March 15, 2010

High Stakes Poker Recap, Season 6, Episode 5 THAT is what I like to see in an episode of HSP. Four massive pots that I can remember off the top of my head, three of them very interesting and I think well-played on both sides. With all the action from episode 5, I don't think I'll have time to talk about episode 4, whose best action was a massive non-poker side bet between durrrr and Ivey.

The players are getting more and more aggressive as the match progresses with three, four- and five-bet bluffing pre-flop and re-bluffing post-flop. The best players have adjusted by going for thinner and thinner value.

For instance, Daniel Negreanu manages to get value with a cold 4-bet shove preflop with KQ. One player who needs no excuse to play looser is Eli Elezra. We accumulated more evidence in the case of "Eli Elezra vs. folding", as he called off another thirty-something grand with eight-high preflop. I'm not even kidding, you can watch the tape. It's actually not as terrible a call as you might think once Daniel shows the Q. Eli is calling off $35,900 to win $63,800, so he needs at least 36% equity to call. Given that Daniel shows a Q, Eli has only 37.8% equity against a range of QQ and Q9-QA. Even tightening that up significantly to QQ,AQs,AQo,KQs, Eli has 35.4% equity, which is pretty close to a break-even call. If Daniel doesn't show the Q, it's a worse call because there's more of a chance of Daniel having an overpair. For instance against 77+,ATs+,KQs,AJo+ Eli has only 32.3% equity. But if it's close, we know Eli is calling! He does claim in an earlier hand with Dario that he would have folded his jacks to a river shove, but I have serious doubts.

The first really interesting hand involved, of course, Tom Dwan, and Dario Minieri. Durrrr opens in the cutoff with KTo and Dario 3-bets with K3hh. Durrrr calls, of course, and the flop comes Th3s2c. Durrrr checks to Dario, who bets $13,700 into the $26k pot, and that's where the standard play ends. The first thing to realize about this hand is that Dario is a 3-bet MANIAC, especially in position. He also c-bets probably a little bit more liberally than many of the other players at the table. But even without that, his range is just so wide that KTo is pretty much the nuts against this range, even 200 bbs deep in a 3-bet pot. Most players in durrrr's spot would just call this flop bet, because 1) if you raise, he folds all of his air, and don't you want him to keep barreling on later streets? 2) if he 3-bets, you're in a gross spot because you're afraid of an overpair, AT, or God forbid, a set, in which case you're drawing practically dead 3) if you raise and he calls, you have to play two more streets out of position, which will be tough. These were all the things I was thinking as I watched Dario make the flop bet, and I was dead wrong. Raising is absolutely correct, for a few reasons: 1) it is hard to rep a bluff by calling. By calling, you give Dario a pretty good idea that you have one pair, and AT or KT is as good as you could possibly have, because JJ or better probably 4-bets preflop. You can still induce bluffs by checking, but it's likely to be one barrel or MAAAYYYYBE two, and of course you let free cards come off that could make Dario the better hand. So you put yourself in a position where Dario has a very good idea of what you have, you have no idea what Dario has, and he has position. 2) Dario is fairly likely to spazz out to a raise here, and although sometimes you will get it in drawing pretty thin if Dario has a monster, there are actually a lot of hands that he can go nuts with here. It's common knowledge between Dario and durrrr that Dario is 3-betting a huge range pre-flop and c-betting this flop pretty much every time, so we know that durrrr will be giving action often, either by calling or raising, fairly often, so as to prevent Dario from stealing him blind. So if Dario thinks durrrr isn't merging his check-raising range by check-raising with, say, KTo, then the 3-bet shove on the flop is going to show a good profit with all sorts of hands like any ace-wheel card hand that makes either a pair or a gutter on this flop, particularly if it comes with a backdoor flush draw (and since this is a rainbow flop, if Dario has a suited hand, pretty good chance he has a backdoor draw). Against a lot of players this would be a great play since their check-raising range consists of sets, the occasional slowplayed AA/KK, and then a whole bunch of absolute air and gutter balls that they won't call off 100k more with. So Dario shoves it all in and runs into the absolute worst hand for him, a higher pair with the same kicker, which durrrr pretty much instacalls. Raise/calling this flop by durrrr is just a great play. I know it seems like I'm just nut-hugging durrrr all the time, but the guy is just a monster. Get used to it, because you're about to hear more about it later in this post. I don't think Dario played the hand terribly at all, he just got outleveled a bit by Tom Dwan.

