Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grump v. Jordan

I was just browsing through some of the blogs that I check on occasionally but don't have in my RSS reader. I found this post from Jordan (HighOnPoker) from about three weeks ago, in which he discusses a razz hand he and I played during the Tuesday Night Booze Cruise March 29. You'll need to go read his post before my discussion of the hand here will make sense. Go ahead. I'll wait.

You're back? Great.

The full hand history is posted below for reference. Let's look at it step by step.

I was dealt 5-6-7, so when everybody folded to me, it was an obvious raise with only Jordan (bring-in with a Q up) left. He's not quite right that I would raise there with any down cards, but almost any two is certainly true. With two good down cards (2 and 6), he called.

I don't hate that call. In fact, by coincidence, earlier that same day I had put up a post in which I tried to defend raising with a K up when I thought that somebody was just stealing my bring-in. That situation had the added dynamics of me being the big stack and the "stealer" being the short stack on the bubble, so it's not exactly comparable, but the point remains that I agree with Jordan that it's not always crazy to defend with a bad up card.

As it turned out, I was actually way ahead: I was 69% to win, Jordan 31%. (Percentages come from the wonderful razz hand simulator at ProPokerTools.) He was a 2.23:1 underdog. The pot was 140 after my completion, and he had to call 40 more, giving him immediate pot odds of 3.5:1. Which means that if he had been able to see my cards (Sklansky's classic criteria), the call would have been correct. The fact that my range was certainly broader than what I actually had makes it even more reasonable.

On 4th street, I get a Q, Jordan gets a 2. He pairs, which sucks for him, but I don't know that. It superficially looks like a good card for him from my perspective--except that (as he apparently deduced one street later) it gave me suspicion that he had paired, because most people will defend with a big card showing only with the most premium down cards (A2, A3, 23, etc.). He bet 60, I raised to 120, thinking that he would have to fold if the deuce had, in fact, paired him. Instead, he called.

I think that call is questionable. I am telling him, "Yeah, we both have a queen, but I suspect you just paired, and even if you didn't, my starting hand is strong enough that I'm willing to put more chips in against you." I think the right move in that spot is either (1) admit that you've been caught, the jig is up, and fold, or (2) reraise, which is the only way that you're likely to convince me you think your hand is stronger than mine, after discounting our equal queens. I.e., if you want me to believe that you started with A-3 and now have A-2-3, you have to raise.

Jordan writes that the call will "sell the story I wish to tell." I disagree completely. If you're actually sitting there with Q32A, and you see that the best I can possibly have is Q72A (and, of course, I might have much worse), why would you just call? To me the call said that either I was right about the deuce pairing and you were just going to try to get lucky, or you had started with something pretty mediocre, like A7 or A8 down, and now you were kind of stuck with a hand you couldn't quite fold but didn't like enough to reraise with.

What is the math on that call? I am now a 74/26 favorite, so Jordan is a 2.85:1 dog. The pot is 360 after my raise, and he has to call another 60, so getting 6:1 makes the call correct, somewhat surprisingly. (That kind of math is why it's often so hard to get people to fold in razz, even when they're obviously behind.) A raise is really better, though, in terms of the dynamics of the hand, setting up the steal, reinforcing the image you're trying to get across, and building a bigger pot in the event that you get lucky on the next streets. Unwillingness to make the pot bigger is inconsistent with selling the idea that you think you're ahead there.

Fifth street sucks for me: a ten to Jordan's 5. He bets 120, I call. I'm still ahead (64%/36%), though I'm in some doubt, relying on hope that my read of the deuce pairing him was correct.

Now let's look back again at 4th street. Suppose Jordan had reraised me there, telling a more convincing (though actually false) story that he had three babies and knew he was ahead of my Q7. I think most likely I would have folded with the second brick hitting me on 5th. The weak call on 4th, though, prompted me to continue with caution, and Jordan needed to get lucky again on 6th.

Sixth street sucks even worse: Another ten for me, 4 for Jordan. For the first time, I'm an underdog, with three bad cards to his two. I'm down to 29.1% to win to his 70.9%. The best hand I can make is a 10 low, and I'll be stuck with a queen low if seventh street brings me a king, queen, 10, 7, 6, or 5. That's a lot of cards that will make a really sucky hand. So I folded to his bet.

Was the fold correct? Let's see. I was a 2.44:1 dog, pot was 780, pot odds of 780:120 or 6.5:1. So I suppose that a call would be justifiable in those terms. But calling leaves me in a difficult predicament no matter what comes on 7th street. Even if I get my best card, an ace, I won't know where I am. Worse than that is the possibility that I'm already drawing dead, and will end up putting in two large bets (on 6th and 7th) with zero chance of winning, if I had been wrong in my guess about him pairing on 4th street. E.g., if his down cards were A3 or A6 or A7, or a whole bunch of other possible combinations, I was already dead. Given that, I think folding was the prudent move.

