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The Hand History
Deepstack 1-2 game, Straddle to 4
Hero (505) raises to 15 from HJ with 69hh, Villain (541) raises to 35 OTB, Hero calls
Hero checks, Villain bets 35, Hero calls
Hero checks, Villain bets 95, Hero shoves
Let's start by assuming that 96s is a profitable open from the HJ. It's not a given, but I trust Peter's read of the situation, how often he will be 3-bet, and his ability to over-realize equity against his opponents. When Peter is 3-bet by a tight player, he now needs to be able to get back the $20 he will put into the pot to see the flop across to justify calling. This is a very different statement than saying he must win the pot 33% of the time (roughly his pot odds) OOP with weaker holdings, most of these earnings will come from semi-bluffing or making a big hand. Flopping a pair of 9's is unlikely to be very profitable OOP against the preflop 3-bettor.
Against the range shown below, Peter has just over 35% equity.
I'd describe this as a fairly tight 3-betting range that still includes some bluffs. This seems likely from a player with Elad's frequencies, demographics, and the situation in which he and Peter find themselves, a paid coaching event. Peter's decision here stems from a knowledge that his hand has about the correct equity to call and that he is confident that he can overcome his position and realize that equity. Many players overestimate their ability to overcome position, but Peter is a crusher.
A couple other points from Elad's perspective. One, I think this situation demonstrates why Elad should choose a larger sizing. If Peter can profitably call with most of his opening range, then Elad hasn't accomplished much with this raise, especially with his bluffs. This wouldn't be an issue if Peter was a weak player, but... Also, Peter opening 96s shows why not 3-betting hands like AQo and TT is really passing on an edge. Flatting some strong hands IP is good practice, but 3-betting a lot is too.
The flop is an interesting spot since Peter has a piece but the flop is very good for Elad's range. Peter has 21% equity against the potential preflop range. However, some of those hands would check-back, potentially a lot of those hands. In fact, this is the type of board where Elad's range is so strong that he should be checking a lot or betting small. His half-pot sizing was definitely in an appropriate realm.
Interestingly, against just the strong aces and the suited connectors, Peter also has about 21% equity. This makes a lot of sense given that a lower pair with a live kicker has about 21% equity. So Peter is getting a little bit of a worse price than his equity and will be facing a lot of barrels. To justify this call, he has to think his implied odds or his fold equity on possible bluffs will make up the difference. This can be a little bit precarious if your play is highly exploitative to one or the other. If you are counting on a lot of FE but your opponent turns out to be stationy, you are in a bad spot. If you call just to bet big when you hit and your opponent ends up folding to aggression, you are also in a bad spot.
Peter's continuation in the hand is likely based on the assumption that if he continues in a balanced way, Elad is likely to get too attached to top pair hands and pay off his value too much, or that he will over-fold to bluffs. Assuming that one of these is true is one of the luxuries of live poker.
Given Peter's flop call, check-raising the turn seems necessary. Peter won't have too many other bluffs that he called the flop with. His sizing of all-in is also the only appropriate sizing. He has 30% equity when called by hands like AK. If he has on average 25% equity when called, his bluff of 435 to win 248 needs to work 37% of the time. Given potential two-pair combos, sets of aces, and straights, Peter needs Elad to fold Ax a good amount of the time here. If that is the case, Peter will likely have a less than 25% equity when called meaning the bluff has to work even more often.
While Peter's play on every street was reasonable, every decision point was on a razor thin margin. A lot of that can be attributed to opening hands like 96s. Saying that all these marginal spots makes opening 96s wrong would be results oriented. However, the fact that a reasonably good outcome, flopping a pair and turning an open-ender, was so thin is a good indicator that something in Peter's underlying assumptions that caused him to raise pre and call the 3bet were incorrect.
It turns out that Elad was holding QTs and folded the turn. I'm sure this surprised Peter when he re-watched the footage. If Elad is holding a lot of bluffs in this spot, then the check-raise becomes a lot better since Elad is forced to fold away some equity at a high frequency. We won't go back over the entire hand with a new set of assumptions but will rather take this as a reminder that we shouldn't give too much weight to small sample sizes.
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