KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “nut flush draw”

Should I Turn This Into a Bluff?

NOTE:  This entry was originally posted on a different site on December 30, 2016 and has been slightly edited prior to re-posting here.

A couple nights ago I was playing at a private house game, when this hand came up.

In a middle position, I get Td 9d, nice-looking suited connectors.  A player in front of me had straddled for double the big blind.  I call, hoping to see a relatively cheap flop.

There is one other caller, plus the Big Blind calls, and the straddler checks.  So far, so good.

The flop is 8d 7h 5d.  I have the top of an open-ended straight draw, a flush draw, and two over cards.  While the absolute strength of my hand at this point is only Ten-high, it has huge drawing power.  Even against a hand like 9-6, which would have flopped the nuts, I would have 52% equity in the pot.  That’s right, a favorite against the nuts.

On the other hand, against Ad 7d, which would give someone a nut flush draw and middle pair, my equity drops to 35%.  Still respectable…  Against Ad 6d, adding a straight draw to the NFD, my equity drops even further to 27.5%, primarily because a non-diamond 9 no longer improves my hand to a winner.  Against 88 flopping top set, my equity is 40%.

Although it is possible that one of my opponents has a hand as strong as 96, Ad7d, Ad6d, or 88, these are very specific combinations.  My equity against these hands, blended in with my equity against all of the worse options I might be facing, makes this a spot where I’m perfectly happy to get it all in right now.  At this game, the house allows the players to “run it” twice or three times by mutual agreement, which would be likely given my knowledge of the other players.  With that backup plan, I can apply maximum pressure.

The checks to the straddler.  For purposes of this blog I’ll call him “John.”  John is generally a somewhat loose, passive player.  For example, when this game started there were only four players.  John bought in for only 50 big blinds, then immediately posted a straddle on the button.  This effectively reduces his stack to 25x the straddle.  It’s like he has heard that straddling on the button is good, but doesn’t really understand why nor understand the value of having a larger stack-to-pot (“SPR”) ratio.  He rarely raises when straddling and no one else raises.  On another hand with still only four players, he called a pre-flop raise with QQ but did not re-raise.

Back to our hand.  With 8 or 9 big blinds in the pot, John bets 7 BBs.  He typically doesn’t lead out like this with a drawing hand, so most of his range is going to be one pair.  I decide to attack, and raise to 25 BBs.  That should get his attention.  At the start of this hand, I had about 125 BBs in my stack.  John appears to have about the same.

The next player folds, then the big blind ponders for a moment and looks very much like he wants to raise.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Rick.”  Instead of raising, Rick calls.  Rick is a much more aggressive player than John; in fact his bluffing frequency is higher than anyone else at the table.  He also respects my game (I’m classically TAG) and knows I’ll continue aggression when I have a strong hand, so his call here looks super strong to me.

Back to our hand again.  Rick’s call both surprises and scares me.  Did he flop a straight and now he wants to see if he can keep John in the hand by just calling?  Does he have a higher flush draw, counterfeiting many of my outs?  Is he setting a trap for me to walk right into?  When a player as aggressive as Rick check-calls a post-flop raise, knowing the original better (i.e., John) has the option of re-raising, this suggests that he likes his hand.  A lot.

John folds.  Now Rick and I are heads up.

The turn is Kh, putting 2 hearts on the board.  Having missed all of my outs, my equity is essentially cut in half.  Rick checks.

The pot is bloated now, with about 66 BBs, and I have ten-high.  If I want to try to get him to fold a somewhat strong hand, like 2-pair, it’s going to take quite a large bet and leave me pot-committed if he check-raises all-in.  I’m less enthusiastic now, with only one card to come.  As a general rule, it is usually a good idea to check back in position when you don’t have a clear plan for handling a check-raise.  I don’t like bet-folding here, nor do I like bet-calling.  He’s offered me a free card, so I decide to take it and check.

The river card is 3c, missing all of my outs again.  I still have just ten-high.

Rick checks again.  His faces looks slightly pained, like perhaps he has a bigger flush draw than mine and missed.  Or… he’s giving off a reverse tell – which I consider him capable of doing – having read my turn check as indicative of my range including lots of flush draws and figuring the best way for him to get value from me is by bluff-catching.

