Sunday, May 12, 2013

Aces vs Kings.....vs Queens???

This hand will serve as a follow up to my Aces vs. Kings post from awhile back, see here.  This is another one of those titanic battles, but with a twist, as suggested by the title. 

The question, after you read about the hand is, did I get lucky or did I get unlucky?  Or perhaps a bit of each?

This took place over my last weekend in Vegas on my most recent trip.  I was having a good night at the tables, and it was a really fun night too.  This will definitely not be the last blog post about this particular session, but for now, I want to isolate one hand. (Edited to add: In fact, for more on this poker session, see here)  I had more than doubled my $200 buy in when this hand took place, so I was sitting behind a stack of about $420.
In middle position I woke up with pocket Aces.  The guy under the gun limped in and then the next guy made it $16.
Hmm.  This might be fun, I thought.  He was a solid player who had been there awhile and had not exhibited any wild aggro tendencies.  I knew his early position raise meant he had a pretty big hand.  He had about $100 less than me, and been up and down not around that amount for most of the time.
It folded to me.  Because I don’t three-bet a lot, I never really know how much to bet there.  But my gut reaction is 3X the bet in front of me.  That’s probably too much.  Ideally I want to be heads up, I don’t want multi-way action.  I guess that’s what I was thinking when I put out $50 (the nearest “round” number to the $48 that 3X his bet would have been).  I would love feedback as to what the right amount there is.  Remember, there were a number of people behind me yet to act, in addition to the blinds, the limper and the original raiser.
It folds to the big blind, who wasted no time in putting out his entire stack.  It was a short-stack, around $70-$80.  That was fine by me, I figured with his stack he could do that with a lot of hands and he obviously couldn’t be ahead of me.
This guy was a bit odd.  He was Asian but not at all the stereotypical loose-aggressive type that you might expect.  You know, that I talked about here.  I really couldn’t remember him or having formed an opinion of his game.  That’s probably because, in addition to not being aggressive, he did not say one word at the table the entire time he was there, and spent the entire time there with his face buried in his celphone.  Seriously, he had that celphone in front of him the entire time he sat at the table.  I dunno if he was playing a game or texting, or what, but he seemed to be paying absolutely no attention to the game until this hand.
My recollection is that he came to the table with a stack of chips, i.e., he didn’t have to buy chips) and it was probably a similar amount to what he had just shoved with.
The limper folded instantly and then the original raiser took just a few seconds to put out a new, nice neat stack of $100.  He did not pull back the $16 he had out there, making the bet $116.
Again, I could use some advice.  Considering the stacks, what should I have done?  I shoved, but was that too much?  Should I have just doubled his bet?  Should I have tried harder not to scare him away since he had to have a lesser hand than mine (or, perhaps, the other two aces)?
But without much hesitation I announced, “all in.”  Because pretty much every time in the past when it’s four-bet to me (or is that a five-bet, considering the Asian’s all in?) and I’ve got Aces, that’s what I do.  I guess my real issue is that I don’t experience this often enough to know how to play it, which is too bad.
Back to the raiser, and he tanked.  He thought long and hard.  So he didn’t have the other two Aces or that’s a snap call.  I figured he had the dreaded pocket Kings.  Eventually, almost regrettably, he said, “call.”
Then he looked at me and said, “You have Aces?”  I nodded and just went ahead and flipped over my cards.  I asked him, “You have Kings?”  He nodded yes but didn’t show his hand.  The Asian, as usual, said and did nothing, preferring to focus his attention on his celphone.
Because I’ve seen it so many times, that multiple people are dealt big pairs in a hand, I thought for sure the Asian had two Queens.  So when a Queen hit the flopped, I figured it wasn’t good for me.

Nothing else of note filled out the board.  No King, no Ace, no straight or flush draws,  The Asian—silently of course—turned over his hand at that point and did indeed have a couple of Queens.  The guy who said he had Kings just mucked without showing.  The guy to his left, who hadn’t seen him nod to my question, asked him what he had and he said “Kings.”
Now I suppose a case could be made that he didn’t really have Kings there, since he didn’t show.  Usually in those situations, the guy who lost is eager to show his hand to show how unlucky he had been and that he hadn’t played it badly.
But I really doubt that.  I’d bet everything I won on that hand that he really did have a couple of Kings there.  I don’t think that guy calls my shove with anything less.  I think he was just too sick to flip over his cards.  He didn’t re-buy, he just left silently while I said to him, “Tough hand.”  I figured I owed him the respect of not giving him a totally insincere, “Sorry.”  I was not sorry.  Well I was sorry.  I was sorry that the Asian hit his damn Queen, that’s what I was sorry about.
So the Asian put down his celphone long enough to swoop in the main pot, which was roughly $240.  But the side pot was much bigger and belonged to me—well over $400. 
So the question was, was I lucky or unlucky?  When the all the money was in, I had the best hand.  Against a single hand there—assuming a big pair—I’m around a 80/20 favorite.  But against two hands, if they’re both big pairs, I’m only supposed to win 2 out of 3 times.  Still nice odds, but not as overwhelming as heads up.
So for a good long while I had two distinct, alternating thoughts in my head.
One: damn, why did that guy who couldn’t take his face away from his damn celphone have to hit his Queen?  That entire pot should have been mine and then it would have been really huge (over $600).  I got all my money in good.  Bad luck.
Two: well, if one of them had to hit their set, I’m sure glad it was the short-stacked guy.  If the guy with the $300 stack hit his set instead, I’d have lost over $300 right there, instead of winning well over $200.  Good luck.
I mean, if you told me in advance one of us was going to hit our set and it wasn’t going to be me, I would have picked the anti-social Asian to hit his hand, that’s for damn sure.
So was I lucky or unlucky?


