Hand of the Week: Rockets!

Hand of the Week: Rockets!

This hand is from the first level of the $1080 Battle of the Bay tournament that I went on to win. I don’t have any specific reads on particular players, but the field in general is quite amateurish, with lots of satellite qualifiers and shot takers. My default expectation for such players is that they will be quite loose and splashy as long as the bet does not represent a significant chunk of their current stack but much more tight and cautious once the bets get large.

I don’t have any history with the Villain, but if he’s a Lucky Chances regular, he may know that I’m a 5/10 regular, that I have the podcast and blog, etc. In the previous (first) orbit, I opened T9s, called a 3-bet, and ended up making a flush against someone else’s Aces. That’s the only pot that Villain has seen me play.

Blinds are 50/100, Villain has about 20K (starting stack), and I have about 25K. Only six players (including both blinds) have claimed their seats so far. I have black Aces first to act and open to 300. In a game like this, I will limp some hands in early position if the table is full, and AA may well fall into that limping range. When we’re six-handed, though, I’m never open limping anything.

Villain calls from the SB, and everyone else folds.

Flop (700 in pot) Jc 8c 6h. Villain checks. Hero?

In the comments section below, please share your preferred action, your reasoning, your general plan for future streets, etc. If you want to bet, be sure to specify the size and the reason for that size.

I’ll do my best to respond to comments and will post again later in the week, probably Wednesday, with my own thoughts and action, as well as the next decision point.


13 thoughts on “Hand of the Week: Rockets!

  1. I want to bet for value here so he calls with his pairs (Js 8s 6s and PPs), straight draws, FDs (slightly reduced since we block AcXc), and combos.

    Size wise, I am shading to the larger side vs villains like this since I beat so much of their range and since they are going to call regardless of sizing on the flop if they are calling. This will serve to grow the pot on future streets as well.

    Also isn’t pot on flop 700 if SB calls? Or does BB call and it is 650? Either way I’m thinking 500 is my size of choice.

    • Good catch, corrected to 700. How frequently do you see yourself betting three streets for value? In cases where you aren’t going to bet three, which street are you most likely to check and why?

      • With this type of player pool I see myself betting three streets for value quite often. But I realize that a lot run outs on a board like this can look scary to our opponent or even to us depending on the cards and any tells they might give off.

        It seems like front loading the betting makes sense because the board can get progressively scarier, which means I’d be checking the river by that logic. He/she might be willing to call a second barrel on the turn if a particularly non-scary turn card came. Or if it was a club/straightening card on the turn, he/she might be more likely to call from behind at that time to see if the draw comes in on the river.

        One case I could make for checking turn is if, despite this opponent being pretty much an unknown, he/she gave off a strong sign of disinterest on turn – for example, a club comes and they’re giving up but if you check behind they might call a small value bet on a non-club river.

  2. Against good, or at least not super lag, competition I like a check here. The back door club makes peeling any turn easy and protects us from what can be a wide cr range that puts AA in very bad spots on later streets. We just aren’t deep enough that we are planning to get it in, and checking flop imo creates a better chance that our bluff catcher in the river will be able to catch a bluff.

    There can be some tricky spots–particularly runouts that make a one-liner by the river. However their range will likely have so many hands that beat us that we can release aces there. It’s easy enough to balance that line with hands that do connect with those super wet turn/river combos, so we aren’t leaving ourselves wide open for exploitation.

    Turn club/river brick runouts can leave us guessing a bit on the river as well, but by and large I think it’s way better to pot control early here and use position.

  3. It’s easy for villain to flop a piece of this board, but hard for him to flop well enough that he’s ahead. J8s, 86s, 66, 88, and JJ are all probably in his range, but so are J9s+, JTo+, T9, 98, 87, 97 and lots of club draws. I’m not especially worried about a semi-bluff c/r unless the villain flopped a huge draw, like Tc9c, if he’s likely to be loose/weak as you indicate. So I bet now while we figure to be ahead but when villain is interested and before the board gets worse. Probably about 550, on the biggish size since I’d like to charge villain for the privilege of drawing.

    My plan is to check behind on clubs, and 8-K but bet again on total bricks. I’d also call a bet up to about 1200 if he leads out on a non-club, non-J, non-8, and up to maybe 1500 on a club.

    • Thanks for the comment. Don’t necessarily disagree with the sizing, but why are his draws the part of his range you’re using to determine your size?

