Saturday, May 13, 2006

I'm back.

I played last night, Friday, at the Wynn. 2/5NL. Last time I'd played live was March 10. Last time I'd played online was March 24. In fact, I didn't play at all between those two dates, so besides that one day in late March this is the first time I've played in over two months.

I actually started writing about it as soon as I got home last night. I spent over two hours on a long, rambling emotional examination into how apparent it is now that I've played how burnt out and out-of-it I was a few months ago, but how excited and eager I am to be back playing. Well you all know what's coming next. I lost it. It's almost a rite of passage for bloggers to have that one post complaining about a lost post. Personally, I would smugly look down on all those guys who would sit there and whine about losing a super-long entry, since 95+% of the time the reason was "blogger ate it! I clicked submit and it disappeared!" Ha-HA, I would think to myself, I am superior to these other twits because I make sure to copy what I wrote before I submit it. Good ol' Ctrl-C. That will never happen to me.

Of course, rewind to many months ago after my UPS dies--and after finding this out by my computer dying along with the power during a rare storm here while in the middle of frickin 8-tabling--I decide to procrastinate for a half a year before replacing it right up until the moment the power blinks out again, last night, with clear skies overhead, 2 1/2 hours into typing what would have been my magnum opus, and about 5 minutes away from finishing it and clicking submit. So instead of a deep, meaningful, serious post, you get this somewhat sarcastic, slightly bitter, semi-whine post (which I've saved about 8378304362928 times so far). But, hey, it's shorter, so maybe you win anyways.

I'll summarize the long-lost entry in list form:

1) Haven't played in a while
2) Haven't wanted to play in a while.
3) Played last night because I actually wanted to.
4) It was like I'd never left
5) Except I was more emotionally detached and mentally engaged than I was two months ago when I was the exact opposite--emotionally engaged and mentally detached. Last night, I was playing more like I'd played 6 months or a year ago.
6) Yay, poker!

Of course that means I won. And, for the first time in forever, I actually have hands to post! I can't guarantee they're interesting, only that they're the most interesting hands I've played in the last two months (spanning a whole 5 hours of play!).

Hand #1:

UTG seems to be slightly on tilt. What this means is that he's as tight as ever (which is very tight) but he is uber-aggressive. I've only seen him call once, on any street, otherwise he's been in pump-it-or-dump-it mode. He bets, raises or folds. Because of this he hasn't shown down many hands, but those he has shown down have been good. He has, however, mixed it up a little preflop, like the last round where he raised 3X the BB from UTG with A2s.

MP is the exact opposite. He's been very, very passive. He merely called out of the BB with AA after a few limpers and a late-position raise. Then he proceeded to check-call both the flop and the turn, only betting the river when he looked down to find himself almost all-in in a large pot heads-up.

$500 effective stacks, 2/5NL, full game.

UTG raises to $15. One fold. I'm next to act with QQ. I make it $45 to go. MP calls right after me. Folds back around to UTG. He immediately makes it $115 to go. I fold.

Hand #2:

BB has been playing tight and fairly solid, but for the last 15 mins or so, so has the rest of the table. He's gotten somewhat antsy. He straddled, he's made a couple of moves with mixed results. He's essentially playing like someone who's gotten a bit impatient and feels he can push the rest of us nits around on occasion.

$600 effective stacks, 2/5 NL, full game.

Everybody limps, I limp along in the CO with 8d7d. Button limps, SB completes. BB raises to $40. Everyone folds to me, and the button and SB are clearly folding after me. I call. Button and SB do as they promised and it's heads-up. BB seems nervous.

Flop ($101 in pot): Ad Kc 9d

BB leads for $50. I call, planning on betting or raising any turn.

Hand #3:

UTG has been very tight and fairly inactive for a while now. No real reads on him except that he's not a lunatic.

$700 effective stacks, 2/5 NL, full game.

UTG raises to $25. I'm in MP with AhKh. I call. Everyone else folds.

Flop ($54 in pot): Ad 8s 4c

UTG leads for $100. What's my best move here? What about if I didn't have an A?


Blogger Stacy said...

