Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Should Have Three-Bet

This is the follow up to my last post, which you can find here.  No point in reading this if you haven’t read that one.

I want to thank everyone who commented, got some great feedback which I think will help me in the future.

One common theme was that I should have three-bet preflop.  I guess so.  I did consider it but as I said, not really used to three-betting 9-9 and also, the shorter stack sizes made it tricky.  Didn’t want to get too easily committed to the hand, plus I couldn’t rule out someone shoving preflop against with a shortish stack and thus blowing me off the hand.  But I’m taking that advice to heart.

Before I give you my decision and how the hand played out, I want to do some further analysis.  As I mentioned last time, I ran this by my buddy Don and he helped me think it through and also pointed me in the right way to think about it.  BTW, Don was ok with not three-betting there.

Perhaps the biggest oversight on my part was not giving enough consideration to the possibility that one or both of the other players did not have a straight.  I recall when I first started playing poker I had a tendency to assume my opponents always had the nuts, and then make my decision based on that.  I’ve gotten away from that, but perhaps I fell back towards that on this hand.

It’s important to consider because if you put the other players on a range of hands, and not just straights, the math will obviously dictate a different play than assuming you need to improve to win the pot—and also assuming there’s no way you can bet the lady off her hand.

What if the lady had 10-8 or 10-6 and that explains her turn bet, picking up a second pair there?  Is that possible?  The short stack slow played a set on the flop and then shoved the turn?  Is that possible?  Or maybe two pair for him is a possibility.

Don ran the numbers.  I don’t have his calculations but I trust his reportage.  First he put the players on ranges that included any 7, any two pair hands, any set (including a turned set of 10’s.  Then he separated the two players and did the numbers as if there were two separate hands.  Hand A I was against the short stack.  Hand B I was against the lady.  And he ran it assuming that I would shove the turn and the lady would call (I’ll get back to that).

Against those ranges, the math indicates a shove by me would have been the right play.

On the other hand, If I put them only on straights, the math is against me, and the right play is to fold, I just don’t have enough equity to catch my boat.  Actually, if either one of them absolutely has a straight, it’s a fold.

That’s all well and good, but of course, poker is a game of reads.  And honestly, I was really, really sure of my read there that they both had straights. Maybe that’s why I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking of non-straight ranges  For the lady, I could see her playing through the flop that way with either a flopped two pair or a flopped pair that turned into two pair.  But the way she was playing, I really couldn’t believe she would have bet the turn if she had less than a straight.  If she had flopped an under-set, she would have gotten aggressive on the flop, and either led out or check-raised me.  And with all those straight cards on the turn, if she caught two pair I’m certain she would have checked and tried to see the river for as little as possible.  I’m really 99% certain here.

The shover is a bit more of an open question, but again, if he caught something on the flop, it wouldn’t make any sense—especially in this type of game—to not be aggressive on the flop.  I gave him the opportunity to check-raise if he wanted to do it that way, and he didn’t.  He almost had to have a draw.  The only non-straight hand that made sense was pocket 10’s, but he likely would have made a small-to-medium bet on the flop with the over pair.  I’m about 95% certain he had a straight or an unlikely turned set of 10’s (of course, that’s worse for me than a straight, it leaves me with a one-outer).

So based on the confidence I had in my reads, it’s a fold.  But it was rather a somewhat of a close call. If I felt there was more chance than I assumed that they had less than straights, it’s probably a call (or  a raise).

And then….well, after Don read my post and saw what I said about my reads, he came back with this great insight: “when someone who ordinarily just check calls comes out and bets, they almost always have a monster and when a tight short stack who hasn't been that active shoves over the top of that, he's got the nuts. Remember, in this case you aren't even relying in just your read on two opponents. You have the information that the second player shoved over an unusual lead from the British lady in the blind. That adds up to a really strong hand from him.”

So the odds didn’t justify a call.

Which brings us to the other question.  If I continue, do I call or shove?  Don said that in his opinion, calling was the worst of the three options.  It’s either a fold or a shove.  We didn’t really discuss that much, and I’m not sure about that.  One of the reasons it was so tricky for me at the table was that I was considering both options, shove or call, and trying to work the math for both.  It was confusing.  One advantage of just considering fold or shove is it makes the math a lot simpler. 

