Monday, April 09, 2007

Hot Hand #11 -- Back by Popular Demand

OK I'm back and better than ever today after a nice long weekend with the family, and I'm ready to get right back at ya with the latest in my Hot Hand series of posts. Yes, I'm bringing this feature back, primarily because I love to do them and frankly I've received comments from more people than I would imagined who say they love these posts and really miss when I used to do them more regularly. As I've explained in my comments on a few occasions, I take so many screenshots as I play the game that it actually becomes a tremendous amount of work to sift through them all every night and cull out the best ones to create these Hot Hand posts. That may not make any sense to you all out there, but imagine having to go through maybe four or five hundred screenshots every single night to find adequate hands for these kinds of posts. Anyways, take it from me, it's a lot of work and much harder than it may seem.

Before I start, don't forget tonight's Mondays at the Hoy tournament, which is also part of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments as the BBT begins its second week in full force. Mondays at the Hoy will take place tonight in its regularly scheduled time slot at 10pm ET, at its new home on full tilt poker. The password is "hammer" as always. There is actually one exciting change to the MATH tournament which you will see starting this week, and which is a change I am really liking and I hope you all will too, and is something that is only available since the change to full tilt from its old home at pokerstars: starting with the MATH tournament tonight, and continuing thereafter, the MATH will now be a double-stack tournament, meaning everyone will start with $3000 in tournament chips, instead of the regular 1500-chip starting stacks for most of full tilt's other regularly scheduled tournaments. With the blind structure still intact, this will make for much more room to play, and more importantly, much more ability to make a mistake or two, or to try a bluff or two early on, and still leave everyone with plenty of chips to play it out for a while. Naturally this guy will still find a way to bust early, but for the rest of us the double stacks should make for an improved structure and a more fun tournament overall for everyone. So, we'll see you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy as the BBT rolls on this week, still in its early stages where everybody has a chance to make some noise on that leaderboard in a big way.

And a very special thanks to Al, the Man of the Hour in my view who once again was able to come through in a pinch when it looked like the tournament might not be able to be scheduled in time for tonight. As many other bloggers can attest to, when I've needed something done in a wholly unreasonable period of time in the world of online poker, Al has once again come through and been able to accomplish the unthinkable. Thank you Al!

I also wanted to mention before I get to the new Hot Hand post that I did update my post this weekend from last week's 5k+ score in the 30k guaranteed tournament on full tilt. I used the same body of the post, but added a bunch of screenshots and some more detailed commentary on the big hands since I was able to review every screenshot this weekend from every big hand I played in the entire event. Hopefully this is of some use or at least some enjoyment to you all out there. The updated post is right below this one, or alternatively you can just click here to go straight there.

OK, so without further adieu, I present to you Hot Hand #11, which is a question of how to extract maximum value from a premium hand that is folded to me in the blinds:

Here's the setup: I'm playing a 6-max nlh tournament on pokerstars. It's late in the first hour, and I've managed to increase my starting stack of 2000 chips to more than 3500 chips, although by this time that is only about 15% above the average chipstack for the tournament right now, and most of the table has similar sized stacks to mine. I am in the small blind, and the action folds around to me preflop. I look down to find pocket Kings:

What do you do here? This is a situation that comes up all the time if you play enough holdem, and I'm not sure there is even a "right" answer to the question. Do you raise here like you normally would with pocket Kings, trying to represent a steal and hopefully get pushed back on or at least called by a surely lesser hand? Or, alternatively do you prefer to just limp here, feigning weakness and not really caring whether you get reraised or just called by the big blind with what again you are sure is the best hand at this point? How do you like to play this hand?

