What’s Your Plan? Making Yourself a Target

What's Your Play?

Edit: Just realized the first paragraph of this post disappeared for some reason. Rewriting it now.

In his opinion, Hero hasn’t been that aggressive, but that isn’t how this loose and passive $1/$3 no-limit hold ’em table sees it. I’ve mostly been doing pretty simple stuff, bombing it preflop against weak limpers, continuation betting, raising weak bets post-flop, but I’m definitely perceived as extremely aggressive. The only all-in pots I’ve played were with a set and with a flopped middle pair, gut shot, a flush draw.

Villain is at once intimidated by me and also eager to see me lose. This isn’t speculation on my part: there’s no filter between his brain and his mouth, and I’ve had plenty of time to learn exactly what he thinks about my play (“this guy always knows when to raise, I can’t beat him in a pot, that’s real poker, that’s how you play, god there he goes again, raising again,” etc.) as well as that he’s been playing for 14 hours, he’s extremely frustrated by the bad cards he’s been dealt.

He’s extremely results oriented and always thinks he should have bet more to protect his hand if he gets drawn out on, that he should have called pre-flop if he would have flopped two-pair, etc. He’s been playing a lot of pots pre-flop out of boredom/tilt, but after the flop he likes to see where he’s at and I haven’t seen him commit much without a strong hand. He’s proudly shown a couple of bluffs in a few very standard spots, like betting the flop after he raises pre and then dramatically revealing a whiffed QTo on an A85 flop, that sort of thing.

He really likes to see me lose pots and especially likes the idea of people rebluffing me. I’ve folded to a few flop check-raises from other players that he is convinced were bluffs, though I’m pretty confident he’s wrong. He always pounds the table and congratulates the other player when that happens. “That’s how you beat him. It’s so easy. Just raise him, he never has anything.” Despite his talk, he hasn’t actually put that strategy into practice yet – I know because he shows his cards after just about every hand.

Pre-Flop UTG limps, I limp behind with 4s 3s, there’s another limp or two, then a young, tight, and predictable player on the button raises to $15, an indication that he likes his hand but it’s not a monster. Villain calls from the SB, the first limper folds, I call, and the others fold.

Flop ($52 in pot) Ks 8d 3c Villain checks, I check, Button bets $20 and is visibly uncomfortable, Villain calls, I raise to $60, Button folds, Villain leans forward, throws $100 aggressively into the pot, and says, “Make it a hundred” while staring daggers at me. I ask for clarification about whether he’s actually made it $120, and the dealer confirms that he has. Villain continues to glower at me while we get that sorted out.

He has about $300 behind and Hero covers. What’s your plan and why? I don’t expect you to predict all possible turn/river scenarios if you don’t want to fold, but try to give a general idea of your plan: are you looking to call down, bet if checked to, bluff-raise some or all turns, etc.? Post your comments here, and I’ll be back on Friday with results and my own thoughts.

22 thoughts on “What’s Your Plan? Making Yourself a Target

  1. Do we have a sense of villain’s preflop 3bet frequency and range? Would he 3bet AK, KQ and 99+ in this spot or would he just flat his entire range other than QQ+, usually frustratingly throwing his chips in the middle of the table?

    In any case, based on our read, and having played with similar opponents before, I think villain shows up with ATC very often here. You seemed to have described him as someone who will often bluff without any equity. A semi-bluff doesn’t seem to be in his arsenal! (i’m exaggerating but you get the idea) He pretty much either has it or is already drawing dead in spots like this. The fact that he flats the btn’s cbet then min raises after he sees you raise is a line which makes little sense to me. I don’t think villain is good enough to anticipate you raising and isn’t enough of a good player to flat the cbet hoping to induce a raise from you to then click it back. Based on this assumption, it sounds to me like he is out to get you and is raising here with anything. Literally anything and I think we are doing pretty well against a “anything range!” I could see him mutter these words “I’m gonna beat this poker wizard at his own game and just totally own his ass, here is a raise you sucker!”

    In addition to this, we do have a piece of the board, have a backdoor draw and are getting a very good price. I would call and reevaluate on the turn. We obviously have a huge edge on him post flop and will have a good idea of what to do on the turn and river if it gets to it.

    • I don’t think I’d seen any 3-betting from him, but I also don’t think he’d had the opportunity to 3bet any of the hands you listed, so the best we can do is try to guess based on the info we do have.

    • a) Sorry, somehow the first paragraph of this post got deleted. This was a $1/$3 game.

      b) No, I’d never played with this guy before, and I don’t think he had any prior knowledge of me.

  2. If you call there’s going to be $72+$240=$312 in the pot, with $300 behind. If you shove then even 7h6h has 25.6%, any other 76s can correctly call. So your choices are:

    1. Shove and hope he folds a lot.

    2. Fold.

    3. Call and hope he checks and folds to a turn shove.

    …I’d guess those are roughly the order you should do them in, not 100% sure about #1 and #2 though. On the upside even if you are behind it’s good to deter him from making plays in the future, on the downside this is his first move and he’s likely to show even if you fold and if he isn’t making a move you are crushed.

