Rate Our Play: Blind Battle

It’s called Rate Our Play. I’m going to post a hand featuring multiple decisions points for both myself and my opponent(s). Your job will be to comment on any mistakes (or choices that surprised you in a good way) that you think either of us made. I’ll participate in the comments as I can and return later in the week to post my own thoughts about the most controversial points.

The Game: $200 6-max WCOOP Event (Sunday Warm-Up Replacement). Blinds 1600/3200/400. Villain has 145K, Hero has 175K.

Reads/History: Assume each player knows the other to be a successful and experienced tournament player.

Decision Point 1: Villain open-limps As 6d in the small blind.

DP 2: Hero checks Qc Js in the big blind.

Flop (8800 in pot): Kc 8c 3s

DP3: Villain bets 3200.

DP4: Hero calls.

Turn (15200 in pot): Qd.

DP5: Villain bets 7750.

DP6: Hero calls.

River (30700 in pot): 9h

DP 7: Villain bets 22950.

DP8: Hero calls.

Leave a comment about any decision point(s) you find surprising or mistaken, and I’ll share my thoughts later in the week.

One additional note that may be helpful: try to think not just about whether Villain should bluff at all in these spots (he should) or whether Hero should ever call with less than the nuts (he should) but rather whether these specific hands are good for those purposes on each street.

20 thoughts on “Rate Our Play: Blind Battle

  1. DP 1 and 2: can Andrew perhaps briefly enlighten those of us who don’t play many tournaments about the merits of not raising with these hands preflop at these stack depths? It would seem to me that, especially in a tournament with antes in the pot, that there is an awful lot of incentive to just raise these hands from these positions. But, I can see the argument that, from Villain’s POV, Andrew will do very little folding in position and V’s hand will play quite poorly OOP postflop, and from Andrew’s POV that he wants to have some high card hands to protect his range on boards that are better for high card hands. Generally, I’d like to know more about what hands might be good to put in a limping range in SB’s spot, and what hands are good for maybe not raising (thus forming the top of our checking range) in Andrew’s spot.

    As for the rest of the hand, I’ll just say that SB’s choice to bluff with this particular hand seems really, really, *really* bad. Even if he surmises that he can have more of the best hands on this board than Andrew can (due to Andrew’s preflop check) and thus might be able to get Andrew to overfold, A hi seems to have far too much showdown value for his bluff to do much better than checking down and hoping to win, if it does better at all.

    • Regarding the pre-flop action, those same questions I posed are relevant: antes provide incentive to raise with any hand. What makes these cards better than any others for raising?

  2. I like the limp, your hand is disguised and your opponent expects no ace. Maybe its better to raise a mediocre hand like 10-7 because an ace has automatic showdownvalue and 10-7 likes taking it down. The flop bet is standard since its hard to call if V misses, few drawing handa. After some thought i like hia call because he can bluff any 9, 10, ace or club if u check the turn. I like ur turn bet because it folds out small pairs or if he had hit the 8 or 3. His call seems obv. Ur river bluff i dont know exactly what u are representing, i think kq but what will he fold here? His rivercall is a bit difficult but what does he think u have, a k would check maybe?

  3. I’m slowly getting back into poker after a break of a few years where I basically stopped playing. “Exercises” like this one are a good way of getting back into it. So here are my thoughts:

    DP 1 + 2: Given the read, I think both plays are good. A6 is tough to play oop vs a good opponent and Hero will usually defend pretty wide. Limping keeps the pot small, as long as Hero doesn’t raise too often. Villain might also limp with the intention to limp-raise, which I think is good given stack sizes. I also like Hero’s check with QJo, because Hero doesn’t want to face a 3b, which is somewhat likely given stack sizes. QJ in position vs a weak range looks like a good spot.

    DP 3: I’m a bit lost here. Villain usually has the best hand, but he has no draws and there won’t really be good turn cards where he could pick up some equity to keep barreling. Then again, if he check-calls, Hero will very often put pressure on him again on the turn. And if he check-folds, he lays down the best hand very often. To be honest, I don’t really like any option here. But given that BB actually has a weaker range than any 2 cards, betting might be best. Personally I’d bet like 3’567, cause minbets just look very weak to me.

    DP4: Hero can turn some backdoor draws and has position, so I like the call.

    DP5+6: The Q looks like a scare card, but unless Villain limped something like Q7-QJ and bet these hands on the flop, it’s really not. Hero will float a lot of hands on the flop, so that might be a reason for Villain to bet again. However, it’s not likely the Q helped Villain and he’s not very likely to have a monster hand given preflop action, so his betting range looks weak. Especially given the fact that he might also check-call with weaker Kx in this spot. I think I’d rather check-call and play Ax as a bluff catcher than betting again. I like Hero’s call given Villain’s weakish range.

