Friday, April 16, 2010

The suicide bluff

Thursday night cash game got rolling a bit late, which is becoming the norm. Ticks me off - why can't we start 2 hours earlier and squeeze in another 50 hands or so?

I'm down about $10, active in plenty of pots due to some good cards early and some late position play, when I raise up 67 in early position. I make it $4. Mr. Pietzak calls from the blinds - he is ultra loose right now, up quite a bit of money and riding a nice hot streak. It would be accurate to say that his calling range is wide right now. Wide is probably too light a word. Any two cards might be close.

Flop is ten, eight, rag. All different suits, with one of my diamonds. Mr. Pietzak donks $5 or $6 (can't remember) into me.

Not much equity in this pot. A baby-gutshot and a backdoor flush draw. About 20% equity. The standard play is to fold, of course. The correct play is to fold. Or is it?

20% pot equity if my 9 or backdoor flush comes. If I can get him to fold 31% of the time, I've got a 51%, and therefore winning, poker play. Can I get him to fold a third of his range here? Well, since his range is so wide, he could have any part of this board, or simply overs thinking I missed. His larger bet feels more like a "push" bet - like he has a piece but would rather I fold. If he were on a draw himself (79), I would think the bet might be smaller to set his own price, or he might even check/call.

All of this rips through my mind in about .2 seconds. Before his bet is in the middle of the pot, I decide on an action.

"I'm all in".

It's a bit of a stunning move for our sleepy, end of week game, and maybe even more-so for me. The table kind of collectively shifts into better posture to re-focus on the action. I count out my stack - $34 more bucks. (we rarely start with full stacks in this game, an odd holdover from the "other" batch of players that merged with my group to form this game. I started with $50/blinds tonight and was down about $10).

As I counted it out, I realized how bluffy my all-in shove probably looked. Not good for me on the surface. However, Pietzak and I got into a bluffing war the last time we tangled in the live game, maybe he remembers that hand as well and figures I'm trying to look bluffy and get paid off.

"I told myself that if you shoved I was calling" he says out loud. There's a chance this is a load of crap, only because this overbet is so out of character for me, he might not have even considered the possibility of me making this move. "A move or jacks, matthau, a move or jacks?" he asks twice. He asks for a count one more time, saying "$34"?. I slowly, deliberately count it out. I feel like I might appear nervous, but then again that might work in my favor too - I have been known to be unable to control some jitters when I have a big hand.

Finally, Mr. Pietzak says "why not?" and drops a stack of reds and whites into the pot. There goes my 31% equity, and I'm down to 20. I flip my bluff over, Mr Pietzak made his call with queen-ten off. Top Pair, medium kicker, but waaaaay ahead of me.

No help on the turn, and no backdoor diamond either. 4 outs to being stacked. Not great. Then, the miracle river. Nine of clubs. Bailed out by the poker gods.

Not fun to get called with your stack in the middle and 20% equity, but I still like the play. Villain's range is sooo wide and I know it, there simply aren't many hands he can call with. He happened to hit top pair and put me on a bluff with his expert-level reading skills, but there were so many hands he could hold that couldn't have stood the heat. And, if I'm wrong or he did in fact hit the top of his range, I've got a bit of equity to bail me out, which is what happened here.

Maybe higher variance than I'm used to, but good poker.


Nomad said...

Gutsy bluff. I like it. Sounds like your friend doesn't like to fold so you may consider that 20% is usually only 20%. An entertaining read as always. :-)

matt tag said...

he can fold- this is a bit of metagame/history going on.

AW said...

Nice catch, but I don't think the bluff was too out of line. His range has to include more than just top pair hands, although he does look like he often won't fold. Sounds like you know your villain well, though, and it does look like a calculated decision instead of a lapse in judgment. NH