What's up in poker twice
If the board mates twice ...
Recently, two hands happened to me within a few minutes, both of which had a long lasting effect. Both weren't very big, but in both of them I was quite happy with my game (which is rare) because I had made good, not-very-obvious decisions.
But it had to pass 24 hours before I noticed that the same motif dominated in both hands - a motif that is not even as rare as I finally realized. For example, it is responsible for one of the two big jack-high downcalls of my career - as well as a few other hands that obviously occupied me longer because they resulted in two-plus-two posts. And it's good as an idea for an article, even if I'm a little afraid that I'm writing past part of the target group. We will see.
Unfortunately, what it is about cannot be formulated as briefly and crisply as I would like it to be. Two conditions must be met: The board that has already been paired must pair a second time, and the range of one of the participants must be heavily weighted in the direction of small / medium pocket pairs, so that the board often makes this player's hand worthless. If both of these conditions are met, bluffs or bluff catchers often appear, which at first glance may look spectacular or out of the way - and at second glance, logical and plausible.
Sounds pretty abstract and far too theoretical. So off to the table, let's look at the first of the two hands across four streets, initially without comment.
We play 4-handed 25/50 online, effective stacks $ 6,500, Hero in the SB .
UTG folds, the button opens $ 175.
Hero respects the button as a good, thinking regular; Hopefully the other way round is the same. The BB has been playing quite loose and wild so far; a stranger whose appearance led to this game being played.
Hero cold calls, the BB calls too.
Flop ($ 525, 3 players)
Check, check, check
Turn ($ 525, 3 players)
Hero bets $ 350, BB folds, Button calls
River ($ 1,225, 2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $ 611, Hero calls.
The button shows 77, and Hero wins with a K-high.
Pre-flop and on the flop, Hero has several options, which I just want to name but not examine in order not to go beyond the scope. So just this much: A 3bet would mostly be good and effective preflop, but a cold call is not bad and may sometimes be best, for example if it serves the goal of getting a bad player in the BB into the pot.
On the flop, Hero has a very strong hand with a flush draw plus two overcards plus a backdoor straight draw, which should be good enough in almost every scenario to put the stack in the middle on the flop, usually with more than 50% equity against the assumed one Range we get action from for 130BB. A lead bet would be good with this strong hand, as would a check raise against the button's Cbet / BB's lead bet or a check / call, depending on the situation.
What is remarkable about the flop is that the button does not fire a cbet. That may mean that he has nothing and gives up, but it is more likely that he wants to check a mediocre hand with showdown value and possibly a few backdoor outs into showdown. E.g. a typical combo would be that the button could / would / should often behind-check on the flop.
The gymnastics card is obviously unpleasant for us. Hero doesn't hit any of his numerous outs, so our initially terrific equity crashes against one-pair or ace-high hands on the turn. In addition, the cuts our fold equity, because no one simply folds on paired boards, especially if they suspect a few semi-bluffs in our betting range.
Another noise on the turn is that the button may have trips, as 8x hands could also be in his flopcheck-behind range. But as soon as the villain calls our bet on the turn, we can rule out eight times - he would have raised trips, value and protection.
Hero wants to win the pot directly by betting on the turn, but he also plans to continue firing against the button on many rivers without a hit, in order to bluff out weak ace-high hands or small one-pair hands .
Hero rescheduled on the river. The plan was to fire most of the time even without a hit, but the board that mates again fundamentally changes the spot. When we look at Villain's turncall range, first and foremost and small / medium pocket pairs, then a bet is much less effective than check / call. We don't get ace-high to fold with a bet, but we don't have to worry about a value bet after a check, because an ace will check the villain behind and assume that it is often good enough. He folds pocket pairs against a bet, but will always turn them into a bluff against a check, so that we can milk out some extra money with a bluff catch against these hands. And better hands, which he would value bet on the river after a check on our part, are not really visible after the flop and turn sequence.
Blah blah, next hand: We're playing 10/20 5-handed online, $ 2,000 effective stacks. Under the gun opened a competent regular $ 60, we coldcallen in MP with , the following three players fold.
Flop ($ 150, 2 players)
UTG bets $ 120, hero calls
Turn ($ 390, 2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $ 220, UTG calls
River ($ 830, 2 players)
UTG checks, hero checks
UTG shows KhQs and wins
There is almost no alternative to Hero's decisions preflop and on the flop. But the value of the turnbet is at least not obvious if we ask ourselves which worse hand our bet might call, because such hands are not visible at first glance. And with KQ on the Villain's side, it's not obvious at first glance why I called him a good player. Admittedly, when he revealed his hand on the river, I was astonished for a moment, because I actually didn't expect KQ and didn't see KQ in his checkcall range on the turn.
But if we think in ranges and for once try an advanced thought process, then we find that Hero has a simple, clear value bet on the turn, depending on how the Villain sees Hero. And then we find that the villain played the hand properly against our range, even if he was just lucky against our two specific cards.
Part of an advanced thought process (against thinking villains) is that we consider: How does our opponent see our range? Is our specific hand possibly high up or at the lower end of this range? The answers to these two questions alone often lead us to the best decision and in this case to the insight that a preflop loose coldcalling hero has to bet this turn against a competent player - value. Which worse hand the villain might call with is not obvious to us, but it is also not that important. He should deal with this problem, not us.
It is crucial that we, as a loose player, are high up in our range in this spot and that we will often bet as a bluff here. We may have, from Villain's perspective, TJs or T8s. Or, and here we come to the topic, 33rd or 44th or 55th We would have played all of these hands preflop and on the flop in the same way (a raise would be an alternative on the flop), the turn card would have made it worthless, and so we would have turned it into a bluff on the turn. If the Villan can still assume (and he can) that we tend to call hands with showdown value (small / medium pocket pairs, ace-high combos) on the flop and raise hands without showdown value (draws / backdoor draws), then should he see some pocket pairs destroyed by the board on the turn in our range, with which we have no choice but to turn them into a bluff. In this respect, c / c with A-high or even, as played, with K-high is not a bad idea against our turn betting range. Sometimes the villain will pay a full house per c / c and sometimes it will catch a bluff.
Speaking of paying out full house, this happened to me a few weeks ago in such a spot. The villain's betting range was polarized on a double-paired board, and I felt compelled to invest $ 2,000 in my J-high to catch Villain's potential bluff with his worthless pocket pair. If you then pay out a full house with nothing but jack-high, you look a bit stupid, of course.
Here are the two 2p2 threads indicated above, in which the topic of this post was up for debate. In one of the two even 9-high would have been a bluff catcher:
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