What’s Your Play? Small Pot, Big Hand

What's Your Play?This WYP should be of particular interest to fans of my Getting Paid series on Tournament Poker Edge. We’re heads up at the first table of a $500 NLHE Shootout WCOOP event. (In a shootout, they don’t break tables. Instead each starting table plays until one player remains, then they assign new seats and play down to one at each table again, etc.)

We haven’t had many hands heads up yet, but during short-handed play Hero was loose, aggressive, and stubborn, calling quite frequently out of the big blind, floating or otherwise playing back at c-bets, calling down light, etc. Villain has been slightly on the loose-passive side but hasn’t made any glaring mistakes or exhibited deep flaws in his game or anything.

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 530 Tournament, 150/300 Blinds 35 Ante (2 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from http://www.flopturnriver.com

SB (t29,370)
Hero (BB) (t23,130)

Hero’s M: 44.48

Preflop: Hero is BB with A♥, 9♣
SB bets t600, Hero calls t300

Flop: (t1,270) 7♥, J♥, 5♥ (2 players)
Hero checks, SB bets t645, Hero calls t645

Turn: (t2,560) 9♥ (2 players)
Hero checks, SB checks

River: (t2,560) K♠ (2 players)
Hero? 

In case you have trouble reading the suits, Hero turned an Ace-high flush. What’s your play and why? Post your thoughts, questions, and comments here, and I’ll be back with results on Friday.

18 thoughts on “What’s Your Play? Small Pot, Big Hand

  1. Ideally villain has a smaller flush. It is possible he would have checked back the turn with a flush, playing passively and hoping to induce a river bluff from our aggressive Hero. Under this scenario, Hero should oblige and bet the river, representing a bluff. I think 3/4 pot up to an overbet of 1 1/4 pot ought to work, but my lack of experience is evident here. I don’t think betting small hoping to induce a raise form villain is correct, based on villain’s passive image.
    if villain does not have a lower flush, we have to hope he has two pair, an Ace, or a King. Villain might value bet those hands if checked to on the river, but if villain remains passive he’ll check with the four hearts on board. A river bet by Hero seems to be correct, again 3/4 to 1 1/4 pot.
    If villain has air, Hero’s bet will likely produce a fold, but that is the cost of trying to get value on the river. On this board, I doubt a smaller river bet would get called by villain with air, or that a check would induce a bluff as Hero has called down stubbornly.
    What if villain raises the river? Although villain has been passive, we might still expect a raise if Hero’s bet is seen as a bluff or if villain as a high second-best flush. A raise is also very likely with 6h8h or 8hTh for straight flushes. I would give almost no credit to villain for having a straight flush. With Hero calling stubbornly, a competent villain would have bet the turn for value. Thus, I would shove to a river raise. We are very likely to be good, and if villain folds, we leave him no more information than our current LAGGY image.

  2. I think the way you’ve played the hand so far has kept your range wide. Your range for calling the flop is pretty wide since you’ve already shown the tendency to make stubborn calls, so you could have any heart, 5, 7, J, straight draw, or even a naked A. I don’t think the check on the turn narrows your range that much – if anything it might make him think it eliminates high hearts from your range. So if you’ve so far convinced him that you don’t have a high heart, on the river you either want to check to make it look like you are giving up in order to induce a bet, bet an amount that looks like your are bluffing, or bet an amount that will look like thin value with a low heart. I think he is more likely to have a bluff catcher so if you check he is too likely to check back. I think a large bet will look bluffier, but you don’t want to make it too large, so I’ll say bet pot, 2560

  3. I believe his profile “slightly loose- passive” eliminates river check as a choice.

    Because of your characterization of his profile it is easy deduct your profile in HU.
    Your profile is loose-agro.
    SB bet should be interpreted as action with nice perceived equity against loose-agro on this board.

    What hero river check is able to accomplish?
    The river check is able to misrepresent your range as “face up” weak baby flush at best or maybe ,maybe weaker holdings.
    However I will expect from loose-agro profile river bet with the worse holdings in context flop call and turn checks frequently. You both know how much fold equity is to grab in HU match.
    My choice:
    Pot size river bet from loose-agro profile is able to elicit call from another weak baby flush in HU -easy.
    So I will slightly over-bet to make life difficult and profitable.

    • Still proper adjustment is to be tight aggressive.
      Earlier I will half-pot bet the turn.I know this is straightforward but the deception(?) is not the best strategy against stubborn loose passive profile.

