Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Don't get tilted about the rules... matter how stupid they may be. Excellent advice in a new blog post from Tommy Angelo.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Superb Owl poker (conclusion)

I finally decided to call. I can't give you even a lick of math to justify it, but my sense was that the number of ways I could be ahead, the number of ways I could catch up if I were behind, and the size of the pot made it worth the further investment.

Our hole cards were revealed, and he had almost the worst possible cards: J-10. (The worst would have been 9-9, which would leave me with 8 cards for a chop, just 1 for the win.) So he had, in fact, done what I had quickly concluded he almost surely had not done--paid $25 for just a gutshot straight draw. Of course, they were soooooted, which explains his pre-flop call.

The odds were, obviously, not in my favor at this point. The Poker Pro table stats showed him at 77% to win, me only 23%.

But once in a while, the good guys win in spite of blundering. A beautiful, beautiful 6 hit the river, giving me a full house and my biggest pot of the night--about $375.

New article at PokerNews

My third article for PokerNews has now been posted:

As always, the whole series can be found here:

Monday, February 03, 2014

Superb Owl poker*

Yesterday Nina (aka Cardgrrl) and I drove out to Harrah's Cherokee. My idea of poker rooms during the big game was formed by years in Vegas--promotions galore, every table full, action to beat the band.

Alas, I learned last night that things are just not the same in a casino without a sports book. Apparently, if people can't bet on the game, they're not much interested in watching the game from a casino. Huh. Who knew? (This is the kind of thing that you might think would be obvious to me in advance, but since I don't engage in other forms of gambling, it isn't. I'm generally pretty ignorant about how most people approach gambling.)

The poker room had only two $1-2 tables going, and they were heavily populated with the local regulars--not what I had had in mind.

It has been a very long time since I posted about a difficult decision and let you, my adoring readers, ponder what you would do in my place. Last night I had a hand that might make for a good one.

I had bought in for $200, and at this point in the festivities was up to about $325. I was under the gun with 8c-8d and made a small raise, to $6. A few people called before the small blind (who had me covered by $100 or so) reraised to $13. She was the tightest player at the table, and I had never seen her three-bet before. That she would do it from bad position made it even more obvious that she had one of only three hands: Q-Q, K-K, or A-A.

However, her raise was small enough and her stack big enough to make it worth set-mining, so I called. One other player called behind me--by far the most inexperienced and erratic player in the game. I had already stacked him once when I made a straight and he wouldn't fold two pair to my all-in check-raise. So we're taking the flop three ways, with a pot of about $50.

The flop was 6h-7d-9c, giving me an open-ended straight draw, and mostly extinguishing my worries of getting on the wrong end of set over set. Small blind bet $25. Both of us called, pushing the pot to about $125.

Turn was the 8h, giving me a set and putting a second heart on the board. Small blind checked. I checked, too, suddenly unsure of where things stood. Rookie immediately clicked all in for about $125, just about the size of the pot. Small blind sighed and folded.

So it was to me. What should I do? What does he have? Is it worth risking that much when I could be way behind? I had about $285 left at this point; losing another $125 wouldn't break me, but it would wipe out all my profit for the session plus some, and would be pretty demoralizing.

Of course with four to a straight on the board, I had to consider the possibility that he already had a straight. But as I tanked, I kept coming back to the fact that if he had a straight, he had to have either flopped and slow-played it with 10-8 or 5-8, or he had paid $25 on the flop to draw to a gutshot. In the latter case, he could have any hand with a 10 in it (A-10 down to 10-10), or perhaps 5-5. But despite his general inexperience, I just didn't think he would put in $25 to hit one of four outs, when he had to expect that he would be charged an even heftier price to see the river. Nor did I think that he would have stuck with 10-8 or 5-8 after a preflop reraise. (I'm not going to explore what he might have thought his two opponents had, because I think he was at the level of basically playing just the strength of his own cards, and had almost no hand-reading skill.)

But if both of those surmises were correct, then what was he doing? Did he flop and slow-play a set? Two pair, perhaps having started with 6-7 suited connectors? (After all, in our earlier clash, he had proven himself willing to go to the mat for two pair when every other player at that table would have known it was no good.) Maybe he had 9-10 suited for flopped top pair and gutshot and that had been enough to keep him interested. Starting with 4-5 would have given him a flopped OESD, but surely he would have seen that hitting an 8 would make his hand yet still cause him to lose to anybody holding a 10--effectively making him want only four outs (the treys), same as a gutshot draw. Or maybe he had 8-9 suited connectors, and now had two pair and the straight draw, which might be enough to make him decide to push his hand when both of us checked in front of him. That might make sense, as flopping top pair and open-ender might be enough to get him to pay $25 for another card. But on the other hand, that theory required him to have the only 8 not accounted for, which seemed improbable.

If he had any two-pair combination, I was in excellent shape against him. If he had another set it was about 67% to be lower than mine and 33% to be higher. If he had any pair and draw combination, he might have a decent number of outs, but the math would be in my favor. But weighed against all of that, if he already had a straight, then I would be drawing to just nine or ten outs to hit a full house or quads ( the number depending on whether he had a pair to go with his straight). And, of course, a 10 hitting the river would put a straight on the board and chop the pot between us, unless he had a jack. A five would also put a straight on the board, but again could be no good for a chop if he held a 10.

In short, the whole situation was a damned mess. I didn't know if I was ahead or behind, and if I was behind I didn't know how many different river cards might save me--and for some of them it might be for only half of the pot. If you can mentally crunch the numbers on a situation like that, you're way smarter than I am.

So, dear readers--what do you think he had? And what would you have done? What do you think I did? What do you think the outcome was? (Remember that often I tell these stories not knowing the answers because I end up folding, with no revelation of the villain's cards. No promises of a satisfying resolution to the story!)

I'm going to go write the follow-up post now, set to appear in 24 hours. Get your answers in via the comments before then.

*Titled so as not to run afoul of any copyright issues.