What’s Your Play? Middle Pair, Coordinated Board

What's Your Play?

Edit: Thanks to ThereYouGoAgain and others who pointed out the errors in my original post. Sorry for the confusion – Villain 1 (the open limper) did overcall the raise, and three of us saw the flop and turn (where pot size was wrong).

This hand comes from a $2/$5 no-limit hold’em game at the Venetian. Villain 1 ($700) is your typical loose-passive live player, lots of limping and calling and straight-forward play. Villain 2 ($1000) seems like a young live pro, mostly trying to make big hands and value bet weaker players, probably capable of making some plays at weaker players but also with a decided cautious/pot-control streak to him. Basically he seems uncomfortable playing marginal hands in big pots, quite possibly because he’s not adequately bankrolled for the game.

Hero is relatively new to the table but may already have established an aggressive/bluffy image. I’ve raised limpers a couple of times, three-bet others who seemed to be attacking limpers, and generally not been giving up easily post-flop. I haven’t shown down anything too crazy, but an attentive opponent would probably have noticed that I was fighting for more than my share of pots. I cover both Villains.

Villain 1 open limps in middle position, Villain 2 makes it $20 from the hijack, I call with  Jh 9h in the cutoff, Villain 1 calls and everyone else folds.

Flop ($65) Td 9c 6d. Both Villains check, I bet $45, Villain 1 snap-calls, and Villain 2 calls as well.

Turn ($200) 4s. Villain 1 bets $60, Villain 2 calls, Hero?

Post your thoughts, questions, and comments here, and I’ll be back with results and my own thoughts on Friday.

24 thoughts on “What’s Your Play? Middle Pair, Coordinated Board

  1. Preflop
    Sounds like you expect them to start playing back at you soon so I like the call. I guess 3bet/fold to a 4bet is ok, but this hand has great potential post flop.

    Flop
    I like the bet. You could have the best hand and you have a blocker to some straight draws if they want to call with fewer outs than expected.

    Turn
    The turn is a complete blank. A straight forward player leading here looks kinda strong to me. Once the second guy calls, I fold.

    • My assumption is that you flat pre because you expected them to be suspicious of your 3bet due to your image. If you think they would believe you, I like a 3bet pre.

      After the turn action gets back to you, you are likely behind at least one of them with Tx or a better 9x probably coupled with a draw. If you think you can get them to fold, then barrel away. The problem is that we started off by saying they could be getting suspicious of your aggression. I think this means they might call with pair plus draw hands. This especially goes for the pro who could be just calling with a decent non-monster hand like Tx to trap you (the LAG) while simultaneously pot controlling vs the other guy.

      I would argue that if you started off planning to play it passively because of your aggressive image that you should stick with that plan because I haven’t seen evidence that they are not willing to call you lighter than usual. I see no issue letting this one go because there will be better spots. If they are itching to get you, just stack them when you have the nuts.

  2. Preflop and Flop look Fine

    Turn: Is where the hand gets interesting. Villain 1 leads out, and this can sometimes indicate strength, but more often it’s a drawing hand trying to dictate the bet size to see a river card. Villain 1 could have Q/J, a gutshot, and a straight draw, or Ace high diamond draw. We’re only behind a pair of 10’s, a set, and the flopped straight with 7/8. Over pairs also seem less likely given the preflop action. 5/7 of Diamonds improved to open ended with a flush draw. Villain 2 seems very unlikely to have a big hand after just calling, and his range should be weighted more to draws, or weak made hands like a pair and a straight, and or flush draw. I see no reason for Hero to fold here with having position on both Villains, and the small turn donk by Villain 1.

    I believe you can make an argument for raising here, but that could make us susceptible to a check raise all in by Villain 1, and force Hero to fold. So I like calling and reevaluating on the river. I think it’s going to be less likely for either Villain to bluff this River Out of position withe two other opponents left to act, and Hero’s hand should be good here a large percentage of the time. The problem is the river can have a lot of scare cards that can complete a draw, but those can also be possible scare cards for either Villain as well. So again, I still like a turn call and reevaluate on the river as the best play here.