    • Just because he has the odds to call off the rest with 76s doesn’t mean I should fold if I know that’s what he has…

      • This is a cash game, not a tournament. You’re not looking to get your money in in any marginal spot where you think have an edge. From the post it sounds like you are trying to outplay him more than necessary. Why not just wait for a better spot to stack him.

        • Preflop call a raise oop with 34s in early position?

          What is your plan to win this pot if you don’t connect. This is a positional play that makes no sense given situation IMHO

  3. Doesn’t he make the same play with ak,kq,kj,10 knowing you never have ak and seldom kq in this spot.

    I can see call and either hitting a card and/or shoving into a check…

  4. Feed a fever, starve a cold? Something like that … I also think you smooth (feed him) here IP and evaluate the Turn as you are in position to shove a coordinated Turn card if you get a check and fold out if he pots it.

    I think he gets it in if you just raise Flop, but might unwillingly fold to a Flop shove … and then leave the table for a bit. He very well could be doing a reverse tell with a set and I see no worse than Kx, maybe A8 in his pocket.

    Unfortunately he will probably pot commit or shove most Turns and you will be handcuffed if you don’t hit.

  5. There are no draws, so there are three scenarios:

    1. He’s on a bluff because ‘you never have anything’.
    2. He has a weak hand (pocket pair below 10 or an 8) and feels he has to make a stand.
    3. He has a strong hand (K with good kicker, set or 2 pair, though K8s seems unlikely) and tries to build the pot.

    Option 1 seems unlikely to me. He called the initial raisers c-bet, and the only ‘nothing’ hands I see him doing that with are (maybe) AQ, AJ. It’s much more likely he has some part of the flop or a pocket-pair.

    Option 3 is possible. First a call and then, after someone shows real interest, a min-raise to build the pot. It makes sense.

    Option 2 also makes a lot of sense. He’s heads-up with the guy who never has anything. He has a pair, and won’t be bluffed!

    I don’t like a call. If you don’t improve you have to fold if he bets the turn and a shove on a check from him might get called, because he has little enough behind to slowplay the turn with his monsters.

    A shove might get him to fold a large part of his range (maybe even top pair), especially if he realizes you only shoved with big hands so far.

    A fold is a save way out. He might have decided to take a stand no matter what you do.


    It’s close between a shove and a fold. A job for the math guys.

  6. First I have to say very nice opponent modeling.
    The Key point:How to interpret “staring daggers at me”?
    13 hours decision making,frustrations means a two basic things:1.that his emotional tag is dopamine strapped(attention),
    2 unfulfilled expectations (anger,etc)

    I interpret staring daggers as boiling point.He made decision to confront you.
    I will say that this means that he is not folding this time and this is not because his strong holdings.
    His amygdala will make him reacting before the thinking brain has weighed up the evidence and planned an appropriate reaction.
    His emotional brain hijacked his neocortex and blanked out more subtle distinctions between stimuli(Ace on turn or 2).
    The subconscious part is the man in the command.
    So the common denominator for this entire neuronal pathway is expectation(s).
    His expectation is: I deserve to this pot and respect not matter what!.

    The plan: DO NOT BLUFF AGAINST WIDE RANGE with no fold equity.

  7. With the preflop and flop action leading up to our raise the villain is very likely to have a one pair hand 8x or Kx (most likely with an average kicker). There is also the possibility of a set, but that will be mostly 88 as KK is probably re-raising preflop and you have a 3. Once you raise and he comes over the top I am not inclined to attempt to make him fold one of these hands here, he is clearly agitated by you, wants to see you lose, and is bored/tilting all of which make unlikely he will fold a pair here once he raises. Is it possible he called the LP flop bet on a float hoping you would raise so he could re-bluff? I guess its possible but it seems more than a bit of a strech. I’d fold. It would, however, be pretty fun to hit a 3 or 4 and watch him lose his mind by stacking him so I might just call for that reason and we are getting about 10:1 on the call assuming he puts the rest in, which I am, so I could go with fold or call :). Raising is out.

  8. Based on your description I think it’s doubtful he doesn’t have some sort of hand when he calls button’s bet, unless he read the same tell you did and he’s floating to bluff a later street or he’s calling to induce you to raise. I think it’s 90% he has some sort of hand, 10% one of the latter. So the question is can you get him off the weaker part of his range. Calling shows great strength given that there is only a pot size bet left, but a live player like this might not realize that, so I don’t think calling as a bluff will work against him (i.e. I think he is going to barrel almost his whole range on the turn and you’ll have to fold). I think shoving will get him off the weakest part of this range, pocket pairs between 8 and 3 (probably only 25% of his made hands), but I think he will call with anything better. I fold.

