Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A pair and a flush draw

Before I get started, for those of my friends who are nonpoker players who want to read some interesting, enjoyable nonpoker posts, read the trip reports of CK and F-Train as they make their way out to Vegas from NY. They are driving across the country and so far, I think it's been very interesting to follow. CK's first time experience at Walmart is priceless.

"But no Wal-Mart experience would be complete without standing in line behind a woman with an infant baby. In Wal-Mart. After midnight."

Truer words have never been spoken. I was rolling when I read that... and slightly embarrassed that I knew what she was talking about...

Ok, now on with the main part of my post (poker stuff begins here).

Poker players love draws. That is the only explanation that I can think of when I see players overshove preflop with AK. Yeah, I know. Some of you must think AK is a big pair or something... so it might shock you to know that it IS a drawing hand. But against me, get it in because it hits every time. EVERY FUCKIN TIME. Even last night, I have JJ in the CO (this is cash game, not MATH), I raise, button reraises me. I 4 bet, and of course, the button insta shoves which is larger than a normal pot sized raise. At this point, I give his range 90% AK and 10% KK-JJ. So I instacall. Of course, he has AK. Of course, A on the river. Standard. For those of you that say, hey, it's a coinflip, yeah I understand. If giving up 7-8% edge to your opponent is a coinflip (some may even argue +EV), then you all must LOVE casino games. I personally don't. Apparently, I hate to gamble (except craps). Which is also probably why you will never see me win a meaningful tournament. But that is neither here nor there. Apparently, I got up on the wrong side of the bed because this post is starting out as cranky as it can be... but I actually have a strategy topic today. What can I say. I guess I reverse jinxed myself when I said I don't feel like blogging. Cuz now, I am eager to type away.

Alright, so anyways, my main topic today is playing hands where you flop a pair and a flush draw. We love these types of hands don't we? Some of us might consider it a "monster flop." Again, I would like to remind everyone though that it might seem like a great flop with such a great draw but let's keep in mind one thing. It IS a draw. Having said that, I think there are tons of ways to play it which makes the hand so valuable. The question is this though. When should you play it fast and when should you play it cautiously? Now keep in mind, I am not encouraging players to get it in behind. I know most of you would love to do that to build a big pot in a potential "coin flip" situation when in fact, you are behind. I think there are times to play it fast and there are times to play it slow. So here are some HHs that I saved from the last few days where I flop a pair and a flush draw.

2-4NL 6 handed, relevant stacks:
Villain UTG $940
Hero CO $1200+

Dealt to RecessRampage [Qh Jh]
Villain raises to $14
1 fold
Hero calls $14
3 folds

This was an instance where the UTG raiser is a known LAG. UTG raises in 6 max these days really don't mean anything... And especially against this particular villain, I know it didn't mean much. With the stacks being deep, instead of reraising pre, I am working to see more flops in position.

*** FLOP *** [9h 6h Qs]
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain bets $20
Hero calls $20

I am obviously liking this flop. Of course, it's draw heavy and with my flush draw to boot, my initial thought was to raise. But then I didn't. Because the more I thought about it, the more I wasn't sure what that would accomplish. A worse hand would fold. Of course, a draw might chase but again, this guy is aggressive. I don't want to face a big reraise in instances where he might have flopped a set. I am not eager to drop 200BB+ by chasing. And in case you thought, well, you could have the best hand, there aren't too many combinations where I do have the best hand if the guy 3 bets me on the flop. He could obv have JhTh or 7h8h but he could also be bluffing with just a standard cbet so instead of finding out if he has a monster or just cbetting by raising, I opted to call. In actuality, I felt that my hand was too strong to raise here. I am ahead of a significant portion of his betting range so instead of trying to end the hand here, I figured I'd smooth call to see the next card.

*** TURN *** [9h 6h Qs] [Qc]
Villain bets $24
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero calls $24

The Q is obv a great card for me. It's a great card for multiple reasons. For one, if the villain was worried that I had a Q, the second Q on the turn is great because now, he thinks it's less likely that I have a Q and more likely that I'm on a draw. His thought will be "well, if he had a Q, on such a draw heavy board, why wouldn't he raise? oh look, there's another Q. He obv doesn't have a Q so he must be drawing." On my side, I have another reason to not bet. At this point, I am not drawing to anything. In other words, now, I beat all the hands out there that was ahead of me except for a set. Once again, I felt that this would be an instance where I would raise and the hand would end. It was a toss up though. I probably raise here x% of the time and smooth call here y% of the time... I just don't know what the x's and y's are. But I know one thing. On the river, I was hoping for a nonheart.

