What’s Your Play? Coping With Lead Bets

What's Your Play?I haven’t posted one of these in a while because participation in the last few was kind of lackluster. If you enjoy these sorts of posts, please comment on this one, even if you don’t have anything to say about the hand, just so that I can gauge the level of interest in seeing more of these.

Game is $5/$10/$20 NLHE, I have $8K, Villain covers. His pre-flop calling range is like 40% of the deck, less the strongest 5% or so that he’d 3-bet. He knows I’m opening a lot of pots and that I don’t give up easily, so he’s understandably reluctant to give me credit for a hand.

I open to $60 with JTo in the HJ (I had two very tight players sitting to my immediate left so I was opening pretty wide). Button calls, Villain calls in SB, BB folds, straddle calls.

Flop ($240) Jd 3s 4h. Villain bets $125, I call, the rest fold.

Turn ($490) 4s. Villain bets $225, I call.

River ($940) Ad. Villain bets $325, Hero?

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


Other posts you might like:
  1. What’s Your Play? Considering a Value Bet
  2. What’s Your Play? Middle Pair, Coordinated Board
  3. What’s Your Play? Kings on an Ace River

57 Responses to “What’s Your Play? Coping With Lead Bets”

  • FatHarryPotter says:

    Andrew, I love these but don’t post as still a learning player….please keep them coming.

    • foucault says:

      Everyone is a learning player! These are meant to help you learn!

      Thanks for letting me know. Enjoy your studies,


  • Steadyt says:

    Ditto FatHarryPotter

    • foucault says:

      OK this is tremendous BS coming from you. Guaranteed you are in the 95th percentile of people reading this blog.

  • Gareth says:

    I often read these but don’t comment when I don’t have either time to make a good case or don’t think I can make a good case. Poker is hard and volunteering half thought through answers is a scary ordeal!

    I think this is a situation where we see fear in our opponent (barring live tells). The reason we see fear, in my estimation, is he fears you betting. So he preempts you. Also, we see a descending bet size in relation to the pot, this may or may not speak to that fear, but I think it more often speaks to a hand seeking showdown.

    Now that is not to say that villain could not also value bet this way. Perhaps, like many live players, 325 is an absolutely large bet size to this villain. Villain should have some 4x in their preflop calling range but not that many given a) 40% b) straddle+ raise c) small blind. mostly the interaction between a-c should limit 4x quite heavily. Would villain lead much 4x? Hard to say but certainly we shouldn’t say they always would.

    Since you called the turn I have to believe you thought his range did not include an overwhelming amount of QJ/KJ/AJ. For better or worse that is where I would incline my hand reading on the turn. Now some AX got there on us, potentially, the gutshots to the wheel. On occasion a random AQ. Raising will be an expensive adventure against these hands because I imagine, barring some massive expenditure, A5 will not fold.

    What about bluffs? Well there are not too many of those. They exist, though. That is also going to cut into the merits of raising because the times villain has air overlay the times we get caught by better. That also makes calling unappealing. So we have three unappealing options, is what I’m getting to! Folding, Calling, Raising… no appeal to be found. This hand shares at least one characteristic with Miley Cyrus’ recent music video efforts.

    Boy I started this post thinking I would not be in trouble of the ordeal mentioned off the top but this one is tough. I think I still have to raise to 1350 and hope to fold out chops. The chances we are beat are slim, it seems just as likely if not more than villain is bluffing, so I think those will to some degree cancel one another out. There is value in getting chops to fold though and if he gives you credit on any card it is this one. This is a scary river! I think JX is very large portion of his range so we should go for it.

    • Nate says:

      I don’t think we represent much (what but AA?) by raising–not that this necessarily makes it wrong. Perhaps I over-weight the 64/54/52/44/33 part of his range, though.

      • EMO MELTDOWN!!! says:

        I think a river raise reps AJ/52s/AK in addition to AA for value; tough to represent 4x or other boats because there aren’t all too many 4s in our opening range and we probably put in a raise earlier to build a bigger pot with flopped sets/turned boats. Problematically, a raise also represents 65/75/76/spade floats, of which there are probably enough combos for villain to justify a bet/call with A5s/A2s/AQss. Not to mention the legit value hands in his value range (AJ, trips, boats) where he’s trying to induce a raise from us. He thinks we “don’t give up easily,” and he’s “understandably reluctant to give me credit for a hand” so I would be warier of a fake blocking bet than normal. Because I think we’re only folding out chops and only occasionally folding out Ax (and we can see 2 jacks and 1 ace) a raise seems spewy to me.

        Doubt I fold river when I only need to be right 20% of the time and there are many plausible hands that have no showdown value and may feel compelled to bluff (eg 65, 75, 76, QTs, random spazzes). If he’s bluffing with 8 combos, we need to gin up 32 value combos on the river to fold. That’s going to be tough to do; even against a super pessimistic range we still have more than 20%:

        Board: Jd 3s 4h 4s Ad

        equity win tie pots won pots tied
        Hand 0: 22.892% 09.64% 13.25% 8 11.00 { JcTd }
        Hand 1: 77.108% 63.86% 13.25% 53 11.00 { JJ, 44-33, AJs, A5s-A2s, KJs, K4s, QJs, Q4s, JTs, J4s, T4s, 94s, 84s, 76s, 74s, 64s+, 54s, 52s, 42s+, AJo, KJo, QJo, JTo, 54o, 43o }

        If we add in some Axo combos we’re finally justified in folding. But if he’s showing up with those kinds of hands he’s probably showing up with some more bluff combos as well.

        Anyway, I’m a big fan of these WYP posts, apologies for not posting responses more often.

