Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yes, I really am up this early. Can't wait to start this 14 hour day! (Yeah, right. Cat woke me up 45 minutes before I actually had to be awake, and now here I am, killing my last 30 mins before I have to leave for work).

I had a bit of a revelation last night - not quite a revelation, maybe a light bulb moment.

Here's the hand:

I'm holding 98o in the big blind and get to see a free flop with 2 other players (including the small blind). Flop comes 4-9-Q. Action goes check, check check.

When I hit second or bottom pair on the flop, for some reason, my automatic train of thought is usually to check and see what everybody else does. If someone bets, they have me beat. I realized last night that there are situations where that is just dumb, particularly considering how often I end up at tables that don't allow free cards, where late position ALWAYS bets when it is checked to him/her.

Why isn't my train of thought to throw out a feeler bet with my middle pair, and see how people react to THAT? If I get called, I can reevaluate, and if I get re-raised, I can drop the hand right there if I feel I'm beat (which I probably would). My opponent can't fold if I don't bet, and why give the Ax's and overcards the free chance at a big card on the turn or river? And, if nobody else holds any piece of the board, I may take the pot right there.

In this case, the turn came a blank, and I bet out half the pot with my still-2nd pair. Action went fold-fold, and I won the pot. From the immediacy of the folding, I think both of my opponents even had the "fold to any bet" option checked.

Is this sound thinking for 2nd pair with one or two opponents? With more opponents, I suppose it may be a more risky play from early position, but I'm thinking may still be worth a stab at the pot on occasion - maybe with a higher kicker or something.

This sort of dilemma falls right in line with my hesitancy to raise preflop. I think to myself, I'm putting money in the pot and I'm not sure I have the best of it! Weak weak weak! Maybe I just need to see this happen more in action, but it just seems so hard to believe that a raise or bet can win the pot right there - even though I know it is true.

Ahh well. I'd better go finish getting ready for work.


  1. April said...
    It's simple agression. You have the weaker pair and you're out of position. You're going to have more variance playing more agressive, but that doesn't make it a bad thing by any means. As you saw in this case, it can be quite profitable. With 1 or 2 opponents, middle pair is practically gold. I wouldn't fear being out-kicked or over-paired quite so much as I would in a full ring.

    Think it all the way through though...you could have been called by a baby queen, and went to showdown. Now you're known as agressive with those mid/low pairs. This is going to work nicely for you when you have AQ next time with a similar flop.

    However, if you had went to showdown with that baby queen this time, you would have lost. And you may have numerous hands like that before you hit the AQ to make up for them.

    Agression is a great tool, it just brings variance along with it.
    Poker Nerd said...
    Yes, that's fine. Most limpers limp pre-flop because they're not that strong and want an easy out if they miss.

    A bet on the flop will take this down more often than not. If you're called, you can definitely slow down, especially if ther aren't any draws. Sometimes, even a second bullet's OK.

    Taking it further, think about those times when you have second pair or likewise here and win the pot without a challenge. Now, think about all those times when you miss the flop and could do the same thing.

    You only have to be better than 1-for-3 with a half-pot bet to make it profitable.
    on_thg said...
    Fold preflop.

    Just kidding.
    Unknown said...
    Read or re-read: Championship Pot Limit/No Limit Hold Em' by Cloutier.

    Doing "feeler" bets on the flop is a good way to bleed money. I know I've toned down my feeler bets and have become a little more patient in betting that second or third pair.
    StB said...
    I like the feeler bet, especially on the turn, and sometimes on teh flop with position. When it checks around on the flop, people don't realize the tells they are giving by using the auto act buttons. Whenever I see that, I will usually bet out on the turn with any hand. Usually, you take down a pot.

    Everybody's favorite player Phil Hellmuth recommends the feeler bet. I kicked it up a notch and have taken down more pots lately.

    But of course, just like alcohol, enjoy in moderation.
    Poker Nerd said...
    Drizz --

    I'm with you normally, but this is a specific situation where a bet will work enough to be profitable. Unless your opponents are loose-bad, they have to give you credit for a Q or at least a solid 9.

    Another way to play this is to check and then raise weak-looking bets from the limper and bet out the turn. Putting opponents in spots where they have to be very strong to call is fun and profitable.

    You need a bit of a stack to pull this off, but there it is. The key is to make plays that are hard to call when you have mediocre holdings...then you can know for sure that you're behind.

    I still say a flop bet takes this down 50+% of the time whether you actually have anything or not. Orphan pot + Aggression = Stack Accumulation.

    I should note, though, that I play $30+3 and up, so if you're with a bunch of calling stations at a $5 or $10, just play it straight up and you'll probably be OK.
    Shelly said...
    Thanks everybody!

    Nerd - I'm right in between, playing the $20+2's right now. :)

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