Thursday, June 5, 2008

Big Game: Julius Zeus and the AK Hand

I haven't written stories for the write-in contest. I got around to checking the dates about 3/4 through the first of two planned yarns, and realized that it made just about zero sense for me to be in Vegas right around then.

Quelle bummere, as the French say. At least, that's what the French in my imagination say, haw haw haw.

But now I see over on Al's blog that we have a one week extension. Huh. I may just write the tales for the sheer fun of writing them. That's the real prize, anyway. Sure, yeah.

I also doubt I can make the Wear the Badge freeroll. Five o'clock Sunday is cool for most, I'm sure, but it's a pretty gross time for me to be playing cards.

The Big Game was a trip, my friends. At first it was the kind of trip where you sit in the middle seat of coach, trans-Atlantic, next to a mouth-breather with Combo cheez stuck in his teeth who won't stop showing you pictures of his kids. I was beyond card dead. I was in card limbo. I'd been card cremated, sitting on the card shelf in my own little card urn.

Suddenly, it became the sort of trip you have when you're the only chimp strapped to a NASA rocket. My 88 sucked out on the river against a big hand, I think Aces or Kings. Then I caught another big hand to take a top ten stack. Then I got all-in vs. Fuel with cowboys against his Jacks. He almost sucked out with the J in the door, but the river brought another cowpoke and Fuel hit the rail. I had the chiplead. Then I got KK. Then AK. Then AQ vs. AJ. Then QQ. Then JJ. All of these hands got in pre way ahead, and only AA got cracked -- and who even cared at that point? Miami Don dubbed me "Julius Zeus" and the carnage was good and golden. I was in the top three the rest of the way.

Finally, it was the kind of trip where your car gets hit by a train that's been destroyed by an F19 that's being eaten by Godzilla. I got heads up vs. a guy I've never seen, and he took me apart like Buster took Tyson. If I had a hand, he folded, except when he sucked out. If I had nothing, he'd re-raise. My final 15 minutes of heads up play was a litiny of T2, T3, 73, 74, 75, 62, etc, etc. Just unplayable dreck, payback for the forty minutes earlier when I crapped thunder and burped gold nuggets. I blew a 7:1 chiplead, and I honestly don't believe I have EVER done that before.

And just like that it was over. Three BBT3 tournaments with a chiplead going into HU, three choke jobs, and the last one the most epic of all.

I'm bummed. I won't lie. I'm at peace that I'm not in the ToC, but I still really can't believe it. Making the top of the money board helps. Heh, heh, heh.

Anyway, HUGE props as always to Al and company for putting on such a great show. This one was Harry and the Hendersons big. FIFTY FIVE tournaments? Every night? For the first time, I'm actually glad it's over, and I only played half of them. Awesome event, awesome times. Thanks to all involved.

* * *

OK, now on to other business. Hoy posted a hand I played during the Julius Zeus phase of the trip. Go read now.

You back? OK. Here's the HH:

Full Tilt Poker Game #6659661978: Blogger Big Game (41741046), Table 1 - 400/800 Ante 100 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:35:44 ET - 2008/06/02
Seat 2: weak_player (14,193)
Seat 3: Julius_Goat (34,466)
Seat 5: MiamiDon (11,825)
Seat 6: maneki_neko (26,006)
Seat 7: bayne_s (17,134)
Seat 9: Bone_Daddy84 (18,675)
weak_player antes 100
Julius_Goat antes 100
MiamiDon antes 100
maneki_neko antes 100
bayne_s antes 100
Bone_Daddy84 antes 100
bayne_s posts the small blind of 400
Bone_Daddy84 posts the big blind of 800
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Julius_Goat [Ks As]
weak_player has 15 seconds left to act
weak_player folds
Julius_Goat has 15 seconds left to act
Julius_Goat raises to 2,700
MiamiDon folds
maneki_neko has 15 seconds left to act
maneki_neko calls 2,700
bayne_s raises to 17,034, and is all in
Bone_Daddy84 folds
Julius_Goat has 15 seconds left to act
Julius_Goat has requested TIME
Julius_Goat folds
maneki_neko folds
Uncalled bet of 14,334 returned to bayne_s
pvanharibo (Observer): boooooooooooooooon
bayne_s mucks
bayne_s wins the pot (9,500)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 9,500 Rake 0
Seat 2: weak_player folded before the Flop
Seat 3: Julius_Goat folded before the Flop
Seat 5: MiamiDon folded before the Flop
Seat 6: maneki_neko (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: bayne_s (small blind) collected (9,500), mucked
Seat 9: Bone_Daddy84 (big blind) folded before the Flop

OK, everybody got that? I folded AK sooted to a push. Now, why did I do that? Am I a total weak tightydonk?

