Friday, September 28, 2007

There's always a better time

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $5 + $0.50 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 20:24:17 ET - 2007/09/28
Seat 1: (1,400)
Seat 2: villain (1,415)
Seat 3: (2,095)
Seat 4: (900)
Seat 5: (1,455)
Seat 6: (1,250)
Seat 7: (1,320)
Seat 8: (1,200)
Seat 9: hero (2,465)
villain posts the small blind of 20
Seat 3 posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [As 4s]
Seat 4 folds
Seat 5 folds
Seat 6 folds
Seat 7 folds
Seat 8 folds

And ace in the cut-off, folded around? Let's steal.

hero raises to 140
Seat 1 folds
villain calls 120
Seat 3 calls 100
*** FLOP *** [Ks Ac Jh]
villain bets 210
Seat 3 folds

Maybe he has me out-kicked, maybe he doesn't. If he does have an ace, maybe I can make him think hard about QT. I need to raise here anyway so as to not give out a "free" card, but a raise here is enough of a fraction of his stack that he'll be committed, so let's just commit him now.

hero raises to 2,325, and is all in

At this point the villain calls me a bully in the chat window. He then thinks for a very long time, and then...

villain calls 1,065, and is all in
hero shows [As 4s]
villain shows [Ts Kd]


We've not gotten very deep into this tournament. Would I really, really throw down for half my chips with a hand that could be beaten by kings in this spot? I mean, maybe if he was really short, but if he was short, then he'd be pot committed, which would make him unbluffable.

If he knew his king was no good, was the 4 outer inside straight draw really worth his entire tournament life?

Uncalled bet of 1,050 returned to hero
*** TURN *** [Ks Ac Jh] [Ah]
*** RIVER *** [Ks Ac Jh Ah] [7h]
hero shows three of a kind, Aces
villain shows two pair, Aces and Kings
hero wins the pot (2,970) with three of a kind, Aces
villain stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,970 | Rake 0
Board: [Ks Ac Jh Ah 7h]
Seat 1: (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: villain (small blind) showed [Ts Kd] and lost with two pair, Aces and Kings
Seat 3: (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: hero showed [As 4s] and won (2,970) with three of a kind, Aces

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Desecration of a classic

They could light up a small town with the energy created by Keith Moon spinning in his grave tonight. The only reason we can't all live a carbon-free existence is that the same cannot be said about Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend.

What am I talking about?

The theme song to CSI:NY has, since its inception, been a slightly edited (for time) version of Baba O'Riley, by The Who.

This year, for whatever reason, they have decided to totally ruin it.

Though the Roger Daltry vocal track is still there, the music bears little resemblance to the original. It's a bizarre mishmash of synth instruments and way, way, way too much drum solo. While they were at it, they totally redid the actual opening credit video as well. That didn't offend me so much. But farming out the audio to some low-rent MIDI programmer? I call that a bargain. The worst I've ever had.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Full Tilt lowers the cash-out bar

I used to complain about FTP's cash-out policies. Requiring $300 to get a check was just too hard a level to reach. But I've actually been getting close to $300 lately and I've come to discover that they've lowered their cash-out level down to just $100. Not only that, but they'll do an electronic bank transfer. We'll see very soon how well that works, but I'd expect the recent legislation to make it harder to get money in rather than out. But if you don't trust the electronic method, they'll mail you a check for a $100 minimum.

So now you just have to double-up. Sweet!

All in all, I have to say that $100 is a reasonable minimum. PokerStars has a $75 minimum, which is even more generous, but they also have a minimum deposit of only $10 instead of FTP's $50.

Monday, September 17, 2007

That was a tough one

I only played one tournament tonight. It was a $10+$1 STT SnG at Full Tilt. Big deal, right?

This one was tough. It took an hour and 20 minutes, and 115 hands. The blinds got all the way up to 250/500 before it was done. And with a total of 13,500 chips, once we were heads-up, it came down almost to nothing more than a game of showdown.

We spent forever in bubble purgatory - everybody playing super tight, and the blinds going up and up and up. But since everybody was being so patient, you had to respect their raises.

