Friday, February 04, 2011

The Search for Inspiration; or, You Get What You Pay For

InspirationHad a six-handed, pot-limit Omaha hand a couple of days ago in which I open-raised from the button with 2dAdQsAh and only the big blind called. The flop came 8d6dQd -- the nuts for me -- and not surprisingly my opponent checked.

I have no standard line for this situation, although generally speaking I’ll usually bet something here. The continuation bet doesn’t mean I’ve necessarily hit the flop, and so while often it will induce folds, suspicious players occasionally will call, especially if they have a lower flush, a set, or even two pair. And at the low limits I play (with dime-and-a-quarter blinds), some will happily stack off with less-than-nut flushes, too, so it is often worth at least trying to build a pot.

Here I bet about half the pot, and my opponent called. The turn was a harmless Ks, and again when it was checked to me I bet again, a little more than half the pot this time. Once more my opponent called.

The river brought the 7d and my opponent surprised me a little with a half-pot-sized bet of his own. The straight flush was quite possible here -- indeed with that board there were several ways to make the hand. I minimum-raised, and when my opponent responded by pushing all in I was fairly convinced he had it. I had been playing with him a while and he had done nothing to make me suspect he didn’t know what he was doing. So, after a bit of thought I folded my ace-high flush, and the two of us engaged in some chat after the hand.

My opponent initially denied having had a straight flush, but the more we chatted the more I was certain he had. Somewhere in there I said, “if not, an inspired bet” and complimented him on a good hand, and it was after that he appeared to let down his guard, suggesting I’d made a good fold.

It’s possible, of course, that I folded the best hand. But at these low limits such “an inspired bet” -- i.e., an attempt to force the ace-high flush to fold by representing a straight flush like that -- is pretty out of place. Folks simply aren’t folding here, not for less than ten bucks or whatever it was. Such was my thinking when I did fold. I didn’t believe my opponent would be so foolhardy as to reraise all in without a straight flush, not after the way I’d played the hand up to that point, anyway. (Was my play “inspired”? Or just timid?)

In any event, the hand stood out for me in a couple of ways. One was the way it gave me that funny “I-lost-but-I-won” feeling that comes with making a correct fold. Even if it weren’t correct, I still felt that way afterwards. As John Lukacs says in that “Poker and American Character” essay I’ve been referring to off and on over the last few months, poker is a unique game, one in which “free will prevails over philosophies of fate or of chance, where men are considered free moral agents, and where -- at least in the short run -- the important thing is not what happens but what people think happens.”

The other reason why the hand stood out for me was the way it encouraged me to think about non-straightforward plays and/or “Level 2” thinking (and above) -- something that basically doesn’t happen a heck of a lot when playing the dime-and-a-quarter games. Kind of ensures that those of us who stick to these limits are probably only going to grow so much as players, perhaps developing to the point of being able to fold an ace-high flush once in a while when it appears warranted, but not to explore more advanced or “inspired” plays. Not really.

Before signing off, let me point to a couple of other items you might check out sometime before we meet again on Monday.

TroubleSpeaking of looking for inspiration, I greatly enjoyed writing up a piece for Betfair this week about Jack Ury, the oldest-ever WSOP participant who died on Tuesday at the age of 97. Got to relive some Ury’s most memorable hands from the last four WSOP Main Events in that one, including the epic “slowroll” from 2009. Check it out -- I promise you grins if you do.

Also let me point you to a piece over on Full Tilt’s “Poker on the Rail” blog by Dr. Pauly regarding the recently-announced 2011 WSOP schedule. More chuckles and some other benefits to be had there, too.

Enjoy the Super Bowl weekend, all.

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Blogger Grange95 said...

Ummm ... why not flat call the river?

Your hand has great showdown value, the straight flush is certainly possible, why give up equity by a raise/fold line? If you are raising for value, you must call unless he shows you the straight flush. If you are raising for information, you get that by calling.

Good hand to post. I'm still learning PLO, and this seemed an obvious call to me, so I'd love to hear a little more about your thought process and your line.

2/04/2011 1:08 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

You're right... calling much better there, especially if I'm ready to fold to his shove like that. Here I am congratulating myself on seeing the straight flush as possible, but not really playing the river accordingly.

I guess I was partly thinking he'd still call the min-raise w/a lesser flush (or even a straight, the fourth diamond & my smallish flop/turn bets perhaps making him think I didn't have the flush). Not good, though.

2/04/2011 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say you know opponent, otherwise on micros are 30% of people willing go allin with any flush.

2/04/2011 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post! like your writing

2/05/2011 7:27 PM  

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