I have a problem that I have a hard time getting my arms around. It's best explained with what happened to me yesterday. 1/2 NL live ring game. starting stack $200. I get QsQc in UTG+2 for my first hand. I hate getting a strong hand on my first hand because I have no idea what the other players' style is. But it is what it is. Everyone folds to me. I raise to $13, only the CO and the Button call. $42 in the pot. The flop comes Js9sTd. I still have top pair plus an open handed straight draw as well as a back door flush draw. I bet $27, the CO calls and the Button folds. The pot is now $96. The turn is 5s, putting a potential flush out there. Not the best card for me. I check, the CO bets $25 and I figure I want to make sure this guy is serious so I raise to $55. He asks to see my stack and pushes all in, largely covering me. I feel that the only thing I can do here is fold. My problem is that in the whole process I've lost $95, i.e. almost 50% of my stack which I think is way too much. I've found that recently with the playing style I've developed on APT this has happened more often than I would like. Any suggestion on how differently I could have played this hand?
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Yes. Practice fist pumping when dealt a premium, first hand or not, instead of hating it.
Bet/fold if you are somehow sure he has the Kxs or Axs and villan raises. As played villan only bets 1/4 pot. Call and see a river. You do have Qs. If no spade comes on river, check/ fold. On a spade check/decide based primarily on price meaning big = fold, small = call. He may check behind if his supposed flush is small. (78s?)
Not thinking AKs since no 3bet but this is 1/2 many call with AK.
Likely good fold since he shipped. You Can have AKs as EP raiser. How does he know you don't have it? You did C/R after all. AJs or smaller are all possible.
Your C/R reopened the betting thus allowing him to blow you off your equity whether he had it or not.
Multi-way, on a sloppy wet flop like this, with an overpair and draws to the nut straight and the 3rd nut flush, I bet larger. I want to deny equity and I'm happy to build the pot with those draws so with $42 in the middle I'd be betting close to pot. If someone smashed the flop with 2-pair+, you are going to hear about it right away.
The flat call on the flop bet is curious to me. 2 pairs raise. Sets raise. 7/8 raises, especially 7s8s. Because you hold QQ, its unlikely anyone has KQ (which would also raise). What does that leave him with? Flush draw is most obvious but which ones? AK is likely off the table with no 3-bet, AQ and AJ are also gone so maybe A10? Is he calling a big raise with A8 or wheel suited A's? I have no idea.
Turn 5s would not induce a check from me after being flatted on the flop. I am not opening the door for someone to blow me off what is likely still the best hand, with draws to better. I fire again. As @highfive said, you have the range advantage here. If he comes over the top I have a hard decision to make. Would he shove the nuts or just call and hope you shove the river? There's no reason for him to shove the nuts so he has something else, IMHO. If he calls, I have to see what the river brings. Another spade and I would have to check/call or fold depending on size. Any non-spade 8 or K and I'm either shipping it or check/calling pretty much any bet. A blank river and I'm check/calling depending on his bet size.
I don't like the turn check and really don't like the check-raise unless you were ok getting the whole stack in there. On the other hand, I'm still wondering what on earth this guy had. AsJx is a likely candidate with top pair and a draw to the nuts - I just cant imagine shoving over with the made nuts and losing a customer but it is 1/2 so who the heck knows? That 1/4 pot bet sure looks like he wanted a call so he very well could have had it and once you raised, he figured you had 2nd best monster. Curious to see what others think about this one.
Added: I'm leaning away from him having AsXs and more towards As10x. In 1/2 live games I think many people raise their nut flush draws on the flop. Therefore I'm thinking he made a pair with the 10 or J and held the As. He picked up equity on the turn with the 5s. He knows you don't have the nuts and made a play with 2nd pair and the draw. Not much else makes sense to me - but again, what do I know?
Well, this is why it's always difficult for me to play a strong hand early on in the game. After that hand, I watched the guy very closely and he was VERY tight. He rarely raised pre-flop either. So, despite the fact that there was no 3-bet when I raised my queens, it is possible (although improbable because of the turn shove) that he had KK or even AA. 1/2 is an odd animal. Plenty of people limp in with AA pre-flop as they're scared not to get called. His flat call on the flop may have been slow play . I know that my queens are blockers to him having KQ but that doesn't mean he didn't have it. I do think he caught the flush on the turn though. So AsTs is a serious candidate. He had to have something to call my flop bet though. Although I do like warlock1's idea to bet harder on the flop (pot size may be) that wouldn't leave me many options on the turn, shove or fold. So may be highfive's suggestion to flat call the turn bet to see the river is the one I might try next time around. Thank you both for your comments though.
Hey @dhirigoy - my advice seems to be pretty ill-suited to the game you are playing and I apologize. I am not as familiar with them as many others here are, like @highfive. At least I am learning while reading the situations and comments. What would happen if you raised wider but not quite as large pre-flop? You opened to 6.5BB and this resulted in a 21BB pot going to the flop. All future streets will by necessity require larger bets as a percentage of your stack and you quickly run out of stack to maneuver with. Its an interesting dynamic where you need to raise large to keep the field reasonable but by doing so you increase the chances of stacks getting in.
