Thursday, November 26, 2009

White Whales and Passive Fish

After posting yesterday about how my luck had finally turned around, I went and lost a big pot late last night, trying to squeeze in a few hands of 6max $25NL. This time it wasn't bad luck that got me, it was poor play. The short version is I got married to TPTK and was owned by a passive fish. The longer version follows. (Note, I didn't have a lot of hands on the the villain, but he seemed to be the definition of loose-passive at 33/0.)

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (5 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from

UTG ($45.70)
MP ($20.35)
Hero (Button) ($25.22)
SB ($28)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A, Q
1 fold, MP calls $0.25, Hero bets $1.10, 2 folds, MP calls $0.85

Flop: ($2.55) 3, A, 5 (2 players)
MP checks, Hero bets $1.75, MP calls $1.75

Turn: ($6.05) 9 (2 players)
MP checks, Hero bets $4, MP raises to $8, Hero calls $4

River: ($22.05) 7 (2 players)
MP bets $9.50 (All-In), Hero calls $9.50

Total pot: $41.05 | Rake: $2.05

Hero had A, Q (one pair, Aces).
MP had K, 10 (flush, Ace high).
Outcome: MP won $39

The odds of him flopping the flush were pretty small, so I felt justified betting out on the flop. His call on the flop didn't necessarily scare me, either, as he was a calling station, and could easily have had the Ac or Kc and been chasing, or even had a weaker ace or middle pair.

He checked on the turn, I bet, and he min check-raised me. I think up to this point I played the hand fine, including my bet on the turn to his check, but calling his C/R was, in hindsight, a mistake. I compounded my error on the river, feeling I was priced in, but the big mistake was the turn play.

I posted this hand on a poker forum and asked for advice on where I went wrong. One of the more respectable posters said I clearly disobeyed the Baluga Theorem and should have bet-folded on the turn, instead of bet-called. Another poster echoed this thought, so I went off and did some investigation into finding out what at the heck the Baluga Theorem is. After a little poking around, here's the theorem in a nutshell:

When a passive player check-raises you on the turn, FOLD!

If the player is aggressive, you shouldn't necessarily fold, but when a passive player calls on the flop, and then C/R's you on the turn, he's more than likely got a monster. Hands like TPTK and even two pair are dog-meat against his range, so you're better off folding to any C/R.

The guy who coined the term "Baluga Theorem" says in another forum thread: "Most passive players' ranges/actions look something like *any pair and/or any draw: call* and *the nuts: raise*.

He also goes on to say that when he coaches small-stakes NL players how to play against loose-passives, the thing he repeats over and over again is: "Bet a lot. Keep betting. And fold if the opp raises."

The examples he gives are:

"We raise KJ, get a call, flop is J43r. He checks, we bet, he calls. turn is a T, he checks, we bet, he shoves, we should FOLD because he is PASSIVE. Our TPGK is screwed.

However, we raise KJ, he calls. flop is J43r. he checks, we bet, he calls. turn is a T, he checks, we bet, he calls. river is a 7. He checks. We bet. Print money."

Just because a loose-passive has a wide/weak range to call with, it doesn't mean he has a wide/weak range to raise with. In fact, the only hands they tend to raise with are monsters. Remember, loose-passives play this way: *any pair any draw: call* and *the nuts: raise*. And yet we (I) still pay them off.... and we miss opportunities to build the pot when they continue calling down because we're afraid they're slow playing. Loose-passives don't slow play; they call with weak hands and draws, and they raise when they have the goods.

So, what's the lesson? When playing against a loose-passive, just keep betting, and fold if they raise. Simple.

All-in for now...

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I'd not heard of that theorm either. Nice piece to keep in mind both for getting $$$ and not losing them!!!

    Without the theorm, I'd have been very wary with same suited cards on the flop and likely would have folded BUT then tonight on the river in a 9 person SNG a potential flush was hit, the other player went all in and I called with, you guessed it .... two pair!!

    This player wasn't necessarily loose passive and I was knocked out at hand 19, so don't have enough data on him. But I do hacve a tendency to want my reasonable hand to win in spite of evidence to the contrary.