Monday, April 07, 2008

The strength of folding

I was drinking in a bar this weekend when one of my friends brought up that I play poker. Another guy at the table said he always loses because he's an optimist who believes his hand just has to be the best. So he almost always goes to showdown and loses his stack.

I told him something I try to tell myself:

You always want to play strongly in poker, and you never want to be weak. When your opponent has the better hand, is it stronger to pay him off or to fold? Many times the strongest play is to know when you're beat.

When I'm on any degree of tilt, the most immediate difference in my game that I see is a tendency to call potential bluffs more often. It's one of my biggest leaks. I have a hard time folding when I have a sense that I have the worst hand but my opponent's actions don't make sense. In these situations, my tendency is to call a player who could only have a ridiculous hand to beat mine rather than letting my hand go.

There's no easy fix for this flaw except to play patiently and be constantly aware of my actions. Quit spewing chips. Just fold. Save money and move on. Let the small pots go.

Here are three AA hands from tonight's play. I had to fold them, and I think I was right to do so. Anyone feel differently? Assume 100 BB stacks at a 5/10 NL game.

Hand 1:
Hero raises UTG to $30. Everyone folds except for a loose SB (75/22/.94).

Kd 9h 4s
SB checks.
Hero bets $55.
SB calls

SB checks
Hero bets $165 into $180 pot.
SB check-raises to $330
Hero folds.

Hand No. 2:
UTG limp (30/6/.5)
CO limp
Button limp
Hero raises to $80 from SB
UTG call
CO call
Button fold

5c 3h 9s
Hero bets $200
UTG calls
CO folds

Hero checks.
UTG is all in for $734 into $660 pot.
Hero folds.

Hand No. 3:
Hero raises to $30 from MP
BB calls (same player as in Hand No. 2, but about an hour has passed)

Ts 9h 8s
BB checks
Hero bets $50 into $65
BB calls

9s (Neither of my Aces is a spade)
BB bets $90 into $165
Hero folds.

Those sucked. But calling or raising may well have sucked more.


Wes said...

I only like #3, although #1 is the close. I only call in #1 because I have odds against two pair and he'll most likely check/call if I do improve to a better two pair/set and I can comfortably fold if he bets.

Hand 2 i guess UTG shoved after rereading hand? I guess I fold, but I certainly wouldn't be ever checking that turn without a sick good timing tell read. Betting has to be infinitely better vs. this loose/passive villain who will call with all sorts of pair + straight draws on the turn.

Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

Against a lag in hand 1 I'm willing to 4-bet him or shove.

Hand 2 seems like you are behind, so its a good read to get out of there.

Equally, I think the 3rd hand you can get felted so many different ways that it too is a good discipline fold.

WillWonka said...

So hard to fold against the uber LAG-tards. I wish I knew how to figure out when they had hands. As I wrote today on my blog, I got stacked 3 times in a matter of 10 minutes calling their raises.

So tough.

I guess the moral of the story is folding is never THAT bad.

lucko said...

These are all weird to me.

Hand 1: I def pay off the drooler. I don't remember folding Aces for a BI vs a 78%'er.

Hand 2: Your hand is way under repped. You cbet 100 into a 260 chip pot and checked the turn. Your hand looks like an aborted squeeze with air and I think could easily be shoved on by worse.

Hand 3: I would have fold to a reasonable bet, a 1/2 pot bet in position, I call. Its just a terrible spot tho and I don't really mind the fold at all.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

What am I missing in hand #2? Are we assuming a set here? It looks a lot more to me like KK doesn't it? Is he capable of overbetting for value? Why would he shove after you check the turn if he had the goods? Maybe even 66 for a turned OESD. I don't know that I can find the fold button there... enlighten me please.

Fuel55 said...

I'd be tempted to call in hand 2 - he could easily have overpair under AA.

spritpot said...

I don't play the NL1000 game, but with that caveat, #3 is probably the only one I'd fold.

For the first one, maybe you're thinking "AF under 1, he must be really passive" but remember his VPIP is really high, so an AF around 1 with a VPIP of 75 means he's betting a lot of pretty weak hands. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised at all if he had JT. Sure he could have 2 pair, but when he's that LAG-tarded, he's gonna have to show it to me. Also, if you're gonna fold to a min check-raise right there, you really shouldn't bet. Check behind and try to get in one bet on the river.

Hand #2 I third Alan and Fuel's comments.


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

Yeah I am with the group here, Gnome. I think Hand #3 is a good fold given the straightening board and the pair. But Hand #2 seems to be played just like an overpair (under your Aces), and I would likely not fold in that spot. And in Hand #1 I also am curious as to how you figured you were beat. It plays out just like a LAGadonk would play AK or even more likely maybe KQ. I would definitely consider calling in that spot as well with your Aces.

Gnome said...

Thanks for the critical comments. I apologize for mangling Hand No. 2's history a little bit. I continuation bet $200 (not $100), and it was the UTG player who shoved.
Hand 1: I didn't want to pay off a passive player who min-check-raises me on the turn. But he's so loose that a lot of times I think I would call or shove. I just hate getting shown some random two pair. I like wes' idea of calling and evaluating on the river.
Hand 2: What kind of hand limp-calls UTG? It's almost always some kind of pocket pair. The question is whether he hit his set or holds something like KK-JJ. Betting again on the turn is an option, but that commits me. It's a close call.
Hand 3: No brainer.

spritpot said...

Again I contest your assertion that the villain in Hand #1 is passive. If you're basing that off his sub-1 AF, remember his VPIP is 75. His PFR of 22 is probably a better indication of his aggressiveness than his AF. He's both betting and calling an absurd amount. It's a pretty weird board to check-raise bluff on, but his play makes essentially no sense anyway. He could think A9 is the nuts. I'm not saying it's impossible that you're beat, I'm just saying there's no way I'd fold there with the kind of pot odds you're getting.

spritpot said...

Also, on hand #2 - an UTG limp-call is usually an indication of a pp for a player who has some idea of the game. But this player is 30/6 which means he's limp-calling UTG with a pretty wide range, some of which now has you drawing dead, like A2 or 67, but also could still be drawing, like 56 or T9, esp if of hearts. I also find that often typical donks are hyper-suspicious of raises out of the blinds when there are many limpers. So he's probably not putting you on as tight a range as you might put yourself on when making a big raise out of the blinds with a bunch of limpers out there.

Donnie Peters said...

Hand #1: I don't think I'm betting as much as you did on both streets. Flop I'm thinking more like 40-50 and turn I'm leaning towards 130-145. I'm not quite sure I fold here against a loose player. He might have let you CB on the flop and then decided to pull a CR on the turn with a K.

Hand #2: Seems fine. I don't see UTG having anything we can beat here.

Hand #3: I check behind on this flop. I board is very wet and I would rather keep the pot small here. Depending on the turn card, I can possibly call a bet on the turn and then reevaluate the river.

Those are just my thoughts on each hand and how I probably would have played it. You showed great discipline if you did think you were beat. Often, players want to find reasons on why they should call, even if they can only come up with one reason. I'm glad you stuck with your read/instincts and went with it despite having AA.