Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TT Out Of Position

$1/$2 NL at Party, I'm dealt TcTd in the hi-jack, and open to $6.

My primary reason for being at this table, the cut-off, is a 70/9/1.5 player who takes any pair to showdown and is probably really easy to double up against. He unsurprisingly calls my raise with what I can only assume are two cards.

On the button sits one of Party's better regulars at 200NL, who raises it up to $32. The blinds fold and the action is on me.

Effective stack is $200 (they both have me covered). What's my play?

I ended up calling. The flop came 7-7-3 rainbow. A nightmare flop; I have $168 left and the pot is almost $100 and I have an overpair. I can't easily get away from my hand. I'm first to act. What's my play?

I decided to check and see if I could get some useful information out of their actions. The CO checked as well and the solid button bet $70. Action's on me. What's my play?

So again I'm stuck with the "well, I can't fold" dilemma, but this is also the committment threshold right here. Since I can't fold, all my money is now set on going into the middle. How do I make the best of it? I decided that just calling his bet (as opposed to shoving) was the way to go. A shove will doubtfully make any better hand fold - I don't think he'll fold JJ here - and while my fold equity vs AK is nothing to sneeze at I'm more interested in getting the awful CO in the action with me.

The turn is a 5, I now have $98 left and the pot is $239. Again, I fall back to my defensive line; better to get all the money in with him shoving than with him calling since his shoving range contains bluffs where as his calling range does not. Then again, if he checks back the turn he gets a free look at the river with what's often going to be 6 outs.


I think this is a tough hand on almost all decisions except for my initial raise. I think the biggest problem I faced was on the flop, because I'm about to commit and I don't have a plan. The guy I'm hiring for coaching, Alan, suggested a different line on the flop that I agree with: Lead out instead of checking. It has some advantages:

1. I will immediately "find out" if the bad CO is interested in continuing or not. It's his money I'm shooting for, after all, not the button's. If CO folds, I'm suddenly in a reverse implied odds situation and can basically give up if the button continues. Some of the time, button will call my flop donk with a better hand and then check back the turn and river fearing that I'm trapping, but I think this particular player is good enough to realize what I'm doing once I check the turn, though.

2. If I lead out and CO calls, button's going to have a Very Hard Time (tm) raising anything but hands that have me crushed. The pot is protected; he's not going to raise with KQs or any kind of bluff hand here. We're committed and he knows it.

3. It prevents the free card disaster that could happen if both CO and button check. Together they may have as many as 12 outs if I'm currently ahead, and a free card is expensive for me in such a big pot.

So, in conclusion: A better plan would have been to lead the flop, for maybe $55, and set myself up for a situation where I can more easily get away from my hand if the bad player folds and the good player calls.


ChuckTs said...

Interesting hand; leading (sounds so much better than donking, eh?) is something I never considered in a spot like this. Usually with my preflop-oriented style I immediately think reraise if the reg is anywhere near aggressive since it's such a good squeezing spot.

So the coaching goes well so far then?

Michael Rawdon said...

I'm not quite sure why 7-7-3 is a 'nightmare flop'; short of a flop that actually hit your hand (very unlikely), the only better flop would be something like 9-5-2 rainbow. It seems like this is the sort of flop you played for, once you called the preflop raise.

I like leading out on the flop for $55 as you conclude, for the reasons you describe.

Once you check the flop and get bet at by the button, I think you have to decide whether you want to keep the CO in (and call), or try to win the pot immediately (by going all-in). If you think there's at least a 50% chance he doesn't have an overpair (or a 7), then you go all-in ($168 push to win $169), otherwise you fold.

I also like chuckts' suggestion above of reraising before the flop; if you get reraised, then you probably fold. If you get called, then on a 7-7-3 flop I'd definitely go all-in, as the pot is as big or bigger than your stack at that point.

I guess my opinion is that you're too focused on getting the CO's money in the pot; if he's as weak as you say, then you're not really playing against him, you're playing against the button. Once the button raised, your main concern was to get him out of the pot. And you're either way ahead or way behind the button on the flop. If the CO happens to have a 7, well, that's the way it goes sometimes.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a good enough poker player to think of all this while at the table myself. But thinking it through like this while not at the table will hopefully make me more aware of it in the future. And if you think I'm totally wrong, well, that's useful to hear, too. :-)

Fredrik Paulsson: said...


The flop is of the "nightmare" variety because it's exactly the kind of flop where I might go broke, but someone with a worse hand (i.e. my opponents) wouldn't. I feel committed with my overpair. Had the flop come A-Q-4, I'd have an easy check/fold. Had the flop given me a set, I'd have an easy time getting my money in. Here, I have a really tough decision - that's why it's a nightmare.

This particular opponent 3-bets often, but not crazy often, so re-raising preflop is not a great option (since his range isn't that wide) but maybe viable.

I'm not sure what you mean about playing against the button. And I'm not WA/WB, I'm either WB or barely ahead.