  1. Lucky that you could get your Aces in as a HUGE favorite to not one but two people.

    Lucky that a guy with KK is willing to stack off over 2x buyins in a pretty obvious spot where you hold AA.

    Otherwise, unlucky that the field beat you in a 60/40 race.

    Lucky that the field who beat you held QQ and was short stacked, instead of the KK big stack, enabling you to earn some $$$ on the pot.

    1. Thanks, PM.

      Are you saying that in this situation, you would have been "good enough to fold pocket Kings there against me?

      BTW, the stack he lost could have been only one buy in. Max buy in there is $300. I usually buy in for $200 tho.

    2. No; not necessarily saying that. TBH, in that kind of situation, I have to believe that one of the two of you have AA based on the action. Moreover, knowing you and your tendencies from what you've posted, you have a very tight 3bet range and an even tighter 5bet/6bet range. Add to that the fact that you're 200BB deep (2x buyins in my book; $300 = 1.5 buyins, but yes, you're correct about the $300 = technically a buyin), and KK suddenly looks a lot weaker than when villain started the hand. I'm not going on to claim that I can fold KK in this situation, but it's certainly a consideration. I'm also going to state that this is pretty much a snap fold online; much easier to fold KK online than live.

    3. Interesting about it being easier to fold online. I never played online that much even back in the day. I used online to learn the game and then found that I really liked the social aspect of playing live.

      When I did play, it was almost always low LIMIT, not NL, although I did play a lot of sit-n-go's.

      So tell me why it's easier to fold Kings online?

    4. Not saying it's "easy" but it's more standard. You can see the numbers and stats, which directly support your moves. Against a random donk with not much hand history, it's a real tough fold. Against a player with 1k+ hands and a 1-2% 3bet / micro 4bet %age, it's pretty easy to define a range for that guy to be precisely AA.

      Ultimately, you get enough hands in to realize (sometimes - not all the time) when KK runs into AA. Couple that statement with the fact that AA > KK happens much more frequently because of the volume of hands played online.

    5. Oh yeah, I forgot that online players use that tracking software for their opponents, so it really is easier to put people on hands.


  2. I like the 3-bet to $50. You want to thin out hands that play well against Aces (relatively speaking), like suited connectors. But you don't want to scare off all action with an overly large raise.

    As for lucky/unlucky, who cares? You got Aces. You got it all in preflop, You got your money in dominating the two other hands. All you can do is get your money in good. If you can't take this situation and be ecstatic, you shouldn't play NL.

    1. Thanks Grange. I was happy at the time but you know, I guess I'm still a bit too results oriented.

      There's a reg I was playing with last week I know, he got it real good against a guy who had no business calling him but did and sucked out on him. He had to rebuy and I said something like, wow, tough hand.

      He said, "I got it in good, so I'm fine with it."

      That's the right attitude, obviously.

  3. I would three-bet to $40ish, but what you did was okay. There's nothing right or wrong here. Of course you move all in, just like you did, the second time it came to you. My two cents.

    1. Thanks, MOJO, appreciate it.

      Of course, you're much more of a tournament player than a cash player, right?

  4. I would have called the $116 pre and looked to get my money in on the flop.
    It should be pretty obvious that the guy has KK (or the other AA) there and if he has something he is playing tricky by putting in that other raise after the action he just saw then whatever- it happens.

    but, I'm not exactly a good player

    1. Well, if he see's an Ace on the flop he can fold easily. Harder to fold preflop, I think.

  5. It's a dangerous thing to flat KK PF, for the exact reasons you described, Rob. If the Ace does hit, you lose out on all sorts of value, when & if the A does hit the flop. I agree with you that you get your money all in PF, when you know you're an 80/20 to the big stack.

  6. we now spell it "CELPHONE"?

    Instead of Cellphone?
    BTW---- enjoy the blog.

    1. Now it looks like you have a grammar / spelling troll as well (though he did say he likes the blog, so I'll bet it's in jest...).

    2. Thanks, norm, glad to hear that.

      Regarding the spelling "celphone"....well it seems to be an acceptable alternative spelling, and I kind of like it, especially since it's one less letter I have to type.

      I think I'm going to start a worldwide campaign to make "celphone" the accepted spelling.

    3. PM, norm is no troll. He's a good guy (he likes my blog, so he MUST be) and has commented here before.

      Besides, I don't mind the grammar/spelling corrections. Early in the blog's history, somebody pointed out that I had a bad habit of calling cards "Ace's" and "King's" instead of just "Aces" and "kings" and I was happy to be corrected.

  7. Hi Rob You seem like a regular guy and poker player. I keep hearing about " Getting it in good and that is all you can expect " I have been doing this a lot. I still lose a lot. I have cashed 5th and 2nd in my last poker tournaments and got it in bad but won anyway. Cash not so much. I think I will play more poker tournaments and cash more often and give up playing cash games. Good luck getting it in good.

    1. Thanks for the comment and the well wishes. Good luck to you too.

      I've been thinking of cutting back on my tourns in favor of cash, but last month I did cash in tourns back to back (min cashes tho). One of these days I'll have time to blog about them.

      Getting it in good and actually winning are two different things, as you found out....