*** RIVER *** [9h 6h Qs Qc] [3s]
Villain checks
Hero bets $85
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain calls $85

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero shows [Qh Jh] three of a kind, Queens
Villain mucks [2s 2d]
Hero wins the pot ($289) with three of a kind, Queens

3s was a perfect card for me. Of course, one less and I pay off the villain big time. But on the river, notice that I bet $85 into a pot that has about $120. I wanted to bet a good chunk that would look like I'm looking to get a fold with my missed draw. Which was why I was hoping for a nonheart. The LAG makes a hero call because I smooth called on both streets before showing aggression all of a sudden on the river. The irony of this hand is that if my hand wasn't so strong, I would have played it a lot stronger... In other words, if I had 8h7h or JhTh, I would have played it a lot faster than I would by having top pair. Why? Because with top pair (and the top pair being a fairly high face card), more often than not, I get a worse hand to fold and only a better hand to come along. Not many better hands will fold here so I didn't feel that I should show too much aggression.

Let's look at a different instance.

This is from a 1-2NL, 6 handed

Villain 1 UTG ($167)
Villain 2 UTG+1 ($313)
Hero BB ($390)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Th 9h]
Villain 1 calls $2
Villain 2 raises to $11
3 folds
Hero calls $9
Villain 1 calls $9

This was a horrible preflop call. There's an UTG limp and UTG +1 makes a pot sized raise (the raise was $11 because there was another guy posting from LP). Th9h is a marginal drawing hand and I would be playing it from the worst position AND the UTG limper has yet to act. Fortunately for me, he calls but I just want to state that this preflop call is prob -EV over time. But tis how the hand goes...

*** FLOP *** [5h 6h 9d]
Hero checks
Villain 1 checks
Villain 2 bets $25
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act

Now here, my poor preflop call of a raise is rewarded/punished with a hand that is too good to fold but may not be good enough to win unless I hit. Nonetheless...

Hero raises to $111
Villain 1 folds
Villain 2 has 15 seconds left to act
Villain 2 raises to $301.80, and is all in
Hero calls $190.80
Villain 2 shows [Kd Kc]
Hero shows [Th 9h]

Ok, let's review what happened here. I checkraise an amount which basically commits my entire stack in that if the villain shoves, I'm getting too good of an odds to fold with what I would consider to be having at least 9 outs. But this is 1-2NL... not many people bet out their sets so I figured he is either just cbetting or he has an overpair. Now, why do I say that about this hand and not the previous one? The previous one, I had a Q. In other words, the only overpairs are AA or KK. Here, the flop is 9 high. That increases the overpair range to TT-AA. The reason why I checkraise here is that I really don't want to see any more cards. If he has two overs, I'm ok with him folding after the cbet. If he has a higher flushdraw, then I am ahead and he has less outs than he thinks (ie if he has AhKh, he has 2 less outs since I have 2 hearts). If he has TT or JJ, it could be really hard for him to continue on. If he just calls my checkraise, I'm obv jamming turn regardless of whether I hit or not. Turns out he has a much higher pair so he wasn't going anywhere.

*** TURN *** [5h 6h 9d] [Ah]
*** RIVER *** [5h 6h 9d Ah] [3d]
Villain 2 shows a pair of Kings
Hero shows a flush, Ace high
Hero wins the pot ($636.60) with a flush, Ace high

I obv got lucky but I did have 15 outs twice. The reason why I wanted to include this hand was here, I actually wanted fold equity which I believe I had against some of the hands that might be ahead. Now granted, I don't know how often a hand like TT or JJ would fold here so maybe I didn't have as much fold equity as I thought initially. But even with no fold equity, I believe the odds are so close that even if only TT folds once in a while, it's probably a +EV move. Not sure though. Just sounds good to say it.

