Monday, May 07, 2012

Bill-paying, or not?

A hand I played last week is one of those that keeps sticking in my mind, unsure whether my decision-making was sound.

Bill is a 60-ish local. I've spent many, many hours at the tables with him, though mostly in my first couple of years in town, when we both played a ton at the Hilton poker room. Since it closed, I've only encountered him a handful of times. For the most part, he is the stereotypical local TAG nut-peddler. But he's entirely capable of pulling a switcheroo now and then, and he's absolutely not afraid to turn up the heat when his BS alarm goes off.

A few people had left the game in rapid succession, leaving us temporarily five-handed. The table was almost entirely passive, with a disgusting amount of limp-calling and limp-folding going on. I had been taking advantage of both of these facts to go on a mini-streak of raising and stealing. But the only time anybody had tried to keep me honest lately was when I was good, with A-J on an ace-high board, beating her ace-rag for good value. In spite of that hand, I had the feeling that I was getting under these people's skin with raising so much more than my fair share, and somebody was likely to be feeling the need to draw a line in the sand very soon.

Just as I was thinking that it might be time to back off for a while, I found Ac-10c in the big blind, and everybody ahead of me limped in. I hate playing multi-way limped pots, especially out of position. A suited ace-ten had a very good chance of being the current best hand, so I decided to extend my raising streak by one more pot before dropping down a gear. I made it $15, which was my biggest pre-flop raise yet. If these people were going to make me play a vulnerable hand like this from out of position, by God they were going to have to pay to do it, thinks me.

Everybody folded except for Bill, who was UTG+1 (which was also one off the button).

The flop was 10-7-3 rainbow (one club), giving me top pair/top kicker, plus an overcard and backdoor flush draw as emergency reserve chutes. So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. I bet $20 into the roughly $30 pot. Bill didn't hesitate a bit, grabbed a handful of chips, dropped three stacks of four across the line, plus one more, thereby raising to $65. He sat back and stared at me, looking quite smug and comfortable. I had started the hand with about $210, and Bill had me covered.

Calling was not a reasonable option. That move would give me no chance to win the pot right then, would give me no additional information, and would put me on the defensive out of position. I also couldn't put in any raise that didn't pot-commit me, so it was shove or fold.

What could Bill have? Well, I felt I could be reasonably confident that he didn't have an overpair to this board. With pocket jacks or better, he surely would have raised pre-flop. He can't be on a draw with this flop. I don't think he would have paid $15 to play any hand that could have flopped two pair here. Set-mining? Yes, that's always a consideration, given his limp-call. But on a board this dry, and him having position on me, I think it's more likely that he'd smooth-call and let me fire again on the turn.

I decided that the two most likely types of hands he could have were top pair (A-10 matching mine, or, even more likely, K-10 or Q-10) or a pocket pair, specifically 8s or 9s. I was comfortably ahead of both of those categories. Because of the table dynamics I described earlier, in this particular situation I thought I could extend his range further than I usually would. He could plausibly have a small pocket pair, or even have no pair (A-Q, say), and be trying to send me a message: "I know you can't be strong every time you're pretending to be. It's time for you to knock it off." This possibility, too, would be good for me, as I happened to have hit the flop about as well as one can reasonably hope to, and better than he might expect.

On the other hand, because he has a tricky streak in him, I couldn't entirely rule out an overpair. And the set thing always strikes dread into my heart, because I would be drawing nearly dead if that were the case. As mentioned, his pre-flop limp-call was perfectly consistent with set-mining. Why would he drop the hammer now instead of waiting until fourth street? Maybe he just wanted to end the drama now, and not risk giving me some sort of monster combo draw if the turn was a Broadway card that matched the suit of one on the flop.

So that was my dilemma. I felt that I was ahead of more than half of Bill's range here, but I was in terrible shape against a smaller but still substantial portion of it (the sets and overpairs). I loathe putting in my entire stack on one pair--even if it is top pair with top kicker--especially against a player who historically has usually had me beat when he comes out with this kind of aggression. But perhaps this was one of the uncommon situations where it was justified, because he was misreading me as (1) stealing from the limpers yet again, and/or (2) putting in a continuation bet with little or nothing to back it up.

It was even possible that, in the unlikely event that he had J-J or Q-Q, I could convince him that I had A-A or K-K and induce a bad fold. Conversely, I was unlikely to induce a bad call with a shove, because Bill is too smart to stack off with less than what I had. If he had top pair with a lower kicker, or a smaller pocket pair, he'd snort and glower a bit, but most likely fold to a reraise.

So, dear readers, what would you do? All in or fold? Or is there some justification for just smooth-calling that I'm not adequately taking into consideration?

I'll go write up what I did and set it to post in about 24 hours.


geezer said...

I am mainly a limit guy and have problems with nl due mainly to bet sizing and controlling pot size.. that said after ur bet of 20 he was facing a pot size of roughly 49 (54-5) so his raise is about the size of the pot (he may not realize that this puts the pot size to 94 and makes you pot committed if you call) so it seems like a X10 is his hand.. I would call and bet out on the turn (if no face cards) about 60...if a face hits check and see how much he bets... but you are still probably get it all end
thoughts from a donkey at nl and also a geezer TAG

There are some who call me... Tim said...

I would call, but then that is not an option, plus you've described it as a not-very-good move (there's a reason I am commenting on this blog, not writing it...).

So, I would go all-in. Again, please note the "commenter" vs "author" title, and consider taking my advice with an entire salt-lick instead of a grain of salt.

