Monday, December 04, 2006

Playing AA in the 1st level

I got to play just one hand in the big Poker Stars Sunday tournament. I have been thinking about this hand and maybe I just need to make a monster reraise with a big pair in this level preflop, since they seem to play just about anything to flop big (my opponent had Ah9s in this hand). I don't really know, let me know your thoughts on the best way to play AA with deep stacks in the first level of the tourney.

Poker Stars
No Limit Holdem Tournament
Blinds: t40/t80
9 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: t10480
Hero: t9880
MP1: t7140
MP2: t7460
MP3: t10640
CO: t6640
Button: t18160
SB: t9000
BB: t10600

Pre-flop: (9 players) Hero is UTG+1 with
UTG folds, Hero calls t80 (pot was t120), 2 folds, MP3 raises to t240, 4 folds, Hero raises to t960, MP3 calls t720 (pot was t1320).

Flop: (t2040, 2 players)
Hero bets t960, MP3 calls t960 (pot was t3000).

Turn: (t3960, 2 players)
Hero is all-in t7960, MP3 calls t7960 (pot was t11920).

River: (t19880, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: t19880)

Final pot: t19880
MP3 showed 9s Ah
Hero showed As Ac


Todd said...

I'm not sure I understand the turn push. In the first round or two people will call to crack with almost anything when you announce a big hand via overbet or limp re-raise. When the villian called your flop bet, I would think about putting on the brakes a bit. A9o is a little surprising, but 22, 89, 9T, J9s, K9s, Q9s all fit the profile of steal raising + call to crack. I'd hate to go broke in that spot 10 hands in.

David (sirio11) said...

I pushed the turn because I thought he may call with TT-QQ and even 77-88 if he thought I was bluffing with AK. To be honest my only concern was 22, I understand calling raises in position with all the other hands with a 9, but I don't get calling reraises, especially a 12x reraise, they just don't have the odds.

Todd said...

Ahhhh, I see the problem now. Of course you don't get it. You're a good player. A sane, rational, competant player (like yourself) would say you don't have the odds to make a call like that.

As a player with great skill, I think you may be giving the general population (like me) too much credit. I'd be willing to bet that odds never entered into that guys mind. He saw someone with a big hand that he would get paid off with if he got lucky. There was probably a bit of "I don't want to seem weak and this guy's just making a move on me" as well. If he recognized your name, you can be sure he thought you were just making a move on him and he didn't want to seem weak.

By every measure, you're a far superior player to me so I hate to offer advice (it can only hurt you). But, I'm going to anyway. In the first 2 or 3 orbits think "what would a jackass do?"

steeser said...

I agree with the other poster in that I don't understand the turn push. Sometimes being safe is the prudent play...after the called flop bet.

If he had 77-88, or TT-QQ, I think he would have likely raised the flop. By him flat calling, I would be on alert the rest of the hand, trying to keep the pot small.

David (sirio11) said...


I understand your point, and you're right one of my problems it's I use to give people too much credit. The reason I posted this hand was because I want to find some balance between overplaying AA for value versus donks, and playing carefully versus good thinking players.
If he keeps calling these reraises with A9, I should be fine in the long run right?
BTW, I really appreciate your advise, thanks.

David (sirio11) said...


Lets suppose after the flop, I'll be cautious and check call turn and river. How much do you think I will lose this way?

Todd said...

Absolutely, in the long run you should crave getting your legit re-raises called with A9o (Ummm, A9o, delicious, I just drooled as I wrote that first sentance).

You're right that the larger question is how often are you against a thinking player in this situation and when should you avoid going broke with essentially a 1 pair hand. You enjoy a significant edge over most players. In my opinion, if I had your skill I would value navigating the early volatile region of play over pushing for value in marginal, semi-strong situations for those early couple of orbits. I would propose that even though your line in this hand is long term profitable, you can give up some value in the first 2 or 3 orbits on the side of caution and be ahead long term (especially in terms of frustration, which seems to be an issue over the last couple of months that I've been lurking on your blog). Do you think that is wrong thinking and a slippery slope to weak play?

