One of the most interesting aspects of learning poker from forums is that we are almost always given:
- A hand history
- Questions about how to get a better result
Sometimes we get an answer. But what we rarely get at is the heart of the matter, which is to say, the problem itself.
In this thread, I deleted, suddenly tired of seeing my name in the forums, an immediate response where I named the villain’s hand correctly as QQ (just look at those geometric bets! look at your blockers!) but still half heartedly advised a call as played, following through on the bluffcatching line. However, the thrust of my post was that four betting AK as a raise/fold is the real answer and the heart of the question. Flatting AK is the worst possible line in situations like this one. To play optimally, you need to protect your range at all times, and have an option at every decision point. Flatting for value with Ace high OOP against a 3bet at medium depth is about the nut low of poker lines in a cash game: it forces your value range into a bluff catching mode as its logical conclusion. Fold equity is the heart of poker: claiming the pot uncontested. With 10%+ FE against tens nines through queens, a four bet magically turns the math of the classic AK vs. QQ encounter on its head. It’s the nut best line preflop. Poster Sullyooo, fortunately, does step in to solve the problem. Almost: His suggested sizing is too big, creating more of a folding problem for himself, and his ambiguous comment of “easier” confuses the poster, but this is the way forward.
Here, a poster with a really cool name really, really wants to play this hand for some reason! I advise two possible lines, each with the logic of what range he should have (one where you respect ranges and the other you take a polarizing betting pattern). Interestingly, he implies in his response that he wants to repeat this scenario and take the highest risk suggestion, while also seeming to ignore the preflop error. Ok, but is this really what I was advising? What exactly is the intrinsic nature of the button, anyway- can we play J4s and in this fashion? As someone once said, I’ve never turned position over at showdown to scoop a pot.
Here the poster wants to know what to do on the river in a situation which will duplicate itself maybe once or twice more this year for him- yet every night he will be in this spot preflop. What is the most important part of the hand to focus on? Folding river is of course right in game, but what will profit him the most, solid preflop play or confronting cooler spots? What about adding up the result of all actions and seeing why in a tougher game he will see bluffs and weaker hands when he does call? Are we thinking about the game or the result?
Hands like this are only deceptively uninteresting, because even though they are so straightforward, they are bread and butter 100 bb TAG spots, ones that low stakes grinders will see over and over and over. Yet the heart of the matter is nowhere in the post! What kind of player villain is will always decide what to do here. Against some players this is a snap fold, some a snap all in, some a truly tough spot. Live poker is all about information, as it is endlessly complex while not being rigorous. As it stands, it is theoretically a ship yet as played almost clearly a fold, teasing out what we can. But where’s all the info that is gold in a marginal spot?
Here, and as usual, the real matter is elsewhere.