Sunday, January 27, 2008

Out Of Position Overbets In MTTs

Played a few tournaments yesterday... the usual $10 to $30 range. Came across a couple of occasions where I took the lead in a hand and ended up facing a big over-bet from the single opponent still in the hand in both cases... in both cases my opponent acted first. Todays pause for poker thought involves the question 'what do these bets mean'.

First here are the hands (from memory as no HH).

1) I have 8,000 ish at blind level 160 / 80 and am the largest stack at the table, middle position serial limper, erm, limps (he played 40% of hands this way!), he has 4000 (ish) chips. I reraise from the hijack to 720 with a A-Q looking to take the pot pre-flop or play in position if called.... limper flat calls - flop comes 2-Q-J. Opponent insta-shoves just over 3k chips into the 1.6k chip pot!

2) Different tourney.... I have 6000 odd chips at blind level 200 / 100 and it is folded to me in the C/O... raise my Q9 suited to 600 into 2 short and 1 medium stacks ahead... table is playing tight and most hands going 'raise and take' here... anyway - flat called by the BB with around 3000 chips - flop comes 4-8-Q with 2 clubs - now BB shoves his remaining 2400 (ish) into the 1300 pot!

What to think?

What hands could these be?

Do I call?

Lets look at the logic of the situation step by step. In both cases the flop over-shover had flat called pre-flop - somewhat defing their ranges. We should start by noting that neither player had the right odds to play for set value (these were lower level tourneys so we can not rule it out - just note that the odds were not there!). Monster hands would often have re-raised, in case 1 the player had 2 raising opportunities before the flop and declined both, in case 2 it is conceivable that there is some kind of slowplay going on... just less likely.

What about the flop? I had taken the lead from position in both hands right? The usual play of hands indicates that I would continuation bet a large percentage of the time - almost always in the case of hand 2 where it is just a blind in the hand and 70% to 80%+ in case 1, depending on the texture of the flop.

This tells us something about opponents hands too.

If they somehow flopped a monster then why shove? After all, the player taking the lead will usually committ at least one more bet... so we rule out 2-pair + hands from the shovers ranges quite quickly. There is just too much danger of missing value from their strong hands by shoving.

The hands that fit the bill here are draws and weak top-pair / second pair hands. Draws would be semi-bluff shoves, actually hoping to pick up the pot but with backup if called. Weak top pairs would be a little more horrible, committing all of their chips in the hope that I either missed completely or would call with a lesser hand (unlikely BTW!).

Drawing hands make the most sense in these situations... in fact to me, unless it is a very tricky opponent who is doing this with a genuine monster by 'acting strong' with the over-shove, then the straight and flush draw hands respectively are the only holdings that make sense...

So what does this tell us about how to act?

Ahah, here is the good part - we can now play the hand very easily! Both times here I help top pair... putting my opponents on draws I was able to quickly assess that I was favourite to win both times (less clear in hand 2 as presence of an overcard unknown). The pot was giving me nice odds too, and even if wrong then neither hand could bust me... quick call.

Now what about the weak lead from the out of position player? That, as they say, is another story for another day!

GL at those 'donk bet' tables, Mark

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