What's He Holding? (Part III)

Welcome back to the conclusion of the latest What's He Holding? post here at CardSquad.

To recap, this hand takes place in the limit holdem portion of the late stages of the Full Tilt weekly 30k guaranteed HORSE tournament. I had raised from UTG preflop with A8o, and one opponent (puyop) called this UTG raise from middle position. On a raggy, paired flop of 226, I checked to him, and he bet out. I checkraised puyop there on the flop with my hand, in the hopes of finding out for just one half-bet if I was ahead, and puyop just called my checkraise on the flop. Then when the scary Ace fell on the turn and I checked to him, he checked it right back to me and took a free river card. I asked in Part II what you think this player is likely holding, given all the action to that point in the hand.

Once again I generally agree with the comments I received to Part II of this post. The middle position smooth call of my UTG raise preflop, followed up leading out on the flop when I checked to him, and then the smooth call of my flop checkraise, all that is indicative to me of either a medium pocket pair, or a reasonably strong Ace, but not AK which would have likely reraised me preflop in my experience. When the Ace fell on the turn, and I checked it to him, I have got to figure that, with a lot of chips in the pot at this point relative to our respect stacks, he is going to be this turn card if he is holding any kind of reasonable Ace. Any Ace at all even, most likely, at that point, and he has to bet out on that turn card. But he checked it right back to me, and that told me all I needed to know. He did not have an Ace in his hand.

And if puyop is not sitting on an Ace, then of the range of hands I had put him on, we were left only with pocket 8s through pocket Jacks. And that means that I can make some good money in this hand, if my check on the turn makes puyop believe I do not have an Ace. Then, he will have to think his pocket pair is good here, and I stand to make some good chippage on the river. And speaking of the river, after puyop checked behind me on the turn with 2♠2♥6♣A♣ showing, the gorgeous A♥ slammed the river, giving me the boat and a nearly unbeatable hand.

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!So, given my read that my opponent was on a medium pair between 8s and Jacks, and given my check on the turn which I did intentionally for the purpose of suggesting that I also am not holding an Ace, I decided to really go for the gusto here and to check it back to him again. I figured if my check on the turn worked, puyop will have to bet here to get value for his pocket pair on a board with two pairs, one of them lower than his pocket pair. I checked, and he bet out, I pause-checkraised him here, and then he made his biggest mistake of the hand by re-raising me. Momentarily I considered that he could have an Ace after all, but that just didn't add up with the read I was laying on him here, so I capped it on the river, which he called.

He did not flip his cards, as I took down the hand and over 7000 chips in the process. But, since he mucked on the river but saw it through to the end, I was able to check out his hole cards and determine how correct my read was (although once the pot was pushed my way, I all but knew I was right on). If you're interested, you can click here to see what puyop was holding. In any event, this was an absolutely key hand for me in what turned out to be one of my biggest career tournament wins as an online poker player.

What's He Holding (Part II)

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!Welcome back everyone to Part II of the latest What's He Holding post, where we're playing limit holdem in the late stages of a HORSE tournament on Full Tilt. I raised it up UTG preflop with the marginal holding of A8o, one opponent called from middle position, and then on a flop of 226, I checked and he bet out for 300 chips into a 2250-chip pot. At the end of Part I, I asked what range of hands you would put this player on given his actions so far on the flop.

In general, I agree with most of the comments made on this post. The guy did not reraise me preflop, so he is not likely to have a premium pocket pair, and probably not AK which in my experience in limit holdem tends to be reraised even more often than Aces or Kings, as lots of people like to slow-raise with the biggest pairs to try to trap another player who also holds a big but not quite big enough hand. Yet, he did call a raise that came from UTG, normally indicative of a strong hand itself, so I'm not putting him on the weakest of the possible calling hands -- pocket pairs 2s through 7s or 8s, and weak Aces or Axs. Given his lead on the raggiest of raggy flops of 226, which also contains a pair which would make his high-card or middle-paired hand very likely the best here, I am feeling very comfortable with my read so far of probably pocket 8s through pocket Jacks, or AQ down through AT or maybe A9s. Of course you always have to be willing to adjust that read as soon as you get any more information about what your opponent may be holding, but for now I've got him on A9 through AQ, or pocket 8s through pocket Jacks. If you think about it, it's actually an amazing job of narrowing things down to just eight likely hands given that all he did was call a preflop raise and then bet out for a small bet on the flop. But that's where I've got this guy so far.

