Monday, January 4, 2010

In Praise of Pete

Pete is pretty easily my best poker friend (sorry if anybody else thought he might have been it) for lots of reasons. We get along well, we (used to) play a lot together, and in general he's a fun guy to have at the table or play craps with in Vegas. These are the normal reasons you make a friend. However, another important reason our friendship has grown is that I've learned a ton about poker from Pete. I hope that I've taught him a few things as well, but I can't imagine the knowledge trade has been anywhere close to equitable. Everyone once in a while he does something at the table that almost makes my ears bleed. Here then is Pete's most recent taking of a soul.

The game is playing pretty aggressively for a Garden City 20/40, which is to say there is a good bit of raising and 3-betting preflop, along with the usual astonishing amount of cold-calling. We're basically playing showdown poker, which is an environment in which I tend to thrive. I'm good enough at making small moves at pots and playing in blind steal situations, but put me in a game where 6 guys see the flop for 2 bets a piece every hand and I'll get the money almost as fast as humanly possible. Maybe it's because those are the game conditions I "grew up" in, or maybe it's just because my grasp of odds and equities exceed my ability to read hand ranges, but I just love those games. The cast of characters is such:

Lowjack, 3 seats off the button: Pete
Highjack, 2 seats off the button: Jesse
Cutoff, 1 seat off the button: Elvis
Big blind, loser of soul: Aggro Bellagio 1oo/2oo Guy (ABG)

I have never seen ABG before and he is not a typical archetype for the game. It's pretty late at night and he's already explained that he just got back from Vegas at 9pm and is completely exhausted, to which I responded "So you thought you'd come out and play a little poker, eh?" and he grinned sheepishly. He apparently played the 100/200 game at the Bellagio and has told us all about it. For this game he fits the insanely aggro and a bit too lose profile to a T. He isn't afraid to raise and even 3-bet light, and he also loves him some positional cold-calling. A while back he cold-called my raise first in with QJo and gave me crap for the fact that I opened KTs. I said more than I should have, but you get the idea. Dude is not as good as he thinks he is, which is almost automatic since he thinks he's the best player that's set foot in the room all week. Truth be told he'd be lucky to be the 4th best player at the table right now. So, on to the hand.

It folds to Pete and he opens. I look down at KhQh, pause for a second, consider folding, then 3-bet. This is not a slam-dunk play by any stretch of the imagination, but Pete's range should be wide enough to make 3-betting him profitable here. And plus, it was suited. Elvis calls 3-cold in the cutoff next in like it's nothing. His involvement in this hand (and most games really) is simply to pad pots with bets going in bad and occasionally turn over some ridiculous two pair on the river. I like Elvis. The button and the small blind clear out, and ABG caps it out of the big blind. While he is definitely aggressive, capping out of the big blind in what is guaranteed to be a 3 or 4 way pot almost has to mean he has a real hand. My thought at the time was that he had JJ+ or AKs. In retrospect he's the kind of player that is absolutely not laying down any suited connector in that spot, and he's also the kind of player who would cap such a hand just for the hell of it. But moving right along....we all call.

16 small bets, 4 ways

Qd 4s 2s

ABG checks. This is dumbfounding to me. Pete checks. I think for a second and decide that I pretty much have to bet, even though ABG's check screams QQ. There are only 2 queens left, maybe he has JJ. Elvis calls and ABG check/raises and makes a speech saying "I hate you" or something. It wasn't like super malicious or anything it was just kind of something you'd expect a Bellagio 100/200 player to say. But still it's a speech, and we all know the power of speech (basically a guy who makes a speech has a powerful hand). Pete promptly 3-bets and I am horribly vexed. I go into the tank and decide that I'm drawing at somewhere between zero and five outs (I could only have 5 if Pete and ABG held exactly all 4 aces) and eventually toss my top pair second kicker into the muck in an already 11 big bet pot. Elvis calls two more like the champ that he is (that's $140 he's put into this pot mind you) and ABG just calls.

13 big bets, 3 ways

Qd 4s 2s - Jc

ABG donks. This again is dumbfounding to me. Literally before I can figure out what is happening Pete raises, Elvis folds, and ABG folds. Bada bing bada boom the 16 big bet pot belongs to Pete. There is a general murmur at the table in the sort of "WTF just happened here I wanted to see 19 bets go in on the turn" sense, but that is all we get.

Now for the post-mortem, which I can present because both Pete and ABG told me what they had (Pete via email later on, and ABG after Pete left in such a way that I'm sure he wasn't lying). Get ready for this. Pete had AQ, and ABG held KK. Pete basically turned his hand into a bluff by free-showdown-raising the turn (with the added bonus of facing Elvis with two bets cold) and was hoping to maybe get a fold out of a chop and figured it would be very difficult for ABG to 3-bet him so the cost was the same as just calling down from the turn donk. My read on the situation was way off. Here is what Pete had to say:

My preflop range in the LJ is probably like (range removed to protect the innocent). I was probably going to cap it pf for value against you and Elvis, but BB spoiled that plan, lol.

BB should have just bet/3-bet flop, or c/r/capped the flop as played. He played it the most weird (although my flop check was non-standard too, more on that later). I think the only interesting decision for you is the flop once I 3-bet. It probably is a good fold, though my read on his hand was different than yours.

The flop I wasn't bluffing. When he checked the flop, I was like wtf? AK? I checked the flop too because I wanted to keep my range pretty wide (like KTo, 66, JTs, ATs, etc. what I would open with) and more importantly I also felt you would bet the flop most of the time. I'm not sure if it was a read or just that a lot of your range should have pp's 77-AA, KQ/AQ/QJs. So this way I would have position on the flop basically and I could also get a read on the other players. The worst case is I give a free card to a 2 or 3-outer, but with AsQc on a Q-4-2ssc board, the free card isn't too bad, especially with the backdoor nut flush and straight draws.

