Last night I played in a neighborhood bar game – free to play, $50 gift certificate to the winner. Mostly the same people play every week and I’m familiar with the general table dynamic there. We started with stacks of 3000 and blinds at 25/50. On the second or third hand of the tournament, I got unlucky. I don’t I think I could have done anything but lose most of my stack here. 6-handed, one caller in early position, folded around to me on the button.
My hand: K-K
(I don’t remember the suits but they weren’t important in this hand.)
I raised to 150. Why not a larger raise? In a game this loose, I could have raised to 4, 5, or even 6 big blinds, and the players to act behind me would have been as likely to call as they would have my 3BB raise. Also, I felt like a larger raise would have been holding up a sign reading, “I have a big pocket pair.” I’m not happy about giving opponents such a good price, but I feel there’s a need to conceal the strength of my hand. AA-QQ are really hard to play in bar games when the stacks are large relative to the blinds.
Early-position caller called my raise and we saw a flop.
Opponent bets 200. Yikes, that’s a dangerous flop. He could easily have a made straight with AK, K9, or 98. He could also have two pair. I don’t think a set is likely, because he would have raised TT, JJ, or QQ pre-flop as opposed to just calling. He could also have numerous hands that are drawing to a straight.
Although there are hands that could beat me, I think I have to raise here. I have an overpair, as well as eight outs (the Aces and Nines) to a straight. It’s too likely he’s drawing, and I need to charge him to do that. I raise to 700. If he reraises (which will probably be all-in), my Kings are probably behind and I should fold.
He puts in 500 more to call.
Opponent checks. That’s a harmless card. The only hand it helps is 55, and he couldn’t possibly have called a raise on the flop with that after seeing three connected overcards. Once again, if he’s drawing to a straight I have to charge him. I bet 1000 and he calls. I have 1100 left.
I just improved to a set of Kings, but any Ace or Nine just improved to a straight. This is a horrible card.
Opponent checks. From his body language I get the sense that he isn’t completely happy with his hand. So do I bet?
In situations like this on the river, you have to ask, “Can I get a better hand to fold?” before putting in more money. One very likely scenario is that he has a Nine, making a straight but not a nut straight. The way I’ve been playing this hand, I could easily be holding an Ace – AA and AQ would very likely be in my range. A lot of players in this game would even play AJ, AT, and A9 the way I did.
So I could bet and represent an Ace-high straight. The problem is, I only have 1100 left in my stack, and the pot has become so bloated that he’s not very likely to fold his hand.
Could I bet for value, and get a worse hand to call? There’s no way my opponent would think two pair has a chance on this board. Sets of Tens, Jacks, and Queens might call, but I already ruled out those holdings based on his pre-flop behavior.
I check behind, and he turns over the Nine for the win. I guess I picked up a moral victory by preserving my remaining 1100 stack, still enough to do damage at 25/50.
Do you see any way I could avoided losing so many chips?