Any thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Anyone think I overplayed the second hand? Anyone think rope-a-dope is NOT a good strategy in the first hand? Any feedback would be appreciated.


cmitch said...

Great post. I think these hands are great examples of playing draws in and out of position. I think that you need to play a big draw a lot faster out of position than in position and you clearly show that here.

I really like how you played the 1st hand and your thought process.

2nd hand - "Anyone think I overplayed the second hand?" No way. You are most likely against an overpair and you are a favorite or very close to it against an overpair. Add that to the idea that he folds some hands and I getting it all in on that flop. I don't even mind if he calls, you are going to be a slight favorite in most cases.

SimpleStyle said...

Solid post overall. One question I have is how you balance your ranges in both situations.

Do you ever play the draw faster or slowplay a set in the first hand? I think playing the draw faster is much easier than slowplaying a set on that board. Curious if that difference makes much of a difference in your mind?

How does being out of position affect how you play the different parts of your range in the second hand? I find that I get a lot more aggressive with all parts of my range (tp+fd, 2p, overpair, set) in that spot.

Great post again, glad to see more strategy content :)

spritpot said...

Nice post. But I think you fail to mention the two major advantages of playing draws fast - 1) to make sure you get to see all the cards. This is particularly true in the case of AK. Calling and folding when you don't hit is going to lose money because some of your equity vs. underpairs is tied up with getting to see all five cards. This is particularly true out of position, when you're not going to be able to check behind to take free cards or shove a scary board to get a villain of a pair of nines or something. 2) To balance your range. This is both true on the flop, where you want to balance your raises with sets by also raising with draws. This might force a very loose-aggressive opponent to shove over the top of your flop raise with, say, JJ or TT on the Q96hh board, and you can get it in way ahead. Or maybe he shoves T8 or hearts. One key when getting aggressive with draws vs. another aggressive player is to be drawing to the nuts or have the possibility of dominating his draw (like if he has AT of hearts, you've got some of his outs, plus you're already ahead with a pair). This is true preflop too. You say he only has the overpair to your JJ 10% of the time, but even that little makes your JJ only a very small favorite vs. his range. Pump that up to 20% and he's starting to own you pretty hard. So shoving pf with AK, again, particularly oop, is a play that has good equity vs. a villain's calling range, could fold out many better hands like TT and under, maybe JJ and under, and protects your shoves with AA-KK.


Bayne_S said...

Because of the potential for backdoor straight you are a 50.7 to 49.3 favorite on the T9s vs. overpair hand. The house has built huge casinos based on this edge in Blackjack and craps.

AKs vs. JJ (neither of same suit) is 46 vs. 54. WHich is in line with the "better" bonus bets the house has come up with to take more of your money in the -EV games.

oossuuu754 said...

Great Post. The only mistake you made was calling the PF raise and you addressed that. That said, I like how you showed position changes the way you play draws.

spritpot said...

I meant to say something about these hands in particular too - on hand #1, I like the way you played it, not just because you're in position, but because you're so deep. He can't really make a bet on the turn that would force you to fold. But think about what you'd do if you were 100bbs deep and the turn were a 6d.

On hand #2, after the call preflop, I like the way you played it. But notice that you'd be in a more profitable situation if you had better RELATIVE position on the PFR. That is, if the PFR were UTG and the button had called. Then when you check-raise UTG, you might be able to trap some of the button's money in the middle, which means more dead money when you gamble with UTG.


Gnome said...

Equity is far more important than whether you have a "draw" or "made" hand.
If you have the best of it, you're almost never wrong to bet as much as you can, and it doesn't matter if you're pat or have a drawing hand.
I like how you played both hands. Some might argue for raising Hand 1 on and flop, and I don't think that would be bad, but you certainly have options.

$mokkee said...

you flopped monsters in both hands and played 'em both very good.

nice brag post

spritpot said...

gnome -
It's true that equity is the only thing that matters if you're facing an all-in bet, but the distribution of equity on later streets can be important if you're deciding whether to try and get it all in now or wait until a later street. And distributions will be different for a made hand vs. a drawing hand.

Gnome said...

Agreed. I just wanted to point out that distinguishing between made hands and drawing hands isn't necessarily the best way to look at a problem.