Friday, March 10, 2006

Love the Grind

Just a little hand discussion ...

The last couple of days have been OK, but they've been slow. I haven't been getting many playable hands at all, so I've been pushing the fold button a lot preflop. Which is OK, because I'd rather fold ahead of time than get killed by bad beats. It's much less expensive.

The hands I have played have generally been about average. I only missed two bets (that I know of) tonight. Against one fish who had position on me and saw about 65 percent of all flops, I capped it preflop from middle position with JJ. The flop came 866 with two suited cards, and we capped it again. On the turn, I checked and he bet. Then on the river, we both checked, and he showed down T9o for a busted gutshot straight draw. I think I should have bet the river, which was a blank, or check-raised the turn. But looking back, it's tough to make that kind of move out of position against a player who is trying to tell me I was beat. His aggression factor was 3. I don't think I can check-raise the turn, so that leaves betting out on the river. The more I think about it, the more I think maybe I played it OK. It's hard to say.

On another hand, I had KQo and position on a loose-passive player who saw about 30 percent of flops. He raised, I three bet, he capped and I called preflop. J high came on the flop. He bet and I called. The turn brought a rag, and we both checked. The river was a King. He bet, and I thought about it for a second before raising. I thought his hand range included just about any pocket pair, any paired Jack with a weak kicker, or a premium King hand. He called and showed down AK, and my hand is no good. Again, though, I kind of like my play now that I write about it.

I've been thinking about hands like suited QJ and KJ from early position. I know I want to play these hands because they have three way potential (top pair, straight or flush) from any position, but you need to see the flop to know if they're going to be worth the bother. Also, since these hands thrive on implied odds, I want to get into the hand as cheaply as possible.

What troubles me, though, is that limping from early position gives away that I have a marginal hand. I'm eliminating any chance of winning outright or with a bet on the flop where a high card falls. Maybe if I limp-raised sometimes with AA or AK it could be a good play to also do so with these lesser hands, but I don't limp-raise. I'm not a believer that that play has any value at the limits I play.

So maybe I should raise preflop? I feel like a raise fits my style better.

Of course, it's more likely that the correct answer is the same answer that you get to most poker questions: It depends. Perhaps I'll raise at tighter tables and try to win the hand preflop or on the flop. Maybe with looser players to act behind me, I'll limp in hopes they'll limp right along with me.

Let's leave off with an old Card Player article dealing with an important concept: Way Ahead or Way Behind.

Don't worry -- I plan on being more interesting in my next post!

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