Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Summer of Larry

Stolen from Seinfeld when George declares it's the Summer of George when a little good luck finds him.

My good run continues. I skipped out of work early yesterday to play 3-6 limit hold’em at Casino Arizona. My goal for the session was to practice my discipline and to try and identify tells.

My definition of discipline in this game is to stick to my tight starting hand requirements and to fight the urge to bluff into players that will always call.

I was up and down in the beginning of the session, but then I caught fire and booked a $137 profit.

My first big win was with pocket Kings. There was a raise from an early position player wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat. This player was over-confident and liked to talk about how good a player he was. I had already seen him run a few bluffs and show the table, so he was definitely loose and aggressive.

I was one off the button and re-raised. We got one cold caller in the blind and the cocky player came along. The flop was T-8-3 all different suits. The blind checked and the cocky boy bet into me. I raised and the blind folded. The initial bettor called.

The turn was a beautiful King. He checked to me this time and I bet my set of Kings. He check raises me. I think he may have a set of Tens or 8’s or possibly Aces but that seems unlikely since he probably would have capped it preflop.

I raise it back and he calls. Now he is acting worried. I know it’s an act, because every time he acts worried, he bets or raises.

The river was a Jack. Cocky boy checks and I bet. He hems and haws and then raises me again! Now Ace-Queen would be the nuts, but even he would not go that crazy on the flop and turn with those cards. I am about 95% sure I have the best hand so I raise again. He calls and says show me your Kings. I oblige and rake a monster pot.

It takes a second to register because I am so excited to be stacking up my chips, but he had turned over T-3 for two pair. Cocky guy continued to talk (complain) about the hand in a manner where he claimed to get unlucky that I hit the two outer on the turn. I validated him by saying that I am running good and that I was lucky. Then I came back with this… “you know you could have saved a lot of money by not raising with Ten-Three.” He nods and shuts up for a few minutes.

I also hit another great hand when I flopped a set of 5’s, my two opponents had the straight draw and the nut flush draw respectively. The turn brought the straight, but the river paired the board and I raked in another monster.

These hands got me to thinking. Maybe in 3-6 no fold’em hold’em, I need to play a little differently. Even when I had really strong hands, like pocket Kings or the set of 5’s, I needed to get lucky to win the pot because someone had caught better.

In Ed Miller’s book on low limit hold’em, he constantly talks about protecting your hands. You would do this by betting and/or check raising and charging your opponents for their draws. I am starting to think that one pair hands are not worth much in these games and maybe are not worth protecting. Let me give an example.

Let’s say I have King-Queen in late position. There are 4 limpers and I limp along. Both of the blinds come in as well and there are 7 players to the flop. The flop is K-T-4. There are some early checks and a middle player bets and one calls. So there are 9 small bets in the pot. I could raise which gives some of the players 2 bets to win 11 to call and the initial bettor and caller even better odds. There is no draw you can get to fold here. Even a small pair drawing to 2 outs is not going to fold. They should fold because they need 22-1 and they are getting in the range of 12 to 1. Maybe they can get there with implied odds in a multiway pot, but it’s doubtful.

The turn could be any card. Odds are with this many players in the hand, it will help someone. It will give someone a pair, or straight draw, or a flush draw. My normal play would be to find a way to raise the turn. I now think there is something to be said for just calling along. It’s important to limit your losses in the big multi-way pots with medium strength hands.

If I raise, I may lose a couple of players and get a couple of calls. Let’s say I put in 2 Big Bets and we lose 4 players but two others make the call. That means that 6 Big Bets go into the pot and 2 of them are mine.

If I call, let’s assume that 4 players come along for one bet. That means there is the initial bet, my call, and three others for 5 big bets in that round. I put in one bet to win four. My ratio is better and I have invested less money.

Now there are some who would say, that I increase my odds of winning the pot if I eliminate some opponents. The problem is that by raising, I am forcing them into the correct play which is folding. If they are way behind and drawing to 4-6 outs, I am better off getting another bet from them in the pot.

As for high suited connectors and suited Aces, I think you should do what you can to build a big pot preflop. If you hit the flop with the open ended straight draw or flush draw, just figure out a way to get two bets in on as many streets as possible. You are 2-1 to hit your draw by the river and any bet you make into the pot is giving you far better odds. Then you just have to run good and hit your draws.

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