I'm also not convinced you are losing that much value by slowing down. 50% of the time, the guy who called with A9o is going to try to slow play you and check behind or min bet becuase that's what you do with big hands. Be sneaky. Value what? He may or may not shove on the river, but a pot sized bet leaves you in the game there. The other half the time you just go broke. Really, you aren't likely to get away from the hand whether ahead or behind. But, TT+ hands are likely to drive plenty of money into the pot naturally. It's just that the weaker player is more often going to underplay his big hand. Do you buy that at all or am I overvalueing the notion that even a bad player will bet his overpair?

Finally, to follow up on a nuance from the first question. In your opinion, do you think the TT,77,88 hands pay you off more with the turn shove as opposed to a turn bet and a river bet? I associate that fakey sort of shove with a set that you masquarade as a busted flush draw, it has never really occured to me that I'd get called down very often on faked AK as well. It seems that you would have to be called around 25% or 30% of the time with a weaker hand to make up for the higher call rates of < pot sized bets. Do you find this to be the case? Is my estimate too high? I like to throw in overbets on strong hands, but I would never have guessed that shove would be called often enough to be profitable.

AceHighWine said...

For what it's worth, in situations where I have an overpair to the flop and my c-bet gets flat-called, alarm bells usually go off, usually to the tune of a small flopped set. It may be a weak line and one that is results rather than decision oriented, but I think check-folding or maybe check-calling the turn (having position on villain in this hand would be gold) is the right line here. This may be a fairly weak stance here, but in teh early stages of a tourney where survival is key, there's probably a better spot post-flop to get your money in. I just HATE holding an overpair to a paired board.

Still, calling that big a raise with A-9o is a curious play at best... out of curiousity, do you open limp AA a lot in early stages of a tourney? What sort of flops do you feel safe about in situations like this?

Anyhow, just my thoughts - great blog and keep up the good work!


oscar s said...

Hey David, in my opinion (for what it's worth) u can let AA go at early stages, there is no need to go bust, and like some of the other posters said, mediocre players ussualy try to get lucky in early stages.
Now, in a totally unrelated theme, i got two questiosn for you.
1.- what would you recommend, I've been playing live and online poker for a while and only unti recently started having good returns in both cash and tourney, however, i seem to play way better and have better results when im in a good mood, how do you control the external environemt and prevent it from affecting your game?

Q2, I heard u play in the big game in DT ELP? (im in ELP) how is the game like?

Todd said...

You're right, check calling the turn and river may lose you all of your chips, but it's not definite. Giving a free card isn't that risky, so checking the turn at least gives you a chance to stay alive. It also gives him a chance to bluff off his chips with a whiffed AK.

I've even seen players check behind with the 9 here. Then you likely lead at the river, and can probably fold to a raise.

Basically a tough, shitty situation.

davidross said...

FWIW in the first few levels I play AA and KK 1 of 2 ways. Real slow, because the blinds are so small I just don't expect to win much, or completely overplaying it. With a few limpers already in I almost always push all-in.You'd be amazed how often I get called by a sherriff with 55 or AJ. I like the limp and when you get raised I would push pre-flop. As you've seen people make crazy calls anyway and if he folds, you pick up a nice first level pot. Face it, you rarely double up in the early levels with these hands, it's more often when you flop a set or make a disguised hand that you win the big pots. Take your small win and run away, or just check the turn as you played it.

Steve said...

I don't like the limp reraise early in a tourney at a full table. its a play thats more effective if you set it up. I think it works best if you open raise often and limp seldom, seems like people will lay down the trash after you have an image.

The advice that you should play aces meekly early to "manage volatility" is not sound. Play them strong and take your licks the 20% of the time that they get cracked. No matter how good you are you'll seldom find a better edge than holding AA. Nothing better than doubling up in the first orbit or two - brings the entire bag of tricks into play.

YourAdonk said...

Preflop limp = bad
Turn push = bad

next hand !