A recap of the hand discussed this week:
Location: Maryland Live
UTG, UTG+1, UTG+3 limp, Hero ($620) raises to $15 with J8ss in the CO, SB ($650) calls, UTG+3 ($340) calls
Flop (51) As7c3s
Checks to Hero who bets $25, SB raises to $50, and UTG+3 folds
Turn (151) 9d
Villain checks, Hero bets $50, Villain raises to $100, Hero calls
River (351) Jc
Villain checks, Hero?
For the listener hand we talked about this week, the major decision point was on the turn. I'll go into the decisions made on each street but whether the Hero should have bet or checked behind the turn was the most interesting and hardest decision point for the listener that was kind enough to write in.
Jack and I diverged a bit preflop on whether Hero should have limped or raised with J8ss. I thought that given the player descriptions and most importantly that it was a $1/2 game at Maryland Live!, the Hero should expect limp calls most of the time. I think as a default in $1/2 games you should assume limp folding is a move rarely in your opponent's arsenal, especially if you are clearly the most aggressive player at the table. But I'm with Jack if the hero was in a game where he could expect folds even half the time from the villains as described I'm ok with raising it in position with a skill edge.
When it's checked to Hero in a 3 way pot on an ace hi board, he should be betting most if not all of his complete whiffs here. It puts all low one pair hands in a tough spot and players generally give up way too often on ace hi boards without an ace. While there was a flush draw, outside of that it's a pretty dry board without many straight draw combinations likely in either of the villains' ranges. Given the Hero has a middling flush draw and a backdoor straight draw, he has one of the best possible bluffing candidates and checking behind would be criminal. I prefer a sizing of 35 rather than the half pot of 25 with this exact hand for exploitative reasons - to put more pressure on one pair hands like bad sevens and weak pocket pairs.
When 'Sleepy' min-checkraises the hero, given the direct odds and strong implied odds, folding is out of the question. The only value in 3bet bluffing would be if there was evidence to think that the villain might be doing this light or with a weaker value hand that he wasn't happy to get in his 300 BB stack with. Given the description of the player who has been falling asleep at the table and not playing many hands, I think it's best to err on the side of caution. While he could be making a feeler raise with an ace, it's most likely this player has two pair plus and is just ensuring that he gets some value. The hero agreed with Jack and I and ended up calling.
Here's where it gets interesting, on a blank turn, the 9d, villain now checks. What the hell does he have now? There are few categories of hands and I'll rank them in what I think their most likely order is.
1) Two pair plus value hands getting tricky - at the beginning of the podcast the hero wrote that he observed the villain play very passively when he flopped trips. While this hand is different because the villain did raise the flop which is an aggressive action, I think evidence of passive play makes future slowplaying more likely.
2) Pairs of aces that minraised the flop to 'see where they were at' that now don't know what to do.
3) The occasional flush draw or pair of sevens that spazzed out because he hasn't seen a lot of hands recently and is falling asleep at the table...
If the villain has mainly strong value hands that he's opting to now check, Hero has a clear checkback to just realize his equity against a range that is rarely folding and will sometimes raise him again. If villain always continues betting with his strong value hands, then Hero has a pretty clear bet here, where he should probably shove on blank runouts to put maximum pressure one pair hands which really don't want to put in 300 BB in.
Given the lack of information we have about villain's potential play in this spot, I think it's safe to assume that villain is weighted towards strong value hands here. When in doubt when playing live poker, after a generally passive player takes an aggressive line, it's safe to assume they're quite unbalanced towards value hands. For this reason I stand by my initial reaction on the podcast that this should be a check back.
In game though the Hero bets 50, and gets min-checkraised yet again! Like on the flop, although the hero is certainly behind against villain's range, for the price he's getting folding is out of the question.
While the river gives the Hero second pair, it's safe to assume that this card rarely improves his hand enough to be ahead. I'd be surprised if more than 1% of the time the villain as described opts to double min-checkraise with a different flush draw. So when the villain checks, for the reasons on the turn I thought his range would be primarily strong value hands, this is even more true on the river now that we've observed yet another checkraise. While Hero shouldn't expect to be good when checking behind, he shouldn't light even more money on fire and make a suicidal bluff into a strong range.
If you listened to the podcast, you'll know that the villain actually did raise the flop and turn with just a middling ace. Does this mean that my baseline about live poker play was incorrect? No- given the information available to me, I still feel great about the actions I recommended. I of course wouldn't come to the same conclusions if I was in a similar spot with this player in the future knowing what we know now, but you can only work with the information you have available to you.
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