With two flush draws and a straight draw after the turn – 8d 7h 5d – Kh – surely I would bet for value again if I had a 2-pair or better hand.  Doesn’t my turn check look more like I’m on a draw (which would be true) and taking the free card?

I’m having trouble narrowing Rick’s range here.  What do you think it is?

One axiom of poker says that in order to bluff, my range should not be too polarized (i.e., only very strong hands or bluffs).  What does my range look like here?  Should I turn my Ten-high nothing-at-all busted combo-draw hand into a bluff here?  If so, how much should I bet?

Please leave replies in comments, and check back in a few days for the spoiler.

Tippy-Top of His Range

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.


Who is the Dummy This Time?

After my last post, “Slow Playing for Dummies,” I’m reluctant to be caught slow playing any hand, lest it turn out that I am (or become) to Dummy (or Donkey).

Nevertheless, here is a sequence where I was dealt AA twice in a short span of 5 hands, and BOTH times there was a pre-flop raise and re-raise in front of me.  And both times, I just called to disguise (i.e., slow play) the strength of my hand.

Let’s compare, as these hands played out quite differently.

But first, a reminder that this is micro stakes (blinds of $0.10 – 0.25) on Bovada’s Zone Poker, where all players are anonymous and a new table is formed for each and every single hand.  So all we can assume about the Villains is that they are “ordinary, routine” micro stakes players.

In the first hand (click here to see it in the Share My Pair hand replayer), I am the Big Blind.  The Hijack (HJ) seat, two places to the right of the button, raises to $0.75, and the next player (Cutoff, or CO) re-raises to $2.00.  Both the button and small blind fold.

I decide to flat call here, hoping the original raiser HJ has a strong enough hand like KK, QQ or AK to come over the top with a big 4-bet or shove.  Instead, he folds, leaving CO and me heads up, with me out of position for the rest of the hand.

Flop: ($4.85)  5s Qc 4d.  This is a pretty dry flop and mostly good for me.  Other than CO having exactly QQ, I’m still way ahead.  His range for 3-betting should be something like 99+, AK, AQ, AJs, KQs with a few other random hands.  Many players will just flat an opening raise from HJ with JJ-99, some will flat with QQ, and very many will flat with any unpaired hand other than AKs.  We just don’t know if he is loose/aggressive enough to 3-bet with anything weaker.  Best case:  he has AQ, KQs or KK (24 combinations) and we can crush him.  Worst case:  he has QQ (3 combinations) and will crush us.  Weird case:  he has AA (1 combination) and we are going to chop this pot.  All others:  about 28 other combinations where he probably slows down after firing a continuation bet.

He bets $2.50, slightly more than 1/2 pot and a fairly standard-ish C-bet.  I call.  While I’m way ahead of his range with 85%+ equity, up to half of his range could fold to a raise here on the flop and I don’t want to chase away my customer.  While this flop makes it hard for him to put me on any sort of draw, maybe he’ll still fire one more barrel with some of his weaker holdings.

Turn:  ($9.85)  9c.  This card only changes our status if he has exactly 99 (3 combinations), but I still have 81%+ equity against his entire original range.  I check, and he checks behind, so now I can eliminate QQ and 99, both of which would be strongly here given that flush and straight draws are now conceivable (albeit unlikely…  am I calling on that flop with JT, KJ, KT, J8 or T8?  What 2 clubs am I calling with?  But poker players tend to see monsters under the bed, so I can still eliminate these hands).  I also think his top pair and over pair hands – AQ, KQs, KK – also are betting for value with this turn card, so now I conclude the weaker part of his original range – AK, AJs, JJ, TT – is his most likely holding.

River: ($9.85)  4c.  I have to bet for value now.  While there is an outside chance he just hit a flush on the river with AcKc or AcJc, this is only 2 combinations, and the only 2 combinations from his original range that could have hit.  Remember that he 3-bet pre-flop, which narrowed his range.  It would be a mistake for me now to see the monsters under the bed and add ‘any 2 clubs’ to his range when the lower holdings never would have 3-bet in the first place.  I bet $4.00, hoping this looks like a somewhat random attempt to steal the pot, having played passively up until now.

To my delight, he calls, and shows 77.  I win a pot of $17.85, for a net gain after the rake of $8.45.  His hand wasn’t even in the range I had developed, albeit compatible with the low end.  Most players are not 3-betting this light, and his call on the river can only beat a bluff.  I guess he thought I was bluffing, so my goal of playing AA deceptively worked!

