not. With all those low cards out there you're not at all certain about hitting a qualifying low. But, you might just get one of the high card guys raising here. If one or more of the low card guys call that raise then I would fold.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Your post exemplifies the exact reasons why I gave up on the WWdN a while back... too frustrating. At first I thought the level of competition was too high... but man was I wrong (bloggers excluded of course).

1:22 AM  
Blogger Ignatious said...

thx for the kind words hoy! damnit, can i quote you?

1:25 AM  
Blogger jeciimd said...

Although the low possibilities of this hand are mildly tempting, Im folding; there's little if any chance to go high and scoop, so in essence you're playing for half the pot--remember that at least 2 of the 8 cards u need to hit to complete a wheel or 6 hi-str8(assuming you catch a 3 on 4th street) are already gone, and you will likely need the 4 AND ace guy to hit bad (or at least hi) to feel comfortable about your low prospects. Fold and move on.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Iggy, obviously you can quote away brotha. You can't know how happy I am to have you back home where you belong. Believe me when I say there's a big number of us that feel the same. Can't wait to read your first uber back at G&P man.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Hoy, I really like what you had to say about playing AK out of position. In reference to your 2 WWDN hands, let me offer some analysis. It's mostly about the other players' actions.

In the first hand, I wonder if the player put you on a lower pocket pair and had a similar analysis as you had. The way he could have analyzed it, you limped and then re-raised big after there were a bunch of limpers. They guy might be a total Fonkey, in which case, my analysis doesn't really apply, but I could see a player reasoning that you are trying to take down the now-substantial pot with a squeeze play and weak cards. Your initial limp would support his analysis. All that said, I still agree that with players left to act behind him, calling was not recommended.

With the other hand, you should expect that the Fonkeys and Fonkettes of this world are willing to go to town with KQo. It still stinks, but I think you should consider expanding your list of possible calling hands when your opponent who limped is a known donkey.

Now, all of this said, I think you played both hands very well, and I would like to think that I would have done the same (although prior to reading this, I would have played the AK hand differently; I like your way better though). I just figured I'd explain what the other side of those hands may have been thinking.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Jordan, thanks for the comments. In general, it's one thing for Donkey to have called with the AQ if he put me on a lower pocket pair. The limp-then-allin-reraise should be enough right there to make this person not call with a dominatable hand like AQ, but when you throw in the three players behind him who had already been willing to call a preflop raise, to me this is a trivially easy fold for Donkey. I still can't even believe he made that call with AQ. That's just someone who wants to get stacked. Or, of course, someone who knows about pokerstars' proclivity of rewarding players who make plays that only would be made by someone who wants to get stacked. I still can't believe it.

With the second hand, I really think it was the shortness of my stack that got the call. In general, I would say that limping in from UTG with KQo is a fideous, grossly unprofitable play for a few different reasons, but once Fonkette was in there I don't think in retrospect I was getting her off the hand for just another 600 chips or whatever it was.

Let me just reiterate here again that it's not the players I am so annoyed about here. I love this kind of fonkery in my blogger tournaments. It's really the poker sites that I'm so annoyed with. I know that second situation ended up being a coinflip, but do I have to lose these things to AQ, AJ and KQ every time these days? It just seems like the more I rant about those hands, the more often I lose with them.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

At least I know I wasnt the fonkette :) You will not get fonkettes out/off of hands when they have paint in their paws.. I see way too many fonkettes overvalue their paint and weak aces....One of the reasons I prefer playing men.

7:20 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

AQo is the new AA.


4:43 PM  

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