I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this question, because as I said I don't even know that I think there is necessarily one approach that is better or worse than the other. For me, I opted to check here:

There's not really any huge reason why I checked it rather than raise it up a standard amount (3x or 4x). I'm sure on many other occasions I have put in raises here, and I am probably roughly as apt to do that as I am to play it slow when this situation arises, all things being equal. I think what ended up tilting the scale just ever so slightly towards my check here was that I was just barely above average in this tournament, and even though I had grown my stack a bit, to be honest I had not gotten a big hand dealt to me yet in this thing. Given this, I really wanted to make sure to give myself a good chance to win a solid amount of chips with this hand, more than just the 100 chips from the big blind. Thus, I was willing to take a chance of letting a cripe hand flop big or something without getting any information about his hand before the flop, knowing that I had the second best possible starting hand, and that even if an Ace did fall on the flop, I probably still was best unless the big blind raised me before the flop (which he didn't). So that was my thinking in checking the action here, although again I say I don't feel particularly strongly about this play either way, and the very fact that I would be willing to either check or raise maybe 50% of the time each in this situation is exactly what randomizes my play to the point that an opponent in the big blind could never get a read on my hand in the small blind regardless of whether I bet or check it when I'm first to act in the small blind in any given situation.

So the flop comes down T76, with two clubs (I hold the King of clubs, if that influences anyone here). I act first in the small blind, and there are 200 chips in the pot:

Now what? Do you lead out here, and hope he hit something to get him to call or raise? Do you think there's a good chance of him putting you on a steal if you bet here? Or, do you opt to continue the charade of weakness, check it, and see what develops?

Again, please give me your thoughts on how you would play this. For me, this decision was fairly simple, given what I had done so far in the hand and my motivations for doing that. There's still the same 200 chips in the pot, and I still stand to win only the big blind's 100 chips if I chase him out here on this truly ragful flop. So, given my intentions as described above when I checked the pocket Kings out of the small blind to begin with, and given that the two clubs can't really scare me too much especially since I hold the King of clubs as insurance anyways, I went for the check again here on the flop:

Now, those of you who play with me often know I'm not generally one to give free cards that could come back to hurt me without a really good reason, and such a reason does not exist here IMO, so to be clear my plan is, if he leads at this flop now, I will go for the sizeable checkraise, and hope he either folds so I can win some real money here, or even better would be if he lucked out and hit top pair or something, in which case I am thrilled to be in here with pocket Kings and the backdoor club draw to boot.

Instead, unsurprisingly my opponent checks behind on this raggy flop. Obviously I am fine with this.

Awesomely, the beautiful King♠ arrives on the turn card, giving me top set on the board and posing me with an interesting conundrum. Now what's the right move here? IMO when I made top set on the flop, my focus needs to change now from slow-playing to figuring out how to extract the maximum value from my opponent on the hand. Is a bet likely to do that here? If so, how much (remember, the pot is still just 200 chips)? Full pot? Half, to feign some more weakness and represent a steal? Or do I check again here and try to get this guy to bet, with me less concerned about any free cards now that I've made top set on the turn? Do I have any reason to believe this player has anything at this point in the hand? How do I get the most value out of the hand at this point?

There's more to the story to come tomorrow. Please post your thoughts in the comments, and I will get the next screenshots up for tomorrow's post after everyone has had a chance to weigh in with their comments on how they would play this hand, and whether I played it right or let some opportunities slip past me to make some additional chippage from my lone opponent in the big blind.

See you tonight at 10pm ET for Mondays at the Hoy!! Once again on Full Tilt!

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Blogger smokkee said...

i woulda bet $150 on the flop. i don't like giving up free cards on a straight/flush draw board.

your K helps u but puts another straight draw on the turn. you might as well bet pot there and try to get some more chips outta this. hopefully, he's got a K or a draw.

happy to see the Hoy is now a double stack tourney. you're making some good improvements to the MATH.

11:39 PM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Decision to check or raise depends on how previous orbits have played out. If I this is one of those rare times where I have been stealing I again put in steal raise.

Post flop I think you have to bet. After limp - check he has shown weakness as have you. As he can have any 2 at this point you might as well min bet to see if he got a piece of flop.

Unless you are confident your opponent will bet turn after 2 checks I think you have to bet turn and might as well make it a pot bet to "discourage" callers.

11:55 PM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Right again! Not playing. Have fun.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

w00t! Double-stack, I LOVE it.

Um, that's a classic situation, there, Hoy. Like you say, it can go either way.

Preflop, I raise there, for a few reasons.

1) It's six-handed, so I'll have been active. This woubldn't have been my first 'steal' attempt. Obviously, this one depends on your table image at the time.

