Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Limp/Re-Raise

I was having a rather poor session.  Couldn’t get anything going.  It was disappointing because I should have had a good night.  I’d been running hot and this was the first night of the second weekend of March Madness. When I picked this particular table, there were no familiar faces and some big stacks.  The players were all laughing and having a good time.  It was clear they were all tourists.  I overheard the player with the biggest stack saying he had been drinking since10AM, and it was almost 8PM when I took my seat.

There was some wild action and it was clear early that bluffing wasn’t an option.  I’d have to make a hand at some point.  Not necessarily a great hand, or even a good hand, but some kind of hand.  So I lowered my calling standards, and played hands I usually fold.  But flop after flop missed me and put quality draws out there for players playing cards I didn’t have.

As my stack shrunk, I was about to add some more chips when I thought better of it.  You know those cash drawings they have?  Well, this was the last night I’d be able to catch one (they are only four days a week now).  Only three prizes were left, one worth $100 and two worth $1,000.  So if you got picked, you had a 2 in 3 chance of getting a grand.  Not bad.

With only 45 minutes left to qualify, I decided to just play the short stack and try to roll the dice trying to get some drawing tickets.  At that point, I had no tickets.  I also realized that mentally, I wasn’t really into poker right then, for whatever reason.  I didn’t think I was capable of playing my best poker.  So I figured it was safer to see how long my stack could last.  If I was gonna be chasing flushes for the next ¾’s of an hour, it seemed safer to not risk any more money than I had to.  With a small stack, I wouldn’t feel so bad calling on the river with a weak flush and losing to a bigger flush.  Somehow, in my mind, I justified investing the last of my buy-in into trying to get a chance at that $1,000.  Maybe I wasn’t really thinking all that clearly on this night!

So I let me stack get down to $58 (from a $200 buy-in), when this hand happened.  UTG +1 was first into the pot, limping in for two bucks.  Next guy folded and the action was on me.  I looked down at Ace-Jack offsuit.  I thought about putting it all in but didn’t think I’d get a call, so I raised to $8.  Two players called, including the big blind (this is important) and then back to the first guy in the pot.

He repopped it $28.  This got my attention.  This was the second time this guy had limped/re-raised.  And both times it was against me.  The first time he limped and I raised with Ace-Queen.  He min-raised me when it folded back to him.  WTF?  I called and had to let it go when he bet out on a flop that totally missed me.

Now he was at it again.  The funny thing is, this guy had been virtually a total non-entity the entire time I was there.  I couldn’t remember him three-betting any other time.  I couldn’t even remember him raising preflop before.  He hadn’t said much, hadn’t played much, hadn’t done much.  He was just taking up space at the table, waiting for his monster hand (I guess) to unleash the only tool in his arsenal, the limp/re-raise.  Twice.  And only against me.

He had me covered but not by much. Against anyone who had limp/re-raised me there, circumstances dictate that I shove back.  And I’m sure I would have done it to anyone.  But this guy, this guy….for sure I was gonna shove back against him.  No chance I’m letting this go with such a small stack to protect. 

I dunno why, but the limp/re-raise move is one that particular irks me.  I take it personally.  I know, I know, it’s a perfectly legitimate play.  I’m sure I’ve done it a few times myself.  But it always annoys me when I see someone do it.  Much more so than any normal three-bet.  I guess it bugged me more because this was the only action I’d ever seen this particular guy take.  It was almost like he had something against me.  If he had been an active player, played a lot of hands, raised a lot, it might not have bugged me so much.  But it felt like this clown was targeting me, specifically.  Hey, just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.

Also, by this time, the big stack, the biggest aggro, had left the table, and there was no guarantee that anyone would raise behind him.  It was a risky play.  By now, we were seeing a lot of limped pots.

So my shove got the other two players out and Mr. Limp/Re-Raise called.  We didn’t show.  I’m not sure the exact order of the board, but there was an Ace on the flop and by the end, there was a Queen and three 5’s.  Yeah, three.  So I had a boat.  I flipped over my hand and so did the other guy.  He had—can you guess?—the dreaded pocket kings!

I had to admit that was especially delicious.  I not only won the pot, but I cracked his Kings and I cracked his signature move, the limp/re-raise.  Heh heh.  And the boat meant I got a drawing ticket.

