This week’s “What’s Your Play?” was a little light on comments – have I been giving you too much to read lately?
Most people have advocated calling pot odds, but seeing that you’re getting a good price is only half the work. You still have to be able to put Villain on a bluff or worse value/blocking bet often enough to call.
We’re not actually getting 6:1 on the call since we don’t win 100% of the time that we’re ahead of Villain. Hero’s JJ has about 75% equity by the river against a random hand, and roughly the same 75% against a top 80% hand. That drops off to about 72% if BB is only playing the top 70% of hands, but let’s keep the math easy and say that we’ll beat him 75% of the time. That means we’d have to call 1200 to win (.75 * 3200) + 2600 + 1200 = 6200, meaning we need to beat Villain at least 20% of the time to call.
That’s not a big number, but it still seems optimistic to me. Most playes don’t value bet an optimally thin range. He certainly can’t exclude Aces or flushes from Hero’s range altogether, so to value bet a T, he’d have to expect Hero to call with enough even worse hands than that to make up for the times that he runs into an Ace. Moreover, if Villain is value betting KT, then he’s surely value betting any Ace as well, so that’s quite a few hands Hero can’t beat mixed in with a very few that he can.
I don’t think Villain’s bet makes sense as a blocking/cheap showdown bet either. For one thing, Hero’s line strongly suggests that a cheap showdown is coming anyway. Besides, the river is an even less likely spot for a bluff than the flop, because if Hero does have air, his equity against BB’s random hand has declined considerably. There’s really no reason for Villain to do anything but check and fold Ts and worse if Hero bets.
That leaves the possibility of a bluff. To be bluffing, Villain would have to get to the river with a hand that needs to bluff, which is unlikely given that he checked and called a bet, albeit a small one, on a flop without any obvious draws. Hero’s Jacks block many combos of the most likely candidates for such a play, which would be KQ, KJ, and QJ. Moreover, even KQ has only 35% equity against BB’s random hand in the main pot. QJ has 25%. Most players don’t bluff optimally often either, particularly not into small sidepots.
To me, Villain’s line indicates an Ace that he knows he can’t value bet too strongly. I think that we can get him off of it with a shove, which will be nearly twice the size of the main and sidepots. Even if he’s suspicious, that’s a hell of a hero call to make in a spot where he shouldn’t really expect a bluff for the same reasons that we don’t expect him to bluff and facing a line that he’s surely not used to seeing as a bluff.
I do think that shoving makes more sense than a smaller raise because we’re trying to represent an extremely strong and narrow range. He may well be suspicious, so we don’t want to make it painless to look us up.
Xizal asks a very good question: wouldn’t it be better to raise with air than with a hand that has some showdown value? The fact that we’re going to have to show down against BB regardless makes this a rare case where the answer is no. It’s actually better here to bluff with the top of our folding range because our equity against BB is still very relevant. If I held something like 87s, that’s the sort of hand I’d prefer to fold.
I didn’t actually get the chance to shove, because Villain didn’t actually bet. But I was planning to shove unless he made a suspiciously large raise, and I thought it would make for an interesting discussion. In actuality he checked, and I was happy to check behind. Boy am I lucky he didn’t bet, because he showed KhQh!
Note, by the way, that Hero’s small bet did get him to call with worse on the flop and may well have prevented him from bluffing the turn, since he turned an awfully nice draw.
Thanks to those who participated!