Thursday, December 29, 2005

The joys of LHE...

In my last post I mentioned how well I was doing. Well, last night I erased a lot of those winnings with two hours of 6-max 1/2 on Stars while I was trying to burn off the bonus. I lost about $70, up from my low point of $-100, but it wasn't all due to the cards. Same old, same old...

I'm learning though. I caught myself doing a strange thing tonight (when I made $20 back and finished off the bonus):

10 player table, I'm UTG w/ KQs. Relatively tight table but not super tight (~30% VPIP). I come in for a raise like usual, and it folds to the SB who three-bets. BB gets out, and I call. Flop was Q72, nothing to my suit, and he leads out, I raise, and he three-bets. I call, and call his turn and river bet. I'm sure you know what he had: AA.

Notice that I played the hand 'aggressively' (you know, because that's how you play limit, tight and aggressive). Notably, raising first in narrows the field to help my KQ (an argument could be made for limping KQs in that situation) but that was my strategy. The flop raise clarified his hand (and mine). But... Pay attention to this... I played the hand in the way that lost the most money.

When I hit top pair, second kicker on a non-scary board, I have two tacts against someone who has represented a huge hand pre-flop:

  1. Plan to go to the river because my hand is too big to fold and hope to hit one of my 5 outs if I am against the aces he's representing. This means call down unless my hand improves, including the flop, and only lose the minimum (2.5 BB). The disadvantage is, if I have him beat and he has Ax he could hit an ace along the way or draw out in another fashion. He wouldn't have many outs if I had him though, and it is also worth pointing out I might pick up some bets if he continued firing with a hand I beat like JJ or TT (those holdings are less likely in this situation though). An interesting thing to note is this is the approach many fish would take (loose-passive) -- and they would lose the minimum or win a big pot if they were up against AA and cracked it.
  2. Raise the flop to clarify the hand and see if he three-bets (essentially ruling out AK). This is obviously what I did and my usual move when I want to get a better read. When he three-bets, calling the third bet is pretty much mandatory even though I now put him on AA (or possibly KK or AQ). The odds are definitely there to hit my 9:1 shot (12 small bets in the pot). But... If I don't improve on the turn, I no longer have odds to chase (7.5 BB in the pot), and I should fold to his bet. Plus, if I call the turn, I should call the river, and my reverse implied odds are pretty poor. If I fold on the turn, this will cost me one less BB than calling him down, but reduces the chance of catching him bluffing and I see one less card. In addition, it sets me up to extract more money if I do have him beat (and he three-bet preflop with AK, JJ, or TT).
Seems pretty obvious when laid out like that. So, then, why did I raise him on the flop yet still call him down, essentially putting in one more big bet? This hand, I believe, demonstrates why I've been losing money (or rather not earning a lot of money) at limit play. I am being aggressive which gets more money in the pot when I am ahead and clarifies hands, but then I'm not folding when information shows me I am beat. That, coupled with overplaying of small pairs and second or third pair, causes me to put a lot of money into the pot when I don't have the best hand.

[Edit] After we finished our movie last night I logged onto FCP last night to play some .25/.5 heads up. I promptly gave back all my winnings, losing $20 over about an hour. Essentially three guys sat down, took $6-8 from my stack, then left. The first two I think I could have won some money back if they hadn't hit and run -- the third guy had a good mix of bluffing, tightness, and mixing up his play that I'm not sure I can beat in the long run. Oh well.

One thing I've noticed in these heads-up matches is that I tend to get down about 10 BB early, but usually I can battle back and figure them out. Last night, I wasn't able to do that since they pulled hit and runs. Furthermore, the real question is why do I get down 10 BB almost everytime I play? I must be leaking or playing too loose or something.

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