Bluffing with Pocket Kings

What’s up guys? I’m leaving for Vegas in three days (although by the time most of you read this I’ll already be there) and I have to say I’m pretty damn excited. My plans recently changed a bit and I’m now going to be out west for about two months, most of which will be spent in Vegas and some of which will be spent in LA/ San Francisco. I’m super pumped to see and experience what these places have to offer both on and off the felt, and to be able to do so with Jack and Zach. It will be nice to consistently have access to some higher quality 2/5+ games and to be able to have two absolute sickos to discuss hands and strategy with. I’m sure it’ll be a great experience and all of us will push each other to take our games’ to new heights.

WSOP Preparation

I’m also stoked to have the opportunity to be in Vegas for this year’s WSOP. It’s long been a dream of mine to play in the series, and thanks to some of you guys it’s actually beginning to look like that’s going to happen. For those who didn’t read last week’s post, I posted a package on TastyStakes for anyone interested in buying a piece of me for a handful of the smaller, high-value NLH events. Details can be found here. If you have any questions, you can ask them in the comments section below or shoot me an email at jonmetzpoker@gmail.com Any and all support is greatly appreciated!

My time on the felt this week was somewhat limited. My girlfriend has been visiting for the last five or six days and I want to spend as much time with her as possible since I won’t see her for the next two months. As a result, I only played about 13 hours this week. Since I wasn’t playing, however, I’ve been hitting the books pretty hard and managed to study for close to 10 hours. Most of my studying been geared towards tournaments and I feel I’m almost ready to actually start playing some. I’ll probably begin by playing some micro-stakes tourney’s online for practice. Once I feel confident at those, I’ll start firing some of the smaller daily tournaments out in Vegas prior to the WSOP so I can get some live-experience under my belt.

Turning Pocket Kings into a Bluff

The following spot occurred in a 2-5 game I played in this past week. While I think the play is somewhat standard, I feel the majority of the field isn’t making plays like this and it’s causing them to be super unbalanced towards value hands in similar spots.

Game: 2-5 NL, 9 handed

Villain: (700) UTG +1. Mid 50’s with very limited history. Villain is perceived as mostly tight-passive who is occasionally capable of mixing in a bluff. Villain is stuck about 300 and while he doesn’t appear to be tilting hard, he does appear at least slightly frustrated.

Hero: (950) SB with KsKh. Hero is likely perceived as competent professional or semi-professional playing somewhere between TAG and LAG.

Preflop: (7) Villain opens to 25, MP calls, folds to hero who 3bets to 100, villain calls, MP calls.

My sizing here was definitely a little too small in retrospect. My default here would be $125 (4x + the call), and I definitely prefer that to the $100 as I think villain is unlikely to be folding that frequently given his frustration. I think we want to be raising to the maximum size that villain will call, as that will almost certainly result in MP coming along as well and we want to get max-value. In the moment, I think I chose this sizing because I was afraid of not getting any action, but given the dynamics of the game I don’t think that fear can really be justified.

Flop: (300) AsTs6h. Hero checks, villain bets 150, MP folds, hero calls.

I wasn’t thrilled about it, but with game-flow considerations taken into account I think it is possible for villain to be bluffing here sometimes so I elected to peal. Against villains who are more prone to bluff in a spot like this, I think calling is pretty standard, but against this specific opponent I think he’ll show up with Ax the majority of the time. Still, with our backdoor nut flush-draw and primo bluff-catcher, I think we can pretty confidently call once with the plan to check/fold on most non-spade turns. I think villain’s range includes AJ+, AT, and possibly some of the smaller AXs, although I’m not sure he open-raises those from up front. Villain can also have some bluffs, although I’m not sure exactly what his bluffing range would look like. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s likely to be KQ/QJ, and possibly some small pocket pairs that he elected to turn into bluffs, although I don’t think those are as likely. Aside from QsJs, I don’t think villain has any FD’s here as we’re holding the Ks and villain wouldn’t have any of the smaller suited spade hands given the preflop action.  

Turn: (600) Qd. Hero checks, villain checks.

When villain checks behind here, I think he’s almost always capped at Ax.

River: (600) 6s. Hero jams 450 effective, villain folds.

This is a spot where I think we should always be turning our hand into a bluff. I seldom see my opponents taking this line, however. We have a pretty nice range advantage on this runout as we can have AA and QQ and our opponent cannot. We can represent some flushes as well, as we’d be taking this line with some of our weaker flushes. We also believe villain is capped at Ax given his check back on the turn. Furthermore, we block our opponent from having the nut flush and AK, giving us even more of a reason to put him to the test with his Ax type hands. Finally, it’s hard to imagine what other hands we’d get to this spot with that would want to bluff. JJ is the other one that comes to mind, but other than that I don’t think we have many other good bluffing candidates once we get here. We could consider turning some of our weaker AXs hands into bluffs in the hopes that we can bluff villain off of a chop, but I think those hands function pretty well as bluff-catchers so I certainly wouldn’t be doing it all that frequently.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reading. Be sure to leave any comments or questions below. Next time you guys here from me I’ll be in Vegas! I’m so fucking pumped to get out there and get back on the grind. Be sure to send me some run-good. I’ll talk to you all next week. Peace!