Poker Update: Year Two Begins

Did I play this right? Let’s just skip to the key hand. We’re two hours in. I have exactly 2,500 and blinds are at 100-200. I’m on the dealers right. I have been quiet for a long time. Players have been respecting my raises.

I have Qd-Jd. Instead of calling, or putting the standard 600 in as a raise, I put in 800. I want to pick up the blinds. I figure no one will call unless they have premium cards. Unfortunately, the small blind raises it up to 2,000.

Question 1: Was my initial bet okay? Was it overly aggressive, or did I just get unlucky?

So.. should I call? It’s 1,200 for a pot of 4,200. I’m obviously going to go all-in, so it’s really 1,700 for a pot of 4,700. More importantly, what does he have? He’s a good player. He has been known to bet big with very little. I try putting myself in his shoes. Muttrox has been known to bluff, but it’s usually a semi-bluff at worst, he must suspect I have something. The bet of 800 has to get some respect. If he goes over the top the odds are good I’m going to call. He must want me to call. I think there is no way he’s putting that much in unless he has A-A, K-K, or A-K. If it’s A-K, I might call given the pot odds. But I think it’s K-K or A-A. After a lot of thought I fold.

Question 2: Was that the right fold?

It didn’t take long after that. A few hands later I raised it up to 600 with A-9, again hoping to get some blinds. I had two callers and the flop was A-x-x. With only 1,100 more to play with I had to go all-in and hope no one had an Ace with a higher kicker, even though I suspected someone did. Yep, I was called with A-J and knocked out.

I still can’t decide if I played it wrong. I think I was just unlucky enough to run into premium cards at the exact wrong time. Either way iIt was not an auspicious start to the new year of poker! I have decide to reset the running total.

Tonight: -$20
Running Total: -$20

17 thoughts on “Poker Update: Year Two Begins”

  1. So I’m assuming the two of you are roughly even in the stacks. I tend to think that was actually a well played hand on all parts. I think he has a couple of premium cards and wants to avoid a bad beat. He knew you had a little something, suspects he has you beaten, but wants to really make you pay if you want to see some cards. He wants to give you the opportunity to fold now. I think you did the right thing to fold this hand. Well played all around, I think. If he was bluffing, that was ballsy.

  2. “I’m on the dealers right” = the cutoff.

    Need more information:
    a) Has it been folded to you preflop, where you were first to raise?
    b) What position was HE in? Was he dealer?
    c) Was his reraise quick, slow, somewhere in between?
    d) How much did HE have in his stack when he made that 2000 bet?
    e) How was HE playing THAT night? Steaming? Cocky? Loose? Passive? Or just regular tight-aggressive? Was he particularly hot or cold that night?

    Okay, now to my guesses:
    1) I don’t think your bet was overly aggressive, as long as the preflop raises have been varied. In other words, if everyone was betting 3xBB all night, then your bet could either look like a you’d-better-respect-me-bitches bet, or an over-eager-beaver-blind-stealer.

    But then again, depending on how many were still in and their stack sizes, you probably should have been looking for an all-in at this point. You only had 12BB left. An all-in at that point probably would have stolen the blinds, and if someone called, then so be it…it was a decent hand to push with in my mind.

    2) I’m not sure I would have folded there. Like I said, you only had 12BB left to start, and after the bet, you now only had 8BB left, not a lot to push someone around with. But then again, I like QJ suited. If someone does have AK, it’s not THAT much of an underdog, and it’s a sneaky hand that sometimes wins.

    Either way, this is mostly 20-20 hindsight. You didn’t necessarily play it badly; I just think you made a choice. In your shoes, I might have done exactly the same thing.

  3. There’s not much difference between 600 or 800. I believe you should have either just called or done a much bigger raise. He could have had mid-pocket pairs at which point it’d be a coin flip. At that point, I believe you should have just called with the pot odds and being short stacked.

    I don’t think you played it wrong – probably borderline either way. I believe you just played it too conservatively.

  4. More info:
    * He had a significant chip lead on me, close to 2-1.
    * It was an 8-person table. I was to the immediate right of the dealer, he was small blind. Everyone had folded so far.
    * I don’t have a good read on this player. He plays in Vegas a lot, so I figure he’s not an idiot.

    Ole: Are you saying I should have put in even more pre-flop? I thought raising to 4x was overly aggressive as it was. I don’t really see what putting in more would have done. I think whether I put in 4x or 8x, his decision is still the same: fold with anything but premium cards. I just have a hard time seeing him coming over the top of a 4x raise with a medium pair. Not impossible I suppose, but I don’t consider it likely.

    Matt: I like Q-J also. But not when I suspect the other guy has KK or AA. If I really thought he had “only” K-A, I would have called just like you. Pot odds would make me.

  5. QJs is an OK hand to try to steal the blinds from the cut off. With 2500 and blinds at 100-200, you’re in a pretty bad shape but not completely desparate. However, I see 2 ways to play the hand:

    1) Move in immediately;

    2) Raise to 500 and fold to a push (if you think a small raise might be enough to win the blinds, and opps are tight enough not to re-steal with less than premium hands).