The first session is in a few minutes. I'll report back on how it goes. :)

Michael Rawdon said...

Hmm, this is where I wonder whether I should have said anything, since I worry that I'm missing something so obvious that I look like an idiot. :-)

Okay, maybe you're not way ahead, but I think you're better than slightly ahead (if you're ahead). If you're ahead of the button, then he has at most 6 outs, right? (If he has 2 overcards.) If he has an underpair or a gutshot then he's in even worse shape. So if you're ahead, then you're at least a 3-to-1 favorite.

Other than that, the thing I don't quite understand is how you can be committed with your overpair, yet feel like the flop was a nightmare. If the flop is that bad, then you shouldn't be committed. My reading of Ed Miller's writing is that being committed should make these decisions easier, not harder. :-)

Would it be fairer to say you have a hard time deciding whether you're committed (in Miller's sense of the word)? I would agree with that. Even though Miller feels it's a mistake to put in more than a third of your stack and then fold, I think this is a scenario where betting out and then folding to a raise would be reasonable ("If he calls then I'm committed, if he raises then I'm not committed"). A check-raise or check-fold would also be reasonable.

Anyway, when I'm playing a medium pair and the flop contains cards lower than my hand, I'm usually pretty happy about that, so I don't see it as a nightmare until someone makes an action that makes me think I'm crushed.

Fredrik Paulsson: said...

Hi Michael,

You certainly don't look like an idiot. :)

Now, what I mean is this: The flop is almost certainly -EV for me. I'm forced to continue because of pot odds since my stack is so short in relation to the already existing pot size, but when all the money goes in postflop - and in a pot this big, it will - I'm not a favorite to win. I can't fold TT in a 3-bet 3-way pot on a 7-7-3 flop, but I sure don't have to feel happy about continuing. In that sense, an A-Q-4 flop would have been preferable, because that would have allowed me to fold cheaply instead of paying off expensively.

Or conversely put, I have reverse implied odds. With a solid player having position on me, I'm not getting paid by a worse hand but I'm mostly stuck paying off a better hand. I can't check and fold the flop because the most likely scenario is that me and CO both check and the button bets. Then I could fold, but that's not good either because I can turn this around by letting CO get in the ring with us. If he calls button's bet together with me, the overlay in "dead" money will make up for the -EV situation for me.

Now, you're right when you say that it's the difficulty of the decision that's my problem, and that's what I meant. I "feel" committed but I won't like getting all my money in vs. button.

One last thing: When you play medium pairs and it holds as an overpair on the flop, that's a great situation for you in a small pot. Plenty of space to maneuver. But when the pot has been bloated preflop and your decisions range between "giving up a huge pot" and "stacking off with a medium pair" the overpair is a lot less attractive.

It's the remaining stack sizes and the pot size that makes this situation so messy. If the pot had been $200 and I had had $120 left, it wouldn't have mattered much what I had done. Open-shoving the flop would have been good enough.

If the pot would have been $24 preflop with $192 remaining effective stack, I would have a better chance of read hands and making good decisions.

But with $168 in my stack and $100 in the pot, I'm in trouble. I'm just shy of committed, and I don't like my chances if all the money goes in. But I really do like the pot odds.

Anonymous said...

Could you then argue the actual key decision is preflop? (Picking up on your can't fold comment to the cbet). Given it would appear your decision would be to check on pretty much any flop (overcards like AQ4) - check fold, 773 - check (then call), TXX check commit. The button 3better is highly likely to cbet so you're always faced with a tough decision when checking that puts you in to the commitment threshold. Since you will nearly always be put to this commitment decison by calling preflop and checking to the button, it appears to me that the key decision is preflop (based on your intended postflop lines).

Of course leading the flop counters this and is certainly a different perspective that is interesting and justifies the calling preflop.

I would probably go crazy preflop (rightly or wrongly) as DB (who you identify as solid) 3bets/squeezes to isolate a weak player with a wider range in position. The value of 3betting with broadway hands goes up in value given the weak player will call wider and with dominated hands. AJ, KQ is a 3bet for me against someone that will call A2-AK, KQ-K2 and go broke with a top pair hand. You're ahead of CO range and will fold out a fair proportion of Button's range based on my wider than normal assumptions.

Interesting hand though and thought provoking - I'm not convinced my actions are any more or less optimal!


Fredrik Paulsson: said...

Hi Geo,

Preflop isn't a slam dunk in any way. Calling or shoving both have merits. Calling with the sole intention of set-mining is probably profitable because it's 3-way and one of the players are bound to pay me off often.

Shoving is pretty compelling and if his squeezing/3-betting range is wide enough it's almost certainly +EV. More +EV than set mining? Hard to say, but probably.

Lucypher said...

I definitely would have re-raised pre-flop. Then, I would have bet right into that flop. 10-10 is a good hand but it does not want to go to the river. It likes to win pre-flop or on the flop.