Sunday, October 21, 2012

Decision time

I'm just home from my favorite football-Sunday hangout, Mandalay Bay. I thought one hand was worthy of a blog post. As usual in this occasional game I play with readers, I'll set up the decision point as thoroughly as I can, lay out my options and the arguments for them, then give you 24 hours to register with comments about what you would do, before a second post reveals what I decided to do and what, if anything, I know about the ultimate outcome.

I was in Seat 10. We had a new player in Seat 1. He had been there maybe 15 minutes. He played a lot of hands, mostly passively, but had not been involved in any big pots. If he had shown any hands, I had either missed it or they didn't register as giving me any useful information about his play.

The most potentially useful intelligence I had on him had come a couple of hours earlier. He was hanging around our table, chatting with the players in Seat 7 and Seat 8. Apparently all three of them had been in a game together at M.B. Saturday. Our villain had cashed out for a remarkable $2200. After the three of them chuckled over a few stories from yesterday, he walked away. As soon as he was out of earshot, the two players with whom he had been chatting began telling us all what an awful player he was. Both of them were somewhat above-average tourist-level players, and they had no particular reason (as far as I could tell) to be spreading disinformation about him, so I tended to credit their accounts as reasonably reliable. They said that he was having the lucky night of his life--calling raises with garbage and hitting every board. Because this Allegedly Bad Player (I'll refer to him as ABP here) had walked away, I assumed that this insight was not going to be useful. But then, as I mentioned, a couple of hours later he showed up again and took the seat to my left.

So to the hand of the day: I had 9h-10h under the gun. I limped in. This was not an aggressive table, and I thought it likely that I would trigger a cascade of limpers, which it did. Five of us went to the flop, which came Kc-3h-6h. I bet $6 and got two callers--ABP and Seat 4, a timid player with a short stack. I didn't much like getting two calls, because the most likely scenario seemed to be that one of them had a king that he was unsure of, and the other had a flush draw, which was most likely going to be higher than mine.

Fourth street was the 8h. This completed my flush and even gave me a one-card shot at a straight flush. But I sure wasn't going to count on the latter coming in, and I had to doubt whether the former was good.

As I was pondering (though only briefly) what to do, I looked left and noticed both of my opponents rechecking their hole cards. This gave me more confidence than I would otherwise have had, because most amateur players will recheck the suits of their cards on the flop if they think they might have flopped a flush draw. After that, they don't need to check again when and if it hits. (I discussed the operation of this tell in some detail here.) I had not noticed either of these guys checking their cards on the flop, but it's possible that they did and I missed it.

Based largely on the inference that neither of them had just made a higher flush than mine, I bet again--$16. ABP quickly raised to $50. Third guy folded, and action was back to me. I had another $125 left, and ABP had me covered, having bought in for the $300 max.

My $16 had been something of a probe bet. If both opponents had a weakish king, I would expect both to fold. A nut flush might either call or raise, depending on propensity to trappy play. If one of them made a non-nut flush I would expect a raise to prevent the agony of a river draw-out to somebody who had just the Ah.

Basically, I had asked a question, and I had received an answer in the form of a raise, so I should fold, right?

Maybe, but not necessarily. It all depended on how bad a player ABP was. He might think a smaller flush was good. He might not be used to seeing people bet flush draws (especially from out of position), and on that basis conclude that I probably had just a top-pair kind of hand. If so, then a raise here would make sense, since he would fear me having the king of hearts, which might bink a higher flush on the river if he didn't guard against it. With similar reasoning, he could well raise with any set or two-pair hand. Heck, I suppose he might even raise with something like Kh-Qx.

So I had a genuinely difficult decision to make. Folding was a perfectly reasonable option, given the good probability that I was facing a bigger flush and had just one out (to the straight flush). Raising was a real consideration, because if he did, in fact, have anything other than a flush (top pair and a flush draw, two pair, or a set), I would want to get all the money in now if I could. Calling was not seriously on my mind, since it would just suck me deeper into the hand with no more information about where I stood. Furthermore, basically every river card except the 7h would force me into an even more difficult decision to make from out of position, a situation I try to avoid. So I'll give you this much of a hint: I did not call.

Put yourself in my shoes (my spiffy new shoes). As Karl Malden used to ask on behalf of American Express traveler's checks, "What will you do? What will you do?"


MorningThunder said...

He has AK. One of them is a heart. Probably the ace. You push in.

Tino said...

Following your logic, I would fold. My logic, is less knowledgeable than thou, so I say raise.

Patrick said...

If he's as bad of a player as his friends think he is, are you giving him too much credit? If he's that bad, he's probably only playing his cards with no consideration to what you have. I agree that he probably has a top pair type hand with a flush draw. All-in.



Anonymous said...

He has 6, 8, one heart and just turned 2 pair. My luck he'd boat up after we get it in

Rakewell said...


