What’s Your Play? Facing an Overbet on River

Playing a 9-handed 5/10 game last week at Bellagio, effective stacks $1500. Decent recreational player opens to $40 UTG+2, mediocre pro calls MP, good pro calls HJ, I call with 9s 8d (Edit: added suited to clarify that I don’t have a heart) on Button (a little questionable, but can’t be too bad if blinds don’t squeeze much), BB calls.

Flop ($205) Jc 8h 6h. Checks to me, I bet $100, folds back to good pro in HJ who calls.

Turn ($405) 5d. Both check.

River ($405) 2s. Villain bets $600. Hero?

Post your thoughts and preferred play in the comments, and I’ll do my best to respond and post results as well as my own thoughts at the end of the week.

16 thoughts on “What’s Your Play? Facing an Overbet on River

  1. He may have KJ or QJ, villain plays pot control on the turn and river because of the 8h 6h. the river put him safe on your check on the turn. he was sure has the best hand.

  2. Your turn check probably defines your hand relatively well, given how draw-heavy the board is. Since you could expect a 1/3-1/2 size pot bet to be called by a lot of draws on the turn, you wouldn’t have much incentive to check back hands like 65, J8 or even AJ or KJ. And I assume you would continue with any draws you were betting on the flop, including hands like T9 or two hearts. So mostly you’re checking back the turn for pot control with hands like the one you have, maybe weaker Jacks, maybe if you have something like 64s or A6.

    The problem with his bet is that it’s tough for him to have many super strong hands, too. The two really can’t have helped many of his hands, and on the turn, 79 got there, but that assumes he plays 79 from the hijack. I think we can discount that somewhat since, if you’ve seen him play enough to recognize that he’s a decent pro, he may have the same assumption about you, and he therefore should be worried that a squeeze is more likely with you on the button. So Iwould think he would fold 97, even 97s, although I would still expect 98s to come along.

    If he’s a decent pro, then in a vaccuum we would assume that an overbet like this would mean that his range should be polarized between strong hands (which, if he can’t have straights, should mostly be sets) and missed draws. But there are a lot of missed draws, and not many combinations of sets. So, I would be inclined to suspect that even a decent pro would have a tough time putting together a balanced range and avoiding the temptation to make a big bluffs with all or too many of his missed draws, especially since it looks like you would rather keep the pot small.

    So, assuming he would go for smaller sizing with a hand like AJ or KJ since he can’t expect you to call off super light when he overbets, the last question is where 98 fits into your range, and if it’s close enough to the top to make it a bluff catcher. Given how narrow I think your range is for betting flop checking turn, and that I expect him to be over-bluffing, then absent any physical tells, I would be inclined to call with any 8 or better, and fold my 6s.

    So, I say, hero calls.

    • Steve,

      I think we came to the same conclusion, but IMO Andrew’s entire range is bluff-catchers at this point. So as far picking the best hands to call with, card removal should be at the top of our list. 89o is a better hand to call with than JxTh, therefore.

      I’d be curious to hear your/others’ assessment on my logic here, though.

  3. Preflop discussion aside,

    Flop seems like a clear check given we have a very medium strength hand that’s hard to improve. Is it a bluff? A value bet? Seems most like a bluff if we are trying to get them to fold their equity.

    If we did bet the flop, I almost certainly continue betting the turn to put a weak jack and flush draws in a difficult spot.

    Do we have a heart in our hand? That wold be bad since we are hoping he has a missed flush draw. We block 9T as well which is one of the hands he could consider bluffing with.

    I think a hand like A8s or kjo without a heart are better bluff catchers than 89o with a heart.

    I probably fold this since good “live” players value bet a lot when obvious draws miss hoping you put them on a missed draw.

    • Flop definitely isn’t a trivial bet, but I don’t think it’s a trivial check either. In a five-way pot, you can’t really have a fixed plan, because you need to see what happens behind you, but I think betting accomplishes a few things. Although better hands probably don’t fold, a lot of equity will fold, not to mention you decrease the likelihood that you get bluffed off of a winner. It’s not a particularly large bet relative to the pot, and I have equity when called, including the possibility of being called by worse (even though overall I don’t expect to be ahead of calling ranges). But I do have some showdown value, especially when the player in best relative position calls.

