Shove River?

I never just post hands any more! I am curious in your feedback, but I don’t have a lot more to say about the hand myself, so I’m not going to construct it as a What’s Your Play? But here’s the situation:

Playing $2/$5 NL. Effective stack $600. Villain is a woman in her mid-20s, has a pro-ey vibe to her. I don’t know that we’ve played together before but I see her around Maryland Live a lot. Don’t remember ever seeing her in bigger games even when they were going at MDL. She always has full buyin+ in front of her, often on phone, chummy with dealers, etc. I haven’t been at table long, don’t know what if anything she thinks of me.

She opens to $20 in HJ, I make it $65 with AA in the CO, folds back to her and she calls without much thought (took less than 10 seconds to consider action, including time while other players folded).

Flop ($130 in pot) Qc 9d 9h. She checks, I bet $65, she calls.

Turn ($260) Kd. She checks, I bet $125, she calls.

River ($510) Ks. She checks. $345 remain in effective stacks.

Y’all prefer checking or shoving?

PS: Apologies to Villain, if she sees this. I’m doing this from memory several days after the fact, so there’s a fair chance I’m messing up some moderately important detail such as a suit and a small chance I’m messing up a really significant detail (it’s happened before).

14 thoughts on “Shove River?

  1. Check.

    We have 8 ak, 3 qq, some 9x for value.

    We have some backdoor diamonds for bluffs.

    I fail to see why we would want to add aa to our value range on the river.

    Jj or tt will not call our shove. We are specifically targetting aq qjs QTs with a shove. We block aq. I am happy with a check here.

  2. What are our value targets? AQ, QJs & QTs. Even these hands could fold. As Pokernoob noted, we block AQ.

    On the other hand, we could be up against many hands that beat us: JTs, T9s, 89s, KQs, QQ, AK (some opponents have a planned strategy to not go all in with AK & QQ > 100 bb, so the timing tell, while notable, wouldn’t rule out these hands).


  3. As a wise man once said (aka Andrew many times, including just last week on the TPP), “How thin we can value bet is determined by the availability of bluffs in our range,” or something.

    Considering that AA would be at the stone bottom of our value range here if we shove, it’s very useful to consider how we’d balance our range with bluffs so we can get paid on our worst value. And to me, it doesn’t look like we have much in terms of bluffs. The most obvious bluffing hands in this spot are turned diamond draws, such as A5dd or 76dd. But in a 3-bet pot with only 120 BB starting stacks, I think we shy away from 3-betting suited connector-type hands in favor of hands that can contest for pots much more easily in low SPR spots, i.e. ATo. And yes, you’ll probably have a bunch of AXdd in your 3-betting range, but you’ll also check the flop at least some of the time with those hands because of your showdown value.

    So, it doesn’t look like we have too many bluffs available. Combine that with what the three other commentors noted — our value target range is ultra slim — and I think this is a check on the river.

  4. This hand is *exactly* how I got knocked out of the WSOP ME. Villain 3-bet and triple barreled AA, I called down with QJs. I was impressed by his ability to triple barrel for value on a QxxKK runout. I thought he’d be polarized and would check AA one of those streets. I decided I should call with QT/QJ/AQ.

    To be fair, my image and my history with that player influenced the hand a lot. He was a strong, very aggro player, and I was a medium stack. I tanked a while before calling the turn. As I saw it, my hand was face up as one pair. I gave him credit for being capable of bullying me out of a pot.

    Those factors aren’t there in your case. I do think there’s a good chance she’ll call you down with Qx and JJ/TT. I would probably check here myself, but I’m really not sure if that’s the right play, or just the easy play.

  5. Interesting one. I’m leaning toward the check on the river – my first thought – and nicely laid out by commenters as to how few hands we’re targeting for value. And that AA is very near bottom of our value range.


    Two things bother me. So in the interest of considering all options they are: mainly – that villain has not shown a single sign of strength in the hand – OK she has called a 3b and x/called 3 streets – but she has not led a single street. Secondly, I can’t decide who has more Kx in their range – hero or villain – but if we shove or value bet large, there is the added bonus of getting villain off 9x or a straight. The 16 combos of AK for example (among other Kx broadway hands to a lesser extent) making up a good portion of our 3b range. And do recall that villain may not be super likely to float w AK oop on the Q99 flop.

