The Hand History
The Jack Cleveland
Folds to Hero ($1200) in the LoJack who opens to 20 with QJo. Folds to pro in BB who calls. Hero is effective stack.
BB leads $100. Hero calls.
Villain jams for $1080. Hero?
Sometimes you just know you are never going to fold your hand. When Brendan checked back the flop with top pair, he was probably confident that he would not fold his hand at any point. When he turned two-pair on a card was unlikely to improve any hand in his opponent's range to a winner, any doubt was likely lifted. He wanted as much action as he could get. Well, he got it. Two bets later, the pot was 35 times as large and Brendan was facing an all in decision with a pure bluff-catcher.
When our opponents make massive overbets, we don't have to call very much to stop them. If our opponent is risking more than they stand to win, we are afforded the luxury of being very selective with what we choose to defend with. Still, top two pair after checking back the flop is a monster. Can we really fold that hand and stop our opponent from bluffing relentlessly? Let's take a look.
Preflop and Flop
First, let's set the stage for the real action. We mentioned on the podcast that QJo was toward the bottom of hero's LJ opening range. Here is an opening range that reflects that.
Hero decided to check back the flop, but this is a flop where betting anything small is likely +EV with our huge range advantage. Therefore, it's difficult to say exactly what should be in a flop checking range. It's probably correct to give up sometimes, check back a high percentage of "ahead-or-behind" hands, likely A-highs, and check back enough strong hands that aren't likely to get three streets of value in order to bluffcatch effectively against a tough opponent. The range below includes many likely checks and some hands of various types (give-ups, super strong, good future bluffcatchers, A-highs).
Defending Against Overbets
Against the turn overbet (100 into 40), the Hero must defend 28.6% of the time to stop our opponent from being able to profitably bluff a zero equity hand. We have 132 combos OTT so we must defend 38 combos. Defending more may be advisable against a strong opponent who is choosing bluffs with at least some equity. For now, we will just stick with the minimum defense frequency. As we discussed on the podcast, defending some AK is a good idea since it should be ahead of bluffs and can improve to nutted hand. Also, notice that defending some 5x could be correct since it blocks likely value hands such as 55 and Q5s.
Against the river overbet (1080 into 240) we have to defend 18.2% of the time. That comes out to 7 combos. Defending just AKs and JJ would be enough.
Notes on Villain's Strategy
Brendan knew the villain in this hand well. He claimed that villain would be very polarized OTT towards hands that would definitely go with it when check-raised and hands that would have no issue folding, likely gutshots. Since villain would often 3-bet hands like 63 and 64s, most of these gutshots would be interacting with the Q and J. AT, K9, T8, and 98 are all possibilities. Therefore, the T was an excellent card for our opponent. How good? A range of QJ, 55, 22, and half of the combos of those 4 gutshots had 35.5% equity against our turn calling range. On the T river, that range has 66.3% equity, 64.1% if you take out QJ. Basically, villain just has too much equity here to be betting 5x pot. It could be a good exploitative strategy, but a smaller bet would probably yield more value on this card.
Its ok to defend very infrequently against large overbets. When we start with a narrower range after checking back the turn, when all of the money goes in and we are this deep, we should only be felting extremely strong hands. On most river cards, we would probably be better off defending some of our two-pairs or even 5x combos rather than AK when facing this large bet. On this river, a river card that completes many of our opponents gutshots OTT as discussed above, we can simply call down with the nuts and JJ which may be ahead of parts of our opponents value range OTR.