  3. Joe says “Villain 1 leads out, and this can sometimes indicate strength, but more often it’s a drawing hand trying to dictate the bet size to see a river card.” With many opponents I would agree with him, but against loose passive and straightforward players, I find donking the turn to much more often indicate strength. My problem with this is that usually this line (check-call the flop, donk the turn oop) from an extremely passive player often indicates a hand that has greatly improved on the turn (they are straightforward players after all). But it is hard to see how the 4s helps any hand (only possibilities are 44 or 75d, or maybe 54d?). Still, this bet represents enough strength that I would most likely fold. I think villian 2’s range is extremely draw-heavy with some moderate made hands (seems like monsters and air can be almost completely ruled out) so given our read on him, I think any big bet by us either on the turn or river has a good chance of folding him out (assuming he doesn’t get there on the river obviously). However, with many made hands in villian 1’s range, I think bluffing him off a better hand seems farfetched. If I wanted to turn my hand into a bluff, I think I would call the turn, then re-evaluate and bet big on scary river cards (assuming villian 2 checks or folds the river).

    • After giving this hand a lot of thought, and reading some of the other replies I believe it’s better just to either Raise or fold. If we raise and get it heads up Vs Villain 1 it’s better than going to the river with Villain 2 in the hand. If a diamond comes, its a great spot to bluff Villain off his pair of tens. However, Hero does have an active image, and this does make it closer to a fold as Villain may just take a stand and call.

  4. I’d raise to around 250$-300$ on the turn, and fold to a re-raise, even to a min-reraise.

    Short explanation: villain 1 mostly wants to draw, so we charge him. Villain 2’s range is significantly behind us, so let’s fold him out or charge him for drawing.

    Long explanation:

    Villain 1’s donk bet on the turn is consistent with either a drawing hand wanting to draw for cheap, or with a monster which wants to be raised. Almost no fish (and no one in general) makes a small donk bet like this with a middle-value hand. I guess he could have a hand like JT or QT that he doesn’t know what to do with so is taking a weird line, but as a generality, I assume that he has either a monster or a drawing hand, and a drawing hand is combinatorially way more likely, so raise/folding is best.

    Villain 2 also knows that villain 1 is probably drawing, so he’d mostly raise with any decent hand, definitely with a good top pair hand. I know you wrote he’s a bit timid when he’s not clearly best, but I think he’d still be cbetting a hand like AT or KT, or would be raising with it here. Overall, I think this makes villain 2’s range significantly weaker than our hand: a bunch of drawing hands and draw+pair hands, generally.

    Furthermore, we’re not afraid of a bluff-raise here since our range is uncapped, and we’ll be able to play the river very well. By raising to 250$ or so we actually create a great river spot, since the river SPR will be between 0.5 and 1.5. Spots with such river SPR are fantastic for an in-position player with a middle-value hand, because villains are basically forced to play straightforwardly, since they can’t meaningfully check-raise, so their only way to get value is to bet into you.

    On the river I expect both villains to play rather straightforwardly, and I expect it to mostly get checked down. If a 7, 8, K, A or diamond comes I’m mostly folding to any sizable bet. If a blank comes I’m still probably folding to a sizable bet from villain 1, but will be bluffcatching with some frequency vs villain 2 (but not always, because his range for betting a blank river does include some TPTK type hands that he played carefully on previous streets; our hand is one of the weakest hands with showdown value that we’d have on a blank river, so I’m fine with folding it exploitably often).

  5. I like it how you’ve played it so far. I think it’s either a raise or a fold. But given your image I lean towards a fold. When a passive villain suddenly tries to take the initiative back with a draw heavy board I think he’s trying to control the pot size with his top pair. The bet sizing is a little weak as well making 2pr or a set less likely. Villain 2 seems to be on a draw trying to hit big and get value. Your image is too aggro to get a fold from top pair on turn. You could also call behind with the intention of stealing the pot with a dry river card but too many cards will it that board.

    Given your image it will be harder to get a fold. I think this is a good spot to give up and use your image to your advantage later.

    • On second thought…with $320 (65bbs) in the pot it becomes pretty enticing to steal it. I’m fairly confident neither player has the nuts because villain 1 only bet 60 into 200 on a very draw heavy board and villain 2 simply called. We need to break down villain 1’s range to his value hands and his drawing hands to see what % of the time he calls or folds. Then we need to find the optimal bet size to fold out his draws yet still get a call from his value range while risking the least amount of money possible. If he calls here we can give up on the river because his spr will be too rich to fold. Yet he needs to fold often enough for this to be +ev. His calling frequency will be higher due to your image, but this could still be a +ev spot to turn our hand into a bluff, not to mention the other times we hit trips or 2pr and win.

