Friday, May 12, 2006


The Bleeding Obvious

I certainly set a personal best today with 5 MTT cashes in a day. Just like the buses. Two were inconsequential money-backs and one only double, but I managed 6th in a $50 10-table on Stars just now. Perhaps I didn't play the bust-out hand very well, mental tiredness is not unexpected at that point. And I finished 3rd in a Turbo on VC for $700. Just call me the crapshoot king. If I draw a line in the sand when we were 4-handed and forget about how lucky I had been up to that point (Q8s beating QQ was a good one), I was very unlucky.

One point that occurred to me today was that I should really be betting more with big pairs in the early levels. Against rational opponents, betting 150 with Aces when blinds are 10-20 would tend to lose me my market. However, and it's amazing that I ever forget this at all but it's easily done, my opponents are not rational. They probably don't know what rational means. Ignorance being bliss, they're perfectly happy to call it pre-flop with K8 and call the rest off on a King high board. If you can get about 10% of your stack in pre-flop [1] then this has two benefits. Firstly, anyone with a small pair isn't getting implied odds to bust you [2]. Secondly, if you like the flop, the pot's now big enough to put 30% in on the flop and the rest on the turn, denying the draws leverage on the river. If you don't like the flop, now you're walking on eggshells, but these things happen. With anything down to JJ, you're going to like the flop more often than not. And if no one calls the over-sized bet then it's an unlikely parlay that anyone would have had anything they could call 50 with instead, make enough of a hand to pay you off with but not too much to outdraw you.

Bet more with good hands because they win a lot. Poker is indeed a game of never ending subtlety.

[1] Or if you're caked up, 10% of the typical stack around the table.

[2] I know they'll flop a set one in 8. But I have to like the flop too. If I have QQ v 44 and the flop comes AJ4, he's not going to bust me. Hopefully he won't get another shilling, although if he slow-plays it enough he might get one small bet at some point.

Let's assume a typical situation if you are an renowned unlucky player who for the sake of argument we shall call PJB.

You have 1,500 chips early in the game (a lowish-stakes 500-runner MTT) and push in 150 with Qd Qh, to be called twice behind you.

The flop comes 742, two clubs. You bet 30% of your stack here, I presume?

The turn then brings the King of spades. Do you check and fold to a bet now?

How does the situation change if you get one caller behind rather than two pre-flop?

How does it change if one of the callers is in the blind and one is behind you?

And how does it change if you get one caller, in the blind, and he checks the turn?

I ask this because these seem to be the kind of situations that I come up against again and again in tournaments (although usually at a later level) and I really haven't got the faintest what to do when they occur.

The usual reply is that it is "situation dependent", which, like an accountant's answer, may be accurate, but in reality merely serves to convince me that I should avoid playing tournaments, because I do not have the "feel" for my position to know what to do in such "situation dependent" scenarios.

Looking at your posited situation, yes I'd bet around the pot on the flop. If I get called, I try to think about what turn cards are going to slow me down. In this case any club, 7, maybe an Ace. A King isn't on the list. I'd move in. If someone moved in before me I might have to fold though.

A lot of the time it's about denying people implied odds on the previous street. In this case, as long as I don't give him implied odds to hit say AK if he calls, I'm just going to have to sigh and try again if he hits a mystery winner and I lose.

You do sometimes get called by AK in this spot and it's frustrating but you just have to play the percentages and suck it up. More often they're on a draw and if you check they'll either make it or fold the river.

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