Don't answer that.

Hey! I said don't answer that!

The general consensus on Hoy's blog was that this was an auto-call, no question. I'm not so sure. Obviously, I can see a call here, but I don't think it is in any way automatic. It's a pretty tough spot. In fact, I like my fold here. I'll try to explain why.

OK, let's break down the action and do the math and try to figure out why this donkey donked the way he did.

We are six-handed. There are eleven left, so we're right at the bubble. Pot is 1800 to start, so my M is just below 20. I have the chiplead by a little bit.

I have been active, so I'm asking for action.

I raise EP 3.5x with my AK and get a smooth call from maneki_neko, the cat who is about to beat me heads-up like a red-headed stepmule. He smooth-calls me from the button and Bayne pooooshes for 14,300 more in what looks totally like a squeeze.

Now. Where am I at?

I am holding the Big Pickle, suited. I have the button (my read on him at this point is total calling station, so he could have a lot of different hands) yet to act.

Assuming the button folds, I have to call another 14300 to win 24,200. A little shy of 2:1.

If the button pushes, I'm going to have to call a good portion of the rest of my chips, and I'll have to feel a little bit sick about it.

But never mind the button for a second. Let's just deal with my almost 2:1, and what Bayne might be holding.

I don't put him on AA or KK -- he's less likely to jam with those -- but it's not out of the question. Maybe a 5% chance that I'm a huge dog to a monster.

The other possibilities are Ax or a Kx broadway hand, an underpair, or a total squeeze bluff like medium suited connectors or even just trash as bad as the hammer.

Let's break it down as 30% for each, just to keep the math simple.

30% I'm up against an underpair. I'm only around 45% to win.

30% I'm up against a hand I dominate. I'm somewhere around a 73% favorite.

30% I'm up against some trashy bluff. I'm a 60% favorite against 87 suited. I'm a 70% favorite against the hammer.

OK, so for the most part I'm either going to win about half the time or about 3/4 of the time. Let's round it to around 3/5th of the time I'm winning. So I have a 3 in 5 shot at a big pot and I'm being laid a little worse than 2:1.

Sounds like a call to me.

And I'd agree with that, in almost any spot. But here's the thing; AK is not a made hand. It's power is that, as we've seen, it's pretty hard to have it crushed preflop. Thus it's a hand worth pushing hard in an attempt to win the big stack you'll need to make an impact late.

But what if you already have that stack? What then? Is it worth a 3/5 shot to get an even BIGGER stack -- and that's only if the button (who smooth called, remember) doesn't have the monster you fear.

Lose and you no longer have that stack anymore.

See, I was of the opinion that my stack was big enough for the stealing I needed to do. If I'm a medium stack, then yes, I call, because it's more than worth the risk to get my money in and try to get that Zeus hammer you need to own the final table. But I already had the tools. I didn't want to risk losing my hammer and going back into the ranks of shove and hope. More to the point, I didn't need to. My stack was large enough that I didn't NEED to take the 3 to 5, and the benefit of the REALLY big stack simply wasn't going to be enough equity to make it worth risking the loss of my already big stack. I'm really not that far ahead even of an obvious steal.

One more point. There's no fold equity here. Bayne's already all in. His raise is great enough to push neko out; a shove from me won't change the math much -- in fact, it probably sweetens the pot for neko. AK is great to push with, for the simple reason that you are reasonably sure you're still alive even in the event of a call. But it's sort of a mediocre calling hand in my opinion. I think a pocket pair is more likely than 30%. And against pretty much any pocket pair, I'm behind.

Hence, fold.

I can understand if you'd call here. But I don't see it as an insta-call. Not a bit.


Shrike said...

I know I'm in the distinct minority here -- I've folded AK preflop to this sort of action in a bloggament before -- but I can certainly see a fold here with AKs being defensible.

Now, all that said, I would probably call here with QQ+ and AKs against Bayne's range.

$mokkee said...

i'm not folding AKs from Bayne's blind donkey squeeze ever...


terrible fold dude

Wwonka said...

I Am not folding to his squeeze in that spot if he has AA or KK then so be it but it is much more likely that he has Ax or a Smaller PP and I am going to take that flip on the bubble with a Big stack.

the Donkey Show.

lucko said...

WOW! You think he DOESNT have AA or KK and you still fold?


lj said...

what do you mean by *if* the button pushes? obv if you're going to play the hand you're iso-shoving....right??? esp over maneki, who had been playing super lag from what i could see.

so if you're not calling AKs, are you ever calling v. a squeezer? essentially it's a winner take all tournament -- i still don't see how you don't take the shot w/ AK here.

