Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Under The Microscope 004: The Case Of The Final Click

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."

All right, here's a hand that I'm still working through from the $26K that I final tabled last week. I am pretty sure that this was a 'hinge' hand in my tournament run. I think I played it correctly in some places, and I think I made one huge mistake.

Comments are very much the point of this post, so please let me know what you think.

The Set-Up

At this point we have just broken down to two tables about 15 min. ago. I'm playing with mainly new players, so I only have a couple dozen hands and not much yet in the way of reads. A couple shorties have been busted. Everybody is playing fairly LAG, but I don't read much into that because the blinds are 6000/12000 with an Ante of 1500.


Thus, the pot is 25,000 before any action comes.

I am a medium stack with 189,394.

My M is around 7.5.

I just successfully stole the blinds and antes by raising 36,000.

I am UTG and am dealt [Kc Qd]. I decide that this is a strong enough hand at 6-handed to attempt a steal. I raise to 36,000, because (1) it has become the table-accepted standard opening bet, and (2) I can let go to a re-raise (no way I'm calling a re-raise with the Anna K out of position).

It folds to Vang4You, who is sitting behind 163,320. He thinks until he gets the 15-second warning, and then calls for 24,000 more.

What do you think of the raise to steal UTG with KQo?


*** FLOP *** [2s Qs 2d]

Nice. TPSK. Paired board but can I really put him on a call with 2x? I am pretty sure I'm ahead here. Vang checks and I fire out another 55,000.

Vang thinks. Counter ticks down. Ticks. Ticks.

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicks . . .

He calls on the last tick.

What do you think of this move? Did you just say 'uh-oh' too? What is your opinion on the size of the flop bet?


*** TURN *** [2s Qs 2d] [Jd]

Vang checks. I do NOT like that little 'last tick' call. Too too fishy for me.

I wait a respectable amount of time, and check.

Is checking correct here, or have I just given the hand away while still holding TPSK?


*** RIVER *** [2s Qs 2d Jd] [9s]

Vang4You waits until the last friggin' tick, then bets all-in for 70,820. If I call with top pair and he has AA, KK, AQ, or any deuce, I am crippled with enough for the small blind.

I finally fold my hand.

Good fold?


About five hands later, I creep into the Final Table with the second lowest stack and an M of around 1.5. I win a big race against 88 with overcards, and play 'stay alive' until I make a big pot against the chipleader, then lose most of that to none other than Vang, who has shown himself to be a total maniac. He gets Tens with a much worse kicker than me, but his kicker makes him two pair.

I lose a raise to the chipleaders 77 not long after that.

My feeling is that this is the hand that made the difference between a fifth place finish and a real chance at a win. Either the fold on the river was a big mistake, or just playing the hand in the first place was a mistake. Or maybe it was just a train wreck.

If I had all those chips going into the FT, I'd have made a lot more off my race with the chipleader, who was WAY better stacked than anybody else and calling everybody's all-ins Jamie Gold style. I'd have been able to play more conservatively. I wouldn't have had to depend so much on races.

I still wonder what he had. Was that final tick call a cliched use of 'weak is strong' online foolery? Or was it a knowing misdirection, using 'weak-is-strong-is-weak' thinking?

In the end, I like my fold, but I only like it in the same way you like your 678th favorite food. There were too many hands that would beat, and that isn't where I wanted to go out. But . . . might I have just woken up to find I had shot an elephant wearing my pajamas?

This is the hinge hand of my tournament. I think it cost me over a thousand dollars.


Pokerwolf said...

What do you think of the raise to steal UTG with KQo?

Perfectly acceptable.

What do you think of this move? Did you just say 'uh-oh' too? What is your opinion on the size of the flop bet?

The flop bet is fine, because it's big enough to scare people away, but it's still small enough to gather information. I said 'uh-oh' too.

Is checking correct here, or have I just given the hand away while still holding TPSK?

That depends on what your intentions were by checking. Were you checking to keep the pot small? What was the reason for your check? (I'm asking this to get you to think about the hand more than looking for a real answer.)

Good fold?

Tough decision, so let's think about things for a minute. You raised UTG, led out on the flop, and then checked behind on the turn. Does that read like a honest hand or a bluff? Personally, I think Vang4You put you on a bluff and Hollywooded a bunch (why bother with the whole "wait until the last second" shennanigans if he has a 2, Q, J, or 9 and he has you read for air? The only reason I can see doing something like that is if he held a 9 and he didn't think you had anything.) and then he made a huge river bet to make you go away. Remember that he doesn't have any read on you either, but it's pretty obvious that you're not raising with a 2 in your hand UTG. The only thing he has to fear on the flop is if you're holding QQ, so why not try to bluff and see what happens? Your check probably convinced him you had big cards (but not QQ or JJ), so why not go for it (especially if he has a J, 9, or Qx in his hand?).

