Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Preparation and Turn Play

First, a few basics.

I've terminated my backing arrangement for $6-12 LHE but picked up a 50% arrangement for $8-$16. After thinking about it, I realized there's really no reason to wait to move up. My earn rate with a 50% arrangement in the $16 game should be only a little less than the $12 game without backing because of the half-kill, and there's no time like the present to get comfortable in the game. Variance (for me) should be about the same between the two games.

I'm playing tonight, and this 20-30 minutes to write this post is my way of getting into the right mindset. I just hope the tylenol I took 10 minutes ago kills this headache that's starting.

As to what I'm playing tonight, I really haven't decided. Either the 12 or the 16, depending on what is open. It also depends on how I feel. If I'm not feeling really excited, I'll just play the 12 game and try the 16 another day.

What I do want to focus on is an area where I'm leaking a bit. It has to do with paying off or not paying off, and I'll start the discussion with two hands. Not much commentary, just the facts. Try to avoid reading the result before you think about it yourself (I'll put it farther down the post):

  1. I have 9d 7d in the big blind and check my option with five other players in. The flop comes 9s 4d 5h, SB checks, I bet out. Only one guy in late position calls (pretty good player, middle-aged asian guy, or MAAG; he's neither loose nor tight, but definitely aggressive and can read hands). The turn is the 2h and I lead out. MAAG says something about, "You feel all safe until someone raises you on the turn like this..." and raises me. Now I think about it. I'm getting 7:1. What should I do?
  2. Ah Th in late position with two limpers. I raise, everyone calls including the SB and BB. [aside: yes, I'm starting to remember to raise with suited aces against a large field]. Flop comes Tc 6h 5d, it checks to me, I bet, and the SB and BB call. The turn is the Jh. I should mention at this point that I've been pretty talkative with the guy next to me, so when somebody says something about the second heart I say, "I'm not worried, the flush isn't made yet." BTW, I've been losing, down about $250, and I've been complaining a little bit (but not really tilting on the inside; I won't lie, I'm not perfectly tilt free, but I can't point to any mistakes I've made and I'd get up if I was really having a problem). Anyway, it checks to me, I make my speech then bet, and the SB raises pretty quickly. My assessment of him is he's pretty tight (he's even folded his SB in a multi-way pot), he's been listening to music and working on something (homework?) most of the time, yet he doesn't seem very experienced (just some of the stuff he said). I take some time and... call. Obviously. The pot is 7 BB and I've got the nut flush draw with a pair. Most likely, I think he's got me beat with a set or two pair; possibly a naked jack. The river is the 2d, he leads out, what do I do? (9 BB in the pot)

Results: For both hands I called down. In hand number 1, MAAG had 44 for a set of fours and I lost. In hand #2, the SB had 99 and I won.

So what do I need to work on? My turn play.

Take hand #1.

I 100% should have folded. And I'm not just saying that because I know he had me drawing dead.

MAAG is a knowledgable, smart player. He's representing a big hand. And I can only, really beat a bluff. After he raises, I'm getting 7:1, but really, if he has me beat, I'm getting 7:2 to call him down. If I think he's bluffing even 28% of the time I should probably call him down. Except, the problem is, my best case situation is he's semi-bluffing with a pair, a straight draw, or a flush draw. Most semi-bluffs he'll have more outs than that, somewhere between 4 and 13 or more. So even if I'm right, he'll still get a better hand 1/3 of the time. So, without doing the math, he needs to be semi-bluffing more than 50% of the time for the call-down to be profitable. Furthermore, if I call, I am drawing dead or near dead. Finally, speeches usually mean not bluffing. So, overall, this is a hand I need to lay down in that spot. If I had as little as a gutshot, I could continue on (or close to it, but not here).

Hand #2, I 100% need to call to the river, and again, not just because I won in this case. The first difference is I had the odds to call the turn simply from my draw. And once I get to the river, I pretty much need to call with anything that can snap off a bluff; I had 9:1 odds so he only needed to be bluffing 10% of the time. After I called, one of the guys said, "Wow, good call, I could never make that call!" Sure, if I had no redraws on the turn, I should probably muck (that's the strength of the raise on the turn, BTW), but once I get to the river, I have to call.

No sense in making a big laydown.

The common thread between these two examples is turn play, one of my weaker areas. I'm getting better at deciding my course of action on the turn, but the first hand shows that I'm still making mistakes. Here are my goals for tonight:
  1. Tighten up my turn play. Well, not tighten up, but think through the range of my opponent, my redraws, his redraws if he's bluffing, and continue accordingly.
  2. Bluff-raise on the turn or river at least once. I'm really going to stick to this one to force myself to find a spot to bluff-raise.
  3. Count the pot -- I've been getting away from this, but need to get back to it.
  4. Look at my opponent when I've got a touch decision (like on the turn). Any info can help me decide what to do.
That's it for now. My headache is mostly gone and hopefully I'll have a report tomorrow!


Thuan said...

Hand #1... My initial gut was to call because you described your opponent as a good player, so his hand range was very wide. However as you said, unless it's a cold-stone bluff, you're going to lose often enough to make it -EV to call so a lay-down is in order. One technical point, I think you're getting 8-2, not 7-2 on the call since he'll put in an extra bet on the river as well.

Sean said...

Re: 8-2 vs 7-2...

I've read (maybe Sklansky?) that you usually have to consider reverse implied odds in terms of no extra bets on later streets. If I'm ahead, he may shut it down and I'll get no extra bets out of him. If I'm behind, I'm paying the max.

That probably means it's more like 7.5:2 or something like that, but it is still worse than 8:2.