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What Are You So Afraid Of?

I’ve played poker exactly once since April 15th, and I wrote about that day exhaustively last month, so this month I’ll discuss a hand brought to me by one of my coaching students. Our topic this time will be dealing objectively with the nagging fear that, although a play seems correct, it may be exploitable. link alternatif dewapoker

The Hand

The hand in question comes from a four-handed online no-limt hold ’em game with $2/$4 blinds. Both the Hero and the Villain have $400 stacks.

The Hero opens with a raise to $14 holding K :heart: J :club: in the CO. The BTN folds, the SB calls, and the BB folds. My student describes the CO as loose and passive, so his range for calling here is probably much wider than we’d expect to see from a better player. dewapoker login 2018

The flop comes J :spade: 2 :spade: K :club:, giving Hero top two pair. SB checks, Hero bets $22 into a $32 pot, and SB calls.

The turn brings the Q :spade:, completing some possible flush and straight draws and also putting Hero behind KQ. SB checks, and Hero checks behind. Against a loose and passive player, I think you can make a case for betting here, but a check has its advantages as well. masuk poker88 online

The river is the 8 :club:, and now SB bets $60 into a $76 pot. My student folded, but he shared the hand with me because he was concerned about folding such a strong hand after showing so little strength.

What Are You So Afraid Of?

Players will sometimes say that their hand is “underrepresented” in a situation like this. After all, all Hero has done so far is raise from late position, make a continuation bet, and then check the turn. How can Villain expect him to have a hand as good as two-pair, and therefore isn’t it exploitable to fold such a strong hand getting better than 2:1 pot odds?

The short answer is that yes, this is an exploitable fold. Game theoretically optimal (GTO) play would require Hero to call with nearly 70% of his range. Yet here, we are talking about folding a hand that is probably in the top 10-15% of Hero’s range for getting to the river in this way. This is a big deviation from GTO play and therefore potentially exploitable. dewapoker login

There’s another question we have to ask, though: so what? When students come to me with fears like these, I encourage them to articulate what exactly they are worried about. Being “underrepresented” or “too weak” are not bad things in and of themselves. Before acting on feelings like these, you need to articulate how exactly these things could end up costing you money.

In other words, what would your opponent need to do to take advantage of this “mistake” that you are considering? Suppose that the Villain in this hand knew that Hero would fold KJ and all worse hands to a $60 river bet. What should he do with that information?

The obvious answer is that he should bluff, a lot. The catch is that presumably Villain needed either a pair or a draw to call a bet from out of position on this flop. The most obvious draws got there and even hands like AQ and QT now have a pair. It’s virtually impossible for Villain to have no-pair on the river. info nagapoker

Exploiting Hero’s extremely tight calling range here would require either floating the flop out of position with no pair and no draw intending to bluff the river or turning a pair into a bluff on the river. The former is an extremely difficult move to pull off and not something I’d expect to see from even a loose player at these stakes.

As for turning a pair into a bluff, this is a good spot for it, but that’s not something I’d expect a passive player to recognize or take advantage of. Also the fact that Hero’s range looks weak actually makes it less likely that Villain would feel the need to turn a pair into a bluff. He may well think that a hand like JT could win at showdown and therefore be willing to check.

What we’re seeing here is that, although Hero’s fold is theoretically very exploitable, this Villain is unlikely to be playing in a way that will take advantage of Hero’s “mistake”. Thus, this “mistake” is not a mistake at all but a profitable strategy for exploiting the Villain’s failure to bluff the river with an appropriate frequency. When you can identify certain exploitable tendencies in an opponent’s play, then you ought to adapt your own game to take advantage of those leaks, and that’s all that’s going on here. situs info poker88

So does this mean that Hero was correct to fold? That depends on how confident he is in his read. As we’ve said, the pot odds dictate that Hero ought to call about 70% of the time. If his actual calling range is more like his best 10-15% of hands, this is a huge deviation from the GTO strategy. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it does mean that he needs to be very confident in his reads. A small deviation from GTO strategy requires only an inkling of a read, but a massive deviation like this requires near-certainty that Villain will virtually never show up with a bluff.

Personally, I’m quite confident we won’t see a bluff here. However, even if Villain is not bluffing, it’s still possible that he is betting a hand worse than KJ. Perhaps he thinks AK or QJ is good enough to value bet. Or perhaps he is afraid that Hero will bluff and so making a blocking bet with a hand like KT or AQ. We must consider these scenarios as well before folding.

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