  • Michael says:

    I enjoy these blogs a lot- Two things I learned from these blogs is that I tend to focus too much on the part of the range that has me crushed and not the opponents entire range. The other thing I learned is that was considering calling or folding is spots where raising is a good option.

    Anyway I’ve replied to the last couple of these but before that I didnt have much input as these are high stakes live games and I play low stakes online games – a lot of the bet sizing/betting patterns were a bit different. for my answers to be on the right track.

    My first thought is that if your opponents think your a maniac that doesnt give up, there surely more likely to slowplay big hands.

    By the river the villains “monster” value range is A4, 44, 33, slowplayed AA? and a 52 that decided to lead his open ender on flop. His hands that he led for value that he might bet 1/3 pot so that he doesnt have to call a bigger bet are random A2-A9 type hands. A lot of the hands he may bet to protect (pocket pairs lower than TT) would probably have checked some street by now.

    I’m not sure with your maniac image that he will fold all of his Jx on the river? He will obviously fold all his bluffs but you beat those anyway. It’s a gross spot, your getting 3-1 so I guess it’s just how often you think this guy triple barrel bluffs??? If there was a flush draw down, i would call as its a good river to bluff – i just don’t know how often he gets to the river with a hand that needs to bluff.

  • Nate says:

    I also like WYPs!

    This is an interesting spot. With his strongest hands I would expect Villain either to bet more somewhere or to check somewhere (shouldn’t a good chunk of your flop calling range bet the turn?).

    I don’t think you can raise anywhere, and that includes the river, because I think he ought to have quite a few of the 44/33 combos and even the odd 52s (not a top 40% hand, but people who play top 40% ranges often like to peel these in the blinds when there are already two players in).

    There are some players against whom I would consider a flop raise simply because their bet sizes with a KJ-type hand are going to be at least $175 almost always, so that this means that they have sets (which I can sniff out later) or draws (which I want to charge now, and which I’m happy to play a more bloated pot in position against in this situation, and which make it possible for him to make a bad peel with a gutter to a flop raise).

    I can see a similar argument for a turn raise, but you can’t represent much and if he’s liable to get tricky I think you accomplish a lot of nice things by calling. I think folding here is out of the question.

    On the river I think a standard line of thought would go “well, he can’t be bluffing because of the bet size”–but I actually think people underestimate bluff-probabilities in these spots. One reason is that people think in terms of absolute sizes; another is that “betting for no reason” can be functionally equivalent to a bluff, and people definitely do the former; a third is that live players often lose track of pot sizes, and this is even more likely to be true if this is a $5-10 player who’s found himself in a straddling game.

    I suppose my ultimate advice here is pretty boring. You chop with jacks and that means you get half the pot pretty often. Plenty of better hands are in his range, but I do think he can bet worse than a 4. The flop bet size makes a 54-type hand a bit more likely, which might swing this to a fold, but I think a whole lot of combinations of jacks play this way, and the more fours he can have preflop the more straight draws he can (probably) have on the flop.

    One more psychological point is that people often react to aggression / Andrew “not giving up easily” by fearing losing control of the pot to him. Many players feel more comfortable betting this river into a guy like Andrew than they do checking a hand like 88 or QJ.

    I don’t think I can raise or fold the river, or the turn, or the flop.

    Cool hand to post! Lots to think about.

    • Gareth says:

      Nate and Leo have me going back to calling. I think calling is better than folding, but raising might be better than both.

      Actually I don’t really like my raise size 325->1350 or what have you. This has to work only 52% of the time to show a profit and I think calling might have advantages over that.

      I have briefly mulled two other raise sizes, 700 and 2500. I think both are worth exploring but my current intuition is favouring calling again. Flip-flop.

  • AlanF says:

    Just chiming in to say the WYPs are awesome.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for posting, I feel like I don’t have a lot to add to the discussions, so I’m more on the sitting back and learning side of things.

  • piefarmer says:

    I love the WYP series. Early on I tried to engage via the comments, but I was not only wrong (in that I didn’t do what Andrew did) but I wasn’t focusing on the important aspects of the hand. I still read them all, and think about them before reading any comments or the “results”. Please keep them coming.

    I really like Nate’s comment. This is exactly what I thought:
    “I don’t think I can raise or fold the river, or the turn, or the flop.”
    But passivity is a leak of mine, so maybe that’s wrong.

    First interesting bit is the flop lead bet. SB Villain leads into three others on the flop, suggesting some strength. If he was aware of Andrew’s image, why not give Andrew a chance to bluff? I think from other posts Andrew views lead/donk bets as bullshit (absent other info). I think semi-bluffs make sense to me here(draws or small pair plus draws).

    Other interesting bit is the small river bet. If he knows Andrew doesn’t give up easily, his small size seems more like a blocking bet with a showdown hand than a value bet with the best hand. How thinly does villain bet for value? Since he has our talented hero covered, he had to get there somehow. Was he lucky or is he skilled, maybe capable of thin river value bets?

    I think I would default to a call, and raise only based on a player specific read.

  • columbo says:

    seems to me that a likely holding here is 99 or TT and he’s pared down his river bet instead of checking. If you called the turn, I dont see how you dont look him up here at the river. Otherwise, you should have folded the turn.

  • Mark says:

    Based on your read of this player, I don’t see him folding any hands that are beating us or chops to a reasonably sized bet. He also seems to have enough aces and 4s in his range that making a large bluff seems too risky.

    This bet is way too small to fold to, as a chop seems very likely plus you are occasionally ahead of a bluff or underpair.

