I thought of this RC thread when I was put in a tough spot last night.  In that forum hand, an iconic and classic situation, the answer is difficult to understand if you have been programmed into bet/folding as your strategy, but is in fact simple and clear: there are very few hands one should be continuation betting here, optimally.  The secret to that spot is that the hand is lost as soon as the cbet goes in, because the cbettor’s range is destroyed by betting into a board that favors the caller so heavily and who is so inclined to use it against the PFR.  (When a even a master of exploitative value betting such as Gargamel bets JJJ here, his hand is face up on the turn if he continues into a strong player.  I even witnessed the very thing the other night, yet the fish paid him off for the max for three streets whereas I could have found a fold with nearly any pair, including TPTK.  My only question would be, which set am I folding to?)  Yet the nut worst line for the poster would be to bet/fold, having thrown away the top of the range against a tricky opponent. That is the only disaster line.  It’s very, very clear what the poster must do.

Last night, for all the small differences, the problems muddied by opposite positions- it was a similar concept at work.  Or was it? Very short handed at 5/10 I open the button and am called only by a strong opponent in the blind.

My instinct is to check back versus a big blind range, but unlike the AJ hand, my holding is far more vulnerable to overcards and his range is so wide, I have to be concerned about almost any card.  I am also in position so I have control- for now. I have a weak draw and showdown value, I am problematically incentivized to both check and bet.  I have no kicker and can be dominated. I also have deception on my side and have covered the board in terms of representing overpairs and cards while also having flopped real equity.  So when I make the marginal cbet and get the inevitable check raise, what is the answer?  Would I check over cards here having missed, or would I bet them?  Often I check and look to a favorable card, which is such a beautiful maneuver overall, blending exploitative play and optimal play so nicely.

Board: 4d6s3c
Equity Win Tie
BU   70.10% 68.43% 1.66% { 7d6h }
MP3 29.90% 28.24% 1.66% { 88-22, A9s-A2s, KTs-K2s, Q8s+, J8s+, T7s+, 96s+, 85s+, 74s+, 63s+, 53s+, 43s, ATo-A2o, KJo, QJo }

This board hits a big part of a blind’s range.  At a discount, this is the kind of low board that garbage is looking for.  We can imagine him 3betting quite a bit here- even some of the hands I have put in what I have called a weak blind’s range, where he is priced into defending a number of hands short handed he might not otherwise play yet does not feel comfortable three betting me.  After all, we play big games together, are here for the weekend action, and don’t need to get too carried away. This means the KTs and KJ and many aces need to be dropped from this range.  This drops my edge to 68% or worse before any action.  This high equity, conversely, once again, is an argument for an exploitative cbet, as value and protection.

However, I paused.  I could have constructed my cbetting range into hands that can’t improve: pairs and pure bluffs, as cbets… and some hands that can can improve, really improve, like mine, as checks.  For instance, I can represent A-J if they come, if I say, have 109, meaning almost any 9-A could be good for my range- this could mean I am incentivized to check if I expect him to float or check raise.

Ultimately, I go forward and monkey bet it.  I have so much equity I want to build a pot, I told myself, when in reality this isn’t true after any significant action and may have been the key error.  No matter what I manage to twist into a cbet, I can’t see, in the light of day, how it works out.  I get the x/r too much, and this lays bare my improvisation: The board has hit my opponent’s perceived range and I have just handed over the keys- exactly like the AJ poster.  Better to have a bet and give up range, like a naked gutter here or 43ss in the thread, if that’s what I want to do.

Even real hands face problems here. Consider the difference between 88 and AA on this board.  It is significant, even if they are both the same hand from a two dimensional perspective.  I will always know what cards help and hurt me with AA, but if I bet/call 88 all the cards I planned on representing may not work for me, but in fact now work against me.  This forces me to consider bet/3betting all pairs. This however, contradicts my essential premise:  The board hits a big blind range hard.  Why would I ever bet/3bet anything here?  That range would look very strange, maybe all draws and sets, I’m not sure and have not thought it through yet.

Unless my premise is incorrect, I should have checked flop, it looks like.  I will be coming back to this one, I imagine, many times over, because just like the AJ thread, it is an essential, if less common, hold’em situation.

One thought on “Echo

  1. I see upon reflection I contradicted myself somewhat in the part where I wrote about him 3betting. I don’t think he is doing it much in the game as played, so I can’t drop some suited aces and such from his range as I suggested. He should be doing it, but won’t. This thought also means his x/r is more likely for value, because if he wants to steal, he already passed up an opportunity to do so preflop. Thinking completely consistently is the goal.

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