Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bad beats: giving and taking

I played two tables at PokerStars last night, a $3 + $0.40 single table NLH sit-n-go, and a 1¢/2¢ NLH ring game.

Normally, at a low buy-in sit-n-go, you'll have several players who go all in early on. It's not a terrible strategy, if they've got decent cards, because they'll double (or triple) up early, and can then coast into the money. It's also not a strategy I like -- too much variance, not enough play.

Surprisingly, nobody did this at my table. We're 20 minutes in, and the table's still full. Nobody's more than +/- 500 from their initial 1500 chips.

Soon, though, two players drop out in consecutive hands. I've been in a few, but folded to players who represent stronger hands than I had. I'm down to about 1100 in chips, and the blinds are 150/300. I'm on the small blind with A 9. The whole table folds around to me, so I raise to 600 to buy the big blind's 300. To my surprise, he calls. The flop is A 6 3.

Does he have an ace, too? Is his kicker better? The only way for me to find out is to bet. I think I'm ahead here -- maybe he has a smaller pair, or is playing ace-baby. I've only got 500 in chips left, so I push all-in. He quickly calls, and shows J 6. I'm ahead, because he's only got a pair of sixes.

The turn is 9. I've now got two pair; only a six can beat me. Except...

The river's K. I get knocked out by his runner-runner flush. Doh!

I turn my attention to my ring game, which I play for about an hour, am up about $3, and I get dealt pocket aces under the gun. I raise to 8¢. This is designed to keep players with good hands in, and to scare out players with weak hands. It works -- the only player coming back at me raises to 20¢; everyone else folds. I hesitate for a few minutes to give the impression that I'm scared, then just smooth call.

The turn is 699 rainbow.

If he had a power hand like he represented, he's got neither a 6 nor a 9. In my mind, I'm clearly ahead. I can reel him in. I check. He puts $1 into the pot -- a huge bet at a 1¢/2¢ game. I call, fairly quickly.

The turn is a 5.

I check again. He's got nothing on me, right? He tosses another $1 into the pot. At this point, I think he might as well be playing with his cards face up -- he's got pocket kings or aces. I raise him to $2. At this point, he's probably thinking I've got a smaller pair, or maybe I've got A5 and think he's bluffing. He calls.

The river's a 3.

There's about $6.40 in the pot, and he's got $2.47 left in his stack. I bet $2.47, making it clear that I'm intentionally putting him all in. He calls, and as I expected, he shows pocket kings. I win, making about $5 in one hand.

This changed my table image a bit; over the next six hands, I won four of them unopposed after raising to 8¢ pre-flop or betting 10¢ after the flop. Fear me, little fishes.

(Like I should talk, playing at micro limit tables. I'm a small fish, in an even smaller pond.)

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