      • It’s more based on the board texture than on his draws. I expect him to be able to continue with a lot of his range, but I also expect to be ahead against his calling range. And I expect that I won’t be able to comfortably get three streets of value on a lot of run outs. Since I think I’m ahead, and I think he’ll call a big bet with draws and pairs, I like a relatively large bet.

        If the board was very dry, say k72r, then I bet smaller since it’s harder for him to call with most of his range, and I want to encourage him to call with hands like 55. While I’d still love a call from 55, I don’t think that’s the part of his range we should target on this board.

  4. Based on the one hand that player saw you play. He probably has you tagged as a LAG (I find live players are quicker to make this tag here especially because it happened against AA. The typically don’t remember how the hand was played)

    Because he probably has me tagged as Aggro I wouldn’t want to set off any flares by checking here.

    With 7 BB in the Pot, I’d probably make it around 4.5 BBs to go.

    If he’s expecting my range to be pretty wide here. I’m expecting him to 3Bet most of his Draws, and 1 pair hands (Js and 8s, seeing as this flop does hit some of my expected wide range, I’m not expecting him to get out of line if he’s hit a 6)

    I think that he’ll more than likely slow play his sets and monster draws here (9c10c, Qc10c)

    I guess you could make the argument for pot controlling here (But I think that you’d be missing a lot of value). With the effective stack being 200 BB. AA is definitely hand that I can get away from on some trouble turns. But i think the likely-hood of our opponent Check/Calling the Flop to lead out big on the turn is unlikely. I think our opponent is more likely to check the turn if he completes his draw in order to trap us.

    * I like to start putting together a profile of ranges on a player at this point. Based upon what he knows about me it is likely he could have pocket 6’s or pocket 8’s in his range. I’d be more likely to put him on pocket Jacks if i had more information on him and thought he was a tricky player. But without this information, I’m going to assume he would have 3bet preflop.

    Monster Draws in his range would be 9c10c Qc10c

    Big Draws KcQc

  5. Villain likely has a pretty wide, but capped, pre-flop range here, including small/medium pocket pairs, suited connectors, broadway cards, some A-x, and perhaps even a few more random hands like 9-7 off that he wants to see a flop with.

    Therefore, we are very likely to have the best hand, and he is quite likely to have a hand that can call a bet. Therefore, betting seems the obvious play.

    Moreover, I don’t think it’s impossible that we can get three streets of value here – and, in fact, I might even aim specifically to do so on many run-outs. At the very least, I certainly wouldn’t want to rule out the possibility of getting three streets of value by checking the flop in a spot where we are likely to get called with worse.

    So I’m definitely betting, and – especially based on your description above of players who are happy to get splashy in smallish pots – I’m betting pretty big, as I think we are about as likely to get, say, a 650 bet called as a 350 one. So I think I bet 650, and I think I’ll be calling any reasonably-sized check raise (because we still probably have the best hand even if he’s doing it for value, because he may perceive you as overly aggro and is making a move, and because we have backdoor clubs as a little insurance).

    Assuming he just calls, my plan would be to bet most turn cards if checked to, but would likely check any paint card (because they are likely to either improve villain to a winning hand, or be a scare card that greatly reduces our chances for three streets of value), and I’d probably check a club too, for similar reasons, with the additional factor of not wanting to get blown off a strong draw in the event that we are beaten and face a big c/r.

    But if we have a compliant villain who is just checking and calling all the way, then I think I want to bet pretty big on the flop and most turns, and then make a decent bet on a lot of rivers too.

  6. A couple of thoughts:

    A) The flop is pretty coordinated; I would imagine he would call pre-flop with a lot of suited connectors that flop either a pair, or a straight or flush draw here. I would thus be betting large (2/3 pot?) with my whole range here, since with my bluffs I want to fold something genuine out and with my made hands I want to get value from decent holdings. I think we are about equally nutty in our ranges as far as sets go; neither of us are supposed to have many two-pair holdings, and I have more over-pairs than him.

    B) In terms of three streets, I think that if a third club comes on the turn or a straightening card, it is hard to think I’ll get three streets of value from a jack, and over-pairs are pretty significantly discounted because he just called pre-flop. On some level, it feels like the board will be scariest on the river, so if there’s a street to check, it’d be then, though that’s not an argument I think i’ve ever heard from a good player, so maybe it’s ridiculous.

