No, You Sir Are Out of Turn

Angle shooters… can’t live with them, unfortunately can’t shoot them.  Poker is a game of deception, a game of lies, a game of misinformation and feints, bluffs, and fraud.  However, there are some rules and some boundaries to the dishonesty.

You don’t cheat.  That’s fairly simple.  You don’t play with marked cards, you don’t palm cards, and you don’t try to steal a look at your opponents hole cards.

But what about the grey areas.  The less glaring examples of cheating but are still somewhat cheating.  One popular angle that’s shot, is shoving a chips into play out of turn.  I hate this angle.

Generally it’s when one player is on the short-stack or maybe when the pot has swollen to a huge size.  Then the second player to act will bet out of turn.  He might shove or put in a sizable bet.

The angle works on the premise that if the first player checks, he can bet or bluff with impunity.  Recently, I saw an experienced tournament player do just that.

It was late in the tournament and everybody was essentially on a short stack.  The experienced player through out half his stack preflop.  The tight small blind folded.  The tight big blind didn’t.  He stewed and then called.

The flop came out jack high.  The tight player in the blind paused for but a second, when out of nowhere the player second to act, threw in the rest of his stack.  The big blind steamed and perhaps recognized it for the obvious angle it was and said “What are you doing?” 

The experience player wrinkled his face and acted surprised, “Oh, I thought you checked.”

“No you didn’t,” the big blind replied.  Then he shoved all his stack to the center. 

The experienced player the dastardly angle shooter shrugged, said, “I gave it a shot,” and folded.  In that situation, I do one of two things.  If I have the hand, I check, let him shove and call.  If I don’t I push just like the big blind did.

I hope the big blind did so for the same rationale.  If he had a had I wish he had checked.

One of the pluses of Internet poker  is that the angle shooters are harder to come by.  They certainly don’t have anybody acting out of turn because they can’t, on a computer.

Got a weird hand

I read about a strange hand one of my fellow gulf coast bloggers played and I’ve had a hard time getting my head around it.

First off, the blinds were 50-100.  Two people limped.  A guy in middle position raised to 250.  My friend, on the button with pocket Jacks, raised to 1000.  It kind of looked like a steal but also would serve to thin the field even if it did.  The small and big folded.

A limper, a lady, called the re-raise.

The original raiser shoved for about 3500 more.

My friend on the button had 2000 on top of that.  He knew the lady had him covered and said “Why not?”  In goes his stack.  She calls with pocket 10s.  The original raiser had pocket Aces.

I’ve tried to rationalize either of their plays.  The lady with pocket 10s had no business even being in there.  The action is limp, raise, reraise, call, re-re-raise, re-re-re-raise.  If she can’t get the message that’s she’s slaughtered she should quit poker.   It’s hard to rationalize exactly what she was doing. 

The guy with the aces, who received congratulations for his skill in playing them, from the other players at the table (what?) in my opinion couldn’t have played them worse.  His modest raise could only induce calls.  The limpers would play so too the blinds and at a minimum he was risking seeing the flop with 6 players. 

His play worked only because the button, my friend woke up with a pair.  The modest raise induced my friend to overplay jacks, so in that regard it was effective, and perhaps a good strategy if the button or either of the blinds was a loose player.  None were.  Therefore it can only work it they wake up with a big pair. 

Most times they won’t.  This time they did. 

I asked my friend if perhaps the raiser had seen him playing with his chips or looking at his cards.  Did he anticipate a raise.  My friend replied that he did not think so.  Most times he waits until the action is on him to look, and he didn’t see anybody telegraphing an ensuing bet either.

Anybody else have any thoughts on this hand?  Or am I the one who needs to learn how to play poker?

Tournament Strategy, Part 1: Short-Stack Strategy

These days, many of your online multi-table tournaments start you off with a small stack.  It’s important to play solid in the early stages because of the dynamics of the short stack poker tournament.  And by solid I mean tight.  As much as you might want to get creative you typically don’t get enough chips to try and out play your opponents in an online poker tournament.

Granted if you play well, or go on a big rush and amass a stack you’ll be able to have a little more lattitude in your play.  However, in the earliest stages you won’t be able to go too deep into many hands before you have to put your stack at risk.

In the Main Event of the World Series of Poker you get 20,000 in chips.  The first level is 25-50.  You want to take some risks, play some low suited connectors, try and turn a small pocket pair into a set, you got all the time in the world to take those chances.  Short stack you don’t. 

One popular tactic for people who play online poker tournaments is to turn pocket pairs into sets and try to felt an opponent.  It’s not necessary the smartest strategy.  Here’s why:  Odds on hitting your set are about 7 to 1.  Let’s say your opponent has a higher pocket pair.  Typically, you are a 4 to 1 underdog.  You can also win the hand with straights or flushes, so you don’t just have to hit your set to win but…  Unfortunately, if you miss the flop, an overpair isn’t likely going to make it cheap for you to see the turn or river.  Thus, the easiest strategy is to hit a set on the flop.  

A good rule of thumb is your stack must be greater than 10 times the preflop raise you have to call and your opponent has to have you covered.  To be worthwhile long run you need to win more than the odds that are laid against you.  Also, you have to change it a little bit, because sometimes you hit your stack and still lose.

Thus, if you play poker tournaments be very careful about playing small pocket pairs.  The decision to do so is relative to your stack size and your opponents.  Early on, you’ll find it’s rare that you get the odds to go after a guy you put on a big pair.  If you can’t win more than 10 times what you call, I’d advise waiting for another spot.

One of the other