There are some who call me... Tim said...

I would have called, but you've already described that as "not a reasonable option". There's a reason I am commenting on this blog instead of writing it...

So, of the two options of fold or shove, I would shove. Take that with a grain of salt (or entire salt-lick).

Anonymous said...

instead of shove, it´s possible to do the "unknown all-in move", call flop raise and check call in turn & river. You are all-in in flop but nobody knows. This move, sometimes let me get to river with no cost; if he´s got nothing, he could check turn. Your hand may improve to a better one, then re-evaluate river.
I know this can be seen as a weak move, but is often positive against players as describe, he can have a monster or air..., let´s see it as lowcost as possible

LOLfolding said...

Calling is out of the question. Given the board texture, Bill's action and your hand, nothing is going to substantially change on the turn (perhaps an ace, but even then, you're behind a lot of Bill's hands still and he's going to shut down with all of his T-X hands), leaving you with not even a pot sized bet and a relatively weak holding. With his raise on the flop, there is really no reason to think he's not going to continue firing on the turn. Old nits don't usually have a stop-n-go move in their arsenal. The only reason I can think to call is if you believe he is more likely to stack off with less than TPTK on the turn than shoving now. Really, Bill's propensity to get the money in with KT or worse in this spot is the entire question.

It sounds like you have a good bit more history with Bill that is going to allow you to make a more informed decision. FWIW, I probably fold in your shoes against players I know similar to what you have said. Players like Bill who are going to gamble calling the raise preflop with hands including a ten are more likely to call you down than raise you. A raise in this situation usually means Bill can beat top pair. I think you're looking at a range of: KT, AT, JJ, QQ, TT, 77 and 33, the majority of which you lose to. I'd fold, not feel bad about it and move on, probably following through with your plan to slow down a bit. If you've aggravated the table enough that old nits are raising you and you don't know exactly where you are, your loose play has achieved the goal of getting the game moving freely.

If you'd been playing some random casino patron who was clearly frustrated with your bullying ways, I'd get it in here pretty happily and live with the results. Random casino donkeys are more than happy to limp-call -> get it in with 9T-KT here if they feel like you're running away with the game.

Chris in Dallas said...

Shove...then hit the nearest VBJ machine to get unstuck.

Wait, shit, wrong blog.

Dan England said...

Really tough call. I'd say it's 50/50 here, and both moves are justifiable. I go back and forth. I folded A-10 in this spot in December and it was the "wrong" move.

Case for shoving:
Hard to say what's beating you here, though you've done a nice job of laying them out. I think if he's frustrated, like you seem to think, I don't think he'd wait with JJ-AA to repop you and "trap" you, unless it is with AA only.
His range is indeed wide here.
Honestly given that you are probably ahead 60-70 percent of the time here.
A set is possible but not likely, and why would he want to shove you off with a set on such a dry board?
He also seems to be daring you to call, which usually means he doesn't want one. And a pot-sized bet is a good bet because it's hard to read, but it's safe to say it's not really a bet that's crying for a call.

Case for folding:
You seem to read him as smug. That tells me he's probably not bluffing. He may have 9-9 and think he has the best hand, but most good players will not pot commit an opponent or themselves with only top pair.
He very well could have something, and he's not a wild player.

Given all these, I think I shove. If he has a set so be it. He played it well under the circumstances. I hate to shove because he'll only call with a better hand, i.e. I doubt he calls with K-10 or 9-9 no matter how frustrated he is, but he may, and it could win you more money down the road even if you lose this hand.

Memphis MOJO said...

Sounds like he has J-J and has trapped you.

The Neophyte said...

I agree with Dan, I'm about 50/50 on this hand but for some reason, I get the feeling he slow played a big pair in the hopes you would raise like this. He gave you the perfect opportunity to raise from the BB and steal everyone's blinds. The other hands I can see him with is 98 suited, maybe 10-7 but doubtful, or a set of 7s or 3's. He could have K-10 or J-10. Or nothing at all. But the call is close enough that I'd dump it.

Michael said...

I'm not reading a big pair here from your description. I'm terrified of a set, but I'm likely shoving to get it confirmed. (probably not the smartest play as he's only likely calling if he has me beat). At that point though, I'd be happy to take the pot down at this point and with at least a 50% estimate that you are ahead and some outs although long shots, I think I push and hold breath.

JoeMally122 said...

I'd guess that pre-flop he expected you to raise so he limped with an over pair. Your AT is up against JJ or better. You c-bet $20 and got the information you ask for, you're beat. Risk $170 or give up the $35 you invested already?

Big-O said...

Fold. You're beat.

Rob said...

Yeah, I agree....fold. He's not going to call your shove if he can't beat TPTK. He may have just limped with a big pair knowing you were going to raise for him. Risking your stack here doesn't seem wise. If you had a smaller stack, maybe, but with 100BB' haven't put much in the pot, time to bale.

Anonymous said...

you are beat. overpair or set

Anonymous said...

you are beat. fold. overpaid or set.

old vegas tight guy. you are dead

Anonymous said...

Playing 1/2 NL in Las Vegas against the player type that you describe here, I'll always fold in this situation. I would guess 8 or 9 times out of 10, you are beat here.

I've learned my lesson from the past. When I lose big pots in Las Vegas, it's in scenarios exactly like this. I get in situations against older nits or most women(at 1/2) and refuse to fold and end up getting stacked.

It's a one pair hand. You're probably beat so just fold and move on.

Why did you rule out 8/9 suited as a possible hand? People love to open limp and then call raises with this type of hand.