Friday, March 30, 2007

Bottom two

Two pair on the flop is usually a pretty good hand, one that you should feel comfortable with in most cases.

But when you're getting a lot of action, and the flop doesn't look real drawy, it's sometimes a hand you want to think about backing away from.

When there aren't a lot of draws showing on the flop you can be pretty sure that any action represents a strong holding.

Let's say you have a 5h7h and the flop is 57J, rainbow, you bet and there's a raise and a re-raise. That's pretty heavy action. What do they have. If there was no raise preflop you might want to eliminate JJ or AJ (you might not want to eliminate those possibilities, but let's just do it for this example). That leaves Jx, say J7-JK, 77, 55, 57, or 86 as possibilities for the first raiser. The second raiser probably doesn't have a single pair, he probably has one of the stronger possibilities, or a straight draw. Running pokerstove we get a 36% equity for bottom two pair in the 3 way pot.

That makes it plus EV for you on the flop, but that's if the hand ranges I'm assuming are accurate. It could be that you're a little better than 36%, it could be a little worse. In any event it's close to a wash for you if the action is very heavy and the bets make the dead money already in the pot insignificant. If the money left is deep it could be a negative implied odds situation for you too. What are you going to do if a 9 falls on the turn? A Jack?

In limit poker, if you're estimate is that you're ahead you should stick it out almost every time. But in no limit you sometimes need to think in terms of what the finance people call risk-adjusted return. Sometimes in no limit a plus EV situation isn't really plus EV once you make a risk-adjustment. That's a topic I need to cover in some detail at one of these days. But, for the most part the thing to keep in mind is that if the EV edge is small and the risk is large you should often give it up in no limit, wait for a better situation.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

AA and position

Not all no limit is played with a cap on buyin size and when there isn't a cap you often have situations where the stack sizes are very large. There's a thread on 2+2 where this is the case.
Seat 1: Mjlivingston ($2,425.50)
Seat 2: pr1nnyraid ($6,158.50)
Seat 3: Klausen ($4,726.50)
Seat 4: truestthoughts ($2,213), is sitting out
Seat 5: Ph1LLeD1NGUE ($1,900)
Seat 6: tango1x ($1,950)
tango1x posts the small blind of $10
Mjlivingston posts the big blind of $20

It's a six handed table, but only 5 active players. But the stacks are fairly deep, particularly since the hand develops into a confrontation between Seat 2 and Seat 4.
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to pr1nnyraid [As Ac]
pr1nnyraid raises to $70
Klausen raises to $240
Ph1LLeD1NGUE folds
tango1x folds
Mjlivingston folds
pr1nnyraid raises to $850
Klausen calls $610

The question being asked is about how to play the flop (we'll get to that in a minute. We need to look at the preflop play first because all subsequent play starts with what happens preflop and you need to anticipate future action when you play preflop.

Being first with AA when the stacks are deep is a tricky situation. You don't want to go anywhere but you don't want to get your foot halfway into the grave. In this hand you're only 5 handed, so the risk of being first isn't even close to what it is when you're at a full table. But it's still a critical situation to consider.

One important characteristic we're told by the hero is that he has an Insane image. That means that aggresive play isn't really going to do much in the way of giving away your hand and he should probably play a very strong hand straightforwardly. So his coming in with a raise is probably the right thing. The other little tidbit is that the other guy is somewhat nitty.

Without that Insane image I think it often pays to be a little more tricky, often limping with AA looking for a reraise. Whether or not you should do that 5 handed depends partly on what your image is and partly what the aggresive tendencies of the table are. You don't want to limp with AA and then have nobody raise.

If you do limp and nobody raises, if you end up with one or two players limping behind you then you might want to think about just giving it up on the flop if things look iffy. Don't fall in love with AA if the pot is small.

With the raise, raise, raise again that happened here though the pot got pretty big. This is usually what you want with AA but not when you're going to be first after the flop.

The flop is what prompted the thread.

[Qd 4h Tc]

What to do?

I like checking.

The hero thinks that JJ is the bottom of the other guy's range of possible hands. Which means the only two hands you'll really get action from if you bet is KK or QQ. A check will probably still get you action from KK and if you check he might be likely to underplay QQ, putting you on something like AK or 77 and wanting to suck you in.

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pot odds in no limit

This blog entry makes a point about pot odds in limit hold'em that I strongly agree with and support.

But part of what he says in that post suggests a common misconception about the importance of pot odds in no limit.

Back before the no limit boom, Mason Malmuth wrote a couple of articles in Card Player pontificating on why so few cardrooms didn't spread no limit games. One of the things he often said about no limit back then was that not much skill was required -- all you had to do was bet enough so that you're opponents didn't have the proper odds to call.

You can take that idea for what it's worth (not much) but just keep in mind that it came from somebody who never played any no limit poker. In any event, like much nonsense about poker, if somebody writes it two or three times it becomes part of the popular knowledge about the game. Truth or relevance doesn't seem to have much to do with it.

Whether you are giving the opponent the right odds to call or not is one of the least important things to consider when bet sizing.

The most important thing to consider is your oppoenents habits in terms of tendency to call. If he tends to call a lot you should bet infrequently but bet big when you bet. If he tends to not call a lot you should bet frequently but bet small when you bet.

My original post pointed to a plagiarized post. I've corrected the URL.

That's a hell of a lot more important than worrying about what odds he'd be getting if he calls.


Danny boy and American Justice

The new Poker Road Trips blog site.