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

I like your analysis, Goat. I do not happen to agree with it in the final result, but I'm a huge fan of your mindset when approaching this decision, and especially the way that you consider your current chip stack as influencing that decision. Mostly everyone in these events does not have the capacity or willingness to think in this way IMO.

That said, for me the disagreement lies in your likely assessment of the hands out against you. For maneki I am 90% sure he folds to your push, so I'm not thinking of this as a 3-handed pot but a heads-up situation. And as for Bayne, he likes the steal in this spot anyways, and especially since he is very close to the short stack left in the tournament, I just find it far too likely that he is on a weak Ace or King and not a pocket pair.

For my money, given the exact circumstances here, I figured at the time probably a 25% chance of pocket pair below Kings, and 25% of two unpaired cards both below Kings. And 50% chance of you getting in dominating over him. That's why to me it seemed like something I would have to call. It seems so much like a move that Bayne would make with A6s here or KQ or KJs.

I also like LJ's question above. I'd like to know what *would* you call Bayne's squeeze move with in this spot? Do you call there if you have TT? What about JJ? QQ?

Nice post, I like your different view on this.

Julius_Goat said...

I think I wrote the post wrong, to be honest.

I focused a lot on math for the post. That was probably a mistake. A lot of this is 'feel', not pure math (though pure math analysis may be possible).

I'm usually calling if I think I'm ahead. In almost any instance. In a cash game, every time I'll call there. The reason is that the hand exists in a vacuum. It's just that hand, that pot. If you think it's +EV, even if your edge is slight, you make the call.

In an MTT, almost always, I'll call there.

But an MTT hand doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's its own creature, with its own life cycle.

My fold was an MTT management decision, as opposed to a straight EV consideration. The situation is this:

1) I have a very nice big stack.

2) I think I'm better than average with the big stack (and in fact I believe the way I played it Sunday bears this out).

3) I'm being offered the right odds to play for half my stack, but it's fairly close, and it's against a hand that is great because it's usually a flip, not dominated.

4) As a corollary, I'm being offered to stake my big chip stack on a flip. A favorable flip, but a flip nonetheless, with a slight X Factor being the button yet to act.

OK so far?

Now, this is where we get to the weird situation where I think a fold was best here; and maybe just for me. I'm calling here in any tournament early, in order to get my money in good to get a big stack. I'm calling here in any tournament where my M is average to low, in order to get a big stack.

The key is, I want a big stack at this exact point in the MTT. And I already have one. What is the value of a 50% bigger one? Is it worth the risk of not having anymore the thing that I want? Because if I join the middle of the field in "push and pray" mode, my equity has taken a sharp downturn. Believe me when I say, this is why I folded. I believed that the stack I was sitting on was worth literally tens of thousand of chips in favorable places for steals. In other words, I thought my stack could generate me the chips at play in this pot, and MORE, with far less variance. Most MTT play tight before the bubble, but my experience is that most bloggers are aware of that and play accordingly. What they may not be aware of is how tight everybody becomes AFTER the money bubble in the Big Game, when the payouts go up sharply and involved what is to most of us real big money.

Simply put, I believed that my equity gain from winning vs. my equity loss from losing was not equal. The EV calculation had become a far more tricky thing, and it was based less on pure math and more on my feel for what type of game best suits my style.

I decided to pass on the high variance call, which was (if this hand is played in a vacuum) somewhat +EV. I decided instead to keep my equity and wait for stealing opportunities and better spots.

So, having been long-winded, I'll give short answers to your questions.

1) I'll almost always call there. The math of the single hand is right. I'm ahead, I've got the odds. I think this was just a weird spot.

2) I'm almost always calling a likely squeeze with AK suited. and probably down the ladder a ways. But again, this was a weird spot.

3) LJ, you're quite right, the button would have no chance to push because I was either folding or coming over the top. I definitely mis-spoke there. But if he called, I'd not be loving it.

I appreciate the comments. What do you think about +EV for a single hand versus +EV in terms of MTT Management?

Bayne_S said...

Great post Goat, just for the insights into my table image it is gold.

1) I would push AA or KK in that spot precisely because it looks like a squeeze.

2) I do love the take the flip mindset so much because I want the 10% edge I had and with a win I am the one wielding the big stack like a club.

In this case you are getting 3:2 on money so I think you have to take the flip

crushmastac a.k.a. CheckinMyAA said...

What lucko said...