What can you beat?

What can you beat?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

When facing an all-in or river bet, your opponent is either bluffing or value-betting, so your first step is to work out whether he can be bluffing says Ben Jackson. If the answer is no, then you have to work out whether there are any hands he is betting for value that you can beat.

While playing online on Genting Poker recently, I had two hands that illustrate this principle.

The first was in a 1/2 hold’em cash game. I open to $6 with Ad5s ($400 deep), and the BB, who is a very good, fairly rocky player, flats ($300 deep). I already put him on a fairly narrow range as I don’t think he would be flatting too light out of position.

The flop comes 4-7-T with two spades. He checks and I bet $10, expecting to take the pot down a lot of the time and, when I don’t, I have a lot of equity versus all his hands as I’m drawing to nut spades and an ace is most likely good too.

He flats, however, and the turn comes an ace. Now he checks, and because he’s a decent, thinking player, I decide to bet as I think he would expect me to check back most one pair A-X hands, and, if I have no hand, then it’s a perfect card to barrel.

I decide to bet $27 into $33 and he check-raises me to $72. Now I hate life and put him on a hand like A10/A7 and possibly flopped sets. I don’t ever think he has it in him to check-call then check-raise with a hand like JQs/KQs/KJs. He’s the type of player who would either check-raise the flop or, if he decided to check-call the flop, would check the turn also.

I decide to flat as I think he has a strong made hand and I think I can get the rest of his stack if I hit a spade on the river. Of course, there’s also a chance I am wrong and that I’m already winning, and if that’s the case, when I flat the turn I don’t expect him to bluff the river.

The river comes another ace and he moves all in for $210. I now decide he can never be bluffing because, once I flat the turn, I have an ace a lot of the time. So I have to work out his value-shoving range and whether I can beat any of those hands.

Personally, I think the worst value hand he shoves here is pocket fours, which he will have a decent amount of the time, as well as sevens, A-7, A-10 and possibly tens (he may have decided to plat pre- with tens, but I don’t think it’s his style).

I came to the conclusion that he wasn’t bluffing and I could beat no value hands, and decided to fold. Against this opponent I am always folding, but if the river comes brick I am more likely to call if my opponent is aggressive as he can expect me to fold a lot of one-pair hands. When the river comes an ace, however, it crushes my range so much that my opponent should never be bluffing. Of course, if my opponent is a donkey and doesn’t know this, then it’s different, but against a player like this I don’t expect to be bluffed too much in this spot in a $1/$2 game.

The second hand occurred on the same table against the same player. He opens UTG to $6, I 3-bet (which I had been doing a lot) to $16 with Q-Q, everyone else folds, and he 4-bets me to $42. Although he is fairly rocky, I know he is capable of 4-betting light as I have seen him do it before, and I also know how strong this looks as he’s open-4-bet from UTG, and I know he’s good enough to know I know this and do it light. I decide to flat as I have position and we are both around $400 deep and I don’t expect him to go too crazy without a hand in later streets.

The flop comes 5-7-8 with two hearts and he bets $45. I think he would definitely take at least one stab at it without a hand. This is also a board that should hit me a lot more than it hits him, as he’s repping big pairs and A-K. I decide to flat and re-evaluate on the turn.

The turn pairs the seven and he moves all in for 200 into 180ish. I now definitely put him on a over-pair as it looks like a bit of a scared bet, but he's still happy getting it in. I now have to work out which over-pair. I don’t expect him to 4-bet me with pairs like nines, tens and jacks pre-, as they have a lot of equity. I think he’s more likely to 4-bet smaller pairs, twos up to eights, because, if he flats and doesn’t flop a set, he just check-folds most the time. He obviously 4-bets A-A and K-K, and I don’t think he over-shoves the turn with boats or quads unless he puts me on a hand like J-J and expects me to call – which is possible. I came to the conclusion that the only hands I could beat are possibly sixes, if he had downed a can of Red Bull prior to hand, and also AhKh, but even then he is still about 30% to win. So when you combine that with the fact that it’s the only hand I marginally beat, I, again decided to fold.

Tags: Ben Jackson, strategy