Wednesday, January 05, 2005

So, my Poker Tracker trial expired and I bought it. $55. I definitely feel that it is a worthwhile investment in improving my game. There's so much to this program - just tonight I figured out how to replay hands. It's like watching the hand all over again, in animation. How crazy!

I decided to look at a couple of the hands I played last night. I was on Empire for a couple hours last night, sitting at a $25NL table. First, I set up PT to watch a couple tables, so I could get a read on the play and decide which one I wanted to sit down at. I must have watched too long, because when I finally sat down, within 15 minutes or so, the whole table except for one person had been replaced with Unknowns. Bah!

I ended up down $20 for the night, though it was really only 2 hands that killed me. I had been up almost $40, a couple of times. With my shiny new paid-for version of Poker Tracker, today I will analyze those 2 hands.

First up: a hand that cost me -$12.

I'm on the button, holding AK. I've got $30 in front of me. UTG calls, I limp with a call, another player folds, and SB & BB both call/check. Now - I am one of those people who is very conflicted about AK. Yeah, it's one of the best starting hands in the game. But its inherent weakness is that it is NOT a made hand, and high card Ace rarely takes the pot. Early in my game, I'd go gangbusters with AK - raising it up preflop, betting all in on occasion with it, only to see that the strength of AK is determined almost COMPLETELY by what falls on the flop. So I just don't push it as much pre-flop. Often, I'll just limp in with it and see if the flop does me good. Maybe I should put a small bet in preflop with AK to hopefully drive people out of the pot and reduce the number of opponents I've got. Opinions?

So, we've got 4 players to the flop. Flop comes 10-J-A rainbow. As has been happening to me a lot lately, I exclaim, SHIT, I know I'm getting killed by a straight here. Ayayay. Action is checked to me. I think, hmmm maybe I'm A-OK (pun intended)? I bet 4x the big blind, $2.00. One fold, 2 callers. Alrighty then. Fourth street - another J, and now we have a club flush draw on board (of which I have no part). Again the action is checked to me.

This may be time to describe what I'd known about my opponents via Poker Tracker. Up to this point, the player to act immediately before me was a solid player. Tight to semi-loose preflop, decently aggressive post-flop (just under 1.5 aggression factor), and went to showdown less than 20% of all hands - but won 75% of all showdowns. I find it highly likely that he's holding a Jack or a Queen, maybe AK. The other player in the hand - loose/passive, passive. I wasn't worried about him.

I sense that I'm being slow-played by the player to my right (left on-screen), but he could still be on a straight or flush draw. He folds if he hasn't got a hand, as indicated by his <20% showdown stat after seeing a flop. I decide to bet.

$4 into an $8 pot. Maybe my bet is too low here? If indeed my main opponent is on a draw, it's a close one. The weak opponent folds at this point. If the other guy is on an open-ended straight draw (let's say he's holding a Q), the pot has to give him at least 4:1 - and in this case, he's betting $4 to get $12 - 3:1. He's a dog, but it's not far off. If he's got the club flush draw with an overcard (possible - a K or A in his hand), he's got exactly pot odds to call my bet. I think I should have bet more at this point; I wasn't thinking about pot odds while making the play. If in fact he's on a draw, I didnt' bet enough to get him out of the hand. If he already had me beat, it's only a couple more bucks than I ended up losing anyway, and seeing him call a larger bet might have tipped me off enough to check on the river (foreshadowing....).

Needless to say, he calls. River comes a King of spades. No flush possibilities. I now have top 2 pair, with a pair of J's and 4-to-a-straight onboard. Ouch. He checks ot me. I probably should have checked here, having watched him call me all the way down thus far. I bet out $5 into a $16 pot. Not nearly enough, if scaring him out was my plan. His check turns into a check-raise - and he raises to $13 (which would put me nearly all in, save five bucks). Do I pay him off another $8, figuring I'm beat but wanting to see what he's got? Or do I fold?

I folded. So, I never even got to see what he was holding. I'm pretty sure he had me beat. I lost $11.50 on that hand.

Randy and I were talking about this hand, and I was saying, what if in fact he was on that flush draw and missed it on the river, or was on a gutshot straight draw with AK in his hand? When the river hit and didn't make him a flush, HIS only shot at winning the pot from me presumably would be to scare me out of it, knowing I was firing into it all the way down. What's the best way to scare me out? I say, a check-raise. Randy disagreed, saying that if he wanted to scare me out, he'd have fired at the pot himself on the river. To me, his check-raise represented the straight - and indeed scared me out of the pot. Was he holding the Q? I'll never know. Maybe he was just representing. He took down a nice pot on that hand - $32.85.

What should I have done differently on this hand? I should have made a bigger bet on 4th street, to make sure that a drawing hand was too expensive to play. If I got called there, I should have checked on the river and took my lumps - at least I would have seen his hand and been able to use that information later on.

The other hand that hurt me: Go figure, I had AK in the pocket. I've got $34 in front of me, and I'm 3rd to act in a 5-handed game. I raise pre-flop to double the big blind, $1. Small and big blinds fold, and the other 2 players cold-call me. Great... I'm now 1st to act from now on.

Flop comes K-J-2 rainbow. Sweet- I've hit top pair, top kicker, and no apparent draws onboard (for once!) I bet $1 into a $4 pot. (I see now that I'm really not betting hard enough to get people out, though in this case - knowing now what my opponent's hand was, he's not going anywhere). It gets raised to $2 after me, and the button folds. I reraise to $3 thinking my K's are good. Opponent re-raises to $4. I call. Fourth street comes a rag. I bet $4, he raises to $8, I call.

What do I know about this player statistically at this point? He plays loose/aggressive pre-flop, and aggressive post-flop, with a 35% to-showdown rating, but a less-than-20% showdown win percentage. I'm thinking, he's got middle pair or something here, and is just firing away at it. Now I'm thinking, did he catch trips on those 5's or something?

River comes a 2. No straights, no flushes on board, now a pair of 2's. I'm baffled at this point. I slow down and check. He bets all-in, $4. I have to see it - thinking I've still got a chance to win this pot.

He shows me K-J. Two pair from the flop. Hmmm. I check the hand history for this player, and it sure is a premium hand compared to all the junk he'd played previously.

I lost $17 on that hand. In this case though, I'm not sure I really could have done anything differently. I was playing into someone known to play any hand, and take junk to showdown, aggressively at that. For most of this hand, I really thought I was in the lead, extracting chips from my opponent. It turns out that he got lucky on that hand.

Should I have played that last hand slower? If so - what would have tipped you off that my K's were beat?

Ahh well. Time to go see what PT has observed for me, and see if any of these tables are worth sitting down at!


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