Friday, September 28, 2007

Kings in Peril, a Limit Hold ’em puzzler (2 of 2)

Machiavelli with kingsAs if to prove -- as we were talking about last post -- that it is indeed a Machiavellian world at the poker tables, let me share a little bit of chat from a pot limit Omaha session I played two days ago.

Had been playing with the same bunch for a while when a new guy sat down to my left. After a couple of rounds, new guy pipes up in the chat box:

greenhorn: can somebody tell me rules

Twenty or thirty seconds go by. Then, finally, someone offers to help out:

MockTurtle: dont steal , respect your wife and god
Dealer: greenhorn has 15 seconds left to act
MockTurtle: dont try to $&$! your neighboors wife

A minute or so, later:

DbtngThom: god is dead
MockTurtle: he asked for rules

Okay, back to the hand . . . .

To recap, after losing with pocket kings five times running in my usual LH 1/2 game (over the course of a couple of sessions), I found myself on the button having been dealt KdKh. A player two to my right -- PikeBishop -- open-raised, I three-bet, the blinds folded, and Pike called. Flop came QhJhJs and Pike check-raised my bet. I called. The turn came Ac, and Pike checked.

Thanks for the comments, all. Most suggested checking behind here, although Spunksock surmised I could still be ahead (say, if Pike had 8h7h or the like) and might consider making him pay to see the river.

I have to admit Pike’s preflop raise -- and, perhaps, my sad recent history with kings -- froze me up here. I mentioned I hadn’t played enough hands with Pike to have a good read of his preflop raising range. Assuming an average range, the only hands I could really beat anymore would be KQ, TT, 99, or perhaps some lower pair. Meanwhile there are a ton of hands he could have which have me cooked. I suppose he could have open-raised with suited connectors as well. But I didn’t have a bet in me there. As Machiavelli might say, I didn’t possess the necessary “wherewhithal” to exert true power.

The river was the Th, giving me the straight but completing a possible flush. Pike checked again. My instinct was to consider it needless to bet here, as I thought he’d only call (or raise) with something better. I see now I was dead wrong. If he had hit his flush (or had something even better), he wouldn’t have checked the river after witnessing my timidity at that turn card. In other words, his river check should have told me loud and clear I had the winner. (And that he’s probably calling me down, too, if he has any piece at all of the board.)

The authors of Small Stakes Hold ’em explain this concept in one of their hand quizzes in which a player with top pair -- but a scary board -- gets checked to on the river. They point out how “it is more likely that you are still ahead after your opponents check than it is before they check.”

So what did PikeBishop have? Qs9d. He’d tried a risky blind-steal (with two players to act behind him) and ended up getting just a bit more involved than he probably liked.

Still, he should’ve lost one more big bet, had I read the situation correctly there on the end -- if I had demonstrated the what-do-I-think-he-thinks-I’m-thinking sort of skillful plotting (or “Virtue”) that often serves kings well in their efforts to combat wily Fortune.

At least I didn’t ask for rules at the table.



Blogger PokerMonster said...

Hey SSS. My poker blog got its first google search visitor yesterday, so, in an effort to trace my visitor's steps, I did the same search, and came across yours first.

I didn't think anyone still played limit holdem. Of course KK was bad 5x running when you can't protect it post flop in a drawing game. I play my share of limit, its usually omaha and OH/b.

My blog is on tournament NLHE, mostly on how I've converted my game from on line to the regular local live tourney scene. Of course this comment is shameless self-promotion, to a point, but your blog was interesting, and you've managed some way to put actual card symbols in the text, so I'm jealous.

Tell you what, if you check me out, leave a comment, and I'll put a link on mine to yours.

PokerMonster @

10/01/2007 2:34 AM  

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