Thursday, February 14, 2008

What The %^&* Do Check-Min-Raises Mean??

We all know that the early stages of low limit tournaments can be a minefield. Ugly slowplays, overbets, underbets, donk bets, out of position flat calls with junk, any 2 suited cards, all-ins to win 45 chips.... and the list could go on.

Here is a very common situation, one that I have been using the trusty Plan3t Gong notepad to keep track of recently:

You open raise in middle position, get called (maybe in 1 spot or maybe 2).... you continuation bet the flop with a half-pot bet after a check from a blind and - Bam! - face a check-min-raise...

Here are some example numbers just to clarify: Effective stacks 2000, blinds 50/25, you raise 150... call from big blind (pot = 275)... flop comes... BB checks and you bet 150 or 175 chips, check raise doubles your continuation bet to 300.

The pot is now 725 and it will cost you 150 to call, so we are being offered tasty odds of almost 5/1.

This scenario is getting so common in the $20 and under MTTs that I decided to start making a note of any hands played this way that I saw showed down. Of course there is an element of opponent-dependancy here... there are some experienced low level players after all - not to mention the 'axis of trickiness' (which will form the basis of a post next week!)

So, what were my findings?

Well, out of the 20 observations the strongest hand that did this was.... wait for it.... top pair 2nd kicker! (a King-Jack on a jack high flop no less)

Some common examples included underpairs, one guy went broke with 33 on a 8-J-J flop, though pairs with just one overcard were more common (for example 88 on a K-7-5 flop). Draws were certainly included in the check-min-raise selection, weak flush draws came up several times (example here J-6 suited on an A-10-5 flop with 2 of the suit), gutshot straights came up twice too.

Ok, hopefully a clear enough picture.

The check-min-raise says 'I have something'... however that 'something' is usually pretty darn weak.

So, what does that mean for our strategy against these players. As with all poker strategy thoughts the answer has to be 'It Depends'.... can you beat something weak? Do you have fold equity against this particular opponent? A strong draw yourself or a vulnerable made hand??

Gl at those crazy tables, Mark

PS: Just noticed that this is my 333rd post - now if that is not a significant milestone then I just don't know what is!


KajaPoker said...

this is funny. I just posted a "who holds what" post about this exact same scenario. check it out and leave me a comment about what you think my opponent held.

Gallopin Gael said...

Congrats on reaching the half way to the "Mark of the beast".

may you're next 333 be just as informative as the first 333.

Riggstad said...

after over 2k plus sng's on Full Tilt, it is comical how that move has become more and more popular.

I have made calls and shoves on these types of moves in these smaller tournies just to sample what could possibly be behind such weird move, and have pretty much found out the same thing

Very good post!