Friday, February 21, 2020

What Would I Do?

Often the most interesting hand of a session doesn't involve me.  That was the case in my latest visit to Ventura.  It involves a woman who took a really long time to decide whether or not to make a call.  I had plenty of time to analyze the situation myself while she tanked.  Let's see if you agree with my analysis.

The female player in this story seemed like a reasonably solid player, had been fairly active, had hit a few nice hands and had built up her stack to over $500.  The other player was the guy on my right, who hadn't played many hands at all.  He had worked his stack down to about $220.  From the few hands he'd played it would be reasonable to consider him at least somewhat nittish, or perhaps he was just really card dead.

I can't remember the exact action preflop.  I know the lady raised to $40.  I'm not sure if there had been a bunch of limpers or if maybe it had been raised and that was a three-bet.  It's not unusual for this game to see someone bet that much preflop as a first raise, especially after bunch of limpers.  I had no reason to think that she didn't have a big hand.

It folded to the guy on my right who called. He was the big blind. Everyone else folded.  I I had already folded under-the-gun. So it was heads up.

The flop was 10-10-4, rainbow.  The guy was first to act.  And he shoved.  Hmmmm….

The lady went into the tank.  She asked for a count.  It was $181.  That was a really large bet into a pot of around $80.  At one point she lifted up her cards rather casually like she was taking one last look before folding.  I was upset that perhaps the player on her left could see her hand because if she folded and she showed one player her cards, everyone should get to see them.  I wanted to know what she considered a $40 hand.

But instead, she flipped over her hand, and put the cards face up in front of her.  And she looked at the other player to see some reaction.  I guess here it's ok to expose your hand like that.  Some rooms it is not allowed.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that the two cards were both Aces.  I couldn't get any read from the profile of the player next to me, and apparently she couldn't either.  She continued to tank, she called for time, and you could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she considered what to do. 

So I played "what would I do?"  What hand could he have where his donk-shove made sense?  If he had a 10, wouldn't it make more sense to bet smaller?  Hell, since they were heads up, wouldn't it make sense for him to check, assuming she would most likely c-bet, then he could check-raise?  I was thinking he really didn't want a call, did he?  A shove-bluff? 

The counter was that nothing this guy had done all day indicated that he was likely to make a move like that.

So let's step back a bit. What hands would he call a $40 bet with preflop?  Any with a 10?  Well pocket 10's, but donk-shoving the flop with quads would be such a horrible play you have to rule it out.  Ace-10, Jack-10, 10-9?  Even suited that would be a stretch. But not impossible.

More likely he'd call with a pocket pair, probably a big one.  But if he had Kings he'd likely have re-raised preflop, right?  Even likely with Queens.  If he called with Jacks, he had an overpair.  But with any overpair, he's got showdown value.  Would it make sense to shove Queens or Jacks there?  If she has Ace-King she folds easily, whereas if he checks he'd at least likely get a c-bet out of her. You don't want to turn a big overpair into a bluff at that point.  So I'm thinking that he likely doesn't have a big pair.

Is he bluffing with a small pocket pair?  Or even two unmatched big cards?  The thing is, there really isn't any draw he's afraid of on that board. Which is why a 10 is so unlikely.  I mean if the other card was a Jack or a 9, or if there was two of a suit, maybe he's so afraid of getting drawn out on that he shoves just to make sure it doesn't happen.  Wouldn't be a good move but I see people do it all the time.  But with this board, if he has a 10, he's not worried about it.

What about pocket 4's  Well, I doubt he's calling $40 pre with 4's.  But if he did and flopped a boat, why the hell would he open shove?  Of course there's always a chance she could draw to a bigger boat (it's happened to me recently).  But do you really shove with a boat because you're  worried about that?  I don't think so.

So for the last two minutes I sat there getting a bit impatient.  I had decided that she had to call.  I just couldn't think of any hand he might have where it made sense to shove other than some crazy bluff.

And so finally the lady shrugged and called.  And the dealer dealt two more cards. I don't remember what they were.  But when the river was out, the guy meekly said, "you're good," and mucked his cards face down.  And then he got up and left.  So I'm afraid I can't report to you what he had.