  • Mark says:

    It looks like all you have is a bluff catcher, and what hands is villain bluffing with? There weren’t many draws on the flop, so I would think his range consists mostly of top pair-plus.
    Even if villain had something like A2 or A5, he would have made his hand on the river.
    I haven’t tried to construct a full range for villain, but I don’t think I need to. Even getting about 4:1 on the river, I don’t think you beat anything except maybe J9 or J8, if those hands are even in his SB calling and donking range.

  • Patrick Bransome says:

    Alas, The Orange Villains cover was indeed cashmere! Ergo, his pre-flop calling range is not always 40% of the deck, less the strongest 5%. Reluctant to give Hero credit for a hand is like saying Walter Payton can’t put it in from the 3 or 4 yard line. Oh, did I say 3-4 because that was his number!

    • foucault says:

      I should say that “Villain” as described in these What’s Your Play posts (as you can probably tell, this is the latest instance of a regular feature here) is a fictional construct inspired by real life events, sort of like Law & Order: The Poker Blog, so not necessarily meant to describe the actual Villain in the hand perfectly. I’ve been known to change details to highlight a point. That said, can we agree that there weren’t a lot of flops you didn’t see? I distinctly recall losing a large pot to J-7 ;-)

      • Keyser Söze says:

        The Suited Villain (in that hand) does concur. Once again he assumed that you were long Aces.

  • Eddie says:

    Love WYP, but don’t comment much. The highest stakes I play are 2/3 at a local cardroom, but it really plays like a typical 1/2 so I, like others, don’t feel necessarily qualified to offer up deep thought opinion (oh, and maybe the fact that I was once destroyed by NeverScaredB on 2+2 forums for commenting in a high stakes MTT thread has made me a little gun shy about commenting on poker anywhere…). I like to read about the thought processes you go through so that I can eventually do the same and work my way up to play these games.

    As for this one, absent any knowledge, and using the player types I’ve seen, the lead into 3 players is almost always top-pair, though after reading columbo’s post, he’s likely to have 99 and TT as well. The only monster he plays this way is 33, though I still think he’d check raise that. So I call the flop for sure.

    I am surprised at the turn bet though. For the opponents I know, the turn bet is value-ish. By that I mean, he thinks his hand is good but may not actually be better than our current holding. At this point, my hand feels “1/2 ahead, 1/2 behind”. I’d fold here if I knew my opponent could bet the different river cards in a way to make me really uncomfortable. Otherwise, I call and evaluate again on the river.

    The weak bet on the A means he doesn’t have one (assuming he knows his bet is weak). So it’s either a blocking bet, thin value bet, or a “please call my full house” bet. I can’t see him folding to a raise unless it’s significant, and that’s an unnecessary risk considering we don’t have a good feel for how often he has a full house here. The only play is to call.

    Call it a tuition hand: So many unknowns with this opponent (otherwise you would have given us more info on him) that you pay off this sequence in the hopes of getting educated on his play.

  • I have been a fan of WYC series. But, I don’t think I am experienced enough to comment on stakes and strategy. I belong to FLorida and just joined Mardi Gras Player’s Club for learning poker may be next I have a better idea to post here.

  • jimcal says:

    These posts are the main reason I visit the site w/ frequency. I dive into long post\journals as leisure reading, but I make time for strategy section.

    This is also a better reading format than forum, despite forum may have a wider audience.

    Keep up the good work!

  • TaddisVonBaddis says:

    I haven’t posted on one of these for awhile, but they are always a great read and valuable learning tool. Playing hands out here is a lot less expensive than potentially making a mistake mid-hand IRL. I would love for this series to continue with more frequency.

    In terms of this hand, my general nittiness would lean towards calling the river. However, I am intrigued by Gareth’s raise options. Turning our hand into a bluff here can work, although I would prefer to have built a slightly better image (in terms of showdown hand strength or tighter preflop range) in order to feel good about a raise having success in folding out other Jx hands.

    I would be interested to see what we as a group would do if we were in the villain’s shoes and faced a river raise in this spot.

    • Eddie says:

      I don’t think I’m ever getting to the river with that line so it’s kind of hard to imagine what I’d do when faced with a raise there.

  • Carlos says:

    My initial thought is that the lead bet tends to mean some type of draw. There aren’t many on this flop though.

    Villain may have a marginal Jx that he wants to dictate the bet sizing with. The two 1/2 pot bets say to me that he has a good but not great hand like KJ, QJ, JT, J9. I think he would bet bigger with his monsters and the turn is not the best card to be barreling with air. Plus when the good barrel card comes in on the river, he slows down.

    The 1/3 pot river bet seems to be kind of a blocker, which is consistent with my read. Depending on how much of a hero he is, I’d bomb it on the river to get a fold out of QJ and possibly KJ. This works if he has hands like TT or 99 here as well.

    • Carlos says:

      Im never too busy. I’m a full time poker student. I just have never gotten one of these right.

      Anybody that wants to comment on my post, I welcome the discussion.

      My New Year’s Resolution is to get at least one What’s Your Play right before the summer.

    • Carlos says:

      Just had another thought.

      His lead really seems like a scared hand to me. Probably a Jx that just wants to find out where he’s at. One line that may work is to disappoint him by raising flop, barreling turn, and bombing river.

      Most times no over card will hit and he has to decide if he wants to go to war with you with his weaker Jx when TPTK+ are all in your range.

      If an over card does hit, it is unlikely to give him 2-pair so now he even has to contend with the reality that he doesn’t even have top pair any more.

      Damn never every card is good for you but the last 2 J’s in the deck.