2) It's early, and frankly if my Kings are 'wasted' by a potential opponent fold, big deal. You can get paid just as big with 97o, given the right circumstances. Fast play for big hands, except, ah . . . that time I slow played Aces and got busted by Fuel. Nice memory.

3) A check means you have no additional information on the hand. Your kings could be hosed on the flop by some raggedy 2 pair or lucky made straight.

On the turn, I'm betting out for sure. That's a very draw-happy board. I'm not entirely happy to see any club, eight, or nine. None of these would stop me, but they'd make me slow up a bit. Especially if I got some info here by betting out. A call makes me smell a drwa. There's a lot of slow-down cards out there. I want info.

And, again, better to win a small pot than lose a big one.


Top set on the turn? Rock on, as Richard Marx famously said.

I'm betting again. It's a freakin' tournament, man. You probably have at least 3 total calling stations at your table. You'll often get a call with Ace high.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Personally, I don't like this move. I applaud you for mixing up your play and being deceptive, but I think this is too risky of a play for a hand as strong preflop as KK:

1. You're out of position the entire hand
2. You have no idea what your opponent has

Granted, a set of kings is going to beat most hands, and your opponent is showing weakness. But for all you know, you could be up against a flopped str8 as well. Plus, in a battle of the blinds, I don't know that even a pot bet would get a str8\flush drawer to fold. Yeah, mathematically, you probably want someone who's drawing to call your pot bet, but the implied odds do not look good for you - if they hit, you'll end up losing a bigger pot rather than winning a small one (you have to admit you won't be able to get away from this hand regardless of the river.)

Of course, my aversion to this play may just be due to the number of times I've lost making a similar play, and perhaps the exclusion of this type of play from my repertoire explains why I've had to fight off being a shortstack my last couple of tournaments.

Anyways, bet the turn, check the river, and hope he has something like T3 and not 89.

BTW, if you wouldn't mind, email me at regarding blog enhancements. I'd appreciate it.

12:37 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Was in a similar situation last night (I agree with Bayne on previous play at the table). Guy in the BB had been shoving a lot and I woke up with aces in the SB when it was folded around to me.

Same blind amount as your hand and I raised to 250 (2.5x). Guy shoves, I call, and my aces get cracked.

So obviously that's what NOT to do. Therefore, to answer your question on what to do?

I have no idea.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Psyched about the double stack, but it makes the 10PM start time that much later.

Those of us with infants beg you to move the time to 9!

2:18 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Kevin, FYI in my experience the double stack does not actually add too much time to the overall tournament length in a tourney like this. Maybe an extra half an hour or something. The 10pm start time is to allow our friends on the West Coast who have "real" jobs enough time to get home and log in for a 7pm start time -- 9pm ET is 6pm PT and this really does not give most of them an opportunity to play, which is not where I want to be.

That said, I'll think about changing the time if other people seem to agree. FWIW I have 2 babies myself and I get up early in the a.m. for work, but I do make it happen every week for the Hoy and the Mookie which is also at 10pm ET. But I'll give it some thought, I certainly do not intend to be keeping people up any later than necessary.

Of course, you can always join in and just donk your chips to me within the first few rounds....Just something to think about.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Hey Hoy. Prepare to be shocked and awed by my in depth analysis:

Preflop- I don't particularly mind the limp, mostly because you are correct that you must randomize your play. In general, I am likely limping 10% of the time here, raising small (3x the BB) 60%, and raising bigger 30% of the time. I don't agree with your 50/50 analysis, but I generally agree in changing things up for deception's sake. That said, this is tough because you REALLY need table and player conditions to determine how to play it. If everyone is calling preflop raises, then raising is a no brainer. If the table or player is uber tight, then checking becomes a much better play. That said, I am most likely going to bet small to try to induce a re-raise, since 6-handed games are usually pretty LAG. I'll probably min-raise it, or raise it to 250 or 300 (at most) to try to built a pot and induce some action.

Post-flop- That check makes me squeamish, but I don't begrudge anyone with a thought-out plan. Still, I would have to bet pot here, if not a min bet instead, because there are only three scenarios so far: (1) you are ahead and he has nothing, so you aren't winning anything more anyway, (2) you are ahead, but he hit the flop, so so lets build that pot, and (3) he got lucky and outflopped you with two pair or something, in which case he'll re-raise. That's okay, because you don't want to lull yourself into a sense of complacency while he ends up slowplaying you slowplaying him.

