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Ace Speaks Practice Hand # 5

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  • Ace Speaks Practice Hand # 5

    OK, now that we're back from Belgium, let's focus on limit hold'em again. In one of the upcoming Card Player issues, I will have another quiz, "A limit hold'em quiz II". For poker writers, making good quizzes is very hard and time-consuming. On the other hand, most beginning players prefer these type of articles over almost any other works, so they often give a lot of feedback, more than with other articles. Today, I will share a hand that I did not include in the quiz, but is a rather common hold'em situation. Therefore, playing correctly in this situation is both important and interesting for most serious players. The situation looks as follows:

    You are playing in a standard, ten-handed limit hold'em game. The limit is $10-20, the rake is 5% with a maximum of $4, and play tends to be somewhat on the looser side. You are sitting in seat # 10. There's a rock in seat # 1, a tight / aggressive professional in seat # 2, and two loose, and highly aggressive players in seats # 7 and 8. All other players can be considered average, or a bit below average.

    Seat # 8 is the big blind. Seat # 9 raises under the gun to $20. He is not a great player, and he rarely raises before the flop. You are sitting immediately behind him, holding ace-king offsuit. What do you do, and why?
    a) fold
    b) call
    c) raise
    Please rate these options on a scale from 1 (horrible) to 10 (excellent). Also, would you have played your ace-king the same way if there were other (less loose and / or aggressive) in the blinds, let's say if the rock and the pro were in the blinds and the two loose / aggressive players were sitting behind you, with no money invested yet. Tell us why you would choose a specific play over another, and how your preflop decision (fold / call / re-raise) would affect your post-flop play. In a couple of days, I will give you my own view on this situation. Take care, and good luck,

    Rolf.

  • #2
    Oh, I love this question.

    Here's how I would rate these options:

    a) FOLD - 8/4. If UTG rarely raises before the flop, and he's raising now first to act, aces or kings are strong possibilities, both of which have big slick dominated...plus I know it's likely going to be three or four bets for me to play. I would want to know more about how much UTG understands position, and whether he could raise with a lesser hand, such as perhaps a pair down to ten, or AQ or even AJ.

    If he will not raise UTG without a top-notch hand (AA, KK, AK or perhaps QQ), then folding becomes higher. On the other hand...

    b) RERAISE - 4/8. If UTG could raise with lesser hands, then I need to reraise now and drive the rest of the field out. Even at a somewhat loose table, three-betting is likely to get everyone but the blinds out and buy me the button, and now I'm playing the very best drawing hand last to act in a four-handed pot. Also, if by some miracle the blinds should fold, I'm headsup with someone I know I can outplay.

    c) CALL - 3. Only if I wanted to disguise the strength of my hand. I really dislike this play, as loose players will call two bets with pretty much the same hands as for one bet, and they're getting a better price to chase. The advantage, though, is if the rock raises, I can fold a likely-dominated AK a lot easier with only two bets invested than I could for three.

    Calling becomes a bit better play if the blinds are less loose and/or aggressive, as I don't necessarily want to go the limit with AK if I'm less apt to be raised again.

    Postflop will take some thinking about, but that's how I see it preflop.

    Chris

    Comment


    • #3
      Call-0
      No way do I call here with loose players in the blinds. Besides I rarely, if ever, just flat call with AK in a cash game.
      Fold-2
      Sure, he hasn't raised yet, but maybe because he hasn't gotten the cards or more likely, because the two loosey goosey's on his right are always opening the pot before him.
      Reraise-10
      The only move in my opinion...Make it 3 bets, represent aces and play it as such all the way to the river regardless of the texture of the board. Sure, the BB may still call, but just because players are loose aggressive's doesn't mean that they have no sense of what's going on. 3 bets is 3 bets and it usually signifies a strong hand; I seriously doubt both blinds are coming along. You will surely have position with 3 bets, it is unlikely someone will cold call 3 bets behind you so that is a huge advantage to your post flop aggression.

      Interesting hand Rolf...

      Dan

      Comment


      • #4
        raise - 9

        I'm gonna raise here almost for sure. Mediocre players tend to have little or no consideration for position so I am not that worried about the UTG raise. I feel that I can still put them on a wider range of hands then AA & KK, certainly QQ, JJ 1010, AK and AQ, probably AJ and KQ and maybe more. I raise here primarily to isloate a player I don't think much of, generally players are going to respect a re-raise from EP. Also if UTG fails to reraise I know I can probably discount AA & KK. I'm not necessarily going to play this hand to the river like dreams as I think another pair is likely, if the flop misses me and UTG keeps going I can get out of here.

        fold - 2

        If I really got no read on this palyer I might consider letting this go and let him contend with the loose blinds, maybe I can pick something up by wathching the action. Not likely though.

        call - 0

        Dont see the advantage here. Only reason to call a single raise with AK may be for deception, but there is generally not much need to be deceptive with mediocre players. Also, I don't want to let the other players get into this with my poor position.

