Thursday, 17 January 2013

Check-raising the river

Hand played on Pokerstars
Table 669005882 1 (Real Money)
Seat 5 is the button
Seat 1: Hero ( $3850.00 USD )
Seat 2: Villain ( $2940.00 USD )
Seat 5: Player 1 ( $2210.00 USD )
Hero posts small blind [$100.00 USD].
Villain posts big blind [$200.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [  Td 2d ]
Jahoo180 folds
Hero calls [$100.00 USD]
Villain checks
** Dealing Flop ** [ 7d, Ts, 4s ]
Hero bets [$210.00 USD]
Villain calls [$210.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 9d ]
Hero bets [$310.00 USD]
Villain calls [$310.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ 8d ]
Hero checks
Villain bets [$200.00 USD]
Hero raises [$1420.00 USD]
Villain calls [$1220.00 USD]
Hero shows [Td, 2d ]
Hero wins $4280.00 USD from main pot
Villain doesn't show [4c, 6d ]

Another day, another hand analysis!

I thought I would focus a bit on numbers and utilising an opponent’s HUD in this hand to show how it affected my decision-making and ultimately led to maximising my $EV. Poker is constantly about adapting to the most extreme of your opponent’s.


So, it’s the bubble and I have the big stack – perfect spot to attack both players with a string of min-raises and shoves right? Well, it would be against opponent’s who understood ICM and the fact they have to be calling all-in very tight here. The button has folded, and I’m dealt 10-2 suited against an opponent whose stats represent the ultimate loose-passive player if ever I’ve seen one. Over a sample of 245 hands he’s playing with a VPIP of 47 and raise of 6 indicating he likes to do more calling than betting or raising and an AF of 0.3 fits in line with those other stats to confirm some serious passivity.

The question is then, how do we act pre-flop with all this in mind?


Some people may be tempted to shove, especially once they grasp ICM and the power of the big stack, but here I don’t like it. I’m figuring with his HUD stats he’s the sort of player who won’t understand ICM and therefore call well above the average range in this spot. A quick gander into SNG wizard (an ICM calculator) confirms that if he’s calling shoves as wide as 24% of cards which is down to A-2o (which could easily be true), then shoving 10-2dd will cost exactly 1% in equity which in this $60 buy-in equates to $3.34 in money. That’s not a very attractive long-term proposition!


Glancing at his big blind fold to steal (BBFTS) and fold to flop bet (FTFB) which are 44% and 20% respectively, I don’t like raising since he’ll flat call a lot and we’re bloating the pot OOP with an unconnected hand that doesn’t flop too well. Furthermore, bloating the pot OOP isn’t too good since he won’t be giving up on too many flops either.


What about just open-folding? Some players might factor in heavily that this opponent won’t be folding a lot pre and post-flop and just fold with what appears a trash hand, but I don’t like that either!

So, what do I like then? Limping!


The fact is, we’re getting 3 to 1 pot odds on a limp so given our call will represent 25% of the pot, we only need our hand to have anything above 25% equity against our opponent’s range for limping to be profitable, assuming we get to see a flop, turn and river. Our opponent will have a random hand in the BB which is 100% of cards, and according to Pokerstove 10-2 suited has exactly 44.84% equity against this range. This means you definitely want to limp it, and when looking at the numbers suddenly folding doesn’t seem too good. This of course does assume the 5 card community board runs out – if our opponent was particularly aggressive pre-flop and attacks limps very wide we may not be able to see flops all too often meaning our equity might not count for as much as 44.84%. However, against this player it’s not something to be concerned about giving over those 245 hands his BB raise SB limp is 0%. Indeed, this is a small sample and this number is certain to be inaccurate since one would imagine he would raise premium pairs at least; nonetheless, it’s doubtful his true BB raise SB limp will be greater than 5% with knowledge of his stats thus far. If this is true then folding would be a mistake giving the equity of our hand (44.84%) combined with pot odds (25%) so for those sceptical about limping because we "won't be able to bluff this opponent" the maths tells us that limping to play solely on a HTW basis will be profitable giving how often we can expect to win the pot.

FLOP: 7d-10s-4s

So I flop top pair, and there’s a myriad of flush and straight draws out there. I must bet for value and protection, and also to define where I am in the hand which will make it easier to put my opponent on a range. With an AF of 0.3, he’s bound to call with any 10 whether he has me beat or not, all of his draws and may even flat with two pair being the very passive player he is. I figure 210 into a pot of 400 is enough, and with a FTFB of 20% it’s not too much of a surprise he’s called.

TURN: 9d

The turn is a good enough card, it only fills the 6-8/J-8 straight draws whilst brings me a backdoor flush draw. It must be bet, firstly for protection against the flush and straight draws that remain and for value against 7s and 4s or straight draw hands like 9-8/9-6 that now have a piece since it’s unlikely this opponent will be folding any of those. A bet of 310 into 820 looks good – this is small enough it’s reasonably likely to eek out value from worse pairs such as a 7 or a 4, yet just enough to deny him correct pot odds to profitably call with a flush or straight draw with just one card to come.


This is a great card and has given me a rather disguised looking back-door flush. It would seem like a great spot to bet against the passive player and extract more value, but on this particular river card I decided to give checking some thought. Firstly, my hand is extremely disguised so he can’t fear the diamond flush and check hands that would normally bet. If the 2 of spades fell for instance giving me two pair but bringing the flush, I would definitely bet small for value – he may elect to check back some two pair hands as the more likelier of the flush I would appear to have has come in so that would be a good reason to bet. Furthermore, flush draws are in his range so this would also allow me to fold to a raise whilst still getting value from worse hands since the passive player is super unlikely to raise as a bluff in this spot, especially with an AF of 0.3, raise of 6 and steal of 8.

This card however seems a good one to check since the turn and river appear to hit his range solidly: if he has the 5-6 OESD he’s just got there and will most likely bet, if he had any pair all along with a 6 in it such as 7-6/4-6/10-6 which are all in his range he’s got there, any low pair with a random J is now a straight, 8-9 for the OESD on the flop is now two pair which could conceivably bet given I’ve checked and am not showing any real strength on the river. Whilst all this, any busted flush draw he has cannot call a bet but may bet as a bluff; indeed his AF is 0.3 so I wouldn’t count on it but so long as he has some value hands in his betting range then checking can’t be too bad and there’s no harm in giving him the chance to bluff. The goal will then be to raise and gain more value from his entire range than having just led for around 675 or 750 and just received a flat-call. It’s very likely with this player’s passivity that he would just flat call with a straight, especially the dummy end, and if that is true I could probably get more value by checking and raising a bet.

So I opt for the check and he puts out a small bet of 200 into 1440. This really doesn't look too strong, and my estimations of his range at this point are likely two pair or a straight. I tank for a while trying to represent weakness before putting in a healthy raise to 1420. It doesn’t take him very long to snap it off, and he reveals 4-6o for the dummy end of the straight. If I could have done anything different to maximise my $EV in this hand then please let me know!


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