Awesome.  And it got better.  The big blind said he threw away the case 5.  He said he called my raise to $8 with Jack-5 sooooted (guess he wanted a drawing ticket too!) but couldn’t call my shove.  So it all worked out perfectly for me.

You see, if Mr. L/R-r raises there with his dreaded hand right off the bat, I fold.  I’m not calling a raise from a tight player with Ace-Jack offsuit, that’s for sure.  Maybe, maybe, if it was suited.  But offsuit?  No way.

So assuming he made a standard raise, similar to mine, would the big blind have called?  Probably, unless it was raised too much. Now, I wish I could remember the order of the cards.  I think the last two cards were runner-runner fives, but I’m not sure (it didn’t matter to me since I was all in already).  Would the big blind have called the Mr. L/R-r’s flop bet if he just had a pair of 5’s?  Or would Mr. L/R-r have not bet the flop when there was an Ace out there?  No way of knowing.

So I dunno if the Limp/re-raiser would have won the hand if he had raised outright, but I do know I definitely wouldn’t have had.

That was especially sweet for me.  I wonder if he keeps up that Limp/re-raise trick or if he’s learned his lesson? 

You should have seen the expression on his face.  He looked like he’d seen a ghost.  Seriously, he looked like he’d never seen someone get his Kings cracked before!  Guess he doesn’t read this blog.

It took every bit of restraint I had to avoid commenting on his play, to avoid saying anything about his limp/re-raise blowing up in his face.  Or to mention that it was the second time he pulled that shit on me and I wasn’t going to take it again.  I just enjoyed the moment and watched as he picked up his few remaining chips and left the table with his tale between his legs.

Now….since I got my drawing ticket—which of course I wouldn’t have gotten if I had folded to his raise—it would be just awesome to end this post with the story of how that ticket was pulled out of the drum and I won $1,000 because of that guy’s limp/re-raise.

Sadly, not all tales have storybook endings.  They picked someone else.  

Nevertheless, I still am enjoying my small victory over the guy who limp/re-raised me twice.


  1. If I had to bet, I'm guessing that he pulled that move against you twice because you hadn't been running well. He probably perceived that as meaning that you're not a good player (based on his limited sample size). Those of us who follow your blog know for sure that you're not a good player... Ba dump, CHING! ;) Honestly, with the kings, I think that he limped in the hopes that anyone would raise so that he could re-raise... Oh, by the way Rob, in Doyle Brunson's list of 'Ten Trouble Hands' (Super System 2), you'll NEVER GUESS what hand is listed there... #evilhand #queenten Congrats on cracking your nemesis!

    1. Weird, I dunno why the email telling me you had posted a comment didn't come thru to my smart-phone, Coach, sorry I didn't approve this comment yesterday.

      Now that I've had more time to reflect, I think it's entirely possible that guy PLANNED to do the limp/re-raise other times, but didn't get raise preflop the other times. then he had to let go a good hand when it didn't hit (ie, it did it with KK or QQ or JJ and had to let it go when an Ace hit the flop). Maybe he DID target me the first time when he limped in with a marginal hand and figured I was easy pickens to try the three bet with. But I don't think he was that much of a thinking player. I think he was just weak.

      But who knows.

      I don't really like Q-10 either but you know, sometimes you get lucky. Even Doyle would admit to that!

  2. "Seriously, he looked like he’d never seen someone get his Kings cracked before! Guess he doesn’t read this blog."

    He he

    1. I should have given him a card with the blog's URL on it when he left.

  3. "I wonder if he keeps up that Limp/re-raise trick or if he’s learned his lesson?" Considering he got stacks in with KK in the second worse position I think he was the one teaching the lesson. The lesson is of course is you should turbo muck AJ in that spot. If a "non-entity" limp re-raises twice, he probably had JJ+ or AK, even if both times was against you.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jon-David.

      I see your point, but honestly, with the stack size on the Ace-Jack, I truly believe my shove was the right move there. If I had more chips, Making the fold would have been the right play. Then too, I can't just fold every time someone re-raises me, can I?

      A better case could be made for me folding the first time with Ace-Queen. I should have insta-mucked there, I suppose.