Friday, January 29, 2010

REM process

In this post, I will study the "REM" (range, equity, maximize) thought process behind a hand and see if I played it well on each street.

Live Thursday night game, 8 players. .50/$1 blinds. I've got a bit of a crazy image - rare for me - who usually plays on the nitty side in live games. My cards have been good and my flops better. Earlier, I cutoff-raised 5h3h, got callers in both blinds, and hit a 533 flop. They checked, I bet, they both folded. Damn. I strategically showed my little cards - someone said "why bet such a monster? Let someone hit a card to catch up". I replied - "New rule for me. I don't check. I bet. I bet when I have it, I bet when I don't - you guys get to figure out which".

A bit dramatic, most probably, but it served to sound the bell.

Much later in the evening - my cards and play have tightened up a bit, but I've still been in enough pots to keep my image in play, I think. Middle position, I'm dealt the two black aces in the deck. Very nice. I raise up to a standard $3.

Only the big blind calls. He plays tight and solid. Usually straightforward. Does not make critical errors. Knows the math and isn't afraid to push hard with high equity hands.

We see a flop of king-eight-three rainbow. About as dry as you could hope for when not wanting your aces cracked. But also not much for a tight solid villain to chase you with.

He checks. My first thought is checking for some deception on this bone dry board - but this doesn't fit my new wild image. "I bet when I have it, and I bet when I don't". I've got "it" right now - so I need to bet.

I bet $4, and Mr. blind checkraises me to $10.

Well then, that's a new development. A checkraise from a solid, straightforward player. Time to put the opponent on a range of possible hands.

A king. AK/KQ/KJ. Maybe KT suited, but I think that's a bit weak for this player's style. Ace-king less likely because he might have three bet preflop, but I would not discount it. (players often alternate between 3betting and just calling with big slick).

Pocket Pairs. Started off setmining, and is now testing to see if I can beat that king on the board myself. ("I bet when I have it and also when I don't", if you'll recall. Maybe I don't have it this time.). I would give less credit to pocket queens and maybe jacks, which would more likely 3bet preflop.

An eight. Suited 89/87, maybe. Middle pair, and testing my c-bet.

Total Air: Ace-jack, ace-queen, jack-ten suited - just testing me and my wild image with a checkraise bluff.

Something that's actually beating me. There are no two-pair combos on this board for this player. That leaves pocket threes, eights, or kings. Pocket kings almost always 3bet preflop, so I mostly discount those.

The next step in the REM process is "equity". As you would expect on a bone dry board, the range I have assigned above is almost entirely one pair hands, all of which I beat of course with my aces. Furthermore, all of these hands are drawing very thin to beat me - pocket pairs have 2 outs to set up. A connected-eight has 5 outs to beat me. Kings have 5 outs to beat me, except for ace-king, which only has 2. My equity is very good in this hand against his range.

Now for the "M" part - maximize. I have decided I am well ahead of his range, and he has little hope of catching me, so I want to maximize the size of the pot. So what line do I take? Let's review the options:

Reraise his checkraise: This line is a clear sign that I'm ready to play for stacks. What hands in his range are ready to go to the wall with me? Ace-King, maybe. Maybe. The sets that are beating me, for sure. All of the other hands above would be forced to fold, unless they like getting all-in with second pair, or top pair, mediocre kicker. This player is too solid to call all-in with those holdings.

Calling. I have position in this hand. If I call, he will be forced to act again. With a good king, he will want to bet again to get value for his top pair. This will be more true if the board starts to look dangerous - he will feel the need to protect his pair. All smaller pairs than a king will probably check and give me the lead.

So it looks like the clear choice is calling here, and hoping I get another bet on the turn, as opposed to blowing him off of the majority of his holdings. I make the call.

The turn is a nine of hearts. There are now two hearts on the board. The blind leads out for $8.

Not much has changed here. One hand, 89, has pulled ahead of me. I am also lending less weight to any pairs below the king - this player probably wouldn't push the action this hard (checkraise/lead) with second pair. So my equity is pretty much unchanged with this card.

