A couple nights ago, I was playing in a private poker game at a friend’s garage. It’s a $1/2 NL game, and about an hour in, things are going reasonably well.
On this hand, the villain raised to $15 from early-middle position. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Brian.” Brian talks a lot and likes action. While not an overly aggressive bluffer, he likes to see a lot of flops and is more inclined to raise even with hands that aren’t super premiums, so his range here is wider than most.
Two seats to Brian’s left, I look down at AK off-suit. Ace of diamonds, King of spades. So my first decision is whether to re-raise or just call in position. I could really go either way here but decide to re-raise as this should clear out a lot of mediocre hands that people at this game like to play, and better define Brian’s range if he continues. So I make is $50.
It folds back around to Brian, who says something like “I guess I’ll see a flop with you” that suggests his hand isn’t super strong but had flop possibilities. After the pre-flop betting, Brian has about $300 more behind and I have him very slightly covered.
Flop ($103): Kxx ddd. I don’t remember the cards lower than King, other than both were eight or lower, and all diamonds. This flop gives me top pair, top kicker, and the nut flush draw with my Ace of diamonds. I like it!
Brian goes first, and leads out with a $50 bet.
My first thought is that he also has AK, with fits perfectly with his pre-flop play and there are 6 AK combos still available. In that case, I want to get it all-in as I’d be free rolling with my flush draw. Since I have the Ace of diamonds and the King of diamonds is on the board, there are very few combos he can have that flopped a flush. Would he call $50 out-of-position pre-flop with QdJd? JdTd? QdTd? Anything weaker? Two pair hands are even more unlikely. KQ? Perhaps he sometimes calls $50 pre with KQ suited. Would he have called with KQ offsuit, including the Queen of diamonds (and think the Qd would be good if another diamonds hits on the turn or river)? The other possibility is sets, which can never be fully discounted.
I decide to shove right now. In an earlier hand with a different villain, I shoved on the flop over his smallish check-raise and he folded top pair face up. I’ve been experimenting a little bit recently with less conventional bet sizing, and this seems like another good spot… until Brian snap calls.
He flips over exactly Qd Jd. This is the best possible combo he can have given this flop. The 2nd nuts, which also reduces the number of outs for me to improve. The turn and river are not diamonds, and Brian scoops up a $700 pot.
Was shoving a mistake?
From a results oriented view, obviously yes. Heads up against his exact hand, I have 31.7% equity. This is not worth risking my entire stack, although calling his flop bet leaves me in no-man’s land when he fires another bet on the turn, setting up a river shove. Would I be able to fold on either street?
But from a process oriented view, we should give Brian a range when he donk-bets $50 on the flop. And that range has to account for his pre-flop call of $50 from out-of-position. I’ll assign this range: AK, KQ, QdJd, JdTd, Td9d, 9d8d, 8d7d, and middle or bottom sets. That’s 19 combinations. Now I would have 61.8% equity. If we eliminate any of the suited, connecting diamonds from his range, my equity goes up. If we eliminate any of the KQ hands, my equity goes down. Looked at this way, shoving isn’t terrible here; it just so happened that Brian was at the tippy-top of his range.