Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Would You Do #243 - Rivered a pair on a paired board + my questionable play

First, a Hand History for all to see how I [possibly] butchered a hand:

Played a bit more 2/5 the other night.  It's going to be awhile until I'm back in the saddle as my wife & I are going on a little vacation.  Anyway, I'd like to share a hand which I'm not sure I blundered or just got unlucky:

QsTs - I raise to $40 into 5 limpers; semi-loose UTG older guy with gruff attitude calls.  I have $650 in front of me, and he's sitting on around $1400, chipping up steadily all night.  He's been continually making un-callable bets, and I've been putting him on a lot of bluffs even though I have yet to truly tango with him.  I've seen him make large cbets with middle pairs (i.e. A9o on a J 9 3 board - and he got me to fold QJo) and call a river bluff vs. bottom pair.  He knows how to play.

Anyway, I smash the flop; we see a flop of QdQh9s.

My plan is to check here, as I had been cbetting every hand all night and not getting any value.  Against this particular guy, my cbets were met with auto-folds.  I also think that this guy is going to bluff a high percentage of the time when he sees a check on the flop, particularly when I change my patterns by not cbetting.

The turn is an offsuit 3, completing the rainbow board.  I "weak" (what I felt was weak for me as I had been cbetting close to pot for most of the night) lead for $55 into the $~110 pot and he snap check / raises me to $200, as per my plan.  I "hesitate" for a good long while and decide on calling - raising here is only going to push him off of his bluffs, while I'm getting crushed by better Q's.

The river is an A, which I think is a great card.  His "bluffs" now have impetus to call the river when I shove over his expected continuation bluff if he was bluffing with an A, etc. and he "caught me."  As expected, he fires out another $200 and I snap raise him the remaining $195 on top.  He thinks for a good long time and calls with 3 3 for the turned boat - I suppose he was afraid of AQ, AA, QQ?

A couple of comments on this hand from my perspective:
  • I'm not 100% sure I like the check on the flop, but if I do wind up cbetting instead, I think it folds most of his hands as per prior history.  If he opts to float me in disbelief, we get it all in on the turn anyway.  My point, though, is that I doubt he'll c/r on the flop and wait until the turn to put me to the test.  If he does c/r the flop, I'm taking the same line I took above where I flat him and call the turn / river.
  • I think I hate my river shove.  I fell into a static thought process where "this is my plan all along and it's working."  The reality is, who is calling the shove?  Very few hands call that.  I should have saved the $200 additional.

Here is the What Would You Do of the week:

Granted, it's a bit simpler, but here goes...

I raise to $30 in the CO with AcJc into 2 limpers (tight MP & loose UTG).  I get a call from the UTG; the tight MP folds.
Of note, I've played 1.5 hours with him during this session - I haven't seen him get completely out of line, but he does limp / call a HUGE variety of crazy hands.  He's shown down a bunch of random 2 pairs by the river, etc.  Preflop, he's been fairly passive, but he can be semi-aggro post flop.

We see a 2-way flop of Td9dTs - $70 in the pot.

It checks to me and I cbet $45.  He calls.

Turn is 2s and we check through.

River is Js and UTG leads $115 into the $160 pot.  WWYD?

Click to see results

There's so many busted straight draws / flush draws + QJ given his wide range that in particular that are betting this after I check the turn for pot control.  Clearly, he's repping a Tx hand, but I have to think he wants value from those hands, not folds.  Is it likely that he makes a big bet like that for value when I just checked through, signalling weakness?  He wants a call, therefore he bets smaller.  He wants a fold, therefore he bets bigger.  In fact, as the night progressed, I saw this exact trait in his play.

I called and was shown Kd8d for the busted flush draw / backdoor straight draw.


  1. Its about time we got some more live play commentary from you! thanks!

    In regards to the 2nd hand --- well played ,, I agree that there are just too many busted draws to not call; although i'm not sure i view his river bet as being particularly large -- the would be a nice size value bet from a good player.

    1st hand --- i think you already know the answer. Given your style (active pre-flop, particularly in position; c-bet many flops), you have to be the flop there for value. you certainly would get called by 88 down to 22(maybe) that this guy would have limped. also, you have to charge j10 which is in his range too. so, given your aggression, bet the flop; i like 60-65 into the 100 pot.

  2. Wow...I hate the check on the flop in Hand 1. i mean I bet for the exact reason you choose not to. I have been c-betting every flop. I mean the turn is just bad luck but you should be balancing your c-bets here with smashes and airballs. You still get some action from TT, 88, possibly KJ, KT type hands. Anyway if you are playing it trappy I just call river every time especially after a turn c/r.

