Monday, October 5, 2009

The Reasons to Fold These Poker Hands--Or Not

The Reasons to Fold These Poker Hands--Or Not

I was asked on Twittter by @Pokerpunim to explain my reasoning on why or why not one should lay down a hand. So, here goes:

Jeopardy!  host Alex Trebek, circa 1986Image via Wikipedia

Playing Jeopardy: Situations and The Thinking Behind the Play

I sign up to play a MTT online. Everyone starts with 1500 in chips. It is the first hand and blinds are 15-30 and I am on the button.

Question #1: The player under the gun raises to 90 and one other player re-raises to 270. I have pocket Jacks on the button. What should I do?

I have no clue about the players, but I assume they are average. A three times raise can mean a wide range of hands, but the re-raise means a powerful hand. I may be ahead now, but I know that an overcard will appear on the flop about two-thirds of the time making my pocket Jacks difficult to play. Also, I don't want to risk more than 10% of my chips hoping to hit a set on the first hand. I fold.

If I had pocket Queens instead of Jacks, I am not folding. If I am up against pocket Aces or pocket Kings, than my hand is a cooler. However, I will not always move all-in here. Early in the event, I don't mind seeing the flop.

Question #2: Same situation but it is the start of round 2 and the blinds are 20-40. The player under the gun raises to 120 and one other player re-raises to 360. I have pocket Jacks. What should I do?

I have a better idea about the players now. The first player has only 600 chips because he is playing loose, and the second player has 3000 chips because he is playing loose, aggressive and he has gotten very lucky. I think this re-raiser views me as a tight player. I have 1200 in chips left.

If the first player has a hand, he will move all-in for his last 600 and the re-raiser will surely call. Any pocket pair will play better against one opponent. In this situation, I will decide to fold or move all-in. I prefer to move all-in and hope to be heads up against just the original raiser or win the pot uncontested.

Question #3: It is late in the tournament and you are on the button. The blinds are 100-200. You have 2,300. The player in early position with 5,600 raises to 600. Everyone folds to you and you find pocket Queens. What should you do?

I am not happy with my chip position. Almost every player at the table has at least 5000 in chips. My goal here is not to simply win the pot, but to win as many chips as possible. The raiser is a tight, card player. The blinds are very aggressive and may push behind me. Pocket Queens is a big hand and if I move all-in I will most likely take down the 900 win. But I like to gamble with big hands when I need chips.

I call. The big blind with 6000 in chips also calls.

The flop is A-A-4 rainbow. The pot is 1900. Both opponents check. You have 1700 left. The correct play must be to move all-in, right?

In most cases I will push here, but I know that the big blind likes to take shots. Again, my goal is the same: to gamble. Since I am on the button, a small bet will look like I am trying to steal. I bet 900. The big blind calls.

The turn is an 8. The big blind bets into me. I have only 800 left. If the big blind has the Ace, I am out. I have to call, of course. I even have two outs to win this big pot. My opponent shows 4-5 suited. And this pot more than doubles me up.

Actually this is the hand I played last night which got me back into the game and where I eventually finished 2nd in the 45 player MTT.

Question #4: It is the middle of the event. The blinds are 40-80. You have 5000. You are under the gun with A-K and raise to 240. Usually a pre-flop raise will get at most one caller. However, you get three callers.

The flop is K-9-4 rainbow. The pot is 1000. You bet 800 and everyone folds to the last player. This player raises you to 1600. What should you do?

This player has 4000 left. He is a tight player. You haven't seen him make this move before. There are no apparent draws. This hand is going to cost you all your chips. You have a tight image as well. You have top pair, top kicker but that min-raise means a better hand to me. My guess is that it is pocket 9's. I am willing to fold here and save my chips for a better situation.

Question #5: You are now down to 3960 and are in a middle position. Everyone folds to you and again, you have As-Kd. You put in a three time raise to 240. The button and big blind call.

The flop is Kh-9h-4c. There is 760 in the pot. The big blind checks. You bet 600 and the button folds. The big blind now check raises you all-in. What should you do?

There was 1360 in the pot when the big blind pushed in his remaining 4000. You have 3120 left. This is a tough situation as your call will leave you will very few chips.

This opponent hasn't made one of these check raise all-in moves before, so you need to figure out what his all-in bet means.

Since he moved all-in with an oversized bet, he does not want you to call. To me, that means he either has two pair or a flush draw. He may have hit a set, but a set usually wants a caller.

How to determine if he has two pair or a flush draw? I would look at the board cards. Would this opponent call a pre-flop raise with any two card combinations using a King, a 9 and a 4. Maybe K-9 suited of clubs. In this situation, I would lean toward calling because of the following:

a) I have a King, which reduces his chance of having a King
b) I don't think there is a good chance he will call a pre-flop raise with K-9 suited
c) Even if he does have the K-9, I can get lucky and win with an Ace.
d) Of course, even if I'm right about his flush draw, he may hit his hand and beat me.

This is another situation which I recently faced playing online. I called and my opponent showed that K-9. Bummer.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my line of play. Thanks!

1 comment:

Angela said...

I have to agree with your desicion ,I would have done the same thing. Hard to put your oppenent on K-9 prefolp?

What's Your Poker IQ?