From NIT to Donk within 24 hours

Laughing Donkey
Image by jaxxon via Flickr

In my last post I ragged on and on about the way some of the poker players on Absolute Poker took extreme risks with bad hands in the hopes of winning a piece of the “bad beat” jackpot. In my last three sessions on AP I came away with less than what I started with. Even though I played mostly like a NIT, a tight passive player trying to avoid confrontations without having the best hand, I suffered some loses as the result of some players catching their miracle card at the river.

For a change of pace, the next day I decided to play at Doyles Room. While the pace there is usually quick, you can do well if you are a TAG type player, “tight and aggressive” or even a nitty type. I like to observe before jumping into the fray so I was able to join the table and wait for the big blind prior to playing a hand.

I saw at least six hands played out and noticed that the player to my left seemed bent on self-destruction. She had over $20 in her stack which went up to $24 and down to $8 before I had even played a hand. This was one player to watch out for as she would play any Ace and tried to raise people out of pots.

During the course of an hour of play I was able to increase my stack by 70% and avoided confrontations from the wild player on my left … except on the hand that I was dealt pocket Kings. This time I not only called her raise, I re-raised her pre-flop as well.

But there was a slight problem. There was another player that was just calling these raises, meaning that there were three of us playing in this hand.  The flop came out 3 Q 4 unsuited so I did not have to worry about flush draws.  By this time the player on my left was all-in, leaving just the remaining player and myself with chips. He would bet and I would call. This happened for the flop, turn and river.

I was concerned, but there was already too much in the pot to give up on my pair of Kings.  At the end of the hand, I turned over my Kings, the wild player turned over an Ace Two unsuited, as I suspected. But the third player in the hand turned over a pair of Queens giving him the best hand, three Queens, and a good size pot containing about $14. While pocket Kings were good at the start, I failed to consider what hands might be beating me before deciding to call, raise or fold. This episode cost me about half of my chips, leaving me with less then half of what I had started with.

After that hand, I only caught two playable hands and won some chips, bringing me back up to within 50% of my starting amount. One of the final hands I played before ending my play at Dyles, involved getting an Ace King unsuited in middle position. I raised the pot and got only one caller, the rest having folded to my raise. The flop was  2 4 9 unsuited. No help for me but probably no help for the other player who called a pre-flop raise to stay in the hand. After the flop, I raised and he called. The turn card was a seven. I put the other player as having a face card or perhaps a Jack Ten so this was probably no help as well. I bet and he called. The river card was a three. No help for me but probably no help for the other player as well. I bet out and he called.  I was right, not one of the community cards in the middle helped his hand. He already had a pair of pocket Tens and the best hand. I should have just checked down the hand and folded if he raised, instead I donked off some of my chips in the hopes that a bare AK would take down the pot.

Do you ever have days where you are the hero and then have days where you are the “donk”?  Don’t you hate when that happens?

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4 thoughts on “From NIT to Donk within 24 hours

  1. Don't blame yourself for the pocket kings hand. An overpair at low stakes, especially pocket kings is usually the nuts on a dry board like the one you described. I've seen many low stakes players play QTo like the nuts on a board like that and would pay you off easily. I know we play a different style, but I probably fist pump reraise/shove over his reraise on that flop with kings. I guess it depends on how deep you guys are sitting and how much of your stack went in the pot preflop. If you were pretty deep I guess you can get away from it. Assuming it's just medium stacks and you 3bet a large amount preflop, bad beats are bad beats. That's what bankroll management is for. I mean if you're sitting at a table where someone has 20 bucks in front of them, what stakes are you playing? How many buy-ins do you have for the limit? I feel like maybe you are playing out of your BR if this kind of hand bugs you like it did. With regards to the second hand, I guess it's about what you're trying to represent. Betting all three streets to me on a board like that seems like, a bluff, overpair, or… a bluff. He probably figured your range of hands was mostly beaten by pocket 10's. If anything be glad he didn't reraise you on the river (not that you would have called I hope). I maybe bet, bet, check fold… I maybe check call flop, check fold turn after not improving. Maybe sometimes I even bet, bet, bet like you did. It really depends on preflop action and how you think the player is playing. Be aware that a continuation bet on a low flop like that is usually not going to scare anyone off.. you usually want the A,K, or Q on the board to represent something. Come to think about it, a check raise on the flop might help you (not sure if check raising is common in limit holdem, but I mean, food for thought I guess for NL.) Because, the way I look at it is this.. flop comes 249rainbow.. if you bet, he knows you are continuation betting air a good % of the time… however, if you check raise, you get alot of information about the kind of hand he's holding. He will likely bet when checked to because the check comes off as weak, and you, knowing that the 249 board most likely didn't help his hand (as you raised preflop you get rid of many hands this board “hits”) can easily check raise, representing alot of strength. If you are check raising on a dry board like that, it scares alot of people off their hands. Say he DID have JT like you thought he did. Chances are he would be very taxed to call a check raise there and would likely fold. IF he called (with pocket 10's he would) then boom, you've just narrowed his range immensely to hands you are way behind. Right? In the same sense, use the fact that people like to sniff out bluffs on dry boards like that to your advantage. When you have the overpair and the board is dry, just play it strong. Many people assume exactly what I just described above. That “he probably has air and is trying to force me out of the hand”I don't know. Sorry if this coming across as winded. Obviously, I don't know everything about poker and even more obviously, I don't play limit hold em. This is just food for thought. Anyways I always enjoy reading your blog Steve, keep it up.

