Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Hand

The tournament at Roxy's has changed slightly since the last time I played back in January. Now it's a $40 buy-in and 10,000 in chips with blinds starting at 100/200, making for an ever slightly faster paced game where aggression is rewarded in the right spot.

Like with my first hand last night.

There are 8 players at my table (16 total) and I'm in the big blind (BB).

The second player to act puts in a minimum raise of 400 (minimum raises are a tell tale sign of a a weak player who doesn't understand proper bet sizing). The small blind calls for 300. I look down at Kh-Qh. A good hand, but not exactly one I want to raise with out of the BB, especially when I have no reads on my opponents. Better off just calling and taking the flop, I think. I call.

The pot: 1200.

The flops comes: Qc-10h-8h.

This is a really, really good flop for my hand, so I want to be aggressive with it to disguise its strength. And why is it strong? For a simple reason: outs. And what is an "out?" It's any unseen card that could potentially improve my hand and is likely to win. So here are my outs (and I can do this really quickly in my head before betting):

9 hearts to a flush (there are 13 in the deck and we know about 4)
3 kings for two pair*
2 queens for trips
3 tens to make 2 pair
3 eights to make 2 pair

Total: 20 outs, or cards that will improve my hand. Using the Rule of 4 and 2, I multiply the number of outs x 4 on the flop. (On the turn you multiply by 2.), which gives me a roughly 80% chance of winning this hand. There's a little dance going on in my head.

Now of course I don't know what cards my opponents are holding, but there's one way to find out: bet.

So I bet 1000. The 2nd player pops it to 2500, a good and slightly fishy raise indicating a couple of things: a) He's protecting AQ, b.) he has a set of 10s or 8s, c.), he has AA or KK or d.) he has a straight draw he's protecting (like KJ). I plan on calling, but let's see what the SB does.

Pot count: 4700

SB re-pops it 5000. Whoa, I didn't expect that! Very interesting.

Now it's on me.

Pot: 9700

My pots odds are roughly: 2.5:1. Expressed as a percentage, 30%, if I call. (13,700 divided by 4000 I'd have to call=29%)

Since the expected value of my hand is on the positive (I'm 2.8:1 favorite against any pair and the pot is laying me 2.5:1) When the odds of drawing a card that wins the pot are higher than the pot odds, it's a near instant call. If I'm up against 2 pair, I'll lose at least 5 outs, making it 15 outs, or 60%.

I really think the SB has either a.) flopped two pair or b.) he flopped a straight (highly unlikely). AQ isn't likely, but possible and would be a slight underdog against my draw.

Calling isn't an option here really as it will cost me more than half of my stack, thus committing to make a call to see the river no matter what card comes on the turn.

"This is a really, really good hand," I say to the SB. "And I'm fairly certain I know what you have." I look at the original raiser, I'm not sure about you, but I have an idea, I think to myself.

"There's really only one right move here, and folding isn't one of them. I'm all in," I say, pushing my chips into the middle and show my Kh-Qh. The original raiser calls. Hmm, I wasn't expecting that. He shows Kc-Jc giving him only 6 "clean" outs (the Ah and 9h are "dirty" outs for him). The SB shows Qd-10c, and has only 4 outs; his hand takes away 8 of my outs (the 10s, 8s and Qs=8), leaving me with 12 outs, or 48%.

I'm in good shape despite the SB's two pair as we're a virtually coin flip for a huge pot. Then:

Turn: 6s

River: 2d

One hand.

I'm out.

"You gotta be kidding me," I mutter to myself. "12 outs and I miss every one. Fucking standard."

No regrets, though. It was unquestionably the right play in every way, mathematically and strategically.

Funny thing is, I don't know it yet, but my night's about to get a whole lot worse.

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