      With all that said, we do have JTo and I can hear Andrew’s voice saying that there is no need to turn this hand into a bluff since you have many weaker hands in your range to do that with.

  • Rant2112 says:

    To the ‘too inexperienced’ no-commenters:

    That is the BEST reason to comment. Feel free to start your post with a one sentence disclaimer but having your specific thought process critiqued by others has to be one of the best ways to learn. All the MORE reason for you to post.

    Also, I like WYP a lot. I don’t post if I’m too busy or if someone else has already posted what I would have posted.

  • Rant2112 says:

    The pre-flop raise size is small. I assume it was your standard size – was it standard for the table?

    The whole hand hinges on figuring out Villain’s donking range on the flop IMO. He is betting 1/2 pot into 3 players on a very dry board. He may assume that you will c-bet less often than usual because there are two players behind you and your made hands aren’t vulnerable. He may also be block betting with a hand that wants to continue but doesn’t want to call a larger bet.

    I think he has value hands KJ-, 44, 33, maybe some 43 ; some weaker hands he’s betting for protection TT-55 ; and a few draws like 65, A2, A4, A3, 54.

    Villain probably doesn’t expect to have any fold equity so I highly doubt he has any pure bluffs unless he’s very tricky and you haven’t given us reason to think that.

    Against this range I think we want to raise/fold the flop small for value (looking left first of course!). If we don’t raise the flop then Villain is going to play too well against us. He’s going to get good value when he’s ahead and put pressure on us when he is drawing. He’ll be able to keep the pot appropriately small with his medium strength made hands.

    When I think about the ranges after Hero checks the flop I feel like Villain has a better range, even considering the positional disadvantage. When Hero raises the flop small I think most of Villain’s range is much harder for him to play, KJ-, TT-55, 65, and Ax are all harder for him to play after a small flop raise.

    I would only hesitate to raise if I thought Villain was capable of light 3-betting.

    As played on the turn I think it is almost a no-brainer call. Our hand is strong enough against Villain’s range that we don’t need to turn it into a bluff and there’s value in calling.

    I call the river as well and lament not raising the flop (and getting away cheaper) against Villain’s set. 8)

    I don’t feel like doing all of the math to be more sure but my intuition is that raising the river is pretty bad. We have plenty of value in calling. If we raise a normal amount Villain isn’t going to fold any better hands. We’re only trying to fold out chops and it feels like he’ll have us beat too often (here’s where doing the math would help).

    If I were to raise the river I would probably raise big – to at least $1500. I think it would take that large of a bet to fold out trips, jacks, and small full houses with enough frequency to possibly be worthwhile. I wouldn’t make the big raise without more of a read than we’ve been given though.

  • Rant2112 says:

    Taking another angle:

    This looks a LOT like Villain value-targeting against Hero’s Jx!

    • piefarmer says:

      Good point. What hand would we play this same way if we were villain? Ignoring the preflop action, QQ+ is my best answer. Not sure why villain wouldn’t raise those, but otherwise makes sense. If it’s KK or QQ, it might even explain the small river bet.

  • Sean says:

    I am a fan of WYP posts as well.

    On the flop, I think villains range has a lot of top pair hands. He is leading into 4 players, so I doubt he has air. Given his fairly wide preflop range, I think he has quite a few Jx hands. At this point, he could also have a set/2pair, but that’s only 44,33 and 43s, as I think JJ is likely to squeeze an open from Andrew in the HJ (particularly if he is aware that Andrew is opening wide). TT-99 are possible, though I don’t see why they would lead. QQ+ seems unlikely given Andrews read that villain will predictably 3bet those pre. I would also include a handful of draws in villains range villain – generally 65s and A2s. 52s seems outside even a loose villain’s preflop calling range (particularly in the SB).

    When villain bets the turn small (less than 1/2 pot), I think his range shifts more to Jx hands which are pot controlling and the same draws listed above that are setting a price to see the river. Monsters seem very unlikely. First, there’s only 6 combos of 44,33,43s. Second, I would expect him to either lead somewhat larger for value or, as Nate points out, c/r against an aggressive player such as Andrew (especially since villain can rep a semi-bluffing turned flush draw).

    On the river, when the villain bets so small, this looks very much like a blocking bet with Jx. A monster seeking to induce is very unlikely, though of course possible. Since Andrew’s range looks very much like a Jx type hand as well, I would expect AJ or A2 to bet larger (1/2 pot). However, I generally don’t play live, so perhaps I’m reading too much into the sizing. Since Andrew only needs to be chopping 41+% of the time, a fold is out of the question.

    Gareth’s and Carlos’s idea to raise to fold villain off a chop is interesting. Given Andew’s read that villain is reluctant to give him credit for a hand and the fact that Andrew doesn’t rep much combo-wise (although Andrew’s range has more 4x than vilain’s range and Andrew has AA and JJ in his range), I would be concerned about getting called very often when chopping and value-owning ourselves when behind. Winning $1265 instead of $470 is a big enough deal that a raise doesn’t have to work often to be +EV. However, villain does have AJ/A2s some of the time and occasionally a slow-played monster. If we assume villain has Andrew beat and calls/3bets 10% of the time, Villain needs to fold a chop more than 16% if Andrew raises to $1350. That seems worth a shot, though I expect villain to call quite often. If we think that villain has Andrew beat 20% of the time (which seems too high), then a raise needs to get villain off a chop 50% of the time – which I don’t think is happening.

    • Sean says:

      Oops. My numbers were off. With a raise to $1350 on the river, villain needs to fold 13% of his chops if Andrew is behind 10% of the time and 25% of his chops if Andrew is behind 20% of the time.

