What’s Your Plan? Good Draw, Lots of Interest Results

You all are really getting the hang of this! I’m impressed by how many of you began your analysis of What’s Your Plan? Good Draw, Lots of Interest with a consideration of what you would do with a set here. Speaking of which, a few people questioned whether I’d limp 77 here, and the answer is yes, though I don’t really want to get into why just now.

It’s also worth thinking about why you would or wouldn’t raise a set in this spot. If you believe that raising and then bombing turn and river to get stacks in would drive everyone out way too often, then that might be a reason to slowplay a set, but it’s also a reason to take that line as a bluff. You’ve identified an exploitable tendency, so throw balance to the wind and exploit it!

Likewise, if you’d raise a set because you think, like Stuart, that “dude seems pretty oi with us” (ie “over it”, and presumably willing to stack off much too loosely), then raise the sets but not the really nutty draws (raising a weaker draw could still be correct though).

The Balanced Play

If you really aren’t sure what your opponents will do and want to proceed in a balanced way, I think that’s likely to include raising at least some sets. I’m not prepared to prove this definitively, but my guess is that if we assume no one has KK in his pre-flop range and then want to play an optimal strategy beginning with the flop situation, that’s going to include raising 77 (it’s very possible that 44 and 77 need to be treated separately, as one is the nuts and one is not in this scenario and with an SPR of 25 that may be an important distinction) and an appropriate number of bluffs. Your opponents are forced either to call down an appropriate number of non-nut hands or overfold to your bluffs, and either way you win. So basically I doubt that optimal strategy here involves not having a 3-betting range, and if you’re going to have a 3-betting range than the nuts needs to be in it.

The question of whether 65o is the best balancing candidate is a separate and trickier one. It is not, strictly speaking, the strongest possible draw. That would be 65s with a backdoor flush draw, of which Hero has 4 combos in his range.

However, because Villains have the option to 4-bet the flop, the strongest possible draw may not be the best bluffing candidate. The risk of getting blown off of your equity may make it better to 3-bet weaker draws or maybe even to use 7x as a bluffing hand because it dramatically reduces the number of nut combinations you could run into.

Multiway limped pots aren’t exactly PokerSnowie’s strong suit, but for what it’s worth it suggests a mix of raising and calling with 65o here. Snowie also calls 100% with 77 (though there’s no way to build in to Snowie’s analysis the important bit about no one having KK, and with KK it calls 87% and raises 13%). In fact Snowie’s raising range is only {KK,65s,65o}, none with 100% frequency.

The Exploitive Play

I’m setting that aside as merely an interesting academic exercise, though, because I think that none of these players is likely to be strong enough to go to the felt. Exploitively, I think that running a big bluff with with any of the above (open-enders, gutters, 7x) is certainly going to be profitable, and this may even be an any two cards spot. It doesn’t necessarily follow that raising this exact hand is the best play, as calling could be even more profitable, and I’ll return to that in a moment.

The bottom line is that it’s awfully difficult to flop two-pair or better, and I seriously doubt that anyone is stacking off with less than that. Because this is a limped pot, the SPR is extremely high, and many of these players – not entirely incorrectly – have a “don’t go broke in a limped pot” mentality. To be fair, I wouldn’t bluff-catch all the way to the felt with 74 either, though I’d also try to avoid doing some of the things these Villains have done to cap their ranges.

It’s true that betting into five opponents shows some strength on SB’s part. His sizing argues against his having a monster here, though. This is far more likely to be some sort of probe to see where he’s at, win immediately with something marginal, or set his own price on a draw. Precisely because these games tend to play passively, especially with regard to post-flop raising, I’d expect SB either to check or to bet bigger with a monster hand rather than split the difference with a small bet that’s like to result in no more than $25 per person going into the pot. (Despite what I said about my image, I don’t think anyone is expecting me to go crazy raising a little bet like this in a limped pot, though admittedly it could be a good strategy for enticing me to run a huge bluff).

Much the same applies to MP’s raise. The blinds are likely to call larger raises if they’re going to call at all, so there just isn’t much reason for him to raise only $75 with a set. It’s not going to produce the big pot he would want. More likely he either sees the same opportunity I do to bully these recreational players out of the pot or he’s making a small value/pot control raise with something like KJ.

I’d actually consider BB the player most likely to have a monster. Like many commenters, his instinct might be to slowplay a set. He also has the widest range of anyone for seeing the flop, though, and given the small bet might well be calling with any pair or weak draw, so sets will nonetheless be a very small part of his range.

