Monday, February 03, 2014

Superb Owl poker*

Yesterday Nina (aka Cardgrrl) and I drove out to Harrah's Cherokee. My idea of poker rooms during the big game was formed by years in Vegas--promotions galore, every table full, action to beat the band.

Alas, I learned last night that things are just not the same in a casino without a sports book. Apparently, if people can't bet on the game, they're not much interested in watching the game from a casino. Huh. Who knew? (This is the kind of thing that you might think would be obvious to me in advance, but since I don't engage in other forms of gambling, it isn't. I'm generally pretty ignorant about how most people approach gambling.)

The poker room had only two $1-2 tables going, and they were heavily populated with the local regulars--not what I had had in mind.

It has been a very long time since I posted about a difficult decision and let you, my adoring readers, ponder what you would do in my place. Last night I had a hand that might make for a good one.

I had bought in for $200, and at this point in the festivities was up to about $325. I was under the gun with 8c-8d and made a small raise, to $6. A few people called before the small blind (who had me covered by $100 or so) reraised to $13. She was the tightest player at the table, and I had never seen her three-bet before. That she would do it from bad position made it even more obvious that she had one of only three hands: Q-Q, K-K, or A-A.

However, her raise was small enough and her stack big enough to make it worth set-mining, so I called. One other player called behind me--by far the most inexperienced and erratic player in the game. I had already stacked him once when I made a straight and he wouldn't fold two pair to my all-in check-raise. So we're taking the flop three ways, with a pot of about $50.

The flop was 6h-7d-9c, giving me an open-ended straight draw, and mostly extinguishing my worries of getting on the wrong end of set over set. Small blind bet $25. Both of us called, pushing the pot to about $125.

Turn was the 8h, giving me a set and putting a second heart on the board. Small blind checked. I checked, too, suddenly unsure of where things stood. Rookie immediately clicked all in for about $125, just about the size of the pot. Small blind sighed and folded.

So it was to me. What should I do? What does he have? Is it worth risking that much when I could be way behind? I had about $285 left at this point; losing another $125 wouldn't break me, but it would wipe out all my profit for the session plus some, and would be pretty demoralizing.

Of course with four to a straight on the board, I had to consider the possibility that he already had a straight. But as I tanked, I kept coming back to the fact that if he had a straight, he had to have either flopped and slow-played it with 10-8 or 5-8, or he had paid $25 on the flop to draw to a gutshot. In the latter case, he could have any hand with a 10 in it (A-10 down to 10-10), or perhaps 5-5. But despite his general inexperience, I just didn't think he would put in $25 to hit one of four outs, when he had to expect that he would be charged an even heftier price to see the river. Nor did I think that he would have stuck with 10-8 or 5-8 after a preflop reraise. (I'm not going to explore what he might have thought his two opponents had, because I think he was at the level of basically playing just the strength of his own cards, and had almost no hand-reading skill.)

But if both of those surmises were correct, then what was he doing? Did he flop and slow-play a set? Two pair, perhaps having started with 6-7 suited connectors? (After all, in our earlier clash, he had proven himself willing to go to the mat for two pair when every other player at that table would have known it was no good.) Maybe he had 9-10 suited for flopped top pair and gutshot and that had been enough to keep him interested. Starting with 4-5 would have given him a flopped OESD, but surely he would have seen that hitting an 8 would make his hand yet still cause him to lose to anybody holding a 10--effectively making him want only four outs (the treys), same as a gutshot draw. Or maybe he had 8-9 suited connectors, and now had two pair and the straight draw, which might be enough to make him decide to push his hand when both of us checked in front of him. That might make sense, as flopping top pair and open-ender might be enough to get him to pay $25 for another card. But on the other hand, that theory required him to have the only 8 not accounted for, which seemed improbable.

If he had any two-pair combination, I was in excellent shape against him. If he had another set it was about 67% to be lower than mine and 33% to be higher. If he had any pair and draw combination, he might have a decent number of outs, but the math would be in my favor. But weighed against all of that, if he already had a straight, then I would be drawing to just nine or ten outs to hit a full house or quads ( the number depending on whether he had a pair to go with his straight). And, of course, a 10 hitting the river would put a straight on the board and chop the pot between us, unless he had a jack. A five would also put a straight on the board, but again could be no good for a chop if he held a 10.

In short, the whole situation was a damned mess. I didn't know if I was ahead or behind, and if I was behind I didn't know how many different river cards might save me--and for some of them it might be for only half of the pot. If you can mentally crunch the numbers on a situation like that, you're way smarter than I am.

So, dear readers--what do you think he had? And what would you have done? What do you think I did? What do you think the outcome was? (Remember that often I tell these stories not knowing the answers because I end up folding, with no revelation of the villain's cards. No promises of a satisfying resolution to the story!)

I'm going to go write the follow-up post now, set to appear in 24 hours. Get your answers in via the comments before then.

