Friday, February 4, 2011

Tilt Control Practice

Cash game stunk for me last night cards-wise. Aces cracked by a set, two pair knocked out twice, calling stations hitting gutshots on me. I still managed to lose only 80BB, and I kept a decent attitude and didn't grouse or sulk my way through the evening. We'll call it a success on that front. A losing poker session is better than no poker session, and we had skipped our cash game for two weeks.

One hand gave me a tricky river decision, but it wasn't for a ton of cash so it didn't make or break me. I raised ace-queen from up front, saying something along the lines of "I haven't raised in a few orbits, let's try that". PC replied with "well, I finally have a hand so I'm going to call". He had position on me. I took his statement to mean broadway cards.

The board was all low with two clubs, and I didn't cbet. PC would just raise with any part of this board - top pair, small overpair, even a pocket pair under the top card. He often assumes his opponent has nothing and just raises (whether theses raises actually accomplish anything poker-wise is worthy of discussion). But out of position against PC isn't much fun when you have nothing, and PC is perfectly willing to pay a big price when you have something, so a check is the correct play. PC checks behind, which is odd for him. As I said, he likes to bet, with any made hand. Any pair is worthy of chasing out any non-pair in his eyes. PC doesn't slowplay sets, he doesn't check for deception. I took his checking to mean he also had nothing, which supported my earlier read of him having two broadway cards.

The turn brought some help - a queen. Top/Top for me, and I figured I was now ahead. I bet $4 into the pot, and PC raised. His raises are almost always minraises, so he made it 4 more. I knew this meant unequivocally that he had a queen in his hand also. He didn't have QQ, that would have brought a 3bet preflop, or a bet postflop. So he had queen-jack, or queen-king, or ace-queen, just like me. With my ability to narrow his hand range down so perfectly, and knowing I was ahead of or tied with that range, I probably could have re-raised the pot right there, and PC was willing to call (he often loses the kicker battle with his top-pair hands). But I'm not big on playing a large pot with a one pair hand, either - I felt like the best way to play it out was to call the turn and then value bet the river. (most likely sub-optimal play by me, if I know so strongly that I stand ahead in the hand, why not play for a big pot?).

The river brought another surprise - an ace, giving me top two. The ace also happened to be a club, putting three on the board. My river decision became harder now. My hand improved, but the ability to value bet actually went down, since that ace was over most of his likely holdings, all of which I was ahead of anyway. Still, I felt like some value was left in a bet, so I kept it small, $7 into a $23 pot. Here was the shocker - PC raises again, on the river, bumping it 7 more.

I was definitely calling the $7 into a $37 pot - I needed to have the best hand only 16% of the time for a call to be correct. We were heading into fixed limit poker territory with the betting of this hand. But I couldn't for the life of me figure out what he held in his hand. PC is pretty straightforward. He wasn't slowplaying aces. He didn't have queens, or any other set. I didn't think he had a queen-seven type two-pair (he IS capable of playing these junky hands, but his preflop announcement "I too finally have a hand worth playing" made me discount that). He didn't have an Ace-rag two pair, as he would have bet before the turn, and not raised it with one pair. He wasn't raising KQ or QJ with an ace on the river. The only thing that beat me here was a flush - but he wouldn't have raised a naked draw on the turn, and I would have thought he might have simply bet the flop with a flush draw instead of checking. I finally came to the conclusion that his most likely holding was the same hand as mine - ace-queen. It fit his betting actions to a T. I called the bet and expected mostly to chop.

I turned out to be one card off. He didn't have ace-queen, he had king-queen, but they also both happened to be clubs, for the nut flush. PC scooped the pot.

Not great of me to see that PC could have had both a queen AND a flush draw on this particular board. If I could have seen that, I could have been able to call out his hand on the river almost exactly (I would have said KQ or QJ), and perhaps would have folded the river (ehh, probably not, getting 5.4:1 odds with top two pair).

Reading those combo draws are tricky. I still felt pretty good about my ability to narrow PC down to a very small number of hands, I just missed the possibility of a made hand and a good backup draw to go with it.

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