Monday, July 1, 2013

Ace-Queen Can't Be Good There, Can it?

This is about another big pot, a pot that really made the entire session.  It happened a couple of nights ago, early in the session and everything that happened after that—poker wise, at least—was totally anti-climatic.  And it was another one of those amazing (to me) one pair hands that worked out huge.

I had only been in the game for a couple of orbits.  I’d figured out that there was one guy at the other end of the table who never saw a starting hand or a flop he didn’t like.  He wasn’t raising that much preflop, tho he did occasionally.  But he made an awful lot weak calls down the road, and he also had gotten lucky a few times, calling flop bets and turn bets and then getting what he needed on the river.  And then he'd make bluffs on the river, that he'd never show when called.  Having seen that a few times definitely factored into my thinking.
The guy to my left seemed liked a normal player, but I guess I thought he might be a little aggro, not by his play thus far, but by his friends.  I didn’t know this guy, but a guy I recognized as a regular in the room, a real aggro came over to him like they were old friends.  This is actually a guy I’ve blogged about before, tho I can’t readily locate the blog post(s).  I remember calling his bluff once and getting him mad because I called with a pretty weak hand but I read him right.  So when he came over to the player to my left, gave him a hug, pulled up a chair and watched him play a few hands, I pegged the guy at my table as an aggro.  Call it guilt by association.  And by stereotype.  He happened to be Asian.
The third player in this story was to my immediate right and was away from the table almost the entire time until this hand happened.
The funny thing about this hand was, when I reviewed it the next morning to record my voice notes, I realized I probably didn’t play it very well at all.  So I’m not posting this to brag about my great play.  I still find it an interesting hand and I’d love to get feedback on my play.  Sometimes you play a hand really badly and it works out to your benefit. 
I had managed to lose close to $25 from my $200 buy-in.  Nothing major had really happened.  Then, on the button, I looked down at Ace-Queen offsuit.

The table so far had been about 50/50 limped pots vs raised pots preflop.  So it wasn’t surprising that only two people limped when it got to me.  I made it $12.  Big blind (the Aggro-by-association) called, as did the real loose player across the way.  That was the least surprising call in the history of poker.
Then it came back to the player to my right in the cut-off seat.  As I said, he had hardly been at the table while I was there.  He had limped initially, and now, suddenly, he threw in some more red chips and said, “$35.”
Limp/raise, huh?  Interesting.  My gut reaction was to fold, but I noticed something that the dealer or the player hadn’t mentioned.  He had no chips left.  It was $35 all in.
OK, that made a difference.  Ordinarily I’d think $35 was too much to invest in Ace-Queen.  But his action was over so I don’t have to worry if he’s sitting on Ace-King or any other hand where, if the flop hits me, it hits him even more.
So I had to consider the players behind me.  I thought about raising again, or even shoving, but boy, I really don’t want to risk that much with just AQ.  I knew there was a danger in just calling, that one of the others would raise.  Damn.  Maybe I should fold?
No, that’s too nitty.  I decided to take a chance on calling and see if there was a raise behind me.  It was a risk.  But no, the other two players just called.
So now it was a $140 pot preflop.  That’s huge in a   1/2 game.  And all I had was a lousy Ace-Queen, and it wasn’t even soooted.
The flop came Queen-10-8, two clubs.  My two cards were both red.  I had top pair, best possible kicker.  But how good was that here?
Both players with chips left checked.  The other guy was all in.  I knew I had to bet TPTK, especially on such a draw heavy board.  Here’s where I made a mistake, I think.  I did bet, but I bet too little.  I put out $55.  It seemed like a good bet compared to my stack, but it was less than half the pot.  I wasn’t really protecting my hand.  I think in my mind I had miscounted my stack, or the pot.  I really can’t explain it, which is bad.  However, in this case, I don’t think it mattered.  With the size of the pot, a shove there wouldn’t have been out of order, but I wasn’t ready to invest that much on this hand.
The guy to my left snap-called, and the action was on the really loose player.  I knew he would call, but I was wrong.  Instead, he announced “all in.”
Damn.  He had about $400 at least, so that all in was for all my chips.  The guy to my left had a similar stack to mine, give or take.  So the question was, did I want to risk my entire stack for such a mediocre hand?
I’ve talked before about my inclination to avoid risking a lot of chips with a one pair hand.  In fact, the post here has a hand that was quite similar to this one, where I won a huge pot with just such a hand.  In the words of Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again.
I figured the guy who shoved there was likely making a move.  It occurred to me that he could have flopped a straight, but with the two clubs on the board, I didn’t figure he’d risk giving a free card by going for the check-raise. But I also know that his range was “any two cards” and he certainly could have played Jack-9. 
But having watched him play basically every single hand since I’d sat down, this smelled like a move to me.  Either a total bluff or a semi-bluff.  I figured he might have a draw but he wasn’t there yet.
But it really didn’t even matter.  At this point, with the pot now so big, it was really impossible for me to find a fold there.  With my $55 already out there, it was only another $85 or so to call.  The pot was too big to let it go, even if I was drawing nearly dead.
So I shoved.  Then the pot got even bigger when the guy behind me shoved as well.
It was hard for me to believe my TPTK was good there.  Or would be by the end of the hand.
No one turned over their cards.  I don’t recall exactly what the turn and the river cards were, but I can assure you that they weren’t clubs, they didn’t add to the straight possibility, and they didn’t pair the board.  And, perhaps, most importantly of all, neither was an Ace to give me two pair.  I wouldn’t have wanted that, as it turned out.
Loose guy turned over his cards for a second before mucking them.  They appeared to be two low clubs.  So he did indeed have a flush draw, albeit a baby one.  He was indeed hoping his shove would scare us off.  But our stacks were way too small for the size of the pot for that to have worked.
Aggro-by-association guy showed King-Jack.  He had the open ended straight draw and was priced in.  But he was in danger of hitting his straight and losing to the flush.  That meant I had won the side-pot, or at least most of it.  It turned out the Asian had $15 more than me, so he won a $30 side-side pot. 
The short-stacked guy who shoved first saw my Ace-queen and mucked his cards.  Since we had to show the side pots first, he didn’t have to show and didn’t.  I imagine he either had a lesser pocket pair than my Queens or high cards that missed.
My pot was around $560.  I found that amazing for Ace-queen where only the queen hit! 
The rest of the night was especially uneventful, pokerwise.  I tried to put my big stack to use making plays, but they cost me chips more often than they worked out.  I won a few hands, lost a few more, but was especially card dead for most of the night.
I had most of that money—the three bills, anyway—when I was forced from the table by an annoying loudmouth who wouldn’t shut up.  Perhaps I’ll do a rant about this clown in the future.  I actually tweeted out that I wanted someone to bring me some duct tape to place over his mouth.  I had had enough, and at that point, I realized I was too bothered by him to play well.
And oh, yeah, there was the guy who we all thought was having a heart attack right at the table.  He didn’t, and he was fine, but it was pretty scary.  I hope to tell that story some day too.


