Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Poker Quiz Question #51

Q#51: You're in a $50/$100 NL 4-handed cash game. Everyone has $50,000 stacks. You are a tight-aggressive mid-stakes pro taking a shot at the big game. You have your entire bankroll on the table. You're on the button with A♣-9♣. You raise to $500 and the expert pro player (one of the best players in New York, and who is very tricky and aggressive) in the big blind calls. Flop is A♠-9♠-8♣. The BB checks and you bet $2,000. He thinks and calls. The turn is 9. He checks, you check behind. The river is 2♠.

He leads for $15,000 into the $5,000 pot. You have $49,000 left. You think he has rivered the flush. What should you do? (Pretend you don't know what he actually has if you've seen the movie.)
  • Call
  • Raise All-in
  • Fold


A#51: Reads: Hmmmm.... When I first read this question, I was a little confused (and yes, I've seen the movie, but I'm trying hard to pretend I haven't). Specifically, what confused me was the statement "you think he has rivered the flush." If this is truly your read, then you've got him crushed with your boat, so the only question is whether to raise less than all-in, or jam, right?

Well, no, not so fast. We'll get to the whole issue of bankroll management (BRM) in a moment, but first we need to figure out whether a flush actually makes sense or not. He was getting just 1.5:1 on the flop in pot odds, which means he probably was not chasing a vanilla flush draw. But yet he still calls. And then on the river, if he just has the flush, he has to realize that the board paired. So why risk chasing us off our weaker hands with such a big overbet, but commit himself if we have him beat? Something smells fishy with the flush draw idea.

There are obviously other hands besides flushes in the villain's range, such as lower full houses. All of these we beat. There is one specific hand that beats us, however, which of course is A-A. Now, 99% of players would not call with rockets OOP preflop heads-up, nor would they slow play it this soft on all the streets after flopping top set, nor would they lead so big on the river.... ah, but this is Teddy KGB, er, I mean an "expert pro player (one of the best players in New York, and who is very tricky and aggressive)" that we're talking about. He knows that you know that he knows... and so on. He obviously sees that the board has paired and that the river front-door flushed the board. He has absolutely put you on a range of hands, and is factoring that into how he's playing his own hand. He also is certainly aware that you know this, and knows that you very well might think he has rivered the flush, yet he still overbets on fifth street. And he knows that you know that he knows this. And so on...

The bottom line is he's most likely holding something like 99, 88, JsTs, and maybe even JsQs or 89s. He also might have AA. He might even have total air, because he knows you have your entire life savings on the table and have to be worried about losing it all.

Estimate: We're ahead of almost all of his range. Only one hand beats us. We're not pot committed.

Decide: We've got a ton of value. If this were a smaller ring game, where my entire bankroll wasn't involved, I'd move all-in for sure..... ah, but we've ignored BRM so far in our considerations. Said another way: we're gambling with our entire life on this hand. If we lose, we're done with poker. Kaput. Fini. We'll be driving Knish's truck and forced to grind our way through law school. We won't be playing poker ever again. The (admittedly gorgeous) Gretchen Mol will have us by the balls, and we'll be firmly on the path to 9-to-5 drudgery, a white picket fence, kids...

...but what is the possibility that Teddy has the pocket rockets? Its pretty small, right?

...ah, it may be small, but it is finite. And it's just the type of hand that he might play this way if we were capable of slowing down and thinking.

In a sense, if we lose this hand, it's just a cooler.... but our life savings are on the line, so the ramifications of being coolered are HUGE.

To quote the fictional hero in this hand, Mike McDermott states, "I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I'm really thinkin' about is Vegas and the fuckin' Mirage." What he should have been thinking about instead was his f***in' bankroll...

I say that even though we have tons of value, we're gonna be cautious and put ourselves on a showdown line that we will probably win.

Implement: just call.

Answer: Call

All-in for now...

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