After he was gone, there was quite a discussion on the hand as the lady stacked her chips.  I wanted to be sure I remembered correctly so I asked her if he had indeed open shoved the flop.  He had.  I said, if he had a 10 why wouldn't he have checked and let you bet?  She said she felt the same way.  She knew it didn't make sense for him to have a 10 and play it that way.  But then she was thinking maybe that was exactly what the guy wanted her to think. Maybe he was making it look like a bluff so he'd call his monster?

Obviously she didn't let that thought win out in her mind.  She made the right call.  What do you think?  Am I missing something?

I had a modestly profitable session.  I three-bet with pocket Aces and didn't get a call.  I saw a flop for free from the big blind with 8-4 off (six-way flop).  Flop was Ace-10-8 so I called $6 and it was four-way. The turn was a 4 so I bet $25. One call.  I bet $50 on a brick and didn't get a call.

Next hand, in the small blind, I had Ace-King of hearts. A guy shoved his last $49.  It folded to me and I called.  The big blind folded.  He didn't show.  I liked the flop.  Ace-King-10  He couldn't have Queen-Jack could he?  The board blanked out and he didn't show after I showed my top two.  He said he had "kicker problems."

With pocket 7's I called a $6 straddle.  It was four-way.  The flop was Jack-7-3.  I bet $12 and didn't get a call.

With Ace-King I made it $15 after on limp.  It was three-way.  The flop was 10-9-9.  I made a c-bet of $30 and didn't get a call.

With Jack-5 in the big blind and no raise, five of us saw a flop of King-Jack-3, two spades.  I checked and called $10. (Edited to add: Originally I posted that the last card was a 5, indicating I had flopped two pair.  That was a typo. I just flopped middle pair and had trip Jacks on the turn)  The turn was good news/bad news.  It was the Jack of spades. So I had trips but had to be a bit worried about someone already having a flush.  I checked and called $25, we were now heads up.  The river was a brick and I checked, he checked behind and said he missed his draw.

I booked a $65 win.


  1. "I guess here it's ok to expose your hand like that."

    The card rooms I've played in let you do that in cash games. In tournaments, it's a big no-no.

    1. Thanks, MOJO. Yead definitely against TDA rules. I think a lot of Vegas rooms allow you to show in a cash game (when heads up). I do recall many years ago at MGM when someone did it and they called the floor and warned the guy that it was absolutely forbidden in that room.

  2. Rob - check your details in last hand. Did you boat up on the turn? Where is the bad news?

    1. All I meant was it was bad news that there were now three spades on the board, not that someone HAD the flush. Turns out he obviously didn't have it. I rewrote the post to make it more clear. Thanks for letting me know.

    2. I think what Zoddiac is saying is that you said you started the hand with J-5. You said the flop was K-J-5, so you flopped two pair. The Jack of spades on the turn would have given you jacks full of 5s, so you should welcome a flush for your opponent in that situation, not fear it.

    3. Thanks, Jeff. I totally missed that. It was a typo, I would have bet out or check raised if I had flopped two pair and would not have checked a boat on the river! I think it was a 3, not a 5 (the third card on the board) and I have edited the post again!

    4. Thank you gentlemen! I hoped you hadn't misread your hand. He probably would have folded to any bet on the river anyway.

    5. Thanks again, Zoddiac for pointing out the error, and sorry I didn't even realize whet you were trying to tell me!

      I didn't misread my hand....just my notes when I was writing up the post. And blew it multiple times in the proof reading. Ugh.

  3. No way the guy had a 10. As you mentioned, it would be horrible to shove if he flopped quads. And a guy playing tight isn't gonna call a $40 bet with A-10, J-10, etc. As I read, I kept thinking "A-K, probably sooted."

    1. Thanks, Lightning. That makes some sense. But if he had AK suited, and he had no clue what the other player had, would that move make sense? Wouldn't it be better to check, see if the player bet, and go from there. Maybe she doesn't bet and you hit top pair on the turn. Or maybe a check means he can go for the steal on the turn? I mean your hand still has value. If she bets and it isn't big, float and see the turn. Perhaps a check-raise bluff would get a fold where as a open shove would not?

      I'm thinking AK makes sense if he thought the lady had AK herself, or maybe AQ. Then he's making big bluff and he gets AK, which he's tied with, to fold?

      Good suggestion!

  4. I'll be honest. Don't care too much about the hand (although I agree with your analysis.) I'm just here for Ann Margaret pics!!!

    1. Can't fault you for that John. She was smokin' hot.