April 25, 2009

Where Semi Bluffs Take A Life Of Their Own

Listening to a bit of Joni Mitchell just now, chilling out to Ladies of the Canyon, one of the loveliest 45 minutes of music I have experienced. So chilled = a bit of thinking poker blogging……

I am generally one to avoid high variance poker. If you think you have a bigger edge than others, I think its better to avoid flips (prefl with say AK or post flop, the all in 15outer flush/str8t draw check raise v nit/superdonk with the overpair/tpnk who is gonna call you) as you will get better spots and avoid the stress of high variance play. But I have talked about this before in previous posts. That said, I have been experimenting this month, and decided to try this high variance style. Its difficult to say if its been profitable as I truly have had the worst run I have had, and still having. But ignoring that, I have started to see some patterns emerging, where a small check raise, or 4bet or whatever will elicit the information you need by your opponents bets in his reply,

I use this hand as an example. Opponent is a winning player, playing 12/9 over a small hand sample, both of us 100bb.

Opponents MP 3bb raise is really difficult to pin down here, as I have no history, some players 4bb AA and 3bb speculative hands, few mix it up, but I never worry about the size of the raise at this stage. No way I am 3 betting here versus his very tight range, but type of player that offers great odds to set mine (as opposed to someone raising a far greater range).

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 9 Players

Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

BTN: $137.15 (137.2 bb)
Hero (SB): $106.50 (106.5 bb)
BB: $100 (100 bb)
UTG: $74 (74 bb)
UTG+1: $84 (84 bb)
MP1: $101.90 (101.9 bb)
MP2: $100 (100 bb)
MP3: $100 (100 bb)
CO: $112.95 (113 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is SB with 6 of spades 6 of diamonds

UTG folds, UTG+1 folds, MP1 raises to $3, MP2 folds, MP3 folds, CO folds, BTN folds, Hero calls $2.50, BB folds

Flop: ($7) 5 of clubs 4 of clubs 2 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero checks, MP1 bets $4, Hero raises to $11, MP1 raises to $18, Hero calls $7

Flop hits and I have a gutshot, plus quite possibly the best hand….time to find out. I check raise….and he does something that really throws me…he min 4bets me….it’s the worst possible thing he can do as he is almost giving me the correct odds for hitting my 6 outs plus my implied odds of stacking him. But worse it’s polarising his range to an overpair, 99-AA. AK-AQ offsuit I think is very unlikely as he would be mucking to a check raise. AK of clubs, well if he isn’t pushing with that then I am very surprised, so I am eliminating that. A set? He’s raising a bigger amount to charge me, surely??

Turn: ($43) 8 of spades (2 players)

Hero checks, MP1 bets $15, Hero calls $15

Turn brings me a further 4 outs and I am thinking about giving up, but then he makes another mistake. I am checking and if he checks behind I am giving up as it is certain he has me beat. But he makes another mistake, he bets 1/3 the pot giving me 4-1 on a river with 10 outs plus the aforementioned implied odds. I eliminate the set possibility entirely. Therefore I am playing as if we are in a limit game and playing the odds, therefore I call, something I would never ever do normally on the turn without the near nuts.

River: ($73) 5 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $70.50 and is all-in, MP1 folds

River bricks. I am certain I am beat but we both have 70bbs behind and I know that he knows that I could very possible have a set, as I never call in the blinds without a holding that can improve, (I am 3betting all my “non improvables” like AA 80% of the time). In fact I only ever call from the blinds if I think I can stack one of the opponents who has position on me on later streets, and AA is not one of those.

Now I need to complete the “story” he has allowed me to make. I cannot call ANY bet here, unless its like 5bb etc, which it’s why I need to push all in, making a pot sized 70bb bet. No way I am doing this against a poor player, but against a good player, he is going to lay his overpair down at least 50% of the time, and make it impossible to make any attempt at bluffing an unlikely busted draw . I know I would……..

I would add the circumstances for making this play are as rare as actually hitting the set on the flop. Position, flop texture, player type, history etc…but making these plays I think is the only way you can learn no limit, and another of my motivations for playing full stack poker against other full stack players. I just love it. It also gives you that wafer edge against the break even players.

Any comments welcome on whether I have misread something.

Well Joni is finished and I am going to see my friend playing in a gig.


  1. An interesting hand - nicely played. I think villain probably folded the best hand. His 4-bet sizing doesn't make sense - would you have folded to a bigger bet? I think the key thing is a good player can understand the message and give it up.

  2. yes, i was giving up, i just thought i could outplay him, once i saw his weak bets.