Saturday, July 2, 2011

Poker Quiz Question #15

Q#15: You're in yet another $5/$10 NL 9-handed full-ring cash game. Everyone has about $1000. Two players limp in upstream of you PF, one of them in EP and one in MP. You're on the button with As-Ks. You raise to $60, the blinds fold, and you get one call from the MP player. The flop is Ad-9c-5h. The caller donks into you for $80. What should you do?
  1. Call
  2. Raise to $250
  3. Raise to $375
  4. Fold
  5. All-in
  6. Call to trap him, raise the river


Before I answer, it's worth noting that a few posts ago I mused about the "process" one should go through in playing a hand. I used different terminology in that post, but generally speaking, I think of it as the RED-M method. Let's see how well it work here. First up is the R is for Reads step (i.e., Make and Refine Reads).

Preflop, the villain limped in with two other players, and then cold called our raise. For most players, this means something like low & middle pairs, suited connectors, small broadway cards, and weak and suited aces. This is the starting hand range we put the villain on.

Next, on the flop, the player led into us. Why do this? Donking in general is weird and (generally) frowned upon by good players. If he's got a weak hand or air, why lead into the preflop raiser only to get RR'd? If he's got a moderately strong hand with SDV, why not check-call? If he has a monster (e.g., a set), why lead out instead of a check-raise? So why did he donk? Answer: probably either to slow us down (i.e., a blocking bet) or to find out where he stands (i.e,. probe bet). Starting with his initial hand range, and then narrowing it down leads us to believe he probably has something like a low/middle pair or a weak suited ace. (NOTE: we did not add cards to his range or change our initial read. Instead, we took our first read on his range and removed cards from it. This is a really important concept to understand when assigning ranges to players.)

Okay, so we have a hand range. Next up is E is for Estimating (i.e., Calculate our Equity, Odds we're getting, and our Commitment). Against this range on this flop, or equity is very good. Yes, we're losing to the odd set, but for the most part we're way ahead. We therefore should be committed to getting our money into the middle. Sooner is better than later, too.

Because we're this far ahead of the opp and committed, the next D is for Deciding step (i.e., Choose a Line) leads us to the conclusion that we should be on a value line. This means build a pot.

So how do we do this? I.e., how do we M is for Maximize (i.e., Implement) in such a way as to make the most possible money? If we call the donk bet, we're not building a pot. Further, the opponent may slow down on the turn, which can keep him from getting committed and, therefore, cost us money. We do likely have the best hand, so we want to build a pot and charge the opp to catch cards and improve. Calling here doesn't build a pot. Calling is basically trapping, and there is always danger in slow playing in that it gives your opponent a chance to catch cheap cards. Therefore we should raise. But how much?

Besides calling, one of multiple choice options was to shove. This isn't great, either, as it's going to fold out almost all of the opp's range-- except the few hands that have us crushed. Ergo, shoving doesn't maximize EV.

So this leaves raising either $250 or $375. If you raise big here, you might drive off a dominated hand. You want to raise (to build a pot and keep the opp from seeing cheap cards), but you also want to keep the villain in the hand. (Note he's going to fold his weak pairs to any raise, but he might stick around with middling aces.) Therefore, given the multiple choice answers, I think a raise to $250 is the best choice. (Actually, I think a raise of something like $200-210 is probably better, but that wasn't an option to choose.)

Ergo: Raise to $250.

All-in for now...

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