It was tough, but I was patient and wound up taking it down. Yay!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nice call, Eeyore.

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $10 + $1 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 50/100 - No Limit Hold'em - 2:41:17 ET - 2007/09/17
Seat 3: (2,132)
Seat 4: villain (4,208)
Seat 6: hero (2,660)
hero posts the small blind of 50
Seat 3 posts the big blind of 100
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [?? ??]

Let's keep my hand a secret for now. In fact, let's play it from the other perspective: The villain has [4h 4s]

villain raises to 200
hero raises to 700
Seat 3 folds
villain calls 500
*** FLOP *** [8d Jh Th]
hero bets 1,960, and is all in

Now. Hands up if you think that his pocket 4s are good.

My range of hands at this point include such hits as AT, AJ, perhaps even A8, not to mention every pocket pair north of tens. 79 and Q9 are perhaps a stretch, but we are 3 handed at this point. Maybe I have 8x of hearts. Maybe I just have a flush draw, but if I hit it, the villain is down to about a thousand chips or so, so it may not bust him, but it puts him in a pretty bad place.

Still like those 4s?

villain calls 1,960
hero shows [Ah Kc]
villain shows [4h 4s]
*** TURN *** [8d Jh Th] [3c]
*** RIVER *** [8d Jh Th 3c] [3s]
hero shows a pair of Threes
villain shows two pair, Fours and Threes
villain wins the pot (5,420) with two pair, Fours and Threes
hero stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5,420 | Rake 0
Board: [8d Jh Th 3c 3s]
Seat 3: (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: villain (button) showed [4h 4s] and won (5,420) with two pair, Fours and Threes
Seat 6: hero (small blind) showed [Ah Kc] and lost with a pair of Threes

Friday, September 14, 2007

iPhone store credit

I got my Apple store credit for being an early iPhone purchaser. The procedure was painless. You need the serial number, which you can get from iTunes with the phone docked, the phone's phone number, and a number that Apple sends to you via an SMS message. When you're done, they give you a PDF to print out. You can use the numbers at the online store, or the barcode at the physical stores.

Thanks, Steve.

Another great one

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $10 + $1 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:01:41 ET - 2007/09/13
Seat 1: (1,395)
Seat 2: (1,275)
Seat 3: (1,415), is sitting out
Seat 4: (1,020)
Seat 5: (1,440)
Seat 6: (1,815)
Seat 7: hero (1,385)
Seat 8: (1,980)
Seat 9: villain (1,775)
Seat 3 posts the small blind of 20
Seat 4 posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [5s 5c]
Seat 5 folds
Seat 6 folds
hero calls 40
Seat 8 folds
villain raises to 130
Seat 1 folds
Seat 2 folds
Seat 3 folds
Seat 4 calls 90
hero calls 90

What do we always say about small pocket pairs? Get in cheap and try for a set (that means limp-call). Get out if you miss.

*** FLOP *** [5h Kd 5d]


Someone please, please have a king!

Seat 4 checks
hero checks
villain bets 300


Seat 4 folds
hero calls 300
*** TURN *** [5h Kd 5d] [4h]
hero checks
villain bets 750

And there it is. He's pot committed now - that is, my all-in re-raise is too small for him to fold.

hero raises to 955, and is all in
villain calls 205
hero shows [5s 5c]
villain shows [Ac Ad]


Flops that have a pair generally miss everybody, so it's easy to see how that flop would have made him feel good. He was only losing to a 5 - which would be a hand unlikely to call a raise out of position, or pocket kings - which you'd expect someone to re-raise. Just about the only hand he could reasonably have put me on that he was losing to was pocket 5s. And you just can't do anything about that.

*** RIVER *** [5h Kd 5d 4h] [Th]
hero shows four of a kind, Fives
villain shows two pair, Aces and Fives
hero wins the pot (2,920) with four of a kind, Fives
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,920 | Rake 0
Board: [5h Kd 5d 4h Th]
Seat 1: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: hero showed [5s 5c] and won (2,920) with four of a kind, Fives
Seat 8: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: villain showed [Ac Ad] and lost with two pair, Aces and Fives

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More crushing cold decks

Once again, I get my money in with better than 4:1 odds and get ass-raped.

