Monday, July 9, 2012

The Leveler is Leveled

There are moves . . . and then there are moves.
Here's a hand that took place at The Chuck Saturday afternoon.  I had just recently sat down at the table and had no reads on anyone (of course, I could have been sitting there for 10 hours and still not had reads on anyone.  Yes, I'm that good....).

I'm sitting on $300 and look down at 44.  I limp in early position.  Three more limpers and the button pops to $12.  I fold.  The button gets one caller (middle position) and they see a flop:

J(d) 7(d) 4(c).     (Pot $30)

Both button and MP are sitting on $400+.

MP checks to the raiser who bets $20.  MP calls.   (Pot $70)

Turn is a 2(h).

Check.  Check.

River is 8(d). 

MP checks.  Button bets $65.

MP tanks.  He then turns over one card:  The J of clubs.  He stares down the button . . . tanks . . . and then RAISES . . . $100 on top.

Button is dumbfounded.  Dealer is laughing.  Yes, actually laughing.  He can't hold it in.

Button says, "What the fuck.  I'm obviously representing the flush.  What the hell are you doing?"

Finally, after a minute, button says, "I'm so confused I have to call . . ."  Button turns over 78 off (two pair) . . . . MP flips over the K of hearts (pair of Jacks, King kicker).  Button scoops a big pot.

This play was just beyond weird.  True, middle position briefly confused the button.  But, in the end, his attempt to level was poorly conceived and backfired brilliantly.  I mean, what hand is he representing?  A set of Jacks?  Is he check-calling the flop and checking the turn with a set of jacks (and two diamonds on the board)? 

Button was sitting next to me, and I asked him once the table settled down, "you calling if he doesn't show the jack?"  Button said, "How can I with the diamonds out there?"   Indeed.

Of course, I was kicking myself for folding my set of fours and missing out on this huge pot.  But, then again, the hand would likely have gone down differently had I called preflop.  I'm checking to the raiser, and then re-popping to $70, and we likely don't even see the turn. 

Anyway, this was clearly one of the strangest hands I've ever seen live.  There is prolly a lesson to be drawn, and I think it's this:  Don't be a dick at the poker table!     


  1. What are effective stack sizes? I'm not quite sure why you're folding 44 in that spot. A $12 raise is typical there - I think you're missing a ton of value limp / folding to a 5BB raise. Assuming everyone else has $300 or more - or even $200 or more - you're getting WAY good odds and I'd bet that the guy that flipped the Jack is going to call your c/r flop. Sounds like he's married to his hand.

  2. People have all sorts of different thought processes at the poker table (and in life) is what I've learned... :)

  3. I was wondering the same thing ThePoker Meister did. Sounded like a great opportunity to set mine.

    As for what ~Coach wrote -- yes, this is similar to to things I have written about motivation. Sometimes people make certain moves for reasons we would never comprehend. Maybe he just missed seeing the flush draw? Who knows.

  4. With a small pocket pair, facing a preflop raise, I'm usually looking for 4+ callers. Is this a mistake? I'm 8/1 to flop a set, correct? Even heads up (or three to the flop) against a deepstack, isn't this still going to be a long term losing play?

    As I mentioned in an earliest post, I had pocket 44 four times last week, each against a raise. On two of them, there were 5+ callers and it was an easy call to set mine. Missed both times. The other two hands ended up getting one other caller, and I folded my pair. A 4 hit the flop both times.

  5. Yes this is a mistake. You are 8-1 to hit a set, regardless how many players to the flop. The more, the merrier, and by you calling, especially @ Ctown, you are encouraging others to call. Clearly, though, with so many callers, you are playing fit / fold on the flop.

    Regardless, the reason why you want more players in the hand is so that when you do hit your set, you increase the odds that you'll get paid off (i.e. implied odds). So figure it this way: You call the 5BB raise + 1BB limp and only hit 1 in 8 times. It'll cost (5+1=6)x(1 in 8=8)=48BBs before you hit a set. When you do hit that set, you need to recover more than the 48BBs you've theoretically spent in order to break even on the call over time.

