Podcast Breakdown: Episode 58

First, a quick recap of the hand.

Location: MGM National Harbor

Stake: $2/$5

Preflop: Villain limps UTG (1000). Two more limps to hero who raises to 40 with TsTx in position. Hero covers. Folds to villain who raises to 165. Folds to hero who calls

Flop (345) 8s6s2s

Villain bets 200. Hero calls.

Turn (745) As

Villain shoves for 635. Hero calls. Villain has AA. Hero holds

So in our discussion, I felt like the hand played itself. I really like taking a closer look at those spots on occasion since if I'm wrong, these decisions are costing me the most money.

I'm taking a slightly different methodology for examining this hand. Rather than try and break down villain's exact range preflop and OTF, I will look at a few worst case scenarios. If our decision was correct in the worst case scenario, it should still be correct when our hand has more equity. In some situations, this method won't work since we should maybe be calling in the worst case but raising in a slightly better case. In this spot, I'm sure that in each decision point calling or folding will be best, so if a call is correct in the worst case it will be correct in better cases.

So preflop, the worst case scenario is exclusively AA in villain's limp-3bet range. This is definitely a possibility, so it is worth considering.

In this situation, we obviously don't have the correct pot odds to call, even in position. However, I think our implied odds against this range are very good. Still, they might not be good enough...

We are calling $125 right now and we will hit a set on the flop about 2/15 times. We will deduct that to about 1/9 to account for the times we hit a set and our opponent doesn't hit a set at some point in the hand. Therefore, we would need to make about $1125 the times we hit a set and our opponent does not. 

So far this call isn't looking great against a set of just AA, but in position, I think we will realize a bit of extra equity when we call. Given our ability to recognize good bluffing spots and spots where we flop a straight draw and play profitably, I think we probably only need to recoup about $90 of our original bet from the flop a set situation above. This means we need to make $810 in that situation on average. I think this is very doable. There is already 210 in the pot, so we need to make an additional $600. Given stack sizes and general reluctance to fold AA, I think a call seems pretty close to break even in position with TT against a range of exclusively AA.

Against a perceived professional, we are likely to encounter some hands that aren't AA which can only make our call more profitable. I do think it's noteworthy how much more difficult a sizing of $165 makes our call than a sizing of $125. That is very much worth considering when making your own 3-bets.

So OTF, our worst case scenario is villain betting a range of AA, some KK, AK with a spade, and two preflop bluff combos that flopped the nut flush. Let's examine our equity against this range. 

Against this range, we have 30% equity OTF. When our opponent bets $200 into $345, we need 27% equity to call. Given our equity and our position, I think we should clearly call in this spot. A skilled opponent may make our lives difficult when we call on this board, but I still like calling. 

As a comparison, if we add more pocket pairs, the rest of our opponent's AK, and a few missed Axs hands, we now have 50% equity. I think the worst case scenario is very unlikely in this situation since a player who will be limp-3betting AK and Axs will likely have a decently high bluffing frequency on this flop. 

Interestingly, we are actually doing worse against the range of just AA. We have 25% equity here with terrible implied odds. Against a player we could put squarely on AA, this flop becomes a clear fold.

The turn is a very interesting card once villain jams. When we look at our worst case scenarios, this card significantly improves our equity. We are obviously way ahead of just AA. Against the original worst-case flop scenario, we have 45% equity. The problem is that we wouldn't expect villain to jam hands that we beat from these specific scenarios.

So let's take a step back and consider the implications of this card on the types of hands villain could be holding. Any overpair OTF has had the value of their hand changed drastically. Overpairs without a spade went from having a lot of equity over our preflop calling range to having very little equity against our flop calling range. KK with a spade has clearly benefited from this card, but it was very unlikely for that hand to become the nuts. Same with AK with a spade.

Similarly, most of villain's preflop "air-type" bluffs have turned top pair. These seem like very poor jamming candidates to me.

So WTF does villain have? Keep in mind that villain jammed fairly quickly. I could definitely see villain jamming KxKs or AxKs in an excited frenzy on this turn card. So in order to make this a correct call, we need to consider what villain might be bluffing. Quite honestly, I can't think of much I'm confident about villain bluffing here. Sure, villain might be tempted to jam with a 54dd, but I'm not confident that players will be limp-3betting those types of hands. 

Given the lack of clear bluffs, I think this spot is probably a fold. I will make one more point in defense of calling. I think jamming here with the nut flush is a poor line for villain. If we decide to fold hands like TxTs which I'm currently advocating, then he has few to no value targets. On the other hand, if he checks, I think we will have a very high bluffing frequency with our non-flush overpairs. I'm not sure we would have any non-flush overpairs, but he might expect us to. Either way, he has the nuts on the turn and needs no protection, so giving us an opportunity to bluff shouldn't hurt.

So this bet makes no sense, and when bets don't make sense and we have a strong bluffcatcher, calling is reasonable. I still think folding is probably best, especially against someone we perceive as a pro who is unlikely to do something dumb like shove AA. Maybe the pro was shoving as a bluff? Given this analysis, I think an extremely savvy pro could make this bluff shove. Still, I don't think any 2/5 pros are thinking things through to that extent in 5 seconds on this river card.

So to recap, this spot is not as close as I suspected. I think preflop and flop are still definitely calls, but the turn is probably a fold. Please feel free to post your thoughts or email me directly at jack@justhandspoker.com.