  • Brian says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am a beginner and haven’t posted yet, but in the spirit of supporting WYP, I will give my thoughts here for what they are worth.

    -V is probably raising pre w AJ+, JJ+ , don’t you think? So these will not be in his range.
    -V’s flop bet probably is not a bluff – he probably either has a J or 4 or 3.
    -So I’m putting him on a range of KJ QJ JT J9s / A4s A3s 33 44

    I’m getting 4:1 odds on the call. 26 combinations we chop, 7 combinations I lose. So folding is out.

    So call or raise. Will he fold his J hands to a raise? Not if he’s reluctant to give you credit for a hand. On the other hand you would be showing super extra strength with a Flop Call / Turn Call / River Raise line. (Another consideration: is he capable of raising over the top of your raise w a J hand? I’m guessing no, so it would be an easy fold if he did that.)

    My final answer is to *CALL*, because I think V’s perception of you is the dominant factor and he won’t fold his J hands.

  • duggs says:

    love these posts, always want to think them through fully before posting so i don’t always comment, definitely always read them and enjoy them.

  • Botswana Nick says:

    I will echo other comments that I love these posts, even though I go up and down on my frequency of comments.

    As for this hand, his line is pretty confusing to me. Seems like we can eliminate some combos of sets, as we can expect most villains to somete check to the aggressive raiser planning to check-raise. We can also remove most combos of over pairs (and JJ) since there was no raise pre-flop. There aren’t many draws out there, and all wheel draws got there on the river, so it’s hard to put many busted draws in his range other than 56. It feels like he is making relatively thin value bets but I still think his value range has you pretty crushed. A raise seems profitable if you think you can fold out KJ or worse. Otherwise I would probably make a crying call given the juicy odds. One question that might help
    is whether this player choses his bet-sizing primarily with his cards or his opponents cards in mind.

  • duggs says:

    villians range contains 44/33/JQ/JK/AJ/J10/ and some open enders and draws, problem i have is that i expect the former to be there almost all of the time he leads, but I don’t know about draws. The fact flop is 4 way makes me expect stinger Jx the most likely to lead, as 44/33 don’t fear it checking through as much, and are strong enough to be c/r over betting action. QJ/KJ seems like the exact type of hand that lead to prevent having to c/c or have it check through. having said this, I still call flop given your image and basically plan to fold turns if he continues. On turn I think draws become less likely and sets became really hard to have, some backdoor draws that came in are still in his range, if we want to turn our hand into a bluff v better Jx hands this seems like the street to do it as spades are good cards to barrel on river after raising and we still have clean T outs and a few chop outs.

    River is really interesting, on the one hand its really hard for him to have value hands, on the other hand we now chop with most of his range on the turn, his range for betting river and having us beat is virtually only AJ/randoms small 4s, as this is a really tough card for our range. at the same time I don’t expect villains to typically have a balanced bluffing range or too bluff enough in river pots, I don’t expect him to bets QJ/KJ often enough so I’m inclined to fold.

  • Don says:

    Love these posts Andrew keep up the great work!

  • Tom says:

    Sincerely appreciate your sharing your time and expertise. As an old (age, not experience) mostly 1-2 player, I have real trouble being aggressive. A choice to call on the flop and turn (rather than raise)would for me mean a call on the river. His bet into three players on that flop does not need real strength. Same with the turn. While the small bet on the river could suggest weakness, it could instead be looking for/hoping for a raise.

  • Alex says:

    I feel like you’re chopping a large percentage of the time but raising on any street doesn’t seem like a good idea. Since you’re an aggressive player, he might decide to bet the river himself instead of check / decide just because he knows you can put him in a difficult spot, adding more hands to his range that you beat besides straight draws (excluding 52). Therefore, while his bet seems like value, it could also be a blocker assuming Hero would bet bigger on the river, giving him too many hand combos that you chop with or beat for you to fold given the price. I’m playing it the same way as you and then calling the river.

  • Dana says:

    His flop and turn bets look like he is trying to get to showdown cheaply with a marginal hand like Jx or he is self-pricing his draw (56). His bet on the river looks like thin value, although bluffing with a busted draw wouldn’t be out of the question (representing thin value – only has to work a bit over 25% of the time to be successful).
    I think this depends on how weak of a Jx he would take this line with. I’m not really sure on this, but my guess is that it includes enough JT and J9 plus some bluffs that you are getting the right price to call. Why did you take this line anyway if you didn’t plan to continue to call down ? :)

    I really like the What’s Your Play posts so please continue with them. I find I learn better when there is an active component to it, so asking us to think and respond is good. I have a hard time paying attention to lectures – if I’m not actively participating my mind begins to wander (I once fell asleep standing up during a 1:1 lab lecture by my quantum mechanics professor after 45 minutes of him writing a proof and talking to the chalkboard).

  • Chris Clough says:

    I really love the WYP posts but I don’t often comment on them because by the time I read them someone has usually said the sort of thing I would say, or a better player has said something else and convinced me I was wrong first time round. But these posts and the follow up posts with results and the “answer” are always interesting and instructive, and I’ve learned a lot from them – please keep them coming (even more frequently, ideally)!

    With regards to this hand, villain’s entire line here looks a lot like the sort of thing he might do a lot with a medium pair (77-10, maybe also 55/66). He flat calls pre-flop with these hands almost always. He bets the flop expecting to fold out the vast majority of non-J-or-better hands from the other two, while expecting you to call most of the time. However, he’d expect to be ahead of your calling range when you do call. Thus, he either gets called by one of the other two, and concludes his hand is no good, or he gets heads up with you with a likely stronger hand.