The only hand I'm going to comment on is the last one, at the moment.

Your description of UTG has a tight player leads me to believe that his range here is the big pocket pairs and AK. Since you're holding AK and there's an A on the board, AA and AK are discounted. Also, the other cards on the board are low, so he's unlikely to have hit a set. So you're probably ahead right now.

Since he's tight, and you have position, I think you'd want him to continue betting at the pot. I can't see value in raising here. A tight player might dump his QQ or whatever, but in the rare situations he has AA, you're in a mess.

If you didn't have the A, I might call the flop and raise the turn, representing the A, and trying to make him fold out his big pockets.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous bil said...

Hear hear! I congradulate you as well. Good to have you back.

Okay, I'll play:

#1: This is why you are good and I am not. I'd probably grit my teeth and say, "If they have AA/KK so be it," and shove.

I assume you were creeped out by the cold call after the re-raise, and then spooked by the fact that the cold call didn't faze UTG. I suspect his re-raise didn't upset you nearly as much as the cold call...

#2: Doesn't this look like a classic steal pre-flop? And a classic continuation bet post-flop? You've got outs and position; I like the move. Betcha he checked the turn.

#3: Can't imagine how UTG would overbet the pot like that if he had AA. So unless he raises UTG with suited A8, I think you're golden. But how to make maximum money? You tell me--call then raise the turn?

Without an ace, I'm not sure what to do. His overbet says "I don't want you in this hand"--does that mean KK/QQ? Or AQ? Can you push him off AQ? Not sure; that's why I read and you write. Fill us in, once you've gotten some sleep.

And congradualtions again.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous stonemender said...

remember, I am not a professional: and I am far from a _good_ player.

A fairly tight player raising to 5X the BB (have his prior raises all been 5X?) with 88 or 44 seems a little out of character. AcAs seems a possibility, but unlikely. A8 is possible (likely clubs).

Oh and thanks for your writings. I have enjoyed them for a while

The raise to 100 (~2X the pot) is showing me this tight player does not want a call, he just wants the pot uncontested.

How big is his stack? I might try for his stack right here. If he is short stacked, he *must* call since he's committed already and will get great pot odds.

I would make it 325 and take a shot at knocking this pot down right now.

but there is a reason I stick to small stake games :)

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what does an effective stack mean? just this just mean stack size?


12:48 PM  
Blogger eric said...

"effective stack size" is a term usually applied to a heads-up hand which means the smaller of the two stacks in play. If Person A has $900 and person B has $600, then because of table stakes, they're each playing as if they have $600 stacks, ie, they're effectively playing as if they have $600, and so their effective stacks are...drum roll...$600.

I also used it with a hand with three people because two of us were almost even. If three guys had stacks of $900, $700 and $500, the term effective stacks would not be well-defined, at least applied to the group.

1:14 AM  
Blogger eric said...

You guys had some very good analysis, I think.

Hand #1: bil pretty much nailed my thinking. Tight guy's cold-call plus UTG's complete disregard for the strength behind him had me narrow his holdings to AA, KK, AK, massive-overplay.

Ok, great, that's no real new information. However, I had to give him some credit since the time's he's been willing to put a lot of money into the pot he's had the goods. I've also been two to his left the entire time and had been raising preflop pretty sparingly, and this was actually the first time I'd re-raised him.

Now, at 2/5, assuming people are thinking at all about what you might have is often giving them too much credit, but until I see a reason to really believe he's a non-thinking, overaggressive monkey, I'm going to play careful with my stack--and against him, that's exactly what I'd be playing for.

Even if I give each of those four hands equal probability, I'm still well behind his range. I'm a 80/20 dog against AA or KK, a coin flip against AK and a 70/30 favorite against an "overplay" range of any pocket pair or AJ+.

So let's give each hand group a 25% probability. (Yes, I know statistically he'll have AK much more often than AA or KK, but I have to imagine he's much less willing to reraise AK preflop, although, once again, at 2/5 who really knows.) My equity then is .2*50 + .5*25 + .7*25 = 40%. Not bad, but when there's $200 in the middle, and I'm going to be essentially playing for stacks preflop, I need better odds. $200 + $585 + $655 = $1440 * .4 = $576. So I'd put in $655 to get back $576.

