Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Monday, November 28, 2005

No-Limit Advice Needed.

After taking a beating on the limit tables this weekend I decided to try an SNG or two to see if things might work out better there. Instead I confirmed what I have already begun to suspect. I suck at no-limit tournaments. I end up going broke in situations where I had plenty of chips going into the hand.

This is basically the sequence of events that leads up me busting out of tournaments: Play tight for the first few rounds, winning a few small pots, but generally staying out of trouble. Around the third or fourth level I find myself hovering around the same chip count that I started at. Here’s where I usually blow it. Somewhere around now I get dealt a good starting hand and make a preflop raise. Since we all know min raises make the baby Jesus cry, I usually raise about 2.5 to 3x the BB. Any more than that and I’m afraid that I will chase away everyone, and I would like to win more than just the blinds. Maybe that’s my problem. Anyway, I’ll usually get one or two callers. I’ll either get a piece of the flop, or it will be random enough that I can reasonably assume that no one else got a piece, or if they did they can’t be overly confident in their holding. I’ll make a continuation bet of ½ pot to the size of the pot. And someone will call. At this point I have no idea where I stand in the hand. Had I been raised, maybe I would proceed more cautiously, but at this point they could either be drawing to something, or they could have a weak holding that they can’t give up, or maybe they have a monster and they are going to let me hang myself. On the turn I’ll make another pot sized bet in an effort to win the hand right there. Of course by now the pot is sufficiently large and I’ve invested so many chips that I feel pot committed, and compelled to call when I’m raised all-in by what turns out to be a better hand that I should have picked up on.

I think there are two problems. One is that I need to find a way to keep the pot reasonably small so that I can find out where I am in the hand without having to lose a ton of chips. I just need to learn how to do that while at the same time growing the pot enough so as to maximize my profit when I do in fact have the best hand. No shit you say, isn’t that the general idea? Minimize losses and maximize wins? Well yes, I just need to do a better job of figuring out which side I am on so that I don’t cost myself unnecessarily. Secondly, sometimes I need to slow down when faced with some resistance rather then amping up the aggression. It’s probably better to check, and win a small pot than to over bet and win a large one. I think I interpret a call rather than raise as weakness and try to bet more on the next street to provide some additional incentive for them to fold. The reality is that there are a lot of players that will be content just to call you even when they are likely to have the better hand.

So I busted out in 14/18th and 7/9th in the two tournaments I played. I’m going to replay the hands that I went out on, and what I was thinking in each case. Feel free to point out any and all mistakes that I made because I’m sure there were plenty.

Hand 1:

Blinds are $25/$50. I’m in the Big Blind with $T1280. There are 7 players at my table. The two big stacks have $T2930 and $T4240. The rest of us have $T1300 +- 200.

I’m dealt [Ac Tc] in second position, and raise to $150. Maybe this is a little aggressive here, given my position, I don’t know. I get called by third and fourth position.

Flop is [8h Th 3h] OK, I have top pair, but those hearts are not my friends. So my question here is would you try to win this hand, or look to check fold to get out of it?

I opted to try to win it. I made a pot sized bet of $T525. I was gambling that no one had the flush yet, and that they wouldn’t be willing to chase for such a high price, and if they put me on a steal attempt, and called, I still have TPTK. In hindsight, chances are one of them has a heart, and there’s a pretty good chance that they will call me down with it, especially in the lower buy in tournaments that I am playing.

Back to the hand, I got raised all in. Now, when I made the initial bet, I was planning on folding to a raise, since that would likely mean a flush, or at the very least flush draw, but I talked myself out of folding. I reasoned that his raise meant he didn’t have the flush either. If he did, he could have just called, and gotten me bet for him on the turn. He thought he had me bluffing, and was attempting a re-bluff. So I called. He had [As Kh]. I was kind of right. I did have the better hand, although he had a decent draw. I think in his place I would have folded with no pair and only a draw to the second nut flush, but a semi-bluff re-raise isn’t really an unreasonable move. He ended up hitting a King on the turn to win the hand and knock me out.

So where did I go wrong in that hand? Betting into a likely flush with only a pair is probably not too wise of a maneuver, but is there anything else that I should have done differently? How do I play this hand and not go broke on it? Was the pot sized bet on the flop too much?

Hand 2:

Ok, that last hand I think I gambled more that I should have. In this one I wasn’t as upset with my play, but more curious as to how I could have handled it better.

Blinds are $30/$60. I’m on the button with $T1735. There are seven players remaining

I’m dealt [ Qh As ]

The villain raises to $T180 and I call. I was tempted to raise there, but I wanted to try to keep the pot size small, and didn’t want to allow him to try to reraise all-in if he had a big pocket pair.

The two of us see a flop of [Ad 4c Jh]. Villain bets $T250. I want to know if he has AK or AA. His bet there could just be a continuation, bet, or he could have KK, or QQ and he is probing to see if I have an ace. So I raise to $T500 and he calls.

Turn is [6c]. He checks, and I figure the pot is plenty large already that I’d like to just win it now. I go all in. He calls with [Ac Jc]. I don’t improve on the river and I’m done. So should I have checked behind on turn? If so, what happens when he bets on the river? What if he had KQ and I give him the chance to pick up the ten on the river by just checking? Is there a way that I could have intelligently played this hand without loosing all my chips?

Feel free to tell me how much I suck, but more importantly why? Or maybe I’m letting the results influence my opinion of the decision? Is it possible that I actually played those hands well and things just didn’t work out?

I really need to finish Harrington’s books.



At 5:32 PM, Blogger Wes said...

Chip preservation is probably the most key aspect of tournament play (or at least that is what Barry Greenstein says). I rarely make pot sized bets in tournaments.

Hand #1: I don't really like the raise UTG+1. You most likely do not have the best hand at this point. Building a pot with a worse hand is never a good option. I might go 50/50 on fold/limp.

On the flop, I'd be betting 1/2 to 2/3 of the pot. If I'm reraised, I think I would lay it down. The best you can hope for is what your opponent had, a flush draw (also with 3 more outs, so thats 12 outs twice, you were barely a favorite at 53% to his 47%) Again, that was the best you could hope for. He had you drawing dead if he had a flush, or a set. Preserve the chips and move on.

Hand #2: I would probably play it the same way. Not much you could have done there.

And lastly, I would just like to add that I suck at tournaments also. So don't take my opinion too seriously.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Joe Speaker said...

Here's the key in these low buy-in SnGs: You don't want to risk your chips with marginal hands when you can easily chip up when you have a monster.

I play the first few rounds ULTRA-conservatively. Your AT hand is a good example of one I toss without a second thought, mainly based on your position.

The second, you were unlucky to get out-flopped there and it's tough not to go broke in that situation. His call of your raise could mean a lot of things. It's the nature of the level.

On your continuation bets, when the texture of the flop is dangerous (like the 3 hearts) or you don't get a good piece, they shouldn't be more than half the pot. Aside from trying to win it there, it's also a bet for information and if somebody plays back at you, you can muck without pot committing yourself with a bigger bet. Think of it as a probe.

On the flip side, when you get premium hands, play them fast. Don't get fancy. You will get paid off more often than not. And this is the reason why, in the early rounds, you can avoid coin flips and other situations where your edge may be slight.

Definitely finish Harrington. Then play the NL games to get your feet wet. Then read Harrington again.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger dum_a_chum said...

Hey Mike... This is formerly “darice” from “Poker Medicine.” Just wanted to let you know that I’m back blogging again, but I am now dum_a_chum over at If you could check it out and link me up when you get time, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.


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