Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blessed are the meek.

Monthly live tourney last night - 44 players. Down to 15, and I'm down to 8 blinds. Pocket tens in middle position - good enough. I shove'em all in. Folds around to the big blind, who says in a conciliatory way - "I call". Pocket aces. No help for me on the board and I'm out. (second month in a row I shove into the bullets, by the way. No fun).

The play is fine, by a long shot. I'm hoping of course someone calls with 99/88, but am happy to take a race with AK/AQ too, where I'm a 56% favorite. Times are desperate, and an edge of 6% is plenty enough to gamble with.

6% isn't enough for some people to gamble - they want a little more assurance. Poker doesn't usually give you that kind of comfort, but last night I witnessed someone willingly turn down an enormous edge. It might have been the single worst poker play I have ever witnessed.

200-400 blinds, an average stack makes a standard raise. A man in the blinds calls. I have played much of the tourney with the caller - he is obviously inexperienced and nervous. He has made several errors during play - acting out of turn, forgetting to put his blind in, etc. The game has been friendly and helped him along to this point.

This time, though, he makes an egregious error - he flips his cards over, thinking his opponent is all in. Everyone at the table goes "woah-woah-woah" and holds their arms out trying to stop him - but it is too late, the table has seen his hand. King-Queen. He is not sure what he has done wrong, and 4 people trying to explain it to him at once isn't helping. The talking soon stops and someone says "nobody is all-in sir, you shouldn't have revealed your cards". He says "oh, sorry", and flips his king-queen back face down.

Bless his heart.

The action I have described above is not what I was previously alluded to as the worst poker play I have ever witnessed. That's still coming.

Ok, so we all know that the confused guy has KQ, and it's time to see a flop. The flop comes 8-9-T rainbow. A miss for the confused guy, but a jack would sure be a nice card. Confused guy has to act first, and he checks.

Let's put you into the action. You are the initial raiser. What is your play?

Oh wait, you can't answer the question - I haven't told you what you're holding yet.

Oh, wait again - I don't have to tell you what you're holding to answer the question. The correct answer is to push all your chips into the middle just as fast as you can. You shove in the morning, shove in the night, and shove twice on Sundays. Shoving is the right answer, and it is the right answer by an overwhelming margin. Taking any other action is a terrible, awful mistake.

That's not what happened. I was watching the initial raiser very closely because this was a unique, rare situation in a poker game, and I wanted to see what this guy would do. Here's what he did - he sighed, very deliberately and audibly. And then he checked behind.

And, that, my (few) readers, is the single worst poker play I have ever seen.

The turn and the river went the same way. Cards were dealt, confused guy checked with no pair and a gutshot straight draw, and the initial raiser (henceforth known as Meek guy) checked behind. They got to showdown without putting another chip into the pot, and Meek guy wins the showdown. He held ace-jack, and wins with unimproved ace-high

Now rewind back to the flop. You have raised with ace-jack. You get a caller in the blinds, and find out through a mistake that he holds king-queen. The board is dealt and you both miss, but you are a 3-1 favorite to win the hand, guaranteed. AJ vs KQ on a 89T board is about 74.2% to win. Meek guy, in one rare divine gift of the poker gods, knew for a fact he was a 3-1 favorite to win the hand, and decided not to put one chip into the pot.

As he dragged his chips over after the hand, I was dumbstruck. I should have kept my mouth closed, but I did not. "Why didn't you bet there, you were like a 70% favorite to win, and you knew it" (I was a bit low in my at-the-table math).

He replied. "What if he calls and hits his jack? - then I'm out of the tournament."

More dumbstructness. Utter gobsmacked-itude. I wanted to make some type of comment about how I would love to sit down in a game where I knew I was a 3-1 favorite every time, but I garbled it up and it came out way more condescending and directed at the original raiser than I intended. He replied back to my challenge "come on into a hand, then".

Meek guy passed up a 100% known, rock-solid 3-1 edge - a huge error - but I'm actually understating the magnitude of his mistake, and I'm understating it by quite a bit. (To quote David Sklansky), DUCY? My next post will elaborate.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

(second month in a row I shove into the bullets, by the way. No fun)

You need to work on this leak