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Day one's disaster

The hands you lose a lot of money on are always the first ones to look at when analyzing your game. This one was a dozey that I almost got away from.

I’ve got AQ under-the-gun. I think Doyle was the one who coined the name “walking back to Dallas” for AQ. The general idea is that if a road gambler overplays AQ he’ll eventually lose everything he has, including his car and bus fare. He’ll have to walk back home to Dallas.

Doyle was presumably playing much tougher games with much higher stakes and much deeper stacks. In those days the rebuy wasn’t a part of no-limit poker. All of your gambling money was expected to be on the table in front of you. At least they were playing table stakes; no one would have to put up the deed to his house to stay in the hand.

(A recent episode of Las Vegas featured a high stakes private game that was not played for table stakes. Apparently none of the writers understood the problem of some poor sap playing in a game with three ridiculously rich people that could raise her out of any pot simply because she couldn’t come up with the funds to call.)

That digression done, AQs, even under-the-gun, is a monster six-handed, especially against loose players with a very wide calling range. I opened for $6, three times the blind. Middle position and both blinds called.

A continuation bet here is no longer automatic, but it’s possible no one will have enough of the flop to call, depending on what it is. A lot of time players will call a two-thirds pot continuation bet with a draw, but will fold on a two-thirds pot second barrel. This is even true sometimes for top-pair weak-kicker, or even middle pair.

But this wasn’t one of those boring flops where I have to wonder if my ace-high is good, or if it can take down the pot anyway. This flop was A67.

I bet $18, figuring to get value out of a weaker ace or flush draw, and flush out a made flush cheap so I can get away from it.

It didn’t take long for someone to represent the made flush. Middle position min-raised to $36. Both blinds got out of the way.

I don’t think the villain is sophisticated enough to semi-bluff with a single heart, or even with a pair and a heart. I think this is a bet for value, which means an ace A8+ (maybe with a heart), two pair, or the pat flush.

The min-reraise should have tipped me off. If they aren’t afraid of a flush draw, what could they have? But with the ace of hearts on the board there aren’t a lot of two heart hands that could have called pre-flop; KT+, QT+, 45, 89, 9T, JT.

I can’t call, because I’m not folding later on and another heart will kill my action if he doesn’t have it, and cost me my stack if he does. But if I raise all-in, I’m likely in a situation where I’ll either win a little ($78) or lose a lot ($160).

There are basically three types of hands he can have here.

  1. Hands that I'm drawing almost dead to: 48 hands total
    1. Flush: KT, KJ, KQ, QT, QJ, 45, 89, 9T, JT; 9 hands
    2. Two pair: A6 (6hands), A7 (6 hands), 67 (9 hands); 21 hands
    3. Set: 66, 77; 12 hands
    4. Bigger ace: AK; 8 hands
  2. Hands that he's drawing slim to me: A8-AQ no heart (28 hands)
  3. Hands he's drawing live to me: Ax8-AxQ (10 hands)

That’s 86 hands total.

If I reraise all-in:

  1. 55% of the time he has a case one hand and I can expect to lose the $160 bet.
  2. 33% of the time he has a case two hand and I can expect him to call and allow me to win the $160 bet plus the $50 that's already in the pot; $210.
  3. 12% of the time he has a case three hand and I can expect him to call with 12 outs twice. Half the time I'd lose the $160 bet, half the time I'd win the bet and the pot, $210. The EV in this case is $105-$80, or $25.

The total EV of an all-in reraise is then (-160*0.55)+(210*0.33)+(25*0.12)= -88+69+3= -$16.

However, this is a very generous estimate. It’s possible the villain would fold a lot of the case 2 hands. If he manages to fold A8 with no heart, those six possible hands lose $160 of value, reducing the total EV by another $13. The same thing happens if he manages to fold A9 in the position also.

Even worse, the instant min-reraise is not indicative of top pair on a scary board. Any hand that is not a flush is incredibly unlikely here.

In actuality, I was blinded by how few pat flushes were reasonable here and went ahead and three-bet all-in hoping to get called by AJ-A9. After some hesitation, the villain called with J3.

I had vastly misestimated his calling range preflop. In the 124 hands of records I have of him, his VP$IP is 52%. Does that mean he’s will play a weak ace also and I can extend his range to include A2-A5? Or will he only play such weak hands if they are suited.

I don’t know much, since I’ve only seen him showdown six hands, but I’ll list them here;J3s, Q8s, T4s, J5s, 76s, and KQo.

23% of all hands dealt are suited. Assuming this villain plays any two suited cards, he can probably still add any two paint, any ace, any king, or any connectors before he’s playing his regular 52% of hands.

In the end my analysis was grossly correct and on top of that it was based on a ridiculously bad read. I’m not sure what was happening in my head to make me ignore the obvious.

The instant min-reraise could not be anything other than a pat flush. Knowing now that the villain probably calls with any two suited cards will move that read from obvious to mind-numbingly obvious in the future.