I think my line here is the same - if I raise, he throws most of his hands away, except maybe ace-king and the few hands that are beating me. If I call, there's a better chance of him firing the river with all of his kings. I'm also controlling the pot size on the off chance that he is ahead of me. (the joy of position, part 231). I make the call.

The river is a brick that helps nobody - a two or four, I believe. My opponent thinks for a second and makes the same $8 bet as the turn.

This looks like a blocking bet to me - he's not sure if he's ahead or behind, and doesn't want to check and have to call a large river bet. I put him squarely on ace/king, king/queen or king/jack now. Sets and 8/9 two pair bets larger on the river. Pairs under the king don't fire three times.

Can he stand to call a small river raise? Probably. If I make it $8-10 more, he has tempting odds to call with top pair. My line looks goofy - call a checkraise, call a turn bet, then raise the river on a draw-less board. What could I have? Not much to put me on - he would have to call to make sure I'm not bluffing at him, and I squeak another 10 blinds or so out of the pot.

I chicken out in the end. I call the river instead of raising. As I make the call, my opponent questions me with "ace-king?", asking if that's what I have. This tells me he has KQ or KJ. I'm right - king/queen, but with an unexpected twist - both are hearts. He had picked up a flush draw to go with his top pair on the turn, and thus had many many more outs to catch me.

Very sneaky. Once you weigh someone's holdings to one pair hands, it's hard to expand your read to include straight/flush draws on the turn, and thus include all of the combo draws. I wonder if the pros can do this.

Had I figured out the possibility of him holding top pair and a flush draw, then the best play would have been to raise the turn, of course. He probably (correctly) plays for his stack with this solid hand, and he either has 14 outs holding king-queen or king-jack (9 hearts+ 2 kings + 3 queens/jacks) or just 11 holding ace-king. Either way, I'm a 3-1 to 4-1 favorite to win the hand.

I'm not good enough to piece together a combo draw as it improves, so I missed a potential play there. I also missed a small value raise on the river, where I was nearly sure what he held, and would have probably had to have called a small raise. So there's more room for improvement.

But I still won $29 from him with a one pair hand - where I'm sure I would have won less had I blasted him off his checkraise on the flop, in which case I would have won only $13. So my "REM" process was working pretty well, overall. Let's give it a solid B with room for improvement.

1 comment:

The Poker Meister said...

I'm not quite sure why you're putting him on a range - correctly, might I add - but not going to value town on the river. I realize that this post is 2 months old, but I hope your play has changed where you do seek value on the river. The river is where you can derive a lot of value for your hands. There are far more hands that you're ahead of than behind.

Although, yes, it sucks that the 9 puts a heart draw out there as a backdoor, you can deduce the holdings for your villain to a few hands that beat you, and many more (predominantly) Kx hands that don't beat you:

You can discount the 8x and 2x hands because a straightforward player is generally not raising the flop with middle / bottom pairs like this, especially when you PFR'ed and led the flop. You are certainly scared of K9, but overwhelmingly more than likely, you opponent has a broadway King-type hand.

You're correct in that you put a goofy line out there; PFR -> c/b/c -> c... but I think you can seriously value town this guy on the river. Without seeing initial stacks, and assuming you both started 100BBs full, you have $42 in the pot by the river, facing an $8 bet to win $50. Essentially, you have 1/4 stacks in the middle. A raise to $25 would likely get a call, given the river card and your opponent thinks the same as you: it didn't help either of you. By the turn and river, he's betting scared (note he's betting LESS than he raised on the flop; a $10 flop raise -> $8 turn and river bet). I think in any and all cases, by the river, you've got him CRUSHED and he kinda knows it. Put him to the test to get more money.

All of that said, I like the cautious call behind on the flop. However, when he leads $8 on the turn, I think it's pretty clear you're ahead and should be raising here. Without thinking he turned a flush draw, you're getting more money in the pot for a good-sized river bet... essentially setting up to stack him on what is more-than-likely a Kx hand. Even the smallest of raises; $16-20, makes the river pot much easier to shove or get 3/4 stacks in.