    Raising to 800 commits you (you have to put 1700 for a pot of 5200 if re-raised) so you CAN’T fold getting more than 3 to 1 against a normal push range (even if SB is so tight that he would only push with 99+, AJ+, you still have more than enough equity to be forced to call. I’m too lazy to do the math, but it’s definitely an easy call, and his range is probably way broader than that).

    If you’re calling an all in after raising to 800 (which you clearly should do), you still should push all in immediately instead of raising – because a less advanced opponent might decide that you can still get away from the hand so he will re-steal with hands he would normally fold to an immediate all in, which would make you lose some equity (let’s say he has 55 and would fold to an all in but might put you all in if you raise – you immediately gain 300 chips when he folds, but when he pushes you have to gamble for your whole stack with a 50% chance so overall you’ve lost some value).

  6. As you can see, Mutt, I’m in danger of losing my best programmer to professional poker. Let’s never take this guy to Vegas…he won’t come back.

  7. I actually went ahead and did the math. Against the very tight range of 99+, AJ+ your equity is 32.925%. So if you fold, you have 1700 chips. If you call, you have almost 1750 chips on average. If you think your opp’s as tight as in this example, it’s almost a wash (so it’s mostly a matter of priorities – is survival more important to you than trying to double up and get back in contention). However, if you make your opps range 55+, A8+ (much close to normal, considering the stacks and tournament state) your equity jumps to 39.997% (almost 2100 chips on average if you call).

  8. Agree w/Krasimir’s read. He doesn’t necessarily have a monster hand. Could be mid-pocket pairs, or maybe he’s just playing big stack poker against a somewhat tight player (especially if he’s experienced player)?

  9. Thanks for the numbers and insight Krasimir. It all comes down to the read. I think his range was JJ+ at worst. Look at this another way. If he’s as smart as all you, he knows I have to call his all-in bet with a wide range of hands. So he is not going all-in to push me out of the pot, since I shouldn’t. He really wants to go all-in. What hands are you willing to go all-in with against someone who’s been playing tight and just went 4x the big blind for an opening bet? They’d have to be pretty good, don’t you think?

    (Generally, survival is more important to me than doubling up.)

  10. Well you did fold so you might also take into consideration that he could’ve expected you to fold some of the time 🙂 If you believe in your read that his range is really JJ+ then it’s a correct fold but I don’t think anyone who’s playing tournament poker is THAT tight.

  11. Last thought:

    You said, “What hands are you willing to go all-in with against someone who’s been playing tight and just went 4x the big blind for an opening bet?”

    I say, MOST hands. You said that you were playing tight, so you are thinking that your bet would most likely be seen as a confident raise with premium cards, right? Well, I don’t think so at all.

    You were in late position with folds around the table to you, and you were the opening bet. I might have seen this as a tight player who was probably trying to steal the blinds because of frustration or opportunity only. Had I thought this, I certainly would have reraised with medium cards if I had double your stack to push you around based on your tight playing all night.

    So I certainly don’t see this as an obvious read on his having JJ or better necessarily.

    But I guess most importantly, you gambled, folded, and went on to lose that night. It’s poker. It happens. 😀

  12. We need as a guest commenter the guy who actually had this hand….get him on this blog before he forgets what he had 🙂

  13. Krasimir & Matt: Good points.

    This is what I get when I ask for opinions. I think the initial bet was at least a reasonable one. I am undecided whether folding was incorrect, but leaning more towards it being a mistake.

    You’re right Matt, it’s poker, it happens. If I had taken my last 1600 and made it back in contention I would barely remember this hand at all.

  14. Again, disagree with Muttrox. It was the initial bet that I disagree with. I agree with Matt’s last post…you are a relatively tight player and you yourself said you’d rather survive than double up. If that other player plays regularly, he probably knows your reputation and might try to bully/bluff you out. Again, I believe you either just call with your hand, or go all-in. There is a big psychological difference between someone saying all-in (especially a tight player) or just 3-4x big blind.

    Don’t think your initial bet was unreasonable, but my biggest armchair qb criticism is you seem to always play by the book. Then again, I’m not the one up $1k in a year, so you must be doing something right!

    Wow, the most comments on your blog is around poker! The people speak.

  15. Hmm. Let me ask this question back. If I had reported that I went all-in with Qd-Jd (betting 2500 to pick up 300 in blinds), and my opponent had called me with J-J, J-K, J-A, Q-Q, Q-K, Q-A, K-K, K-A, or A-A – all hands better than mine even excluding the middle pairs – would you think I had made a reasonable play? I suspect that you wouldn’t think so, and you would all be calling me an idiot who risked far more than was appropriate.

  16. Yeah, so what’s your point? Isn’t poking holes at your posts the entire reason we post comments?!! Ha,ha.

    Also, I’d rather be called an idiot than a chicken. Man, I’m on a roll for a Friday afternoon! 🙂

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