Here is a recap of the hand we discussed on the podcast this past week with special guest Gareth Chantler
Stakes: £500 Tournament
Location: Grosvenor Casino Nottingham
Blinds: 400/800, 50 ante
UTG (80k) opens to 1700, B (32k) calls, Hero (60k) calls in the BB AdQs.
Hero bets 2500, UTG calls, B folds.
Hero bets 6500, villain raises to 22500. Hero folds.
First off - let's start by ranging all players involved in the hand. Based on the reads Gareth gave us the UTG player will be raising fairly wide for being UTG. Here is the range I gave him, 13% of hands at a 10 handed table.
This might seem like a pretty tight range but given 10 players at the table, it's really hard to profitably open much wider even with a decent skill edge from early position.
Next we have the player on the button, a 'straightforward TAG' that is positionally aware but not as positionally sensitive as he should be.
I gave him a few combos of slowplayed value hands, but besides that I don't think there is much controversial about this range.
Now onto Gareth's range for completing in the big blind - when he's getting such a good price, and feels like he has a skill edge on one player, he really should be calling wide. On the podcast he noted that he'll be calling as wide as 85o so I factored that into constructing the following range.
Of the three ranges, this is defintely the one I'm most unsure of - I don't really play tournaments so I don't have much of a feel of what is optimal here in terms of defending the big blind. My instinct would be to fold a lot of the hands that I included but I know that in a shorter stacked tournament where reverse implied odds are less of a factor, and the price one is getting is better, calling really wide is correct (assuming one is capable of realizing their equity postflop, something I'm sure Gareth is capable of).
So on the flop, as to be expected, the preflop raiser's range has the most equity, the button has the second most equity, and Gareth in the big blind has the least equity with his incredibly wide range.
After everyone checks the flop and the 8s falls on the turn, I was surprised to see the equities didn't really change much.
It's clear looking at the original preflop ranges that Gareth has by far the most 8x in his range but given his range is so wide, the 8 doesn't increase his range's overall equity. So on the podcast we talked about how Gareth has a range advantage, but it's a bit more nuanced than that: Gareth has more nutted hands in his range given the action and board so far but as we can see he doesn't get a range advantage on this turn card. I think this fact makes betting an even better prospect than we thought before for Gareth as he has one of the best hands he can have here. Once he bets out, we can begin to substantially narrow his range to something like the following:
I have him betting out better aces, two pair+, open-enders and gutshots to the nuts, and flush draws without showdown value. It might seem like a lot of hands to be leading out with, nearly 20% of all hands. But given Gareth arrives at this point with 80% of all hands, he needs a good amount of bluffs to balance out how he could have nearly every combo of 8x while his opponents can have so few.
Once the villain calls UTG, here is how I think his range narrows.
I put that he might slowplay 2 out of his 3 combos of aces, one combo of both A8s and A6s, one combo of the nut flush draw, but besides that nothing too tricky here about UTG's flop play. I also took out a combo of top full house and half of his four combos of 8x that he would probably choose to raise turn with. I put that he would call this smaller turn bet with JJ-KK this but fold 99-1010. Given Gareth described him as an aggressive competent player with a big stack, he should be adjusting by slowplaying way less than might be optimal to exploit his image when he has almost any type of value hand, as well as bluffing a ton with all of his total whiffs given how much the flop texture favored his range.
Here is what their equity looks like before and after the river card (4c falls)
It's clear that as we alluded to on the podcast, this card certainly favors Gareth's range. But until running the numbers I didn't realize the extent to how good of a card this is for Gareth's whole range. So given this is actually one of the worse value hands he can have here, I think this is a perfect candidate to include in a bluff catching range of primarily pairs he decides to turn into a bluff. I think if he were perhaps up against a less sophisticated opponent that would rarely turn hands into bluffs going for value here wouldn't be too thin, but if Gareth is betting here with AQo, what hands isn't he betting? He's obviously betting all better value hands and missed draws, so then without the better aces he opted to bet turn with, he doesn't have any hands to really include in a check call range.
In game though, he bet about 5/8 pot and got raised pretty big, to about 3.5x the size of his bet. So thinking more about the UTG's players range after flatting the turn, on this river card he has 2 combos of slowplayed nut full houses, 2 combos of slowplayed 8x, 2 rivered flushes, one missed gutshot, and 33 combos of worse pairs/aces with a worse kicker. There are less straights and flushes here than what I had in mind on the podcast so I think we can pretty clearly rule out raising.
So it's really hard to say what is best here between calling and folding because it's difficult to know how often the villain will turn those worse made hands into big river bluffs. If he rarely does so, it's an easy fold. If he does so a bunch, it's an easy call. Against a more balanced range, that's where it becomes close. My first exploitative thought is that even though this is apparently a good player capable of raising light in this spot, he'll be underbluffing here because like Gareth, he's not looking to get into big pots with the only other competent player at the table. Combining that with ICM considerations on top of just EV, this analysis has convinced me even more so that after betting out, the river is a fold.