Thursday, August 17, 2017

Was This a Good Play?

This is a hand from a session that otherwise wasn't very interesting.  Oh, I left with a small profit, and I did win with pocket Kings (raise, 2 callers, c-bet takes it).  But no hand I was in was really worth talking about.

However, there was an interesting hand that I observed, and then got a little more information about.  I think it's worth a blog post, but you can tell me if I'm wrong.

There were these two guys in town from Minnesota, there to have a good time, and they were both fairly aggro.  Bigger than standard raises preflop, fairly aggressive post-flop. Not afraid to three-bet preflop either.  This hand involved one of these two guys, the one on my immediate left.

The other player in this drama was a regular I've referred to in the past as Dean.  You might want to look back at the post where I first mentioned him (here)  because the hand I discussed nearly three-years ago has some relevance now.  You can scroll down near the bottom of the post to find it.  The key point was that Dean was surprised that I had raised "so small" with pocket Aces and I therefore fooled him with my hand strength.  As I pointed out in that post, I raised what I would have raised with any hand I would raise, and Dean was anticipating that I'd raise based on how good my hand was.

As we start this hand, the guy from Minnesota was sitting behind nearly $500 and Dean had around $340.  Dean opened the pot for something in the area of $10-$12—a perfectly normal raise. The guy from Minnesota re-raised to something like $30-$35 (it might have been as much as $40, but no more).  When it folded back to Dean, he instantly announced "all-in."

Huh?  Seemed like a bit of an overbet no?

It folded back to the guy from Minnesota and he went into the tank forever. He was talking too.  Dean said nothing but the Minnesota guy was saying things like, "I can't fold this...I know you've got Aces but I can't fold this....Oh man, oh man."  And so on.

I couldn't figure out what Dean had that made any sense.  I wasn't thinking Aces.  I mean why shove with Aces?  You're not getting value for them.  You're almost always going to get a fold.  If you raise 3X the three-bet, you might get a call.  Of course, if the other player has Kings, it could work out, but...

Now as I said, this guy was fairly aggressive, so it's not like he's only three-betting with Aces or Kings.  He could be doing that with a lot of hands that he might call a three-bet with but wouldn't call a shove with.  If Dean's opponent is a total nit who would only three-bet with AA or KK, then yeah, if he had Aces it would make sense to shove there with them.  But then, if he's that nitty, you might scare him off Kings too.

So Dean must have something other than Aces.  Kings? Is he trying to get Ace-King to fold so he doesn't worry about an Ace hitting?  Seems extreme. 

What about Queens or Jacks?  You know Jacks—three ways to play them and they're all wrong. So get him to fold preflop.  But you can probably accomplish the same thing with a big four-bet that's a lot less than a shove and doesn't risk your whole stack.

Would he do that with Ace-King?  You know, if you get called, guaranteed to see all five cards and you have the two biggest ones.  You're still a slight underdog against QQ or JJ tho and you're getting crushed by AA or KK.

Well, eventually the guy from Minnesota listened to himself say "I can't fold this," enough times that he called.  He flipped over two Kings and Dean showed two Aces.  And the board was nothing but blanks and Dean had a real nice double up.  There was kind of sick look on the guy's face but his buddy tried to cheer him up.  "You couldn't fold that."

Not long after, the seat on Dean's immediate left opened up and I moved to it—just because I could see the cards better from there.  Dean and I have played many hours of poker together and so when I settled in and we were both out of the hand I couldn't resist asking him about the hand.  I assumed he would be willing to talk to me about it.  I was right.

"I was really surprised you shoved there with your Aces.  I can't figure out why you would do that."

"Well, I knew he was strong and I thought he would call.  And when I shove there, it looks weak, it looks like I don't want a call."

Hmmm...I guess that makes sense. Especially after I saw it work to perfection. But do you think that's a good strategy?  Should you always four-bet shove with Aces?  Even when you start the hand with over 150 big blinds?

What do you think?


  1. I think Dean told you why he did it. He had a read on the player. I don't think its a move to use every time, but with the right player, it can work. Someone who doeant want to be out-played, is showing strength, and can't easily fold strong hands. I think in that situation, it was the right play, but it is very player and read dependent.


    1. Thanks, Nick. You're right....and maybe he picked up a tell. I sure wouldn't assume that guy would call a shove with anything less than Kings, not even Ace-King. So maybe he really did put him on Kings or Aces (unlikely, but a split pot 99% of the time if he has them).

  2. The so-called and badly anglicized "Move of Honor" back from the old online days. Against opponents who don't understand risk/reward, it's a classic.

  3. Replies
    1. You mean the guy with Kings? Oh yeah, I think almost everyone would. Probably not with Queens tho.

      OTOH, a four-bet shove from a white haired guy? Maybe not so much. Although he had played with Dean for awhile and knew that Dean was not afraid to put chips in play.

  4. It never hurts to get it in ahead. Lets say he has something like suited connectors with just a call. Two come on the flop. He's staying around with outs. Or there is king-queen on the flop. Now it is Dean with the hard decision.

    You say KK is hard to play. AA can be just as big a problem. Throw in an agro who like to put hard decisions in the other court. That can cause ulcerous flops.

    1. Thanks, Ken, valid points and I know that it's pretty common to respond to a three-bet with a shove....but they were so deep. I wouldn't have questioned it so much if the stacks were $150 or so. There was just so much room for a smaller bet.

      Also wonder how the guy I recently wrote about would like that bet. You know the guy who didn't understand my raise to $50 after a small raise and a bunch of limps. I'm sure he'd be saying, "That bet makes no sense."

      Of course, he was an idiot.

  5. It almost allows your opponent to play perfectly, except in that rare spot of AA v KK, so I say it was a bad play against the range of hands that are being 3 bet.

    1. Excellent point, yes, the shove allows your opponent to play perfectly. He was just lucky the guy had probably the only 2nd best hand he would have called with.