Would an alternative line been more profitable on this hand?  Knowing all the facts now, probably not.  If I had 4-bet strongly pre-flop (a pot-sized 4-bet would have been a re-re-raise to $6.85 and most players will simply fold 77 there).  If I had made a smaller 4-bet and he called, then he folds to my continuation bet on the flop as my range is very narrow and mostly big pairs.  And I would not 4-bet too small, as I’m out of position in the BB seat, and still have to worry about the original raiser calling and making it a 3-way pot.

While I rarely recommend slow playing AA before the flop, this one worked out for me.

Just 4 hands later, I get AA again, this time on the button.  Click here to see this hand in the SMP replayer.

NOTE TO SELF:  Don’t complain that you never get Aces.  You do!

Once again, HJ raises to $0.75 and now the CO 3-bets it up to $2.10.  Hoping as I did previously for the original raiser to spazz out and come over the top, I call.  Both blinds fold, and HJ calls.  We are 3-handed going to the flop, and this time I have position on both villains.

Flop: ($6.65)  9d Kd Tc.  This is a much scarier flop than the first hand above, as there are more higher cards and both flush and straight draws are possible.  In fact, a flopped straight is possible if either villain has QJ.  I think the CO range is pretty much the same as the 3-better from the first hand above.  HJ’s range includes some smaller pairs like 88-55, and some players will call the 3-bet – even out of position (remember, it’s the micro stakes) after I called with just about any 2 Broadway cards or suited connectors that would have opened.  My call results in him getting pot odds of 3.9-to-1 to call CO’s 3-bet.

Both villains check.  Hmmm… monsters under the bed?  KK, TT, 99 (18 combos) are in both of their ranges, and 2-pairs with KT (9 combinations) and flopped straights with QJ (16 more combinations) are in HJ’s range.  Draws include any AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, QT, JT, QQ and JJ, some of which are also flush draws such as QdTd and JdTd (all draws = 70 combinations).  Note that I have the Ad, so neither villain can have a nut flush draw.  If I bet here, there are 43 possible combinations that are ahead of me and another 70 that are likely to call at least once to chase a draw.  The only really strong hands that I’m way ahead of are AK (6 combinations, after eliminating the 2 aces in my hand and one on the board).  I decide to check behind.

Turn: ($6.65)  8d.  This doesn’t complete any of the straights, and now gives me a nut flush draw heading to the river.  HJ checks and CO bets $2.15, slightly less than one-third of the pot.  This is any easy call.  If I were to raise here, and get re-raised, I would have to fold as now he would be revealing a monster hand.  But there is also a very good chance that I have the best hand right now and this is a delayed continuation bet or thin value bet with QQ or JJ.

River: ($10.95)  3c.  This card changes absolutely nothing.  If I was ahead on the turn, I’m still ahead and not getting much if any value here.  If I was behind on the turn, the board is scary enough that he could check the river with 2-pair or a set.  He checks, and I check as well.

He shows Qh Qc, and my Aces take down the pot, for a net gain after the rake of $6.15.

Unlike the previous hand, a more aggressive line pre-flop might have paid off.  Would he have called a pre-flop 4-bet shove with QQ?  Maybe; maybe not.  We just don’t know enough about this Villain, but the odds of a call there are pretty good.  Would he have called a smaller 4-bet?  Probably, although the flop and turn are going to cause one or both of to slam on the brakes just as we did as the hand actually played.

I don’t regret the slow play, as I gained a little bit of value from HJ when he called CO’s 3-bet, and gained some additional value from CO’s bet on the turn.  I also know by now (although some of my friends would tell you otherwise) that if the pot gets really big after this flop and turn, my AA is ‘just one pair’ and no good!

Daily Debacle – When Not to Semi-Bluff

Still back at the micro-stakes rebuilding my confidence and playing $0.05 / 0.10 NL online.

In this hand I have As 6s in the cutoff seat and the action is folded to me.  I make my standard opening raise to $0.30, the button re-raises to $0.50, and the small blind calls.  Big blind folds, and it is $0.20 more to me, with $1.40 now in the pot.  Getting 7-to-1, I call.

Flop ($1.60):  7h Ts Js.  Nut flush draw for me.  The small blind, with only $1.18 remaining in his stack, quickly goes all-in.  I have approx. $7.00 behind and call.  Button also calls.

