Sunday, June 12, 2011

Strange line

The buy-in to last night's AVP tournament included a $20 food comp. The ticket was stamped with an expiration time and date 24 hours after it was printed, so I decided to go back and use it today, despite having been told by a usually reliable source that I could safely ignore the expiration. I had long wanted to try the California Pizza Kitchen there, and today was my opportunity. I had their original specialty, the BBQ chicken pizza. Very tasty indeed. I can see why the place became so popular. I love free food.

I needed to get back home and start in on an unrelated project (from which writing this post is providing additional procrastination value), but I decided I could take time for a quick hit-and-run session in the poker room first. One hand stood out for me. In fact, it's so odd that I've been thinking about it on and off since it occurred about two hours ago, and I still can't make sense of it.

A gentleman appearing to be in his late 60s opened from the 2-hole. It was the first raise he had made in his 20 minutes or so at the table, and coming from one of his demographic, from such early position, I had to suspect a big ace or a big pair. I had pocket tens one off the button, so I warily called with set-mining in my devious little heart.

The flop was Q-J-J. He checked. I checked behind. I figured that if he had flopped huge (with, say, Q-J, Q-Q, or A-J, J-J) I would find that out sooner or later, and I didn't want to get check-raised. Besides, if he had A-K, I was not worried about him catching a 10 to make his straight, since I had half of them in my possession.

The turn was a 9, giving me an open-ended straight draw. So when he checked to me a second time, I bet $15. He called quickly.

The river was a lovely 8, making my straight, with no flush possible. Now he bet $15.

What could he have?

(1) I did not believe he had a 10 in his hand, which would be necessary to make any straight. The nut straight would be with K-10. My experience with the geriatric set is that K-10, even suited, is not strong enough for them to come in for a raise from such early position, especially his first raise of the session. 10-10 was statistically improbable, since I had the other two of them. A-10 was a possibility, but not one that I cared about, since we would chop the pot.

(2) I also could no longer put him on quads or a full house, because of how timid his play had been. If he had a boat, he pretty much had to have had it on the flop, excluding the small possibility of pocket 8s or 9s, with which I think he would have been more likely to limp pre-flop. And if he had a full house on the flop, I think he would either lead out on the turn or check-raise it. Even failing that, surely he would try to extract more value than a measly $15 river bet into a $50 pot, wouldn't he?

So if I exclude him having quads or a full house, and exclude him having a straight, then I must have him beat.

Now the question was how much he might be willing to call. If he had A-K and missed entirely, he wouldn't call any raise, so it didn't much matter if I made it $30 or $300. If he had A-Q, he might call a smallish raise, but with a paired board and four to a straight sitting out there, he would probably get scared easily and wriggle off the hook. A-J was probably the one holding that would pay off the biggest amount, but I couldn't put him on that with any confidence, because of the line he had taken.

I was really baffled. But I felt about 90% sure that I was ahead, and about 90% sure that he couldn't pay off much. So I settled on a number part way between a min-raise and a standard 3x raise: $40.

He thought for maybe 15 seconds before calling, which makes me think I must have come close to squeezing him as hard as he would tolerate. I showed my 10-10. He got a look of relief on his face as he confidently flipped over A-J. Even though he didn't say anything, from his actions and body language I'm pretty sure he misread the situation at first and thought he had won, until the dealer announced my straight.

As I said, I'm still puzzled by the line he took. He flopped trips with the best possible kicker and slow-played it on two streets, showing a little aggression only on the river, when he was beat. What in the world would cause him to check-call the turn but then lead out on the river? His hand had not improved, but mine well might have. If I was just bluffing the turn, why not check and let me bluff again on the river, since I couldn't pay off a lead-out bet?

And was his checking the flop and turn out of fear or our of wiliness? If he were trying to trap me, why did he never spring the trap? If he was scared, then of what? The only hands that beat him on the flop would be Q-Q or Q-J. Was he suffering from "monsters under the bed syndrome"? If so, then why the lead-out on the river? If that was a blocking/defensive bet, then the logical response to my raise would be to fold.

Frankly, not a single action he took in this hand, after the initial raise, makes any sense to me. As you can tell, I've turned it over and over in my mind, and I just cannot deduce what he was thinking.

Anybody want to take a stab at psychoanalyzing his play?


Grange95 said...

I think he thought you had a weak hand, maybe a big Queen at best. He thought he was trapping you on the flop and turn, and value betting the river. He clearly misread the board as he failed to take into account the four-card straight on board.

In short, he was a weak-tight player who was also drunk or stupid. You should thank your deity of choice you live in Vegas where his kind still roam free.

Kahomono said...

The look of relief at your straight says it all. Utterly clueless player.

"You can't put them on a hand. You can't even put them on a thought."

Anonymous said...

He Phil hullmuthed it, probs a total noobi

Michael said...

he never cared or thought about what you had. he flopped trips. he slow played it to the river. and on the river, he "sprung his trap". he never considered that your hand improved. he only knew he had trips. he only called because he subconsciously thought there was a chance he was beaten but he wasn't really sure with what.

he played his hand and his hand only.

HighOnPoker said...

I figure it is one of two things:

1. He was not playing rationally, so analyzing his play is impossible. As I'm sure you know, not every player enters a hand or plays through a hand with a clear frame of mind or plan in place. Its very possible that this guy was just plain batty.

2. He saw you as a conservative player, which would make sense given your appearance. He probably thought he wanted to make some money off of his great hand and did not want to bet you out of the pot on the flop or turn. By the river, he has to do something or else he runs the risk of having you check behind, in which case he gets no more money AND he has to show the table he is slowplaying. So, he bets out. When you raise such a relatively small amount, he either couldn't reassess the situation, or he figured your small-ish bet was a weak hand, and that his trapping paid off.

MorningThunder said...

"Besides, if he had A-K, I was not worried about him catching a 10 to make his straight, since I had half of them in my possession."

And it would give you a full house.