Monday, October 03, 2005

So this is the type of hand you'll never ever see at low-limits.

Bellagio 80/160 and I'm in the BB. It folds around to the button, an extremely smart, knowledgable player that I've been playing with for hours. He open-limps. Another smart player that I've only been at the table with for about twenty minutes completes in the SB. I check with 85o.

It's worth noting that I've shown the ability to make moves on pots and semi-bluff. I've also been running kind of badly. But also, I've shown the "ability" to not fold reasonable hands to someone else showing strength (I've twice paid of sets hit against me, for example).

The flop comes 7 7 5 rainbow. SB checks, I bet out expecting to take it right there, figuring both players are most likely on random overcards. Call, call. Was the button open limping with a big hand there? Often it's A-rag in that spot, and he'd probably raise A5 on the flop. SB's hand is not defined at all, although people calling with random overcards in that situation is common enough at least at, say, 30/60, so his call doesn't mean much at all.

(7 7 5) Q. SB checks again. I bet out again and again the button calls. He'd almost definitely raise a Q there, and although I've shown the ability to bet out with strong hands, I know they know I most likely only have a 5. So he has something he isn't letting go of, and perhaps waiting for the river to raise. I was fully expecting him to raise AA or KK on the turn, so QQ? He still can't be hanging around with his AK, AJ, Ax, can he? I decide then and there I should check-fold the river if it comes to that.

But it doesn't come to that, as the SB now check-raises. I insta-muck, and the button now thinks for about twenty seconds and mucks as well.

The SB now is eager to show his hand and does. KTo, for a total bluff, into two players who had shown reasonable strength.

Button: "I had JJ." And I believe him, since that perfectly fits in with how he played the hand.

At the time I was trying to decide if that play by the SB was foolhardy or brilliant, and the more I look back on it the more brilliant it seems.

Overall, the 80/160 game has been hit-or-miss. I've played in it five times now (including one night of 60/120) and three times the games were good, while twice they were not. One of those times it was just rocky as all hell. The other time was the night the above hand came from, when it was relatively loose preflop, but there were a good number of players who knew exactly where they (and you) were at postflop, as I think the above hand illustrates. Although there were a couple obvious soft spots in that game, I think I was in a bit over my head that night.

So the obvious conclusion is that I'll have to be very careful with my game selection for those times I want to play in the 80 game. With the big tournament coming up in a few days, the games should be fairly lively I'd think, so hopefully game selection won't be a problem at least for the next couple of weeks.


Blogger BadBlood said...

I like that play from the SB because with his limp, you have to assign some chance that he has a hand like A7, 87s, 67s, etc.

And check-raising the turn, while a somewhat obvious play for a bluff, is at least the right play if you are going to in fact bluff.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Madroxxx said...

I disagree, you would see that type hand plenty at the low limits. Well except the BB would have reraised, and the cutoff would have reraised, and the bluffing SB would have capped.
Oh OK I see your point.

3:39 PM  
Blogger eric said...

What makes the bluff better is that he's bluffing into two opponents, both of whom have shown strength. There was no flush draw and the button isn't open limping with 68, so the button's not on a draw--he has something.

Yet the SB felt he could bluff into us anyways. He pretty much knew that I had a 5 (okay, that was obvious) but also knew the button had a hand he could let go of--AA, KK, any Q, the button is probably raising the turn. Meaning he has a stubborn A-high (unlikely) or a PP under Q. His only concern is the unlikely scenario that I actually have a 7 or the button has exactly QQ.

Here he was in a position where he clearly had the worst hand of the three, yet recognized that he had an excellent chance of winning the pot with his well-timed blufff.

I'm not saying he made a miraculous play, but it just seemed to me that this hand--perhaps "standard" to some--just seemed to have a convergence of events that rarely if ever happen at lower limits. People open limp on the button, sure, people bet out on a flopped two pair, sure, people bluff, sure, people fold JJ with an overcard out there, sure, but that exact sequence of events just doesn't happen much at lower limits. The entire hand seemed very pretty, compact, and representative of the type of game it was.

I'm surprised people aren't grilling me about my horrendous turn bet. Yikes, I don't know what I was trying to accomplish there. If I had to rate the play of the people in the hand it would be:

1st - SB, of course

huge drop

2nd - button
3rd - me

The SB's flop call is questionable, but that's it. The button open-limping with JJ (if that's in fact what he had?). Horrible. But me, wow. I pretty much turned my cards over for people to see and still bet out on that turn, as if two very smart, capable players would let that go without either 1) a raise if they were behind or 2) a call-down if they were ahead.

I hope the SB enjoyed the free $160 I handed him. It was there for one of them to take.

7:02 AM  
Blogger d said...