So what happened next? Well, I had raised preflop UTG, representing a very solid hand, so when puyop bet out after my flop check, given that I had him on a middle but not premium pair, or medium but not premium Ace, I figured I'd go ahead and raise it up. See, for me I like to make a lot of my moves in limit holdem on the flop, when the betting is still cheap, so it doesn't cost me too much if I have to give up on 4th street. This is kinda counter to what a lot of other players seem to do, but if I think a guy has a hand that is medium good but very beatable (like in this situation), and I know I've represented strength so far throughout the hand, I will sometimes go for one extra cheap bet if I think it might take down a pot, or set me up to take down a pot later by showing some strength early on in the hand. So I raised it up, which given this flop had to scream out "big pair!" to my opponent, and he just smooth called my raise.

That was when the Ace♣ fell on the turn. Interesting, this one is really going to put my read to the test here.

OK so this guy called my UTG raise from middle position before the flop, and he got check-raised by me on the flop of 226, which he also smooth called. The problem is, our kickers are still very much live on this board with one low pair and another low card, so if he is on any of those pocket 8s through pocket Jacks I put him on, I'm now in great shape, but if he has any of those A9-AQ hands I also have in his range, then I'm severely dominated. But, remember that my read is more than 50% balanced in favor of the high-Ace hands over the pocket pair hands (there are 16 ways to make an unpaired hand like AQ or AJ, and only 12 ways to make a paired hand like 88 or 99, so my total range here is 64 hands of Ace-high, and 48 hands of the medium pocket pairs. 64:48 means there is a 57% likelihood of him holding an Ace-high hand that beats my A8, if you look just at the range of hands I've got this guy on so far). So overall, on balance, I decided I had to check here. If he's got an Ace, I can hope that he will bet out here, and then I can consider folding my hand for a fairly minimal loss in the overall scheme of things.

My opponent checked right behind me after a few seconds of thought.

As we wait for the river card to fall, what now is my opponent's likely range of hands, given everything we now know from him? He called my UTG raise preflop from middle position. He called my checkraise on the uber-raggy flop. Then when the scary Ace fell and I checked to him, he checked it right back to me and took a free river card. What is he holding?

Please post your replies in the comments, and I will be back later with the conclusion to this hand.

What's He Holding?

Greetings and happy holidays from me to everyone out there in Cardsquad land. So I'm getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks at home with my family, and although I can honestly say the past few weeks were among the best times I've ever had since our first child entered the world a little more than three years ago, I'm also looking forward a bit to the rigidity of a daily work schedule, and the regular nightly poker sessions that go along with that schedule. And speaking of poker, don't worry from the content of this post -- I have never willingly and was not for this What's He Holding? post playing in a limit holdem tournament. I am growing to enjoy limit holdem in general as I've read and practiced it more and more, but not to the point of actually ponying up my hard-earned cash to play in a limit holdem-only event. No, in this case, the hand I'm going to look at today is from the limit holdem portion of the weekly 30k guaranteed HORSE tournament on full tilt, which I am thrilled to say I managed to win this past Sunday night on New Years Eve, to the tune of nearly $5,000 in cash money. I've got a full writeup of the occasion on my blog, so go check it out if you're interested in reading more about this, my third major online tournament victory in the last year, and my first to start off 2007 with a major bang.

So today's What's He Holding? post occured fairly deep into last Sunday's 30k HORSE tournament, with blinds already up at 300-600, and with my stack sitting at just over 7000, which was just above the average stack size at the time. I look down UTG and find A8o. Normally, this is definitely a folding hand from UTG, especially in no-limit holdem where you can really get burned by playing a dominatable hand like this. But in limit, unlike no-limit, I am much more confident that I can make money if I do have the best hand, and let this thing go early if my read says I am behind, without losing major chips in any case. And, with the blinds really increasing and with me drifting back towards average after an early run, I was feeling the desire to get back involved in the game.

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!So, I decided I would take a stab here from UTG, knowing I will fold to any raise. But if I'm gonna play a hand like A8o from UTG, limping in is just asking for trouble, so I raised it up instead. Only the player 2 seats to my left called the bet, leaving me heads up to see a flop of 226 rainbow. I elected to check the flop and see what this guy was going to do. He bet out, 300 chips into the 2250 chip pot.

