Friday, October 28, 2005

Anatomy of a Tank: Gentle Shane

In my ongoing efforts to support the non-profit pro-tank poker group TANK (Tanks Are Necessary for Knowledge), a rundown on last night's Batface game, with a description of a $125-saving tank.

By night's end, there were 18 or so of us playing two tables at RC. A quick description of some of the players with whom I got involved and their aura/style for the evening:

Host Robert: come-hithery/aggressive
Sarah Dodd: come-nevery/short-stacked
Danny Wine: scotchy/leaking
Troy Darling: Jack witha twisty/calling
Todd Phillips: Smitten with Sangy/doubling up through dad
Sang: Giggly/PL City
Adam: Loose Cally/Re-distributing my chips
Shane: Happy/Stacky
Dan: Raise-y/Lose-y

Others were there: Scott F. (Fresh from a Dan Harrington book club session), TBR (in fine Sweater Vest form), Simmons (seemed SLIGHTLY less desperate to lose all his money than normal), Comstock (sporting his new Mathew Modine 18-minute mark of Full Metal Jacket look), Thum (is it me, or is he looking FINE these days?), and a few others with whom I never got into hands.

Coupla hands pre-tank worth noting:

Interesting hand with Adam early. Here's one thing folks should know about Adam: he can't be bullied. He will take re-raises as a personal challenge. He will also call most pre-flop raises from the BB for this same reason. He is of the "protect my blinds" school. If you know this, you can take advantage of it or avoid sticky bluffing situations that won't work. If you forget this, he can make you pay.

So it was not surprising that when I made it $9 to go with A-Q hearts from late position after he'd called a min-raise in early position, he called. Flop came K-J-6 with two clubs. He immediately bet $15. Based on a variety of factors that come from playing with Adam a lot, I believed the flop missed him but he had a draw. I thought perhaps A-Q like me, or A-10, any ace with two clubs, Q-10, or any two suited club connectors. My thought was that I'm ahead in most everyone of those scenarios, and if I come back over the top for at least 40, the correct play is to fold. If he doesn't and I've read it right, I'm in good shape. If I'm wrong and he has second pair (Q-J, J-10, something like that) I've still got outs. In any case, unless I was DEAD wrong, he would have to strongly consider folding, as it would be the proper play, given the range of hands I could hold.

Problem was, after I raised 40 (Adam had 53 behind him), he immediately got his stubborn face on. Idiot me, I thought. I'd just check-raised him out of a pot three or four hands earlier when I made a similar read and had flopped second pair with an ace. I realized that this wasn't about the hand, it was about, "No way I'm letting Celeste do this to me twice in 15 minutes. I can't be pushed around." In my opinion, based on what he said afterward, he tried to do the math TO justify the call, not to evaluate the call. I think this is the result of too many tanks (certainly too many I've put myself in) where you search for reasons to justify the move you want to make, not try to push past the emotions and evaluate the hand dispassionately. I show this for comparison to my tank later on.

So he pushed all in, I had to call with $13 more. He turned over 10-9 clubs. I don't think that's the "right" play, but it wasn't a bad play. It WAS a play I should have expected given the stated factors, but I just didn't evaluate the player properly beforehand, which led to me getting all my money in as only a 55-60 percent favorite, which is better than being a coinflip but not surprising that I lost. (He turned a 9, river was a blank.) I felt good about read of his hand, but chastized myself for not taking the time to consider the texture of the game to that point, which might have led me to just give the hand up, even though I thought I was ahead. Get your money in at a better spot, Celeste. That was my takeaway.

That said, I played pretty aggressively the rest of the night, to good effect. Came back after the Adam hand and had a nice stack, thanks largely to Troy Darling paying me off in consecutive hands. Then, post-tank with Shane (described momentarily), I had this hand with Dan.

I limp UTG. Three callers, then Dan in mid-late position makes it $5 to go. We all call. Flop comes K-J-5. I check. It's checked around to Dan, who bets $5. Turn is an ace, which gives a heart draw. I check, again it gets to Dan, who bets $10. I call. Everyone else folds. River is a 2, no heart. I bet $10, Dan raises to $30, I IMMEDIATELY push in my entire stack of about $275 in a ridiculous all-in overbet display. Dan has about $120 behind him, and he picks it up and IMMEDIATELY and authoritatively slams it down, calling all-in. I turn over pocket 5s. He shows pocket 2s for the lower set. I invite analysis of this hand, as this post is already too long. (I know I slow-played it and put myself at peril. Given that I knew almost right away I would be up against Dan heads-up by hands-end, I took the risk for the big payoff.)