    DP 7+8: Villain’s big bet looks like a monster, but JT/33/K8/Q8 are the only strong hands that make sense given previous action. I guess he can show up with AA/AK/KK/QQ every now and then, planning to limp-raise preflop. But I’d discount those hands heavily. So Villain’s not representing a wide value range, it’s a blind vs blind battle, there’s an obvious flush draw that missed and he knows that Hero knows all this. I think Villain should cut his losses on the river and check. Again I think I like check-evaluating better than betting again. For the above reasons I like Hero’s call.

    I think Villain should choose some hands with which he can turn a draw to barrel 3 streets, something like JT/T9/76/65, preferably with a club. Then he can continue on the turn if he picks up some outs and give up if he misses. If he barrels hands like A6 in this spot, his range will be far too weak. Also A6 might have some value as a bluff catcher, so I’d rather bet Flop, check-call Turn, check-evaluate on the River.

  4. I think you played this hand really well.
    The A6 seems like an auto bluff by villain hoping to fold out some 8’s, 9’s, tiny pairs and steal a chop. Plus V has to hate check calling river even though Hero could bluff some missed flushes.
    I am really curious how you would play KJ, K10 really any K.

  5. Pre: DP1: There’s a lot of ways to handle a Blind vs Blind and SB may be choosing (reasonably imo) to open limp his whole range of hands he’s continuing with. He’s paying 1600 to win a total pot of 8400 so he only needs to realize 19% equity to reach breakeven on his call. So he doesn’t want to fold much at all on one hand, but considering his positional disadvantage, bloating the pot with an extremely wide range against a good player is going to be problematic, hence his choice (perhaps) to play a strategy of completing all hands he continues with.

    If, however, he is raising some hands, A6o is a good raise-fold candidate since it has value vs a continuing range, while blocking some aces and still performs//flops poorly enough against a 3-bet range to be an easy enough drop (against most opps at least).

    DP2: andrew has a hand in the BB that is surely strong enough to raise for value against a presumed 70%+ range from the SB. and so i would normally raise here in the BB. the disadvantage to raising is if you get checkraised and choose to fold, you’ve now folded away a ton of playability and equity. however, assuming normal sizing on the checkraise, i don’t think you should fold to a 3-bet, although the spot does becomes pretty gross. an advantage to checking QJ behind is that SB should have a lot of dominated Q’s and J’s so if you flop one, you’re in a great spot with some disguised hand strength. also QJ , even offsuit, flops a number of good semibluffing opportunities in addition to made hands.

    so i think both players have reasonable other options than the ones they chose, but both choices are completely reasonable.

    DP3: SB is good here a bit more than not, but isn’t going to be very good against a continuing range vs his bet. so his bet is bad imo. i’d prefer check-deciding, probably calling. he seems to be betting to avoid this decision.

    DP4: andrew is facing a small bet and only needs 21% equity against this bet size. he has 2 premium back doors (3 outs total), often 6 more outs, and is good a fair amount. he has to continue. the only choice is whether to raise or call. i think i lean towards raising (and probably raise “too much”” in a theoretical sense leaving me vulnerable to light checkraises) but at least i’m not getting blown off of great equity if this does happen. plus it’s a tough stack depth for sb to checkraise light and OOP imo.

    DP5: villain should assume andrew is continuing on the flop with Ax and any pair and flush draws, and a few hands like the ones he has. the queen is a good scare card if andrew has a pair of 88’s or lower and didn’t improve many of andrew’s holdings. and this bet should at least knock out other Ax and andrew’s 3x or hands like 22-77. more of andrew’s range is continuing than not imo, but this bet is probably still marginally profitable.

    DP6: easy call

    DP7: villain can be jamming any decent King+ for value i think. and his bet should fold out pairs 8x and smaller that hung around and whiffed flush draws now. his jam is going to be close as to whether it’s profitable imo.

    DP8: it’s a little gross, but i think andrew has to call here. i’d go with any queen, but fold anything worse.

  6. DP4: The obvious mistake seems to be calling w Q high on a K high flop. But if the plan is to bluff raise future streets or bet when checked to I guess it’s ok. especially when picking up equity on a good turn. Personally, i don’t like folding in position against experienced players with back doors and overs two 2nd pair. so with a hand like QJ i’m probably also not folding. raising with no equity doesn’t make too much sense. so calling seems best.

    DP1: limping heads up w A6 seems week. expecially if hero is an experienced and successful player. you should be raising for value. i get that it inflates the pot and your’re oop but still, you’re just asking to get outplayed post. only reason i can see to limp is to balance your limping range.

    DP2: i like checking option with QJ here in pos. hand is too strong to fold pre if you get limp raised. why bloat the pot. i like playing small ball in pos with a decent hand vs an experienced player.

    DP5 and DP7 Barreling: IDK but seems a little too ambitious this 3barrel bluff. Betting the flop ok. Hero will probably fold a good amount of time when his range is ATC. When called and a Q hits, i guess it’s ok to rep a K or a Q. but your equity sucks. if you get called your plan has to be to bomb the river and get a one pair hand to fold. your target is an 8. Again, i think there are better spots than to triple barrel with ace high in a limped pot oop vs an experienced player.