What hand or range of hands should I put this player on right now? How do his preflop actions mesh with his bet now on the flop? What would you suggest I do in response to his lead bet on this raggy, paired flop?

I'll be back tomorrow with my own analysis, discussion of your comments, and the follow-up post to this hand. Please provide your comments as to how to formulate an early read on puyop's likely holding based on what we know so far.

Party drops to third, Former Star Trek Actor gets lucky

Last night, I sat down at a .50/1 LHE on PokerStars. The software had been updated, and I wanted to see if there were any spiffy new toys that only become obvious when involved in a hand.

I didn't see anything new and shiny, so it must be some behind-the-scenes stuff that was changed, but I got stupid lucky, and may have experienced some of that post-UIGEA crazy play I keep reading about on the 'tubes. The table was loose/weak and calling-station-filled, so when I had AJo on the button, I raised after four limpers. The SB called, the BB raised, an EP limper re-reraised, and it was called around to me. There was enough money in the pot for me to call and see a flop, even though I was pretty sure that anything sort of a miracle straight on the flop was the only thing I'd be happy with. I flopped a gutshot, and the crazy table gave me the right odds to take one more card off . . . which I hit, and eventually scooped a $30 pot, cracking aces and kings (which had flopped a set.)

Normally, I'd never, ever, ever chase a gutshot without at least a pair or some other draw, but I was getting 16.5:1 on the flop. How could I fold? The aces guy freaked out, and the kings guy seemed to take it a little better; everyone was wondering exactly why the other players were in the hand -- and stayed in the hand -- with nothing but very thin draws (ahem.) If I hadn't been in position, I never would have been able to call like I did, and if I'd been playing out of my "gulp limit" I wouldn't have made the call, either, and though I was a little embarrassed, I was happy to take the big pot and recoup my entire 2-7 TD loss the other night.

So. I was embarrassed, but each time a player called after the aces guy or kings guy bet or raised, they were increasing the odds that someone behind them (me) would stick around and make a big hand. I think that, at low-limits like this, it's silly to be making those loose calls out of position unless you're drawing at the absolute nuts, but I'm sure the guys without aces or kings between them and me weren't thinking like that, and because of them (and my natural 20 luck of Teela Brown roll) I got to jump up from my chair and do a happy dance.

Anyway, all of that is secondary to the story I sat down to write just now: Party has slipped to third in cash game players, according to Launch Poker, falling behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Captain Obvious reports that the drop is due to Party closing off its US customer base.

I, for one, welcome our new Party Poker refugees.

Play Horse at PokerStars!

During our days off (both of them) during this year's WSOP, the other writers and I got together and played HORSE, which is a mixed series of poker games, starting with Hold'Em, then Omaha Eight-or-better, followed by Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight-or -better. Though I was initially intimidated by the different games and their strange betting and unknown strategies, it was only 3/6, and playing with friends made it a great learning experience as well as a nice break from Hold'Em (in fact, after a couple of rounds, we ditched the Hold'Em round and played Crazy Pineapple instead. Now that is a fun game!)

Now that we're all home and settling back into real life, we (and you) can relive the magic of those days off donking around in a mixed game, because PokerStars just added HORSE and HOSE to their line up of games. As of this morning, they're spreading 1/2 and up, and they're also spreading them as play money games, if you want to give them a try without risking any of your precious bankroll, or bodily fluids.

If there's enough interest, we could even play a WWdN HORSE tourney, to determine who among us is the most Chip Reese-esque.

Mike Schneider Wins Party Poker Million

The 5th edition of the Party Poker Million has a new champion - Mike Schneider!

Mike takes home the top prize of $1,000,000 and has earned 1,920 of Card Player Magazine's Player of the Year points. This ties him for 3rd place alongside Alan Goehring and Nam Le in the 2006 standings. (Kenna James is currently in 2nd, and Michael Mizrachi is still leading the pack.)

The end results for the final table of the Party Poker Million are as follows:

1st - Mike Schneider  $1,000,000
2nd - Kenna James  $700,000
3rd - Scott Butler  $500,000
4th - Drew Chitea  $300,000
5th - Richard Joel  $225,000
6th - Devon Miller  $175,000

Party Poker Million V Final Table

The Party Poker Million, which began on March 13th, is now down to the final 6 players.

