Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hopeless River Check-Raise; or, What the Deuce?

What the Deuce?Is it really Thursday already? I fly to Vegas on Sunday, where I’ll be setting up shop for the next seven weeks or so. Have been taking care of various business here before I leave, including producing more episodes of the Hard-Boiled Poker Radio Show which I plan to publish in June.

Have also been playing a bunch of hands at the online tables, as I don’t expect to be playing as much once I get to LV and start putting in those long days covering the various events. After that terrific April, I continue to do well here in May, with most of my profit again coming at pot limit Omaha.

Saw a significant change in my win rate (for the better) once I started buying in for the maximum, something I began doing regularly somewhere around the end of March, I believe. I had for the longest time been short-stacking it -- hell, that’s my name! But I’ve come to realize I do much, much better with a full stack, as I’m more comfortable having more options post-flop.

Buying in short is a fairly popular strategy at these PLO $25 max. tables (where I usually play). There are often at least a couple (or more) sitting there with $10 or less at any given table. I read with interest Lucypher’s recent posts about short-stacking. I know it is a viable strategy -- Rolf Slotboom has written an entire book about short-stacking in PLO (although I haven’t read it). Like I say, though, I find I do better with the full buy-in. And in a lot cases I have to say I like my chances vs. these short stacks, mainly because a lot of them seem less than adept at knowing when to push.

One move I’ve encountered repeatedly here lately from short stacks lately is this bizarre river check-raise when we’re heads-up -- the kind of bet that I simply have to call unless I have absolute air -- when the short-stacker doesn’t have the nuts. Truly strange, the kind of thing that could feature as a chapter in Julius Goat’s ongoing strategy guide, Stupid/System.

Incidentally, if you haven’t been reading Stupid/System, yr missing out big time. Follow these links and get the help you need today:

'Stupid/System' by Julius Goat001: Key Terms
002: Basic Considerations
003: Counting Outs
004: Post-Flop Play
005: Managing Pot Odds
006: Table Image
006a: Rapping
007: Positive Expected Value

Anyhow, here’s an example of what I’m talking about -- a hand from yesterday afternoon. I don’t post this to demonstrate my own poker-playing prowess. I was dealt one of my favorite PLO starting hands, caught a dream flop, and things continued to go well after that. But check out little Stewie’s river play:

(Those using readers might need to click through to see the hand. I really dig the look & functionality of this replayer, by the way. From a site called Poker Hand Replays. Good for Hold ’em or Omaha, at present.)

Not Stewie’s best moment, obviously. I’m folding that applesauce he is holding preflop from EP. But even if somehow I call & make it to the end, there’s no friggin’ way I’m check-raising the button’s five-buck bet on the end. The only way I can explain this sort of play is that sitting on the short-stack tends to induce desperate-type behavior.

Stewie GriffinThen again, I know I’ve probably been in Stewie’s place before. Most of us have, I imagine. Popping off at inopportune moments thanks to a lack of chips . . . .

Poor Stewie. His small stature always hindering his plans.

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Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

When short-stacking, check-raising on the river is, to put it mildly, not very smart. You either get in your chips asap, or get out.
It is a good but limited strategy and in his book Slotboom writes more than a few pages on adaptions for big stack play, in case you double or triple and the table is so juicy, you think you might get more out of it.
Using big stack plays with a short stack is a recipe for disaster because more often than not you hand the big stack the right pot odds.

5/22/2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Interesting hand... one of those Omaha hands I had to look at a few times to figure out what you both had. =) But to be fair to Stewie, he wasn't REALLY check-raising you, you just happened to under-bet his remaining stack by $0.85. Sure, if he really thought his crappy flush was the best hand there, he should've led out, but if he's a weak short-stack player and hit the crappy hand that he was calling down to hit, he's definitely going to try to get it all in the middle there.

My question for you... if the river would've been the 2c instead of a club that also filled up your boat, would you have bet? By the turn, if he's a thinking player, he probably puts you on either the straight you did have, or a set of kings, or top two pair. He was right that his flush would've been best if he hit... except for that darn pairing the board thing.

5/22/2008 3:12 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yr right, Kelly -- if I had looked further, I might've found an even clearer example of a genuine "hopeless river check-raise" in my recent hand histories. Like I said, it does seem like I've had it come up several times lately, i.e., shorties making this sort of play w/less than the nuts.

If the 2c comes out I'm reasonably sure I'd have checked behind there, figuring I probably couldn't get called by a hand I beat. I assume Stewie would've played the river the same way, and thus he wouldn't have gotten any more from me there.

5/22/2008 3:28 PM  

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