Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three’s a Crowd

STFUBeen rereading Doyle Brunson’s NLHE section from the original Super/System. From a style standpoint, his hundred-page entry has to be one of the oddest bits of prose ever to be considered “classic.” Had to have been dictated to someone who then transcribed Doyle’s words sans any editing whatsoever -- aside, of course, from the wild array of boldface, italics, ellipses points, dashes, and block quotations, all of which (I presume) are meant to convey Doyle’s various inflections when he originally uttered all of his wisdom into that there reel-to-reel. (Now that would be a hell of a podcast to hear!)

The style ain’t the reason why Super/System is a classic, of course. Dozens and dozens of terrific insights here -- the kind of stuff that has been repeated so many times it qualifies as a significant part of the atmosphere poker players today breathe.

During the discussion of how to play A-A and K-K, Brunson gets into the situation where you’ve flopped a set and he gives advice about how to proceed. Can be a delicate matter, holding three of a kind (even aces or kings) with two cards still to come.

When you flop a set of aces, Brunson reminds us, there is always also going to be some kind of straight draw out there (unless, of course, you flop a boat or quads). He sorts through the particulars a bit, explaining how if there is any 2, 3, 4, 5, T, J, Q, or K on the board along with the ace, that makes a draw possible, and if there isn’t, that means the other two cards -- no matter what they are -- could potentially form a straight draw.

Obvious stuff, but perhaps not something we’ve all remained attuned to at all times. I know I’ve had A-A hands where I’ve flopped the set and relaxed, not really thinking about the straight draw being out there (say, on a ragged board like A-8-2 or something).

He also points out that with K-K the situation is much different. When you flop a set of kings, there are numerous situations where the straight draw is not going to be out there. Meaning, of course, that you might have the option here to slowplay whereas with the set of aces that might not be such a good idea.

Even though he’s discussing NLHE (a game I’m not really playing these days), what he’s saying applies equally to pot limit Omaha (a game I’m playing quite often these days). In fact, one flops sets of aces and kings much more frequently in PLO, so it is a good point to keep in mind that while your flopped set of kings may be safe (for the moment), your flopped set of aces is never going to be.

Had an interesting hand of PLO25 come up a few weeks ago where I flopped the set of kings. I’ve lost the hand history (though I did save the chat, as I’ll get to in a moment). As I recall the flop had no straight draw out there, something like K-9-4 rainbow. It checked to me and I bet half or two-thirds the pot, and a player in early position -- let’s call him TambourineMan -- called me. Everyone else folded. I immediately put him on a lower set, primarily because there were no obvious draws out there.

The turn was a 5 or something -- I still held the nuts. This time I bet something like 85-90% of the pot and again TambourineMan called. (I like to make that almost-pot-sized bet sometimes as it seems to encourage folks to stick around, even though the pot odds are no good for ’em to do so.)

The river is a ten, making the board K-9-4-5-T (with no flush possible). TambourineMan checks quickly. The pot was around $15 by now. I think a moment, then decide he must have a couple of nines or fours, meaning his other two cards have to be precisely J-Q for me to be beat. I make a half-pot bet of $7.50 -- probably a reckless move on my part, but I was close to 100% certain he had just the lower set unless he’d gotten very lucky here on the end.

My opponent did not call or check-raise me right away, which further convinced me I was okay here. A few seconds passed, and while TambourineMan was thinking, another player -- GroteNeus -- began to chat.

GroteNeus: heren [trans. from Dutch: Lord (?)]
Dealer: TambourineMan, it’s your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
Dealer: Player TambourineMan has requested TIME
TambourineMan: trip kings?
Dealer: TambourineMan, it’s your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
GroteNeus: ja [yes]
GroteNeus: of die andere [or those other]
Dealer: Player TambourineMan has requested TIME
GroteNeus: hes tight
GroteNeus: or 99
TambourineMan: sick
GroteNeus: watch it
Dealer: TambourineMan, it’s your turn. You have 15 seconds to act

He finally folds, and I pick up the $15 pot. I was miffed at GroteNeus offering advice like that to TambourineMan. How would you handle such a situation?

Here’s what I did:

Short-Stacked Shamus: dude
TambourineMan: u had trips?
TambourineMan: i folded trips
Short-Stacked Shamus: GroteNeus, I don't mind that much
Short-Stacked Shamus: but you shouldn’t comment
TambourineMan: true
GroteNeus: sorry
Short-Stacked Shamus: it’s cool
Short-Stacked Shamus: ya had KK
GroteNeus: ur righyt
TambourineMan: felt like kings..
Short-Stacked Shamus: worried u backed into str8 there
TambourineMan: figured that river would earn me a look at ur cards
TambourineMan: risky bet

He’s right -- it was a risky bet. But I’d put him on the lower set thanks to that non-threatening board. And I thought that half-pot bet was just small enough for him to call with such a hand. (Maybe I had some o’ that ESP Doyle talks about in Super/System. You know . . . ESP -- it’s a jellyroll.) I suppose I could’ve gotten more upset at GroteNeus, but I suppose my relief at having guessed right there about TambourineMan’s hand & winning the pot probably made me a little more mellow there.

Anyhow, been wanting to share that one for a while, and Doyle’s discussion of flopping big sets reminded me of it. So remember . . . next time you flop a set with yr pocket rockets, the straight is lurking!

And also . . . keep a lid on it when not in the hand.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the translation department:
´Heren´ would translate as ´gentlemen´ (plural) although ´lords´ is a technically correct translation. The singular ´heer´, however would translate as ´lord´, almost exclusively in the religious sense. The singular to use in Dutch for ´gentleman´ is ´meneer´ (also mister).
singular: heer - lord (religious)
plural: heren - gentlemen
We like to confuse non-natives (and a few natives too) :D

In Dutch the K is called a ´koning´ (king) and the J a ´boer´ (farmer). So if you talk about paintcards, ´heren´ would mean kings, even though a J is male as well. ´Heren´ is sometimes used, probably because we call Q ´dame´ (lady). ´Dames en heren´ is translated is ´ladies and gentlemen´.

Class dismissed ;)

9/20/2007 4:23 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Very cool, Erwin. Thanks for that. So when he says "heren" he's probably meaning "K-K," I guess. (I don't believe TambourineMan knew Dutch, so GroteNeus followed up in Engl.)

By the way, I made up the player names (as always). Was trying to be cute with "GroteNeus." Does it work?

9/20/2007 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate the rash of table talk these days. (Even the pros are bad at it on High Stakes Poker and Poker after Dark.) But we all mess up sometimes. At least the dude acknowledged the uncoolness of his chatter.

9/20/2007 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GroteNeus (BigNose) :D
I thought it was an actual alias. It could be. In the days of citizen band radio (low power stuff at 27MHz you could use without a license - we´re talking early 80´s) people used to have calling names (or whatever the technical term is) like that (Big Dwarf, Red Gnome, Big Toe, Crazy Matchstick - you get the picture).

9/24/2007 2:30 AM  

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