    On the AJ hand we should just call. He is repping such a polarized range of JT, T9, KQ or he is empty.

    What night were you there? I was there Sat night and it was chaos. Played 2/5 for about 5 hours and game was insanely good, then played PLO for about 5 hours and was card dead but managed to break even.

  3. I think I'm not loving the flop check either. I just feel like my reputation [at least according to one guy] was such that I was "3rd nuts or better" every time. I felt like checking through signaled AK, etc.

    I was there last Wednesday. I didn't have very long to play, and I'm not playing this week (wife & I are going on vacation). Not much poker time for me these days... :-(

  4. First time I read thru hand 1, I went along with you and your plan, let's try and pull in a big one. But the second time reading it, I focused more on your statement, "I ... lead for $55 into the $~110 pot and he snap check / raises me to $200, as per my plan." This $200 raise screams - put on the breaks and be cautious. As you stated, the river shove was out of line. You wanted to pull in a whale, the turn action said danger, the river plan should have changed. Catch a fish without risking it all by going for the whale. Hope it makes a little sense.

  5. I keep going over Hand #1, and it is easy to come to the conclusion that your flop check was a mistake, but I think it is eminently justifiable, and actually a quite-good play. One one hand, you gave 33 a free card, which ultimately turned out to be a bad thing. However, 33 had less than a 5% chance to improve his hand on the turn (with one of the two remaining 3s), so you are really not gambling all that much. Now, let's assume that the 5% did not come in for your opponent. 6.3% of the time, the turn will be a 9, which will, naturally, cause 33 to fold to any action, since his 33 has been counterfeited. Perhaps a card like an Ace (roughly 8.5% chance) will also scare away the 33, fearing you have any ace. Short of that, though, there is more than an 80% chance that you have now lulled the 33 into a sense of complacency. So, 80% of the time, your check is a good strategic play to get more money into the pot on the turn.

    Does that make sense? There are a ton of variables, but I think this is a situation where its easy to start with the result when analyzing the hand. The result is that you lost the hand because he got to see the 3 for free, but that doesn't mean that your decision was not sound.

    Let's look at it in a slightly different way. Let's say you bet the flop. Once you bet, there are only three options: your opponent calls, folds or raises. If he calls, then you end up in the same spot. He calls, he hits his set, and you lose all of your money because you can never predict 33 there. If he folds, you win the $110 outright. If he raises, you likely flat call to keep him in the hand...and then lose all of your money when his 3 comes. So, in two scenarios, the results are the same and in one scenario, you get $110 instead of having the chance to win more significant money. It's hard to determine how often he folds there, because with 33, it is easy for him to assume that a paired board is a good thing for you. But even assuming he folds fairly often there, as per your notes, I think you want to get value from flopping trips, as opposed to pushing out unlikely 2-outter hands.

    The analysis from some other commentators suggest that you need to bet the flop for value, but they ignore the fact that, as per your commentary, he is likely to auto-fold to a c-bet. C-betting for value does not work if you do not expect a call. C-betting there will only serve one purpose, to take the 2-outter player out of the hand. On the other hand, checking there suggests weakness to the extent that 33 may be emboldened when the turn is a 2 or a random 7 or whatever. Its counter-intuitive, but I think you correctly CHECKED for value.

    BTW, this is a very interesting hand. I may want to use it for a future Pokerist article, if you are okay with that.

    1. Its fine to use on a future Pokerist article. Your summary does better justice to my thought process than I did above. I feel like its a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation... checking through signals a polarized range while betting more or less forces a fold. I don't know what to think; I've been trying different things at the table lately including it auto-cbetting my 4flush boards when I raised pre... I feel like it makes me far more difficult to put on a flush when it does come in. I've been trying to 3bet more often in position and put ppl to decisions pre flop more often as well. Time will tell I guess.

    2. I disagree with Jordan. Jordan, I feel you are analyzing the hand with the caveat that you know your opponent had 33. i think you are being results oriented with your discussion. I think if you put your opponent on a range of hands, you should be this flop almost every time. (especially with your image)

  6. @ Jordan..I don't know what stakes you play but this analysis is really bad. You are focusing on villain's specific holding rather than his range. Wile I agree if Villain shows us that he has a pair we should probably check it back, there are a ton of other holdings in his range that will allow him to call a flop bet. KJ, KT, JT, 8Ts, 66-88, TT, A9s are all hands that may give us one street of value. this is particularly true if PM is auto c-betting every flop. And if we think his range allows for 1 street of value, the street we are most likely to get that value is the flop. Think of all of the possible turn cards that potentially kill our action if he has an underpair. T, J, 9, Q, K, A for sure and 8-4 in the specific hand in question.