*Titled so as not to run afoul of any copyright issues.


Tony Bigcharles said...

ur probably beat, but u have to call

Aaron Moreau-Cook said...

The key words in the early part of your blog post said "inexperienced and erratic player". Based on this combined with your thought process I am putting him on a 10-10 or J-10.

Being excited, I think he thought he was getting good odds to call the flop bet.

Memphis MOJO said...

I call and expect to win. In case you're not ahead, you will usually have plenty of outs.

Unknown said...

Grump - Good to see you returning to poker posts.
Back to the hand....I would fold. Open ended on the board makes me queasy.

Grange95 said...

An interesting hand you haven't mentioned that makes some sense is 98 or 87 for flopped pair plus OESD that improved to two pair (this is somewhat unlikely given your pocket 8s, yet his play has to keep these hands in his range). Also, some kind of pair plus turned flush draw is possible, such as Ah9h, Jh9h, or Th9h.

Contrary to the prior comment, you don't HAVE to call if you are certain you are beat. But this player is erratic and seems to overvalue hands. I think this is one of those spots where you are ahead of a decent portion of his range (though he likely has a decent number of outs to catch up), or you are behind but have a decent number of outs yourself. Really, only 99 has you in terrible shape. So I think a call is in order.

Then again, I'm a terrible player.

Unknown said...

That is an odd hand. The most likely holding, to me, would be 10/10. Flopping the over pair would keep him in, particularly if he was bad enough to not know he was far behind the small blind.

That said, if he is a bad player, he could be doing that with two pair hands - I can't see folding there. You've got outs to almost everything, so I think it's a call.


Adam said...


I think the real problem here is the $6 raise and +$7 re-raise isn't enough to fold many hands. So he could have anything.

On a board with a 4-card straight, most players are hesitant to bet without the straight. He might have flopped it, might have TT and couldn't figure out how to play the flop. He might have 99 and beat you anyway.

Nappy said...

Preflop with 88 under the gun I would call the 2 dollars and when I get re-raised to 13 dollars by the tightest player at the table then it would be a easy fold for me because I only put 2 dollars in.

Now on the turn your in a really tough situation.

I would have to ask myself what does it mean when this player makes a bet like this in this situation?

Now if I just sat down at the poker table and have no idea how someone plays then I would most likely just fold in this situation.

But if I have been playing with him for a while and I think he is the type of person to go all in when he is weak hoping others would fold then I would call.

But if I believe that he is the type of person who only goes all in when he has the nuts, then it is a easy lay down for me.

JT88Keys said...

I agree with Aaron...this feels like 10-10 or J-10 to me. I'm leaning more towards a very poorly and weirdly played J-10 that just got rewarded.

That said, I think you're ahead of enough of his range that you almost have to call.

Anonymous said...

Based on pot odds, I think it is a definite call. I think the opponent has a wide range that you are ahead of and if you are behind, you have numerous outs to win or chop the pot.


The Poker Meister said...

I've seen the new / inexperienced types play their big pairs this way (both online & live) - and all of a sudden, shove the hand when the board is really scary; as in the they let the cat out of the bag already, but they're going to compound the mistake.

Regardless, I have him on 2 hand types: QQ+ (likely KK, AA), or JT. It's a coin flip, but I think this is a call given that you're not drawing dead if he shows a Ten.

Rob said...

This is the kind of messy hand that's gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. You set-mine thinking it's easy to play...flop a set or fold. Then you get the straight draw instead. You stick around and it costs you money. In my case, it costs me significant money 9 times out of 10. Ugh.

Based on your description of the player, there's an excellent chance you'll be saying "WTF?" when you see his hand (which will most likely be good for you, but not always). You have a decent amount of outs unless he's got 99. I don't see folding here.

But then, I've lost a lot of money lately making calls like this.

Rob said...

Just thot of something else that is unique to you. I wonder if you might have made a different decision if you were still playing daily. If you were in Vegas, would you be more likely to think, "I can get it back" if you call and lose, whereas now, since you don't know when you are going to play again, would you be more protective of those chips you'd won?

Rakewell said...

I hadn't thought about that, but it's certainly possible.

Dan England said...

I call. If you're behind, you've got enough outs to make a slightly bad call. Plus it sounds like you could easily get your money back against this guy alone. If you're ahead, you're golden.

Adam said...

"Preflop with 88 under the gun I would call the 2 dollars and when I get re-raised to 13 dollars by the tightest player at the table then it would be a easy fold for me because I only put 2 dollars in"

I bit of a tangent, but this is a terrible way to play this hand. You have a top 10 hand (maybe you think it's 12 or 13, but that's a nit pick), you need to raise. But if you limp and get raised you have to look at the $11 to call vs. the ~$206 you can win. You're getting ~18:1 to set mine against a player likely to have a huge hand he can't get away from.

Mike said...

I would bet the turn and commit to the hand. As played, it is a snap call.