So first, a quick recap of the hand we discussed on the podcast. CO is a player that Zach has history with in PLO. In the PLO games this player is very loose preflop and occasionally stacks off with bad hands postflop. The villain in the BB is hyper-laggy. He is opens very wide preflop and often uses large sizings.
Location: Jack Casino
CO (1500) opens to 20, Hero (1500) raises to 65 with QxQc, laggy BB (600) calls, CO raises to 225, Hero calls, BB calls
Flop (675) Ac9s2c CO checks, Hero bets 345, BB folds, CO folds
Preflop seems pretty straightforward to me. At a six-handed table this deep, we should definitely be 3-betting QQ. Once we are 4-bet, we have a set-mine/evaluate hand, so I think calling is by far best. On the flop, we have a very interesting decision once it checks around to us. It seems like an excellent bluffing opportunity since we have a lot of fold equity against both villain’s ranges. However, neither villain is completely capped, and there are two of them that we really need to fold for our bluff to be successful. It is very unlikely for us to be called by worse.
So let’s test some thresholds here. When we bet 345, which seems like a good sizing to me, we need both opponents to fold 51% of the time assuming we are never called by worse.
So in the podcast discussion, we were pretty confident about our opponents’ preflop ranges.
CO: AA-JJ, AK
BB: QQ-88, AQ-AJ
We are discounting JJ for the CO and AQ-AJ for the BB. Therefore, let’s give CO half of JJ and give BB half of AQo, AQs (of which there are 2 combos on the flop), and all AJs but no AJo.
So let’s start out just working with those ranges and make a few different set of assumptions and see how the bluff works.
Our first set of assumptions will mirror the podcast assumptions. Let’s say BB leads half of his Ax on the flop and checks everything else and CO bets all of his Ax but checks all pairs. When we bet, let’s say both opponents fold everything worse than a pair of aces. Given these assumptions, our bluff success rate is 58% without card removal effects which actually make things a little worse for us. So according to podcast assumptions we were correct to make this bet. We also have a tiny bit of equity when called making the bet a little bit better.
So let’s imagine a few things that could be different than our assumptions. On the podcast, we discussed that CO has little reason to worry about hand protection on this board against BB and hero’s ranges. Therefore, let’s imagine CO checks the 3 AK combos with the K of clubs. Now our bluff success rate is 47%. So clearly, if CO is every slowplaying, this bluff gets much worse.
Another challenge that could be made to our preflop range is the presence of 88 in BB’s range. If we remove 88, then our bluff success rate is 52%, still enough for our bluff to be slightly profitable. What if BB still has 88 but never leads flop with Ax? Now our bluff success rate is 49.5%.
Now there are some things that could make our bluff even more profitable. The most profitable scenario is when BB and CO will lead out with all of their Ax+ hands. In that situation, our bluff has a 100% success rate. However, it seems just similarly plausible that both villains will check all of their Ax+ hands which would plummet the success rate of our bluff.
So what can we take away from this hand? It was probably a good play by Zach. When CO displayed a physical behavior suggesting KK-JJ like CO did in game make this theoretically plausible bluff much more successful. If that read is correct, then our original assumptions combined with that read lead to a 76% success rate, a slam dunk bluff.
I think this hand demonstrates the importance of accurate assumptions and the need to review hands and not be results oriented. To the first point, we saw how much our bluff success rate varied from slight changes in the underlying assumptions. We were teetering on the edge of +EV and -EV. Therefore, if you can be extremely confident in any of these assumptions, that can be the difference between making a right play and just stabbing in the dark. However, in this particular hand, our assumptions were not validated. That is an important takeaway. We were confident that CO would play KK this way and that BB would play TT this way (in case you haven’t listened to the episode, those are the hands they were holding. They showed after folding). While these hands don’t invalidate our assumptions, they were not hands in that were in the crucial edge cases that could turn this bluff from genius to disaster.
Therefore, I’m not leaving this hand with the conclusion that I should always be bluffing in similar situations. Rather, I am leaving with a more accurate understanding of how close this spot is and what assumptions can lean the decision one way or another. In a similar situation, I will know what previous assumptions to lean on and what to look for and take note of when observing future hands with future opponents.
Alright, thank you all for reading. As always, you can email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to check out last week’s analysis, another hand Zach played with the BB villain in this hand.