    On a blank turn he fires again for protection. The ace on the river looks like a bad card for him, but checking is too likely to lead to a big, scary bet that he doesn’t know how to respond to so he makes a smallish bet that he nonetheless hopes you wouldn’t raise without the goods.

    In constructing a range for villain, therefore, I think I’d assign higher probabilities to medium pocket pairs than to pretty much all other plausible hands. He raises QQ+ pre-flop almost always, I’d guess that on the flop he checks his monsters (ie sets) to you at least half the time, and with little fold equity to be had I’m not convinced he’d bet his straight draws that often either. I think he has pure air almost never as he just can’t expect bluffs to get through too often. On the other hand, I think medium pairs are a hand that he would bet quite often on this flop for the reasons mentioned earlier. The only other hands I’d expect him to play in this way as often as this are jacks, and based on the info we have I’d expect him to have lower jacks than us about as often as he has higher jacks.

    Continuing through the hand, I just don’t think he bets three streets with air all that often, and I don’t think he bets as small as this over three streets with monsters – at some point I’d expect him to make a bigger bet than he ever does.

    So on the river, I expect him to have maybe 25-30 combos of 5-5 through 10-10, about the same number of combos of jacks that now split with us, 6 combos of ace-jack, maybe 10 missed-draw combos and no more than 10 monsters.

    Folding is out of the question in this analysis, as calling should definitely show a profit. If we assume that he nearly always folds everything worse when we raise (and I think he does) then the question is whether he folds the chop-hands often enough to make a raise profitable. The problem is that how often he folds to a raise is almost certainly directly correlated with the size of the raise – and the bigger the raise, the more we lose when he has a hand that beats us. There’s probably a sweet zone where we get enough folds from chops to make it profitable, but I’ll leave it to others to work out how often he’d need to fold for any given raise size to be profitable.

    In a nutshell, raising is sexy but high-risk, and not guaranteed to be profitable. Folding just can’t be right, I don’t think – whereas calling looks like it should be clearly profitable. I call.

  • NutNoPair says:

    Lack of comments doesn’t mean lack of interest it seems. I fit into that same category as well. Usually I don’t reply because I don’t visit daily and someone has already posted 95% of what I was going to say anyways.

    But in this case, I will add my comments purely for your satisfaction :)
    Disclaimer: I have never played 5/10.
    I would fold because unless barring some game flow dynamic you didn’t mention, I don’t see a triple barrel bluff in a multi-way pot being something that he would use to exploit us. I also can’t think of him taking this line with any probable one pair hand that we beat. If I were to give him a purely value range, it would be 34, sets, and QQ+ that he decided to get tricky with pre-flop although unlikely since he is out of position. Even if he was turning AK into a bluff, he got there on the river (gross). You also didn’t mention what skill level you considered him which I would consider good information.

    TLDR; I would fold because he won’t take this line with enough frequency to exploit us and if he shows 88 after we fold then kudos to him.

  • Daniel Gundersrud says:

    Yes, please keep these coming our way!
    As for the river, being that you called him down, I don’t see how we can lay it down on the river, although he probably has you beat, maybe even with an open-ender that gets there on the river…or qj/kj. But I call either way, or else I fold the turn when he barrels.

  • Matt Glassman says:

    I love these posts. I don’t comment very often, but I read all of them and spend probably 20 minutes or so thinking about each one. Please continue.

    Getting 3 to 1 here, I’m going to need a little more evidence/read/info that a villain calling a raise out of position with 40% of the deck isn’t on 55-TT/air here enough to make a call profitable.

    Honestly, the Ace seems like a bad card for you mostly because your T doesn’t play anymore. isn’t J9 the exact hand this sort of pre-flop calling range barrels this board with?


  • which says:

    I never play this hight, but….

    I would fold. The villain bets into a multi way flop when he knows he could either xr the flop, or get it checked through. This leads me to think he does NOT have a draw. If he did have a draw, would it not put them to a tougher test, NOT knowing what Hero’s action on flop is? If they call the lead, then Hero raises, they tossed at least some money away unexpectedly. I find that folks who have to act in between the lead and the PFR play MUCH more honestly, float almost ZERO, and do not call lightly.

    If villain has a strong strong hand, he is betting MORE on the Turn or River probably or much less to get Hero to raise over the top. The sizing villain picks makes me think he has a value hand, but not a monster. On the river, Hero has called twice already, and the Ace rivers and smacks a PFR’s range. For the villain to bet again, he should have a lot of confidence. Something I rarely see from the SSNLHE groups I play against. I have seen villains check KJ here, or even a straight, thinking “hey, possible full house out there”

    I also think a QQ or KK hand (perhaps even rarely an AA) might play it this way. The board is scary enough in their opinion (any two cards close together) that they want everyone BUT Hero to fold, and then they want to milk him. However, the Ace on the river makes it somewhat problematic. I would expect villain to shut down on that card often, unless he is a very good hand reader (which I would not expect from a 40/5 guy)

    So, how about a hand like A5s? He is perhaps frustrated by Andrew’s aggression, and takes a stand with a GS bluff? He turns the FD so continues his aggression, but on the river, he makes a blocking bet for value. This would seem plausible line to see.

    No matter what, I think you are beat, or on a rare day, chopping. I am probably folding the river barring a decent read on opponent.


  • Sam says:

    Hello – This is my first visit to this site and I’m really finding this discussion engaging so I decided to participate as requested. IMO:

    Your move on the river is a fairly quick call. After briefly considering a raise to represent the ace and fold out chops, your read that Villain is probably sick of you should be enough to refrain from getting fancy here and getting called for a chop at best. Although the bet size is relatively small, don’t write it off as a blocking bet with Jx, as players in live poker often bet less on the turn/river than they would if they had a 1/2 Pot or Pot button online (I play quite a bit 2/5 live and 1/2 online – never 5/10 though). Ultimately I stare down at 4:1 odds and make an easy call here (this could be a personal leak).

