Monday, November 13, 2006

Anatomy of a Slow Play

I thought I would go a little deeper into the slow play that cost me so dearly. First off, I don't disagree with any of the comments. It was a questionable play. To me a very borderline decision. To others a big mistake. I really don't think that if I play it by reraising the flop the results change, but that does not really matter. I guess the heart of the question is, "is it ever correct to slowplay"? I am not a big fan of slow playing, but it is in my bag of tricks. In the most recent Big Game, I flopped top set with AA on a flush board, and got it all-in on the flop, so I am not somebody that slowplays sets all the time (or even often). So lets just take a quick look at the hand in detail, to see if my read that slowplaying was borderline EV wise was correct, or if it was clearly a -EV move.

First, I call a MP open for 105 with 77 from the button. Assuming that we will get heads up and I am playing for a set or will fold to pressure (which I was), I will hit the set about 1 in 8 times. For this to be profitable, I will need to win about 840 when I hit my set. With 3000 behind, I have adequate implied odds to play it this way so its an easy call.

Range of a MP 3.5x open raiser?

Too early in the tournament to get a real read on anyone yet. So lets assign two ranges. One for TAG and one for LAG. I may need some help here. It is early, so theoretically no one needs to be getting way out of line.

99-AA, AK, AQ, AJs, KQs

LAG: 22-AA, AT-AK, KJ, KQ, Medium and up suited connectors, and some suited 1 gappers

Flop 567 Rainbow.

Against the TAG, the best he has is a gutshot (outside if you include 88). Otherwise, it is an over pair or overs. I would hate to chase away either of these types of hands on this flop.

Against the LAG, he could have 44 or 88 which would be pretty good draws, 78s is not likely as 3 of the 7s are taken. 89 and I'm already pretty dead. T9s, T8s, and other hands are possible as well. So even for the LAG, I am safe against the upper part of his range. Against a couple of specific hands 44 and 88, I am in trouble. What are the odds he has 44 or 88? About 105 to 1. I would say the odds of T9s, T8s, 89s, are pretty rare as well given the entire range that include these hands. Though it is possible a LAG hit this flop, with the range I get from the preflop action, it is still very unlikely.

So against the TAG, I think it is an obvious slow play. It might be the only way to extract more money, and you are safe against his entire range (even 99 which would be a 4 outer). Against the LAG you are most likely way ahead, but there are a few rare possibilities you are in trouble. The LAG will almost surely fire again, even if he misses on the turn.

So when is it ok to slow play?

1) Heads-up. Never slow play against a large field.

2) When your hand is very strong, and not very vulnerable. My hand was very strong. It was vulnerable, but not against a TAG, and barely against a LAG.

3) When your pretty sure an opponent will do the betting for you. I was pretty sure.

4) When your in position. I was

5) When the risk/reward ratio make sense. There are times when it makes a lot of sense to take a risk if it means more valuable chips. It was too early to be taking big risks. The reward of an early double up was pretty big though.

6) If it supports your table image. Too early in the tournament for this type of play.

So I kind of went through the thought process, and came up with it being a borderline decision. In my mind, I was committed to the hand after that flop based on the range I put the other guy on. I was not going to be pushed off the hand even if a scare card hit on the turn. In fact, I was hoping that one would hit in a way, if it would make him bluff at the pot. I need to make 840 on average playing for a set, and had only made 370 so far on the hand. If I reraise his c-bet and he folds, I don't make enough on the hand to justify the preflop call. If, he has a hand that justifys calling a flop reraise, he will probably fire on the turn anyway. One last factor, is that with the level of competition in this tournament, I felt I would be willing to take some risks to keep from getting outplayed. One of those risks is not letting someone push you off a set (in most cases this being one). A flush flop and a 4th flush card would have been different. I may have just pushed on the flop on a flush flop, but 567 is not very scary for his range. Of course he had Q9 sooted which is outside of both ranges. What are the odds of someone raising with that crap instead of a real hand. Pretty low me thinks.

Edit: Does anyones thinking change if the results were different?

What if the other guy has AK and folds to a flop reraise and would have hit his A or K on the turn? What if the same guy fires again with AK after a blank or scare card falls on the river? What if this LAGgy fucktard misses the 8 on the river, but fires at the turn anyway. He has bet preflop and the flop with pretty much air so far. 91% chance he does not catch that exact 8. I think he fires at the turn for sure. What I am saying, is first the odds of him holding a 9 were already small (based on his range). The odds of him holding a 9 plus hitting the 8 are way low. 9 out of ten times, I push the turn hard and stack the guy, or squeeze out some additional profit. Was it wrong to slowplay those 9 times that it worked against the LAGtard, or the 98/100 times it would work aganst a TAGs range? This was not a limped pot, it was played heads-up against a preflop raiser.

