Podcast Breakdown: Episode 57

To recap the hand discussed on this week's podcast:

Location: MGM National Harbor

Stakes: $2/$5

Preflop: UTG limps, MP raises to 25 (2500), CO calls 25 (1000), Button calls 25 (1000), SB folds, Hero raises to 150 in BB w/ A5o, Hero covers, folds to CO who calls, Button calls.

Flop: 852r (475)

Hero bets 250, CO folds, Button jams 850, Hero calls. Button has J8o

As a disclaimer to those that heard the podcast and thought maybe Jack was just being a bit spewey- this hand is highly read-dependent. I think many winning professionals might have just called or folded the A5o when the action came to them in the big blind. While A5o is a marginal hand that leads to a difficult and high-variance spot postflop when 3bet in this scenario, by not 3betting in a dream squeeze spot, Jack would have been leaving a ton of money on the table.

The professional that put in five red chips will be isolating the limper fairly wide and may not have even intended to raise when he put in the 25. On top of this, the two players behind had very wide and weak ranges where Jack had strong reads on their postflop play. In light of this, Jack had a clear 3bet with A5o. I'd argue that he should even be 3betting all of his weak suited and offsuit aces and lower suited connectors like 67s in this particular spot.

The really interesting street in this hand occurs on the flop, when the CO and B call. Based on the information Jack gave me about the players, I put what I would expect their calling ranges to be below. 

Cutoff 3bet calling range

Image from PokerCruncher Expert for Mac

Image from PokerCruncher Expert for Mac

Button 3bet calling range


Note there are no pairs or suited connectors (besides 43s) in this range because of the long tank- based on Jack's read this guy has a super wide, very weak, and most importantly capped range.

So how does Jack's middle pair top kicker do against these ranges on the 853r board?

Jack is defintely ahead, with 40% equity against the CO and B who both have 30%. But how much does this equity calculation really matter in this scenario? Not much. Here are the types of hands the CO and B could have and the pros and cons of checking versus betting.

1) Overpairs/Top Pair

Only the CO could have 99-JJ in their range here. Against these hands with an SPR of about 1.5, Jack shouldn't plan on getting them to fold on the flop or the turn. Checking and folding to a bet from the CO allows Jack to save 250-350 when he is behind as his read is that the CO will rarely ever bluff in this spot when checked to.

When the CO and B have an 8, they both will likely bet as well allowing Jack to save money when behind. There is a chance that one of the players might fold an 8 if Jack bets, they both call, and an overcard comes on the turn, but this is a very unlikely scenario.

2) Draws/Worse Pair + Draws

While the B has significantly more of these type of hands, the CO has a sizable amount of combos as well. By betting Jack is able to get value from these draws whether through a call, or when the player on the button chooses to shove with these hands. Given Jack's observation of the button bluffing with large sizings several times throughout the session, this seems like a spot where they would be more tempted to shove with a hand like 67 or 79 than to call with stacks so shallow relative to the size of the pot. 

3) Two Overs/Air

Like the previous category of hands, both players have a fair bit of hands like this with the button having way more. Getting hands with significant equity (roughly around 20%) to fold for a half pot bet is a big win with a vulnerable hand like middle pair. And given the history between Jack and the button, the times the button decides to ship it with around 20% is a huge victory for Jack.

4) Sets/Two Pair

Only the CO can really have sets here and they make up such a small percentage of his range that they're worth weighting much when deciding what to do. The button can maybe have 85s and 53s sometimes again combinatorially these hands are a really small percentage of his range. Against these top of the range hands though, checking intending on folding makes sense.

Conclusion: Bet and get value from worse!

There are so many bad hands both the CO and button can have here. By getting them to call or raise with worse or fold hands with significant equity against Jack is a big victory. These are the hands that make up most of their range and betting and not bluff catching or check folding make a lot more sense. It's unclear what the button's bluffing frequency will be and it's established that the CO will be very unlikely to bluff. When they have a hand that is ahead of Jack's, given the spr, it's kind of a cooler, especially against the button. Like we agreed on the podcast, I think betting with the intention of checking the turn against the CO and betting with the intention of calling off a shove from the button/continuing on the turn is the most profitable play here.