Sunday, July 17, 2005

Shorthanded: continuing with the semi-bluff

A common problem is semi-bluffing on the Turn, but not hitting on the River. Should you bet on the River again? Should you check? It depends on the opponent and the hand. Here is one situation.

4-handed. Caution: I don't recommend playing the way I played this hand on every street. Please see the * at the bottom of the post.

Yao is UTG with Th7h. Yao raises*.
Only the Big Blind (BB) calls. The BB is an average player.

Flop: 9c 5d 4s

The BB bets. As coined in the Shorthanded forum on 2+2, this is a donkbet. A bet by an early position player in one round when he was not the raiser in the previous round. Typically when an average player donkbets, it means he has middle or bottom pair or a draw. In this case, I think he has something like 76, 32, or a 4 in his hand. On the other hand, I have absolutely nothing. So I raise. :)

Seriously, even though I should not have raised pre-Flop (I should have folded), raising on the Flop in the face of the donkbet is a good play. I take control of the pot and don't allow him to win it unless he hits his hand. He is an underdog to hit his hand, so if I am right that he is on a draw, I have positive EV in raising and betting on the Turn and the River. I do know I will fold if I get check-raised on future streets.

The BB calls my raise.

Turn: (9c 5d 4s) 8c

Well, if he had 76, I'm in trouble. But I do have 4 pure outs against a straight and 3 other outs to split the hand. If I'm up against a pair, I could have as many as 14 outs now. 8 outs for the straight (6 or J) and 6 outs for a pair of T or 7.

The BB bets again!
And I raise again!

OK, is this too aggressive? Am I playing like a maniac now? Not only did I make a negative EV play by raising pre-Flop, but I raised on both the Flop and the River. Who the hell do I think I am? I sent myself an email on this hand after the hand because I thought this was an interesting decision. Was it correct to raise? Should I have folded? I do have outs, probably many outs. If I get re-raised, I know I'm in trouble, but I still need to call to see if I hit a straight. Looking back, this semi-bluff on the Turn is probably negative EV.

The BB calls.

River: 3c

The BB checks. I bet.

I have absolutely nothing. The only chance I can win this hand is by betting. I have created a rather large pot by my raises, so it is now worthwhile to bet again. If I get called, I'm going to look like a dumb schmuck. But I may win the hand. This is the clearest play in all of the hand. I think any other part of this hand could be debated except for the River bet.

He folds. I win. Yippee.

* Yes, this raise is not usually a good idea. And it is not a positive EV play in this hand. Why did I raise? Because I do have a weakness of being too loose/aggressive pre-Flop at times. Those times are usually when I am bored. In order to improve my game, I should try to cure myself of pre-Flop raises like this and keep it to a bare minimum.


Here's the follow-up post I made after several comments were made:

Many responses have pointed out how the play in this hand sucked. It shows Fancy Play Syndrome. It shows a leak in my play. I agree with most of these statements. While I don't play like this most of the time, once in a while I find myself playing like this. It is seldom enough that it doesn't cost me much, but it is a weakness and of course it does cost me everytime I play this way. I didn't play it this way for advertising purposes (as some have suggested its the only reason to play this way), so that's not an excuse. Admitting a weakness is the first step to correcting it; thus my confession with this post. I know to play better than this.

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