A similar hand played out between Jason Mercier and Phil Ivey. A steaming Gus Hansen opens in early position to $4200 with Q6o. Eli "never met a call I didn't like" Elezra wants to see a flop with 9c5c. Ivey calls on the button with a pair of nines, putting the action on Jason Mercier, who makes it $22,100 to go with Ah4h. Given the state of the game right now (and I'm not just talking about this particular HSP episode, I mean even low-stakes online games that I play at), this play is almost standard at this point. At some point over the last couple of years, people started realizing that 3-betting EP raisers can be very profitable, even against tight openers. I mentioned this a little in my post on Rush poker because I think Rush accelerated this trend to some extent. So when Jason gets a suited ace in the blinds and looking at $15kish in the middle, I think he, most players at this table, and even many regulars at $.50/1 Rush tables, are jacking it up all day long. Ivey is aware of this of course, and will be calling quite a bit lighter than the nines he has. They see a flop of 7h3d2s with $55k in the middle. The flop is similar to the one between Dario and durrrr in that it's rainbow, which puts a lot of backdoor flush draws out, and includes two little cards, which puts wheel draw and pair+ace hands out there. Jason bets $28,700. I'm definitely surprised that Ivey raised here. I don't know that much about Jason's game and maybe Ivey does, but I still don't know if I like this raise by Ivey. The two main differences here between this hand and the durrrr/Dario matchup: 1) Ivey, the pre-flop caller has position, whereas durrrr did not. This argues for calling instead of raising for Phil. It's harder for Jason to pot-control, fire barrels, etc., on later streets without position, which makes it easier for Ivey to make thin value bets and pot control himself than it would have been for durrrr. Also, Phil CAN represent a bluff by calling here, precisely for those reasons. 2) Jason's range is tighter than Dario's, both preflop and on the flop. While the pre-flop 3-bet represents a fairly wide range as I discussed earlier, perhaps as wide as TT+,AQ+,KQs-87s, any suited ace and many suited kings (~11% of all hands), I'd estimate Dario's 3-betting range from the button vs. a durrrr open is at least twice that big. I'm not sure if Phil raises for the same reasons durrrr does in the KT hand - i.e., because he thinks his hand is very strong vs. Jason's range and he thinks Jason will 3-bet bluff a lot. If so, he'll need Jason to be doing a LOT of 3-bet bluffing and/or his range to be a lot wider than what I claimed above. Against that range on this flop, Phil has 60% equity. And I don't think Jason is shoving in all of it. Phil's raise, to $78.7k, is pretty large to be one that's intended to just protect his hand by folding out overcards. It works out this time, as Mercier shoves in for $110kish more. I think Ivey eventually decides that he's put in too much money to fold and does call. I like Jason's play though. He's the player with the much stronger range in the hand, in that he will often have strong overpairs, and after Phil's overcall pre-flop, nines are really the best unimproved pocket pair he can have, to go with the rare sets. Given that Jason is going to have the stronger range and therefore often be making big value bets, he has to balance it with some bluffs, and a gutter, over, and backdoor flush draw is as good a hand as any to pick. If Phil is raise/folding the flop with things like 87s or some other gutter-balls plus the occasional air, Jason's shove will show an easy profit. Even as the cards lay, Jason had 32% equity, which isn't a disaster. But Jason bricks out, sending a $425k pot to Ivey, and Jason to the rail.

But all that is just an appetizer for the last hand of the episode. Phil Laak sits down at the table and immediately raises it up with A9o in early position (humble advice to Phil Laak: don't do that at this table). Eli calls with Ac7c (was there even a doubt?), Ivey calls on the button with Ad6d, Negreanu somehow finds a call in the small blind with Jc3c, putting the action on durrrr, who looks down at 9s8s (SPADES!!!). The Unabomber starts talking about how he expects durrrr to raise now, which is an attempt to get durrrr not to raise (the logic goes like this: buddy, I know what you're trying to do, I'm totally prepared for it, so don't mess around...the actual process is: don't raise, I can't call!). Durrrr reads this pretty easily and throws in the chips for a call along with a $25k chip.

