November 2006
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Carnt Fold

Here’s a hand from a PokerDome satellite I played today.

Blinds are 75/150 and I have 2250.  I am dealt Ah Ad on the button.  Lovely.  A middle position player who has about twice as many chips as me raises to 300.  A fantastic minimum raise.  I strongly suspect he doesn’t have aces here, and if he does well that’s just the way cards are falling for me lately.

I reraise, making it 900 to go.  If he’d made a proper raise I could think about smooth calling here in position, but I can’t let the blinds see a cheap flop.  So far so good I think.

He makes the call and I see a horrible flop: Jh Qd Kc.

The only good thing I can say about this flop is that it’s unsuited.  It’s still about the worst flop ever for pocket aces in a pot that saw two raises pre-flop.  All those big pairs that you had crushed have suddenly caught up.  I figure two Kings would want to apply more pressure pre-flop, but can’t count on it.  Two Jacks could get away from this but, in the hands of a big stack, could very likely wait for a low board before hanging themselves.

There are also legitimate two-pair threats, and I haven’t been paying enough attention to know whether this guy would call a reraise with KQ, KJ or QJ out of position.  You’d hope not.  Of course, what I’m really hoping for is to run into AK here, but there’s only two aces and three kings left.  It’s unlikely.

There’s even the possibility of a maniac with KT who is not going to go anywhere, and would be just about correct to call for pot odds if I move all in.  I’d still be a 2-1 favourite, but I wouldn’t like it.  TT would have a hard time folding here too, figuring he may have 10 outs, when in fact a ten is no help and two of his straight cards are in my hand.  Of all the likely hands that just got much stronger, TT is probably the least dangerous.  But you’re still going home against it one time in four.

The stacks are nowhere near deep enough to have any chance of finding out where I stand.  And not only is the other guy wearing shades, he’s also playing on the Internet – no tells here.  I have one pot-sized bet left in me, which I think is probably going in the middle whatever happens.  So I’ve decided I’m not folding.  I mean, really, how can I?

Villian checks the scary flop.  Doesn’t matter.  He checks if he’s strong.  He checks if he’s as scared as I am.  There’s no more information to be had.

Now here’s the reason I’m posting this hand.  I’ve don’t ever remember being in this situation before, and if I have been I certainly didn’t think about it this way.  I’m in position, with a hand that could very well not be best any more but unable to find a way to fold.  I check, and check with a reason.  I’m ever so briefly a little bit smug.  If I’m beat I’m beat.  I’m losing my stack.  If I’m winning and I move all in here, he’s going to be able to fold anything I beat, except maybe AK.  He’s not folding anything that beats me, but will also be hating that board with any strong hand.  By checking I bring on a free card that probably won’t matter, and encourage him to bet the turn.  Which he will now probably do with any hand that pisses on mine, but me may also take the opportunity to push with that AK, which suddenly looks more attractive, or bluff with an underpair or a straight draw, or perhaps AQ or AJ.

I’m not saying this thinking is perfect.  It probably isn’t.  I need to find a way to get away from my aces if they’re no good, and maybe I could have controlled the pot size pre-flop better in order to be able to do that now.  I’m also not saying that I put him on a hand I beat and checked to induce a bluff.  That’s not possible here.  All I can do is make sure that I get as many chips in the middle the times I’m actually ahead as I do the times when I’m toast.

It’s the wrong decision.  He moves all in on the turn (couldn’t be more of a brick: 2s) and I call.  He flips KQo, I hit a second deuce on the river and survive.  I eventually bubbled.

I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.  It’s a peculiar decision with a reason that’s based on a negative attitude.  The decision is not that unusual really.  It’s easy to check there out of fear, just as it’s easy to shove your chips in out of panic.

I don’t ever recall being in such a horrible situation and having a clear plan.  Now I just have to figure out whether the plan was any good.  Feel free to chime in anytime.

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