August 08, 2010

Bet your strong hands or lose money

One of the very first books I read when I started out in poker suggested that everyone plays quads optimally, and there wasn't much point in talking about it therefore. I don’t think I agree.

Like all our flopped unbreakable nut hands (OK, there's still a str. flush there), we want to extract the maximum, and that’s all we need to focus on, as we cannot lose the hand. Extracting the maximum involves reading the board, and relating it to your opponents possible range of cards.

In this hand I raise 77 and flop the nuts against an aggressive and tricky opponent playing 25/21 who never likes to fold to cbets (0 out of 5 times), and by the turn, I have him drawing dead. The crucial thing of this post is that I opt not to slow play on the drawing stages of the board, which is the mistake I see so often at small stakes (the flop and turn).

Full Tilt, $0.50/$1 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

UTG: $121.70
MP: $98.50
CO: $110.90
BTN: $108.90
Hero (SB): $110.40
BB: $167.20

Pre-Flop: 7 7 dealt to Hero (SB)
4 folds, Hero raises to $3, BB calls $2
pretty standard

Flop: ($6) 7 7 6 (2 Players)
Hero bets $4, BB calls $4
Fantastic flop for me. Yes I have flopped the monster, but even better, against a good player with him in position on a super wet board. That means he will be aware that his perceived range (his actual cards are irrelevant) in the small blind has hit this flop and will hopefully play accordingly. Perceived ranged (what he thinks I think he has) will consist of mid cards such as 45ss, 78ss, 78o, 89ss, 89o, any 7, pocket 6s, gut shots with overs, any pocket pair, slow played preflop monsters v sb, a floated Ace high with overkicker and any spade draw. The fact that the majority of his hands will in fact have missed is irrelevant. This guy likes to take pots down in position, and he will love to bluff when his perceived range hits. To slow play here would thus be a huge mistake. To check raise here would be an even bigger mistake. (You would fold out his air bluffs)
His perceived range is a massive 25% that could float this flop
AA,JJ-22,A2s+,KQs,K7s,Q7s,J7s,T7s+,97s+,87s,73s+,64s+,A7o,K7o,Q7o,J7o,T7o+,97o+,87o,74o+
WE SIMPLY HAVE TO BET....

Turn: ($14) 3 (2 Players)
Hero bets $9, BB calls $9
No change from the above, although by now it looks like he does actually have a draw or is slow playing an unlikely monster like 66. 45o and 45ss got there too. We now also have gutshots with a pair which were called with the 6 on the flop (eg 64)

River: ($32) K (2 Players)
Here is where we have to change tack. River is a huge brick, none of the draws got there. We need to check to let all the busted draws bet, let any K bet, and any of his floated air bluffs bet.

Hero checks, BB bets $15, Hero raises to $32, BB raises to $151.20 and is All-In, Hero calls $62.40 and is All-In
So we opt for a small CR to rep something like AK that is Raise/Folding with plenty fold equity to open the door for his bluff shove repping the 7 and the 66, which he kindly does for us, as he out-levels himself.

Results: $220.80 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero showed 7 7 and WON $217.80 (+$107.90 NET)
BB showed 9 8 and LOST (-$109.40 NET)

Whilst there is a case for occasional slow play of these juicy monster flops, (super dry boards where its pretty clear he/you has missed might be one, playing against certain maniacs OOP is another) in general you need to be doing all you can to enable all the money to go in, which involves betting the correct amounts and thinking of ranges.

The fact that they will be folding much of the time is no reason to slow play. I hope this example shows why.

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