Friday, July 17, 2009

playing slow. Same as slowplaying, or the start of small ball?

Thursday night cash game, and for once I win a couple pots early. 89o from the big blind hits two pair. Tens that avoid danger on a KKx board.

I give it all back, though, on a couple hands that sting a bit. AJo from the big blind - limped to me. This is my borderline "big ace" hand - do I raise the limpers here (I almost always raise the limpers with AQ/AK), or play it more slowly for a smaller pot? I choose the latter.

I hit the jack on the flop but a king comes, too. I check and it checks around. I bet the turn and get a caller. The river gives me two pair with an ace, but any queen has a straight. Out of position with two pair, not a fun place to be in. My opponent loves to limp with paint - lots of queens in his range. But he's also aggressive and will bet this board with lots of hands too.

There's really no good solution, and I guess I'm not good enough to simply check/fold two pair yet. I lead out myself and get called by Q9.

My failure to raise the limpers costs me here. Q9 (under the gun in a 7 handed game) shouldn't be in the hand under any circumstances, but I played my AJ and second pair timidly and it cost me (although not too much - it was small pot at the end).

My second hand was KK, which I raised from the button. I made the raise a tad bigger hoping it would look more like steal. Mr. Pietzak, to my left (lovely), defended the small blind, and then Fred A, Mr Q9 from earlier, made a speech about how he has to call
now since he has odds. I've seen Fred A make speeches with big hands before, but tonight he's jabbering away from some early cocktails and I don't think he's trying to set a trap. He calls and we're off. The board is all low junk, 6 high - some of this could easily be in Mr. Pietzak's range. They check and I bet the flop. Pietzak folds right away but Fred A calls. Hmm. Did he play 67 and hit top pair? Or maybe Ace-rag and hit the rag? Or maybe he has something like 77/88 and is just floating my "continuation bet"?

The turn is low again. There are two spades, but my kings are still a big overpair to the board.
Fred A checks again. Here's where I veer off the beaten path. The standard play is to bet again, put money into the pot with the best hand, protect against draws, blah, blah, blah. That's all good and correct. But if I check the turn, in position, I may allow Fred A to bet at lots of rivers, now thinking a smaller pair is good against my AK/AQ type hand. Of course, I run the risk of him catching up and hitting an ace, or two pair, or a set, or his flush. With the board all low cards, and with me holding the two black kings - I decided that the chances were more likely that he held some kind of pair rather than some type of draw. And, therefore, I was ok in giving him a free card to try and elicit a bet on the river from him. A pair has only 2-5 outs to beat me right now. I checked the turn, with the intention of calling basically anything except a large value bet with an ace on the river.

The river looked harmless enough - a red 7 or something, and as I expected, Fred lead out. I called and he showed me the 2-5 straight. 2-5? Mother of Christ, what a luckbox.

Now the questions - am I getting too cute for my own good? Should I have just raised up the AJ preflop and bet the kings heavy all the way down to the river? This is a good poker game, with many experienced players. I don't feel like I can play ABC poker all the time and win money, but of course you can't play every hand goofy, either. There's a definite balance there.

Actually, I probably ended up saving a ton of money with the kings. Fred A got his straight on the turn, so if I would have bet out again, he would have checkraised me, and I would have had an impossible decision to make - was he raising with 88/A6 and I was still way ahead, or was my overpair worth going broke over? I would have at least called the checkraise, and then had to call another large river value bet.

So what were these two hands - were they botched "slowplays", or are they "small ball", Negreanu-style?
Negreanu does say in his book that small ball poker will lose more small pots due to people catching up, but it will also win big pots when people overplay their KK against my 34s that hits hard.

I was down about $25 towards the end of the night. Mr solid player, Wiley, raised my blind and I caught a pair of queens in the hole. I re-raised a standard amount, which for his small stack meant shoving back or folding. He shoved. I wasn't thrilled with running a late night race against AK or being crushed by AA/KK, but Wiley's stack was small enough that I thought his range could include AQ or smaller pairs than my Queens, so I made the call. I was rewarded with dominating a pair of tens and doubled up.

This put me to within $5 of even, and that's where I ended the night.


Memphis MOJO said...

There's really no good solution, and I guess I'm not good enough to simply check/fold two pair yet. I lead out myself and get called by Q9.

Was there a possible flush out there? If not, whey didn't he raise with the nuts?

matt tag said...

no flush. Not sure why he didn't raise - maybe he just assumed we were chopping on the 4-to-a-straight board.

Wonder if I would have folded two pair to a normal raise.

Wiley said...

I got him to fold two pair once to a flush that hit on the turn, but he was drinking last night and splashing around, don't think he would have folded.

Plus, you *should* have made that "hero call" earlier, it would have made top billing on the blog and put me in a tailspin...

Solid Player!

matt tag said...

(clenches fist and shakes it at Wiley).