But again, I was assuming no fold equity there.  If we go back and consider the lady might have two pair or an underset, does she fold?  And does it matter (since that will put me heads up with someone who can’t fold and probably has a straight)?  Because if I shove and she does fold, I don’t have the odds I thought I had (but I end up risking less). 

I still maintain that the $60 or so I might have saved by just calling there was not insignificant in a short-stack game like this.  Or, maybe a call keeps her in with her two pair, whereas a shove folds her out?  And if I call, I might not get her money if the board pairs.  On the other hand, to call my $60 for the size of the pot might be something she would do, even if he did think I had boated up.  Maybe she thinks the short-stack has the boat and she can win the side pot from me?

So I’m still not sure if, had I decided to continue, a shove or a call is the best play.

With all that in mind, here’s how the hand actually played out.

After tanking, I ended up folding. I didn’t think I had the right price to go for the boat. The lady did call, although more hesitantly than I would have expected.  She showed Jack-7.  So I was right about the straight.  The short-stack showed Ace-7 for a smaller straight.  The lady was relieved of course…..she said that she was very concerned he had Queen-Jack for bigger straight.  That’s why she took a bit to call. 

Well, that tells me that she may have folded to my shove.  She probably would have assumed that one of us a bigger straight than she did.  And my chips would have cut into her profitable day.  I dare say, based on her comment and her hesitancy to call, she might have even folded if I had just called.

I wanted to ask her the hypothetical—would she have folded to my turn shove?  But I didn’t want to reveal anything about what I had.  But that dialog from her made the hand stand out in my mind more than it otherwise would have.

Well that and the river card.  It was a 6, which would have given me the boat.  And the pot.  Probably wouldn’t have gotten all the lady’s chips (though maybe I would have) but it would have been a nice pot to drag in.

So based on my read (which turned out to be completely correct), it was marginally a good fold.  We’ll just forget about the results-oriented thinking that makes it a bad fold, ok?

And next time, I’m three-betting with pocket 9’s in that spot.  I am, I am, I am.


  1. Trying to remember the 3 PPPs of poker, Position, Patience, and Pure Aggression?
    Nice fishing lure, and floaters.
    GL sir,

    Big L

  2. Please don't "always" 3bet 9's. There are times to 3bet and times to get in cheap. Evaluate the situation on a case by case basis. The thing I hate about 3betting a pocket pair there is the original raiser shows up with AA, KK or something and blows your very profitable set mining off its hand.

    So far as the answer to your question about raising her off her hand: I doubt she's folding like ever... players simply don't do that (or at least very rarely do that). Nevertheless, does raising all in do anything other than isolate the short stack getting you to play for the pot? I don't think you want to do that... you want her chips in the middle too.

    1. Thanks very much, PM.

      Now that I've gotten all this input from various sides, I know the right play.

      Should have folded preflop.

  3. The key will be to focus on why are you doing something. Knowing the reason behind this spot being a three bet vs. a price setting open, or a call vs. a 5x UTG bet is far more important than prepackaged poker plans. GL.

    1. Once again, I appreciate your input, sir. Thanks.

  4. well, that's the game dude. It's all about learn and learn.

    1. Yes indeed. I post hands like this to get feedback and learn from them, and absorb the advice from my readers.

  5. Replies
    1. Heh Heh. Yes. Funny I didn't even see the motor on the boat.

      Tho the pic does make me think of motor boats.

  6. All this over analysis is because the result would have been you would have dragged the pot? It is an easy fold. A basic fold. Not worthy of a 500 word analysis of why it is a fold. Low level players can't get away from pocket aces, sets, small flushes and donkey end straights. Use this to your advantage at low end stakes, don't think like a donkey.

    1. @Jen, I actually posted this because I was confused about the decision I had, not because of the result. Sorry you didn't feel this was worthwhile to discuss, but clearly others disagree.

      @anger: No more boobies for you!

  7. The correct answer is the fold. If you think both players have a made straight or the chance to draw out on you. Then you had to give the answer that you would have made a full house and crushed them. Me I am an idiot and when I play in short stack games I go all in with a made set and lose most of the time. That is just me. I spend about 10 seconds analysis what I should do and just rip it.

    1. Thanks, Ed. There's something to be said for just saying "what the F" and going for it, right.

      Let's face it, if there was a way to get it all in on the flop, I would have jumped at the chance.