  4. I think betting a small amount has the advantage of getting a call from a baby flush or even a non-flush hand like 2-pair, that might check back when checked to, as well as possibly inducing a raise from a K or Q high flush. So I would bet 1/3 to 1/2 pot. 1000 seems fine.

  5. He is loose, passive(ish) and stubborn. I think we have to bet and should bet bigish, but not too big – we are really hoping for crying calls here.

    I also think donking or c/r the flop as well as donking the turn are pretty good options in this spot. Any comments on why you decided to go with check/call and check?

  6. Some posts mention Villain being stubborn, but Andrew only describes himself as stubborn, not the Villain. I agree that a stubborn Villain calls for bigger bets with the nuts, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  7. My instinct here is to make a pot-sized bet.

    If you check, I don’t think he’ll bluff with A-high or better, and my guess is that he’s a poor candidate to value-town himself with anything worse than the naked ten of hearts.

    At these stack depths, I don’t think you’re twice as likely to get called if you bet 1/2 pot, so you bet the full amount. I think he’s calling with any heart, King, or Jack. And this is an easy hand to talk yourself into bluffcatching with really minimal holdings, like even Q high.

  8. Checking on the river must be perceived as giving up a lot of the time here. Villain would really have no reason to bet in that case, as we won’t be likely to call with any hands he beats. That, and the fact that he’s passive anyway, makes it likely he will check behind and this is therefore very unlikely to be the most profitable line in this spot.

    Betting large, let’s say 1x pot, will polarize our range to either air or the nuts. Betting small, say 1/3x pot, will often be perceived as a thin-ish value bet with middling to low hearts. Under these assumptions, the profit made from getting a PSB called is 3x the profit made from getting the smaller bet called (ldo). So the probability to get called needs to be 3x higher with the smaller bet than with the PSB for both lines to be equally profitable. I am ignoring the possibility of the villain raising. The only hands I would expect him to do that with are 68h and 8Th and I would seriously consider folding the third nuts here if raised.

    So now we need to establish if villain’s range and how he plays that range versus hero’s image here is strong enough to make it less than 3x more likely to get a call from a 1/3x pot sized bet than from a PSB. Villain, being loose, is likely to open wide when folded to in the SB. Going by all the information we have, that he’s passive, we assume he doesn’t cbet without some piece of the board or draw. He may have a lot of hearts in his range here. The fact that we call may lead him to believe that we also have a heart, one stronger than his and leads him to check behind the turn, as we could be trapping given our prior aggression. Loose passive plays do like to call though. And since the pot size is small relative to the stacks, because there were only two streets of betting post-flop, I think betting pot sized is the right play here, as we will get enough calls to make it more profitable.

  9. Why didn’t Hero check-raise the flop? Seems like we have plenty of fold equity.

    As played on the turn I think check-raising gets too many folds so I would prefer to bet out. Kh and Qh are going to put money in on the turn either way. I think we’ll get more money out of JJ+, AJ, KJ by betting the turn.

    As played on the river I think we have to bet. Villain is way, way too likely to check behind. I think a larger bet will look more bluffy so I’d make it something like 1900.

    It is plenty likely that Villain has nothing at all but I don’t think he bluffs his air often enough for check-raising to be better than betting out.

  10. I like a bet of full pot 2500. my feeling is that if he is going to ‘crying call’ 1400 or 1700 or some of the other amounts posted above, we might as well bet bigger. If he raises we have to decide whether he would do this with the Kh/Qh vs only T8hh/86hh and I’m not sure from the villain description whether we can make that determination just from his exhibited play but would lean towards very possibly doing it with the K or Q. If he raises we are always calling or raising. Could bet/3bet but what is calling a 3bet here? KhQh?. If somehow we ended up bet/3betting and he 4bet or jammed then we are in quite a pickle. It takes some serious stones to 4b this spot without Ah+.

  11. In other words, I don’t think its a lock he calls with any flush whatsoever and actually think he folds a fair amount of baby flushes. IMO, the value in this hand comes from getting the decent/good flushes to pay off. If we were in villain’s position with the Qh are you ever folding in a heads up shootout scenario? In short, if he has a hand that can call us, he will call whether its anywhere from 1000-2500 so might as well bet larger.

    • If you look at it from his perspective, if he does have the K/Q h, then he might be thinking his check on the turn induced a bluff bet and isn’t going to think twice about calling.

  12. Grunch

    I would usually bet the turn. Want to get paid for big hands. Would have bet 2/3 to 1 pot on the turn, and again on the river. That said, this is a fun time to try an overbet. You could try 2-4 x pot. Might look like a weird bluff since you checked the turn and the river doesn’t change much.

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