Everyone folds (Eli especially reluctantly, announcing that letting go of the Ac7c is the "worst fold of his life", so that he won't look dumb on TV if durrrr has 9-high) but Ivey, and they see a flop of KdQcTd with $70.7k in the middle. Durrrr c-bets $45.8k, which I think is pretty much mandatory. Although it looks like a pretty gross flop, durrrr sets himself a pretty good price at roughly 2/3 pot. This means that if Ivey folds more than 1/3 of the time, durrrr shows immediate profit. The flop nails all of Ivey's broadway hands, but there are enough low pocket pairs and suited connectors in Ivey's pre-flop calling range that this bet will show a profit, as I don't think Ivey is fighting back with those hands on this flop really ever. Ivey is faced with a big decision here. He could raise and probably fold out some hands that do beat him. All underpairs, for instance. Perhaps AQ/AK/JJ. However Phil decides to call because: 1) They are VERY deep. durrrr says he started the hand with about 750k and Ivey has him covered. 2) durrrr could have a monster like a set or a straight, or a lower diamond draw, all of which will pay off big time if a diamond comes, and Ivey doesn't get a good result from either group of hands by raising the flop 3) Ivey has position, so he SHOULD be able to take it away from Dwan if he has air on later streets, since who keeps firing shells with air at Phil fawking Ivey on this board?? 4) I think durrrr would often be checking a flop like this to Ivey with some of the better hands that he'd fold to a raise if he had bet, like AQ, maybe even AK/QJ/JJ.

Phil's call brings the pot to around $160k and the turn brings a total blank, the 3s. Durrrr's decision here is basically check and give up, bet the turn and give up on the river, or fire both the turn and the river. I don't think there's any way he can check the turn and then bet the river if the turn checks through. It's just too difficult to represent a hand on the river after checking the turn on that draw-heavy a board in that big a pot.

So which play is best? First, what does Ivey's range look like to durrrr? So far he has called Laak's open on the button, called durrrr's $25k re-raise preflop, and called the 2/3 pot c-bet on the flop. This is a pure float almost never IMHO. It's possible Ivey has a set of tens. If he flopped a set of tens, I'm pretty sure he'd just call on the flop. If he raises and gets it in, it's almost always going to be against a straight, a higher set, or a monster draw (pay no mind to Gabe Kaplan saying durrrr is never folding AK or AA nearly 1000 bbs deep on this flop, but KQ and J9 are other candidates for inclusion). Against that range, Phil would have only 39% equity with a set of tens. The unlikely part of the set of tens story is the pre-flop action, where Phil just called when Laak raised and Eli called in front of him. It's true that earlier he made a very similar play with 99, but I think at least some of the time he'd be re-raising with TT there. KQ is in roughly the same spot. AJ is another very strong hand Ivey could have. Again, he'd probably 3-bet it pre-flop at least occasionally, but I think he'd call/call preflop with AJ more than TT. I think he raises the flop with it though. There are a lot of bad turn cards for AJ, i.e., a lot of ways the best hand can become the worst one, or at least have its action killed. Any A, any J, any 9, any diamond, and even the board pairing is bad for Ivey. That's a lot of cards to worry about. AJ has 57% equity against the strong range I mentioned earlier. Although TT also has to worry about all these cards, bottom set isn't really strong enough to get it all in with this deep on this board, and also could improve by filling up to beat a flopped straight. By contrast, AJ, being the nuts, is obviously strong enough to raise and get it in with (although in PLO with no redraw this definitely wouldn't be the case), and can only get worse on the turn or river. The same applies, to a somewhat lesser extent to J9s, although I think Jd9d will just call always. This rounds out the really strong part of Ivey's range for calling pre- and on flop. I'd say it's something like 20% of his AJ hands, 50% of his TT hands, 60% of his J9s hands, and 100% of his KQ hands. From durrrr's perspective, with the 9s in his hand, that makes .2*16 + .5*3 + .6*3 + 9 = 15.5 combos. These hands Ivey is certainly not folding on the turn and is probably not folding on almost any river (an Ad and a durrrr barrel gets Ivey off KQ for sure, but I don't think there are enough of these situations that durrrr would want to bet the turn if he knew Ivey had KQ).

