Thursday, September 15, 2005

Still Got a Long Way To Go

I just got two new books in the mail from Amazon - Ace on the River by Barry Greenstein, and Harrington on Hold 'em by Dan Harrington. I just started reading the latter, and it is excellent so far. This early in my career I figure I should probably be spending more than half of my "working" hours studying (reading and discussing hands on the 2+2 website forum) rather than playing. Recently I've been playing about three times as much as I've been studying. I figure this is okay since I'm playing mostly for fun at this point anyway. Since part of my reason for playing is to gain experience and valuable information about how other players play, I sometimes make plays I know to be slightly unprofitable (in the short term anyway) in order to gain information. For instance I might be slightly more willing to call someone on the river so that I get to see his cards. Anyway, this approach led me to play the following terrible hand last night at the Wynn.

I've been a bit sick recently, but I started getting pretty bored staying in my room all day, so I decided to go play for a couple hours. Playing 2-5 NL, my stack was up to $400. The player to my right was a guy named Bobby who I see at the Bellagio a lot. Bobby is about 45 years old, a very solid player who likes to bet his strong hands aggressively on the flop when he gets them. Earlier I had been chatting with him, and he told me he had only been playing for 10 months, but had once placed first in the $500 daily tournament at the Bellagio, which is pretty impressive. I also know from chatting with his wife at the Bellagio (she is also a good player) that he is a successful investment banker from Florida. Anyway, he's a pretty solid player. Here's how the hand played out.

I was in middle position, fourth to act after the big blind. The first player and Bobby limped in and I threw in a raise to $25 with T2 clubs. Obviously, this is not a hand I should usually play, but like I said, I am still in a learning phase to some extent. I had been playing very tightly up to this point and wanted to see if Bobby would call my raise before the flop. He had about $500 behind. Anyway, I got three callers: a very loose player one off the button plus the two original limpers. Now there was about $105 in the pot and the flop came 986. The 8 was a club, the others a heart and a diamond. The first two players checked and I bet $75 hoping to win the pot. The next two players folded and Bobby, as you might have expected from the effort I put into describing him, called the $75. This was a big surprise to me, as I knew if he had an overpair or a nine (or better) he would raise me, and if he just had a hand like A6s or AJ he would probably fold. His call told me he probably had a 7 for the straight draw, possibly with an A or maybe a pair of 6's or 8's. He also might have had JT, and there was an outside chance he had a 9 high straight and wanted to slow-play it.

Turn was a 4. Two diamonds on board now. Bobby checked. I had $300 left. I could continue my bluff, or just check. An all-in bet here into the $250 pot would look an awful lot like an over pair, a set, two pair, or something like that. Bobby would probably fold unless he already had his straight, which I thought was very unlikely. Despite all this, I checked.

The river was a 2, giving me a pair of twos. Bobby bet out $100 into the $250 pot, an oddly small bet, especially for Bobby. The 2 could not have helped his hand, so I figured either he has had his straight all along and is finally betting it for value while he has the chance, or he missed his draw and is trying to get me to fold AK or AQ, which Bobby probably figures are my most likely hands in this situation. One thing about playing against solid players is that they are usually easier to read because they don't make dumb plays. This helped me rule out a hand like a pair of 6's or 8's. If Bobby had these hands, he could already beat AK or AQ and had no reason to bluff. So, I had to decide if Bobby already had his straight, or if he had something like A7s and was now trying to win the pot after I showed weakness on the turn. Facing a $100 bet into the $250 pot, I only needed to be about 22% sure that my pair of 2's would win for a call to be correct. That, coupled with my curiousity about Bobby's hand, led me to call the $100.

As I put my $100 in the pot, Bobby asked "do you have a 6?" What? Bobby put me on a 6 here?? He turned over 56 for a pair of sixes. Embarrassed by calling with a hand that couldn't beat that, I morosely pushed my cards face down to the dealer. For those of you who are poker players, what was Bobby thinking when he bet that hand on the river? Would you have pushed all-in on the turn? And, would you have called with the pair of 2's at the end? This hand completely befuddled me. I'd better get back to my reading.


Alex said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alex said...

Well, obviously I have no idea, but let's say he puts you on KQ or A10, since you bet pre-flop but not a ton. He sees three low cards and thinks you're buying it at 75, a large bet. He calls, with his pair. You check on the turn, showing weakness and confirming his theory that you have A/10 or KQ or KJ suited. The last card is a his 65 win. He bets 100...not all-in. He's not totally trying to buy it as he think his hand wins. But he thinks you might call 100 with AK or AQ, especially since you both checked on the turn. Plus, if you do in fact have a mid-pair, perhaps you fold to 100 (with a fairly weak hand) and he's able to buy it with a strong but not overwhelming bet.

I think I would have bet about 50 in his position and not 100...if you go all in at the end, I think he has to fold. That's what I would have hindsight, of course.

Of course, I'm only an amateur. I don't know who else reads this, but if a professional has a better answer, I'm interested in hearing it too...

Keith said...

Thanks for the advice. If you advocate pushing all-in on the river, what if he had just checked the river? And how about pushing the turn? Wouldn't that be a better place for the bluff, before having shown any weakness?