Friday, October 28, 2005

The Worst Best Hand

I am continuing to have limited success with the 15/30 experiment. I opened up a little bit with little or no success and then when back it my "error on the side of caution" mentality... I got a little lucky last night hitting some gut shots and walked away with another quick victory of $255. I am still mining the heck out the tables and will be in full game mode shortly (barring any kind of huge setback).

OK, for the thought of the day. I was pouring over some PT stats and found out that I have made the most money holding AA. Boy, it doesn't take a poker wizard to make money with that hand. I think my almost 2 year daughter could play that hand... Another big surprise... KK was my second best hand... OK.. enough of the obvious ones... Where have I lost the most money with?

There are actually two hands that are about equal in the amount of losses that I have had.. They are... wait... before we get there, let's try to figure it out...

What are hands that are overplayed and could potentially lose somebody a lot of money.. We can probably rule out the top 15 hands which I will call (in a 10 max game)... AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AQs, AJs, JJ, KQs, KJs, QJs, KTs, ATs, JTs, AK and QTs. I am getting these numbers from a spreadsheet that I designed to play poker hands. In my spreadsheet, I have played a million hands and those came up as the top 15. I know that there are better tools; but I have not looked to them in detail. You are probably safe in playing all of these hands for a raise... depending on your position..

Now for the next 15 which could conceivably get you in trouble... Here is what my spreadsheet shows as the 16th through 30th hands... TT, A9s, AQ, T9s, A8s, 99, K9s, J9s, KQ, A5s, Q9s, A7s, AJ, A4s and A6s... Now looking at these, I can definitely see where you can get into trouble and in fact, the hand that has lost me the most money is in this list. Mid Pocket Pairs can obviously get you into trouble, especially Tens... but should be fairly easy to get away from if pressure is applied to you... Let's also rule out the suited cards.. although dangerous because many of us will stay on our drawing hands while ignoring if it is proper to do so according to our pot odds. That leaves us with AQ and KQ.. Now if anybody has read this blog for a while (all 2 of you), you will know that I have experienced tournament problems with AQ (see my 1st SNG challenge posts); but did that roll over to ring play... nope... That leaves KQ is as the big winner or in this case the big loser.. Why is that? More on that later..

Let's now look at the final 15 in my top 45 hands according to my spreadsheet. One could say that these should be the last of the hands that you should be regularly be playing (not counting blind play and multi player pots where it makes sense to play with positioin). OK... 31 through 45.. A3s, A2s, QJ, K8s, KJ, 88, T8s, Q8s, AT, JT, J8s, KT, QT, K7s, 98s. I will simply say that all of these hands are potential problem childs (also include the rest of the pocket pairs and 72o... lol) and you need to be extremely careful with them. None of these hands should really be played unless you have position.... but the one that has continually given me fits is KJ and that is the hand that I have lost the 2nd most amount of dollars. Why is that?

OK, now we know the 2 hands that have caused me problems... KQ and KJ (both offsuit). Let's try to figure out why? Without putting a great deal of thought into it, I have come up with the following reasons.

1. Falling in love with hands
2. Playing out of position
3. Ignoring the pressure signs.

1. Falling in love with hands... How easy is it to see a low card flop and keep playing with your over cards... How easy it is to see that you have top pair and continually think that you have the best hands... It is so easy to think that you have the best hand with TP with a good kicker... but still there are plenty of hands that can beat so you need to pay attention to how the betting is going... more on that with #3. I can happily say that the love affair that I was having with these hands turned out to be only a strong crush... and I have moved on. So that leads us to #2.

2. Position. As we know, there really isn't anything more important than position in preflop action on a full table. Simply stated, I would say to let these hands go in early position and wait for greener pastures. You could make exceptions based on your table image and the perception of the whole table (is it a loose aggressive game... or is a tight game).. but generally, your patience will be rewarded. Is there nothing worse than limping in with KQ or KJ (or even open raising) and then to get bumped by a solid player with position.. you immediately get a lump in your throat and start praying to the poker gods... and then the worst possible thing happens... you actually hit the flop... or even worse you hit it hard with say something like 2 pair. I shudder to think how many times I have hit 2 pair and have eventually lost to a straight or flush becase I.... #1 (fell in love with my hand)... 2.. ignored my position and..... which leads us to #3.

