Cash Game… Justice is Served…

Recently I played in a cash game at relatively modest stakes but still clearly enough that it meant something to that players.  And by that, nobody was playing just for fun or for the thrill of winning the money was significant. 

Everybody was focused on the money.  There were a handful of players whose heads were screwed on right, and then there were the donaters who were… just screwy.  Those guys clearly needed to go to poker school.

At one point, UTG makes it 6x the BB.  UTG has a stack about half the size of the next smallest stack, and is anywhere from a 1/3rd to 1/5th of the rest of the tables.  So, maybe not the guy you want to take some chances with because even if you gamble you are not going to win much.

Also, the guy has played few if any hands.  The table is playing tightish so usually early raises thin  the field.  Next to act is the second shortest stack.  He insta-calls.  Then the waterfall is begrudingly started.

Lots of weak holdings pour chips into the pot.  Their clickety clack falling into one another sounds delicious.  Action gets to me in the BB.  I hold 4h3h.  Regardless of my holding, all the late weakness has me contemplating a steal.

Here is the problem, the UTG has shown strength and has a legitimate hand.  Granted I’ll know where I stand pretty quick on the flop cause my outs probably aren’t his.  The second to act insta-called and I have no reason to doubt he doesn’t have a hand.  I believe all my idiot radar is retrospective after this hand played out… so, I could be headed to threeway action, or worse yet, the pot might seduce people to get funky with it and pot all their chips in to get rid of us floaters. 

I’m going to be a dog but I’m not that bad of shape.  Yet, with this multi-way pot, I have no idea what to raise.  Too little, and now I’m just creating a much bigger 6 way pot with a 34 in my hand.  Too much and UTG or UTG+1 might commit to their hands and move their stacks in making me contemplate playing a big pot with 34 in my hand.

Because these variables were in play, I decided the best course of action was to play like the 1-2 zombies in the world and pay to see a flop.  My hand has some value, though my position cut down on my implied odds of getting paid if I nailed it.  Still, needing to call 5x with 31.5x in the pot is definitely worth sticking around especially with suited connectors.

Flop comes out 6s5h2h.  Probably almost exactly as I would have envisioned it.  So many ways to potentially get paid here and of course nut redraws.  Somebody gets a better flush two of their 9 outs give me a straight flush.  Player has 78 could get cute and married to their hand.  Now, I’ll have flush outs if they hit.  And in a dream scenario it the board turns 6h and rivers 9h and my opponent holds 7h8h I’m getting a bad beat jackpot.

I check, hoping somebody in the six will have hit a piece and want to thin the field.  UTG c-bets 1/4 of the pot.  Next, to act raises 2.5x the bet.  Oh.

Folded around to me.  Again, I’m put to a decision because of stack size.  UTG looks like he’s going to call the bet.  Do I just smooth call and then push on the turn and tie the UTG player to the hand. 

My hand is vulnerable in some respects put I got protection for a couple of the draws.   I hope the UTG’s intention to call and his small stack will motivate him to call my reraise.  I also want to put the UTG+1 to a test if he’s got a set or something.  So I bet more then either has. 

UTG folds after some thought.  Didn’t like that.  Thought he might have, at this point, harmless overpair like Js.  UTG+1 calls quickly.   Looks like the call of a made hand.  I don’t think I can lose… feel like he’s got the straight too.  Sure enough he turns over 3d4d. 

I river a heart.  He’s irate because he lost a big pot, when he flopped a straight.  I think justice is served because he played a very bad holding based on the table factors.

Here’s why… when he acts preflop he has no idea how strong or weak the rest of the table is.  He calls a raise from early position by a tight player with 3d4d.  Not in itself a bad move if done infrequently…  but when you consider the early tight player barely has a stack there is no reward for the risk.

If the tight player can double you up, I’m all for calling exploratory raises with hands you can easily pitch.  Hands that also disguise well and pay you a ton.  Here, there wasn’t that carrot at the end of the stick. 

On top, of that not only was the player taking a chance with a bad hand that probably wouldn’t hit, he also had to endure the rest of the table potentially raising him out of the flop with nothing.  He’d also be OOP to almost anybody else that entered the pot.  He might flop the best hand and have to give it up.

Therefore, it’s a terrible hand selection.  Perhaps, he thought an early call by him could set off the waterfall (that did happen) and he’d be playing a multi-way pot with a hand that has a lot of options.  That’s a speculative play at best.  Those kinds of limp or call-fests give a decent player on the button or in the blinds (who might take a chance on stealing the pot preflop rather than play oop) a big incentive to steal.  When you start calling re-raises with a shortish stack you are just setting yourself up for failure.

So, when that 5th heart came out giving me the flush, I have to say, I thought UTG+1 got what he deserved.  Perhaps, he needed to go to poker school.