Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Complicated Hand vs. Joe

My friend Joe has been in town the past couple of weeks and we've been playing a lot of 1-2 NL. Late Sunday night we got into a game full of weak, loose, drinkers, and Joe and I were dominating the table. I was playing a hyper-aggressive style and Joe, to my left, was just sitting back playing good, solid poker.

A lot of people, when they play at a table with friends, are reluctant to play hands heads-up against their friends. This is completely understandable, and I can't really fault them for it. Nonetheless, this behavior does disrupt the natural flow of the game. Each player at the table should be able to assume that their opponents are playing for themselves and only for themselves (this is especially important in torunaments, where collusion would be even more profitable). Anyway, Joe and I have a history of not going any easier against each other, as is exemplified in what follows.

In the following hand, I had about $425 left in mid-late position, and Joe had me covered. Nobody else at the table had over $300, as far as I can remember. There were two limpers and I limped in with KTs. Joe limped in behind me, and the small blind completed.

Flop: Ks Kc 9c.

This is a flop where I am very likely to have the best hand, but if I don't, it has the potential to get me into plenty of trouble. My T kicker is worrisome.

Action to me: check, check, bet $20. This player is quite aggressive, and likes to be tricky, so this bet actually suggests he does not have a king. Anyway, with three players behind me, I just call. Joe raises to $100. This constitutes a raise of $80 into a pot of size $68 (after rake). Could Joe be raising with an inside straight draw like JT? Yes, but this seems very unlikely. Obviously, Joe has to suspect that one of his opponents has a big hand, so this would be an extremely risky bluff. I am about 95% certain he is holding the last K, possibly even K9 or maybe even 99. Joe is not the type to play Kx preflop, unless possibly if it's suited. It is hard for me to imagine that my KT is the best hand in this situation. The blinds fold. The original bettor ponders for a while, and says "you must have my king outkicked." Then he shows his hand to the guy next to him, who nods. Then he folds.

Now, in my experience, when someone states something about his hand just before showing it to someone and then folding, he is telling the truth over 95% of the time. He has no incentive to mislead the other players if he is going to be out of the hand anyway, and if he were lying about it to help his table image, he wouldn't show it to the person next to him. Suddenly, I had some doubt about Joe's hand. I still thought he might be holding a king, but now I was significantly less certain than I was before. I decided I needed to find out where I was, so I raised to $250 (a $150 raise into a $228 pot). After some deliberation, Joe called. At this point I was again pretty sure Joe had the best hand. I would have expected him to re-raise there, but maybe he figured he could get the rest of my money in on the turn and river.

Pot: $528
Turn: Ts. Now I have the nuts. With about $155 left in my stack, I put out a bet of $50. After calling my flop raise, Joe can't fold to such a small bet. He pushed me all-in, and I obviously called. Joe showed KJ.

Pot: $835.
River: Tc. Joe and I split the pot with KKKTT.


adspar said...

Ha, fun hand.

On the flop, after you reraised are you folding if he pushes? If not, why not just push yourself? Either way its all going in if he has AK or 99, but there's a chance he'd fold KQ, KJ, or KT to your push, right?

You have much more NL experience than me, so I'm curious to hear more about that flop decision.

Keith said...

Yes, I was planning on folding if he pushed. In retrospect, though, I probably should have just pushed all-in anyway, because I do think he would have folded KT or KJ there (he told me as much). In fact, he said he would have folded to my $150 raise also, except he was also not sure if the other guy really did have the last King.

Another alternative would have been to just call and see the turn for cheaper. Then (assuming the turn hadn't been a T) I could check and fold on the turn if he kept pushing.

Or I could have folded, which was my first instinct until the other guy claimed he had the last K, at which point I was completely lost.

My medium-sized raise on the flop was probably about my worst course of action.