    • Jack, as usual, your comments are insightful and thought provoking. I liked your comment about the check raise. Yes, in limit the check raise is used and given the circumstances I think that would have been a good strategy for this hand against this player. Thanks again, I always welcome your comments and suggestions.

  2. Don't blame yourself for the pocket kings hand. An overpair at low stakes, especially pocket kings is usually the nuts on a dry board like the one you described. I've seen many low stakes players play QTo like the nuts on a board like that and would pay you off easily. I know we play a different style, but I probably fist pump reraise/shove over his reraise on that flop with kings. I guess it depends on how deep you guys are sitting and how much of your stack went in the pot preflop. If you were pretty deep I guess you can get away from it. Assuming it's just medium stacks and you 3bet a large amount preflop, bad beats are bad beats. That's what bankroll management is for. I mean if you're sitting at a table where someone has 20 bucks in front of them, what stakes are you playing? How many buy-ins do you have for the limit? I feel like maybe you are playing out of your BR if this kind of hand bugs you like it did. With regards to the second hand, I guess it's about what you're trying to represent. Betting all three streets to me on a board like that seems like, a bluff, overpair, or… a bluff. He probably figured your range of hands was mostly beaten by pocket 10's. If anything be glad he didn't reraise you on the river (not that you would have called I hope). I maybe bet, bet, check fold… I maybe check call flop, check fold turn after not improving. Maybe sometimes I even bet, bet, bet like you did. It really depends on preflop action and how you think the player is playing. Be aware that a continuation bet on a low flop like that is usually not going to scare anyone off.. you usually want the A,K, or Q on the board to represent something. Come to think about it, a check raise on the flop might help you (not sure if check raising is common in limit holdem, but I mean, food for thought I guess for NL.) Because, the way I look at it is this.. flop comes 249rainbow.. if you bet, he knows you are continuation betting air a good % of the time… however, if you check raise, you get alot of information about the kind of hand he's holding. He will likely bet when checked to because the check comes off as weak, and you, knowing that the 249 board most likely didn't help his hand (as you raised preflop you get rid of many hands this board “hits”) can easily check raise, representing alot of strength. If you are check raising on a dry board like that, it scares alot of people off their hands. Say he DID have JT like you thought he did. Chances are he would be very taxed to call a check raise there and would likely fold. IF he called (with pocket 10's he would) then boom, you've just narrowed his range immensely to hands you are way behind. Right? In the same sense, use the fact that people like to sniff out bluffs on dry boards like that to your advantage. When you have the overpair and the board is dry, just play it strong. Many people assume exactly what I just described above. That “he probably has air and is trying to force me out of the hand”I don't know. Sorry if this coming across as winded. Obviously, I don't know everything about poker and even more obviously, I don't play limit hold em. This is just food for thought. Anyways I always enjoy reading your blog Steve, keep it up.

  3. Jack, as usual, your comments are insightful and thought provoking. I liked your comment about the check raise. Yes, in limit the check raise is used and given the circumstances I think that would have been a good strategy for this hand against this player. Thanks again, I always welcome your comments and suggestions.

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