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For once, it’s not me

I thought I’d talk about a hand which, for a change, I wasn’t involved in.  Before I go any further, though, I need to make a bit of a disclaimer: despite what I’ve written on here previously, I am not a poker strategist, a professional poker player or, indeed, anyone other than someone who might apply some logic to a hand…maybe.

That aside, let’s look at this hand:

First up, apparently I’m the “hero.”  Let’s get that out of the way right from the start: I’m not.  I just happened to be in the tournament when this happened.

Let’s look at the hand from the point of view of Player 5…

This hand took place in the early stages of a 1 table SnG.  The blinds were 15/30 and Player 5 was the big blind.  Nobody had raised pre-flop, and Player 5 raised it to 210: 7x BB.  Unless someone’s sitting on a monster hoping to slow play it, this is a classic steal.  Unless you have a killer hand, how can you possibly call 7xBB?

The guy immediately to your left then instantly calls your raise.  Uh oh.  You have to believe that he was a big hand, right?  He was willing to limp in, probably hoping to make money later in the hand, but then the guy immediately to his right has just stuck a bunch of chips in.  Insta-calling your raise has resulted in everyone else folding, because he has a big hand, right?  Well, you have a pocket pair and you don’t have any further part to play pre-flop, so it’s all good so far.

The flop comes: K5J. Uh oh.  You have QQ, but AK, AA, and KK have you beaten already.  Also, AQ has you on a draw, but needs the 10 to come.  Likewise A 10 needs the Q.  You can probably rule out AQ, because that would require one of the two remaining Qs left in the deck.  Similarly if the other guy has A 10, you have 2 of his 4 outs.  So it appears to be looking good for you, but that’s because we’ve forgotten about those monster hands that already have you…

Surely, though, if this dude has AA, KK or AK, he would have raised pre-flop.  That’s what you do with monster hands, right?  Sure…sort of.  The purpose of these pre-flop raises is to try to narrow the field that you’re up against.  With a big pair you want to be up against as few people as possible.  With big drawing hands you want to keep it cheap and make it big.  With 1 other player in the hand, who’s already acted, your job is already done.  If you’ve got bugger all, now’s the time to fold and the QQ takes it.  If, however, you’ve got a monster hand, a simple call makes perfect sense.

So back to Player 5, the guy to your left flat calls, and we see the flop.  With QQ in the hole, this is where you shit yourself.  If the guy to your left was hoping to make a move and steal your chips, he would’ve done it already.  If he has AA, KK or AK, he can happily call and see what comes.  You, with QQ, really don’t want to see any over card, and might already be beaten.  Unfortunately, the K comes on the flop.  If you weren’t beaten before, you surely are now.

But what does that matter?!  It’s only one over-card.  Player 5 might still be ahead!  He makes a bet that’s roughly half of the pot.  It’s not an unreasonable play, I guess, except for the fact that the pre-flop play indicates that the guy he’s up against probably has a monster hand (remember that he called a 7xBB pre-flop raise, having limped already).  Nevertheless, it’s a reasonable probe bet, which gets called.  At this point Player 5 should *surely* think that he’s up against a monster hand.  AA, KK, or AK are looking really likely now, but on top of that there’s suddenly a whole bunch of other hands which have him beaten now, too: 10 Q, for example.  They don’t make much sense, given what’s already happened in the hand, but nevertheless, they have you beaten.

So surely, given the circumstances, the thing for Player 5 to do here would be to either check, effectively acknowledging that the hand is over, or maybe place a moderate bet in the hope that the other guy would either flat call or, maybe, min-raise (which you’d fold against, right?).  Naturally he goes all-in instead!

What? Why?! Well I think the thought process mostly involved the consideration that Player 5 started out with a decent pocket pair, and ended with his/her refusal to acknowledge that they were beaten at any point.  Given the outcome, you could quite easily argue that Player 6’s pre-flop call was wrong, and I wouldn’t disagree — after all, Player 6’s hand is quite different to what we’d put him on — but the details are almost irrelevant.  As soon as the flop came, Player 5 was beaten, but refused to acknowledge that despite the signs.

Just my 2-penneth.  I’d be interested to read other people’s views of this hand. I might be totally mis-reading it! In the mean-time, I’m off to bed.


May 9th, 2011 at 11:29 pm

A theory: 5 is representing aces and hoping 6 will fold the K-blank he’s correctly put him on.

However if he intended to do anything like that on the turn his bet on the flop was too big — the raise on the turn wasn’t big enough to scare anyone off…

(Actually I prefer the theory that 5 was doing what I often do — getting, and remaining, over-excited about a big pocket pair that doesn’t pan out)

May 9th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Actually K-blank isn’t a good theory (apart from being correct) — teh limp-and-instacall pre-flop indicates bigger. 6 is a lucky idiot here.


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