Turn ($5.14): Qc.  Missed.  The button now has $2.86 behind and I have him covered.

Since there is not side pot at this point and the SB is already all-in, a semi-bluff accomplishes nothing.  I should assume SB has something with showdown value – perhaps a simple top pair / good kicker type of hand, or 2-pair, or a set.  He may have a straight draw or weaker flush draw.  But regardless, I cannot push him off the pot.  Repeat:  I cannot push a player who is already all-in off the pot.  CANNOT!

If I check, the button may also check and I’ll get a free card.

I’m really not sure why I did this, other than a brain fart or mini-tilt of some sort, but I shove all-in on the turn.  The button quickly calls.

SB:  Ks Jc, for a pair of jacks with a king kicker, and a straight draw.

Button:  Jh 9c for a pair of jacks with a nine kicker, and the idiot end of a straight draw.

River:  brick!

Stupid play.  I could have saved some money here.  Won’t get out of these micro stakes if I keep playing like I belong here.

Year-to-date online results: (- $1882)

Month-to-date online results:  + $23

Anna Kournikova

This sequence came earlier today, at $1-2 NL Hold’em.

Hand #1

I am the Big Blind with 7d 4d.  Three players plus the SB all limp in, and I check.

Flop ($10) – Jh 5d Kd.  I have a weak flush draw.  The Small Blind check, I check, 2 more players check and the button in Seat 5 bets $6.  SB folds, I call, another player folds and Seat 2 (who will be the Villain in the next hand) check-raises to $20.  Seat 5 quickly calls and I decide there is a pretty good chance at least one of these guys has a better flush draw than mine.  No need to chase a draw here.  I fold.

Turn ($56) – Ac.  Seat 2 bets $10, and Seat 5 who has only $45 left raises to $26, leaving $19 behind.  That usually means he doesn’t need any fold equity.  Seat 2 calls.

River ($108) – 3s.  Seat 2 checks, Seat 5 bets his last $19 and Seat 2 calls.

Seat 2 – Ks 8h – that’s right, he check/raised on the flop with top pair and shitty kicker.

Seat 5 – Qs Td – he has the nut straight, confirming the reason for not raising all-in on the turn.  Nothing to worry about, be patient and get it all on the river.

Seat 5 wins $146 pot.

Hand #2

The very next hand.  After the previous hand, Seat 2 has $98 remaining.  He open raises to $20 from UTG+1, a huge overbet and sure sign of tilt.  Everybody folds to me in the Small Blind, with Ah Qs.

Anna Kournikova 2

Some of my friends and I refer to this combination as “Anna Kournikova.”  (I’m well aware that other players apply the Anna Kournikova label to AK, as those are the former tennis beauty’s initials.)  But we think AQ is a better fit for Anna Kournikova because, like the real person, it looks really good but never seems to win anything.

But in this case, I think the better play is to shove.  Seat 2 appears to be on tilt after losing the previous hand, which he played quite poorly, and I should be way ahead of his range and positive EV with this play.  I have him covered and shove.

He calls with As 5d.

Yippee!  I have him dominated, and even better when the flops comes 3s 2d Qh.

All I have to do is avoid a 4 making his gutshot straight draw, or running 5’s.  Sometimes this game is so easy!  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

The turn is 6h, and OMG here comes the 4s on the river, giving Seat 2 a straight and the $195 pot.

Hand #3

Just three hands later, I am in the Hijack seat with As 4s.  Seat 5 (winner of Hand #1 above) raises to $6.  Normally I might fold a suited Ace here, but I’m a bit tilted myself still and make the call.  SB also calls.

Flop ($20) – 6s Ts 9h.  I have a nut flush draw.  Seat 5 bets $20.  Still tilting, I shove for $70 more and SB quickly folds.  Seat 5 takes about two seconds to call, showing Js Jh.

The turn is the five of spades, completing my flush and I win a $198 pot.

In a span of 5 hands, I’ve lost half of my stack on a terrible Anna Kournikova beat, then won it right back.

Interestingly enough, the chips moved from Seat 2 to Seat 5, then from me to Seat 2, and the from Seat 5 back to me.  After this sequence, all 3 of us are pretty close to where we started.

Now, let’s play some poker!


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