Friday, May 26, 2006

I've finally had a couple big winning sessions, at least in relation to the stakes I'm playing (online 400NL). I'm definitely getting more comfortable playing some of the more precarious NL situations, like one-pair hands while heads up and out of position.

In fact, here's my favorite hand from the last couple of days.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $4 BB (6 handed)

Button ($472.20)
Hero ($388.60)
BB ($303.08)
UTG ($462.82)
MP ($916.75)
CO ($514.10)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Kh, Kc. Hero posts a blind of $2.

1 fold, MP raises to $8, 2 folds, Hero (poster) raises to $24, 1 fold, MP calls $18.

Flop: ($56) 8d, 7s, Td (2 players)

Hero checks, MP bets $60, Hero calls $60.

Turn: ($176) 2h (2 players)

Hero checks, MP bets $35, Hero raises to $150, MP calls $115.

River: ($476) 4c (2 players)

Hero bets $152.60 (All-In), MP calls $152.60.

Final Pot: $781.20

Hero has Kh Kc (one pair, kings).
MP has 8h Ah (one pair, eights).
Outcome: Hero wins $781.20.

What I like about that hand is that if I had played it faster on the flop then I probably wouldn't have gotten all-in. But by letting him take the lead and therefore define his hand more, I was able to confidently push knowing my hand was best.

NL definitely seems to reward skill more than limit poker. Here's another example of a hand where, while on one hand it was easy to play (I had the nuts after all), the fact that I knew my opponent was obviously strong allowed me to take his whole stack by way overbetting the pot rather than just dink a couple bets off of him, a la limit, or string him along afraid he might fold if I bet too big, a la most NL hands.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $4 BB (5 handed)

Hero ($448.72)
UTG ($450)
MP ($485.50)
Button ($416)
SB ($605.50)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Js, Tc.

3 folds, SB (poster) raises to $10, Hero calls $6.

Flop: ($20) Qh, As, Kc (2 players)

SB checks, Hero bets $12, SB calls $12.

Turn: ($44) 7c (2 players)

SB checks, Hero bets $35, SB raises to $85, Hero bets $391.72 (All-In), SB calls $391.72.

River: ($897.44) 4h (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $897.44

SB has Ah Kh (two pair, aces and kings).
Hero has Js Tc (straight, ace high).
Outcome: Hero wins $897.44.

Here's a hand that illustrates pretty well the value of hand-reading and position.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $4 BB (6 handed)

MP ($110.69)
CO ($386.81)
Hero ($801.19)
SB ($888.50)
BB ($184.99)
UTG ($219.04)

Preflop: Hero is Button with Qc, 8c.

3 folds, Hero raises to $12, 1 fold, BB raises to $30, Hero calls $18.

Flop: ($62) Ah, 6s, 5h (2 players)

BB bets $30, Hero calls $30.

Turn: ($122) 9h (2 players)

BB checks, Hero bets $100, BB folds.

Final Pot: $222

No showdown. Hero wins $222.

But really, some guys are just donkeys. It really seems as though once a guy has made a bet at a pot, or the pot has gotten to be, say, at least $50 or so, some people just won't fold any pair. Here's an example which really isn't of any value except to laugh at my opponent.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $4 BB (6 handed)

SB ($805.20)
BB ($448.30)
UTG ($684.13)
Hero ($1028.60)
CO ($189.40)
Button ($726.45)

Preflop: Hero is MP with 4d, 4c.

UTG calls $4, Hero calls $4, CO raises to $20, 3 folds, UTG calls $16, Hero calls $16.

Flop: ($66) 4h, Jh, 9c (3 players)

UTG checks, Hero checks, CO bets $40, UTG calls $40, Hero raises to $200, CO folds, UTG calls $160.

Turn: ($506) 5c (2 players)

UTG checks, Hero bets $808.60 (All-In), UTG calls $464.13 (All-In).

River: ($1778.73) Ah (2 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $1778.73

UTG has 9d Ad (two pair, aces and nines).
Hero has 4d 4c (three of a kind, fours).
Outcome: Hero wins $1778.73.

He called a large bet and then an all-in with a fairly deep stack with middle pair. And while that's the most extreme case I've run into--so far--there are a dozen other hands which are similar, where a guy has middle pair and no real draw yet is willing to get his whole stack in the middle over the course of the hand. It boggles my mind, but I'm definitely not complaining. Those guys pay my bills.


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