Podcast Breakdown: Episode 65, Hand 1

The Hand History

Location: Super High Roller, near bubble

Preflop: Hero and Villain 80 BB+ Deep

UTG raises, Hero calls in the CO with AKo

Flop KJ5c

Villain bets 2/3-3/4 of the pot, Hero calls

Turn: blank

Villain bets 2/3 pot, Hero Calls

River: blank

Villain bets, hero folds

The Question

Vanessa did not bring this hand on the show to discuss the flop. She did not bring this hand on to discuss the river. No, this was a turn spot. It was a turn spot where she was very confident that the play she made, the super standard/everyone would do the same thing/textbook play, was wrong.

The Methodology

If I were a bit wiser, I'd just accept Vanessa's intuition (it may have saved me some time). But I'm stubborn, and I want to see it in cold hard numbers before I'm a believer. So, naturally, I plugged in Vanessa's assumptions and saw what popped out.

I set up a simulation to evaluate the EV of Vanessa's turn decision. This means that I set up the turn with known values including cards, bet sizes, Vanessa's hand, and villain's range. From Vanessa's turn call onward, I plugged in what villain's strategy would be on different runouts and how Vanessa would respond.

Due to ICM, Vanessa's turn call would have to be more than just slightly +EV to be correct. Let's set the threshold to 2BB. This might be a little bit low considering how much is going into the pot, but if we can't exceed 2BB we can be fairly confident that the call was incorrect.

Villain's Ranges

Preflop 

I gave villain 26% of hands per Vanessa's orders. I didn't want to rule out offsuit A9-T9 since those are very relevant to our hand. Hands with a green stripe are 50% of all combos independent of suit.

Flop/Turn

This diagram shows all of the combos villain bets OTF and how he will play them OTT. Blue combos are bets, green are checks, and the split cells are due to suit. Off-color cells are the result of weighted combos preflop. 

We can see pretty clearly here how unbalanced villain is towards value in this spot. Now, I'm going off of Vanessa's assumption that villain would not continue bluffing a hand like Tc9s here, but even if he was, the value range drastically outweighs the possible bluffs. As Vanessa alluded to, the absence of the Ac from villain's range is the main culprit for this imbalance. Against most players, this isn't an issue since most players won't fold the Ac here, especially with a pair.

The big variable about the turn play seems to be the frequency villain will bet QT. If he only bets QT w/ the Qc, then Vanessa's equity against this range is 34%. If villain bets all QT, Vanessa's equity is just under 50%. However, since Vanessa has basically resolved not to put more money into the pot OTR without a flush, her equity matters less than the EV of the decision based on their strategies since she will not be able to realize all of her equity. Vanessa was also leaning towards villain having only QT with the Qc making a river bluffcatch with AcKs a poor play. 

River Play

For the river, I said villain would be top two+ and any high card hand on a 3-flush board. On a 4-flush board, villain will only bet full-houses plus. Vanessa always folds to a river bet from villain. On a 4-flush board, Vanessa will be 2/3 pot when checked to. Villain will call with Q-high flushes only.

Those river assumptions are based on Vanessa's read, but we will do some tweaking to see how things change.

The Verdict

Big surprise, Vanessa was right. Basically no matter how I alter the simulation, Vanessa's call is slightly -EV. In the most favorable permutation, Vanessa loses less than 1BB on the call. In the worst case, she loses over 3BB. Some of the things I'm altering are how much Qcx does villain reach the river with, does villain call with T-high flushes, does villain ever give up. Of course, if I ramped up all of these variables to be at their most favorable, we can make a decent looking situation.

The main takeaway, however, is that we basically never win when the flush doesn't come, and that's almost always. If we can't bluffcatch the river, our draw just isn't good enough to continue. Further, given ICM implications, the fold becomes clearer in every permutation.

Support Just Hands

Stay tuned for the analysis of hand 2 from the episode with Vanessa tomorrow! Miss last week's breakdown? Head here!

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