Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poker Quiz Question #18

Q#18: You're in a multi-table tournament. Blinds are 100/200. A novice calling station raises UTG to $500. An unknown player flat-calls in MP. Everyone, including you, has about T20K in chips. You are in the cut-off seat with Ah-Ad. What should you do?

  1. Call
  2. Raise to T1000
  3. Raise to T1600
  4. Raise to T800
  5. Raise to T2300

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A#18:  To answer this, let's try RED-M again. First the Reads*:

A novice calling station raises UTG. By "calling station" I assume we mean a fairly passive player who will call down light. When a player like this raises preflop it is definitely noteworthy. Further, he's UTG, and even bad players these days understand that they should play relatively tight up front. This means he almost certainly has a big hand. We hold two rockets in our own hand, so combinatorics say that he is more likely to have 99-KK than he is to have AA or AK, but those hands are also in his range.

The MP player cold calls, but we don't know anything else about him. If we assume he's a straightforward player, so he's probably calling with a small or medium pair, or some kind of bigger suited connector and hoping to get lucky on the flop. Perhaps AXs, but again, because we hold two of the aces, this is less likely.

Next we move on to Estimate. We have the best possible starting hand, and our equity, even against two relatively strong players' ranges, is excellent at something like 68% or so. We also have a positional edge and will probably continue to have it throughout the hand if the button folds. Our stack is equivalent to everyone else at the table, so the effective stack size is ~T20K. Our fold equity against the UTG player probably isn't actually very high, so we're not too afraid of blowing him off the hand with a raise. The MP player, however, might fold to a raise of ours unless he thinks he's getting good odds to continue.

Now on to Decide. We have the best possible starting hand, big equity, and straightforward opponents, so Poker 101 says we're on an ABC Value line.

So this brings us to Maximize. When you're on a Value line, you want to build a pot as quickly as you can. And this is almost always best accomplished by straightforward raising, especially if we're confident that at least one of the players is a calling station and can't let go of his own big hand. We also don't want to give cheap cards to either player, especially the MP flat-caller. We're not afraid of the UTG station hitting a set; that feels too much like being afraid of MUBs. Instead, it's the MP player we don't want to let in cheap; i.e., if he's got suited connectors, we want to charge him as much as possible to see a flop. Ergo, we're going to raise. The trick is determining how much.

We want to charge as much as we possibly can, while at the same time keeping the other players in the pot but giving them poor odds to continue. There is T1300 in the pot, and the action is to us. Normally, a raise of 3x the first raiser, plus one big blind per cold-caller will charge the opp too much to continue with speculative hands. For us, this means (3 x T500) + T500 = T2000. Now, this exact value isn't an option in the multiple choice answers. So, given that the UTG player is a calling station, I'd err on the large size. Therefore, a 3bet to T2300 sounds reasonable.

Answer: re-raise to T2300.

All-in for now...
-Bug
*I'm still working out a general process for R is for Reads. In my last post, I talked about a four-step approach: a) what are core tendencies of opp?; b) what are game-specific adjustments to his range?; c) what are his actions in this particular hand?: and d) how do combinatorics (dead cards, blockers, etc) affect his range? So far, this seems to be working. In this particular quiz question, for example, the process for the UTG player would be fall out as: a) the core tendency of the opp is he's a passive calling station. b) There were no game-specific adjustments applicable. c) He raised in EP. d) I hold AA. These four things allowed me to narrow his range to a usable passel of hands. For the MP player, we can follow a similar line of reasoning: a) We know nothing about his core tendencies, so we assume he's an average ABC player; b) There were no game-specific adjustments to make to an average ABC player in this example; c) In MP, he cold-called an EP open raise; d) I hold AA, and we've already ranged the UTG player's hands. This allowed us to assign a range to the MP player.

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