        DK

        Comment


        • #5
          i would raise in this situation trying to get the player heads up. it is tough to call 3 bets in any position behind you unless they have a monster hand. i would rather have the AK heads up and also have position on the player. like someone else said, i would also play it like it was aces and bet out on the flop if checked to. i love this situation, aand even if the blinds comein to the pot also, or reraise and cap it, my AK can handle the pressure. i say it is time to raise it up!!!!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by demonknees

            I'm not necessarily going to play this hand to the river like dreams as I think another pair is likely, if the flop misses me and UTG keeps going I can get out of here.
            Well, let me clarify a littel, I am speaking if the pot gets 2 or 3 handed on the flop, then I will play it like aces and try to get it heads up by the turn and hopefully a bet on either of the last two streets will take it down for me. Obviously, if both maniacal blinds calls and the flop comes something like JJT with a bet, raise, and reraise to me, I'm going to lay it down (I would even drop my aces in this spot). If you are going to fold an AK to a heads up opponent if he continues to pressure you, then you will lose a ton of money in cash games. Allowing aggressive players to run over pots will create a bad image. Obviously, say you open raise with a holding like AK or AQ, and for some reason, you get 3-5 callers. The flop comes all rags; obviously checking and folding here would be the smartest decision. You have to minimize your losses and maximize your profits and I believe there is a lot of profit to be had with a strong holding like AK no pair against a single opponent. I've called with king high against one opponent many many times. Bluffing and semi-bluffing is key, especially heads up...If you are not willing to push your chips to the middle and apply the pressure against 1 or 2 opponents, when are you going to be willing to do that? Against a multiway field...probably not. I love it when I see players pop preflop, get the field trimmed down to 2 or 3 and check it down against the blinds when they miss. I immediately target the player as the one I want to go after, because I know I can run them over and winning pots with 6 high is just the same as winning pots with full houses. Money is money and when it's out there for the taking, go out and get it.

            Dan

            Comment


            • #7
              Raise or find another hobby for reasons stated by Jmuzz

              Comment


              • #8
                Guys,

                I agree with most of you that in this case three-betting is fairly automatic. If the raiser would only raise with AK minimum (which some players do) then a fold might be recommended- however I assume this is not the case here. I also agree that flat-calling is only acceptable for deceptive reasons, and while just calling with big slick is sometimes OK in my opinion (in specific cases like when you're on the button with lots of players in already, and you want to wait til after the flop to reveal the strength of your hand), in this case you have a clear three-bet, as you don't want callers behind you- unless they pay. If you three-bet here you do this because you judge it likely your hand is best now. This means that after the flop, the board will have to get very scary for you to lay down your hand, and you should often take your unimproved AK all the way to the river. (Please read Dreams' comments in this respect, as written in his second post). Or, to put it differently: you have to accept the consequence that if you decide to be aggressive here, you are not necessarily looking to receive help from the board yourself- you are looking for your opponent NOT to receive help. And yes, this means you will be playing your AK as aces, especially on the flop, but also on the turn. However, you should keep in mind that if you cannot get rid of your your opponent even after all this aggression, he might be in there with a better hand than you -for example a medium high pair that he will not fold if the board comes with low cards only-, so you should usually check an unimproved AK back on the river, as you will only get called when you're beat. (For more on this, see Brier & Ciaffone's "Middle limit hold'em Poker").

                Regading the second part of the question. Whether the blinds are very tight or rather loose / aggressive, I think in both cases three-betting is probably mandatory. When the tight players are behind you with nothing invested yet, three-betting might get them to lay down all wired pairs up to nines, or even tens (which is good, if the UTG raiser has a hand like AQ: because you have him dominated, you don't need to improve to win) And when they are in the blinds, by three-betting you will probably make them fold all wired pairs, and suited connectors like T9s or QJs (when you just call instead of re-raise, they might call as well with these type of hands- and in this situation, this is something you would NOT like: you want them to fold these type of hands).