I appreciate Jordan's kind words (that he trusted I could figure out what was going on and not just blindly call down in desperation), as well as his modesty in not claiming to outplay me.

Josie piped up with a comment to the contrary, though: "You outplayed Grump!" Maybe, but I don't think so. I bet, raised, or called at every opportunity when I was ahead, and never put in a single chip when I was behind. Jordan, on the other hand, put in the equivalent of five small bets when he was behind. Without meaning to sound either self-congratulatory or critical of Jordan's play, that's a decent argument that I played the hand better and just got unlucky.

Full Tilt Poker Game #29461729425: Tuesday Night Booze Cruise (227570769), Table 3 - 60/120 Ante 10 - Limit Razz - 21:38:05 ET - 2011/03/29
Seat 1: SmBoatDrinks (2,385)
Seat 2: Rakewell (1,743)
Seat 3: HighOnPoker (2,912)
Seat 4: DDionysus (1,870)
Seat 5: cubbies760 (340)
Seat 6: MsDredful (1,175)
SmBoatDrinks antes 10
Rakewell antes 10
HighOnPoker antes 10
DDionysus antes 10
cubbies760 antes 10
MsDredful antes 10
*** 3RD STREET ***
Dealt to SmBoatDrinks [Jd]
Dealt to Rakewell [5h 7c] [6h]
Dealt to HighOnPoker [Qs]
Dealt to DDionysus [8h]
Dealt to cubbies760 [Jh]
Dealt to MsDredful [9h]
HighOnPoker is high with [Qs]
HighOnPoker brings in for 20
DDionysus folds
cubbies760 folds
MsDredful folds
MsDredful is sitting out
SmBoatDrinks folds
Rakewell completes it to 60
MsDredful has returned
HighOnPoker calls 40
*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell [5h 7c 6h] [Qc]
Dealt to HighOnPoker [Qs] [2s]
HighOnPoker bets 60
Rakewell raises to 120
HighOnPoker calls 60
*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell [5h 7c 6h Qc] [Th]
Dealt to HighOnPoker [Qs 2s] [5d]
HighOnPoker bets 120
Rakewell calls 120
*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell [5h 7c 6h Qc Th] [Ts]
Dealt to HighOnPoker [Qs 2s 5d] [4h]
HighOnPoker bets 120
Rakewell folds
Uncalled bet of 120 returned to HighOnPoker
HighOnPoker mucks
HighOnPoker wins the pot (660)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 660 | Rake 0
Seat 1: SmBoatDrinks folded on 3rd St.
Seat 2: Rakewell folded on 6th St.
Seat 3: HighOnPoker collected (660), mucked
Seat 4: DDionysus folded on 3rd St.
Seat 5: cubbies760 folded on 3rd St.
Seat 6: MsDredful folded on 3rd St.


THOMAS said...

but that's poker...it's all in the cards. yes, you were ahead at the beginning, but he kept playing, for reasons that he knows. in the end you lost to his better cards...that's poker.

HighOnPoker said...

"I bet, raised, or called at every opportunity when I was ahead, and never put in a single chip when I was behind. Jordan, on the other hand, put in the equivalent of five small bets when he was behind."

Not for nothing, but you showed in your post how all of my calls were mathematically correct, so I think its a bit of a mischaracterization to argue that I put in five small bets when behind and therefore you played the hand better. As you pointed out, most of my calls were perfect, as per Sklansky.

Rakewell said...

I wasn't trying to say that you played it badly or wrong (except for the call versus raise/fold on 4th). I was just pointing out different ways of looking at it. It's true that you'll make money in the long run if you make calls when pot odds exceed odds against winning. It's also true that you'll make money in the long run if all the money you put into the pot is when you're ahead.

TheRazzDoctor said...

Hey grump,

I know you're a long time poker player and I check in on your blog from time to time. I'm a little surprised that you still attempt to decide on the correctness of calling based on hot/cold equity of each player's actual cards and the immediate pot odds offered. First off, if there are more betting rounds to come in the hand you have to account for how much more money the caller will risk and can win before showdown. This can be tricky to do (unless one player is going all-in) but necessary. Also, even tho you can judge whether a call is correct according to Sklansky's fundamental theorem of poker, it's far more useful to try to put your opponent on an accurate range of hole cards and crank out your pot equity (including the dead cards you've seen). This is easy to do with sims like propokertools!