      Setting up a turn barrel is certainly one advantage of bluffing, but I don’t think it’s mandatory. This player didn’t seem likely to make big folding mistakes on the turn, as some others would have done. Still, I do think firing again is quite reasonable here.

      I did not have a heart, thanks for checking. I edited the OP to reflect this.

      “good “live” players value bet a lot when obvious draws miss hoping you put them on a missed draw.”

      Don’t good live players also know that this is a common perception? Basically, whether you decide “draws miss so I call” or “draws miss so I fold”, you’re just playing a leveling game.

      • Thanks for replying.

        It does feel like a leveling game. But that’s because there isn’t a clear mathematical solution to this problem. It’s hard to account for limping ranges in a 5 way pot, then out bet flop, check Turn range and then decide how often and which hands we should call with.

        This is one of the issues I have faced when taking more creative or non standard lines, it’s hard to know how to play our range on later streets given the creative/non standard line.

        Also looking at the hand from a 3rd person pov, you need villain to have check called the flop, checked turn and decide to bluff with his missed draw on the river often enough. Most draws should be inclined to bet the flop unless they had some showdown value or thought that they couldn’t continue against a raise and preferred to check call instead. This narrows down his drawing range to pair + flush draws or oesd or gutshot with over cards. I don’t think villain will show up with a hand like ah3h.

        He also shouldn’t be calling preflop with many off suited connected hands like QTo.

        We can’t be sure he isn’t value betting thinly for an overbet size nor do we know if he will turn a weak made hand into a bluff on the river.

        This is where the math helps. Sadly we don’t know the exact math. So I fold.

        • “This is where the math helps. Sadly we don’t know the exact math. So I fold.”

          Nice post, but I don’t follow the logic here. Couldn’t you just as easily say “We don’t know the exact math, so I call?”

  4. So our hand has some qualities that favor a hero call. We don’t block any hearts, and we do block one combo of 97s, although the blocking effects of this are countered by the fact that we also block one combo of T9s and the fact that Villain may not be playing 97s preflop while he is definitely playing T9s. Also, the turn action seems to cap our range quite a bit. I assume we decide to check Jx hands on the turn some of the time, but those hands often have a fair bit of incentive to bet on this turn to get value from pair/straight draw type hands. This means that, depending on the exact turn strategy we’re employing here, 98 may not be *that* far from the top of our range, although it’s also easy to envision us betting many draws on the turn, thus making our range for betting flop/checking turn quite narrow and one-pair heavy, in which case 98 might actually be closer to the bottom of our range.

    The problem I see with calling is twofold: 1) most Villains would bet themselves with any draw strong enough to check/call on this flop and 2) since our turn check likely caps our range at one pair hands, Villain can, in theory, overbet quite thinly for value on a river as blank as this one. This means that Villain gets to this river with showdownable hands a large % of the time, thus limiting the number of natural bluffing candidates his range can have, and that his overbet doesn’t need to signal the kinds of “nutted” hands that most people would think of for the value region of an overbet (i.e., AJ is effectively the nuts in this spot). Now, if Villain is really good, as Andrew is indicating he might be, he can effectively mix enough check/calls with draws on flop or perhaps turn enough showdown-value hands into bluffs to have effective balance for this bet. However, if I’m going to err in one direction or the other in this particular spot, I think I’d rather overfold than overcall.

  5. i guess i start with, “what does good pro check-call the flop with?”