    I realize that you kicked off this thread from the river action, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to foresee this tricky spot from the point of Villain’s turn lead bet, and possibly even from the flop lead. Ask yourself what is your plan for the hand? If it was to call him down for a 3 barrel, then you should be happy calling the river. I should hope it wasn’t to try and draw to a T. Perhaps a sizeable turn raise in position (maybe 3x) would fold out JQ/JT and give you initiative in the hand to see a cheaper showdown. If you are 3b on the turn you can easily fold. Again, this is just something to consider; ultimately, given your read that Villain won’t give you credit for a hand (especially on a dry board), your call-down makes sense as played.

    I’m assuming you eventually follow up this discussion with your action on this river!? I look forward to it.

  • James Antill says:

    I also like WYP, although I often don’t have time to comment before you post the answer … such is life.

    I would assume that this is exactly what it looks like, villain has a random J and decided to bet it all the way. On average your JT was probably in front before the river, but calling seems fine. Given you now both have JJ44A raising as a bluff is meh. on the one hand you are rarely behind, but on the other villain is unlikely to be folding a J here … esp. given your assumption of his reads on you. Maybe he has weirdly played TT that pays off something, but if so will have the same amount of KK/QQ too.

    Also calling probably improves your image a bit, esp. if villain sees you were in front before the river while raising damages it more … although I’m assuming you want an image were people don’t call you down a lot.

  • Gareth says:

    What about folding?

    The button is tight and Andrew doesn’t give up. We have no indication that Villain is interested in fighting fire with fire. I think the turn call is suspect, but then again Andrew has position and gigantic stacks behind. But I would not be surprised if against villain’s turn betting range Andrew is not getting the right immediate price.

    Live players don’t restrict their continuing ranges well to factor the number of players who see a flop, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t at all. Hence, their flop is likely a lot stronger than we might give credit for.

    Also, 40% of hands still includes a lot of 4X. A4s, A4o, K4s, 45s, 43s.

    Our price is not that good if we remove made hands that we beat. I understand betting without purpose being a viable reason to include those in a river betting range, but again this is a proposition that we don’t have information to favour. Andrew has kept villain’s range wide as possible, but how wide did it start?

    I could see villain not having that much JX either. If they think Andrew doesn’t give up and want to spite him for it, they could just check-close-their-eyes-and-call.

    What if villains range has no bluffs? I think we have to fold in that case. Calling to chop, this bet size is pretty large. Remember, we only get half the pot when we call and chop, so our price is twice as bad against that portion of villains range.

    Meanwhile, what is the most likely hand for villain to play every street this way? Ace-jack.

    With the information we have, it is hard to say we have enough to fold. But villain’s line, upon closer inspection, seems pretty strong.

    • Sam says:

      I like this approach. The majority of my thinking was related to why a raise is a bad idea. However, I agree that Villain is probably strong here. The main reasons I call are the 4:1 odds and the comfort of the ace killing any dominating kicker. However, a chop only yields 2:1 and I’m not sure a call for a chop is correct 33% of the time here.

      Putting myself in Villain’s seat, I would think it’s pretty tough bet OOP once the ace rolls off. I would only bet as a blocker to a bluff on the ace (which is a tricky play that I’m not sure I could pull off profitably), or a true value bet when I have any pair of Jacks beat.

      Its pretty close on the river. I probably still make a crying call and kick myself for calling the turn.

    • Sean says:

      Gareth says: “Live players don’t restrict their continuing ranges well to factor the number of players who see a flop, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t at all. Hence, their flop is likely a lot stronger than we might give credit for.” and “Also, 40% of hands still includes a lot of 4X. A4s, A4o, K4s, 45s, 43s.”

      These seem contradictory. I agree with your first statement, but it’s main reason I don’t give villain much credit for 4x. When he leads the flop, 4x (other than 43) is only second pair. He can’t expect any Jx or TT-55 to fold and against a HJ opening range plus 3 overcallers, there is a pretty good chance that someone has a hand in that range. If you assume a 35% opening HJ range for Andrew, a 17% flatting range (21% minus the top 4%) for the button and a 40% range (minus QQ+,AK) for both the BB and straddle, villain has around 22% equity with A4. While he’s note sitting there with pokerstove, he probably has a sense that a pair of fours has relatively poor equity vs. four players.

      I wouldn’t completely eliminate 4x from his range after he leads the flop, but I think it is greatly outweighed by Jx and {44,33,43s}, the former of which dominate from a combo perspective.

    • Botswana Nick says:

      So I figured with 50+comments, someone should probably do some math. If I make a math or other mistake I apologize, I am still pretty new to this type of detailed analysis.

      I am replying to Gareth’s last post as I will use it as starting point to construct ranges. Let’s throw out a raise for now and just compare a call to a fold in this spot. We are getting 3.9/1 on the call, so we need just over 20% equity to break even with a call. I have found when constructing a range in Pokercruncher, you have to be pretty darn pessimistic to get to the folding threshold. Here is my pessimistic but possible range: KK (I used this to approximate the combinations of AA-JJ he might have since he will often be raising with these preflop), JA-JT, 44,33, 54s, 43s, A5, A4, A2, K4s, AK-ATspades, plus the bluffs 65s, 76spades, 75spades. Against this range we have 21.1% equity (chopping 28.3% and winning 7%), which is just enough to call. If, as Gareth suggests, we think he literally never bluffs and he almost never has Jx, then it does become a fold. However, I find Gareth’s reasoning a bit contradictory on that point:
      “I could see villain not having that much Jx either. If they think Andrew doesn’t give up and want to spite him for it, they could just check-close-their-eyes-and-call.”
      If villain doesn’t think Andrew will give up, won’t he want to be betting Jx for value at least until the river? I guess maybe in that scenario he would give up the river thinking even Andrew would never call with TT or similar, but it seems more likely villain would think a player who calls TT on the turn will also call a small bet on the river given the odds.

