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Is Tight Always Right?

Although I stayed away from poker last night, I put my downtime to good use. I reviewed a number of the hands that I played on Monday night and spoke with a friend to sort out some of the questions I had about my session. We found a few things well done as well as a few less-than-stellar moves that I made in my session. The most important thing for me to do at this stage in the learning process is to identify those things that I do well and those that I do poorly. My hope, as always, is to increase the frequency of the good and reduce the number of mistakes that I make over the course of an hour long session.

I'm going to keep things short today. I played some Half-Life 2 last night (read about it here if that tickles your fancy). But I would like to go back to a hand that I was discussing in a previous post. The hand in question follows and I'll tell you how I handled the situation afterwards.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Hero (UTG): $100
UTG+1: $205
CO: $97
Button: $83.90
SB: $171.80
Villain (BB): $227.20

(I've been at the table for roughly 50 hands. I've got a good table image in terms of VP$IP - I haven't gotten out of line on any hands. I've shown down one hand to the Villain where we both flopped a full house on a JJJ board but his pocket pair beat mine (44 vs. 77). Villain seems to be pretty solid (19% VP$IP, 16% PFR) overall.)

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG with J? J?
Hero raises to $4, 4 folds, BB raises to $13, Hero folds

I only got two responses to my question of whether to call, raise or fold in the face of my solid opponent's three-bet from the blinds. Both comments indicated that calling was probably best pre-flop followed by a post-flop re-analysis of the situation based on my opponent's post-flop actions. Although I believe this is what most players would do, I have a few problems with this thinking:
  1. We have a tight image at the table. Villain will be able to put us on a hand such as a middle pocket pair if we flat call. It's never good to announce your hand to your opponent.
  2. There are a lot of bad flops for our hand and Villain will have initiative post-flop. The only flop we'd want to see would be one that gives us a set. We're not getting the right odds to make the call pre-flop in this case.
  3. An solid opponent who three-bets OOP against a tight UTG raiser seems pretty unlikely to give up on his hand after the flop. Your opponent will usually let you know that his hand is good post-flop; of course, he could be lying. In any case, I think you're playing for stacks on many flops when you may be a big dog.
Much of my analysis of the situation was based on the read I had on the Villain. If Villain was a loose player, I 4-bet or push looking to gamble. Against a solid player, my table image and his table image seem to tell me that Villain has the goods in this hand. I was most likely behind and I wasn't willing to stack off with JJ in this spot.

Too tight? Who knows. I believe I made the right call in folding. However, given the choice, I'd much rather four-bet or shove than flat call in this spot.


steeser said...

A 16% PFR is re-raising more hands than merely AA, KK, or QQ here. Given your tight image, he could even re-raise more hands, as he expects you to be tight and fold all but you top hands. Folding to a 3 bet from an aggressive player with JJ is an invitation to be walked all over.

And you aren't necessarily announcing your hand by flat calling, provided you mix in the flat call with a suited connector or two, and even AK in this spot.

In closing, I don't think folding is a big mistake, but I do think it's a clear mistake given the players stats, and your tight image.

Klopzi said...

steeser -

In theory, I agree. If I'd had a solid read on my opponent (i.e. 200+ hands), I would usually jam or 4-bet. But I was at a loss here. My image coupled with my cursory view of Villain's play had me erring on the side of caution.