  9. Does a guy clowning and showing his cards know that he has “little enough behind to slowplay his monsters”? I’m not so sure, which helps the case for call/play poker with position. Also, I tend to think the hard stare is strong-meaning-weak at LLSNL unless something else suggest otherwise. Would he do the song-and-dance with KQ? Seems unlikely. That said, I also think the speech makes him less likely to fold even if he is weak.

    Of course you’re still behind more than half of his range even if he is weak. Letting him feel like he’s catching you may help for meta purposes (if that is a consideration). So I think I fold.

  10. Fold. He has a strong K too often here. I’m interpreting his post bet mannerisms to be of the antagonistic variety, and he’s trying to get you to put more money in. If you think his actions are more of the intimidating variety, obviously you should be less likely to fold. But this board doesn’t really lend itself to many bluffs on turn/river, I don’t think. So he might call you down out of spite with some A8 type of hand, and then you’ll feel silly.

    • I guess I pretty much agree with Caius (although I don’t think shoving is an option), Todd, Dana, and IronedSheik (although initial interpretation of villian’s body language is different). He’s unlikely to have called initial bet on flop with complete air, and he seems ready to take a stand with KJ/TT/A8 type hands. Although as Todd mentioned, stacking him when a 3/4/runner-runner spades comes would be nice. Even so, I still say fold.

    • Some maths on a Flop shove. DISCLAIMER: It is possible (likely?) that every piece of math including here is incorrect.

      Pot is 252, with 300 effective stacks.

      If Hero shoves and is called, his EV is 552*P(best hand after river) – 300*P(not best hand after river). Hero’s fold equity is 252*P(fold). Add those together for total equity. If we guesstimate P(best hand), then set the equation to 0 and solve for P(fold), we can see what sort of P(fold) we need for a flop shove to be profitable.

      P(best hand after river) is basically equal to the chance we hit a 3, a 4, or runner-runner spade. In regards to 3’s and 4’s we have 5 outs twice, which is approximately 20%. Runner-runner spade happens about 4%. So let’s say P(best hand after river) = .24. Obviously, this is some fuzzy math. If we turn trip 3’s and Villian rivers trip K’s, we lose. He could also have two larger spades. He could already have a set. Adjust your calculations accordingly.


      552*(.24) – 300*(1-.24) + 252 * P(fold) = 0.

      Solving for P(fold) yields 0.38, according to my crazy fuckin’ gorilla math (reference??).

      Is he folding 38% of his range?

      Maybe his range is (let’s say the times he called initial flop bet with air (AT, QJ) cancels out with the times he slow played AA, KK, AK. That leaves us with):
      KQ – K8
      QQ – 22 (although I don’t think he’s calling initial flop bet with 22, 44-77)

      The K’s make up approx 46% of his range (assuming he has all suited and unsuited versions… you could adjust his range and say he has all KQ and KJ, but only suited versions of KT-K8, or something like that), the pocket pairs 44%, and A8 10% (again, gorilla math).

      If he folds 22, 44-77 and calls with all else, we ain’t sittin too pretty (and again, I think having 22, 44-77 in his range is generous towards our Hero, so reality is even more unkind). If he’ll lay down A8 and all his (non-set) pocket pairs, I think we’re OK. However, methinks he’s not folding QQ-99.

      It’s actually closer than my initial reaction lead me to belive (if he’s laying down QQ-99), but I still think flop shove is unprofitable.

      Flop call followed by future action is left as exercise for other readers 🙂

  11. This spot is very sensitive to what range we think Villain has.

    The physical tells indicate a bluff, but that bluffing range is accidentally a bit balanced. ie 50% pairs, 50% overcards, I have a feeling this is the sort of villain that would really slow play a monster. I think he’ll give up on the turn without a pair. So I think the best strategy is to call, and call only if improved (ie spade, 4 or 3 turn cards) if he bets again. If he checks then betting very small to take it away would be my plan.

    If the read that he is bluffing is right I think this line is superior to shoving on the flop, because I think there is a good chance he’ll call with his pairs and then we’ll have isolated ourself against the portion of his bluffing range that is ahead of us. The EV of that line then is slightly less than calling and playing the turn.

    If however we are unsure of our physical read (and I’m not sure at all) then I think this actually becomes a fold. It isn’t an obvious place to bluff, and the effective min raise looks very strong, perhaps his physical reaction is a challenge to try to get you into putting more money in the pot. Although we have a pair, it is bottom pair, we only have a pot sized bet left and there are only a few cards that improve our hand, I also think we can’t bluff at an A turn, I think there are better holdings in our range that we can call play turn, or stack off with. So I actually come to think of it prefer to fold.

  12. I fold. The guy has never bluff raised before and he thinks we never have it. In a spot like this, I want to have it if he shows any signs of not backing down because he probably thinks top pair no kicker is the nuts against us.

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