3. Ignoring the pressure signs. As we have learned from other much better bloggers, pressure points are one of the roots of successful poker play. It is one thing to put on the pressure points; but what about when you are the receiving end of these pressure points. What do you do? I can only speak for myself; but with these two hands, I tend to 1. fall in love with the hand and 2.. play them out of position.. and now #3.. too often ignore the pressure points.. Especially if the pressure is being applied from a LAG that has continually been hitting his draws and sucking out on other people. I don't know about you, but I'm good at convincing myself that this is the hand that will slow this guy down and then..... boom... he gets his gutshot or flush on the river... or a more likely scenario is that he had the goods and had you practically drawing dead.. So, don't ignore the pressure points... Some of the best money we make is by not calling down with a losing hand. Saving those last 1, 2 or 3 bets is highly instrumentail into getting you in the black numbers instead of putting you in those dreaded red numbers.

So what is the take away here.. Again, I can only speak for myself; but I now don't play these hands from early position... I will limp in with these from MP but will constantly be watching for people pushing back and figuring out how it fits into their normal betting patterns... and finally will open raise with these from LP but again will be looking for push back signs...

Have a great weekend!!!!!


ScurvyDog said...

I always find it pretty dang interesting looking at the distribution of winning/losing hands. On the one hand, you have assorted levels of advanced thinking as far as starting hands, reverse implied odds, suited connectors, suited one gap connectors, etc. On the other hand, big cards beat little cards. Especially in limit, when hands are more likely to go to showdown since no one can completely push someone off a hand.

From a very basic grunt monkey standpoint, it makes sense that KQ and KJ are trouble, as any A or pair has you beat. I know, far too reductive, but it helps to put those hands in perspective. I think the danger with those hands is to overvalue them, like you mention, and not take into account just how much help you often need to win with them.

You'd likely find some successful players who'd prefer to play 67s than KJ, as it's much harder to have a painfully expensive second best hand with 67s, yet you still have a lot of upside when the board helps you.

But I hear you. KJs is currently my biggest loser, so, you know, I'm equally guilty as charged.

#3 is the one I struggle with the most, as I still don't have a very good radar for when the uber aggressive lemurs actually have a hand, so I keep bombing away with KJs when the flop comes J high, only to run into AJ or a set or something else ugly.

Nice post.

GaryC said...

Damn nice post Will. I have printed it off and plan on doing some studying on this one.

Nice job.


cc said...


Posted a new review of Wilson. Would highly recommend it.


cc said...

Will, I read your post (sorry for the double post). I'm either a freak, really a great poker player, or it is all random chance, but KQo and KJo are actually +EV for me, with KQo coming in at #15 in avg/hand. I'll give you top-of-mind thoughts on these two:

>> First, don't overplay them. Calling raises with KQ and hitting your king is dangerous obviously, I think more dangerous than hitting your queen.
>> Of course, it depends. It depends greatly on who is in with you and the dynamics of the table. I think KQo plays alot better against looser maniacs.
>> Lastly, be aware that these are problem hands. That doesn't mean play them tentatively, but make sure you play your best with them. I would include Axs also in that, just have your antannae up.


TripJax said...

Will, You are fast becoming a source for the masses to learn from. I being in the masses. Thanks man.

Brian said...

Great post. I used to do a mental happy dance when I would peek down and see KQo - in any position. And then I would curse the poker gods when I discovered I was drawing dead to my opponent's AK.

Now it's all about position, position, position and knowing my opponents (and not falling in love when I catch top pair, OK kicker).

SirFWALGMan said...

I think it depends what you play, KQ can be very good in a limit game with draws and redraw potential. I usually play 6-MAX and would never not raise KQ.

In NL it becomes much weaker, as KJ does I think because you can not bet it with confidence like AK. Any hand you have to be worried about can be trouble I think. In NL at least.

I like playing AQ hard and weak. If It comes to me without any raises or anything I absolutly 3x it in a tourney or NL game. If I get pressure back, or if it is raised before me I just walk away..

Just how I play.. keep working up to that 15/30 level.. Wish you luck.

Oggy Bleacher said...

I don't think I'm simplifying things by saying you should first be able to play the hand blind. Knowing what your hole cards are is just extra infomation, but not the most important information.
good analysis.

imjusthere4thebeer said...

Phenominal post! Thanks for sharing your insight and research!


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