Extracting Value vs. a Weak Range

Another week, another win. The Poker Gods have been treating me well and the run good is as real as ever. I was lucky enough to book my biggest single session win of all time which obviously felt pretty good and further boosted my confidence. This session consisted mainly of 2-5, and while the line-up was not amazing (but still slightly above average IMO), I played pretty well and managed to suck out in a pretty big pot, which is always nice.

I played for a total of 32 hours this week, studied for about 6 (4 of which were dedicated to PLO), ran once, and mediated 3 times. This is pretty disappointing, and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with myself and my inability to reach these goals. I’m beginning to think my goals may be a bit ambitious, particularly the studying goal. This week, I’m going to reduce my studying goal to just 5 hours which I think should make things a bit more manageable, and certainly less stressful.

I’ve been playing a lot of 2-5 over the last few weeks, basically hopping in anytime it’s running and doesn’t look terrible. I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable playing both bigger and deeper than I was previously accustomed to. The one downside to this is that 1-3 is becoming a bit boring, and I frequently find myself not as focused as I am when playing 2-5. I think this is a result of a combination of things, one being that the 1-3 player pool generally plays a much more simplistic and exploitable style than much of the 2-5 pool. This makes me feel as though I can just pop in my headphones and autopilot my way through a 1-3 session, which is definitely something I need to avoid as it’s very likely affecting my win-rate. When I’m playing 2-5, I feel like I have to pay attention to every single hand and every decision my opponents make, both because I want to get a better idea of my opponents’ strategies’ and because I feel as though the opportunity cost of missing out vital information can be quite high, especially relative to this cost at 1-3. While this is obviously true, it’s no excuse for not giving 100% of my attention (or close to it) to any game I’m playing in regardless of the stakes or quality of my opponents.  

The hand I want to talk about this week occurred in a 2-5 session. I think the line I took is somewhat standard, but is still interesting nonetheless:

Game: 2/5 NL, 9 handed

Hero: (1200) in SB with KsKc. Hero has been pretty inactive since Villain sat down at table. Hero has played with villain before and is likely viewed as somewhere between TAG and LAG.

Villain: (950) in CO. Villain plays very loose preflop. Often open limps/over limps and rarely folds to preflop raises once he’s VPIP’d. He’s probably playing about 25-30% of hands. Villain over values top pair, and has gone for thin-value in spots where he shouldn’t. Villain is also capable of semi-bluffing. Finally, villain appears to be at least slightly stationy.

Preflop: (7) 3 limps to villain who over limps, folds to hero who raises to 35. All limpers call.

In hindsight, I clearly could and should have gone a bit larger here, both for value and to protect my equity. I think equity protection is more important here since we’re going to be playing OOP which can make it difficult to realize our equity on certain runouts when playing multiway. In game, I was a bit concerned that a raise to 40 or 45 would result in a loss of action, but given the main villain’s limp-calling frequencies I don’t think that’s actually something I really should have worried about.


Flop: (175) QT3r. Hero bets 90, folds to Villain who raises to 215, Hero calls.

Potentially a bit gross but given how far up I am in my range and the read on Villain, I don’t think I can ever consider doing anything but calling here. He certainly has value-hands that are beating us, mainly QT, 33, and possibly Q3s, but that range is pretty narrow. More often, I think Villain is value owning himself with a Qx type hand or semi bluffing with some sort of straight draw.

Turn: (605) 2x, completing the rainbow. Hero checks, Villain checks.

When Villain checks behind here, I’m very confident that I have the best hand and plan to go for some value on the river. Given this villain’s aggressiveness I don’t expect him to slow down with any value-hand that’s beating me. I think his most likely holding here is Qx. He may also still have some straight draws that he’s elected to take a free card with, although I think they’re somewhat less likely as Villain would often choose to barrel off with them.

River: (605) Jx. Hero leads for 250, Villain tank-calls and MHIG.

The J on the river isn’t the greatest card for me to see as his QJ’s and occasional AK and 98 got there, but given he has way more Qx in his range I think a bet-fold on the river is pretty straight forward. I elected to use a smallish size for a couple of reasons. First, the majority of the hands we’re value targeting are Qx, most of which are going to have kicker problems (I suppose villain can have a few AQ’s here but it’s definitely discounted given the preflop over limp), and I don’t think those kinds of hands are going to be calling off a bet much larger than this. Second, if V is holding a hand like J9, KJ, or possibly J8, we want to bet small enough such that these hands can contemplate making a crying call. Lastly, I don’t want to bet a size so large that I get put in a tough spot if villain chooses to jam. Like if I bet 400-500 here and villain chooses to jam for his remaining 700, I’m going to be in a really tough spot with the ridiculous odds I’ll be getting. I think a case can be made for checking the river to induce a bluff from villain, but given the J hits his bluffing range somewhat hard, I think he will often realize he now has some showdown value with his Jx hands and thus will be checking back the river somewhat frequently.

I’ll leave it at that for now. Be sure to leave and comments or questions below. I will talk to you all next week. Until then, peace, much love, and may the run good be with you all!