I'm not sure if I could call that river bet in the heat of the moment, though, especially without a read. Great post!

brdweb said...

6 handed late in a tourney like that you're playing WAY too tight if you don't bring it in for a raise, even UTG. Anybody with AK or AQ probably pops it up again as you don't really want to see a flop with those hands.

As far as the 2x hands go, have you sat with the guy long enough to know if he will call with any two in position and try to take the pot down later?

AA, KK, or QQ are the only 3 reasonable hands here that have you beat I think on the flop. Your bet is perfectly fine.

Turn puts a 2nd flush draw and str8 draw out there. When he didn't raise you on the flop you can be pretty sure that he didn't have AA, KK, or QQ. We've probably ruled out AQ as well. At this point he's more than likely on a flush draw or just sucked out two pair on you as at a short handed table there are definitely donks that will call in position with QJ.

Nothing wrong with betting here, but realize that if you don't push now and one of the 3 draws comes then you've put what I'm assuming is over half your chips into the pot and folding if he shoves. Which is what happened. Personally I shove here on the turn, but I've been known to be an overagressive donkey. As I said, the way the hand is being played the only thing that you might be behind on the turn is QJ, which you have 3 outs against.

Him waiting until the last tick I think was more a move to bluff rather than a big hand but fuck if I know. He didn't play like he had a really big hand at any point. Probably just a douche playing small spades.

brdweb said...

Oops, I missed the check behind. I just read pokerwolfs' comment and yea if you're trying to keep the pot small ok. BUT on that scary of a board your opponent probably guesses (correctly) that if either flush or the straight comes and he bets big, you'll dump your hand. You need to bet against that board again to make him drop a draw if he's got one.

Unimpressed said...

Another possiblity is a smaller pair- JJ he may have raised preflop, but anything less, it's an easy call. And with one over, 66-88 can call a possible continuation bet. Your check on the turn says you can be pushed off the hand.

Of course, 99 could have been played the same and he got his set on the river.

You found out he was a maniac later. AQ is possible calling hand there.

I think you were beat on the turn (QJ) or river (99). Gotta let it go.

But what do I know, I'm broke.

Matt said...

Great post Goat. I think this is a great hand for discussion.

Not knowing anything about your opponent, based on the preflop action & circumstance (BB, midstack, late game, 3xBB raise from UTG), I'd think this is a fair range for a common opponent:

AA-22, AK-AJs, AK-AJo, KQ-KJ, QJ.

I'm going to disregard the following hands:

AA-KK: I really can't give credit for either of these hands considering how passively it was played through the turn, and then how strongly it was played on the river with possible straights or flushes.

TT-33: I think any pocket pair below JJ has to fold to the bet on the flop.

AKo: missed the flop, no straight draws, has to fold.

AJo, KJo: loose calls with mediocre holdings have to fold to the flop bet.

So that leaves us with: QQ, JJ, 22, AK-AJs, AQo, KQ, QJ

I'm only throwing JJ in here because I could see someone calling with JJ if they put you on AK with a c-bet.

On the flop, 4 hands beat you: QQ, 22, AQs, AQo. Based on his smooth call, only QQ and 22 seem like possibilities. I could also see a smooth call with AKs, maybe even AJs if the guy's a total donk. QQ is less likely since there was no preflop reraise, and he would have the last two Queens. Same with 22. They're possible, but statistically unlikely.

If he calls a c-bet with JJ, then he's ahead on the turn, but otherwise I think you're still ahead. QJ is a possibility, but I'd expect to see a bet here at the least with QJ.

On the river, with the 9s showing, you can't beat any of his possible holdings.

I welcome any disagreement with my range assignment, but I'd venture to say that it's not unreasonable. All things considered, I think you're ahead until the river where you have to fold, so I would say that you did lose the hand when you checked the turn.

Goat said...

Thanks for all the well-reasoned comments so far.

Here's what I think.

Preflop: I agree with those that say you have to try to steal a decent percentage of the time with KQ here, and I like my bet size. I tend to be aggressive late in a tournament -- I suspect more than I should be -- but I think it serves me well for the most part. My only issue with my raise here is that I had been very steal-y recently (I am not sure I mentioned this), so I was inviting some playback.

The flop: I absolutely thought I was ahead here and was actually hoping for a call, given that I was ahead of most of the range of hands that would call there. Was NOT afraid of a 2. So, I thought I was ahead until he last-clicked me. Waiting until the very last tick to make a play is a classic 'weak is strong' misdirection. That's what spooked me. The flush draw was a possibility, but honestly once he last-ticked me I had him on slow-played AA or KK. This late in a tourny, Aces and Kings get slow played a lot in my experience.

The turn: The check was to control pot size. Basically now I was confused. Either I was ahead to a draw or I was significantly behind, and if I fired another bullet I was going to be pot committed. If I made a mistake in this hand, it was on this street in my opinion. But my read was that I was beat -- this was pretty much 100% a gut feeling. His play was so fishy. I think even a flush draw is going to push here. In fact, I'd feel almost MORE comfortable with a shove than just a flat call. My check was based on that read. If my read was wrong (and I'll never know), then that check absolutely lost me the hand.

