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The Hand History
5-10 at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles
8 handed, straddle to 20
Effective stack is 1800
Hero raises to 65 UTG+1 with AQcc, Villain in the Lojack raises to 200, Hero calls.
Hero checks, Villain bets 225, Hero calls
Hero checks, Villain bets 325, Hero raises to 1100, Villain folds.
This Week's Approach
To me, this hand feels pretty straightforward. Flatting OOP with deep stacks OTF with AQ-high and the nut flushdraw is very uncontroversial. Similarly, raising OTT is basically mandatory. We can't flat since our opponent will check back better hands at some frequency, especially when we make our flush. We shouldn't fold the nut flush draw assuming we have some fold equity, let alone pair equity. Take into account the bet-sizing tell, and you have a raise on your hands.
There are still a couple of things about this board that are interesting and are worth exploring. Let's begin!
Playing Against a Polarized Preflop Range
There is something special about this board OTT. Notice the intervals between the cards. 2xx5xx8xxJ. It is very difficult for either player to have two-pair on this board. Generally, when the Lojack and UTG+1 go heads up to the flop in a 3-bet pot, no one has 85s or J8s. LJ, the 3-bettor, is likely to have some light 3-bets. Axs, suited connectors, and possibly suited one-gappers are all reasonable 3-bet choices.
There are many reasons to 3-bet light. Balance comes to mind, since if one only 3-bets very strong hands, their opponent would have very little incentive to call those 3-bets (see flatting AQs OOP). Board coverage also is important here, especially with deep stacks. The strongest hands in hold'em are all high-card hands. T-2 don't really have a home among the super-premium combos. If a 3-bettor only has cards ranked J and higher, many boards will force the 3-bettor into a difficult spot. If the 3-bettor includes hands like suited connectors into this otherwise high-card heavy range, it allows the 3-bettor to play more profitably on boards that favor low cards.
While 3-betting light is essential, it is easy to go overboard. The hands commonly chosen for light 3-betting have some combination of blocking ability, and their ability to makestrong draws/nutted hands on boards not well covered by the stronger part of the 3-betting range. Since there are only so many hands strong enough to 3-bet "for value" in a 9-handed NLH game, the light 3-bets must be the hands which maximize this function to the greatest degree. You could summarize much of the last paragraph by simply saying 85s is too shitty to 3-bet.
Identifying Range Advantages
In this hand, I think it is very possible that villain has no hands better than one pair. Jacks are possible, though perhaps not probable. For hero, Jacks and 8's are almost certain, 5's are possible, and 2's aren't out of the question, let alone QQ. Hero has 6-12 sets and 0-6 overpairs. Villain has 0-3 sets and 18 likely overpairs. Let's look at range equities here for a second. We'll assume hero only ever flats OTF and continues with 55-QQ, QJs-T9s, AQcc, KQcc, AcKx. Villain will be c-betting with this sizing with AA-JJ, AK-AQ. I think many rec players will choose this strategy, and adding in light 3-bets really only helps us. This is in many ways, the worst case scenario.
With these ranges, hero has 58% equity and more nutted hands. If we remove AQ combos from villain's range, he gains the equity edge, but only with 52%. Given the draw heavy nature of the board, the equities, and the nutted hand disparity, I think villain should probably be checking back 100% on this board. That way, he can bluffcatch just one street against a range of bluffs that likely has zero equity.
Altering the Scenario
We considered JJ+ and AK the worst case scenario here since no normal 3-bet bluffs improve villain's range's equity. He may have additional semibluff combos, but he doesn't have the nutted hands necessary to raise many of those without being extremely bluff-heavy. As an aside, this is a big reason why we should be raising the turn with much of our range as hero. On many runouts, villain will pick up nutted hands with his possible Axs, T9s, and 67s. That will make our range much more bluff-catcher heavy relatively.
Now let's imagine a slightly different board, J658 two clubs rather than J528. There is potentially a huge difference in terms of possible nutted combos for villain in this new scenario. 65 (great blockers!), 79s, and 68s are now all go to the felt combos for villain. Even if AA-QQ are not strong enough to value bet against hero's range, villain has a ton of strong draws and many value combos for hero to consider before bluff-raising. While hero still likely has more sets, villain is able to leverage his range much more effectively on this board, even though we have more sets.
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