November 20th, 2006

Poker Hand Analysis

Here's a hand that I just played that I want to analyze- maybe I played it wrong, maybe I didn't. Hopefully, thinking about it will help me decide.

The situation: Early (9th hand) of a 1-table $5 Sit-and-Go. This is where I play most of my no-limit Hold-Em. I've made a bunch (well, $150) playing here, so I feel relatively comfortable.

In this tournament, prior to this hand, I've only been in one hand and that was because I got called in the big-blind. I quickly folded when the flop missed me.

Anyway, I'm first to act, and I see that I have Ac-Qd. Now, I know it's early position, but if I don't play AQ, what am I waiting for? I make a standard 3x the Big Blind raise, and get 3 callers- the guy to my immediate left, and the two blinds.

This doesn't make me happy, but at least I've got relatively good position now.

The pot is now $240, and the flop comes:
9c 7h Ah

Woo-hoo! Top pair!

I bet half the pot ($120), and the guy to my left calls, and the two blinds fold.

"Hmm", I say to myself. I wonder what he's calling with. I still think I'm ahead, because people that flop 2 pair or have AK are usually raising at this point. And way too often, I see people call with A-5 or a flush draw.

The turn comes, it's the 10 of spades.

The pot is now $480, and the board is 9c 7h Ah 10s

I bet $200 (slightly worried), and he raises me $200.


What does he have now? My first thought was A-10. My second thought was that after the blinds folded, he suddenly thinks his A-5 or flush draw is a good hand.

Here is where I should probably seriously think about getting away from the hand- where I should try to put him on a range of hands with probabilities and see what the right odds are.

I'm not good enough to do that, but I see that I have to call $200 into a pot of $1080, and that at this point he only has $320 left, so I make the call.

The river comes 10c. All kinds of bad news if he has A-10. I check, he bets his last $320, and I, thinking "I committed to this hand on the turn" call him.

He turns over Jc-8c for the straight.

The guy called my raise from second position with J-8 (but they're suited!), called my bet of half the pot with an inside straight draw, then hit it and doubled up through me.

Now obviously I can't worry too much about him having J-8 when I call him. But should I worry about other (reasonable) hands like AK, A-10, or a slow-played A-9?

I don't know. I feel like at these tournaments, you only get so many decent hands before the blinds go up to the level where you're short-stacked, and this was my chance to buy the ability to breathe easy for the next 20-30 hands or so.

Additionally, there's something to be said for playing (slightly) looser early, so that you can get the bad people's chips before they donate them all to someone else..

On the other hand, if you think you're one of the best people at the table, maybe getting away from a top pair-second kicker on a moderately scary board is ok- you don't need to win this hand to be a force for the rest of the tournament.

Epilogue: After this hand, I'm crippled, down to 1/3 of my original chips. I do manage to stick around for a while, watching Captain Inside Straight call all-in with pocket 3's on the turn against 4 overcards and bust out (that's the kind of stupidity I was expecting when I called him), and then busted out myself when I bet KQ against a board of QJJ and watched a guy turn over A-10 and make a Royal flush. Well, if I have to lose..