Monday, October 08, 2007

Hoy Hot Hand Redux #2 - Preflop Actions

When I did my first HHHR several months ago, I thought it would be a regular feature here. Not sure what happened, but I can't resist analyzing the hand from last weeks 1k. There were just so many comments, and the hand in question has such depth, that I thought I would do my thing and beat it to death. I will look at the hand in question from both players perspectives, and see if and where any mistakes or questionable moves were made. I think there is a lot to learn about early MTT play, that probably has not been exposed yet as a result of this very specific hand. Concepts like what it takes to get a solid read on somebody, how MTT play changes as you get deeper in the tournament, how preflop actions can determine post flop actions, and the classic play of jamming draws in MTTs. All this stuff will come to the surface I hope as a result of the analysis.

Hoy describes the hand this way.

To recap, we were about 45, 50 minutes in to the Monday 1k buyin mtt, with blinds at 30-60, and I opened from the cutoff with Q♥J♥ with a 3x raise to 180 chips. Ol' Littledick repopped my raise 3x to 540 chips from my left on the button. The blinds folded, and the action came back to me, where I called the reraise for another 360 chips into what became an 1170 chip pot.The flop came down A♥T♠4♥. Action was to me on the flop, and I checked with my big draw, with the intention of check-raising any bet from him allin since I put my opponent on a big Ace from his preflop reraise. My opponent bet 820 into the 1170-chip pot, at which point I went for the all-in checkraise for my last 2400 chips. Littledick insta called, flipping up AK, and I hit my flush on the turn to nearly eliminate him from the tournament and get me started off to a nice stack in the 1k.

So Hoy has about 3k to start the hand which is slightly less than Ol' Little dick has, so Hoy's stack size is the pot limiter here. Also, I believe from his earlier posts that he actually turned a Kd for the straight, but that is not very important. So lets start with the preflop raise of 3x from the cutoff at this point in an MTT. I feel this is a solid play. You do not want an image of being overly tight, and raising QJs in general from the cut off looks to be a +EV move, while at the same time loosening up your image a bit. Now I am talking about image here, but this is too early in an MTT to be overly concerned with your own image, or others for that matter. The blinds are just too small to be attempting to make an image play, or get in a huge pot based on an image "read". These are the things that you do in the late or middle stages of MTTs when the pot sizes matter relative to your stack. With the blinds totalling just $90, Hoy's M is 33 here. No reason to be making any big moves. Also, the some of the loosest players play very tight early in MTTs to build an image to exploit later on. If you get too married to their image early, you will be the one they will exploit. Because of this, I tend not to care about mine or other images this early in an MTT. Hoy claimed to have a solid read on this guy, which was probably his first mistake.

So the button reraises Hoy to 540 total. Hoy needs to call 360 which is not a ton of chips, but substantial relative to his stack. Hoy felt this guy could be on a re-steal here, and was wrong. That would not have been my read. I would not have built an image up of this guy yet. With the lack of a read, I usually will think about what kinds of hands I would make that type of a play with as a first order approximation. So what hands do I reraise the cutoff up to 540 at this point in an MTT? AA, KK, QQ for value. JJ and TT for information. I call with AK, AQ, KQ, AJs, and all pocket pairs. I am not restealing at this point in the tournament for 1/6th of my stack, and this guy was not either. Reading this as a resteal, or a "big ace" is a mistake. This guy added AK into his range for the reraise. I think this is a decent/borderline choice. I would rather manage the pot size with a hand like AK at this point. I have position, and a Blind might come if I just call. Playing this for a three way pot of about 600 seems like a reasonable move to me, but I will not question adding AK to your reraise range here. So lets give little dick a range of AA-JJ and AK. I added JJ because this guy added AK which is a little looser than me. So the reraise at this point in the MTT tells me he has AK or a big pair. Hoy is way behind all the big pairs but JJ, and slightly behind AK. Running this through poker stove shows Hoy has 29% equity. Hoy needs to call 360 for an 1170 pot for a price of 31%.

Seems a little borderline, but the problem is that the hand is not over preflop. If it was, you could make that call and it would only be slightly wrong (29% vs 31%). But, there is a ton more money that can go in post flop. The 29% equity comes mostly from the AK and JJ match-ups. QJs will only rarely beat AA, KK or QQ. When you only call the raise, you get no further information to narrow the range. Repoping him with QJs would just be stupid so that's not an option. So you can't get the info you need to know that your QJs will be good if you catch a Q or J high flop. You very likely will be against a hand that you will not be able to beat, and will get yourself in trouble post flop because of it. You will need to catch 2 pair or better (worse than a 40-1 shot), or flop a huge draw that you are not priced in for even when counting the implied odds. Poker pros love to talk about being priced in for a preflop call, but it works best for all-in situations where you know what your total price will be. Hoy could not know his "total" price in this instance.

Hoy is smooth calling from out of position here. You pretty much only want to do that when you feel you are ahead, and Hoy admitted that he knew he was behind. There are pretty much no hands that rearaise him there that are not ahead of QJs. Just calling forces Hoy to act first postflop. Hoy did not narrow little dicks range, but little dick has already narrowed Hoy's range, and will be able to further narrow Hoy's range post flop by using his positional advantage. Getting into this big of a pot preflop, heads-up, out of position, and not controlling the betting or information are all not good things. Hoy needs to release this hand to that reraise from that position.

Now from little dicks perspective. It folds to the cutoff who makes a standard preflop raise. Now that actually could be a steal. He could have just called, and waited for the flop to build a pot, but he rerasies from postion to isolate Hoy with a hand that is highly likely to be ahead. You can't really knock that play. He might take it down preflop (actually should have), can take it down with a C-bet unimproved if Hoy checks the flop, or can hit an A or K and use his position advantage to extract maximum value post flop.

I am going to stop here, and will do the post flop actions next. I will be much more kind to Hoy post flop, because you can't really fault his play at all post flop. In fact it is a great example of the correct way to play a huge draw like that. I will also argue that little dick in the context of the hand, also played it correctly post flop. Stay tuned.



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