      ( I’m on my phone so my math is limited…I can’t finish my analysis)

      • I was thinking we should be trying to fold his value hands and get calls from his draws, given the choice…

  6. Villain 1
    Does villain 1 limp his entire range? I’m trying to decide how many monsters he has in his range. Limp/reraising is surely his play with overpairs once he gets 2 callers? (Especially JJ, QQ, KK) He’s more likely to see an overcard he is behind to with two players so I would discount some of these preflop. I still think Villain 1 has all the sets (TT, 99, 66) in his range. 44 might have stubbornly called and hit the world on the turn but it’s just a small part of his range. Sets/flush draws make up his turn donk range.

    When passive villains donk into our strong range on the turn, I feel like its time for alarm bells to be going off. I feel like a turn c/r from villain 1 would be the only thing scarier than his donk. The only reason you might not be drawing dead is the fact that there is a flush draw down. Lesson – turn donks are hella scary (“I must get more money in”) I just can’t see villain 1 every expecting to make both of you fold – so in my opinion he has a strong draw or a monster where he wants to build a pot. Against that range that has only semi bluffs, sets, some overpairs, J9 is in terrible shape. He may think you will bet the turn and wants to draw for cheaper (you bet 70% pot on flop, he donk 40% pot) but I’m just not sure if villain is aware of stack size and he might still see this as a big bet). I think I would need more live experience to really comment on bet size.

    Villain 2
    He has very few monsters in his range after checking flop 3way but the fact that he called puts his heavier weighted towards showdown value I feel like he would cbet JJ, QQ etc here as well as AKdd, AQdd, AJdd so I feel he is going to have JQ, KQ, JT, QT, AT, KT (maybe), A9, Q9, 88, 77, in his range… Against this range you’re not in much better shape. Key point – i think he cbets most of his big draws and monsters so I feel like he could have some marginal showdown value (and very few bluffs) against this range you’re not in great shape

    Overall, in my opinion villain 1 has a lot more monsters, all the draws and villain 2 has less draws and more weaker draws/showdown value hands… I would fold as its wishful thinking that you’re ahead of both villains in my opinion and there are very few cards that improve your hand. If a J comes and a villain leads you could have reverse implied odds vs JT, JQ and the only other combo of JJ that villain 1 may have. There are a ton of bad cards that you will have to fold to on river and very very few cards where you can value bet.

  7. Just wanted to add to me extended response ^. I don’t like raising because as todd said ^ “Your image is too aggro to get a fold from top pair on turn” which means turning your hand into a bluff isn’t going to work and your hand isn’t strong enough to bet for value against their ranges.

  8. Villain 1 has AT/KT, with some chance of flush draws and QJ (I think the snap-call + lead is more likely to indicate top pair than a draw, but both are possible). Villain 2 has a decent draw that he has decided against semi-bluffing with. My first instinct was that this was an easy fold, but the snap-call by Villain 1 on the flop combined with the wet board makes me realize that you do have an interesting spot here.

    I’m not necessarily recommending it, but one thing no one has mentioned is the possibility of calling. If they are both drawing, the river may go check-check and you win. If a draw comes in, you may be able to represent it if they both show weakness (live 2/5 games tend to play very straightforwardly on the river).

    If you could provide any post-flop reads on Villain 1, that would be crucial. Limp-calling pre a lot doesn’t really tell us how call-happy he is for his stack, and that would determine if I decided to go with this hand.

    Cliff notes: I probably fold in real life, but I think its closer/more interesting than some of the comments suggest.

  9. The turn lead looks to me like a flush draw or weak made hand (of the order of crap top pair). In fact, the flop overcall/turn call looks like something similar, too. I suppose straight draws can be in there, too. I feel as though the chance either has a monster is low (I think the most obvious way that one could is if the Pre-flop raiser has a monster and is giving you some rope to hang yourself, but i think it unlikely).

    Ignoring combinatronics for a moment, there’s only one case (draw/draw) in which we’re ahead and the others (top pair/draw, draw/top pair, TP/TP) we’re behind. But given the pot odds we’re getting and that we’re in perfect position, calling is probably +EV. The question is whether we can do better by raising. It’s a definite option to raise the turn and plan to bet a lot of rivers to try to win the pot, and it sounds like villains are potential candidates to give up with not great top pair hands as well as busted draws. Obviously your image might count against you, but equally villains sound like they are more likely to bitch about you being FOS than actually call you with a bluff catcher.