Chip counts for the final table are as follows:

Mike Schneider  $1,280,000
Kenna James  $1,090,000
Andrew Chitiea  $840,000
Scott Buller  $810,000
Richard Joel  $740,000
Devon Miller  $470,000

The top 99 places paid, but last year's winner, Michael Gracz, didn't make the money this time around. Since a high number of players qualified through online satellites, even making the $16,000 for 99th place is a pretty decent payday for some of these players. 

Party Poker Million V Update

The first two days of the Party Poker Million V are over, and the field has been narrowed down to 207 players. The Day 1A Gigli award goes to Paul 'The Truth' Darden who was first eliminated, followed shortly thereafter by Barry Shulman as the second man out.

Others notable players eliminated include:

Mimi Tran, Barry Greenstein, Chip Jett, Mel Judah, J.J. Liu, Matthew Hilger, Joe Sebok, Derek Tomko, Thor Hansen, Aaron Kanter, David Levy, Jack McClelland, Amir Vahedi, and John Spadavecchia.

Among the 207 players who did survive Days 1A and 1B were:

Mark Gregorich, Kenna James, Chris Hinchcliffe; Victor Ramdin, Karina Jett, and Michael Gracz - the PPM Champion of 2005.

Ali Eslami led the pack on Day 1A with T78,000, but Henrik Witt of Denmark will begin today's action as the chipleader, having accumulated T84,000 chips yesterday.

For further details on the first two days of action including the full list of players still competing, check the official Party Poker Blog.

Party Poker Million V Sails

Seeing nothing but snow and ice for a month straight, I am insanely jealous of the 500 poker players who departed from Ft. Lauderdale yesterday for the Party Poker Million V aboard the Card Player Cruise ship MS Westerdam. 

This is one of the few large-scale tournaments that is played as Limit Hold'em rather than No Limit. Players either paid $10,200 to enter, or won one of the many satellites that have been running on Party Poker. Day One of the tournament has been divided into two flights due to the large number of players attending, and some of the notable players scheduled to play today include:


Continue reading Party Poker Million V Sails

Andy Beal Retires . . . Again

While I was at the WPT Invitational, people were talking about two things: Amanda from PokerWire, and Phil Ivey crushering Andy Beal in Vegas.

After taking ten million out of the Corporation, Andy headed back to Texas, but returned to Las Vegas early this week to face Phil Ivey, with several members of The Corporation in Los Angeles for the LAPC.

Phil won 2 million from Andy on Tuesday, playing 30-60K. Then on Wednesday, Phil took another 4.1 million at the same limit, putting the Corporation about 6.6 million ahead. On Thursday, Phil won a staggering 10 million dollars from Andy Beal, after Andy upped the stakes to 50-100K. I understand that Andy had wanted to raise the stakes that high from the very beginning, to take the Corporation out of their comfort zone (or past their "gulp limit" for you John Vorhaus readers) but the Corporation didn't want to put together a bank roll that large. According to Michael Craig, Ivey proposed an increase in the stakes, and Andy of course accepted. Ivey then convinced the Corporation to let him play at the higher limit. Why am I not surprised that it was eventually Phil Ivey who was willing to play at those stakes? And can you imagine what the chip racks must have looked like? I wonder if the Wynn had to create some chips specifically for this game?

I overheard some pros talking in the hallway during a break: apparently, Ivey was happy with the win, but pissed that he didn't get to play with his own money.

How sick is that? Ivey is so good, and so confident, he was willing to risk millions of his own money to play Andy Beal, who has proven that he knows what he's doing, and doesn't care a bit about the money at stake.

Andy says that he's done facing the Corporation. Michael says, "Andy said he's done with poker for ever. One of the pros said he would bet me that Andy will be back within six months. It's not a matter I'll speculate about. (I will tell you, though, that Andy Beal gave me his pocket watch at the end. Say what you will but he BELIEVES that he's done.)"

But Andy can absorb the 16 milion dollar loss. For guys like Andy Beal, it's not about the money. It's never about the money; it's about winning and being the best. Ivey is clearly the best, and I wouldn't be surprised if Andy eventually challenges Ivey -- and only Ivey -- to a rematch.

