Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alternative Line #2: The Mega-Raise Pot Shove

Unlike the previous example, this one does not actually need to be AK per se, but rather any medium-strong hand with showdown value. Here is the criteria needed:

1. You are in one of the blind positions.
2. You have a medium strong hand that doesn't play particularly well post-flop out of position, preferably in this order:
AK, AQ, AJ, 99, ATs, 88, KQs, KQo, ATo, KJs
3. You have no more than two limpers in the pot and first limper must be very loose, with a VPIP of 30% or higher. The higher the VPIP, the looser on the above scale you can go.
4. You raise to approximately 1/3 of the effective smaller stack.
5. You shove all in on any flop when called.

The theory: You do this because the alternatives are to limp (which clearly sucks and will never show any real profit), make a normal raise, or move all in. Making a standard raise makes your stack size really awkward for post-flop betting and makes these hands very difficult to play since you will miss the flop about 2/3 of the time. Moving all in is a fine, though sub-optimal play. Even a fish realizes that he needs a showdown value hand to call a bet this size and it will scare away his business virtually every time.

So let's be straight here from the get-go: usually when you attempt this play, your opponent will fold. In that regard, it is no different than shoving over a raise with your premium hands. You don't expect to get called with those hands in every instance, though you are happy when you do. When he does call, take a look at what happens in the example above. By raising one third of the effective stack, you are facing your opponent with a pot-size bet on the flop and offering him odds of 2:1 to call. In other words, you are putting him in the position of making the largest mistake.

Surely, for a bet this size on the flop, your opponents will only be calling when you are beat, right? Wrong. Here is a list of common calls you will see in this spot:

1. Top pair or better
2. Any pair
3. All draws including gut shots
4. Overcards
5. Naked aces

In a nut shell, very few good hands and a whole lot of complete shit. Once again, this play in not done for any kind of deceptive purposes, but rather is a strong psychological lure for weak-minded opponents and gamblers. By targeting exclusively loose opponents who have pretty much already told you explicitly that their hand was not good enough to raise but they wanted to see a flop anyway, you are seducing them into making a bad play.

Of course, when you flop a relatively strong hand, you should either bet very small or check. Typical opponents who are bad enough to call a raise this large in the first place are primed to make a hopeless bluff at such a large pot. By relatively, I mean relative the the board and your opponents likely calling range. A hand like AK on an A-2-2 board is extremely strong and even weak opponents are not likely to stack away with QJs in this spot (though they sometimes will!), but of course he is not getting helped by any free cards, so give him a chance to piss his money away.

Why does this play work? Perhaps it is best not to ask such questions. Never in my career have I been bad enough to get lured by such an obvious ploy, so I can't even begin to imagine what is going through the mind of someone who does. Admittedly, this play was not created by myself, but rather snatched from the hands of a short stacker who is much better than me. When reviewing his hand histories, I was astonished by the horrible calls his opponents were making, including a K7 on an A-A-5 board when he was holding KQ! I began making this play indiscriminately only to soon find that it was never working when I wanted it to, and "working" when I didn't want it to. It has only been recently that I have found it to work astonishingly well against very loose opponents. Against typical opponents or unknowns, you are better off either limping or moving all in with these types of hands.


Memphis MOJO said...

It's almost like a stop and go except that (preflop) you're the one doing the raising. Interesting.

Lorin Yelle said...

Somewhat. You find more of a similarity in Line #2B.