December 21, 2010

Adventures In Pot Limit Gamboool!—
Katkin & the Crazy Canucks

During my recent Festivus/WPBT trip to Vegas, I played a fun session of Pot Limit Gamboool!(TM) at the Venetian.  I've played in this game during several recent trips, and it has been uniformly entertaining and generally profitable.

Although I generally don't post hand strategy posts here (reserving those mostly for the VPN or AVP discussion forums), I do want to cross-post one PLG hand for comment from my readers, partially because I'm hoping there are some PLG savants who follow crAAKKer, and mostly because the hand involved the infamous Katkin

The game plays 9-handed, $200-$500 buy-in. The blinds are $1/$2, but count as $5 total for purposes of the pot (i.e., the first "pot" raise with no limpers can be to $15 total--$5 blinds, $5 "call" + $10 pot raise). The game was pretty sane by PLG standards. Most pots were limped preflop or one raise with 1-3 callers; preflop 3-bets almost always meant suited Aces or Kings, or suited Broadway wrap type hands. Stacks were mostly in the $300-$800 range.

On this hand, I was in the BB.  Katkin was UTG and limped, as did a Canadian player in LP, and another Canadian in the SB.   I was in the BB and completed.  My hand was AdKh9h7d; not too shabby for a blind hand.

Flop ($20):  QdTd7s

SB checked to me.  I bet $15.  Katkin raised pot, to $65 total.  Canadian LP raised all-in, for $120 total.  Canadian BB insta-raises pot to $340 total.

Katkin had about $400 more behind.  He had been playing solid PLG, showing down reasonable starting hands for position and preflop betting.  He had picked off one bluff with two pair against an aggressive player's missed draws, but otherwise was not putting money into a pot without a good hand or good draw.

Canadian LP had been a little more loose, was playing with a hyper-aggressive buddy (they were a couple of college age kids on vacation, FWIW), but had not been nearly as wild as his friend.  His stack had dwindled after paying off with a couple of non-nut draws that hit, but hit someone else harder.  He liked to see flops with suited middle / low cards ("rundown" hands).

Canadian SB was a moderately aggressive guy, seemed to be a mid-30s guy on vacation.  He had maybe $200 more behind.  He had played a lot of hands, but when he made a big bet, he had a real hand or real draw.

Action is on me, I have about $750 more behind (covering everyone in the hand).  Obviously I have nut draws, but with the multiway action with a player left to act behind, is this a raise all-in, a flat call, or a fold?

*** Note: Results are posted after the jump. ***

Katkin really made this a tough decision for me.  Against the other two guys, I was pretty sure Canadian SB had a set of Qs or Tens; if he had a big draw he would likely have flatted.  I had one blocker to his boat redraw, in the event I would call and hit one of my draws.  There were three problems I had, in order of increasing importance:
  1. My draws, although to the nuts, weren't as wide as a monster wrap with flush draw.  Someone with KJ98dd has better straight draws with diamond blockers.
  2. Canadian LP likely had either a set of Tens or Sevens, or a two-way draw of some sort.  So, he likely had some of somebody's outs, but it wasn't clear whose.
  3. Katkin.  Freakin' Katkin.  He had shown the initial real aggression on the flop, and was yet to act.  The hand felt like he had a big draw, but there was a possibility he held the set of Qs and Canadian SB had the monster draw.  But assuming he held the monster draw, I was drawing thinner than usual in a hand where I must improve to win.
If the action were three-way without Katkin, this seems to be an easy auto-shove.  But with Freakin' Katkin gumming up the works, I was stymied.  Finally, I folded very reluctantly.  Freakin' Katkin pushed, Canadian SB called.  The players showed:

Katkin:  AhKdJh4d

Canadian SB:  QcQsXX  (set of queens, no redraw; frankly, this hand is functionally equivalent to a set of Tens in terms of stealing boat outs from Canadian SB.

Canadian LP:  QT98 (top two pair plus a wrap, but no diamond draw)

The turn put the 6d on the board, and the river was a blank that did not give Canadian SB his boat redraw.  Freakin' Katkin raked the monsterpotten.
In hindsight, I think the correct play here was for me to push, knowing Katkin can't call with a lesser, non-nut draw.  If Katkin has a set, so be it, hope to hit the draw and miss the boat.  But most of the time I think this action means Canadian SB has the big set, and Katkin the draw.

What do you PLG experts think?  Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. Firstly, I regret that I was not one of the crazy Canucks playing in this game. Next year!

    Speaking as an avid PLG'er, I think this is an easy push for you. Yes; you have to discount some of your outs - since others might have blockers to your draws, and you have to operate from the assumption that someone has a set here for a redraw - but you are drawing to the nuts multiple ways and you surely have equity somewhere in the 25-33% range. This is the tipping point for me in a situation where the pot is contested 3-4 ways and you can gamble it up on the flop with no further betting on future streets.

    You can't do exact calculations at the table, of course, but it is highly worthwhile to run some numbers through a PLO equity calculator. When I first picked up this game, I learned a ton by regularly plugging in hands doing session reviews to see whether I was making mistakes in hands where I put my whole stack in the middle.


  2. I also agree that you had to shove in this spot. My reads on the hand were very similar to yours, although I obviously had to count that someone in the hand was holding the nut flush draw.

    Had you pushed - or even called - I have to lay my hand down because I'm sure that there's just about no other hand that I can possibly beat. When you folded however, I felt that the second-nut draw and the straight draw absolutely priced me into the pot.

  3. Following up, since I was curious enough to use one of them newfangled PLO simulators (I had to guess at the Canadian holdings for the purposes of suits and the unknown sidecards, but it shouldn't invalidate the exercise):

    Hero has just over 34% equity 4-handed (assuming Katkin overcalls). Hero has 44% equity 3-handed (assuming Katkin folds). In the first instance, top set is narrowly ahead of you in equity, but you're still definitely getting an excellent price, so calling is definitely profitable. In the second instance you are the money favourite, so again, shoving to shut out Katkin is clearly a very profitable play.

    I note that Katkin has commented above, making the sensible point that he'd fold the king-high flush draw & wrap to heavy action. You stand to earn more if he's foolish enough to overcall on the flop since his flush draw is no good, but this increases your variance. So I'd say shoving>calling, and you should never fold.


  4. By adding the trade mark behind Pot Limit Gamboool!(TM)you are doing? Just out of curiosity. Btw, also smiling at the D-bag O' The Day.

  5. If two people are already showing their willingness to get it in, start looking at the cards they probably have (flush,straight,set) and figure how many outs you have left.

    You can be 100% certain someone has a set, and another has the flush draw (unless you're playing with me and I'm beyond drunk and misread my cards again...). In this spot, I would think twice before shoving (I had a similar spot that night we played) and try to figure risk/reward knowing I'm putting in my money while behind.

  6. I am no PLO expert but you are drawing to a nut, your getting like 3-1 on your money (2 others in and Katkin is probably calling), and most of your opponents have each others outs probably... I think you gamble there and have a VERY good night if you hit. :).



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