Friday, January 15, 2010

tuning in

It's not consistent yet, not by a long shot, but occasionally I find myself playing a poker hand like a pro would play. It's a bit like watching a fuzzy, static-filled TV screen suddenly clear up and you see things you never saw before.

Mind you, you might not always like what you see. Last night I raised up 2 limpers with pocket jacks, one player across the table called. We saw a queen-queen-ten flop. My first instinct was to check, out of position, following the old "way-ahead-way-behind" mentality, but then the static fuzz in my head tuned out and I started to think about what you're supposed to think about - hand ranges.

We've got a limp/call opponent here - his range is wide, and overall weak. If I bet here, I get value from all his lower pocket pairs, and any ten-x hand except queen ten.

I make my bet - just over half pot. As he considers calling, I check his stack. He started off low (guys don't like to top up their stacks in our game, for some reason), and is pretty close to committed. With the static still gone, I reason that there is no problem getting all-in vs. this low stack vs. his range right now on this board.

He does call. The turn comes low, not scary for my pocket jacks, and I bet half his stack. He puts the rest in, and, I call - confidently. He flips over queen-ten for the stone, immortal nuts, and I am drawing dead.

The hand doesn't faze me in the least bit. I got my money in well ahead of his entire range. Even though I was drop-over dead this time, I felt like had made a winning play. Nice hand, sir.

Oh, and keep calling raises with queen-ten. Thanks.

Later in the evening, late position with king-jack. I follow some limpers. My online self would reraise and isolate with this hand, but I still sometimes have trouble bringing my online self into my live game. Something I definitely need to work on.

We get a king high flop, and ragged. King-eight-something. Not drawy. I've been betting at every flop tonight, so I certainly don't want to stop now, with top pair. I bet. Mr. Pietzak, my old friend, raises me up to $10. Actually, he checkraises me. My inner nit says "run for the hills! Run!", but I take an extra second to reason it out, and, in that second, I feel the static clearing again.

I start considering the table dynamic. Mr. Pietzak has done ok tonight, but he hasn't beaten me yet. I got him to pay off three streets of value with my kings full (though my bet sizes were too small, gotta work on that too). This might be a "making a stand" hand against me.

His range is weak. There are no draws yet. I have top pair, and I'm not terribly worried about my kicker (KQ/AK would more likely be found in a raised pot, this is a limped pot). Finally, I have position. I call his checkraise, and decide to see what the turn brings.

The turn is low. Still no straights or flushes. Mr. Pietzak bets $15.
A solid bet. I glance at his chips, and he immediately sizes them up and offers up that he has about $20 behind.

Hold the phone...

He immediately sizes them up and offers up that he has about $20 behind.

He wanted me to know he was pot committed. He wanted me to know that he wasn't going anywhere. He wanted me to know that he looks strong.

Which could obviously mean that he's weak.

Conflicting information swirling all around me. A checkraise and a solid lead. Looks strong. Counting his chips (without me asking) to tell me what he has left behind. Looks weak. His inability to win a pot against me so far tonight. Could mean he's forcing the action.

All the swirling information would usually just cause me to fold and wonder all night if I folded the best hand. But one additional, ever-present piece of information tipped the scales, and in one of my rare moments of static-free clarity, that
piece of information popped into my mind and stayed there.

His range is weak.

I might lose this hand like I did with the pocket jacks - to some bizarre two pair or the ever-lurking baby set. Or he may have played AK or a huge preflop hand in a sneaky way. But if I discount the sneaky play (tipping my cap to him if he fools me), then the rest of his overall range is weak, and won't like further pressure.

I announce that I'm all in. With top pair, and a meh kicker.

Mr. Pietzak exhales his pent up, tell-reducing poker face, and grimaces. He tosses his cards into the muck.


BLAARGH! said...

heya matt, on the jj hand, consider raising a bit more pf if they're not folding to whatever you raised with.. jj is great pf, sucks post. And I would think there are plenty of Q's in his flatting range - AQ KQ JQ TQ, maybe even 9Q depending on your pf raise. But having said that, you're correct - you're way ahead of his range there - if you give him about 17%
assuming he's rr w/ JJ+ AK you're almost 70% ahead here. Unfortunately no way for you to get away if he's so shortstacked - might have been a better idea to raise enough to put him in pf, always keep an eye out for stack sizes when making your moves.

matt tag said...

great advice, thank you. I need to keep track of stacks better during live play