Friday, December 18, 2009

Perceived Range

Thursday night cash game - a big turnout of 11 with several first time players.

Cards didn't come early. The table was ultra-limpy and my hands had no value, implied or otherwise. Punishing limpers would have been done as a straight bluff. I did try it once with KJ, whiffed the flop, then had my C-Bet checkraised by Mr. Pietzak.

In that past I would have been discouraged by a move like this that didn't work out, but I felt good about it. I played aggressively and got caught. Move on, keep playing your game.

Meanwhile, I got to see what these new cats were up to, and it was no good. And by this, I mean they were, for the most part, no good. One weaky-tighty who played 4 pots all night, then made a critical turn check with pocket kings and let the ace+plus+flush+draw catch his river ace. One limpy-never-raisy whose chips just shuffled around the table, away from him. Call, call, call, lose showdown. "Damn, why can't my hand hold up?". A third aggro-any-two that you couldn't put on a hand because a JJ5 board might be a full house, a K23 board might be two pair, and he was betting every time.

I knew how to beat each of these guys - I just needed the right situation to get it done, and the situations weren't coming.

When I was about $25 down and hadn't played a hand in 3 orbits, I decided it was time to make something happen on my own. Yet another limped pot on my button, I made the decision to raise just about anything playable and play it hard. Sounds great in theory until you look down at eight-five offsuit. Yeesh. I steeled my nerve and made it six bucks to go.

Mr. Pietzak obliges my raise and puts some more money in the pot. He's well ahead on the night and has been giving action with his typical oh-so-wide variety of holdings - it wasn't going to be easy narrow his range much here, but I was going to try.

We ponder a flop of 4-6-8. Top pair, gutshot for me. No flush possibilities. Mr. Pietzak looks at the board for a few seconds, which gives me time to do some range-narrowing. He likely doesn't have an overpair - he raises nines+ preflop, especially over limpers. His pause in reading the board is an indication that he might have low cards, and like me is counting up the straights in his head. Two broadway overcards don't have much to think about.

I take an extra second to choose my action. I know I'm going to bet here, but I have to decide what I'm going to do if I get raised. Time to "click up" in thinking one more time to 3rd level thinking - or "what does he think I have"? I've been watching StoxPoker videos this week whose theme is 3rd level thinking, or what the instructor perfectly tags "perceived range", so it's time to try and use what I've learned.

Mr. Pietzak pegs me as a mostly-tight player - playing big, straightforward cards. If I bet here, he can easily put me on whiffed ace-face, and reraise me as a test with a pair/gutshot type hand of his own - thinking he outflopped me unless I have a big pair.

My 5-8o holding is very different than my perceived range, and those situations are good ones to apply pressure. I decide that if he raises my c-bet, I'm going to push all in. I truly think I'm ahead by hitting my eight. I'm not sure my 5 is a good out for two pair, as it might complete straights for his baby-holdings, but I've got 4 outs of equity with my gutshot, and probably two more for my eight unless he has 68, 78 or 89. That would surely suck, as would falling into some tricky-slowplayed-trap that he's laying, but I've got two more buyins in my pocket, and at the least I would wake up this sleepy table by felting 58o here and give 'em something to talk about.

I bet. Pietzak asks me how much I have left - he's thinking hard about his equity and whether he can get me off ace-king. I almost hope he raises now - I've been sitting like a lump for the most part and it wouldn't hurt to stir up some action here. In the end, he folds with not enough to continue. I'm thinking he held an ace-four type of hand and bottom pair + overcard was close but just not quite close enough to put the screws to me.

I'm still wondering what it means if he calls with 79 or 89 and I lose. Is this hand a solid attempt at aggression in the right situation, with a well-reasoned line of thinking that just didn't work out for me, or is it a donkey going broke on top-pair-no-kicker with five-friggin-eight? It's a thin line.

Of the three new players, I end up making my money back on Mr. limpy-never-raisy. Again with 5-8, this time in the big blind, and this time both clubs. Ace-Six-Nine is the board this time in a limped pot, and two clubs to give me a legitimate draw. Mr Pietzak bets small from the small blind - Raising is probably the best option here with a flush draw plus a gutshot, but I decline the best option and call instead, hoping to hit my outs. Mr. limpy-never-raisy calls as well. This worries me a little - he might have the same, but higher flush draw as I do now.

The turn brings a second ace and Pietzak bets again, $3 into a $8 pot. I've got him on second pair or trip aces with a kicker he's not thrilled with in this limped pot, so all my outs should overtake him. I call again and so does limpy. If I hit my flush and he raises, I have to seriously consider folding.

The flush comes on the river - the 2 of clubs. Mr. Pietzak checks - no strong hand for him. I have to get value from trip aces and various "two pair" hands (counting the two aces on the board). At the last moment, I reason that this player probably won't raise me even with the nut flush on this paired-ace board. He'll worry about a full house and just call. (in fact, I think I've seen him raise exactly one time all night). Based on this, I feel that I need to bet on the bigger side - to get max value when I'm ahead, and with less of a chance of having to make a tough river decision upon a raise. I make it $11 into a $17 pot and as expected he calls, then shows ace-six. My flush takes the pot.

Top pair for the limper, then trips on the turn - no raise anywhere. He could have raised ace-six in late position preflop, or on the flop with top pair, or the turn with trips, but failed to do so three times.
He keeps me in and I catch him for a nice takedown. Thank goodness for that.

Total night's profit - 50 big blinds - and just enough to pay for me tourney buy-in this weekend.

1 comment:

FransnV said...

Mr. Pietzak must be a Dutch-speaking person from Belgium. Pietzak means litteraly "sack of a dick",but it has the same meaning as "lucky bastard". Interesting hands and choices like 4betting the JTs against one of the blinds. Against a donkey those moves never work. Good luck at the tables!