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When Good Plays Go Bad

January 23, 2011

I’ve been on a bit of a run-bad lately. Some of it is self-induced (over-playing hands where I shouldn’t), but some is just… well, I don’t know.

Take last night, for example. F-Train and I decided to play some poker at the Venetian and found ourselves at a rather strange table. Early on, nearly everyone – and always the 2 seat – limped every pot, and a $15 raise would only thin out one or two players. If you were lucky. You almost never got the 2 seat to lay down his cards, no matter what you did.

Later on, when a couple of the more blatant calling stations left the game, things got a little more reasonable, but you still couldn’t push anybody off of top pair/shit kicker, even on the wettest of boards. It was like walking through a mine field, and I got blown up a couple of times.

That said, there’s one hand that I’m still muddling through as I survey the aftermath of last night’s debacle. A woman who was already tilted opened to $15 from UTG and action folded to the 2 seat who, of course, called. The three seat folded and action got to me in the 4 seat, where I looked down to find red pocket 4s. The button. A pocket pair. I made the easy call. F-Train folded and the big blind called, so four of us went to the flop with $60 already in the middle.

The flop was pretty good for me, coming 2, 3, 5 with two hearts, and I was very happy to see the original raiser C-bet for another $15. I was surprised, however, when the 2 seat – who was also the big stack thanks to a massive suck-out a little earlier – raised to $85.

Having watched his play throughout the night, I knew he generally tended to flat call and then make massive river bets when he held the nuts. I had also seen him make a similar play to this raise earlier in the night when he was on a weak flush draw, and I figured he was taking a similar line here.

With about $275 in my stack, I had a decision. I was pretty sure that my fours were ahead of the 2 seat and figured the likelihood of making my straight or hitting my set was about the same as my opponent’s chance of hitting his flush. (Two Dimes confirmed this, saying I was almost exactly 50/50 when the money went in.)

I was putting the woman in the 7 seat (the original raiser) on just over-cards – somewhere between AK and AJ – and I apparently exacerbated her tilt when I asked to see how much money she had left behind. She grudgingly moved her hands to reveal that she had about $120 left and looked like she wanted to stab me in the heart when, after a few seconds of thought, I shoved my entire stack into the middle.

The big blind and Ms. Tilty both folded and the 2 seat snap called. The turn was a black 9 and the river, the 7d. We had both bricked – or so I thought – and I turned over my pocket 4s fully expecting that I held the best hand. (The shocked gasps from the 7, 8 and 9 seats all told me they thought I was holding a much bigger pair and reinforced my belief that most $1-$2 players don’t think on more than one level).

Meanwhile, the 2 seat held on to his cards and studied the board, trying to figure out what he could beat. After a few seconds, he slowly turned over 8h-9h for a busted flush draw and, unfortunately for me, top pair. In a word, ouch.

F-Train and I talked about the hand for a minutes afterward and he came to pretty much the same conclusion that I did. I made the right play against the wrong player.

Someone with more discipline should be able to lay down a 9-high flush draw in that situation, but a calling station like the 2 seat just doesn’t think that way. As Dave said, “He looked at his hand and saw a flush draw and over-cards. Of course it’s good.”

So, that leads me to the inevitable question about what to do the next time I’m in this spot, because we all know there will be a next time. My instinct is to play a hand like this the same exact way and take my chances, but that can be a risky proposition.

What would you all do?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 11:17 am

    I suck at poker so take this with a grain of salt.

    A. Your behind in the hand. Even if your 50/50 do you really want to gamble your whole stack on a flip when your “a better player”. I mean maybe the pot odds say that is a good play at a 40% dog but I would think there are better spots.

    B. Why do you expect folds at a 1/2 table? I mean is that not the baby table? Obviously your not getting a lot of folds there. If you keep expecting them to then who is playing wrong?

    C. If you put him on a flush draw with 2 over cards you know your behind and he has shown that he will make stupid calls so why do you want to jam there? I dunno.

    D. If you still think this was the right jam.. then stop crying about losing a hand where your like a 40% (little more) dog. I mean if that is what you consider running bad then fucking watch me one night. I will show you running bad. Sheeshh.

    Good luck anyways!

  2. January 25, 2011 5:30 pm

    Personally I have mixed feelings. With decisions like that you need to be careful not to overthink it when facing more than one opponent. It is fairly easy to estimate what an opponent might be holding, but it is much harder to do that with two opponents. Unless of course both players were so transparent that you were very confident about what they had, I would still fold it.

    I do like your analysis of the situation though and the description. It makes sense, and I’m not saying it was wrong. Just that you need to be certain.

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