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $10 + $1 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 25/50 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:42:47 ET - 2007/09/11
Seat 2: villain (6,280)
Seat 5: hero (1,915)
Seat 6: (805)
Seat 6 posts the small blind of 25
villain posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [7h 7d]
hero raises to 175
Seat 6 folds
villain calls 125
*** FLOP *** [9d 9c 8d]
villain checks
hero bets 375
villain calls 375
*** TURN *** [9d 9c 8d] [4s]
villain checks
hero bets 1,365, and is all in
villain calls 1,365
hero shows [7h 7d]
villain shows [Jd Ah]

Nice call, Eeyore.

*** RIVER *** [9d 9c 8d 4s] [8h]

Oh fucking hell!!

hero shows two pair, Nines and Eights
villain shows two pair, Nines and Eights
villain wins the pot (3,855) with two pair, Nines and Eights
hero stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3,855 | Rake 0
Board: [9d 9c 8d 4s 8h]
Seat 2: villain (big blind) showed [Jd Ah] and won (3,855) with two pair, Nines and Eights
Seat 5: hero (button) showed [7h 7d] and lost with two pair, Nines and Eights
Seat 6: (small blind) folded before the Flop

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New kitchen sink

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that we've been doing some home improvement work from time to time. We were impressed when we moved in with how new and modern everything was. Well, in the time we've owned the house, we've more or less discovered or realized now that all of the work the previous owners did was all done with the cheapest, crappiest Home Depot junk money could buy. Now, we don't really have many complaints. We're not saying we were ripped off or anything. It's just that every time we've decided to redo something, we've been astounded at how much better it was after we were done. Case in point was our kitchen sink. We didn't like it because the bowls were rather small, weren't flat on the bottom, and because we had a dishwasher, we didn't really need a two bowl sink. Our garbage disposal was also very loud, and the reverse osmosis system would gurgle loudly too.

So we decided to buy a new sink. If you're going to bother buying a new sink, you might as well replace the garbage disposal while you're at it. We decided to go with an asymmetric two bowl design. The smaller bowl has the disposer in it, which sort of makes it the equivalent of a wet trash can, sort of.

This time we had a plumber come in and do the work. Not that I couldn't have done it, but it was a trade-off of time and money I was willing to make. While they were at it, we had them re-plumb the washing machine drain. It used to drain out on the lawn. Not kidding. I didn't think such an arrangement was even legal, much less good for the grass. They even added a clean-out just in case something ever clogs. We also added a proper air gap for the dishwasher.

We've had the whole set up for a few days now. There's only been one mishap. I ran some corn cobs down the disposer a little too quickly and one of them managed to get stuck in a way that blocked the dishwasher inflow. Oops. The disposer can actually take corn cobs. It's just that it's so quiet I wasn't able to distinguish between it being done or having one stuck. The disposer is actually a "compact" model, which means that it was easy to clear. One downside of it being so small is that you need to cut things like corn cobs in half before you send them down or else their top halves will spin around above the rubber drain cover and fling water all over.

So what's next?

Honestly, we're running out of easy stuff, but there are a couple left. We have some folding doors on the office closet that need to be replaced with sliding doors - or just simply removed. We could replace the master bath shower door, I suppose. We could replace the HVAC system, but I'm not sure there's enough gains to be made now that we've insulated. We could remodel the kitchen, but unless we make it larger it's probably not worth it. Then there's the "small" remodel idea (wall in the raised part of the patio as a kitchen extension), and then the "large" remodel (2nd story master suite and office).

iPhone ringtones

Come on, Steve. Here was your big chance to do the right thing.

You could have simply allowed people to assign any song on the iPhone as either a general ringtone or the ringtone for a particular contact. Instead...

