Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who's the donkey with the nines?

Well, it had to end some time, and the recent online heater has subsided. Back to a breakeven (before rakeback) week so far online. Getting repeatedly raped on the bubble or headsup in stts which makes all the difference between big winning weeks and the rest. At last I'm not actually losing. Roll on the next heater.

Got chatting to a local on Stars one night and agreed to give him a lesson on online play the following day. Turns out to be Mickey Nolan (JP Masters champion). I think I probably learned more than he did as he gave the full run down on his unorthodox theories on poker.

Thursday: played Fitz EOM, never really got going, exit was a bog standard reship with queens. Found myself up against nines and heading out the door on a 9 high flop. Recorded an IPR show with Iain: very good Rory Brown interview.

Friday: scalps game. Got going for once, was up to 45K before the inevitable donkeying. A player who had just been moved to the table that looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't remember having played with before opened for 4200 in mid position. I made it 14K just behind, back round to him who asked how much I had behind before he shipped for 26K. I obviously called and he turns over 99, standard enough for the Fitz where any pair is a monster, although the better players in there know I'm not showing up with twos (Smurph had folded 88 earlier when I had JJ in a similar spot). He's lucky that it's one of those occasions where he's racing rather than looking at an overpair (I had AK, which despite hitting two pair was no good as he setted up). Afterwards he made the rather bizarre statement that he wouldn't have pushed if he had realised it was a race but he thought he had the overpair. I assured him quite truthfully that he never has in that spot against me, that it's a race at best scenario, which he seemed dubious about but Rob and Smurph who were both at the table backed me up on that point. Rob pointed out rather truthfully too that it's a pretty retarded ship with no fold equity.

Anyway, that left me with a reshipping stack and I subsequently reshipped AQ over a raise from Rob. Marginal enough but I thought I was ahead often enough for it to be ok, which I was on this occasion. Rob folded his AJ but unfortunately Wally woke up with kings in the big blind.

As I was walking down the stairs with Smurph and Martin, I asked her who the donkey with the 9s was. I assumed it was some Fitz regular, I don't go there often enough these days to know the regulars as well as I used to. They were both very amused I didn't realise who it was: Mr. IPO himself Stephen McLean.


Ouch! In fairness having played Stephen a few times myself, I would have no problem shipping with AK into him rather than allowed him re-raise back into me... he is a hyper-aggro player - often making sure he gets his chips in before others in order to dominate the pot or the semi-bluff re-raise with middle pairs aiming to represent an monster. (He's not the only one - I see it a lot...) Auto call on your part is fine - he got lucky, I guess Stephen just didn't 'know' you as a player either. UL

I think shipping for 40K over a 4K raise just makes my hands look more like AK than AA/KK than the more std raise. Any half decent player knows the std raise pot commits me against his stack anyway. One of the principles I think is a good one to abide by is to raise the same amount across your entire raising range. I wouldn't ship AA/KK there, I'd stick in the smaller std raise hoping to induce the shove, so I shouldn't behave differently with AK. Otherwise observant players will be able to read when I have AK and when it's AA or KK.

Yes, 40k into 4k does look like overvaluing your hand into a pot like that but its the player in question you have to consider here. He had a little over 20% already in the pot - he is never calling/folding to a standard raise here...

I would love to use a 'standard raise' across my range but find other players (men usually) are always going to call or shove over me regardless of what they have - and I fold a lot more than I like; mixing my raises is often more effective against them macho-dominant types and instills a degree of mystery over my play. Or is this a bad idea?

I agree he should never be calling here but folding should be an option with just over 15% of his stack in. If you're never folding to a reraise in that spot, you're definitely exploitable. It means you're essentially playing push or fold poker with 20 bigs rather than the more optimal ten.

Mixing up raise sizes isn't a bad idea in itself but it should be related to stack sizes and opponents rather than hand strength.

For example:
Situation 1
You have a 40BB stack and the two blinds have 10BBs. You're on the button with A2o which you decide is ahead of their ranges right now (two random hands) so you want to try to steal the blinds with it. Since you're two opponents are short stacked, you decide you can't raise fold so if you stick in a standard raise and one of them shoves, you're going to have to make a crying call. Since you're going to have to call a shove in this spot, you're better off shoving first.

Situation 2:
Same hand, but SB has 20 BBs, and BB 10. Here you're happy to get it it in against the BB, but you decide if you get it in against SB you're probably crushed, and you don't want to get half your stack in in that situation. So the shove here would be bad. A standard raise is much better. If the SB shoves you can fold losing the mimum, whereas if the BB shoves you can call on the basis that you're getting the correct price against his range.

Some bad players preflop raises are so transparent they're effectively tells. Like the bigger the raise, the weaker the hand (or vice a versa). If you are going to mix up your raise sizes, it should never be purely on the basis of hand strength.


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