    • I doubt that shoving into players who will fold JT is +EV. Such players are presumably not calling with worse, which means that although we successfully steal a pot from four combos of straights, we’re losing a stack to I think more than enough boats to make up for that.

      • Yep well said Andrew, a concept I’ve been exploring lately just theoretically, but you’ve helped me realise we’re not getting people off decently strong hands often enough when we try and rep even stronger hands. Thanks 🙂

  6. villain has checked a bunch at this point. so while she has a lot of combos that beat you, they are all discounted somewhat by river.

    it “feels” like villain has a lot of AQ, QJs, QTs, which you beat, but which probably don’t call (maybe also JJ/TT). and there are obviously plenty of possible hands you lose to, and you’re not likely to bluff out any of them by accident (altho JT for a straight could possibly fold).

    so against a normal decent-good opponent, i definitely prefer checking. as your impression of villain gets better and better, betting becomes more reasonable tho imo. to bet for value you really need villain to 1) believe you’re 3-betting pre with a polarized range and where your light side hands are composed primarily of things like A5s and 78s that have completely whiffed, 2) realize that the king turn is a good card for you to double-barrel (is she really going to call with her small pocket pairs again OOP and with a street left to act?), 3) and perhaps most importantly, she needs to understand and have her action be influenced by the 2nd board king reducing your combinations of Kx dramatically.

    that’s a rare level of sophistication at these stakes imo. so while you have some GENERAL info on villain that leans her towards good on the spectrum, i’d want more SPECIFIC info on her before i’d go for value here. (like having seen her hero call when the top board card pairs previously).

    • Wow! This is one of the best comments I’ve gotten here in a long time. You really put your finger on what made this spot worth posting (something that the actual post probably did not do a great job with, TBH).

      The general consensus that this is a check in a vacuum seems correct to me. I don’t think I’m just being results oriented, because I pretty seriously considered jamming, though I did ultimately check. Ultimately I think there was just a feel element to it, that based on the way she was checking she just didn’t have many/any traps. But even so, it’s far from clear that she’s calling the shove with the hands I need her to call with, for the reasons you give.

      FWIW she had AQ, though that doesn’t really provide any interesting information about whether a shove would have been good.

      • Are you 3-betting a polarized range at these stack depths though? That seems to be the sticking point with regards to your availability of bluffs.

  7. I’ve heard of spots where you cant bluff because you dont have enough value hands, but is there a such thing as you cant value bet because you dont have enough bluffs?

    If you always shoved river with AA, Kx, QQ, AQ, 9x, I dont think you could come up with enough bluffs to balance it. This disincentivizes villain from bluff catching you with some hands, but I dont know if this is such a bad thing.

    However, if villain knows you would shove all these hands here, that disincentivizes her from ever raising or leading 9x or better before the river and letting you off the hook.

    Could we have used bigger sizing somewhere earlier to make her more committed to calling a smaller river shove?

    An additional question is since it sounds like you dont know much about her, does that mean she doesnt know much about you?

    If this is the case, maybe she expects you to shut down on the river often and therefore, she may lead some value hands at some point before it’s your turn on the river. That weakens her river check calling range. OR

    She knows you and thinks that you are a crazy aggro pro and plans to catch your triple barrel bluffs light. That further weakens her river check calling range.

    Seems close, so maybe shove here in this cash game, but hero check in a tournament? If you lose, well that’s what bankrolls are for. At least you get to see her hand and can play better against her in the future.

    • “I’ve heard of spots where you cant bluff because you dont have enough value hands, but is there a such thing as you cant value bet because you dont have enough bluffs?”

      Yes! That is very much a thing! The possibility of a bluff is what incentivizes your opponent to call with bluff-catchers, and the more bluffs you have available, the more bluff-catchers they’ve incentivized to call with, which in turn enables you to bet for thinner value.

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