    C) I think one question for me here is what do I do if I get raised on the flop. The very high STP on the flop (~28:1 before any action, if I am calculating right) means that it feels like it’d be really bad to get it in here with an over-pair absent significant exploitative reasons. That said, I think he’s going to raise his bread-and-butter draws fairly often on the flop (clubs, though they’re discounted because we’re holding the Ac, 10-9, 9-7, maybe 7-5s if he’s playing that from the SB, which he shouldn’t be, I think); he’s also fairly likely to raise a set, and certainly J-8, on such a coordinated board. (Btw, I also think both some very tricky and may more weak players will just call with J-J out of the small blind, especially this deep.) So if I bet 500 and he raises to 1200 or so, I think I have to call there; I’m too high up in my range to fold. But then if a club, queen, 9, or 7 come off and he makes a substantial bet, I probably fold.

  7. it might be wrong, but i probably mix betting and checking here 60/40 or so.

    betting is obviously fine (for value, protection, even some informational value), but checking allows you to control the size of the pot better since getting in 250 bb’s with an overpair is, generally speaking, the type of disaster you want to avoid this early, at least without quite specific reads. but it’s also going to be hard to fold AA on this type of board where a lot of combo draws exist and/or are likely to develop.

    i try to size reasonably large on draw-y boards like this, so i’d bet 500 when i bet flop. i don’t really want to go too much larger than that since i don’t want it to look (correctly) like i have a big overpair i’m trying to protect.

    then i’m going to check back ~ half of turns (any Q, J, T, 9, 7 or club) since getting checkraised sucks ass (gross decisions on turn and likely river.) when i do bet turn i think i go ~55% pot, enough to deprive most of my opponent’s drawing hands of correct odds, but not so much as to blow out a lot of top pair type hands (especially for a likely amateurish player.) if i bet flop and turn i’m going to bet most rivers for value i think, but this bet will generally be quite small (~30% of pot), altho if i hit the nutflush i might just shove all-in since… y’know, early tourney shenanigans and all (+ the rep from 3-betting T9s already)

    when i check back flop i’m committing myself to calling a turn bet on any turn i think, and to betting if checked to. i always size fairly large after checking a flop with the lead headsup (60-80% pot) since i think that works best for both my value hands and my bluffs. raising a turn bet here is going to be overplaying your hand imo. and then i’m going to go pretty thin for value on the river on most run outs.

  8. So I think this is a flop that Ed Miller would say hits a lot of hands, but hits very few hard, and that the best hand is often made on the later streets. This puts us in kind of a tricky spot, because we have a hand that is going to have a very hard time putting in 3 bets while ahead but also one that requires a fair bit of protection, even while holding the Ac, but we do also have position which is quite beneficial on this board. I would be much more inclined to use this as a checking hand on something like J42ccx, or the like. As others have pointed out, someone on the more recreational side of things will have many second best hands and draws in his range that we can begin extracting value from. It is also worth considering that, vs a player of this description, we can be pretty safe in assuming that aggressive action taken against us at a later point in the hand will come almost exclusively from a range against which our equity profile is pretty poor (even if it’s not necessarily terrible against hands like J8s and 86s and any of the combo draws he can have).

    Also, on such a board I think we’re going to see players be pretty inelastic to bet sizing, which inclines me toward a somewhat larger than usual sizing, perhaps 500 or so. I think very few players are going to be folding Jx to that sizing when it represents a relatively small percentage of their stack, and it’s also beneficial for us to make calling with draws less profitable for Villain, especially when we’re in position when we’ll have more of an advantage in a larger pot. Versus a call I’m planning on checking back any club (which is a card that both improves V’s range significantly but also gives us significant equity as well), but I would still strongly consider betting even the cards that appear to be quite good for Villain’s range (cards like a 7, 9, or T). There are enough draws on this board that we should be able to safely bet/fold those cards while still extracting value from second best hands, and V may very well even just lead out large on those cards, to which we can quite safely fold, IMO. Perhaps I am underestimating Villain here, but at this description, I see no reason to expect that he won’t play pretty straightforward against us especially on wet boards like these.

  9. I think on most run-outs you can expect to get two streets of value. I would almost always bet the flop here and my size would be 450. The board is coordinated and I’m going to get a call from plenty of worse hands- flush draws, straight draws, top pair, and middle pair. I’m planning on checking back most turn cards- both bricks and scare cards. Depending on the run-out, I’ll be looking to get my second street of value on the river. On a lot of boards, villain should have a healthy bluffing range after I check back the turn. I can pick off these bluffs. Again, depending on the run-out, I may be able to make a small value bet on the river when checked to and get called by villain’s top pair, bad kicker and middle pair hands.

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