1. You have to buy the song from the iTMS (though if you have bought it before you don't need to buy it again).

2. They only let you make ringtones from a smaller subset of available songs.

3. You have to pay extra to make it a ringtone.

There are shareware apps out there that will let you simply copy any audio file into the ringtone folder on the phone, but at the moment they clash with iTunes 7.4. And who knows how hard Apple will work to protect this revenue stream. Personally, I suspect that AT&T insisted on this functionality, and I suspect they're getting the lion's share of the 99¢ ringtone fee.

I have only one song I want to turn into my ringtone, so I'll still probably go about it the "official" way - simply because it's cheaper than the shareware options and less trouble in the long run. But Apple, being the imperfect institution it is, sometimes is capable of disappointing in a big way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Price is Right - mastering the wheel

Scarlet and I want to see if we can't go see The Prices Is Right (TPIR) at some point. The overwhelming factor as to whether you get to actually play a game or not - the opinion of the audience interviewers - is largely out of your control. The fight to escape Contestant's Row depends - like poker - largely on position. The individual pricing games vary pretty wildly, but there is one aspect of the experience that potentially could be mastered - the Showcase Showdown wheel.

The wheel is, more or less, just like a Wheel of Fortune turned on its end. There are 20 sectors on the wheel numbered in multiples of 5 cents up to a dollar. Your goal is, in one spin or two, to get closest to a dollar without going over. Get a dollar exactly and you win $1000.

While this may seem random, the important difference between this wheel of fortune and the ones in Nevada is that you get to spin it, rather than a croupier. That means that the velocity of the wheel is under your direct control. And the velocity of the wheel and its decay function are the only things that control where it is going to land.

First question's first: Where do you want it to land? Obviously you'd like to land it on the dollar on your first spin and be done with it, but the reality of the situation is that perfect control is going to be almost impossible. If you actually graph the wheel's positions, you'll see that they were not chaotically arranged.

You can see that they alternate high and low numbers to some extent, but there's an even more important pattern. It emerges somewhat better if you graph the average of each spot's value with its two neighbors:

That's pretty evil. Assuming you don't win the dollar on your first spin, you want to either spin a very high number or a very low number. The "death zone" is in the 40-60 or so range. On the low end, you're forced to spin again where you have almost an even money chance of going over, and on the high end you're forced to stand with an excellent chance that your following opponents will beat you. But you can see from both curves that the sweet spots are separated into two pieces near the beginning and end of the wheel. The "back" of the wheel is particularly dangerous territory for the first spin, as it has a high average, which is dangerous for a potential second spin.

So the ideal strategy is to aim for the front half of the wheel for your first spin, as you'll have a shot at the dollar spot, but more importantly you'll be more likely to land on something big or small. Then if you hit low on the first spin, aim for the back half of the wheel where there are only a couple of potentially dangerous numbers and lots of medium sized numbers that will boost your total to a safe range.

Well, that begs the question - If you know exactly how many sectors you must move the wheel from its current spot, how hard do you spin it so that it lands where you want? For that, we need to work out the decay function of the wheel and do a little math and figuring. The first half of that assignment will require a bit of time with a few TiVo'd episodes and some audio capture software. I'll get back to you...

Monday, September 3, 2007

It's not all tournaments

Since attending the WPT Ca$h camp, my interest in straight cash games has increased, as has my interest in GSM's "High Stakes Poker." One reason I didn't like it much in the past was that GSN is too stupid to label the episodes correctly, so TiVo never reliably tapes only the first-run episodes. Which means I have to tape all of them, which means I get a lot of re-runs.

Anyhow, HSP does have its moments. Like last season when Jamie Gold said, "I guess I need to become a better player," and Gabe Kaplan (who was playing rather than commentating) replied, "maybe you should try tournaments" (this is funny because just a couple weeks prior Gold had won the biggest poker tournament of all time at the WSOP, picking up more than $12 million).

The first episode of the season started off with a bang with the players agreeing to pay $500 each to any player who wins a pot holding 72. Not a minute later, Phil Helmuth Jr bluffed Mike Matusow with 72o getting Mike to lay down pocket kings.

