Friday, March 27, 2009

getting your image to work for you.

Thursday night game, only 7 total show up. 1 busts out very early, too - so we're 6 handed for much of the night, then 5 handed for another hour.

No big hands for me, but I'm shuckin' and jivin' and keeping my head near the water line. I'm playing pretty tightly, but very aggressive once I'm in a pot.

Example: I limp with Ace Eight suited - board comes Queen Eight Three and the blind leads into me. I raise. Villain thinks and folds, showing a queen. He says "You might be on the club draw, I don't even want to get involved". That's right, sir, don't get involved.

Example 2: Another limp, this time with 44. Board is T62 and again the blind leads into me. I raise and he folds.

Example 3: I raise preflop this time, with Ten Nine suited (hearts) - and flop the idiot end of the straight - Jack Queen King, all black. I bet the pot and scare all of the ace-rags away. (and glad there were no flush draws out there).

I'm not sure I saw a showdown all night up to this point. Except for the straight above, no big hands to speak of. I was down about $10 when the hand of the evening arrived. Tony raised it up and I called from the blind with Ace Jack offsuit. Tony was having one of those backwards nights where he was getting mixed up in second best hands, or his medium pairs were turning into crap on the board, or he was getting outkicked - one of those deals. He didn't have much of a stack left himself.

We saw a flop of Jack Eight Three, all different suits. I had Top Pair/Top Kicker on a very dry board. I was only worried about an overpair or JJ here - I was willing to go broke if he was lucky enough to flop trips on the dryest board ever. Nine-Ten was the only draw, which would make me and my Top/Top a 2-1 favorite - I could get my money in good if he happened to have that as well.

Still, those pesky overpairs were still possible in this raised pot, and of course I was out of position. Leading out with a bet here probably wouldn't tell me much - if he raised, I would have to make a decision for (short) stacks, more or less in the dark.

I checked, figuring I might find out some information based on his action. I was pretty sure he would bet any made hand, and certainly C-Bet many missed hands, but the amount might tell me something about what was going on.

Tony bet $6 into the $7 pot, and I felt like this was the information I was looking for. I read this bet as "go away, please" - maybe a smaller Jack, maybe a pair under the Jack. An overpair would probably bet smaller or even check behind on this ultra dry board, hoping to suck me in.

Ok, despite the cries of
"don't go broke on one pair" bouncing around in my head, I felt I had a valid exception in this situation - short effective stacks, bone-dry board, and a decent read that I was ahead. I just had to make the best choice to get our money into the middle.

I could float this flop bet and then lead out on the turn. The success of this play would depend on the card that came, though - if an ace came, for example, it would be so easy for him to get away with an underpair. A king or queen would also not leave me feeling sure I was ahead anymore.

One other factor came into play - Tony is the best observer at the table - and he has probably noticed that I've been pushing people around on the flop and not showing anything down. Maybe he would read my checkraise as another case of me trying to bully someone off of the best hand, and he might take a stand with nines or tens or a lower jack. Yup, raising was definitely the right move here.

Tony had only about $22 left behind - I had him covered by a couple bucks. I could put him all-in here, hoping that the shove looked weak, but in the end I decided that this was too easy to escape. The minraise is always a possibility - that's not usually a move that I employ though, so that would probably look fishy too.

I chose the middle route - I doubled his bet to $12. He couldn't call this raise without going all in, and maybe it looked small enough to be another case of the bully trying to take a pot on the flop without a showdown. Even with all this planning and forethought, it was still a little disconcerting, though, to hear Tony announce "I'm all in". Tony has stated on more than one occasion that he doesn't push all his chips into the middle lightly in a cash game, and I've rarely seen him do it when behind.

My read was that I was ahead, and since he couldn't even minraise this $12 bet (he had $10.50 back) - the final pot was laying me almost 5-1 odds. I announced "well, I call, but I think you might have me". Even though my analysis to that point lead me to the opposite conclusion, I still figured I had missed something and he was going to flip over Kings or Aces. My mood lifted a bit when he shrugged and said something like "not if you have top pair...." and he revealed Jack Queen suited. I won the kicker battle and won my only large pot of the night.

I ended the night up $17 - not too terrible considering my lack of monster holdings.

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