    I’m not really sure how to compare the EV of a call with that of raising and betting (HU) rivers. The EV of calling is going to be something like 1/4*320-60, so not a great deal. By contrast, if we figure on losing about $500 when we raise and lose, whilst winning $300 when we win (although we’ll sometimes win more when we get called on the turn but bluff the river successfully) then the EV of that line would be $300*P(win) – $500*(1-P(W)) = $800*P(W)-500, so needs to work ~5/8 of the time to be +EV. This is very handwavy maths, but it makes me like raising a bit less.

    • I think the math for raising is a lot more complicated than this. Among other things, I’m not sure why you assume we lose $500 when the bluff doesn’t work. I don’t think firing river is mandatory depending on what happens, and if we do fire river we’re sometimes going to win the size of the turn raise in addition to what’s already in the pot. Also I think there are scenarios where Hero raises the turn, checks back river, and wins unimproved.

  10. I think villain 1 is either making a blocking bet with anything from a J, draw, or combo draw where he think this is the value of the hand (and might not really think this is an underbet if he’s not paying too much attention to the pot size) or he’s intentionally betting small with a strong hand hoping to induce one of you to raise. I think villain 2 could have either of those types of hands or could even be floating hoping to make a play on the river. I’m not sure how likely any of these are for these types of players though. If you raise, it seems like raising for information, either your agression works one more time or one of them makes a stand and you’ll have to fold as normally they have it the first time they do this to you (and even if they don’t totally have it, the other half of their raising range will have good equity against you). I think you can fold here, might be good to show you are capable of doing that. But the odds are good and you are in position, so I think the best play is to call and see what they do on the river. This might be a spot where a bluff will work better on the river if you sense that neither has a hand they want to get stacks in with since there are no cards to come.

  11. Isn’t the bet just too small to fold here, especially since we have position on the river? After both villains call we are paying $60 to win $320 if no more bets are made. I think it’s likely one of the two villains has us beat and the other is drawing. But again, since we have position on the river and the bet is so small, I call and reevaluate on the river.

    • Thanks for commenting, Brett. What do you see as the significance of having position on the river?

  12. Preflop: I think flatting is fine, but maybe reisoing villian 2 is best. you know he is going to be playing pot-controllish/weak, and we have position.

    Flop: your bet seems absolutely standard. I expect flush draws, sets, over pairs, combo draws, and two pair to be raising this board a lot of the time.

    Turn: when villian 1 donk bets, I put him on a flush draw super often. Unless you think he is a sicko, and is inducing with 78. Villian 2 has already announced A10 or K10 imo, and is continuing his pot controllish ways.

    I think a raise to 210-240 shows a profit here, and should fold out all top pairs, and most draws imo. Even if your image is aggro, even semi competent players should know if they flat your turn raise, they are facing a big bet on the river. They simply cannot call with the huge portion of their range.

    Villian 1 should also “think” that you are committing yourself to his stack after you raise, making his flatting and reraising range that much tighter.

    side note: (I’ve already assumed villian 2 isn’t flatting flop & turn to induce, and has turned his pot controllish hand face up)

    Final answer: Raise the turn and pick up the $330 that belongs to you.

  13. Let’s try to sort through the two villains:

    Villain 1 snap-call on the flop, I think, usually indicates a hand that is not uncommon; i.e. a flush draw or single pair. A big hand like a set, straight, or two pair would probably take some time to think, since its not a situation that comes up too often.

    Given the read on the villain, I don’t think we should try to take much information from his bet size. He’s probably not keeping track of the size of the pot, or thinking about bet sizing much. Using the same read, his range should be weighted heavily to made hands, rather than draws.

    Villain 2’s range, check/call flop looks like a hand trying to get to showdown cheaply. Basically every draw he has on this board is a major draw with 12+ outs, so I think he rarely checks those. His most likely holding at this point would be a single pair hand. His flop call could be pretty light, but his turn call shouldn’t be. Villain 1’s range is pretty strong, and with Hero left to act there is a good chance that he should be scared of facing a big raise. At this point, his range is I think weighted heavily toward overpairs and AT, which checked flop for pot control.

    Even with really good pot odds, I just don’t think you’re realizing your equity often enough to make a call +EV. Also, with your image and the presence of a loose/passive fish in the pot, a bluffraise or float/bluff river at this point just seems really spewy. Just dump it.

