Some Interesting Poker Hands.

January 6, 2012

Here are some interesting hands from some of the poker tournaments I’ve played this past week.

First hand is from the final table of an All-Star Lanes tournament. I have 16,000 in chips and blinds are 1500-3000. It folds to the hi-jack (two off the button) and he limps in, leaving 7500 behind. I’m in the cut off with QdTd. My hand should do fairly well against my opponent’s range, but playing my hand creates several problems. First off, limping in for 20% of my stack with a weak Q high hand is not a great play. Secondly, any of the three players left to act behind me could raise and based on their stack sizes, I might have to call. Raising might seem like a decent option, but I don’t like my hand enough against his range to play for stacks and let’s be real: this dude is calling me if I put him all-in. He might not like his hand enough to raise it himself, but it’s rare that I see these weak players limp in for 30% of their stack and then fold to a raise. Folding is the right play here and you’ll soon see why. I call. The button goes all-in for 10,500. Both blinds fold, but the first limper calls for the rest of his stack, which is exactly 10,500 total. The uneducated player might think this is an easy fold, but they’d be wrong. With both players all-in for 10,500, 4500 in dead blind money, and 3000 from my limp, there’s 28,000 in the pot and it’s 7500 more for me to call. I’m getting 3.8 to 1 pot odds which means they could both show me AQ and I’d still be right to call. Even though calling in this spot is clearly correct, the situation shows why limping in the first place is wrong. The last thing I want to do at this stage of the tournament is play a huge pot with a mediocre hand that HAS to win a showdown when losing will cripple me and destroy any preflop fold equity I had going for me. I managed to spike a T on the river and win a huge pot against AK and KJ, a pot that propelled me to a second place finish in the tournament, but clearly, I misplayed my hand here by limping in.

Tournament at All-Star Lanes tonight. Two tables left. Blinds are 800-1600. There’s some weird button movement going on and I think I’m under the gun with A9o at a 9-handed table and about 16K in chips, so I muck. The dealer hands me my cards back and says “don’t fold your hand, you’re the big blind.” Everyone at the table saw me muck though and it folds to a thinking and aggressive player in mid-late position. He min-raises to 3200, leaving himself with about 8000 behind. Everyone folds around to me. I know this player saw me muck my hand and I feel like he’s trying to take a cheap stab at the blinds. While it may not be the case, his min-raise makes me think he wants the option of folding if someone else happens to wake up with a hand. His stack size dictates that he should either be folding or going all-in. My conclusion: I have him crushed. I audibly laugh, knowing how ridiculous this is going to look, and announce “all-in.” The table goes into a state of shock. Even the dealer is laughing. My opponent is perplexed and doesn’t seem to know what to do. Just as limping in with the QT in my previous hand was a mistake, this is yet another example of not planning ahead gone wrong. I’m sure he was going to muck if anyone else at the table re-raised him, but he had no plan whatsoever for this scenario. I’m sure it wasn’t even a possibility to him. For whatever reason, this player seemed to come to the conclusion that I was making some sort of move on him. He’s wrong. As a good player, I don’t expect to have much fold equity here, which means that I expect my hand to win the majority of the time in a showdown. Which means I’m NEVER bluffing. With 15.2K in the pot and having to call another 8000, he’s getting 1.9 to 1 pot odds and should call me with just about any two cards. Mathematically, he’s probably priced in, and knowing that, I still shoved it on him. He did the right thing and called and his K2 outdrew my A9. Min-raising with his hand in the first place is a mistake though. With his stack size, he has to either go all-in or fold it. There are too many stack sizes that you’re going to have to call when you get re-raised that giving yourself the option of folding to a 3-bet is clearly wrong. The sickest thing about this hand is that if he had just open-shoved himself, I may have seriously considered folding. I’m not saying that’s what I would have done for sure, but folding would have at least crossed my mind as a real option.

Same tournament, heads up with a friend of mine. We’ve been battling it out for a short time and though he started with a clear stack size advantage, I have gained significant ground. With the blinds at a ridiculous 6000-12000, he open-raises to 28K from the SB on the button. I look down at Ah5h and it’s 14K more to me. After calling the raise, I’d have 23K left behind. Since I’ll have first action after the flop, the idea of a pulling a stop and go (calling now and going all-in on any flop) seems appealing, but this is not the type of player that is going to fold two overcards (or many hands at all) in that spot. The only hands he’ll fold are complete garbage that totally whiffed the flop and if he has a hand like that, I might as well get him to stack off with it before the flop. I go all-in and he instantly looks disgusted as he stacks off for a 100K, and tournament-deciding, pot with Q4 offsuit. He flops a 4 that holds up to win and takes down first place. Yet another hand where poor planning preflop puts someone in a tough spot, playing a huge pot with a weak hand. With Q4o and 6000 in on the button, putting in a raise that crosses the commitment threshold is a questionable play since Q4o is a below average hand. I’m not folding too many hands that beat Q4, so my opponent might as well be raising blind and he might as well be going all-in. He’s clearly not playing his hand for value and his raise is entirely reliant on me not having a strong enough hand to play. His cards are completely irrelevant at this point. However, a queen heads up is a decent hand and he has the option of calling 6000 and being able to play the rest of the pot in position. A clearly superior option to stacking off for his entire stack preflop with a weak hand.

The theme of this blog post seems to be: PLAN YOUR HANDS. If you make a play and get a response to that play that either you a) don’t like or b) don’t know how to handle, you have misplayed your hand.

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