Suicide Shove

This is the “absurd” hand I referenced on Twitter yesterday. I want to be clear that I’m not posting this as an example of a hand that seems bad but I think is actually good. It was a badly played hand, I don’t have any delusions about that. I do think it’s probably less bad than it seems, so in addition to the prurient interest some of you may have in seeing me attempt to bluff someone with the last of my chips for less than a min-raise on the river, there is hopefully some educational value here. It’s worth thinking about why this at least seemed worth attempting to me at the time. I believe that if you aren’t willing to risk occasionally doing something that makes you look like an ass too yourself and others, you’re going to miss a lot of unconventional but good plays as well as a lot of opportunities to expand your thinking and improve as a player.

Blinds are 2000/4000/500. Villain is in the BB. He’s a decidedly recreational player and seems VERY level 1/level 2 thinking. That is to, he doesn’t seem to consider his own ranges or what he’s representing. I’ve already seen him get caught in one non-sensical river bluff.

I’d been the most active player at the table, though that wasn’t saying much. Most of my pre-flop raises had been minimum, but in this case I chose a larger size because the BB had a lot of chips and seemed to inclined to defend his BB for that reason. My plan was to raise his BB less aggressively, and to use a larger size when doing so.

I begin the hand with about 120K, Villain covers by a lot (probably one of the chip leaders in the tournament).

Folds to me on the Button with Kd Qs. I raise to 10K. SB folds, BB quickly calls. “You don’t even want to think about folding?” I ask him.

“I thought about it,” he said.

“Did you even look at your cards?”

“Nope. I didn’t think you looked at yours.” This was just banter. I knew he’d looked at his cards, and he knew that I knew.

Flop (26,500 in pot) 7s 7c 4d. Villain very quickly bets 10K. I read this as a very Level 2 sort of play, where he just saw a board that was tough to hit and a player with a wide range and figured he could just bet whatever and I would have to fold if I didn’t have a pair. I think he’s looking for a fold basically always, but that doesn’t rule out his having better hands than mine. This is a shitty line to take with Ace-high, but certainly one that I see from people who are excessively concerned about protection and think too much about whether or not they have a “made hand”.

I called, thinking there was a good chance that I had the best hand. Raising is quite possibly better, though I think there’s a case for letting him put more weak money into the pot before doing so.

Turn (46,500) Ts. Villain bets 15K. I read this as weak, which I still think is correct, but in retrospect it’s weak in a different way. When he bets 1/3 pot, he doesn’t really expect me to fold anything I called the flop with, he just doesn’t want to be raised. This could be a blocking bet from a better hand than mine (Ace-high or small pair) or a set-my-own-price bet with a draw. Either way, I think this should just be a jam. It’s not that much more than a pot-sized raise, and even if it does seem suspect (it’s not really how I’d play many strong hands, though he probably won’t realize that anyway), what’s he going to do, hero it off with A3?

River (76,500) 6s. Villain bets 45K. I’d seen him bluff the river before by grabbing a stack of chips and slamming it down in front of him, one of those strong-means-weak tells that’s so blatant that you wonder whether it isn’t a reverse tell. Combined with the fact that I wasn’t giving his earlier bets much credit, I still didn’t believe him.

The trouble was that I wasn’t sure how many of his bluffs I could beat. Though it would be a terrible bet, I don’t even think it’s impossible that he’s just bluffing with a gutter that rivered a pair because he doesn’t want to check and face a bet (though maybe he’d use more of a blocking sizing for that). But if he got this far with Ace high, I think it’s plausible he fires like this. He sees flop with a LOT of combos of Ax so even if the chance of him playing it this way isn’t high, that still adds up to a fair number of combos.

I decided to jam the river for about 85K total to get him off of all of those “accidental value bets”. He groaned, which was a bad sign, because it meant that he thought he had the best hand when he bet, then reluctantly called with 8s 5s for a flush.

Again, I realize that this seems insane in a vacuum and is in fact legitimately not good, particularly with the last of my chips in a very soft tournament. However, I do think it’s an interesting case of considering all of the options on the table, even if that did lead to a bad decision in this case.

1 thought on “Suicide Shove

  1. On the river, you only need the villain to fold 28% of the time to your shove (of the times when your hand isn’t best). I can’t imagine villain would call with ace-high hands, even for the great price he is getting. He might even bet-fold 65 or 22-33, if he thought he was bluffing with them.
    In a vacuum, those hands could easily make up at least 28% of his range. The difficulty is ranging him when he triple-barrels from OOP as the preflop caller. If he were a pro, then his hand actually makes sense as a triple-barrel (he had a small range advantage on this flop, he flopped a gutshot, turned a combo draw, went for value on the river), although I would expect a larger sizing on the turn. He could also have 7x and 44, 66, 88-TT and take the same line.
    But he isn’t a pro; so with what range does he donk-bet on flop and then continue? If he were just tilted or maniacal, then I guess he could have a wide range of bluffs, including 98, A6, A5, 53, etc. But otherwise I would not expect him to donk Ax (other than A7 and A4). If he had AK or AQ and didn’t 3-bet them pre, I don’t expect him to donk them on flop. Small pairs seem more likely, and he bets them on flop and turn for protection (or “to find out where he’s at”). The problem is that he rarely bets them on river, and if he does, he may be incapable of folding them.
    So I think the best rationale for your line would be that physical reads and bet-size tells strongly suggested weakness *and* you believed villain was capable of folding pairs less than TT to your river raise, despite the price he was getting.

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