Saturday, March 04, 2006


Back In The Groove

Back on the MTTs, partly for a change and partly because my laptop is crashing too often to play the quicker Sit and Goes. The crashes seem to be modem-related and I'm going to be changing the modem soon so we'll see if that works before doing anything drastic.

After a bad start to the year in MTTs I'm now doing better just firing 4 up, playing solid for the first hour and seeing where that takes me. Before I was trying too hard in the early levels I think. We'll see. Last two days I managed 4th in a PLO8 comp on Party (I really should play more of those) for $450, and two near misses of 12th and 15th, each of which might have been a big score with a little more luck [1]. I'm getting myself into position, that's the main thing.

I wanted to expand on a play I have mentioned on here before. When you find a big pair, in position, against a single raiser, and you both have enough chips so that he's not committed pre-flop, call. In the last two nights I can think of at least 4 examples of this which I'll run through quickly :

1) Crypto, 150-300 w/ 25 ante, I have about 9K. Mid position makes it 900 and I call on the button with KK. Flop Jxx. He bets 1700, I move in, he calls instantly with QJ.

2) Eurobet, 50-100, I have about 3K. Early position makes it 300, I call in mid position with KK. Flop 678 rainbow. He bets 700, I move in, he calls with AK.

3) Pokerstars, 300-600 pot limit, I have about 8K. Early position makes it 1800. I call in mid position with KK (repetitive isn't it). Small blind launches pot size reraise. Initial raiser passes, I move in, SB is committed and calls with AT.

4) Same PL comp on Pokerstars. 300-600, I have about 10K (this hand takes place before hand 3). I find JJ in EP and make it 1800. Next seat, who has me covered, reraises pot. Everyone else passes. I pass and he shows me QQ. Thanks for letting me know I made a good pass !

There you have the 3 ways this play can double you up, and one more where I escaped because my opponent did not use this play. 2) and 4) are the most interesting cases. In case 2, think about how we're both playing these hands. Short of a freak flop like AAK or QJT, there are only two outcomes for me. I lose 300, or I get 3000 in the middle as a big favourite, in this case 85%. I'm seeing more and more people online who won't put AK down when they miss the flop heads-up. For any action. Against someone like this, is the call not better than launching it all in and being 70-30 to win or lose the lot ?

In case 4, if my opponent flat calls then I reckon there is about a 10% chance of me instantly doubling through him (with a J high flop), and a 40% chance of him instantly doubling through me (with no flop card higher than a T). For sure, the other 50% of the time we'll have to play poker and sometimes QQ might fold the winning hand. All the same I'd rather be him, in position with the better hand that will win a checkdown. When he reraises with QQ though, look how easy he's made it for me. With a bigger pair, I move in. With a smaller pair, AQ or worse, I fold. With AK I probably move in, no more positional disadvantage and I get to see 5 cards. Either that or I fold, which is no big loss.

If you're not making this play online, at least try it. The bottom line here is that it's perfectly acceptable to win fewer pots if this means that the pots you win are bigger and/or the pots you lose are smaller. That's what so many players, old and new, are missing with their reraises and auto continuation bets. And finally you might be thinking, big deal, you know to slow-play a big pair, but on the rare occasions someone does this to me it really makes me start. Hardly anyone does it. They all reraise. Make the pots small when you lose, and big when you win. This hugely compensates for the odd small pot you are bluffed off.

[1] Both times I lost a very big all-in pre-flop. One from in front, one from behind. So it goes !

"I wanted to expand on a play I have mentioned on here before. When you find a big pair, in position, against a single raiser, and you both have enough chips so that he's not committed pre-flop, call."

I was going to launch into a type [3] scenario and then I noticed you already did! To most online opponents, you become invisible when you smooth call a raise, which is of course a perfect reason for doing it. The small blind (or similar) fancies they can get through the first raiser as he seems weak (he only raised 24BB for goodness sake, he can't have much..) and of course you have a weak enough hand not to be able to raise, so they are 100% sure you can't stand a re-raise either.
When I do this, I do have a golden rule not to go broke if it doesn't get back-raised, but that is sometimes hard to enforce when you see people play QJ like you described. In the case of the 678 flop, I'm not sure I make the call, the lucky cod would have to wait for another opportunity to be taught the shortcomings of AK.
I can't be having with that Simon. Heads up in a raised pot, I'm not passing an overpair on the flop however co-ordinated it is.

This is a good example of making sure that your play is consistent as a whole. The pre-flop call is nowhere near as strong if you're going to dog flops like that heads up. If there were two more callers pre-flop that would be different.

yes I am going to retract.
The cases where I have put down AA have been limping completely rather than smooth calling a raise. In this case where I have thrown away I have been vindicated, and when I have played I have been taken out most times with a scabby 2pr or a pair and a draw.
In a raised pot, I agree I am playing.
I think I shall call this style "Gus Hansen in reverse".

