The Hand History
The Jack Cleveland
UTG raises to $10. UTG1 and UTG2 call. Button raises to $35. Hero is in SB with KK ($450 effective) and raises to $85. UTG raises to $200. Folds to button who tank-folds. Hero?
Examining the Possibilities
Our correspondent in this hand was convinced that UTG must have had KK or AA. If that's the case, then we have a pretty clear fold. If hero is treating this as a shove or fold spot and assumes that he has zero fold equity, then a shove is essentially risking 365 to win 955. Therefore, hero needs 38.5% equity to shove. KK has only 22.6% against KK+.
What is helpful in these situations is determining thresholds. How many other combos does our opponent have to have to turn this into a shove? A good first question is how do we fare against QQ+? No surprise, we have 50% equity against that range making this a clear shove. But what if the button folded QQ as hero suspected? Against all AA and one combo each of KK and QQ, Hero has 30% equity, not enough to call. What if we throw in AKs into that range? Now hero has 37.2% equity, still not enough to call.
What if, however, button was equally likely to tank fold AK, QQ, and JJ? Now as a quick estimate of this scenario, let's give villain 5 combos of AA, one of KK, and two each of AKs and QQ. Here, hero has 41% equity, enough to call. Throw in one tilt combo, let's say QTs for fun, and we are up to 45% equity.
Making our Decision
So we have a few scenarios, some that dictate a call, and some that require a fold. There are a couple of ways to proceed from here. In game, it might make sense to choose the mostly likely of these scenarios (assuming you can estimate the rough probabilities) and make a decision according your equity in that scenario. Using this method, if hero decided KK+ was most likely, then a fold would follow. Another shorthand would be to choose a few of the more likely scenarios and go off the average of those equities. If KK+ or QQ+ with two QQ combos are most likely, then we'd go off the average of 22.6% and 35.8%, 29.2%, or a fold.
Here at Just Hands, we like to use a more thorough method when possible. Rather than just take the average equity of a few scenarios, let's assign a probability to each scenario. Maybe 50% of the time, we are in a universe where villain always has KK+. 25% of the time, we are in a universe where villain has QQ+ and AKs. The other 25% of the time, villain has KK+ and 2 combos of QQ. Now, we create a compound range where we add in the weighted combos from each range. From our 50% KK+, we get 3 AA combos and .5 KK combos. In total, we get a range of 6 AA combos, 1 KK combo, 2 combos of QQ, and 1 combo of AKs. Against that range, we have 37.4% equity, or a fold.
In poker, we will always live with uncertainty. When playing an exploitative style, you are always going off of your best guess. The more precise you can get with that guess, however, the better you will be able to turn your intuition and critical thinking into profitable decisions. The difference between being 100% certain your opponent always has KK+, and 75% certain can be huge at certain stack depths. Strive for detail in your analysis off the table to make more informed decisions at the table.