Yeah @1warlock does play higher and may have forgotten how humorous 1/2 full ring can be. Villain here could definitely have AK. I'd put it at 7/3. Many 1/2 players do not understand the strength of the holding or are noobs and are afraid to raise fearing a big pot. I have most assuredly had people shocked when I called a 70 bigs all-in with AK suited.
The 6.5 bb open is large even for 1/2. Five is common in my area and i see a trend going towards 3.5. The problem with normal open sizes at 1/2 is that they result in 6 or 7 way pots. I generally do 5x at this level and get 3 or 4 way going to the flop. My personal best is a raise to 30x with AA and got a call. lol
I say villain shoving a pair of jacks with As is a little too high level for 1/2. More likely villain has nut flush and doesn't realize he should call in position. Allow @dhirigoy the opportunity to barrel and then shove over it.
I realize that my pre flop raise is quite large and you're right it impacts the size of my flop bet significantly, forcing me to put in too big a share of my stack. But I've tried various pre flop raise sizes and anything under 5 BB gets called by at least 3 players if they've limped in. I've even seen a guy call a $27 pre flop bet with 5 9 o, and flop a boat! Some crazy stuff... I think my pot control after the flop is my big problem. When OOP I sometimes feel that I'm better off C/R the flop even with an overpair rather than betting it right away. C/R tend to scare the hell out of 1/2 players if they have a mediocre hand while they would call you all the way to the river with that same hand if you just flat bet it. Do you guys think that could have been a possible play in this specific situation?
@dhirigoy - while check-raising may be a good idea in some spots, I'd be loathe to do it on a flop that was this dynamic. I'd also be hesitant to do it with a hand like QQ multiway. Just too many bad things happen multiway when you allow free cards. With the betting lead and this strong a hand, I'd be more comfortable firing into the field and either taking it down or having 1 caller.
As to opening - there is a difference between opening as 1st to act and raising over limpers. Maybe experiment with opening to 5BB as 1st to act and then just add 1BB per limper already in the pot. Its just a bit of a modification to the general practice of adding 1BB per limper to your standard opening size. A 5BB open as 1st to act gives a bad price to people following you with marginal hands. A 5BB raise with 2 or 3 already limped in gives everyone a good price to call with all sorts of stuff. With strong but vulnerable hands I want to attack the dead money, not play bloated pots with them.
I appreciate both you and @highfive giving me insights to these games. I'm enjoying trying to figure out how best to exploit players who are obviously not as skilled as either of you are. I'm thinking it probably requires a stomach for higher variance but should also be incredibly profitable with the proper counter-strategies.
I agree that trying to C/R with QQ is problematic, if only for the fact that you may not face a bet and the next card could be a trouble one (like A or K, or , in this case, a third spade). Regarding pre-flop betting my strategy of late, in 1/2 games, has been to raise 5X BB + the size the pot. It's really very effective in narrowing the field to no more than 2 callers, which, in 1/2, is a feat. The problem of course is if I pick up a strong hand in EP. Raising $13 in a $3 pot doesn't make much sense, and gets all opponents to fold more often than I'd like. But when I get one caller and I hold a big hand I've already built the pot a bit and I feel that I can narrow the range of the caller more effectively. I tried 3X BB plus 1 BB per limper as often advocated in poker literature but in 1/2 I find it to be a disaster. I raise $7 or $8 in EP with AK and I end in a 5 way pot. Because the problem is that as soon as I get one caller, everyone else who has a remotely speculative hand (and I mean REMOTELY speculative, like K4s...) will feel that they have favorable odds, even if it's not the case. And then I'm left completely blind when the flop comes.
I hear you @dhirigoy - people love to see flops. Its that 1st flat caller who causes the problem by giving everyone behind him a better price. When you get a string of flat-calls or limps, its called "schooling". I think it drives everyone nuts to one extent or another. Navigating bloated multiway pots is just a drag. Your AKs may flop top pair but the guy with K4 turns 2 pair that you never see because 'who plays K4s?'
The game you are describing seems similar to the free poker site I used to play on, even at high stakes. I adjusted my play to accommodate this behavior and was successful, though it was not a lot of fun. Overpairs were the worst because some donkey may be shoving TPTK on you and not a set. Just made lots of notes on how players behaved with certain hands. Got stacked more than I would like but also took stacks with even medium strength hands because people just loved to call. I did a ton of set-mining and limped behind in position with hands that played great multiway. Frustrating and befuddling but profitable in the long run.
Anyway, if you play regularly in the same place, make sure you take notes on all the regs. Most people don't have the ability to adapt or change gears so once you have a player figured out, you can work on exploiting the heck out of him.
Have you tried playing online cash? Its a lot easier than most people think to set up. There are many sites that take US customers, like betonline and Ignition. Even lower stakes games can be competitive and its certainly convenient to be able to play an hour here and there from home. You get a lot of hands in as well so its good practice.
I just started playing online. I'm in NJ so it's legal here. I like ring games though and they're not always easy to find online. But I'm going to try to alternate between live and online to get different perspectives. I also need to play more 6-max games as they're also a different animal. So much to learn!