  14. Villain 1’s snap call means he probably wasn’t thinking too hard about folding or raising, so his range is weighted heavily towards drawing hands, or maybe pair + gut shot (QJ, 78, T8, T7, 97, 98). That type of range is consistent with the preflop action too. Villain 2’s flop check call and turn call on such a coordinated board strongly suggest he doesn’t have a monster. His hand is looking like AT/KT, or maybe he’s even drawing himself with the same range I assigned V1.

    I think a raise (more specifically raise-fold) is in order. You want to bet an amount that will get villain 1 to call with his pure draws (possibly folding some pair + GS hands but that might be wishful thinking) and get villain 2 to fold top pair hands. Given your read that villain 2 has a “decided cautious/pot-control streak to him” I wouldn’t think he wants to play for stacks with top pair in a 3 way pot.

    So what size most efficiently accomplishes this? I don’t know, and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts. The main problem I’m having is any such bet would set up and awkward stack to pot ratio on the river. If villain 1 called and villain 2 folded then villain 1 shoved the river I think you would be committed calling no matter what the river card is. I’m not thrilled about getting in this situation with middle pair and don’t know how to reconcile this.

  15. I tihnk you have to raise/fold 250 or so on the turn. If we get 2 callers i still fire big again on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hits the river. You mentioned one of hte players as being loose passive and his lead out bet looks kinda like a blocker bet to stop you from betting 200 on the turn which would be more pricy for his draws because even if you raise now you would have ot bet huge for him not to have correct odds to calls with a strong draw. I think if any of these guys just have a Ten or worse you can fold them out on the turn or river. To me the turn raise is just like the halfway part of a movie or novel. Your setting up the story to fire big on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hit and your betting big. If you are going ot bluff at this pot you cant really just call the turn then bet a blank on the river just doesnt look as good or seem as believable as the whole raise turn fire blank river story. Also because of your description of these players( one being loose passive and the other being cautious I just think that this would work so much by applying all this pressure.

  16. I tihnk you have to raise/fold 250 or so on the turn. If we get 2 callers i still fire big again on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hits the river. You mentioned one of hte players as being loose passive and his lead out bet looks kinda like a blocker bet to stop you from betting 200 on the turn which would be more pricy for his draws because even if you raise now you would have ot bet huge for him not to have correct odds to calls with a strong draw. I think if any of these guys just have a Ten or worse you can fold them out on the turn or river. To me the turn raise is just like the halfway part of a movie or novel. Your setting up the story to fire big on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hit and your betting big. If you are going ot bluff at this pot you cant really just call the turn then bet a blank on the river just doesnt look as good or seem as believable as the whole raise turn fire blank river story. Also because of your description of these players( one being loose passive and the other being cautious I just think that this would work so much by aapplying all this pressure.

  17. I tihnk you have to raise/fold 250 or so on the turn. If we get 2 callers i still fire big again on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hits the river. You mentioned one of hte players as being loose passive and his lead out bet looks kinda like a blocker bet to stop you from betting 200 on the turn which would be more pricy for his draws because even if you raise now you would have ot bet huge for him not to have correct odds to calls with a strong draw. I think if any of these guys just have a Ten or worse you can fold them out on the turn or river. To me the turn raise is just like the halfway part of a movie or novel. Your setting up the story to fire big on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hit and your betting big. If you are going ot bluff at this pot you cant really just call the turn then bet a blank on the river just doesnt look as good or seem as believable as the whole raise turn fire blank river story. Also because of your description of these players( one being loose passive and the other being cautious I just think that this would work so much by applying all this pressure.f

  18. I tihnk you have to raise/fold 250 or so on the turn. If we get 2 callers i still fire big again on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hits the river. You mentioned one of hte players as being loose passive and his lead out bet looks kinda like a blocker bet to stop you from betting 200 on the turn which would be more pricy for his draws because even if you raise now you would have ot bet huge for him not to have correct odds to calls with a strong draw. I think if any of these guys just have a Ten or worse you can fold them out on the turn or river. To me the turn raise is just like the halfway part of a movie or novel. Your setting up the story to fire big on the river as long as no diamond or 8 hit and your betting big. If you are going ot bluff at this pot you cant really just call the turn then bet a blank on the river just doesnt look as good or seem as believable as the whole raise turn fire blank river story. Also because of your description of these players( one being loose passive and the other being cautious I just think that this would work so much by applying all this pressure. a

Comments are closed.