    –sets seem a little unlikely since the board is drawy and it would be to his benefit to just bet flop. MOSTLY ELIMINATE

    –QJ/JT/J9 are reasonable check-call hands imo (be a PITA to face a raise with these holdings). but these hands don’t make much sense for a river 1.5x bet. ELIMINATE

    –the OESDs (T9, 97) make some sense (but could bet out on flop). LIKELY HANDS

    –65 feels a little too light to check-call, as do 55 and 22. 85s is pretty light pre. ELIMINATE

    –the good gutters QT/Q9 (especially with a heart) are possible, altho i would prefer betting these hands vs check-calling with ’em. DISCOUNT COMBOS 50% (~16 combos)
    — 87s and 76s make some sense. LIKELY HANDS (4 combos)
    — 98s and T8s make sense as check-call candidates, but not for the river overbet. ELIMINATE
    — and some heart flush draws also make sense. SOMEWHAT LIKELY HANDS

    CONCLUSION:
    so you’re losing to 3h4h, a few combos of sets, and 97 (and he probably only has the suited combos pre). that’s like 7 total combos. and there’s maybe 30-40 combos that you beat that could reasonably make it to the river. and you’re totally capped, and he’s good, thus he may recognize this and turn marginal showdown hands into bluffs. breakeven is 38%. yeh, I CALL. and if he has JT and 1.5x the river against you for value, you have to go full wayne’s world on him — WE’RE NOT WORTHY!!!!!!!!!

  6. Been awhile for me on this site. Typically when I see an over-bet on the River in a spot like this I call it ‘buyer’s remorse’. A player assumes we will continue to bet the Turn and then wants both Turn and River value in one bet when we don’t. More common at the smaller stakes for sure.

    I assume everyone is ruling out 99/TT here since V didn’t 3-bet PF? Another hand not mentioned is the 47s … does a ‘good’ pro even consider this hand multi-way when he’s probably not going to have position (certainly with AB on the B).

    With a fair amount of history between V and AB he should know that AB makes his fair share of plays like this and might be more prone to a call here lighter. Not sure the dynamic of the Turn check. Although the 5 connects on the low end of the board would AB really suspect V hits Turn more than he needs to continue to protect (or project) what he was betting on the Flop? I think V rules out all Jx hands and might be able to get other 1-pr hands to fold. Does AB have a history of pot control with the V?

    If I had the benefit of the full history with the V I might be inclined to call more often, but I’m still calling here some of the time even though I have the weakest kicker of the 8x hands. If AB has 87 he’s probably betting the Turn … Is V really bluffing or weaker than our hand 38% of the time? That’s a lot to ask, but it is sure fun to soul read and be right on this type of call. GL

    • Best reason to rule out 99/TT is that it’s a terrible hand to overbet on river if I have any Jx in my range. It’s unlikely that better hands will fold, and he probably won’t be ahead of my range for calling an overbet.

  7. I’m calling because I don’t think Villain’s line makes sense to represent enought value. If he’s check-calling (and not leading) with hands like 97s on the flop, then he likely also has T9s, 75s, QTs, and Q9s in there, along with all sorts of flush draws. I can’t see why he’d choose to play a hand like a set, J8s or 86s this way on the flop, and check-calling with 65s is ambitious from him.

    So while his overbet makes some sense in that he knows you are severely capped, he simply doesn’t have enough value combos to offset all of the missed draws he gets to the river with. Combine all that with the fact that you hold a key blocker and this has to be a call.

    • Thanks, FD. FWIW, the fact that he gets to the river with a disproportionate amount of air doesn’t necessarily mean that he WILL be weighted towards bluffs, only that he could be. He has the option of bluffing with only some of his air.

      • That’s a good point. I just mean to say that he doesn’t have to pull the trigger all that often from his goodie bag of available missed draws in order for us to profit, since he basically only has 3 value combos.

  8. If the villain is a GOOD PRO like the hand history says, I wouldn’t go to leveling war with him. I would think about the hero’s range, and now it seems that we’re quite close to the bottom of the hero’s range (almost all the draws would have fired a second barrel I think). Hero probably has some better bluff catchers in his range like weak Jx-hands. We’re also blocking the villains bluffing range, especially T9-hands but other 9x-hands too. So thinking from this perspective this is a fold I think.

    On the other hand one interesting point is that we’re also blocking 97 which is a remarkable part of villains value range after this spesific line.

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