Also, I don't think I bet enough to push him off the apparent strength of his hand. I don't think anyone would recomend pushing all-in over his c-bet with top set. I think a min to 2x (500-750 total) reraise would have been what I went with. This guy had 2 overs, a gutshot, and a runner/runner flush (about 12 outs). If I raise him the maximum that I would have raised (about 500 more), he would need to call 500 for a 1750 pot. He has pot odds and implied odds if he is not putting me on 2-pair or better already. I think a LAGtard has to make that call, and I have to get stacked when he hits the gutshot.


At 1:58 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yo man that is brutal. Lord knows what I'd be writing on my blog after a hand like that in the flucking first orbit of a big tourney like that.

In general, I do not agree with the slowplay on a highly connected board like that. He could have had 33, 44, 88 or 99, maybe even A9s if he's a LAGgy idiot. I just think you hit it right on the head when you said you should slow play only if your hand is ahead and not vulnerable. With that flop, you were super vulnerable so I would have pushed a little harder.

And don't you think he would have folded his crappy Q9s on the 567 flop if you had pushed hard on the flop? I would have to guess he would have.

All that said, you got utterly rooked on this hand and I can't really say I would have done anything differently. In general I don't tend to slowplay with trips, especially on a coordinated board like this, but I do think your thought process was pretty much right on except for the decision to slowplay there.

I also prolly would have called off the rest of my chips once he moved big at the pot on the turn. I would have reasoned there's prolly an 80% that I'm behind to a straight at this point, but I'm pot committed already. Plus, you had a number of outs to redraw to a boat and start things off right.

Btw what a fucking monkey to be raising preflop with Q9s. Please let there be donks like this at my FTOPS tables this week.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger smokkee said...

you did get super unlucky there.

the only time i slow play is when i flop a monster (e.g. nut flush, high-end of a straight or a boat) and i don't think my hand can be easily outdrawn.

i'm betting my sets every time. i bet out or raise trying to build a nice pot. it's not easy for your opponent to see they're up against a set. in most cases, they'll think you're bluffing at the pot and move in or reraise if they have an overpair.

if i take a bad beat, at least i can walk away knowing i went out firing.

IMO passive/aggressive play is not a good strategy.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger lucko said...

"So against the TAG, I think it is an obvious slow play."

I REALLY disagree with this. If I think I am against a tight player that is only playing big hands, I think the obvious play is to raise.

On this board you might be able to get all of his chips on this street if he has a big overpair. If a scare card hits the turn, you could see your action dry up. Its not always about what costs you the hand or is safe, but what costs you chips in the long run.

And on a side note lumping all players into either TAG or LAG assumes all players are aggressive and most players aren't aggressive.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Blinders said...


I have to agree with your points. If the TAG has a big pair, I need to get the money in right there. This is how I normally play sets. No reads this early, so I have no idea. He/She is a generic $200 buy-in MTT player at this point The TAG vs LAG destinction was only for preflop raising range purposes.

I was rolling the dice to get a big pot on flopped top set. I still think given the exact details it could have been +EV play.

Even if it is slightly -EV, but has a very high success rate (most of the time I win, but get stacked when I lose), then I will pick up some extra chips, or make a quick exit. The odds just can't be that high, that a preflop raiser improves to beat a top set by the turn even with that scary board.

So I Gambooled and lost. That's poker. Guess I just leadout/reraise with sets from now on. Watch out!

At 9:13 AM, Blogger AnguilA said...

I think the most important point here was the one Lucko stated: if the guy has a big overpair, which is a probable holding since he's raising 3.5x in early position at the beginning of a deep stacks tourney, your best move is to raise and hope he comes over the top. A 4th scary card may get that guy to fold his big overpair though.

Obviously if he's holding AK you want him to stick around, but you can never know exactly what's his exact holding.

You gambled so that he could catch one of his overcards and then you could stack him, but so early in a deep stack tourney (and given you are a very patient TAG) the best thing is to gamble the minimum, and that board was already somewhat scary. It's never bad to win that pot in the flop imo.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Miami Don said...

Well I'm obviously in the minority but I like your play.

I don't believe the correct strategy is to lead out or re-raise everytime you hit a set, its way too predictible, good players will see right through it and its not often you get paid off.

Yes you took a risk on that flop, but with the analysis you gave the hand and what fucktard did have I think the risk reward was worth it.

I smooth call and slow play way more than most. I love doing this live and wathcing the raisers squirm when they get no information on what I might have, and I think it's +ev in the long run. There are also instances where I lead out or re-raise when I flop top set to mix things up and keep other players from getting a read on my hands.

And on the reverse side, I can't tell you how much money I've saved because players re-raise, or check-raise with their monsters, allowing me to dump hands when a slowplay would have gotten more if not all of my chips.

Slow-playing, its a lost art. Don't give it up completely.


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