Thursday, February 21, 2008

Top Pair from the Blinds

Here is a consistent problem that I have which I have chosen to resolve by completely ignoring it. However, there is this constant nagging feeling that I am losing value by doing so, so I am going to throw this out and see what I can reel back in.

Example: You are dealt Kd7c in the BB at a full table. There are 4 limpers and you decide to check. The flop comes out Kc5d4d.

To the amateur, this would appear to be a good hand, especially considering the backdoor flush opportunity. But herein lies the problem: whenever I bet and get called, I am up against a better K, two pair or a set. If I get raised, naturally I will fold and I have wasted a bet. If I check and call, they will hit a 3 outer, make a flush or straight, or they will catch a runner-runner disaster. If I choose to check raise (even against the button who is most likely on a steal), I was behind to begin with. And then, of course, there are the times when I do actually have the best hand, but then get bluffed out when a scare card hits.

Does anyone have this same problem? Even when I am up against a single limper, the result tends to be the same. I am simply lucky to get what is already in the pot. Since this has caused me undying agony, I have chosen the simple line of checking it and folding to any bet larger than the minimum (the min-bettor always seems to draw out too, BTW) and then bet out and try to take it if it checks around.

And before anyone says anything to this point, this is NOT a matter of perception. This is the result of 4 months of observation of full table play and pretty much any time I stray from the check-fold line (even with good reason, such as facing an overly aggressive player) I get punished for doing so.

Any one have any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Hi Lorin,

In a multiway pot and out of position this hand hasn't got much value as you've noticed. I'd only bet the flop versus ultra weak-tight opponents, the thinking being that they'll call with a better king or flush draw only, they'll never bet a worse king or unless their flush hits.

I'd much prefer to bet the turn in most games, and after I check the flop I'm generally not calling more than one bet* versus a good opponent: it's definitely a reverse implied odds situation. Versus lag-donks I'll call to the river so long as all the better players are out.

I can't see the value in check raising - it gives the loose player a way to escape their nothing hands and continue when you're beaten. Tough players may decide to call and outplay you on later streets regardless of what they hold - it's going to be very tough to fire a big shell OOP on the turn considering you could be a dead duck.

I think you just have to accept you're going to give free cards often, keep the pot small and hope the times you allow the other players to bluff will make up for it.


(* The exception being if they have an extremely high 'bet turn' percentage, but won't fire the river unless you're beat)

Poker said...

Hey Lorin

Just found your blog so I thought I would start reading from the beginning.

I am relatively new to Poker but my results are pretty positive so far. One thing I have found is that my expectation is almost always of negative value when playing from the SB and break even to negative value when in the BB.

I would be unlikely to bet out in the example you gave and would rarely invest money with K7 unless I had hit two pair or better.

I expect to loose the Blinds so breaking even is a bonus. I steal enough during the rest of the orbit that I am still making a positive profit during most games.


Lorin Yelle said...

Wow, this one really takes me back! My new hypothesis is that you should generally avoid early limpers in this spot unless they are very loose. The later they are open limping, the more likely they are to play poorly and therefore the more likely I am to check/call, check raise.

If a player is betting into many others here, even if they are very loose, I will tend to play cautiously unless I was waiting for this particular guy to do something stupid.