Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I make a mistake, or do I?

Today I ventured over to Capitol Casino to play a 4 hour session of live cash. During my drive home, I decided that this hand/situation was by far the most interesting of the day, so I'll share it with you all.

We're playing 5-10 NLH, average stack is probably about 900 or so. There is a fair amount of preflop looseness, but not a ton of aggression beyond open raises. Postflop I would describe the game as moderately aggressive. On to the hand:

It folds to me in the hijack (1k$) with KdJh, and I open to 30. Cutoff toys with a raise quickly and calls (700$), however I do not think this means much as he was doing this pretty often. He was the only player at the table who had 3-bet multiple times and squeezed in obvious spots. Button folds, SB folds, BB calls. BB (1kS$) seems to be weakish, has weird bet sizing and seems to way overvalue hands.

Flop comes KhQc6c, and BB checks to me. This is obviously a pretty decent flop for me. I toy with checking flop to induce bluffs BU, and also for pot control, but decide quickly that I will be missing out on a lot of value if I check here. I bet 60 into 90. Button thinks for about 15 seconds and min raises to 120, BB folds.

BU's raise is pretty confusing to me here. First of all, the size seems pretty small with a value hand, as it allows me to call very profitably with any draw. A larger sizing also would allow me to 3b shove flop with more Kx type hands, whereas here, I am sort of forced to call. 3-betting would only fold out his bluffs, and with the pot-stack ratio as it is, that is not too attractive. Villains range of value hands in this spot are (KQo, KQs, 66). It is also possible, but not likely, that he can occasionally have (KK, QQ, K6s, AKo, AKs). I would weight these hands at a frequency of 10%ish. Given that the value range he is representing is pretty narrow (10 combos) and the possibility of bluffs and semi-bluffs, and how good of a price we are getting, we def need to call flop. 3-betting would be poor, because again we would just be folding out his bluffs, and getting in against a range we have 35-40% equity vs. I call in about 10 seconds.

Turn is the Ah, and I check pretty quickly. I am looking directly at villain, he makes eye contact for about 2-3 seconds, mumbles something nervously while smiling in a thick Chinese accent, and checks. I think that it is likely that he bets a fair amount of his club draws without a pair on the turn. I also think he would bet the top of his range (JT, 66, AK, random sets) on the turn. If he checks, it is likely that he has some sort of showdown value, but feels that it is too strong to turn into a bluff, or too weak to value bet. I would define this range as (AJ, AT, KQ, K6, AXcc). There is also the possibility that he has a total airball bluff and is giving up.

River is a total blank, the 8d. I check again fairly quickly (I regret this now, giving away free information here). Villain thinks for about 30 seconds, and counts out a bet of 120. I am getting 3-1, so I need 25% equity to call. Looking back, this is an obvious fold, or a decent spot to turn my hand into a bluff. Given my assumptions about his turn betting and checking ranges, it is just so damn difficult for him to have a bluff here. Even if he shows up with a bluff here occasionally, it is not outweighed by the vast majority of the time when he has a better hand. Not even my good pot odds can justify a call here.

The meat of the hand here though is in the body language. After villain initially bet, he was quiet for about 15 seconds. After I muttered a few words, he began to become very animated. He began to play with his card protector (a large, rubber crawdad), zooming it around his chips and making odd noises. At the time I found it annoying as hell, looking back it's just comical. Typically, when someone is animated or talking a lot (again, typically) this is a sign of being comfortable. People usually are most comfortable with a strong hand, and thus, you should assume that people who are animated have a strong hand. Typically, those who are bluffing are uncomfortable and try not to draw attention to themselves.

What is interesting to me is how quickly his body language changed. Initially, he bet because he thought his hand was too good to check, but was a bit uncomfortable because I could have better. Once I took 15 seconds, he KNEW he had the best hand, especially after I muttered something under my breath. Immediately his body language had changed. The type of hand that match up with this body language are exactly the turn checking range I described (AJ, AT, KQ, K6, AXcc).
Given the analysis I have just done, it seems that in the future these spots will be fairly obvious.

Now, say I were to be able to put all of this together and put him on that range, should I go for it and turn my hand into a bluff? Yes, and no. If I had not given off so much information throughout the hand (checking turn and river quickly, muttering under my breath when he bet river indicating I had a bluffcatcher) I think this would be a great spot to bluff raise. There is no reason I can't have JT, AK, AQ, AA, perhaps even KK. In addition, his range is capped because he didn't bet the turn on a card most live regs will consider to be wet (lol). I would probably raise to about 375ish, risking 375 to win 360, which would need to work just over 50%. Given that his range is capped, and I can credibly rep the nuts, I think my raise works far more often then that.
However, given that I did give off all of that info, raising would be suicidal as played.

So the two things that we should take away from this are:
1. Look for body language changes in your opponent in reaction to your timing. There is a lot of info there.
2. Giving off little pieces of information DOES matter, and restrict you from running some bluffs. Always be vigilant, and NEVER give off information you do not have to.

So I made a mistake in the hand, but it lead to an epiphany and growth. Is it really a mistake then? You decide.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interesting hand I've just played

So I'm playing live 2-5 today at my local cardroom (capitol casino). I found this hand that just transpired interesting.

Table has just started, maybe 5th hand at the table. I'm in the bb with 9hTc. Young guy who looks reggish opens to 15 in co with 500$ effective, folds to me and I flat. I realize this is sort of loose, but I think its ok because we are in an information vacuum, and hence we will be able to get away with more bluff postlop in a reg on reg situation.

Flop comes 2s4sks, and I lead for 15. I do this for a few reasons, mainly because I think villain will play very straightforwardly vs this. My bet needs to work 33% of the time, and I think he will fold that often for sure with his random no pair no draw hands. If he does call, his range will likely be unable to withstand multiple barrels. I expect him to raise most of his strong hands on the flop. So my flop lead is effectively splitting my opponents range. Villain calls in about 10 seconds.

The turn is the 3c, and I lead again for 40. In retrospect, I think this turn barrel is bad in a vacuum, as he will be peeling it very wide because this turn improves the absolute equity of his range. However a turn barrel COULD be good couple with frequent river barrels on the right cards, given that the range he gets to river with will be pretty wide. Villain calls again in about ten seconds.River is the Ac. This is a pretty meh card overall. A lot of his range (AsX) will have hit this river, along with occasional the occasional 5x hand. However, a lot of his range will not like this river. Mid pocket pairs, that almost certainly peel flop and turn, will fold this river. Also, a lot of his random Broadway+fd will have to fold this river as well. Thus, I think a bet is appropriate, but sizing is pretty important.

The range we are attempting to fold out has a nearly inelastic folding frequency, meaning he will fold those hand almost regardless of bet sizing. Therefore, we should bet the smallest size possible that won't effect his frequency. I chose to bet 55 into a pot of 140. My bet will need to work about 28% of the time to be +EV, and I think it def works more often then that. It should also be noted that my bet sizing is consistent with how most live players perceive value bets with the top and middle of my range. The only concern with this sizing is that it CAN induce bluffs, however I think this will happen with a pretty low frequency.

Villain ended up folding river after toying with a raise. Turns out you can still be creative in live poker!