Friday, March 12, 2010

good enough to fold an ace high flush?

BIG turnout at my Thursday night cash game had us at 2 tables for awhile. Some new and infrequent players made for some new challenges and opportunities.

The first two hours I felt like a fat kid in front of the bakery window, with no money. I got to watch lots of chasing and bad play but I had no cards to do anything about it.

My table position didn't allow for aggression. The player right behind me was the classic calling station. "All I needed was that 5 to hit" he would say and flash the weak gutshot (on the all 3 flush board, of course). Other bad players were trying to bully the pots, and the calling station was not up for being bullied.

I moved to the second table halfway through and my cards improved. I dug out back to a couple bucks over even, but I wasn't happy with this. I played a suited ace in position. Flop comes ace-queen-rag, a new Australian dude makes a bet - just like every other flop that he's been in. I play my new favorite game "you don't have an ace, I have an ace" game and raise him (this game is more fun when you actually DO have an ace, but it's not required of course). He pushes all in almost instantly, and I'm not quite desperate enough to call the all-in with a 5 kicker. He shows his set of queens - I've picked the wrong time to test his continuation bet.

Late in the evening, back at one table, I try the suited ace on the button game again, calling a raise from the same Australian. Mr. Pietzak is sandwiched in between. This time, the flop is more to my liking - three hearts, and whaddya know - I've got the ace of hears and a rag heart to go with it! A lovely development. I hear the carnival music spin up in my head as the Australian bets and Mr. Pietzak calls. Time to raise? Nah, I think an overcall is best here- one of them might draw to a smaller flush.

The turn pairs the top card on the board, a king. The carnival music in my head starts to make that cartoony sound where it dies down like a machine out of juice. Those paired boards might be bad news to the nut flush, huh?

Australian guy bets again. Mr. Pietzak folds. My head is clear and I'm on my game tonight - so I go through my options of his possible holdings.

Full house: KJ/JJ/55/K5. If he has the floating boat, he's betting big on the river, and, unless I fold, all the money will get in.

Aces: he can't have the ace of the flush card b/c I have it. This player seems good enough that he would fold to a raise here, with 2 kings and 3 hearts out there. I will win this pot unless the case ace comes on the river.

Ace-King. Trip kings, but he can't have a flush card then (the ace is in my hand, the king is on the board). Hard for players to fold high trips, he might do it, though.

King-Queen or pocket queens with the queen of hearts. This would be nice - trips and a redraw to a second best flush. He would be drawing very thin.

Some smaller pocket pair with a heart redraw. Not very strong.

There's only one big choice to make - am I willing to fold the nut flush on this hand? Smart or not, my decision is no, I'm not willing to fold it. I'm not good enough to calculate my equity live now that the board is paired, but I figure there are still plenty of hands I'm ahead of, and lots of hands that think they have redraws to a flush I already hold. Once I decide I'm not going to fold, then the choice is easy - I need to raise NOW while he still thinks he has redraws, because he probably won't call a big river bet with QQ or KQ after the river bricks. My action won't matter when I'm already losing, but to maximize on the hands I'm winning, we need to get it all in before the last card is dealt.

I raise to $25, committing myself to the hand. He doesn't look too happy, but he goes all in for his last $18 more. I make the trivial call, thinking he'll turn over KQ with the queen of diamonds.

No such luck. Pocket jacks. He's not thrilled b/c he's got the underboat and figures I have the king and possible way to overboat him, but in reality I'm drawing dead. We deal the meaningless river and I ship most of my chips over to him.

I gauge my mental state after the hand - it's strong. I'm not upset. Did I play the hand poorly? Does anyone fold the best flush as soon as the board pairs, ESPECIALLY a king - when there are so many trip kings in his possible hand range? I don't think so. Maybe a pro can put a villain on such a lockdown solid range that he knows his flush is most likely behind - I'm not good enough to do that. I'm also facing an aggressive, good player who is keeping the pressure on with bets on every street - I don't have to take his betting as gospel.

I tried to put a range in for this player, once he goes all in. Here's what I came up with.


You need Hold'em ranger to calculate equities using this syntax. KQh means he has a king and specifically the queen of hearts. The (50) means that these hands are only half as likely as the others. vs. this range, my equity is 55%.

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