Monday, May 09, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #16 - The Siren Song Of $1/$1/$2

The Oaks has two stakes for no limit - $2/$3/$5 blinds with a max $500 buy in and $1/$1/$2 with a max $200 buy in. The way they house makes money in these games is to take $5 from every pot for the big game and $4 from the small game. They also take $1 for the jackpot which in theory you'll get back if they're honest about how much is being collected and you play long enough to hit a piece of the jackpot.

What you'll notice about the rake for the $1/$1/$2 is it's almost as big as the $2/$3/$5 rake in absolute terms, but in proportional terms, they're taking 2.5 big blinds every hand instead of 1.2, which makes it twice as impactful.

More importantly it makes the game totally unplayable under common circumstances. Let me explain with an example. Let's say 4 people call before the flop including both blinds. On the flop you make top pair and bet 2/3 of the pot and get one caller. On the turn you bet half the pot, get called again and on the river it goes check, check and you win.

In a $2/$3/$5 game  You're looking at $14 in the pot after the rake as you go to the flop. Headed to the turn there's $34 in there and headed to the river there's $68 in the pot. You've ended up with about 14 big blinds in the pot. Not a huge pot, but not nothing.

In a $1/$1/$2 when you go to the flop $5 goes to the rake and ONLY $3 goes to the pot! Your 2/3 pot bet is $2. There's $7 in the pot going to the turn and $15 going to the river. 7.5 big blinds in the pot at the end. Who the eff wants to play a game where there's $3 in the pot? Most people just say the hell with it and check it down and the lucky person who wins the pot nets $1 or someone bets $5 at it and wins.

One way to help mitigate this is to never just call before the flop. If your hand is good enough to play make it $4 or $6 if you would have just called.

In my last project where I crushed skulls for 100 hours mainly at $2/$3/$5 I was actually a healthy loser in the small number of hours I played at $1/$1/$2 all played while waiting for the bigger game. Not being a dummy I've been steering clear during this project...but I'm not just going to sit there and do nothing if there's a long $2/$3/$5 wait. Maybe I am a dummy!

So I sat down on Friday night with $200 in front of me hoping to not screw it up. On my third hand I was on the button with q7 of clubs and one player just called the $2 in front of me. I could either fold when I had a $1 in the pot already from the button small blind, call and likely be faced with a stupid $3 pot on the flop or put in a small raise. I made it $7 to go and the big blind re-raised it to $20. Ugh. This is the problem with the raising light with calling hands strategy. I thought about folding, but I had position, we were both $200 deep and I was getting better than 2 to 1 on my money. So I called. The flop came down J T 3 all clubs! Flush baby! My opponent came out with a big bet pushing $50 out there. I decided to just call and the turn came out a red 9. My opponent checked and I slid $45 out there. He just about beat me into the pot with his whole stack! I instantly called, the river paired the 9 (which had me a little worried) and he rolled over AJ of diamonds. OK? Thanks for the pot!

Over the next 45 minutes I made three top pairs and pretty much got two streets of value with them all. When they called my name for $2/$3/$5 I left with a $330 profit. Suck it low rollers!

Shortly after I made my way to the bigger game I got dealt 88 and raised to $20. I got one caller and then the big blind moved all in for $143. The caller looked like he was done with it. This is probably a spot to muck and I need to do some more analysis on it, but the quick at the table thinking I did was that I was risking $123 to win $203 and if my opponent has unpaired big cards I'm ahead. I think he has a pair there more often than big cards, but there's always a chance it's 77 or 66 getting out of line. Anyway I called, my opponent rolled over KK, I let out a quiet groan and then promptly flopped an 8! Ha ha!

A couple of hours passed and I was up about $600 with a nice stack in front of me when I got dealt 64 of diamonds on the button. I called $5 and then called a raise from the small blind to $25 along with 3 other players in the field. The flop came down 8 7 2 with two diamonds giving me 12 outs to a straight or a flush. Pretty sweet. The raiser bet out $55, two players called and after giving some brief consideration to dropping the all in bomb I decided to just call and hope for a a diamond or a 5, but really a 5 was what I wanted. The turn was a black 9 giving me 3 more straight outs that might or might not be good. Now the preflop raiser came out betting $200! And another player called all in for $140! This was a really sticky spot. If all of my outs were good, I had a huge overlay, but I could easily be up against a better flush draw or hands that negated some of my straight outs or both. My one remaining opponent with chips had about $150 and I figured he probably had a hand like a pair TT-AA and I thought it would be tough for him to fold for another $150 on the end if I got there with a huge pot in the middle. Speaking of huge pots, there was about $700 out there, it cost me $200 to call and I had a 1 in 3 shot at making a straight or better. So I called. The river was the 2 of diamonds making my flush and to my surprise my opponent bet out his last $150. I quickly called and he said "Flush?" and I said "Yep" ready to drag my pot. Then I realized he didn't say "Flush?" he said "Flush." as in "I have a flush with my T9 or diamonds that is bigger than yours and thus I will gobble up your pot." Shit!

Not too much else of note happened. I ended up winning $51 over 3 hours which puts me at $2,301 after 60.5 hours over the course of the project.

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