Anyway, what prompted me to make this blog post was a hand between Elie Elezra and Jennifer Harman. Elezra had 83h and Harman had KhJd. The hand started out as a family pot, but when the flop came AK5 of diamonds and Elezra bet out at it, only Harman called. The turn was the 7d. Elezra bluffed at it and Harman just called, which was curious. Harman in this spot would really want to know whether or not her jack-flush was good or if Elezra might have the Queen. The river was a blank (Jc) and Elezra shut down, but Harman thought it might be a check-raise, so she just checked. Elezra then announced, "I'm playing the board," which got a laugh from the whole table (in fact, his 8 was higher than the 5 on the board, so his hand is really AKJ87) and Harman's jack-flush was the winner.

In actual fact, though, having had time to think about it, I can't fault Harman too much. If she raised she might not have been able to easily differentiate between being beat or not if Elezra just called. If he had the Qd, he'd probably just call, and if he had, say, the 9d, he'd also probably just call. The only other likely outcome would have been Elezra folding anything but a flush, in which case she wouldn't have won any more than she actually did.

Meanwhile, while all this was going on, I spent 12 minutes playing 10¢/25¢ No-Limit and made $5. That's 20 big blinds in, oh, call it a quarter hour (to make the math easier), which is 5 BB/hr, so I feel good. :)

P.s. Paul Wasicka just limped under the gun with pocket aces, got seven callers, then folded them on the flop after the big blind led out! The flop gave one player a set and another a flush draw (which made it). Had he stayed in, he'd have had the 3rd best hand and likely gotten crushed. He was hoping to limp/re-raise before the flop, but when it didn't work out, he knew he was a huge dog in the hand (pocket pairs typically only have two outs to improve, which means they're trouble if they're behind).

It never ends

We here at Nick's Blog celebrate bad beats. Because we know that venting makes us feel better and entertains at least 3 or 4 of my 15 readers. This is particularly sick because it knocked me out on the bubble.

Why would I even play a hand on the bubble? The villain here had been getting way, way out of line.

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $2 + $0.25 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 80/160 - No Limit Hold'em - 11:35:49 ET - 2007/09/03
Seat 2: villain (4,740)
Seat 3: (3,890)
Seat 7: hero (3,250)
Seat 9: (1,620)
hero posts the small blind of 80
Seat 9 posts the big blind of 160
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Qd Ac]
villain raises to 4,740, and is all in

Don't worry. That doesn't mean a thing at this point.

Seat 3 folds
hero calls 3,170, and is all in
Seat 9 folds
villain shows [Jd 6s]

Yeah. That's not a surprise.

hero shows [Qd Ac]
Uncalled bet of 1,490 returned to villain
*** FLOP *** [7h Ad 6d]
*** TURN *** [7h Ad 6d] [8d]

Now he's worse than an 8:1 dog. He only has 5 outs - 2 sixes and 3 jacks.

*** RIVER *** [7h Ad 6d 8d] [Jc]

Oh of course.

villain shows two pair, Jacks and Sixes
hero shows a pair of Aces
villain wins the pot (6,660) with two pair, Jacks and Sixes
hero stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 6,660 | Rake 0
Board: [7h Ad 6d 8d Jc]
Seat 2: villain showed [Jd 6s] and won (6,660) with two pair, Jacks and Sixes
Seat 3: (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: hero (small blind) showed [Qd Ac] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 9: (big blind) folded before the Flop

You know, I don't ask for much. I don't get disappointed when the odds aren't in my favor and I don't suck out. I don't even get bothered when I don't win a coin flip (except when I lose, like, 15 of them in a row). But what drives me insane is getting all my money in in situations where I have my opponent well and truly dominated... and then getting screwed. I had him at 2:1 before the flop, 4:1 on the flop and 8:1 on the turn.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Woo hoo!

No commentary for this one.

