Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hand Reading -- Concluded

Good comments to yesterday's post regarding what my opponent was holding, and how best to respond. First, to recap, with my thoughts after each step of the way:

So we're very early in the nightly 40k guaranteed tournament at 7pm ET on full tilt, and I was dealt KK in the cutoff. The action folded to me preflop, and I put in my standard 3x raise to 90. Both the small blind and the big blind called.

So far, it's hard to put either guy on much, as many people will defend their blinds against a late position steal with a very wide range when the blinds are still small. I'm thinking, probably a top-60% hand for both of them or better.

The flop came down Q92 with two spades (I had the King of spades). The small blind checked, and the big blind bet out 90 into a 270-chip pot.

Here the big blind is leading out into me instead of allowing me to bet first since I was the preflop aggressor. This is highly likely to be a top-pair-middle-kicker sort of hand. There is almost no way it's strong, in that if he flops a set here or something he clearly check-raises instead of donk betting. And I find it highly unlikely that he bets out with a 9 or a deuce here, since I raised preflop. Possible, but unlikely in my book. Middling Queens are the best fit for this unusual and I think quite telling out-of-position lead bet so early in an mtt so far.

I called the 90, hoping to get in a raise on a later, bigger street with my overpair and really only fearing the three non-spade Aces on the turn, and the small blind called as well, putting 540 chips into the pot:

The turn brought the 9 of spades, now putting a 3-flush on the board in addition to a pair of 9s, the small blind once again checked, and the big blind once again led out, time for 240 chips into the 540-chip pot.

Here it becomes impossible in my book that this player has any type of strong hand. With two players calling his donk bet on the flop, he almost has to put one of us on some kind of a draw, and with the third spade now hitting the board, any type of solid hand or even reasonably solid hand has to bet strong here, not less than half the pot like he did. Even TPTK or the trip 9s like some commenters suggested is going to bet bigtime here with now three spades on the board, fearing a fourth spade on the river and wanting to chase any one-spade flush draws off right here and now. Think about it -- if you have AQ here, wouldn't you bet more than 240 into the 540-chip pot in this spot (if not, you stink)? That's my read. He is leading small once again, taking the lead for the second street in a row against a preflop aggressor, even in the face of a scary board. This guy is surely not strong, and yet he's not weak either to be leading out twice against a preflop raiser. What he has is top pair. That's basically it. Possibly Ace of spades and middle pair or something, but far more likely in my mind that this is top pair middle kicker. That's the read here.

I once again just smooth called, hoping to draw in the small blind when I held an overpair in addition to the King-high flush draw with just one card to come, but unfortunately the small blind folded:

Now the river brought a raggy 6 of diamonds, and, with 1260 chips in the pot, my opponent led out for 420 chips:

OK that ices it for me. This is top pair, and to lead out three times in a row against a preflop raiser, it's not a shitty kicker. So let's start from the highest kickers and move our way down his likely range. It's not AQ, because I'm operating on the assumption that that particular hand would have raised TPTK on the turn when the third spade hit the board, and I'm not going to put him on KQ because I hold two Kings myself so that is unlikely. QQ would have raised preflop. QJ and QT are solid possibilities, if this guy thought I was stealing preflop, especially if he holds a spade in there so that the third spade on the turn would not have scared him too too much into betting more than he did. And is he betting out this much with Q9, Q8 or a lower Queen? I just don't think so. Maybe on the flop, sure (although I'm not a fan of the donk bet, almost ever. If I donk bet you, chances are you are about to get played with), and maybe even on the turn if he thought I was floating him on the flop. But leading out, and so small, once again on the river? In my mind, this isn't Q8 or Q7, which would have to fear AQ, KQ, QJ or QT in addition to overpairs and other two-pair-or-better hands. It is QJ, or possibly QT. Outside chance of Q9 for two pairs and the turned boat, but that is highly unlikely as a Queen and two 9s are already on the board as it is. That third lead bet, and yet all of them small, ices it for me like I said above. This guy is on QJ or QT.

Now, this is where my particular style of play comes in. In this particular case, I was pretty damn sure about my read here. Like, in my head I knew his cards. So while most of the commenters made the absolutely valid point that my hand could be beat by a lot of possible hands and that thus it makes the most sense to just call here, I just don't play that way, not when I have what I view as a dead-on read like this. Sometimes I am wrong of course, but I picked this hand in particular from the other night because I noted it right away as one where I just felt like I had an absolute bead on my opponent's play. This was QJ or maybe QT, and I was ahead. So how best to play it, if you're me?