  1. i would've isolated the all in preflop. You have two loose players who either limp called or flat called your raise. Do you think they are ever doing that with just AA/KK/QQ/AK? almost never in this spot.

    Isolate and against the all in and you are prob flipping or dominating or at least a 60% favorite. His limp/all in with very few chips screams desperation at best.

    By just calling the all in you are now forcing yourself to flop an A or a Q to continue. so you are going to end up folding and losing $35 2 out of 3 times.

    also iso-raising is likely to make the loose players fold out a lot of their range you don't want in the hand like 22-99, JTs or so.

    What gets me the most is you type about how you are scared that AQ is not good enough? in this spot AQ is going to be the best hand or flipping almost 95% of the time. The action speaks volumes. MUBs I say... MUBs I say.

    postflop is tough. I'd be scared as hell as well. I don't think you played poorly postflop (except for the bet sizing maybe).

    WHich reminds me... this is another reason why don't want to just call the $35. In addition to givign the other two players a chance to catch up to your AQ, it leaves you with a very awkward stack size. You practically have to shove the flop which almost turns your hand into a bluff.

    But now I am babbling...

    isolate preflop. pop it to $100 planning to always stack off. THis makes your AQ look like KK/AA/AK and would get all the pairs 22-TT to fold. If somebody still comes over the top of you, you must call it off (knowing that it will almost never be a weird played AK/KK/AA).

    go go go!!!

    1. Thanks, Vook, really appreciate the detailed response. I expect to see you play this exact hand the right way at the ME next week.

      Remember tho, that the one guy had not exhibited any loose or aggro behavior, I was just thinking he might be wild based on his friend and his, well, ethnicity.

      But yes, I think I need to do a better job of analyzing the situation at hand rather than just be thinking that AQ isn't that great a hand. Of course, in a tourney situation I'd often play AQ as if it was AA but its so different in cash games. In fact, if this had been a tourney with similar stack sizes, I would have shoved there preflop in a heartbeat.

      Last nite I saw a guy limp UTG with the dreaded pocket Kings against a straddle. To me that's the worst play you can possible make, I would never consider it, much as I get killed by KK. So the flop comes AAK, and he takes out a guy with a weak Ace and the straddler who had QQ and even caught a Queen on the river to no avail.

      Poker, huh?

  2. yeah... it's possible for people to play their really strong hands like KK or AA weird... it's just unlikely.

    Thanks for the well wishes on the ME. Feel free to comment on my bust out hand when it occurs. It will probably be something I play too aggressively (hopefully I will have enough chips to cover it) or I will run into the top end of someone's range.

    I'm going to channel my best Jerry Yang and Darwin Moon!!

    1. Bust out? I expect you to take it down! Run good, my friend, run good!

  3. Yeah...this is a clear overbet preflop....if the limpers have the goods..then they have the goods. You want the blinds and that dead $ in the middle...which you are almost certainly flipping against at worst.

    If one of the other players in the pot was a supertight nitbag...then you could possibly get away from it.

    Playing the pot multiway is the worst are then forced to play fit or fold in a bloated pot.

    1. Thanks Bill, appreciate your feedback. You are right, I did misplay it and got incredibly lucky. If I had played it better, I would have won less money most likely, but that's not the way to look at it.

  4. There was a guy at the table who wouldn't shut up? Why, it was ... oops - forgot about the system-wide ban ...