Saturday, November 05, 2005


Scissors Paper Stone (2)

Now I'm going to talk about a play that's not to everyone's taste. When the pot has been raised pre-flop, no one else has called yet and you have position on the raiser, you flat call with AA-JJ/AK. This is kind of two plays in one. With AA it's a slow-play. The aim is to disguise the strength of your hand, tempt in the players behind you and extract more money from the original raiser. With QQ/JJ/AK, it's more of a case of wait and see, maintaining my positional advantage. I'm not a fan of reraising with QQ and JJ, even though some pros (Colclough) strongly recommend it. You're likely to make any worse hand fold, while any better hand is going to play. If the reraise is committal, you're giving up your positional advantage. Back to the call, finally with KK it's a bit of both.

There are downsides to this play. If you call with say QQ and the flop comes A high, you might be bluffed out by a smaller pair. You may allow a smaller pair (that would have been folded to a reraise) to make a set. I think the potential reward is good enough to take these on. Bear in mind that if you have AA (or KK when no Ace flops) it really is very hard for someone to be in front of you on the flop. They need two pair or better, and in many cases where they have outdrawn you, the flop will be dangerous (paired or all the same suit) enough for you to have a chance to get away.

Anyway, whatever you think of this play, there's no doubt that as more people play the Harrington way, it becomes better. The pre-flop raiser will make more continuation bets. When you play back, he will be less suspicious if he thinks that you think he's just following up (this he thinks you think counts for less online to be fair). Not just that though, when you call pre-flop, some clever clogs behind you might decide that it's time for a squeeze play !

The squeeze play comes in when there's a raiser and a flat caller, and a third player reraises. Player 3 figures that player 1 will be hard pressed to call with another live player in the pot, while player 2 would surely have raised if he had a big hand. Once that second figuration is wrong, the squeeze play crashes and burns. I have no doubt that the squeeze play was profitable - before it was outed ! Now I'm not so sure. Both player 1 and player 2 may be well aware of it, and adjust accordingly. I would never do this (make the squeeze play) online as a bluff, and I'd have to be very sure live.

So when a third player raises, it's all gravy when you have AA or KK. The rest you have to play by ear according to what player 1 does. If he folds, I'd definitely play QQ.

A quick word about AK, in the past I have been loath to make this play with AK as it doesn't want three-way all-in action pre-flop. And if I can reasonably go all in straight away, that's usually best. However if a normal reraise is 1/3 to 1/2 my stack, I think the call is better. One great benefit of showing this play with AK is that you'll be a lot less vulnerable to a bluff when you have QQ and it comes A high.

A quick summary of the important points : you must have position on the flop ; the relevant stacks shouldn't be so low that people will be suspicious because you didn't move in, or so high that players behind you have a chance to call for less than 5% ; and usually no one else should have called the raise yet.

You may be surprised to hear that the flat call is my default play online. What this means is that if the chips are deep (but not deep enough so people have implied odds), I don't reraise pre-flop in position ! I'm folding most hands and calling with the rest. And why not. You have a good hand, you have position, you hopefully have a weak opponent. If you can't play some flop poker here, when can you ?

Reraising in the early rounds with AK in deep stack tournaments is a cardinal sin I reckon.

I virtually never reraise with AK at any stage unless I am moving allin or setting someone allin.

Excellent post. Hope noone reads it.
Don't worry about it, no one will :-)

Good luck in Amsterdam

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?