Oct
13

Don’t Miss Value! — Limit Holdem

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In keeping with my aim of motivating myself to play expert poker every day, I’m going to inaugurate this blog by discussing a couple of hands that I dogged badly in my last session — and failed to win as much as I should have — by failing to make obvious value bets on the river.

The game was $40-80 limit holdem at the Bay101, and it was a great game, with lots of loose action.

1) Poker Game: $40-80 limit holdem, 9 players

Pre-flop: I am in the hijack with 9♠7♠.

Action: It is folded to me and I raise. Everyone folds to the big blind, who calls.

Flop: J♠ 76♠ (two players)

Action: Big blind checks, I bet, big blind calls.

Turn: 4(two players)

Action: Big blind checks, I bet, big blind calls

River: T♣

Action: Big blind checks, I check. Big blind shows 3♠3, I show and win.

My open-raise of 97s from the hijack is an extremely LAG play that I don’t recommend in limit holdem, except in the unusual circumstance I found myself in: the two players behind me had both indicated their intention to fold before it was my turn to act.

On the flop I basically flopped gin — this is a great flop to my hand, a pair and a flush draw with only one overcard.  When he checks and just calls, I’m sure I have the best hand at this point.

The turn 4 is a very safe card.  It is unlikely to have helped any of his possible hands.

The T♣ on the river looks at first glance like a bad card to my hand.  It completes an open ended straight draw to the 89, and pairs gut shot draw hands like T9 and T8.  This is why I elected to check behind on the river.

On second thought, though, I think my check-behind was a bad one. My opponent is normally aggressive, and thus very likely to have check-raised a straight draw on the flop.  That is how LAG players play drawing hands that have no showdown value.  Taking the lead is the only way for them to win the pot without improving.  When he simply check-called on the flop, I gave him a very wide range that included a lot of overcards.  But when he continued to call the turn, I should recognize that his range has narrowed: it is now dominated by small pairs or A-high hands that he intends to take to show down.  I should have bet the river for value against this opponent.

2) Poker Game: $40-80 limit holdem, 9 players

Pre-flop: I am utg with 7♠7♣

Action: I limp in, followed by four other callers, plus the blinds

Flop: Q♠Q5(seven players)

Action: The blinds check, I bet, two bad players behind me call, everyone else folds.

Turn: Q♣ (two players)

Action: I bet, both players call.

River: 6♣ (two players)

Action: I check, both players check behind.  I show my hand and win, with one player showing 65 offsuit.

I’m not sure about my pre-flop decision to limp in.  In a tight game, where I have a chance to pick up the blinds, either raising or folding is probably a better play. I was in an extremely loose game, though, in which I was unlikely to pick up the blinds with a raise, so I elected to increase my implied odds by simply limping in and encouraging multi-way action. The hand is too good to fold in this kind of game. I was likely to win a lot of extra bets if I flopped my set.

The flop is a decent one to my hand, except for the fact that with the large number of players seeing the flop, it is fairly likely someone has a queen.  Nevertheless, I have to bet here to protect my hand. Simply getting called by two players is a nice development, but it is still very possible that one of them is slow-playing a queen.

The Q on the turn is a great card for me. It kills the flush draw, and sharply decreases the possibility that one of my opponents is slow-playing a queen. I must continue betting to protect my hand.

The river 6 is another great card for my hand, and my check here is absolutely terrible.  I was a little confused by my opponents’ calls on the turn.  Given that the flush draw was dead, what could they have to call me with?  What did they put me on, that I limped utg with, and bet twice?  In the back of my mind was the nagging thought that I was being trapped.  I made several mistakes here.  The first is that both of my opponents were bad non-thinking poker players: it was a mistake to assume that they understood what my likely holding was.  The second is that the third queen made it extremely unlikely that I was against a slow-player. The last mistake was simply being too fearful, and playing on automatic. I was grateful to get to showdown with this hand against a large field, and was content to simply turn my hand over rather than risk paying off a possible raise.  This is really poor thinking in limit holdem, where since you are aiming for a win rate of 1-2 big bets per hour, you must look hard for extra bets wherever possible.  My automatic check on the river showed just how much rust remains to be knocked off my limit game.  My long years of playing no-limit holdem exclusively cost me money in this hand.

Memo to self: Don’t miss value!


Categories : Limit Holdem, Value bets

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