Run-out textures

Run-out textures

Monday, 23 September 2013

More great analysis from Ben Jackson.

In poker, board textures, or run-outs, are crucial. Sometimes the turn of a card can lead you to completely disregard the actual hand you have and force you to reevaluate the situation. You could take a certain action on a specific river that would be the total opposite to the one you would have taken had a different river card come.

This hand occurred in a $2/$4 online game. I am in the big blind with a stack of 200bb ($800). It’s folded to the small blind who has a stack of 120bb ($480), and he opens to $12. I have A-8 and I decide to call. I hate using the word “standard” but in this situation it was a pretty standard call. There’s no point three-betting him as he will fold a lot of hands we have crushed or are currently beating. If we were both 200bb-plus, I could understand a three-bet because he would call with a much wider range, including some hands we have crushed – however, I still wouldn’t recommend it with a hand like A-8. I’d much rather three-bet with a hand like A-2, because A-2 has worse equity versus a random range, whereas A-8 is much stronger pre- and post-flop. Also, because we three-bet him pre-flop, if we do get flatted and we hit an ace we would generally only get action from hands that are better or have good equity versus our hand, as people tend to play fairly straightforwardly in these situations most the time – for example, with a draw with which he can put us under moderate pressure – as we only have an eight-kicker it’s not ideal to get the pot any more bloated than it needs to be.

So I flat and the flop comes AcQx9c. Now I have top pair and also the 8c for a backdoor flush draw. He bets $16 into $24, which I expect him to do with almost all his hands. For this reason, I can only call because raising would get all bluffs to fold, and I still beat a lot of his value bets like worse Ax hands and most queens.

The turn comes the 4c, bringing three clubs, and he now bets $42 into $54. He can still be bluffing, as he can expect me to fold most of my 9x and Qx hands without a club. Also, sometimes I can be floating the flop with total air, as most of the time people who get called on ace-high flop will then give in on the turn. He knows I know this, so it would be a good spot for him to barrel, especially if he has a random club in his hand, because it gives him a lot more perceived equity if I call. He can also still be betting some worse hands for value, as I will call with a lot of weak one-pair-plus-club hands, so he could still be betting all Ax and Qx hands, because he thinks I could be floating. If he checks, he would have to call both future streets which he might not like doing, as he would just be guessing, so betting here makes it a little easier for him to play weaker showdown hands.

I decide to call, as I still have a strong hand in this situation versus his range – but not strong enough to raise. The river comes the Ah, giving me trips, and he bets $110 into $138. The board is now A-Q-9-4-A with three clubs and I have A-8 with one club.

My thoughts here are as follows: because I have called the flop and turn on this board, most of the time I will have an ace, a flush or sometimes a hand like Q-K/J-Q/Q-10 with a club, as most other hands I will fold on the turn. So his bet on this specific river makes me think he isn’t bluffing. It would be a bad river for him to bluff, as he would expect me to call the river with most hands I have called the turn with. On the other hand, there is only one ace left in the deck (two on the board and one in my hand) so this decreases the chances of him having a Ax hand, including some boats. I’m also not sure if he would bet this big for value with a hand I’m chopping with, which is A-8 and below, so if he’s value-betting it would narrow him to flushes, Q-Q/9-9 and sometimes boats including an ace.

So, as I don’t think he bluffs very often at all and doesn’t value-bet this size with worse hands, I shouldn’t call. Then I wondered whether he would ever fold better hands and decided the only better hand he could fold is a flush, and that really depends on his tendencies as a player and what he thinks of me. Because I have an ace, which reduces the combinations of full houses which, in turn, increases the chances of him having a flush, I try to decide whether I think he would fold a flush or not.

When I’m thinking of bluffing I try to imagine how often I think he would call if I had the nuts and I shoved. To be honest, I’d be excited if I had the nuts in this spot because I’d expect to get called a lot, which makes it a bad spot to bluff. So after evaluating the hand, I decide that he is never value-betting worse, he is never bluffing and he would never fold worse. This means I should fold. However, caught up in the moment, I made what I now know is a mistake and I called like a station. He showed me Qc10c for a flush.

My second hand is in a $3/$6 game and I am UTG with Ad10d. I raise to $18 from a 100bb stack ($600) and a fairly tight A-B-C regular who has me covered flats on the cut-off, while the button and both blinds all fold. Because he is a fairly tight regular and he also knows I am a regular, I don’t imagine him to be flatting with too many speculative/weak hands such as suited connectors or random weak Ax suited hands. I would expect him to flat with most pairs up to J-J, sometimes Q-Q, and then all big cards up to A-Qs and sometimes A-K.

The flop comes 10-4-5 rainbow and I continuation-bet for $33 into $45, feeling very happy about my hand at this point. I can comfortably expect to get called by a lot of worse hands such as 6-6/7-7/8-8/9-9. Also, I can sometimes get called by A-J/A-Q/A-K, which are in very bad shape against my hand and can get into lots of trouble if an ace comes on future streets. There are also a few hands that he would just flat that beat me such as J-J/Q-Q and occasional flopped set, but in general I can be feeling very happy about betting this flop.

He calls and the turn comes the 7d, giving me a flush draw as well as top pair. Now a lot of his hands that I still beat have an increased amount of equity in his mind, as it will give his 6-6/8-8/9-9 straight draws – not knowing that a diamond six, eight or nine gives me a flush – so he is more likely to call another bet. On the other hand, J-J and Q-Q still beat me and will still call if I choose to bet, and I if he has AJ/AQ he will now fold. Also, because I have the Ad, he can’t have turned a flush draw as my initial thinking was he can only have A-J/A-Q here after flatting pre- and calling turn.

I decide to bet $92 into $111, as a kind of range-merge. Because my bet is so large, I think I can occasionally get him to fold J-J/Q-Q as he is fairly nifty and he definitely wouldn’t want to face a river bet as well as flop and turn bets, so he might fold now to save that “big river decision”. Also, I think he is actually more likely to flat here, definitely with 6-6 and also 8-8/9-9, as opposed to J-J or Q-Q. This is because if I have at least an over pair, which I am representing, those hands have more equity than J-J and Q-Q as J-J and Q-Q can’t improve unless they river a set.

The river comes an off-suit eight, which is obviously one of the worst rivers in the deck for the hand I have. I now decide that I definitely can’t bet for value, as I only now beat 9-9, and I never expect him to call with that. I did think of bluffing him off J-J and Q-Q as I would expect him to definitely fold those hands. However, my large turn bet got called, which eliminates those hands sometimes, so I decide it would be a little too thin to try and make this happen. I no choice but to check and hope he has the miracle 9-9 and checks behind. When I check, however, he bets $175 into $285, which I hate. I don’t ever expect him to bet 9-9, J-J or Q-Q and I don’t think this player ever has anything in his range that allows him to have flatted both flop and turn and now bluff the river. I came to the conclusion that he has to have a set or a straight to bet here. I have to fold.

Remember, your opponent’s range of hands can change or develop as each flop/turn/river comes down. That means your range also has to change and adapt to his, which then makes the situation exploitable from both sides: you can start bluffing cards that are perceived as good for your range, but you also have to know when to slow down on cards that are good for your opponent’s range.

Tags: Ben Jackson, strategy