And of course this is made even worse by the fact that if I re-re-raise and he has garbage he'll probably finally get out. If he doesn't fold, he's pushing all in, in which case his AA/KK/AK probability goes through the roof, his BS probability drops to almost 0, but I've pretty much priced myself into calling. So I'm playing for stacks only if I'm more like a 2:1 dog against his range, and winning just the $200 most of the time I'm the 7:3 favorite. I'd do the math but I think people see my point.

Hand #2: Once again, Bil nailed it. His nervousness definitely keyed me into the fact that he was probably just stealing, so I was willing to call preflop with the intention of taking the pot away most of the time on the flop or turn. Turned out to be a great flop for me. He indeed ended up checking the blank turn, and folded to my half-pot bet.

Hand #3: I ended up taking stonemender's plan, here. The $100 overbet, in hindsight, screamed "I'm just trying to buy it!" So that's a note for me to watch out for such bets in the future, and regardless of my hand perhaps try to raise them up. But while there, I really couldn't tell. UTG had been very quiet, so I really had no idea how he would play his strong hands while OOP and HU.

However, stacy's analysis is pretty spot-on. AA is very heavily discounted. His range, given how tight he is, is AK, maybe AQ/AJ, KK, QQ, maybe JJ. That's about it. Very, very doubtful he has 88 or 44.

So, should I wait until the turn to raise? I don't think so. In some instances, against particularly aggressive opponents, sure. But against a really tight Assume he has KK-JJ. He way overbets the pot. I call. Well, I'm not calling with a flush or straight draw on that board. If he has KK-JJ he's check-folding the turn...unless he spikes his set. I don't want, say, a Q to hit the turn and suddenly have to fold because now I'm tying AK, losing to AA/QQ/AQ, which are the only hands he'd still bet with. No, if he has KK-JJ that $100 is the last I'm getting out of him unless he jumps ahead, so I might as well raise right away on the flop and take my pot.

But let's say he does have AK/AQ/AJ. Is he folding those? I hope not. And once again, if he's not folding, why should I wait to get the money in? If the turn is a Q or a J and he keeps firing, I suddenly start getting a bit queasy thinking he may have hit his kicker. Get your money in while you're ahead.

So, I'm either tied or way ahead the vast majority of the time here, and there's absolutely no value in playing games or waiting. I felt the best path, by far, was raising and that's what I did, making it $200 to go. Yeah, bigger raises in relation to the pot are more typical, but that's not how this game was playing at all. I also kind of wanted to string along AQ/AJ, and making a bigger raise may very well scare him off. A smaller raise, like I made, might make him again go over the top thinking I must have a weaker A (I didn't reraise him preflop after all) and I'm just "finding out where I'm at."

Not that it mattered, though, because he folded. My money's on his having had QQ.

1:56 AM  
Blogger eric said...

PS - if I didn't have an A in that last hand, I think the best move would be to call. While statistically it's more likely he has an A, the overbet stil makes KK-JJ much more likely (so in fact, I'd fold to a more reasonably-sized bet).

Calling pretty much minimizes the amount I lose if he does end up having an A, or spiking his set, by allowing me to get out on the turn if he keeps firing. If he doesn't, he has KK-JJ like I think and he'll almost definitely bet-fold.

One has to be quite sure he has KK-JJ, though. Otherwise, just fold. Save those fancy plays for when they're so obvious they don't actually seem so fancy, in other words, make them very rarely.

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you bought your house yet?
(seeing as you are winning again)

A few Simple tips to avoid the paranoia:

Pay the downpayment now then make sure you pay off the rest in 5 years.

Aim to earn 200k per year rather than insisting on winning months.

I'm told prozac is better than alchohol for the variance, but I personally reccommend an accelerated freefall course, or a trip to a warzone.

7:25 PM  
Blogger eric said...

No house yet. I'll probably delay that by a bit, unfortunately. I was hoping to buy one by the time my lease was up at the end of July, but I may end up waiting until next year. We shall see.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »

9:21 AM  

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