Turn- Here, after limping and checking preflop and postflop, respectively, its time to get some money into that pot. I bet half pot (100, the min bet) to try to induce a re-raise bluff or get the slowplayer with two pair or TP to suddenly make his move (all the while we've out-turned him if he were ahead).

All that said, if this guy was someone who folded easily preflop, I really like your play. You are essentially waiting for him to pair something, anything, while you build a very weak image. Let him catch the river where you HAVE TO bet and then he'll call you with 83, rivering his 8 and thinking that you are making a donk bet with the pair of 6s or 7s that came on the flop. If you make any bet before that, you get nothing, so at least you are eking out a small pot.

Your play and the aforementioned scenario actually match up well with the saying (usually regarding AA, but also KK), that you either win a small pot or lose a big one.

4:47 AM  
Blogger iamhoff said...

I like the preflop check...kings can be funny sometimes, and why not take the opportunity for a trap, while protecting yourself against a not uncommon ugly flop.

I didn't like your check on the flop. Still, I'm with Jordan that you can't argue with a man with a plan. That board was scary, and I'd bet out $100 to see where I was. We all know (especially on Riverstars) that there are plenty of donkfish out there who will happily limp with 89, and are just waiting to nuke you with a flopped str8. So I'd be willing to spend a bit to try and get some info.

That K on the turn is a beeeyoutiful card, and (again hoping that he doesn't have an 89) I would say bet the pot. All it will look like is that you paired your K. If he made his str8, he'll probably just call. If he's got anything else, I would think he'd reraise to try and shove you off of your obvious pair of Kings. That will then tell you what to expect on the river.

5:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting one, any particular read on the player here? How had he played draws previously?
It's so possible that he has absolutely squat and that any bet is going to cause him to fold, but he could also be drawing to a straight, most likely to a maximum of 4 outs.
If that's the case, you actually have more outs to making a boat than he probably does to making a straight if he has one of those middle straight cards.
Given how you had played so far, I'd almost be inclined to check. Check or a minbet, I can't say which.
It's one of those situations where if you bet pot or 1/2 pot, I can see an instafold, but if you make a tester bet, he might bite with either a pair or thinking of bluffing the river. You'll have to play it coy on the river as there will then be a lot of possible hands that get made, but until then I'd continue the illusion of having very little since that's what you've gone for.
Personally I would've never played the hand that way, I don't have a huge problem with the limping preflop but I'm almost always betting 1/2 the pot on the flop.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

I think a raise here preflop is a no brainer most of the time. But like its been said without table stats on VP and PF from hud its tough to say what I'd actually do. Unless Im setting up a player I'm most likley raising because MAX 6 games are LAG which was said earily and people will create action for no reason.

Post flop though given the play so far i think a bet of like 125 might induce some action on the turn. Not a big fan off the check on the flop considering you have zero information on a board that if a card comes put a one card straight out there.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Goat, I do believe that was Michael Damian (of Young and the Restless fame) and not Richard Marx who sang "Rock On". They do look kinda similar though, as I recall.

Yes, the fact that I know that means I should be doomed to have people knock me out of blogger tournaments by calling my preflop raises with 54s and JTo and then outflopping me where I also flop a big hand in consecutive blogger tournaments. Oh wait...that already happened to me this week. Effing sick.

7:36 PM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

Haven't read all the posts so this may be a repeat. You didn't really tell us how the BB has reacted to previous raises from either you or the button so that info would be good to know. Preflop I probably would have min raised. Sometimes this is an obvious "I have a huge hand please call me", but then again it's easy to call. Post flop first to play I think you need to get some info. Min bet, see what happens. If he calls he's either on a draw or has a monster and is slow playing you. If he raises he probably has a pair of some sort. If he folds he had nothing anyway and you wouldn't have won any more $ on later steets. Checking gets you little info.

So now to answer what to do now that you checked it and hit a set, I would min bet. Min bet often means "I've got nothing here", so he may think you're stealing and his middle pair is good. If he raises your min bet I would take a good 15-20 seconds to "think" and call the raise.

10:43 PM  

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