Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A couple of odd hands and lots of patches

Daily Quads

It's been a frustrating day at the tables, mostly looking at unsuited 6 gappers, and folding. Late in the day I win a flip, so I'm playing 21 big blinds when I pick up aces in the small blind. A very loose player who seems to be opening close to 100% when it is folded round to him opens again. The button folds.

So now I'm thinking almost anything I do other than shove is going to look super strong. I don't have a stack that should be flatting speculative hands, and if I go for a small threebet it feels like I might as well stand up and scream "ACES! I'VE GOT ACES EVERYONE! ACES HERE"

The problem with shoving though is the guy needs to have some kind of hand to call. And this guy usually has something not much better than the hands I've been folding. I have half the aces in the deck so the chances of him even having an ace are slimmer.

Another complication is the big blind is sitting there with eight and a half bigs. This makes me think the flat is the play. The dream is the big blind sees the loose open and my flat as a great spot to squeeze, the opener recognises this and rejams, and I get the full double and then some.

Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work out that way. The big blind thinks about, and eventually flats. The flop comes AAT rainbow. My heart rises, then sinks, as I realise this flop is so good it's not. I have the deck crippled. Unless I miraculously find someone with specifically tens, I'll be doing well to get even one bet in.

I do however have the opener pegged as someone who likes to bluff, so I'm confident that if I check to him he will bet. So I do, and he does. Now I could raise and hope he doesn't believe me, or I could call and hope he keeps bluffing. My read on the villain is he prefers small cheap stabby bluffs to sophisticated high wire moves, so the second option is more appealing. Plus we still have the big blind in the mix. He might see a bluffer who always cbets when checked to, an old guy hanging on reluctantly, and shove thinking his pocket pair or ten is good, or his gutshot has enough equity and enough chance to make us both fold.

But he folds. The turn is a 4 bringing a heart flush draw. I'm more or less in the same situation as I was on the flop: up against a villain who likes to keep stabbing when he has the betting lead. So I check again, he bets again, I call again.

The river is an offsuit queen, so none of the things I'm hoping for has happened. In particular, the flush draw that he might have or choose to represent hasn't come in.  This is the first point in the hand where it seemed unclear to me what the best play was. Shove and rep a busted flush draw? Bet small repping a blocker with Kings hoping for the crying call or better yet the spaz bluff raise? Or check, and let him keep bluffing.

In the end I decided he'd value bet anything he was prepared to call a bet with, and triple barrel with some bluffs trying to fold what my hand looks like: a weak one pair. He thought about it fora long while and eventually sighed and checked.

There was much consternation and laughter at the table when I showed my quads.

I posted this hand on ShareMyPair for comment and analysis.

A new play, the Call/Raise

I didn't post the next hand on ShareMyPair for reasons that should become clear.

It happened a little while later I'm playing a bit more than thirty bigs at big blind 4k. Under the gun opens to 9k. I have him pegged as a very good loose aggro reg. I elect to call on the button with ace ten of spades, and the big blind comes along.

The flop is A96 with a spade so we have top pair mediocre kicker, backdoor nut flush draw, and a backdoor straight draw. The opener has been cbetting a lot, and using a small sizing so I'm expecting something in the region of 10k if he bets. He surprises me by throwing out four 5k chips and a 1k. The dealer says "Bet" and looks at me.

I'm squirming inside. I was perfectly happy to call 10k, but this is an unexpectedly big size and a lot of my stack. It won't commit me, but if I call things will most likely get even more uncomfortable on the turn. I might have to continue with the worst hand if I pick up some equity, or he might force me to fold the best hand. I want to fold, especially with the big blind to act, but I give myself a little while to think, and to listen to the small voice in my head.

"Don't worry about the big blind. He almost never has a hand, or decides to bluff here. He's nearly always folding. And if you fold a hand this strong to this bet the opener can exploit you by betting any two cards"

So I throw out the call. The dealer looks at the chips and announces


I sit there stony faced trying to work out what's happening. My eyes glance over at my opponent's bet and I realise what's happened.

Long term readers of this blog probably know I'm colour blind. It's led to a few misclicks live down the years, and that's what's happened here. Because my opponent has small chips in the back bigger ones in front I thought he'd pulled four 5k chips from the front and one 1k from the back. But it's actually the other way round: he bet one 5k and four 1k chips. So 9k, which I've now unintentionally raised to 21k.

The big blind quickly folds, and now it's the turn of my opponent to visibly squirm. He clearly doesn't want to fold, but eventually does.

As he does I can't help but wonder if this might be a better way to play this type of hand that my normal "call flop and pray he checks the turn" line.

Blue moon

Despite winning these two hands I did not end up winning the main event. I was very happy that Paul Romain did. Paul is a man who seems to recognise that tournament poker is a rollercoaster where the lows are mundane and the highs infrequent. Poker is a game that makes us blue a lot of the time, but ecstatic once every blue moon. It is those rare moments when it all goes right that keeps us plugging away and coming back when it always seems to be going wrong.

Well done to Scott McMillan who was the only Unibet ambassador to cash the main, and to Dean Clay who after final tabling the Irish Open last weekend went back to back final tabling this too. Despite the lack of success at the tables I think everyone had a great time. And David and I were not shy when it came to lashing new Chip Race patches on anyone who'd have one.

In the wry words of Simon Steedman:

"I'm so glad the Chip Race are now sponsoring Unibet".



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