Thursday, November 24, 2005
"Someone's got to take the fall... why not me?" -- R.E.M., Falls to Climb
Yup - I fall to climb alright. I've got quite a bit of climbing to do.
I headed up to the boats again tonight and met up with Baz and Maigrey. I ended the night with results similar to yesterday, sans all of the nuggets of wisdom. So, I'm going to need some help from you guys to glean some good out of this painful evening.
The two most costly lessons I learned at the 200-max NL table tonight:
1. Don't push with pocket Kings into pocket Aces.
2. Don't raise Baz all in with top two pair, AQ, after he has flopped a set of four's.
I'm going to elaborate on those two hands (which seem so self-explanatory), because I don't think I played them poorly. More likely, I think I ran into a combination of bad timing and bad luck.
Let me backtrack a bit. Last night, I did a whole lot of thinking about the concept of chip conservation. My no-limit game is a tournament game; one of last night's lessons was that in cash games, there is no goal of chip conservation. The goal is to get your chips into the pot in +EV situations. So, I started trying to think of situations that might be suitable for this goal.
- Two pair on an uncoordinated flop, or one that people might be drawing to. Kill the odds for those who are drawing, while still holding a chance to turn a strong hand into a monster (full house).
- Flopping a set.
- Hitting small/medium flushes. Get the big cards out who might be drawing to a higher 4-onboard flush.
1. I've got about $150 in my stack. I have KK in early position. I raise to $30. The table bully and huge chipleader raises to $75. I call and hope not to see any big cards on the flop. (I was primarily hoping not to see an ace.) The flop comes a bunch of ragged uncoordinated low cards. I push all in and he calls. Of course no Ace came on the flop; my opponent was holding two of them.
AA > KK
2. I have AQ offsuit UTG+1. (WTF is with me and AQ UTG+1?? I've decided I HATE IT and may be folding it from now on. Your thoughts on that?) I limped along with most of the table. Nobody raised preflop. The flop came A-4-x, 2 spades (of which I held 1). I check-raised Baz all in (which really isn't as dramatic as it sounds - Baz and I had rebought at about the same time, and we each had barely more than $130 in front of us). Let's say there were 6 people to the flop (can't recall exactly, but it was a bunch) = $30 in the pot. Baz had bet out $50 at me on the flop, and I raised all in to $131 all day. I turned 2 pair but was dead on the river to Baz's set of four's.
Am I playing too fast here with top pair? I figured my Q kicker to be good in the absense of a preflop raise (ie. AK isn't o ut there), and wanted to push out any spade draws. I was honestly hoping to take the pot right there, thinking Baz was betting a smaller ace.
As I replay this hand in my head, it seems to me that my only moves were to either raise or fold, because calling Baz's bet not only gives me no information, but commits me to the pot blind. Unfortunately for me, my raise had to be all in, as I was short stacked.
So... bad timing for me. Honestly, I think I lost more money on the pots I didn't win. Let me explain.
Going back to the concept of chip conservation. I'm good at conserving chips. I'm good at being patient and waiting like a rock for premium hands and strong drawing hands. I am not, by nature, aggressive.
After last night's session, I saw quite clearly that I had to pay more attention not only to my betting amounts (bet appropriately to push out draws), but also to the act of betting in general (ie. DO IT and don't give away free cards). In other words, be aggressive.
The part that I failed to fully consider, though, was the part about rightfully calling. In an attempt not to go broke (again, that "chip conservation" mentality), I folded strong draws that I should have called. I had in my head that it's no good to call off large quantities of chips on draws in no-limit... but that's in no limit tournaments. I hope Maigrey (or any of you) will correct me if I'm wrong here, but I should be able to extend the same math I learned last night with calling raises with small/medium pocket pairs to other drawing situations, right?
I limp into a pot in middle position with Jack-Ten suited. I think there were 4 callers, for a pot of $20. The flop comes 8-9-A?, and I'm first to act. I've got the open ended straight draw, and there are no flush possibilities out there yet. I check, and a guy bets out $20. Another guy calls. Maigrey raises to $60, and it's back to me. There's $120 in the pot, and it's $60 to me. One guy has already counted his chips in his hand; I figure I can count him as a caller, and I don't think the other guy is going anywhere. But - I'll be conservative. Let's say the chip handler would call - putting $180 in the pot. I'm getting 3:1 on my money. (Even without him, 2:1 was probably enough to make the call, considering my implied odds to be great if I hit my draw to the nut straight). It was quite sick actually, because I knew I had the odds to call. I was just afraid to lose a chunk of chips on a draw.
*smack*smack*smack* with a sledge hammer. Dumb ass.
Maigrey took down the pot with two pair. The pot ended up being huge, and I would have hit my straight. Nice bet, Maigrey! I was too scared to cold-call $60, thinking that donking off a quarter of my stack on a draw was not a good idea.
The donkey move there, however, was NOT calling.
To test out some math here: my 8 outs twice was about 32% to hit by the river. Let's say I had $180 in front of me, and Maigrey had me covered. The most I could win from her would be, then, $180. Does that mean I could call a bet of up to $58 (or, 32% of $180) and still be profitable in the long run if I miss the draw? (Probably even a bit more if I count the money I'd get from the other caller or two). Damn it. I should have called six ways to Sunday. I suck.
On another hand, I ran into a similar situation. I have 8-6 clubs in the big blind for $5 (Ed's favorite hand). The button raises it to $15. With a handful of limpers already in the pot, I want to see a flop. Sure enough, we go to the flop with 5 people in for $15 each = $75. The flop brings 2 clubs, A-x-x. I check and hope to draw my non-nut flush cheaply. The woman to my left bets out $45. She's an oober-rock, to the tune of premium hands or painted blackjack hands only. She probably has a big Ace. Any-Two-Cards-Johnny to her left min-raises to $90. Action folds around to me. My brain goes, "How the hell are you going to cold-call NINETY DOLLARS on a freakin' DRAW??? A non-nut draw, at that??" I didn't even bother to count my odds and folded. Trying to conserve those chips, ya know.
Let's do the math right now, shall we? Let's assume the woman will call the raise. That puts 75+90+90 in the pot = $255. I'm getting almost 3:1 on my money for a non-nut flush draw. Let me try the math another way - please correct me if I'm wrong. There's $255 in the pot now, and if my flush is good, I figure to at least double through one of my opponents (another $100 or so). That's a total pot of $355. If I'm 35% to make my flush with 2 cards to come, and I assume my flush is good, I can call a bet of up to $124 or so.
Do I think that either one of them are on the flush draw? Honestly, no. But, if I hit the flush, all of my chips are going into that pot, and am I comfortable doing that with an 8 high flush?
The real question: am I comfortable enough trusting my read that neither one of my opponents had a big flush draw? Obviously not.
It turns out that the woman had an ace (and ended up turning 2 pair), and Any-Two-Cards-Johnny had 5-2 of clubs. The third club hit on the river, and ATC-Johnny took the pot with his 5-high flush.
That's a lot of chips I just gave up, trying to conserve $90.
Would you have called the flop bet with the 8-high flush draw?
To conclude tonight's lesson: I lost a lot of chips in hands where I got unlucky, but I think I lost the most chips in hands where I failed to properly call with drawing hands that came through.
I guess this "chip conservation" thing can't be beat overnight. Maybe I'll try again this weekend.
Baz - I hope you were able to hang onto my chips, and take down ATC-Johnny and his buddy (the 10 seat). :) Maigrey - I hope your luck turned upwards. You looked to be in similar doldrums as I when I left.