With No Information… Part 2

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A re-posting of the question:

You’ve just sat down at a .50/1 NL game with three other people, hoping to get it started and build it up to a full table. You buy in for the full 100. You post your blind and promptly get TT in the hole. Two players fold, and the SB makes it 3 dollars to go. Hoping to immediately start with a good table image, you reraise to 8, also believing your tens are good. The Small blind pushes and has you covered. With no information on any of the players, what’s your move here?

After receiving over a dozen comments, asking the question myself to several poker friends, and even posing the situation to a few pros, the answer has been largely unanimous: Fold.

However, in this situation, I made the call. I used up my entire time bank, thought it out, and decided to put my money in, my arm not wanting to move forward while my finger ached to press the button.

Before I tell you whether I won or lost, some observations.

1) Over the past 2 years, my respect for the micro-limits has done nothing but dropped. This also includes the cold hard truth that I’ve come to terms with, that being that .50/1 NL is a micro-limit game. It may be the largest you can get and still use that term, but in all realism people sit down and play the game with absolutely no respect to the size of bets, stack sizes, or the worthiness of fighting for a pot. If I had not witnessed some insanely idiotic bluffs, mindlessly small bets into large pots, and raises UTG with 89o, then I wouldn’t have to stop and think about this one. But think, I did.

2) Because of #1, the hand range was one that was much bigger than you’d expect. Sure, I didn’t exactly have an equity calculator ready to go at that moment, but I started going through a list in my head. Of course it was more likely I was behind, but the possibilities of hands that I could beat had some size to it. A lot of people immediately responded “What can you beat?” And I would retort, “More than you’d expect.” Dirty Aces, underpairs, a couple coinflips, someone being goofy with a suited connector… sure, the odds weren’t great on any of these, but I had to add them into what could be going on.

3) Were we on third level thinking? The fact that it was my very first hand at the table gave rise to the idea that I had just walked into a dick-waving contest. In a short-handed cash game like this, many times the naked aggression is going to be the victor because waiting for cards is death. So, my re-raise can be seen as a plain attempt to show that I won’t be pushed around, and his all-in move can also be seen as telling my re-steal to stick it. I’ve reraised with less in that position when guys to my right are attacking mercilessly, is he just making that assumption, in which case, it doesn’t matter what he has?

4) Do you make a 90 dollar overbet with Aces? Yeah, some people do, praying that the reraise has a good enough hand to call the push. I may not have much respect for the table, but my instincts shouted that anyone who wants my entire stack isn’t going to ask me to commit that much at once.

5) “I’m not folding tonight, ladies.” DoubleAs hit it on the head with this one, and I have to agree: Making the call sends a pretty strong message to the table *not* to screw with your raises. Some, admittedly, might make the conclusion that you’re just willing to call off chips. Others might get a bit more gunshy about trying to make a move against you with a mediocre holding, knowing you’re not going to let them off the hook. This move, however, is only reserved for when you have a proper bankroll and can reload without feeling the burn about dropping the buy-in like that. A few months ago, I couldn’t make that kind of play.

6) Taking your edges when you can. So, adding all this up at the end, where do I put the guy? I had a nagging feeling it wasn’t Aces, a huge overbet that smelled, a pair that could get a coinflip against a few likely hands and have some other much more unlikely hands absolutely crushed. I mean really, isn’t this all just kinda seeming like the most likely holding isn’t AK or AQ? If that’s the case, then i’m a slight favorite, there’s 110 in the pot, and i’m calling 90 more. So, it’s +EV to make the call, right? Sometimes, I’m gonna run into an overpair, and that’s life. Sometimes i’ll lose the coinflip. But I have to win this enough to be profitable. And, with that, the money went in.

He showed 44 and I flopped a full house. I dragged the pot, stayed another 2 orbits, made another 100 dollars on 2 big hands, and logged off for the night.

With all that in mind, however, I’m still sure it wasn’t the greatest move I’ve ever made. But, that’s why I made it.

-Chris