    Now if we focus on the specific holding of villain the only turn card we get action from is the card that hit and obv we have huge ROI.

    I think the most interesting spot in the hand is the river. To me there aren't a to of 2/5 players who are capable of c/r turn and barreling river with worse than QTs. This is pretty close to a turbo muck river except that we have leveled ourself into thinking our hand is under-repped.

    1. " This is pretty close to a turbo muck river except that we have leveled ourself into thinking our hand is under-repped." Sums it up for my stupid river shove.

      Fyi - sorry my responses are short and delayed; I'm on a tablet in Mexico on vacation.

    2. I am always willing to rethink my analysis, but I still don't fully agree with the people who disagreed with me. The big complaint is that I did not consider our opponent's range. I did, though. But to be a bit more clear, let's talk range.

      First, what is our opponent's range? He is described as semi-loose, so let's assume pocket pairs, big Aces, and big face cards, to be generous. I am willing to accept alternatives.

      For the pocket pairs under 99 (22-88), the analysis is the same as my 33 analysis. On the flop, if you bet out, you may scare away your opponent, particularly given the description that he insta-folds to c-bets. In contrast, by checking, you may induce him to bluff on the turn and the risk that he will hit his two outter is slim (5%). So, checking there is not a bad play, particularly if you want to get action on your flopped trips.

      I think its fairly unlikely that he has a pocket pair of TT or higher, but assuming he does, checking the flop is harmless, since he only has a 5% chance to draw out on you. It is true that you may lose some value by not getting this bet in, but I don't think its much, because he will read your check as weakness and there will be further action on later streets. Plus, its really not likely he has TT+ anyway.

      If he has 99 (or a better Queen), then this is all a moot point. Betting the flop gets you no no extra value because you are behind already. These hands are unlikely, but we still have to consider them for his range. .

      If he has AK, AJ, or other high face cards without a Queen, when you bet, he folds, at least according to the description by Meister as to his play. The only hand where I see our opponent calling on the flop, but folding on the turn (assuming he doesn't hit the turn) is TJ. So, if he has TJ, you should definitely bet, but other than that, I doubt he is calling with an inside straight draw on that paired board. Perhaps he calls with a Ten in his hand, like AT or KT, but that same player will be emboldened to bet and call big on the turn when you check the flop and the turn is a harmless 3.

      So, where am I wrong? I am willing to hear it. So far, I can only identify one situation where a bet on the flop is crucial because your opponent will fold on the turn if he does not hit: TJ for an OESD. Other than that, checking has very little risk and will embolden your opponent, who usually auto-folds to c-bets, to call bigger bets (or bluff big) on later streets.

      I am not trying to be argumentative. Lord knows I tend to analyze things in a different way than most, but I still don't see an issue with my logic. In the vast majority of hands in our opponent's range, checking the flop will not be a missed bet because (a) he is folding his weaker holdings [22-88, AJ, AK, KJ) whereas checking may induce action from those dominated hands in later rounds, (b) if he is already ahead, betting does us no good (99, QJ, KQ, AQ), (c) if he has a decent hand (AA, KK, JJ, AT, KT) checking will similarly embolden him to bet big or call large bets on the turn and river, despite the fact that he is well behind, and (d) the only situation where we lose action from a hand that will call a flop bet but not a turn bet is TJ, which is very specific.

      How's that for range? I am more than happy to consider other viewpoints. I like learning!

  7. Jordan,
    I definitely see a player like this calling 88-44, maybe 22,33 on a paired board.

  8. I won't 100% argue that, David, because I can see some players making that call, but I was only analyzing based on the information given: "Against this particular guy, my cbets were met with auto-folds." I can see Joel as having an image as a skilled player, so maybe against someone perceived as loose, the opponent would call with 22-88, but based on the info provided, I assumed it was more likely that he would fold.

    But let's assume that he does call with 22-88. Isn't that same player more likely to fold on the turn once you fire a second barrel, assuming that the opponent did not improve. In contrast, if you check the flop, you may get him to call bets on the turn and river.

    That said, there are SO MANY intangibles and unknowable facts that there is always room for debate on what play is best. I simply wanted to explain why a check there could be a very justifiable or +EV play.


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