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $20 + $2 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 17:34:33 ET - 2007/09/02
Seat 1: (1,485)
Seat 2: hero (1,470)
Seat 3: (1,545)
Seat 4: (1,500)
Seat 5: (1,500)
Seat 6: (1,500)
hero posts the small blind of 15
Seat 3 posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [8s Jh]
Seat 4 folds
Seat 5 folds
Seat 6 folds
Seat 1 folds
hero calls 15
Seat 3 raises to 60
hero calls 30
*** FLOP *** [8h Th Qh]
hero checks
Seat 3 bets 30
hero raises to 90
Seat 3 calls 60
*** TURN *** [8h Th Qh] [As]
hero bets 200
Seat 3 calls 200
*** RIVER *** [8h Th Qh As] [9h]
hero bets 1,120, and is all in
Seat 3 has 15 seconds left to act
Seat 3 calls 1,120
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero shows [8s Jh] a straight flush, Queen high
Seat 3 mucks
hero wins the pot (2,940) with a straight flush, Queen high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,940 | Rake 0
Board: [8h Th Qh As 9h]
Seat 1: (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: hero (small blind) showed [8s Jh] and won (2,940) with a straight flush, Queen high
Seat 3: (big blind) mucked [Ah Ts] - a flush, Ace high
Seat 4: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)

Gap theory

David Sklansky first described the theory in his seminal tome on tournament poker.

"It requires a much better hand to call a bet or raise with than to make a raise with."

In tournament poker, the two governing facts are that when you run out of chips, you lose, and that when you're opponents run out of chips, they lose.

Here's an example of the gap theory at work:

Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $10 + $1 Sit & Go (_), Table 1 - 100/200 - No Limit Hold'em - 11:54:17 ET - 2007/09/02
Seat 1: villain AO (1,765)
Seat 4: hero (4,890)
Seat 6: (2,980)
Seat 9: (3,865)
villain posts the small blind of 100
hero posts the big blind of 200
The button is in seat #9
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Jc Tc]
Seat 6 folds
Seat 9 folds
villain raises to 400
hero calls 200

Suited connector in position. Let's see a flop.

*** FLOP *** [9s Qc 3s]

Nice. There's the straight draw.

villain bets 600

That's a continuation bet. He could have any two cards. It would have been more convincing if he had done a stop-n-go (that is, bet all-in on any flop). That would have been a very hard call with just an outside straight draw and backdoor flush draw. I probably would have had to lay it down. Instead...

hero raises to 1,365

There's the gap at work. I have an outside straight draw. By straight pot odds, that's not a correct play. But tournament dynamics are different. I am betting his life (not mine) at 2:1 odds. Though he looks pot committed, the kicker here is that if he loses, he is out on the bubble (if he wins, everybody at the table will have about the same sized stack, so really all I am risking here is my chip lead). That gives him extra real money fold equity. And yet...

villain calls 765, and is all in
hero shows [Jc Tc]
villain shows [Jh As]

Yes, his ace-high is the best hand at this point, but unless he was totally convinced that his ace was good (I'd been playing the back half of this tournament fairly aggressively, so it's not entirely out of the question that he might have thought it), it was an amazingly foolish call. I did call a pre-flop raise. There's no way I had, oh say, AQ? maybe QK? Heck, even AK has him beat (though AK in that spot would probably have folded to the post-flop bet).

*** TURN *** [9s Qc 3s] [6h]
*** RIVER *** [9s Qc 3s 6h] [8d]
hero shows a straight, Queen high
villain shows Ace Queen high
hero wins the pot (3,530) with a straight, Queen high
villain stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3,530 | Rake 0
Board: [9s Qc 3s 6h 8d]
Seat 1: villain (small blind) showed [Jh As] and lost with Ace Queen high
Seat 4: hero (big blind) showed [Jc Tc] and won (3,530) with a straight, Queen high
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: (button) didn't bet (folded)

Now at this point, our villain starts berating me in the chat window. That, more than anything, is what earned him a blog post. But still, it's worth bringing it up.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Asked and answered

Every action you take at the table should either result in you winning the hand, or obtaining information that will help you make the correct decision going forward.

The best example of the value of this rule I've seen this year came from the WPT Legends of Poker tournament.