    The rule of thumb that I use for small pocket pairs is ensuring 10-1 implied odds (If the raise is to $12, I need to have at least $120 effective stacks between me & my opponent) in order to profitably make the call. The deeper you are, obviously, the better the implied odds get (if we both have 200BB stacks and he's raising 6BB, then I'm getting odds to make that call all day - in fact, calling as much as 20BB is "profitable" though I'm generally folding in reality when facing a 20BB call).

    I'm curious as to what other pocket pairs you play similar to this. Is your limp / fold range 22-88? What makes 99-JJ different in those types of spots? By folding the 44, you could be just as dominated as when you hold JJ, though there are admittedly less combos that have you crushed pre.

    FWIW, there is plenty of material out there about playing small pocket pairs, for follow-up reading.

  6. One other point of note: If you are limping early and there is a raise, you're auto-clicking the "Fold to raise" button so to speak, if I read you correctly.

    Consider this: You lose 1BB each time you do that, with a defined negative win rate (i.e. -1BB). If you take that approach, I would almost suggest you open fold 22-66 from early position.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    By way of follow up, isn't the number of callers still relevant regardless of the effective stack sizes of me and the raiser? For instance, lets say, based on your example above, that I need to recoup 48BB when I hit my set to break even... If I'm heads up, sitting behind $300, and Villain has $400, there are still numerous times where Villain misses the flop, fires a C-Bet (hopefully) and then shuts down when I call, or folds when I come over the top.

    When, however, there are multiple callers, obviously, the chances that someone else connected with the flop increases, and my implied odds increase accordingly . . .

    That's my thinking on folding small PP preflop when, as in the hand above, there is only a lone caller, etc.

  8. Ok - so you've identified 2 points: taking a flop on a 50/50 flip & taking a flop with a dominated hand.

    When the dominated hand hits the set, the villain will likely go for 2+ streets of value, more than covering a 48BB deficit. In other words:
    PF: Raise 6bb + 1 caller (you) 6bb + 1.5bb (SB+BB) = 13.5BB pot
    F: 10BB bet + 1 caller (you) 10BB = 33.5BB
    T: 25BB(?) bet + 1 caller / raiser (you) 25BB = 83.5BB+ ...

    You see how it goes.

    In the hands where you're a coin flip, you're relying on your reads to bluff catch.

    Finally, to answer your question about multiple callers - Yes, you want to see many multiple players to a flop for the same reason you love to see many players to a flop with suited connectors. You increase the amount of players that will become wedded to a hand. You also increase the pot size PF when you get multiple callers, making it much easier to get stacks in earlier; 4 players on a 6BB pot = 24+1.5BB = 25.5BB pot rather than HU = 12+1.5BB = 13.5BB. Big difference for bet sizing on the flop & beyond.

  9. FWIW, it always tilts the hell out of me when I see these idiot short stackers playing $60 deep at 1-2 and calling raises (big or small), hitting the flop and stacking me on the flop. Don't they realize that they're in a reverse implied odds situation, and the only way they can be profitable with that short stack is selectively squeezing with their short stack instead of seeing flops and folding for >10% of their chips?

  10. Thanks again, Meister. I'll have to spend some time reading upon all this further.

  11. Hey Pete - Gonna be up at the Chuck tomorrow night. Drop me a line if you can meet up; you have my email.

  12. I think I'm taking this weekend off (gonna try and catch some baseball . . .). But I'll shoot you an email so you have my contact info . . .

  13. "FWIW, it always tilts the hell out of me when I see these idiot short stackers playing $60 deep at 1-2 and calling raises (big or small), hitting the flop and stacking me on the flop."

    Death to the short stackers! Having one at the table changes the dynamics completely.

  14. Here is a fairly recent similar situation that occurred at much higher stakes by very experienced players.
    It is detailed on the Another Kid Another Dream thread by Matt Moore over on 2+2.

    It raised some interesting questions and dilemmas.

    Here is the link if anyone is interested on that hand. It is and interesting read and interesting responses to the question he poses..imo.