Linda from Table Tango at pokerworks has some brief daily updates, and I'm pretty sure Michael Craig will have even more details, possibly in a follow-up to his April BLUFF magazine article.

(via Bill Rini)

Andy Beal Takes Ten Million From The Corporation

A few weeks ago, Derek reported that Andy Beal had returned to Las Vegas to face The Corporation in a repeat of the epic heads-up battle detailed in Michael Craig's outstanding book The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King. After an initial loss of about two million dollars, Andy reportedly retired from the game, then instantly pulled a Michael Jordan and came out of retirement to continue the match.

This game will take its place in history next to the first World Series of Poker in 1970, Nick the Greek and Johnny Moss's famous marathon "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go" game, and Doyle Brunson's back-to-back WSOP wins in 1976 and 1977. Indeed, Andy Beal will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best non-professional poker players in history.

Throughout this incredible series of matches, Lou Krieger has been a reliable source for just-off-the-rail information, offering interesting and informative insight, based upon his decades of poker experience, at his blog. This morning, Lou wrote that Andy is back in Texas, after winning ten million dollars from The Corporation, a group of players which includes Todd Brunson, Jen Harman, and Ted Forrest.

Michael Craig is a friend of mine, and I knew that he had been sitting at the table with the players the whole time, so I called him up to see if he could confirm the amount.

Michael is writing a huge feature article about the game for BLUFF magazine's April issue, so there isn't much he can talk about on the record, but he was able to confirm that Andy did, in fact, win ten million dollars between February 12 and February 15. Since Andy had lost three million dollars on Superbowl Sunday, he left Vegas seven million dollars -- or about 70 big bets -- to the good.

Michael was also able to share a few tantilizing glimpses into the game, which I can pass on to CardSquad readers: Though the stakes were high, he told me, "Both sides respect each other, that's clear, but the games were played in a surprisingly casual atmosphere, marked by jokes, small talk and camaraderie. It's not what you'd expect from such a big game. A player could lose a million dollars on a two-outer and shrug it off, but the competition was always deadly serious."

As the game wore on, Michael told me, he felt like neither side wanted to be there, but neither side wanted to be the first to quit. During a break on one particularly intense day, Andy Beal and Ted Forrest independently told Michael, "This is a war."

Anyone who has read Michael's best-selling book knows that the money means absolutely nothing to Andy, who is out to prove that he could beat some of poker's best at their own game. The numbers may say that he succeeded, but the numbers are only part of the story. Michael and the players know the rest, and in April, so will we.


L.A. Poker Classic Update

The L.A. Poker Classic is still going strong, and the players have been gearing up for the Main Event which begins today, Feb. 16th. We will bring you updates as the tournament progesses, but for now, here is a list of the top 10 finishers and their prize money earned in the preliminary events between February 11 and February 14th:

February 11 - Limit Hold'em

1 David Plastik $515,750
2 Kieu Doung $264,840
3 David Bach $132,420
4 Louis Pagnotti $83,630
5 Hung Tran $62,730
6 Bassam "Sam" Alsharairi $48,790
7 Matthew Glantz $34,850
8 Todd Bleak $27,880
9 Stacy Matuson $22,300
10 Wei Zheng $16,730

February 12 - NLHE Shootout

1 Chris Bigler $67,190
2 Manfred Jaschkowitz $35,790
3 David Rheem $17,100
4 An Tran $11,930
5 Matthew Milliken $8,150
6 Martin Bader $6,165
7 Chris Bjorin $4,970 
8 Khanh Hua $3,975
9 Thomas Birmighan $3,190
10 Hung La $2,385

Continue reading L.A. Poker Classic Update

Andy Beal Returns to Las Vegas?

The open challenge between Andy Beal and the Corporation might finally go down tonight. John Caldwell and Poker News have reported that the Dallas billionaire banker is heading to Las Vegas to take on Doyle Brunson and his high stakes crew.

The Professor, the Banker, and Suicide King
is a great book that documents some of the history between Andy and the Corporation.

Poker News mentions that tonight’s private game will take place somewhere at the Wynn Casino. The limits are $100,000/$200,000 and Todd Brunson is supposedly playing against Andy first. Wow!!


Continue reading Andy Beal Returns to Las Vegas?

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