How could he have 6-8 with one heart when both the 6h and 8h are on the board?

Anonymous said...

He has the nut flush.

You pushed, he called.

You spiked the 7h on the river.

Anonymous said...

Easy shove against a bad player.

Lindy99 said...

I think he has the K of hearts with possibly an 8 for two pair...he raises thinking his two pair are good and if he is up against say a 10 high flush at least he has 11 outs on the river. So hopefully you shoved. While I understand why you wouldn't call, might as well get the money in if you feel you're ahead...doesn't a call give you the chance to possibly save $75 if a 4th heart hits the river? I realize this means you also may miss out on getting that extra $75 if he folds to your shove on the river, so that may just answer my question.

Chris Abramski said...

All you can eat baby! Folding is not an option. If he has you beat so be it.

Chris Abramski said...

Folding is not an option. If he has you beat, so be it. All you can eat baby!

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew why my comment was left on the cutting room floor. Maybe I nailed it from 2000 miles away?

James Antill said...

So ... passive any2 villain rechecks his cards when the flush hits and raises you, and you wonder if you should defend the 12bb you put in with another ~78bb.

IMO it's just much more likely that villain is going to "value raise" worse flushes than that he's going to raise top pair with the bare Kh.
Any2 villains also tend to play random suited K and A hands more than say random suited one gappers. So there are a lot more combos. of higher flushes than 4h5h or 7h8h.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with a hollywood all-in here. You said ABP quickly raised; generally, if he had a strong flush there, he would have had to consider a line of action, a way to increase his take.

I don't think he had a strong flush on the turn. I'm hoping you pushed.


Todd said...

What would you do if you didn't have the info from seat 7/8?

Given that you have heard from others that he is an awful player I'm more inclined to think that he's got Kh8x at best and doesn't think you'd lead out on the flop with a flush draw, I'd shove to his raise on the turn.

Anonymous said...

Ship it.

I think you are right that he would raise with a turned set or two pair enough times to get it in.


Mark T said...

I've been in this sort of situation before, where I don't have tons of info on the villain, but what I do have suggests an overly-aggressive and loose playing style (note: NOT a LAG professional - just a loosey goosey amateur who gets nervous and raises a lot with medium hands)

The peeking at the cards seems like a dead giveaway that he has no flush - as you said, if he had two hearts in the hole he'd either remember, or would have checked them on the flop.

He's either got a pair and a high flush card (e.g. AK or KQ with one heart) or has binked something silly like trip eights.

I think I have to shove here; there are far too many hands he can have where we are way ahead but he calls off the extra $75.. Bad players will do this "because the pot's too big", not realizing they're under 20% to win.

I think 80% of the time you're way ahead and he's drawing to a fourth heart. 10% of the time he's gone bonkers with trips or two pair but no heart, and 10% of the time you're behind.

Go for it.

sevencard2003 said...

relaxing in my room outside vegas. i would go allin

nailedontheriver said...

yep, I'd ship it. If yer beat your beat.

john barrett said...

All in, if you're beat, re-buy....if he sucks out, re-buy....if you win, say "nice hand" and stack your chips

geezer said...

I wouldn't be too quick to label him one way or the other... he called 1+utg Loose Qh Jh ?? i wouldn't fold here either but if you rr that's $68 half ur remaining stack so your pot committed.. I think it shove or fold. I would fold til i had a better read on him....(I'm a horrible no limit player btw)

LOLfolding said...

This is a perfect example of why playing mediocre starting hands out of position is very difficult. I think the first mistake is limping preflop - should have been a raise or a fold, assuming the game is full. I would err on the side of folding more often (though sometimes raising) since raising leaves the same problem of being out of position on later, pricier streets. Some call this being a nit, I like to think of it as not putting myself in vulnerable positions.

As played, you've led into a pot with a naked ten high flush draw, gotten called in 2 spots, bet again when you hit and are now lost when you get push-back. I think this is a fold way more often than it's a shove. 75/25, probably.

The only hands you're ahead of that he would take this line without a flush are sets and naked Ah draws (probably AhKx, though we would have expected a raise). Even if you shove, he can profitably call with his sets (he needs 23%, he's getting 26%), and probably will be calling with AhXx hands even though he's not getting the right price (but will still win a decent amount compared to his risk vs reward). Your slim edge of shoving doesn't seem to overcome the other possibilities of being dead in the water to a higher flush.

The other thought is that he doesn't know anything about you either. Unless you really want to take the 7/8 seats at their word that he's a poor player, you should assume he is going to be taking this line as a value play not a bluff against a random player.

Cliffs Notes: Playing out of position sucks and you should fold.

Anonymous said...

I like the fold. You lose $22 plus the blind. You save your money and continue to gather intel on the guy. You can pull the trigger next time with more info. No shame in folding. I put him on Ah,2h and he rechecks his deuce to make sure it's a heart!