      I think our range is also overly pessimistic to give villain all combos of wheel draws. I think villain could play A5o this way but I certainly wouldn’t expect him to every time. So if we start removing a few of these and other combinations, we can start to find a clear (if crying) call.

      As for a raise, let’s say we expect to fold out all chops but never an A or better. With the above range, we will fold out 33.8% of hands and get called and lose 66.2% of hands. If we raise to 1350 as Gareth first suggested, then our expected value of this move is [(0.338*1265) - (0.662*(1350-325))]= -250.98. So we would either need to raise much smaller expecting to fold chops, or expect this raise to fold Aces, neither of which seems likely. (Alternately, we could consider a range that is skewed much more heavily towards Kx and bluffs, but against this range calling also gets much better). So a call seems like our best option overall.

  • Fred says:

    Andrew, I absolutely love these WYPs and use them as a learning tool as well. I usually come up few ways to play the hand and a few ways to read a villain and I usually wait to see your point of view along with others to figure out if I’m thinking along the same lines or how I should revise my thought process.
    (P.S. – is there a missing $10 in this pot? BB who folded?)

    So, In this hand, at the river, here are some things I’m thinking about:
    1. Does the smallish river bet show weakness or strength…?
    A: I believe it’s probably showing some weakness, a blocking bet or pot-control bet to get to showdown for his set price.

    2. Can this guy 3-barrel-bluff and would he bet these streets this small(esp. river) bluffing or value-betting?
    A: I find it’s not often you see a live 3 barrel bluff, and probably less often when he leads in on the flop against 3 other players (This might be a leak in my own game as I’m recently 3-barrel-bluffing probably too much because not too many players can/are willing to do this and not too many times do they call me down)

    3. Can/should we raise this guy off of a chopped pot?
    Based on 1, I’m thinking this guy is betting the whole way to pot control with a semi-weak holding(Jx?) plus the fact he’s not giving you credit for a hand.
    This would also help to explain (2)the 3-barreling, not checking as we’d expect him to do somewhere with a showdown type hand. Keeping hero from taking control of the betting and keeping the pot as manageable as villain wants it to be.
    3. I do think there might be something not great about just calling the river in this case since it appears to me we’re likely to chop. This makes me really think that I should think about a raise. I don’t like to raise if I think I’ll only get called by better, fold out worse, but in this case it seems like he probably doesn’t bet with less than Jx however there appear to be a lot of times we’ll chop here and I think we probably get rid of those by raising, possibly making a raise more profitable than a call…? At that moment at the table, I probably end up just calling(safer?) pretty quickly but in the small cases I have more of a read and I muster up the strength to raise it’d probably be about to 1300-ish… (I wrote this prior to Nick’s response and now I’m not sure I like my raise option anymore…)

    Thanks for these WYPs, Andrew, I really think I’ve become a much better player simply by reading your blog and your WYPs

  • Josh says:

    Love WYP. Keep ‘em coming.

  • Ian says:

    Big fan of WYPs, although I comment in them less regularly than i’d like due to general disorganisation and lack of real insight.

    As for the hand in question, leading the flop 4 handed into the preflop raiser is not a spot where i expect much air, the board is very dry so there aren’t too many bluffs, so i expect a made hand to be a big chunk of his flop range. To be honest, I don’t see much point in him betting pairs weaker than Jx, so I would expect Jx to be large in his range. I would give some serious thought to folding the flop.

    As played, I suppose I call the turn, and then the river is a tricky decision. I guess we’re rarely ahead, so if we’re calling for a chop we need to be good ~60% of the time. If villain really thinks we’re spewy and stubborn then i think i’d call, the more ‘neutral’ our reads are, the tougher/closer a decision i think it is.

  • JeanNoel says:


    A fold is not an option due to his wide range and the good odds.
    The question is : is it better to call or to raise ?
    If villain’s got an ace or a missed draw, a call is better ([A2,A5,A3,A4,AJ,33,44] 64 combinaisons), but if he’s got a J ([J7s-KJs, J9o-KJo] 120 combinaisons], it’s a good opportunity to win the entire pot and not to chop.
    If villain’s got a J and hero pushes him away with a raise, hero win the entire pot, if hero calls hero win half pot.
    As there are twice as more hands with a Jack than without, so it is bettter to raise to try to win the whole pot.

  • Kyle says:

    There are a lot Jacks in his preflop calling range, a few that beat us KJ, QJ and a few that do not (J9s,J8s,J7s). The river bet looks like a blocker bet so he can show down a Jack of some sort. I took AJs and JJ out of his range as he likely 3 bets (as you say top 5%). With that said, will he fold if you raise river to $975 or $1050? He could have been barreling a wheel draw and got lucky on river as well…but still, can he fold a weak A to a raise? Seems like we are beat when we call a lot more than we win…raise or fold is the question. Pot has 1265 after his bet, we raise to $1050…risking 1050 to win 3365 our bet only needs to work 31% of the time to break even. I think a raise works here enough to make the move.

    Flame away : )