Friday, January 14, 2011

Edge of Profitability

Thursday night cash game, 3rd orbit of the table. I'm the dealer this time around. Someone bumps the pot up to $2 - a minraise. The callers do what they do best and start calling.

My turn to act - I check my cards and find eight-nine offsuit. A resounding "meh" of a hand. Almost always a throwaway, especially to a raise. But the minraise is hardly a raise at all, and we'll most likely enter a multi-way pot with me last to act on all rounds. It would certainly qualify as a loose call by me - but I take the chance to play a hand on the button, where sometimes you can simply bet if everyone checks and win a pot without cards. I flip in two white chips.

6 of us see a rainbow K-5-6 board. Not much doing for me - a 7 makes me a monster, but I haven't hit this board hard enough. Still, I might be able to bet if everyone checks to me. It gets to the player to my right, and he makes a tiny $2 bet.

Hmm. $2 into a $12 pot? Math time. I've got to call $2 into $14, or 7-1 odds. I need to be good 1/(7+1) = 12.5% of the time. My 7 will hit the turn roughly 8% of the time, so I don't have direct odds to call. But let's look a bit closer. There are several people left to act after me (who have all checked once this street), and some of them might call, giving me more direct odds. Add to that the fact that my 8 or 9 might pair, and there's a chance this pair might give me the winning hand as well! I mean, why did this guy bet $2 into a $12 pot? Two reasons I can think of:

  • He has a king, but a weak kicker (believe me, K-2 is not a toss-away hand in my home game).
  • He hit one of the bottom cards. (with an ace-five or somesuch).

So let's say either is likely, meaning there's a 50% chance that an eight or nine gives me the best hand. There are 3 eights and 3 nines left in the deck, so we'll say that half of them will improve me, meaning I can count myself as having 7 outs instead of 4. Let's run the math again - 7 cards will come roughly 14% of the time, and my pot odds say I need 12.5% winning chances to call. Direct pot odds, baby! How many times do you get direct pot odds to call a gutshot draw in No-Limit-Texas Holdem? Not very often. I didn't even have to talk about implied odds, either (which is good, because all signs in this hand point to nobody having anything. Implied odds don't work when everyone folds when you hit your hand).

To review, I've made a loose button call with eight-nine offsuit, and I've made a borderline but pot-odds-correct gutshot call of a $2 bet into a $14 pot. One of the checkers also calls, improving my pot odds even more.

All this wrangling and thought would go out the window for almost every turn card, of course - an ace or a queen or a deuce or a second five - none of these cards help me, and most likely someone bets a real amount and I end up folding, costing me $4 on the hand. But on this night, for this hand, all my borderline, on-the-edge of good/bad play comes in - in the form of the seven of clubs on the turn. My weak-ass hand has magically transformed into stone-cold nut straight.

This is all exciting enough, but what follows the turning of the seven is even better. The first checker fires out a $5 bet (small in terms of the pot, but big in terms of "I have a hand", at least for this player). Better still, WM (who originally bet $2 into $12) puts in a raise to $11! So it seems like somebody has something after all. Hard to say exactly what - All King-rag two pairs are possible here. 3-4 has just made a straight. Did pocket sevens just hit a set? Lots of "good" hands to give action now, and I have the nuts, so time to show them what's what. I make it $25 to go. Right after I make my bet, I don't like my sizing - too small. If someone calls me, I'll have about $70 left, but the pot will only be about $65. A river shove will be a slight overbet. Ah... close enough. My fears are allayed, however, when not one, but both players call the $25! Yikes.

Ok, review the board one more time - the seven has put a second club out there, so a third club would hurt a bit. I've got two pair as the most likely hand, so I don't think I'll like the board pairing much either. Plenty of river cards to dodge. Since I'm the dealer, I get to deliver my own fate. I flip the river card to show... the ten of spades. My straight just got longer, and it's still the stone nuts.

Both players check to me. I work out the pot size - $75 went in on the turn, and some amount on the flop and preflop. What were those numbers again? Oh, wait, let's try it this way. What's left in my stack? Well, it's early, I started with $100, I've put $29 into the pot so far. I've got about $70 behind right now, and more than that went in on the turn alone. Easy decision.

"I'm all in".

The first player lets out a big sigh. Good news for me - no 8-9 chop from him. He sits back in his chair and works through it. "You really have 8-9?" he says. I try to act calm and natural (probably a tell) - sipping a drink, fiddling with my chips. (I should probably go in "lockdown, head on the table" mode in the future). He takes a full minute to consider and says "this is the worst laydown I've ever made, but I fold". Damn.

Guy to my right says "I've only got $29 left, I call". He shows pocket sixes for a set. I flip my 8-9, and the first guy lets out a cry and reverses himself "the best laydown I ever made!", grabs his cards back, and shows 3-4 for the sucker side straight. Wow. Good laydown indeed.

So WM bet $2 into a $12 pot with a set, trying to keep people in, but he did it too well. He kept in the gutshot (and open-ended) straight to whack him. I've been there.

That's really the only hand of consequence on the night. My stack bobs up and down around an 80 big blind profit - I end with 93 blinds to the positive. My online game has been a trainwreck all week, but my live play is still alive and well. Different poker gods, I guess.

1 comment:

Banks said...

If that would have been me against WM, he would have Rivered me with quads.