When you bet and Elvis called, I was like OK, whatever, I'm probably going to c/r for value. Then BB thought a bit and c/r'd and I was thinking "well hmm, if I were in his spot I would do that with JJ and possibly TT (because I didn't read your hand as that strong) and him checking KK/AA seems kinda dumb. He could theoretically have KQ/AQ here too". The pot got up to gigantic proportions (20sb), so I also wanted to fold any of your/Elvis' 2-outers, so I decided to 3-bet.

You tanked and I honestly thought you had TT/JJ there, I didn't think you had KQ and I definitely didn't think you had AQ. Bad read. :-)

So Elvis called and BB just called, so I was like "OK, he doesn't have AA/KK". The turn he donk'd and I was like "wtf?". For sure this line is not a lot of strength, it's a "I don't want to give a free card to the spade draw" line and with me having the As, it's easy for me to have the flush draw. So I was like, "well, he's not strong, I felt his most likely hand was AQ/KQ (because his line is just straight retarded with KK/AA)" and so I wasn't sure if I was ahead or behind (maybe more likely I'm behind, but whatever, it's not like I'm going to fold), so I decided to FSDR and also overrepresent my hand a little bit (basically saying "no dummy, I don't have a flush draw, I'm still raising you and I don't care what you have and you are fucked") and try to get Elvis to fold whatever POS hand he had. Also, like I text'd, it's basically impossible for him to 3-bet me there with anything less than QJ+, so I wasn't really worried about that.

I was completely shocked that he folded, and even more shocked when you told me he had KK. I kind of understand from his POV, because he can't beat any reasonable pp (AA/QQ/JJ) or QJ now. I mean, it's almost like having KK on a Q-J-T-8 board. But yeah, there's no way I fold that in his shoes unless I'm against uber-nit boy. I guess he really thought I was a super-nit.

Just curious, what did you think I/BB had in that hand?

And my response was

Preflop after the action completed I put you on a pretty wide range obviously (something like 44+, AT+, A8s+, JTs+, KQ, KJ). I felt you might have folded some of these hands for 2 more bets (like maybe you muck ATo or QJo if that's in your range) but in general I 3-bet you with KQs so yeah....I put ABG (aggro bellagio guy) on a big hand preflop. Like TT+ or AK, and I was even discounting TT, JJ, and AK a bit. Capping out of the BB there in what's gonna be a 3-4 way pot is a huge show of strength.

The instant he checked the flop I put him on a very big hand. Afterward I realized that I had his preflop range so tight that basically all of it was a big hand so the check actually didn't give any information. I mean he could check AK of red there figuring he was playing showdown poker. He could check QQ there to make expert slowplay. He could check JJ or TT I guess but that'd be bad. Honestly he could even check AA there. So his check I just continued to put him on "big hand". Your check meant to me "lols, he has jack high yahoo!". So I bet. Elvis called which means his cards hadn't been accidentally mucked. Then the raise came, confirming to me that he had QQ+. Then you 3-bet, and I put you on basically the same range, QQ+. Of course you can both have AQ some of the time (but I discounted it, for you because I thought you'd figure it was behind ABG's range and for ABG because of the preflop and flop action), and especially AQss. Also AKss is possible but I can't imagine ABG checking that hand. You're still allowed to have QJss, KQss, and a set of 4s though also.

When he donked the turn my head almost exploded, but I still basically put him on QQ+. I actually thought "He's going to 3-bet Pete with QQ" and cringed when you raised. When you raised again I figured you had to have a set, QJ, or MAYBE AA. Then he folded and I decided he could only possibly have AQ and that you just raised out the worst hand.

I thought this hand was amazingly interesting, and I spent a lot of extra brain cycles thinking about it the rest of the night. Basically Pete realized that since he was very unlikely to get 3-bet on the turn the free showdown raise was an effective way to play the hand. He might have even gotten lucky that Elvis was still in the hand, because he'd have been less inclined to stick in the raise heads up. He basically eliminated AA and KK from ABG's range, which turned out to be incorrect, but not entirely. Pete was correct that playing AA or KK that way would be completely ridiculous, so he discounted it. A corollary here is that if ABG did play AA or KK that way, he's likely to do something else completely ridiculous the rest of the hand. It makes perfect sense right? We can't figure out what was going on his head so far, so why would we assume we can know what he's planning to do for the rest of the hand? We simply can't. So raise, and get him to fold a hand with 85% equity in a 15 bet pot. I'd have never done it, and I'd have lost the hand. Pete did it and basically stole a week's worth of EV.

Long live Pete, taker of souls, slayer of dragons.


Captain R said...

Far too kind.

Actually what happened is that ABG played his hand so weird, that he convinced himself and me that we had completely different hands than we actually did.

jesse8888 said...

None the less, I don't win that pot.

Captain R said...

Swan song, IMO.

bravos1 said...

Pete, how can you put Jesse on a weak hand here on the flop?
He 3bet PF, called a cap, and bet the flop when checked to. The flop action does nothing to clear up his range imo. He can still have TT+, AQ/KQ here.

BTW, ABG played his hand so poorly, he deserved to lose..LOL
Him playing his hand this way gives him no accurate way to read Pete's hand and basically allows Pete to over-rep without having to do to much (which is basically what he did).

Captain R said...

Ancient Chinese secret. The elders would kill me if I told you. (usual method is poison on chopsticks).

Look what happened to Bruce Lee's son. Cinema prop malfunction? HA!