                OK, so I guess my ratings would look something like this:
                Under normal circumstances:
                Fold 5
                Call 4.5
                Raise 7.5
                If the raiser would only raise only with, say, ace-king or pairs tens or better:
                Fold 7
                Call 5
                Raise 4.5
                And if he is indeed this tight in his starting requirements, but plays badly and / or predictably after the flop, things would look more like this:
                Fold 6
                Call 6.5
                Raise 5

                In games with a time collection rather than the rake mentioned here (see my latest lesson), flat-calling and folding are even less of an option. (In raked games, there is some value in trying to build a big multiway pot even with this type of hand, rather than three-bet to try to make it a heads-up contest. This way, the rake pressure is proportionally less than in the heads up situation mentioned. Because in time games you are basically in a "zero sum" situation, as opposed to a negative sum situation as with a rake, you should usually try to push every edge to the maximum here, even when the edge might be only small). This means that in time games, under normal circumstances, the ratings would look like:
                Fold 4.5 (instead of 5)
                Call 4 (instead of 4.5)
                Raise 8 (instead of 7.5)

                That's about it for this practice hand. Take care, you guys, and good luck,

                Rolf.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi, Rolf, and all the rest,

                  Thanks for the post, and the replies! I know that this was intended for limit play, but I'm curious - would you play this differently in NL? If so, how? I mainly play online, in a small buy-in, microblind NLHE game ($50 max buy-in, blinds $0.25/0.50). It usually has approximately the player mix you described, with the occasional true maniac thrown in. I've found that when I play Big Slick aggressively, esp. post flop, I often end up flushing $ down the drain. Lately I've been playing AK fairly conservatively: moderate preflop raises (2-4x BB), a moderate "test bet" if I flop rags, and it's checked to me, and generally "fit or fold" if I'm up against bettors/raisers on those rag flops.

                  I think that, in the past, I've tended to overplay this hand, and it's cost me significant money. My bankroll has improved dramatically lately - I think largely due to plugging some "leaks" in my game, avoiding "money down the drain" situations, but I've yet to analyze my recent results hand-for-hand.

                  I understand the reraise recommendations here, since it would tend to eliminate most hands that would like flopped rags, but lately I've been raising the blinds with this hand, usually calling if following an early raiser and, rarely, folding, depending on the players and the bet. The problem is that, in NL, "2-bet" and "3-bet" are meaningless, since you could be reraised all-in at any time (esp. with some of the maniacs I've encountered online!!). Since I consider AK to be a drawing hand, that could get expensively ugly fast!

                  My table image (if that's the right term for online play) is that of an aggressive rock. In fact, comments made at the table recently have led me to understand that I'm actually feared by some. Despite that, I still get lots of action (maybe they want a piece of me). I add this because it may influence your recommendations.

                  Anyway, since I'm pretty new to serious poker, I welcome all comments and recommendations.

                  Thanks!!


                  Dan
                  "Windlord"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    hey windlord, in my opinion, in no limit poker, if the flop does not fit your AK, then you must fold. all you have is ace high. it just isnt worth your money to try to outbet someone who cant or will not fold a hand. in those no limit games you are speaking of, the best strategy i think is to play very very straightforward. if you have a good hand, bet it. you could fold for an hour straight, and when you come in raising, people will still give you action. no sense in trying to make fancy plays, just play a game of fit or fold. it really is that simple......

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The problem is that, in NL, "2-bet" and "3-bet" are meaningless, since you could be reraised all-in at any time (esp. with some of the maniacs I've encountered online!!). Since I consider AK to be a drawing hand, that could get expensively ugly fast!
                      On deep money:


                      AK is a flexible hand. You can call or re-raise a preflop raiser. It depends on various things. Of course, if you do re-raise and someone moves-in. Usually fold. If someone re-raises further, then call, fold or move-in. It depends. Usually fold.

                      If you open raise and someone overbets all-in, then tend to fold.

                      If it raised and re-raised before it gets to you, tend to fold.

                      If you are first into the pot from early position, limp with AKo. If it is raised behind you, either fold, re-raise all-in, re-raise not all-in, or just call depending on depth of money, raisers characteristics, price to call, number of players, and position relative to raiser. For example, you limp in early and it gets raised the pot behind you. It is headsup when it gets back to you. If the money is so deep that it is difficult to call and then get all-in on flop with a good chance of doubling through, fold. If you can get all-in on flop and double through should you hit the pair, then call. Only call if you are prepared to play for all chips on flop should you pair up. If it is over X% of stack to call, move-in preflop.


                      Just a few general tips against typical/unknown opponents.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks, Muzz and Noodles,

                        I guess I'll just keep playing it the way I've been playing it, fit or fold, bet or get, since we seem to be in agreement. I try to keep fancy moves to a minimum, since they're lost on most players, get expensive in NL if they don't work, and I just don't have that many fancy moves. :shifty:

                        Anyway, thanks again!!


                        Dan
                        "Windlord"

                        Comment

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