Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Flopping again

So I kick myself because I made a mistake that cost me my chance to make the money but I saw some interesting hands and some abysmal play. So I learn.

First of all, I see W, the host. He is HU with R, who is a loose player who calls too much. The flop is KJJ. W has a J. He bets out a decent amount. R calls. The turn is a 4. W bets out again, big. R calls.

What can R have? W is fairly straightforward. He’ll bluff sometimes but not so much that he’s wild. You can squarely put him on a J. Now if W was playing against me, he should know that he’s beaten. The worst I have is AJ. I probably have KJ. It’s conceivable I could have had Kx on the flop but I’m not calling a big bet on the turn with less than trip jacks. But R is loose enough to call with Kx, just about, and hope to get lucky. Maybe that’s a stretch even for him. He seems to have been thinking a bit more lately. He could have a straight draw. He would possibly try it with AQ/AT/QT. This would be a horrible call but he’s a horrible player.

The river comes a T. W goes all in. This is terrible. W is actually in a spot that often comes up in no limit and you must be able to recognise it when it comes. If R holds AT/QT/Kx and you have him beaten, he will not call your all-in. You cannot make value from worse hands with a big bet. He knows you have trip jacks and cannot have less. Even if he suspected you only have a K, he cannot call. But if he has called you down with a bigger jack or with AQ, he will call your all-in. So W is risking his whole tourney for nothing. He cannot make value with this bet. He can only lose. What should he do? If the draw had not come in, I would definitely be checking and letting R try to bluff it. Because it has, I would bet a small amount, which poor hands might call but big ones will raise. I fold to the raise. I might get bluffed but if I check, I can just about count on facing a bet I don’t want to call, and might fold the worst hand.

Fucking river, W says, and he is right. He was very unlucky. R gambled and it came off. But W did worse.

Then – and this is a real headshaker – R and his wife, D, who I know is a terrible uberLAG, are in a pot. The flop shows a T and a couple of other cards. He checks, she bets, he calls. The turn comes another T. He bets, she raises, he pushes. Now, R will bluff. I don’t necessarily credit him for the Ts, but I am mostly folding here. D calls.

R shows QT. He has the tens. So we’re all looking at D. What has she gone with? AK. She has no pair, no draw. Her tournament is over. The worst thing about this is that she called the bet. She wasn’t pushing and got caught stealing. She called! Terrible. Even if he didn’t have a T, he likely has a pair. A call is only a win for her if he has nothing. But he called on the flop and there are no draws available. So you figure he has a pair if he doesn’t have the tens.

I am getting to my bad beat but I can’t claim to have the worst beat of the night. L takes that prize. She is in the shortstack in the SB and pushes. The BB, S, a LAP sort who calls way too much, calls her. She shows 77. He has 75. She is crushing him. It couldn’t be much better for her. To beat her, he will need two 5s or a straight.

Well, you can guess it. The cards come A234. I’m not kidding. That’s absolutely brutal.

I wish I had made it to the final two. Earlier in the day, I won two sixhanded sitngos. I just ran over the players I was up against. M, who is HU with S, is a predictable player – who is not quite tight and not quite aggro. Earlier, he had raised my small blind and I had pushed with 44. He agonised over the call. He showed me his cards. QJs. He is saying, well, I’m behind but I could be in with a chance. As it happens, he’s a tiny favourite, I think, but he doesn’t know what I have. I say, well, you are okay against a small pair but you’re crushed by AA/KK/QQ/AQ/KQ and sick against JJ/AJ, not happy against AQ. Oh no, he says, I’m not crushed until I see the flop. I make a mental note. This is a guy who counts pot odds but thinks a BDFD is a “flush draw”. Hmmm. I am going to be flogging him HU. Same with S. He’s far too willing to call and not willing enough to bet unless he has something special.

I’ve learned something about HU. If you’re playing, you’re raising. Aggression wins the day. Your opponent knows you can’t always have a hand but they won’t play back with air. What tightish players do is play back with big hands, call with moderately good hands and fold junk. Which gives you plenty of information for the flop and lets you pick the hand to take them out with. R raises quite a few hands but not enough. He calls too many blinds (should be nearly none at all) and checks too many times in the big blind (should raise most times). Why raise with air? Well, here’s the thing. If it flops high, your opponent thinks you’ve hit and you can steal the pot with a bet that looks like you have it. If it flops low, your opponent thinks you’ve missed, and will be willing to call your bet with OCs, or will sometimes try to steal, running into your pair. It keeps them guessing anyway.

Earlier on, I’d had an interesting hand with M. I had been card dead all night. I’d woken up with AK once and made a nice pot with it; A7s had made two pair and a big pot from a clueless caller; but everything else had seen the whole table fold to a raise or just hadn’t felt playable. I wasn’t panicking though. Plenty of time to get hands and get out of trouble. So I’m in the BB, and M completes the SB. I raise with KT. He reraises. Okay. He has a big ace. I know his play well enough to know that. (He openraises a pair, which he overvalues usually, but I know that he’s overkeen on big aces and would limp-reraise them in this spot.) I am crossing my fingers it’s not AK/AT and call the reraise. The pot odds wouldn’t allow a fold. (The story of my night. I had to call off quite a few chips in the blinds when I was being offered good odds for it, yet never hit a thing.) The flop came ATx. I am thinking I am beat but M checks. I think about it and pick up some chips. Maybe he has Kx? Then he says, how much do you have? He thinks I am betting and he’s going to put me all in! I check. He has made an elementary mistake. I think my read was good after all. The turn is a Q. I have a pair and a draw to a straight. M bets huge. Easy fold. He tells me he had AQ. So okay, I lost a few chips but I got away from that well.

So I’m in the SB on the bubble. L is shortstack but she is three, four orbits from busting out. S raises 3xBB from UTG. It comes to me and I find 88. I am beating S. I know it. He is a loose raiser at best and is willing to steal. So I make my mistake. I push.

First, what should I have done? I put S on an ace. I’m hoping of course he has ace-baby and I’ve caught him stealing. I want a fold but if he calls, I’m at worst a coinflip.

There’s my mistake. Who wants a coinflip when they’re short on the bubble? Not me. I should have called and then pushed any nonace, nonking flop. He is folding most and calling only if he’s paired his kicker, if then. This is such a straightforward play that looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see it. I think I was just in the mindset that I would have to make a stand at some point and allowed that to blind me to a much better play.

So he calls. He says “I think maybe you’re stealing”. It hurts that I am knocked out by someone this fucking clueless. Has he been asleep for the past two and a half hours? I have barely played a hand and I have shown down only good values. I have put my whole stack in on the bubble. He shows AT. “I’m hoping you don’t have a pair,” he’s saying. I say, but you are worse off if I don’t have one because I have AK or AQ.

He rivers an ace. If I had made the right play, he’s not even seeing the river. He should fold preflop because he has no odds even to beat a pair, but even a loose player is not calling on the flop with no pair, no draw, just the six outs at best.

It’s painful to lose, particularly when you haven’t played badly. If I hadn’t been so card dead all night, I’d have been able to get away with a mistake. But I’ll learn from the night. Ultimately, I am the only person there who has any hope of becoming a decent player because I am the only one who can say that.


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