Frankie O'Dell and Joe Pelton are playing heads-up for the title. They start out with reasonably close chip stacks - Frankie having perhaps a 5:3 advantage. Blinds are 40K and 80K, antes are 10K - meaning that they are playing with stacks well in excess of 30 times the big blind. Frankie is delt J4h, Joe has Q8o. Frankie calls from the button and Joe checks.

The flop comes QQ4 with one heart and two diamonds. Joe leads out with a 100K bet into a 180K pot.

Now Joe has been doing that sort of thing a lot, whether he hits or not. So that bet doesn't really help Frankie any. Frankie, of course, has two pair on a paired board - he overcame 20:1 odds to get that far. The odds of his opponent having hit trips with unpaired cards is about 73:1. So what does Frankie do? He raises, of course. Why? Because if he just calls, what will he do if his opponent makes a big bet on the turn, which will likely be an overcard to the 4? If he raises here, he can either drive away a bluff hand like, say, JT or A9, or perhaps even drive away a pocket overpair. But if Joe calls a raise or goes over the top, he can know that his fours are probably no good. Frankie makes it 350K to go.

This can only tell Joe he's got it. The only hand that has him beat right now that could have and make that raise with is a Q4 - and if he has that, well, that's just amazingly bad luck. If Frankie had a big queen, you'd think that he might have raised before the flop, and if he had a queen and a 9 or ten you'd think he'd just call. So if I'm in Joe's shoes, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get all the money in at this point. The question is, how? Just call here and bet again on the turn or raise? If it were me, I would just call and try and make a big bet on the turn hoping that Frankie might hit two pair or something. My guess is that Joe was afraid of the flush draw. He decided to raise it, making it 750K to go.

So if you're in Frankie's shoes, what might your opponent have that would allow him to respond so aggressively? Either a queen or maybe a bigger pocket pair than 4s. If he had either of those, don't you think he'd be sure to throw down in this spot? Wouldn't you know that your fours are no good?

Instead, Frankie went all-in, Joe instantly called and Frankie did not get the runner-runner flush or quads.

Joe took a 3:1 chip-lead with that hand. Joe just took that lead and ran over Frankie to win it. And you just have to look back at that pivotal hand to see exactly why.

Battle of the bluffs

PokerStars Game #_: Tournament #_, $5.00+$0.50 Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100) - 2007/09/01 - 13:57:03 (ET)
Table '59946281 1' 9-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 2: villain (3060 in chips)
Seat 3: (6995 in chips)
Seat 5: hero (3445 in chips)
villain: posts small blind 50
Seat 3: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Js Qs]
hero: raises 200 to 300
villain: calls 250
Seat 3: folds
*** FLOP *** [5c Tc 9d]
villain: checks
hero: bets 500
villain: calls 500

So, what could he have here? We're 3 handed, so I can imagine him calling a pre-flop raise with AT. I could even imagine him calling with a flush draw.

*** TURN *** [5c Tc 9d] [2s]
villain: checks
hero: bets 1400
villain: raises 860 to 2260 and is all-in
hero: calls 860

I don't know why PokerStars hand histories don't show the cards at this point.

He had KQo. So it is clear he was trying to bluff. Trouble was, the only possible hand that 2s might have helped was pocket deuces, and I can't see him calling the continuation bet with those. I was bluffing too, but at least I had been telling a consistent story all along - AT, T9s, 55... I could have had any of those. I knew he was bluffing, which means he could have had any two cards - perhaps 78c, which would have given him a much better draw, but would have actually put me ahead in the hand. In actual fact, I was in not-so-great shape at this point. I needed either a king (though he had one of them) or an 8 for a straight. A jack would give him his straight and a queen would give him a pair with a better kicker. 7 outs on the river - about 8:1.

*** RIVER *** [5c Tc 9d 2s] [2h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
villain: shows [Qd Kc] (a pair of Deuces)
hero: shows [Js Qs] (a pair of Deuces - lower kicker)
villain collected 6220 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 6220 | Rake 0
Board [5c Tc 9d 2s 2h]
Seat 2: villain (small blind) showed [Qd Kc] and won (6220) with a pair of Deuces
Seat 3: (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: hero (button) showed [Js Qs] and lost with a pair of Deuces