The river: The spade on the river followed by his all-in. I agree with Matt; I cannot call here.

Either I made a great read and minimized my losses enough to stay alive deep or I totally gave the hand away by checking the turn and folding to air or a worse hand. Either I made myself a lot of money with that fold or I cost myself a lot. I simply cannot decide.

The only play I am sure was a mistake was being overly aggressive before I had any real reads on my table. I had enough of a stack to lay back a round and hopefully see some showdowns and notice betting patterns. As it happens, this guy turned out to be a total ATC maniac. He was the wildest player at the final table and would call raises with anything. He showed down garbage hands where he'd made bottom pair with a kicker that was covered by the board. He could have easily had a deuce. He could have easily made a flush. He could easily have had nothing and pushed me off sensing weakness.

My gut still says I was behind from the start.

Keep the comments coming!

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Great hand, and a great post, Goat. Your stuff the last few weeks has been absolutely top notch, I love it and I know others do as well.

First off, of course you steal with KQo there at this point in the tournament. If you don't, then you're not going to be final tabling big mtt's, like, ever. I hesitate to even call this a "steal", because you were probably just ahead anyways.

The flop bet is the perfect size -- 55k into a 70k or 80k pot. Read Harrington, Negreanu, etc. to hear others say the same thing. Less than full pot, more than half pot. That's where you want to be, in particular when you've just flopped top pair 2nd kicker.

After he called the pf raise, and then he called the largeish pot bet, I like the turn check as well. It doesn't mean you're deciding not to bet on the river, just that you don't want to put more money in there now.

Now, the fold I think is a very tough call. I could very easily see calling his allin there, and if you lose with TP2K on a Qxx flop, then so be it. I don't understand worrying too much about QJ, since the guy called preflop and then called again on the flop before that Jack ever came out there. Sure it's a possibility but that's not what I'm putting him on. Much more likely to me is AA or KK, given his weird wait-till-the-last-second stuff going on in this hand.

I love Matt's analysis above but I just can't possibly see putting him on specifically 99 here. He was calling and doing the last-second thing since the preflop, so I'm not reading him for 9s in this spot that just happened to take the lead from you at the river.

I've thought a lot about this hand today, and I've decided that I am probably calling his allin at the end and hoping for the best. If he wasn't waiting until the last tick repeatedly I would feel much better about my read, but even with that weak-means-strong thing I think I'd rather bust out in 15th place or whatever with TP2K on an otherwise raggy board and take my chances, rather than get blinded out or make the necessary blind steal with air, get repopped and have to fold a couple of times such that you are now *really* short stacked and have to start making some moves you don't want to make. That said, he could easily flip up Aces or Kings and YGH.

Great post. Now can you please go find the guy and have him tell you what he had? Thanks.

Goat said...

Hoy, thanks for the analysis and the kind words. More Table Profiles on the way.

Harrington Vol. 2 excerpts are weekly reading for me. I will have to dust off Vol. 1 again.
As I stated, I also put him on AA or KK. Just a feeling.

I should be clear: If he hadn't ticked down to the end, I'm probably going the rest of the way on the turn. It spoooooooked me. Very weird play that you don't usually see. And maybe that was his intent. If so, good on him. It put me off the hand. If he had me beat, he screwed up.

I wanted so badly to find out what he had that about 30 min. into the final table, I broke a cardinal rule of mine and told him what I'd folded, to ask him what he'd been holding.

No answer. I didn't push the issue. Hell, he may have forgotten.

Matt said...


Just following the discussion, and had some more to add.

I still don't buy the AA or KK idea. I definitely see where you're coming from, and see why you got spooked, and I obviously have a different perspective since I don't have the "in the moment" feeling you have. But these are my thoughts:

1. If this guy is being crafty enough to play AA or KK as weak as he did preflop and on the flop, then pushing on a river card that completes a likely flush, and a less likely straight, doesn't jive. It's like two different players - one who is tricky, and one who makes a bad push on a bad river card. But I think that's a subtle difference that is easier to determine in post game discussion than it is within the 30 second window while you're playing.

2. The more I think about this hand, the more a flush seems likely. Especially considering what you give of his latter play, he seems to be the kind of guy who would chase the flush. Agree? Do you think that he'd be the kind of guy to call a turn push with just a flush draw? If so, then I say good fold, although that's a bit too results oriented.

I still think you were ahead on the turn, but if he's the type to call with just a flush draw, then this is a hand where you made money by not pushing on the turn. Just trying to spin it positively.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, there ARE people as poker-obsessed as you! I am stunned.

The Wife

Goat said...

Yes, but most of them are not as LOST-obssessed as I am too.