The tank hand: I had a coupla hundred in front of me. I raise from late position with A-K to $7 or $8 or so. I get one caller, Shane, who is in early position. Flop comes K-Q-6. Shane checks. I bet $10. He calls. Turn is a blank. He checks. I consider checking here. I don't like his call on the flop. I don't believe in betting to "see where you are." I believe in betting for two reasons: build a pot or win a pot. I'm not on a draw, so I don't want to build a pot. I don't think Shane would call there without a nice hand. I'm no longer sure I'm ahead. As I think about it, I'm pretty certain he has a King. And the range is pretty small that he would call pre-flop with: A-K, K-Q, K-J (aka, "The Shane"), K-10 (MAYbe). That's it. He could also easily have pocket 6s. (He doesn't have A-A, K-K, Q-Q, or J-J, because he would have raised pre-flop.) My problem was, if I don't bet then, I give up the hand unless we check it down. If I don't bet HERE, I can't bet on the river unless it's an ace, and I certainly can't CALL. So either resign the hand or bet here. Hell, I may have the best hand. I bet $40.

Shane goes into one of his toughtful, chip-stacking, slight tanks where he gets wide-eyed, thinks about it, and then gives a shrugging-yet-crushing over-the-top bets, going all-in with a $126 stack.

Now, tank time. I consider the above range of hands. This takes some time, because it's amazing how easy it is to not forget about a possible, even LIKELY hand (example, the pocket 6s) when you've been put to the test. That's because emotion is doing everything it can to block reason. Testosterone seeps into your brain.
I mean, you know, FUCK THIS GUY. Who the FUCK does he think HE is? I'm going to let him run me off this hand? No FUCKING way. I FUCKING call, bitch. Whatchoo got? The nuts? What's that?
Those are the bad thoughts. Then, as you power down and try to replay the hand rationally (What did he do preflop? Post flop?) and consider texture (What is his table image? More important, what is MINE?) and HIS emotions (Is he in "double up or go home" mode?), you have to deal with the pressure from the table to hurry up. You start trying to block this out, but that just means you've lost track of your primary tank focus: What does he have, and what should I do? In that order.

It's instructional to break a tank down this way. It's not just about figuring pot odds, implied odds, oddball behavior, etc. It's about fundamentally figuring out, WTF does he have? THEN let those things influence the second order of business: deciding what action to take.

In this case, it was actually pretty simple. Shane knows that, in that position with that raise, I've got a premium hand. He knows that, because I bet that $40, it hit me. Perhaps I was trying to steal with my $10 bet, but not the $40. He knows how strong the smooth call looked. So to figure out what he has, I have to decide what he puts me on. Given the hand so far, he has to assume he's either up against (and probably in bad shape against) K-K or J-J, or up against (and in good shape against) A-K, K-Q or maybe even Q-Q. The latter isn't likely, as he knows I most likely wouldn't bet Q-Q there, cuz I don't get married to high pairs that face an overcard. And would I raise with K-Q pre-flop in that position? Maybe. Not likely, but maybe.

Okay, so he probably knows what I got, or maybe he thinks I've got two pair. But he's not scared of these. Why not? What cards does he have to have where my likely hands wouldn't scare him much? (Sans nuts, there's always SOME fear.) And, once you determine those, then you can see if they fit into the texture of the hand so far. As I said before, not many. K-Q, 6-6. Maybe A-K or K-J.

So, given that range of hands, I've got one chance of winning: if he has The Shane. Then, as my tank is starting to annoy Todd, I remember that he said, post flop, something about having "the sort of hand you'd put me on." Of course that's K-J. Why would he say that? Because, if I DID have A-k as he suspected (which I did), that's what he'd want me to put him on.

That's where the emotion kicks in. You start to say to yourself, as I did, the following:
Fuck it, I won't be able to take it if I fold here and he turns over K-J. Everyone will start yelling and macking fun of me. "He bluffed you with the Shane! Fear the Shane!" I'm not going to let that happen. I'd rather lose my stack.
After a few cocktails, some playful bitching at each other, and a lifetime of wrapping up your ego into competitive outcomes, it's this sort of rationale that makes you do things you IMMEDIATELY regret, like Ron Burgundy jumping into the bear pit to save Veronica Corningstone. And once it's over, and they turn over the winner, which your rational mind KNEW he had, you feel like an idiot. A broke, re-buying idiot.

This is why the tank is so important. Get into the Zen state. Free your mind, Neo. Listen to logic. Don't be a pussy, but don't think every laydown MAKES you a pussy.

I layed it down. Shane said he had K-Q and I believe him. Even if he didn't (Todd put him on pocket 6s), even if he had 2-3, I made the right play. Thanks to the tank.


Jeff said...

I've layed down many a full house or nut flush in my 35 years of serious play. Nothing to be ashamed of, just merely good money management.



Gonz said...

LOVE the tank....Sometimes, even when I'm not playing cards, I like to visit the tank just for fun....

Great post....

Thum said...

First of all, I'm still blushing about the "fine" comment. Secondly, even though I'm a big believer of sometimes going with your gut feeling, you have done an incredible job explaining why sitting back and examining the thought process behind different moods is invaluable. Great post.

Gentle Shane said...

Great read on me Eric. I couldn't put you on any hand other than AK, and despite my attempts to convince you otherwise, I couldn;t convince you I had K-J.

Great analysis and great fold.

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Try to Eggroll me all you want. It's only going to work against you.

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