I agree that I don't like your turn bet. Given that you did bet and were CR'd, do you regret not even considering to 3 bet?

I'm not talking about from a results oriented point of view. Surely you would have bet the flop and turn with 87.

I understand that both players may perceive that you have been running bad.

9:41 AM  
Blogger eric said...

given the results, I'm very disappointed I didn't three-bet.

Looking back without the results, though, how can I? I have one guy behind me who almost definitely has me beat, and the SB advertising that he has me beat, too.

If it were heads up, SB and me, it may have played out differently, but with the button in there not going anywhere as far as I could tell, I think I did the only thing I could do.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your play was fine. The button player's passive play caused it. By just calling all 3 times he made the biggest mistake, and caused you to make yours. Had he raised at ANY point it would have been different. Had he folded the turn, you would have been heads up with SB. I agree that SB played smart based on the button's mistakes. Best play: SB - Value Play: You - Worst Play: Button

9:55 PM  
Blogger d said...

Is there any reasonable probability (close to 7:2) that you can interpret that the button has a better hand that will fold to a three bet ~and~ that SB is bluffing?

You shouldn't have bet out on the turn, but given that you did, you still have the option to represent trips.

You seem to be saying that you do not expect the button to go anywhere, but how can he call a 3 bet given so much strength from both blinds?

It seems to me that it is just a question of the 7:2 odds vs the probability that SB is making a move.

That being said, I don't think 7:2 are good enough odds for you.

11:11 PM  
Blogger eric said...

anon--my bet is a "value" bet at some tables. At 30/60, for example, it's my default play, and therefore why I played this hand that way.

At this table, against these players, I should be doing a little more thinking than having default plays. When the smart button open limps and calls the flop bet, he's pretty much given me as much information as I need that I'm beat and I'm probably not pushing him away.

That's my thinking, anyways.

Dave, to clarify my reply, I was folding to the fact that I was probably beat in two places, and perhaps drawing dead. In a big pot, maybe the very small fold equity I can assume I have makes three-betting worth it, but it would take a heck of a read, which I didn't have thanks to having only played 20 mins against the SB to that point.

In response to this:

You seem to be saying that you do not expect the button to go anywhere, but how can he call a 3 bet given so much strength from both blinds?

If you read my second response to be:

2nd paragraph--explaining why I felt three-betting was bad

3rd paragraph--explaining why calling was bad

it might make more sense. Certainly the button would probably fold to my three-bet, but then I'm heads up against someone who most likely has me beat and most likely isn't going anywhere. I can't legitimately expect to fold out two better hands than mine there.

That all said, I'm certainly not saying that my view of the hand is correct. Perhaps I just need to develop a few more levels of thought to my game before I can handle the 80/160. But in my experience, given the way the hand played out, I'm definitely beat in at least one spot and probably not folding everyone out and so I think I played the hand the only way I could.

I'm still impressed by SB's gumption. I played against him for a while after that, and all I can say is that either I had a tell or he's a sick hand-reader. I'm definitely going to tread very carefully around him in the future.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would you play it if you did have a monster? From your position and based on the others actions, you would not be checking at any time I wouldn't think. You would be betting - like you did.

Anything else might lose you money or scare them out, which brings me to...

If you think fancy play is warranted due to the player respect factor... check the flop and check raise either there or the turn hoping to take it right away. If you still get calls or raised, then obviously you muck.

Why wouldn't the button raise on the flop? How long can you slow play JJ on a board like that if a high card is going to scare you off?

So I think you made the right play since the button never raised.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Peter B said...

Hello Eric:

Hooray! Someone posting about limit hold'em at intelligent levels. I'm going to be in Vegas for most of December, hopefully hitting $15-$30 for the first time.

I'm writing because I produce an infrequent column for Stan James poker web site here in the UK. (

I had been thinking for a while about a piece entitled "Two Opponents Can Be Better Than One", and this hand illustrates one of its facets. Would you mind if I used it as one of the examples? I can send you a draft if you wish.

My general theme here is that the bluffer wins because his bet is given more credibility by his opponents (both of whom he knows are thinking players) because there are two opponents.

I'm not happy with the open limp with Jacks. At higher levels, some players seem addicted to this play. Even if he had Aces, I don't like it. You are effectively slowplaying a hand that isn't strong enough to slowplay. Bash in a raise and take the blinds. if you get called, then at least you aren't giving your opponent infinite odds.


4:47 AM  
Blogger eric said...

Hi Peter,

Please, feel free to use the hand as an example. I don't need to see a draft of the article, but I'd love to see the final product.

I agree that open limping with jacks on the button is a bad play. Of course, we are trusting that the guy did indeed have JJ. I believed him at the time, but that's far different from my actually seeing his hand.

7:57 AM  
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4:47 PM  
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9:29 PM  

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