The dreaded minraise. Why not? If I push in on this guy, surely he's gonna fold his top pair middling kicker. If I even pot-raise him, we're all in and he will I think fold. This is a $75 buyin event, and we're not even 20 minutes in at this point. But I don't want to just call, not when I feel 98% sure that I'm ahead but that my opponent believes I was stealing preflop and that he's been ahead on every street, and where I have purposely played it slow enough here to lead him to continue believing that. If I'm him, with the preflop raise and now two calls, I'm probably putting me on a middle pair, maybe 8s or Tens, or maybe AK or AJ with a spade in there, all of which he is ahead of. If I make a bet that changes his read of my hand, he might fold it. But for another 420 chips into what is now over a 2500-chip pot, there's no way he'll lay down top pair to me. So there it is, one of the few times you'll ever see me min-raise a guy:

He did in fact call my minraise, and I took down the pot:

And there it is:

This is the way I play, and of course again I picked this specific hand because I laid a dead read on him and was right, and I thought it was interesting to look at how much information he really did give from his preflop call to leading out, and doing so small, on all three streets, given the particular cards on the board along the way. Those of you who play with me often or who have railed me in mtts or sngs will know that sometimes I make a read and am fooled by someone, often resulting in my elimination from tournaments. But this is the way I play the game. I don't usually get such a strong and confident feeling about what a guy is holding, but when I do, It's not my style to just make the weak call just in case I'm wrong. If I think there is value to be had, I'm going to go and get it, and in this case that extra 420 chips was to me well worth what I perceived to be a miniscule risk that I was beaten.

I have so many screenshots saved up, I could run these "What's He Got" pieces for the next 25 years and never run out. If it was fun I'm sure I could try to do more of these.

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Blogger OES said...

really cool. well done sir.

3:37 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

Didn't read the original post, so just catching up today. Interesting hand.

I wonder about this though (maybe this was covered in yesterdays comments, i didn't check) - why do you think it is a donk play for the guy to bet out into a pre-flop raiser if he hit a set?

I almost always bet out flopped sets, even if I act first to a pre-flop raiser. A check raise will usually only serve to get the pre-flop raiser to fold, and I want to build a pot in this situation, not just get one bet. Especially with a board of one high card, rag-rag.

Maybe there is a flaw in my thought process?

4:15 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

One more thought - I think most people in a flopped set, first to act against a pre-flop raiser - do in fact check raise as you suggest.

I just think its wrong. And since everyone expects a check raise with that holding, its much better to lead out - both for value and disguise.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Vinnay, to be clear I am just calling that move a "donk bet" because that is the usual poker forum parlance for when someone leads out into a preflop raiser. I'm not really calling it a dumb play per se. Although I will say that I generally agree that a "donk bet" is usually either a poor hand or a very strong hand. Almost no mediocre hands (such as the middle pair suggested a few times in yesterday's comments) will donk bet in most spots. Nor should they.

And while I'm with you on your suggestion to lead out against a preflop raiser when you flop a set, I personally find that the wrong line to take in many cases. So much depends on the texture of the flop and what you put the guy on preflop.

4:35 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

Oh, I agree it depends on the flop texture, and pre-flop raise range of the the opponent. Most cases I think tend to favor a lead out bet, unless the flop comes KKx, AAx, etc....

In any case, I see how I misunderstood you now - was not aware of "donk bet" jargon. Guess I should keep up on 2+2....

Excellent read by you in the hand though. I concur a bet out is very strong or pretty weak by your opponent.

I can see myself usually only betting out there with a strong hand like a flopped set, or no hand, but with a strong draw to the flush.

4:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That's exactly what I thought he had- I think I said so in the comments -and I also think what you get from a min-raise at that level isn't worth re-opening the betting there in case your read is wrong. Again, I was pretty dead sure, but you never know, and you just didn't gain a whole lot through the min raise there.

Still, nice play.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

I still maintain that you were beat.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

Good read, and the same to the commenters who called it.

7:43 AM  
Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

I LOVE the min-raise!!!

11:36 PM  

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