What else is in there that durrrr might hope to get a fold from with further betting? First, many diamond draws. Diamond draw hands that will probably call one more bet on the turn and then fold unimproved on the river: AdQd (less likely due to preflop action), Ad9d,Ad8d,Ad7d,Ad6d,Ad5d,Ad4d,Ad3d,Ad2d,QdJd,Qd9d. We'll throw out AdQd for reasons mentioned and call it 10 hands even. Diamond draw hands that fold immediately on the turn (I think): 9d8d,9d7d,8d7d,7d6d,6d5d,5d4d, perhaps others...but let's just call it 6 combos. The second group of hands are other hands with some showdown value and also some chance of improving. These include AQ, JJ (again, both less likely because of preflop action, but still possible), and then the jack+pair hands, KJ, QJ, JT. Tough to say how often Ivey is calling pre-flop with the offsuit varieties of these hands. But given that there are 12 combos of each possible, let's say Ivey calls preflop always with the suited versions, and half the time with offsuit ones. This means 3 + (1/2)*9 = 7.5 combinations of each hand. Let's call it 22 even for the total. You'll notice immediately that we're already getting past the combinations of monsters that Ivey could have mentioned above. If Ivey calls turn and folds river unimproved with the jack+pair hands as well as the diamond hands mentioned above, that's 32 combinations of hands calling turn and folding river, along with the 6 that fold immediately.

With so few hands folding on the turn (only the weak diamond draws, perhaps some other random hands not considered here like the occasional ATo), barreling turn and giving up on river is clearly the worst idea (you probably could have guessed that from the beginning). What about betting $123k on the turn and then $270k on some rivers? Which rivers? Let's assume for the moment the worst for this strategy, that Ivey will slowplay his monster hands and call down on every river durrrr bets. Let's also say that durrrr will fire any river that's not an A, J, or 9, and that Ivey folds his jack+pair hands to these bets unless he improves to trips, and checks back all jack rivers. With his diamond draw hands, he obviously calls or shoves if a diamond hits, and we'll say he folds any other river to a bet, and also checks back a jack on the river.

Calculating the EV of two bets:

Against 15.5 combos of monsters:
EV vs. TT&KQ:
10.8*((33/44)*(-123-270) + (4/44)*(123 + 140) + (7/44)(-123)) = -3136
EV vs. AJ/J9:
4.7*((35/44)*(-123-270) + (9/44)*(-123)) = -1587

Against 10 combos of diamond draws:
(as an approximation, assume all are ace-high draws)
10*((9/44)*(-123-270) + (3/44)*(123+140) + (6/44)*(-123) + (26/44)*(123+140)) = 762

Against 22 combos of jack+pair:
22*((7/44)*(-123)+(2/44)*(-123-270)+(35/44)*(123+140)) = 3779

Add up all these numbers, you get -183. Then divide by 15.5 + 10 + 22 = 37.5, Ivey's total hand combinations, and you get an EV of -4.9k. Using our assumptions, it's a -EV play by a RAZOR thin margin. Change things just a little bit (for instance, if Ivey never has TT or if he plays QT like QJ), then it becomes +EV for durrrr.

Whether through these calculations or some other, durrrr does end up firing the two more shells. The river happens to give Ivey a pair of sixes, and amazingly, he contemplates calling the $270k for QUITE a while. He is surely aware that durrrr probably puts him on something like the range I mentioned above, and could be trying to bluff him. Part of the problem is that durrrr still could be bluffing with a better hand (99,T9,JT, say), which is why Ivey asked how much durrrr had left - he might be better off shoving than calling to avoid this possibility, albeit at the cost of another $300k if durrrr does have a hand to call him with. Finally after much contemplation Ivey does lay down fourth pair to the $270k river bet.

I'll leave off the commentary there before this thing becomes a novel. But needless to say, both of these guys were way above the rim on this hand. It was exciting to watch. Another HSP season, another legendary durrrr bluff. In a show featuring a number of daring massive post-flop bluffs, his was the only one that worked. Hopefully the action only heats up from here.



Fuel55 said...

After Ivey asked how much Durrr would have left I thought he'd shove for sure. I prefer a shove to a fold here since Durrrr cant call without top set or a str8.

Lucypher said...

Durrr and Ivey are incredible. They are head and shoulders above the other players at the table and their results show it.

WillWonka said...

I almost thought for sure he was pushing on that last hand.