    Overall i like hero’s play. Once the Q hits, he has to default to bluff catch mode. his showdown value is much too good to turn into a bluff. raising at any point would not get a worse hand to call except maybe QT specifically. So calling all the way once you hit is good.

    • You seem to indicate that Villain could/should bluff the flop with any two cards, yet you think calling with QJ is an “obvious mistake”? I think QJ is in quite good shape against Villain’s betting range, even if he isn’t bluffing as wide as you suggest.

      • If he checks a non Q non J turn, will u check back? Do you have enough showdown value? Or bet to protect equity? If u check back do u auto call most rivers?

      • Sorry few more questions… What type of flops are u folding when villain bets? Ace high flops? I feel like there’s key info missing. All we know is that both players are experienced and successful tournament players. But that doesn’t really tell us anything about what villains open limping range is out of the sb. Do we have any history on bvb with villain? Would he ever trap in this spot vs you? Would he limp 75? KT? If his limping range is wide, why not raise pre? If his limping range is not so wide and more like Ax, Kx, and maybe some mid suited connectors then your SDV isn’t very good on that flop.

        • You’re not usually going to have this much information on your opponents. You need to learn how to make decisions against relative unknowns.

          • Ok. If that’s the case then I think the biggest mistake is checking your option pre. If we assume a relative unknown yet successful player is open limping on the wider side, then we must take the initiative and we must take the lead in the hand with a top 10% hand that flops relatively well. If we’re not raising w QJ in this spot, then our raising range becomes too polarized. I think QJ is a perfectly fine hand to raise with in position. Unless we suspect that villain will limp reraise often, then we must raise ourselves and put villain to the test. It will also establish a bvb dynamic that you want.

              • The dynamic is you’re going to fight for dead money and he better be prepared to fight from oop. I’m generally on the aggressive side especially vs passive plays. Until they prove to me that they too will fight back, I’m just going to put the pressure on with these stacks in position closing the action heads up vs a pretty wide weak limping range. I wouldn’t do it w ATC for the sake of being aggressive. But with a hand like QJ it’s a perfect opportunity to start to establish that image. Yes a good solid player will adjust, but you being a good solid player yourself in position have the upper hand. I just think QJ is a hand that should be raising in this spot. I don’t think you’re necessarily turning it into a bluff with a raise, more so you’re giving yourself a chance to TID without a fight or take the lead in the hand and outplay him post.

              • I agree it’s probably better as a raise, though I don’t think it’s a big difference. Everything you’re saying about the dynamic, though, is a bit dicier when you’re talking about two good players. He isn’t necessarily going to come in thinking that he can limp exploitively much until I “show him otherwise”, nor is it a bad thing for me if he does do that. If he’s limping with overly weak hands because he doesn’t realize that I will raise an appropriately wide range, and I do raise an appropriately wide range, then that’s good for me and I would have no desire to discourage that.

  7. Decision Point 1: Villain open-limps As 6d in the small blind.

    -Not a big fan of SB limping strategies at most stakes. Against a villain like Andrew who will probably be defending well, perhaps a limping strategy is the way to go.

    DP 2: Hero checks Qc Js in the big blind.

    -I think you could go either way here. The reason I don’t like SB limping strategies is that they’re difficult to do correctly, which would make me want to 2.5-3x in BB a bit more often against some players.

    Flop (8800 in pot): Kc 8c 3s

    DP3: Villain bets 3200.

    -Once again, SB limping strategies are difficult to play correctly. I don’t think villain should be leading here often at all, and I don’t think this is the hand or texture to do it with.

    DP4: Hero calls.

    -Showdown value, backdoors, and position. Sounds like a tasty recipe.

    Turn (15200 in pot): Qd.

    DP5: Villain bets 7750.

    -This turn card interacts really well with hero’s range and I’m just not saying that because I’ve seen holecards ;). I’d be giving up here as villain.

    DP6: Hero calls.

    -No reason to raise…

    River (30700 in pot): 9h

    DP 7: Villain bets 22950.

    -Once again this card interacts very well with hero’s range and A6o is just a lousy hand to use as a bluff here.

    DP8: Hero calls.

    -Block the nuts and there aren’t a lot of value combos in villain’s range that make sense.

    I’ll end again with…SB limping strategies are hard to do well and this hand is a great example of why!

    (full disclosure a half bottle of wine was had before this post was created ;)….)

    • I’ll put an addendum to my DP3 comment…

      K high boards may indeed be better for SB but I still think checking range is way easier without losing much EV. Certainly A6o no bckdoor is not a hand to ever put in a leading range here.

  8. DP3: Villain choses to bet A high on the flop after limping pre. It is a wrong hand for this structure as JohnD mentioned. I don’t see a reason to bet and quite a few reasons to not bet here.
    DP7: A bet on the river would probably fold out 8s and worse made hands. In his boots, I’d prefer a check-raise here, since your range probably contains 1. hands that can’t win without bluffing, 2. hands that can call or value bet river but don’t beat much if raised. It also seems that his range contains more nut hands, which is another argument for a check-raise.

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