Just as Gus's style is a bit like the single manic driver on the motorway who is relying on everybody else to obey the rules of the road, the smooth call of a raise with the big pair (which is, when you think about it, a kind of slow play designed to elict either a misplay from your opponent post-flop or a bluff from one of the blinds pre-flop), relies somewhat on the default style being aggressive and few players being passive in such situations.

As soon as a significant number of people start doing it (smooth calling rather than reraising), then other players start allowing for it, and the move loses much of its strength.

For the moment, though, it's a gravy train.

On a little further thought, what this play feeds off is the desire of so many players to make a definitive "read" and stick to it in the face of all future evidence to the contrary.

This is specious enough in a live game, but online ... I don't think it's worth trying to "read" someone's hand at all until they take the lead unexpectedly. Until they do, just play the percentages. Meanwhile they figure that you can't have a big hand or you would have raised. And even when you raise them on the flop they stick to the original "read" and call you with top pair weak kicker or even AK.

Having said all that, maybe it's just common sense to give yourself a chance to outplay your opponent on the flop, when you have the luxuries of position and a good hand.


I hope you don't mind me butting in with an anonymous reply.

In case 4, would you have played the hand any differently if you were holding the QQ here, rather than the KK in previous cases? Surely as you raised in EP, then next player made the right move by re-raising, as still a few hands to get through. A cold call here may give the Ace brigade a chance to sniff out the flop also, making it multi-way & weakening the strength of your QQ.

I do agree that the call with KK or AA, & sometimes with QQ but better positioning, just reeks of weakness to most online players, so it's easily played that way.

However, always a downside. Early on, I would still always bet for value, while the more obvious mugs are still about. Just a thought.
OK, so let's say that we're 9 handed, UTG raises and we're in the next seat with QQ, I think that's what you're asking.

Yes, this is closer, and a little more awkward. I'm still averse to reraising if this commits me because I'm making it easy for the raiser again. When the stacks are deeper or the raise is smaller, you can make a better case for reraising here, provided you know what you're going to do when UTG pops it again.

Another point is that I don't mind playing QQ/KK against two callers, even three at a pinch, because in these cases it's much easier to just fold when the overcard flops.

I like this move. Especially with a special set of circumstances and its far prettier with aces than kings. You are correct Andy, this move is used very rarely to good effect. I think the beauty of it lies when you are fairly deep into a tournament and one of the blinds is short-stacked. If you are in ep-mp facing a single ep raise then there is in an immense chance (esp around the bubble) the either:-

a) a player round the back will see value in the pot and re-raise.

b) a short-stacked blind will see the opportunity of a multi-way pot and the opportunity to get right back in it. He will go ai if he is going to play this hand.

In b- this in turn has the effect of the original raiser thinking his Cards are good and possibly sticking em in as he knows the blind is desperate and wants to play it heads up. THIS IS THE GOOD BIT. Because he may now create a large side pot you have 2 chances to get your money in with the best of it (hopefully) against possibly counterfeit cards and have 2 chances at avoiding bad beats late in a tournament. Feel free to set me straight, but i think this maximises your hand value. I could just be shying away from the fact that I like side pots late in tournaments.

Question. Andy- Do you lay your high pp's down to ANY overcard on the flop headsup if you have position and he raised preflop, and bet again postflop, Continuation bets with AK and (sometimes) AQ seem the norm for many many players. In the long run, do you think it’s a winning play to fold Queens and Jacks to 1 overcard on the flop against 1 opponent?

P.S. Ultimate respect to Andy. The guy's getitquietly blog is by far the best i have read. The guy is also pretty damn helpful to anyone that wants information despite his talent. I have to go now, iv got something on my nose………..
1. Don't try too hard early in a MTT--zen MTT theory
2. Position
3. KK can be your friend
Hi Alex,

Thank you for your kind words. In the case with QQ/JJ and an overcard flops, I will generally fold if that overcard is an Ace. When it isn't, this is a tough one. The deciding factor is probably the size of the pot compared to [the smaller of] the remaining stacks. Deep stacks push towards a fold, shorter stacks push towards gritting your teeth and calling. I'm slightly more likely to call with JJ if a Queen flops rather than a King, and I'm going to fold JJ if both a King and a Queen flop.

If I do call with further action possible, I mustn't change my mind and fold on a later street unless an Ace pops off !

Sometimes you do have a judgement call to make on the flop with this play (and others like it), but that's really half the point. Smashing it all in makes it easier for us but also makes it MUCH easier for our opponent.


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