A raise by me is simply not going to get 4-bet by one-pair hands. Even if someone is sick of me and ready to call me down, he’s going to want to let me keep bluffing, not blow me out. This is the nit’s preferred method of “punishing” an aggressive player. So I’m really not that concerned about getting blown off of my draw by a 4-bet.

The Trouble With Calling

As for whether there are even juicier implied odds attached to calling and trying to draw to the nuts, I think this is the “slot machine” mentality that Ed Miller warns about. You have a less than 16% chance of making the nuts on the next street, and everything I said above about why a bluff will be profitable is also a reason why your implied odds aren’t anywhere close to the full effective stacks. Probably no one has a hand that wants to play for stacks anyway, and if they do then your equity won’t be 100% on the turn.

Furthermore, there’s only one draw on the board, so when you cold call a flop raise and then bomb the turn when that draw gets there, it doesn’t take a genius to guess your hand.

Winning without showdown a high percentage of the time is generally preferable to winning a somewhat larger pot at a much lower frequency.

Finally, the pot that you win by bluffing isn’t guaranteed to be small. Perhaps someone calls the flop and/or turn only to fold later, in which case you win a larger pot anyway. Sometimes they call and you get there and are able to extract more value. Your first thought, when you flop a strong draw, should not be “I hope I get there so I can win a big pot.” It ought to be, “How can I best represent a strong hand and try to win this pot without a showdown?”

If you really think that your opponents will give you more credit for a strong hand if you call than if you raise, then more power to you, go ahead and call. But this means you’ll be bluffing into three people on the next street instead of one, and those three people will be closer to their coveted showdown than when you raise the flop, which should make them less inclined to fold. As John said in response to a comment about MP perceiving a call to be strong, “Doesn’t raising guarantee this and give him a chance to fold at the same time?”

Results

I raised to $200, the blinds folded, and MP called. The turn was a 9, he checked, and I bet $400. He thought for a bit, told me, “I don’t think you needed a miracle turn this time,” and folded.

4 thoughts on “What’s Your Plan? Good Draw, Lots of Interest Results

  1. One question, Andrew: You say that “if you’re going to have a 3-betting range than the nuts needs to be in it.” While that makes a lot of sense, on the last podcast, Gareth and Nate discussed a hand where Gareth check-called the nuts on the flop and turn because he thought it was important to make sure he check-calling range was balanced, too. So couldn’t you argue that if you have a calling range on this flop then 77 needs to be in that, too?

    • Haven’t listened to that episode, but I’ll take a guess here.

      I bet our range in this hand is much more polarized than Gareth’s. Regardless of what we do, in this hand our range is super thin. If we’re not 3betting the nuts then we’re either never 3betting or always 3betting bluffs.

      Also different if you expect villain to value bet worse, and thus have monsters in your calling range that you’re not fast playing.

      Just my 2cents!

    • Very good question! There’s a lot to say about this, but your intuition is correct. If you look at what I posted about PokerSnowie’s recommended play, it advises a mixed strategy of usually raising but sometimes calling with KK in this scenario (which is the equivalent of 77 for us, if we’re assuming no one has KK).

      That said, I do think that having nut hands in your raising range is more important than having them in your calling range (and again, look at Snowie’s ratio here: 87:13). Raising is something you do to build a pot. You’d always like to shovel money into the pot with your strongest hands, but if you don’t also do it with some weak hands then no one will pay you off. So nut hands are the whole reason you raise in the first place.

      Calling is a defensive play. It’s something you do so that your opponent can’t win more than his share of pots by bluffing. In many cases the frequency with which you call is more important than the exact hands with which you call.

      There are limits to this. When your opponent knows that your range is capped and his is not, there’s nothing you can do to prevent him from profiting in this situation. But the shallower you are, the less this matters, because there are more hands good enough to play for your entire stack even if they are not, strictly speaking, the nuts.

      So yes, you have to have hands strong enough to go to the felt in all of your ranges or else you can be exploited by bluffs. Those hands don’t necessarily have to be the nuts, though. In this instance, 74 might prove to be a very good bluff-catcher (if we were concerned about such things) if we were going to raise all combos of 77, as it blocks so many set combinations.

      • “So yes, you have to have hands strong enough to go to the felt in all of your ranges or else you can be exploited by bluffs.”

        Read this sentence carefully, readers. It’s a gem.

        In the hand above, hero needs a strong hand to go to the felt, but in a small SPR situation, we can safely have a more significantly capped range, as long as we have an appropriate percentage of acceptable bluff catchers.

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