Ranges are always important in hand analysis. The value of range-based thinking really shines when analyzing monochrome flops such as in this week's podcast hand. Who has the most suited combos? Does someone 3-bet most of their suited Ace combos (psst, I do)? Does this player open low suited connectors in early position? These basic questions can give us an idea or what our opponent’s flushes and flush draws look like on monochrome flops, and these hands tend to dominate the conversation, particularly on hands with 2-3 streets of betting. So onto the hand...
Location: Vegas Casino
Villain opens to 7 UTG, Hero calls CO with 7s7c, main villain calls button (400 effective)
6s 5s 4s
Checks to Hero who bets 10, main villain calls, UTG folds.
Hero checks, Villain checks
Hero checks, Villain checks
Below I am including a picture of Hero and our main villain’s flop range. Note in the podcast Carlos described the button as a particularly tight player based off a few orbits of play. When UTG, the PFR checks, he still can have very strong hands, but for the simplicity of discussion, I’ll reduce his presence in the hand to something more manageable later in the analysis.
So our hero is the one and only Carlos Welch. Carlos has been known to play fairly tight, so I gave him a calling range that seems right for a tighter player facing an UTG raise in a $1/$2 game. In these games, I am not giving an UTG raise the respect I would give it at higher stakes since players are less positionally aware. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable for Carlos to call speculatively with many suited hands and pairs. I’m giving him up to TT which seems right in middle position against this player. I’m having Carlos 3-bet JJ+, AK, and half of AQs as well as A3s and A2s as light 3-bets.
Our main villain was described as tight, but OTB, I think it is reasonable to give him all broadway combos, especially since our villain is likely to overvalue unsuited hands. I’m having villain’s range of suited hands be a little on the tighter side, but he does have all suited ace combos. I’m having villain 3-bet AA, KK, and half of AK, QQ.
OTF, when PFR checks, we can assume that the player’s range still includes some strong flushes and strong flush draws. Therefore, if Carlos, having chosen to bet 7s7c in this spot, were check-raised by UTG, I think he should be folding. This basically boils down to Carlos needing to be a little bit tighter than if he were heads up with the player on the button. Optimal play would probably suggest Carlos bet around 50 percent of hands OOP HU on this flop (maybe even less considering the advantage the position player has), but with UTG still lurking, it should be even less.
First, let’s take a look at Carlos’s range at this point. Carlos has 11% flushes and about 9% 2 pair plus. Given the number of hands better than 7s7c and the desired flop value bet to bluff ratio (optimally around 1:2), it seems like betting 7s7c for value would be an overplay. Therefore, we should either be using this hand as a bluff, or have a good reason to decide to value bet.
Before making that decision, let’s look at main villain’s range. Villain is 8% flushes, 6% two pair plus, 12.5% overpairs, 2.3% top pair, 4% nut flush draw, 4% king high flush draw, 5% queen high flush draw. So excluding the Q high flush draws, villain on the button will call or raise us about 32% of the time with hands that are ahead or even equity with 7s7c, and 2% of time time with hands we have thoroughly beat (assuming villain calls top pair here).
A few observations here… If we think button is folding 65% here and UTG is folding 75%, then we should be making a half pot bet here with all of our low equity hands. A big part of that is UTG checking OOP in a 3-way pot as the PFR, but the composition of button’s range shows how hard it is to defend properly in these pots. It feels very weird to call with Ad8d on this flop. Against most lower stakes villains, you don’t need to, but against good players who will bluff aggressively on these board textures, we need to play a little wider than seems comfortable.
But back to the question of 7s7c, I think we can clearly say we are not value betting. Therefore, we should decide if this hand plays better as a bluff, or a bluff-catcher. I think that with the huge success rate as a bluff on this flop, the likelihood that we will be outdrawn on the turn when it checks through (probably at a high rate), and the fact that we can win when called makes this a great bluff. We will never have more fold equity than we do now.
A quick aside about GTO play and bet sizing… If we were betting a polarized range on this flop, we would not choose Carlos’s bet sizing of 10 into 24. Against an advanced player, betting 10 here is asking to get raised. However, this may be a spot to bet 10 with 100% of our range considering our slight range advantage (more flush dense) and the scarcity of strong hands in our opponent’s range. This type of thinking won’t be necessary to impose onto your opponents until higher stakes (AKA, I’m never considering my opponent’s think like this), but it is important if you have aspirations for moving up.
So when villain calls, we basically know what types of hands he is likely drawing from. Let’s assume that this villain is raising 2 pair up to but not including the nut flush draw. We can include a few nut draws as a bluff, although I think that many tight $1/$2 players aren’t bluffing here.
So villain’s range on the turn looks like this.
Villain has 13% flushes, 5% sets, and 20% top pair or overpair plus flush draw. I think the price to get sets and pair+draw to potentially fold will result in us losing way to much to villain’s nut flushes. Now, if we thought villain would raise sets but nothing else, then we could bet jam and get folds from those hands, but I don’t think that is a good strategy. However, if we think there is a sizing that needs to work less than 60% of the time (AKA, 1.5 times the size of the pot) that will fold out all of the hands not listed above, then we can realize immediate equity on that line. Therefore, I think a slight overbet will do very well in this spot. It could even get some folds from JJ w/ the jack of spades.
As played, I think it is very reasonable to think that villain is checking back many nut flushes. A tight player who likes to slow play may actually be checking back the whole turn range minus sets. OTR, hero has the straight flush and is going for max value. Villains range is 39% nut flush, 12% King high flush, 17% queen high flush, 11% weak flushes, 9.5% set or straight. Given this composition, I really like the line we chose in the podcast of betting small and 3-betting all in. Stacks are very deep at this point, so I think a massive check raise and a 3-bet all in will have similar success rates against the nut flush. Given the composition of the range, I think getting value from the worse hands is much more important than letting the King high flushes bet (especially since in this hand they didn’t bet anyways).
Alright… that was a mouthful. Anyways, please post any comments, questions, or disagreements in the comment section below. Also, you can always email me at Jack@justhandspoker.com. Remember to check out our other strategy posts including my article from last Thursday about the secret to improving your studying and increasing your winrate.