Friday, November 14, 2008

Is king-queen off-suit a powerful hand?

I headed to Harrah's Casino tonight to play in their Friday night tournament. The buy-in was $100 and 54 players signed up. Levels are 20 minutes, blinds start at 25/50 and you get 10K chips to start. That sounds like a lot, but they zoom up the blinds and antes kick in, so you can't play too conservatively.

I had played a few pots and built my stack up. One hand I called a small raise with K Q. The flop came with a queen and two low cards, rainbow. The raiser, who was on a short stack, bet and I called. He moved all in on the turn, after another low card came. I called again, and he turned over Q J. What are they thinking? I guess if you're on the shortstack, you don't have a lot of options.

During the sixth level, K-Q off again was a pivotal hand. The blinds were 500/1000/100a and I raised to T3000 from late position. A short stack moved in and the big blind moved all in for 11,300. It would cost me another 8,000 to call, but with the blinds, antes, and the small stack, I was getting about 2 to 1, so called. The short stack had pocket 4s, about what I expected. I was surprised, however, when the other guy (who had bet 11,300) turned over QJ. Yes! I had him dominated. The flop included a king, my hand held up and I moved up the chip ladder.

Then again I picked up KQ, this time K Q. I called an early raiser who was on a short stack (again). The flop was J-8-4 with one heart. We both checked. The turn was the 10 giving me an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw for 15 outs. The guy checked again, I bet out 6,000 and he moved all in. I'm not sure how much more that was, maybe another 3000, so I called. The river was an ace giving me the nuts -- a Broadway straight. He didn't look amused as he headed for the cash games.

There was one cute hand that I wasn't involved in. Two guys got all in and had to turn over their cards. One had A-Q, the other had K-J. They lady next to me said, "It's a race." Um, no not really, but I kept my mouth shut. The board ended up with an 8-high straight, so they chopped, ha! I guess it was sort of a race, and they tied!

When we got to the final table, the average chips stack was 54K. Mine was 45K, so I had some work to do. I raised from the cutoff with A-9 and took down a pot. I raised the next hand with something else and everybody folded. The blinds and antes were high enough that these were significant additions to my stack. The table was playing tight and letting me get away with it. When this happens, you have to be careful not to overdo it. The players notice and eventually somebody will get tired of it and look you up. The good news was that the next hand I picked up pocket kings and made the same raise I had made before. A short stack called me, so I got to show the kings which was good for my image.

Then disaster. From early position, I picked up big slick. I made a big raise, really just happy if I won the pot right there. It's hard to play out of position. I'm just sayin'. A guy who I've played against before (and who knows what he's doing) had around 25K moved all in. We turned them over and he had A-Q. I said, "You've got the hand that was winning all the pots on TV Tuesday night." The flop was 10 high, but the turn was a queen! Arrgh. I did have outs. A king would still win it for me, and a jack would give me a straight. It didn't happen though, and instead of winning a 57K pot and having around 110,000 chips and sitting pretty, I was down to around 30,000.

Then the big stack who had been being a bully, bet 20,000. I moved all in for 30,000 and they guy who beat me with AQ to my AK began thinking. Finally he folded and the bully called and turned over A 10. The guy who wanted to call, but folded, announced he folded A-J. My hand? I had the powerful holding of 4 4! But my hand held up and I was back in business. Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the cards on the board was a jack, so the guy who folded would have won this big pot. Ha! Serves him right for having A-Q beat my A-K.

Slowly, players got short stacked and had to make a move and (usually) got knocked out. When we took another break, there were five of us left. The bully had a big stack, three of us had good stacks and one was shortstacked. The AQ guy says to me, we've got to knock out the shortstack, then talk about a chop. He also mentions this to the bully, but the bully says, "Oh, I came here to play poker, let's keep playing." They always say that when they have a chip lead. But, we knocked out the short stack, then the other three of us had enough chips that the Bully couldn't push us around. His stack dropped down, and now he wanted to do a four-way chop (nearly $800 each). We agreed. Even though he had been sort of a jerk, the blinds were 5000/10,000/2000a. It was obvious that it was in the crap-shoot mode.

After we agreed to chop, I counted my chips. There were 540,000 chips in play (10K times 54 players) which means 135,000 would have been average. I counted mine (even though the tournament was over, I was curious) and I had 152,000.

Poker always seems so easy when it goes like this. Only one bad beat and that was when it didn't bust me. Three times I won a big pot with K-Q, certainly a holding you are more likely to go broke with, than knock people out with. Also I was all-in for my tournament life with pockets 4s, which held up, so I can't complain too much.

Tomorrow is another day, another poker tournament. Let's go for two in a row.


  1. Congrats Mojo. When did Harrah's add antes? Used to play the Fri nite and Sat afternoon tourneys quite a bit. Would have asked you to pick me up if I had known you were going :->. As for K-Q off to me it's a good, tho not great hand but it suprises me how many people in low stakes gams consider it a hand to go all in with either pushing or calling.

  2. This is the Harrah's in Tunica MS, but I'd be glad to pick you up anytime!

    This is a tournament they started last June. 10,000 in chips, but then to speed things up they have fast blinds and antes. Level 3 is 200/400 with 25 antes which isn't much (almost 1/10 of the small blind) but by level 7, 600/1200 with 100 ante (1/6th SB). Level 12 4000/8000 and anted is 1000, i.e. 1/4th of the SB.

    See how they keep the pressure on you to keep accumulating chips? And that's a mistake most of the players make. They don't adjust their play. I go from a nitty, little old man to a raving maniac and most of them don't notice that you have to.

  3. KQ is not the best hand obviously but not that bad; in Caro's most profitable hold'em advice, KQs is the 9th best hand and KQo is the 15th best hand.

    This is a tricky hand with lots of potential which usually does like ace board too much.