Monday, June 25, 2007

Trying to take down a big limped pot

At a 9-handed 2/4 table on PokerStars, every single player limps. The action is on me in the big blind with AK.

I raise it to $40, a large raise designed to take down the pot right there. I figure most everyone will fold, and if they don't, they'll likely cave to my continuation bet on most flops.

A middle position player calls. The pot is now about $108.

The flop comes Ah 6s 8h. I bet out $85. The middle position player raises $95 more to $180 -- slightly more than a minraise. I have about $235 left, and my opponent has me covered. Calling isn't much of an option in this hand. I believe I need to decide right now whether to push all in or fold.

I figure my opponent has to assume I have a big Ace, unless he thought I was trying to steal the pot preflop. If he knows I likely have a big Ace, then he would only raise with hands that can beat me, including a set of 6s, set of 8s or a big combo draw. Unless, of course, he knows I can't simply call this bet unless I'm convinced I'm winning. In which case, if he is bluffing or has a weaker Ace, he could safely fold if I moved all in.

It's a tricky spot, and my opponent has me by the balls. The only way I think I can come out ahead in this situation is if I have an indication of what my opponent holds. But all I know is that he limped preflop, cold called my raise, and then raised my flop bet after an Ace fell. My read is that he seems like an average player who doesn't get out of line too much but certainly could put in a raise like this with anything from AJ to the nuts.

What should I do in this situation?

Now let's consider a different scenario. This time, the preflop action was the same except for that I held 95o instead of AK. In fact, I actually did hold 95o in this hand and flopped a gutshot straight draw. I made the continuation bet on the Ace-high flop and again had a decision to make.

If I'm trying to represent AK or even AA, I could go all in, and my opponent couldn't call except with his very best hands.

This hand was interesting because it didn't matter much what cards I actually held in the hand. I knew my opponent could only call an all-in bet with a set or a monster draw, but whether I held AK or 95, I was probably behind either way.

Maybe I'm making too much out of this hand, and it's an easy fold regardless of whether I had nothing or top pair.

What would you do?

Here's the hand history:

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [9s 5c] in the big blind
8 players limp
smizmiatch: raises $36 to $40
5 folds
Villain calls $36
2 folds
*** FLOP *** [8s Ah 6h]
smizmiatch: bets $85
Villain raises $95 to $180
smizmiatch: folds
Villain collected $275 from pot
Villain doesn't show hand


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


In the second hand, I don't exactly love the c-bet, but either way you obv. made the right move by folding, no questions asked. If you could be the last raiser and it's for a significant amount, then maybe you go to bat with the semibluff and a good deal of fold equity and hope he lays it down or you luck out on him.

In the first hand, I am just not ready yet to admit that I am beat. Sure he could have 86 or a set of 8s or 6s and you're toast. But to me the odds at a 2-4 game are much better, even based on what he has done so far, that he has some kind of weaker Ace. I've seen plenty of people play AJ or AQ like this in this spot, although that's a horrible play of course. Similarly, I could see him on JJ or something and just wanting to find out once and for all if he's beat.

All that said, if I had to guess I would guess that he is on A6 or A8, probably A6, and has flopped two pairs and wants to protect them now. But with the amounts behind that you mentioned, I don't think it's terrible to just call the raise and hope for a strong turn card or a free river card.

What did you end up doing with the hand? And more interestingly, what did he have?

Nice post as usual.

Gnome said...

Thanks for the comment, Hoy.
The first hand (with AK) was a hypothetical situation. Only the 95o hand actually happened, but I would have played AK similarly, which is what got me thinking about this situation.
Why don't you like the continuation bet with 95? I figured it was the best way to take down the pot with the A out there. And it the c-bet is ill-advised with 95o, I wonder if I should also forego a c-bet in cases like this where I do have top pair.

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

That's a good question and I see that I did a bad job of explaining myself there with my c-bet comment.

In general, I'm a big fat huge fan of c-betting, and probably close to 9 times out of 10, I'm going to c-bet the flop after I raised it up last preflop. However, after getting a call for a large raise from someone when I know in reality that I don't have shizz for cards, and then seeing an Ace flop, I tend to assume any c-bet I make is likely to get called, so sometimes I will save myself $100 and not c-bet in a situation like this. Failing to c-bet like this doesn't actually give away anything about the strength of your hand, as long as you disguise it by failing to c-bet when you hit some flops hard as well. One or two of those in a session, and you should be able to save yourself the $100 c-bet on more than a few occasions when you know from your own holding, the preflop action and the texture of the flop that your c-bet is not likely to work.

All this said, A86 with two suits is not exactly the scariest flop out there, so I do think the c-bet was a fine option. I just think that guys who c-bet automatically every time they bet preflop (not saying this is you btw, just making a general statement about something I see all the time in both cash and tournament play) are giving up too much when they make c-bets in situations where they should know they're going to get called. For example, change the flop in your second example from A86 with two suits, instead of AQJ with two suits, and why would you ever c-bet with a hand like 98o there, even though you've flopped the same gutshot draw that you did in your second example?

kurokitty said...

Yeah, you can't c-bet with an AQJ flop but for everything else, there's MasterCard.

I like the idea of c-betting heads-up, it's a prime part of Taylor Caby's Cardrunners offense, and you'll hear him talking about it a lot in videos.

I liken it to a breaking ball. You'll find that lots of weak players fold to c-bets and you shift the pressure to the other player to either 1). have an A or 2). summon the courage to call/raise with an underpair. Most of my profit during the blogger weekend in Vegas came from this.

Of course, many donkeys call with A-rag, and as a recent 2+2 magazine article said, betting out with a K on the flop is even better after you've raised preflop.

Re: the first example, sometimes walking away from a raise when you're first to act is the price of early position.

KajaPoker said...

I am way out of my league here, but here's the way I see it if I was the villain. Your raise was intended to scare away all the limpers and you could have raised with air (which you really did). I would expect a c-bet and the only way to see if you really have anything is to raise your c-bet. I love the re-raise to a little more than the min-raise, because it does smell of strength but is really a probe raise. And he got you to fold, which is probably what he wanted.

If he had a made hand like 2 pair, or trips he would raise more to either get paid by AK or to get a draw to fold.