Sunday, July 17, 2005

Shorthanded: Playing like a maniac.

Posted on You can follow the responses and the rest of the thread at this link:

4-handed. Caution: I don't recommend playing the way I played this hand on every street.

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. My opinion is that 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. I'm comfortable he will not check-raise unless he's hit two pair or a straight. Although he may call me down with any pair (thinking I have AK), I think he's more likely to be holding a draw based on his donkbet - otherwise he would have been more likely to check-raise on the Flop with bottom pair.

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. I am actually risking 3 bets by raising, even if I don't get re-raised on the Turn. That's because I have now forced myself to bluff on the River due to the large pot that I've created. Compare this to just calling and meekly folding on the River if I miss. I'm risking 3 bets as opposed to 1 bet. Looking back, this raise is neg. EV in shorthanded games. My opponent is too likely to call with any pair.

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. 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. In this situation, I have absolutely no chance of winning the pot if I don't bet, and I had built the pot to a relatively large one, so a bet is definitely worthwhile.

He folds. I win. Yippee.

* Yes, this raise is not a good idea, and it is negative EV. So 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. Someone point me to the local Maniac's Anonymous, I should attend a meeting once in a while.

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