Thursday, February 05, 2009

Making moves

Last post I was harping on about a new-found interest in properly analysing key hands – something I’d not previously been too bothered about. However, after enjoying Gus Hansen’s book ‘Every Hand Revealed’ I decided to start going back through the notes I’d taken on tournament hands and putting them under the microscope.

Boyle Poker had been kind enough to invite me over to Dublin for the IPO and I jumped at the chance to play in a juicy deep-structure tourney (10k starting stack, 40 min levels).

There were a number of interesting incidents to report on, including the most lacklustre blogger I’ve ever seen, who handed a piece of paper and a pen to the player on my left and asked him to write down his name along with a rough chip count… while the player was actually in a hand!

However, the specific hand I wanted to run through the analyse-o-tron occurred about six hours into the tourney with the blinds sitting at 400/800. I’d been moved to a new table with about five minutes to go before we moved up to 500/1k. I had 14k to play with, so though nowhere near dire straights (even with the imminent level jump) I was still looking forward to unravelling my new table-mates and hopefully finding a few opportunities to get ahead of the average count before the dinner break.

Whenever I get to a new table (where I know nothing about my new opponents) I tend to assume the players involved play much the way I do until they prove me wrong. As I gather more information I can then start narrowing down their hand ranges and the moves they are likely to make in any given situation. I also start giving them rude names to help later identify them in my notes and to amuse my (childish) self. On this particular occasion I was (according to my notes) joined at the table by the likes of ‘Chunky’, ‘Hat’, ‘Beardy’ and ‘Smell’, to name but a few.

With the aforementioned 400/800 blinds, the UTG player folded and a well-stacked ‘SlimBeard’ (see how I cleverly combined body type and facial hair into one easy-to-remember name) raised to 2,000 from early position. 2k seemed a pretty standard raise, but assuming he plays much as I would (because I have to start somewhere in my profiling) I’m going to say he won’t be raising with seven players behind him with any pair less than J-J (maybe 10-10?) I’m also going to say he is unlikely to be playing any connected cards less than KQ, AK or AQ (I doubt KJ or AJ would be in the early-position raising range of a player who has as many chips as he does six hours in!) Remembering that I actually know NOTHING about this player; he could also be a nut job who raises with any old cack (playing 78o ‘creatively’ for instance), but right now I’ll treat him like a poker player…

There is then an all-in raise to 4k from the short-stacked ‘Beardy’ two to my right that I have to say I’m not too worried about. I get the feeling he’d made the decision to shove regardless, and could be on a small pair, but more likely a random ace or king. Obviously he might have found aces, but with only 4k I’m not too concerned.

I am, however, faced with a decision when I look down to find AcJc on the button. With only the SB and BB standing between me and the original early position raiser I focus my attention on him rather than being too worried about the blinds. If either of them has got something big enough to fancy getting involved in all this action (which I imagine would have to be KK or AA) then good luck to them.

I then make a move which I’d like to explain (you know what’s coming don’t you!) yes, I moved all-in. Why? Well it’s not because I love Ace-Jack certainly, it’s because… well, in light of a raise from an early position player, followed by an all-in, just what kind of a hand MUST I have to warrant such a move?

Imagine you’d raised from early position, seen a player move all-in, and then seen another 14k pushed all-in behind that! My hope here is that the move looks so damn strong that the original raiser can throw away anything from speculative randoms right up to premium pairs and AK . This would leave me heads-up over a 11.2k pot containing 3.2k dead money. I then enter the 500/1k level with a 21,200 stack. Lovely!

The blinds do indeed fold and I am delighted to see that SlimBeard doesn’t insta-call me, but neither does he quickly fold. He DID have a big hand (oops!) but the play has done the job of looking so strong that he is now writhing about on his chair as if his arse is on fire. I’m now sure it’s not KQ, AQ or AK, and have for some reason convinced myself he has QQ.

He now disappears up himself for about four minutes, during which time I try to throw out as many false tells as possible - looking to all intents and purposes like a man with two aces in the hole, another in his back pocket, and one up his arse for good luck.

Finally (rather disappointingly) SlimBeard groans: “I call.” followed by “Aces?” and turns over pocket kings. While delighted that my play nearly got him to fold cowboys, I turn over my AcJc (the short stack showed KJo) and though it’s by no means over for me, a flop, turn and river later nothing’s changed and I shuffle away from the table with nowt but a potential column entry to my name.

I shake SlimBeard’s hand who tells me he was VERY close to dumping his kings, but it’s small consolation. However, the experience is (I think, anyway) a great advert for an interesting move that so nearly worked.

Maybe next time eh?