European Poker Tour Key Hand Analysis - What Happened Next?
by Ian Simpson | Published: Jan 29, '13
Thank you for the comments on my previous blog – European Poker Tour Main Event Key hand Analysis. Some interesting opinions there [see comments section]. I’ll tell you what I think of the hand.
As people have said a flat call preflop leaves us out of position [OOP] which is obviously a major disadvantage. However I feel that a flat call preflop has a number of strengths. Firstly it helps keep the pot small (er!) with a marginal hand. Secondly it allows me to see what the flat caller in the hand wants to do preflop. I’d hate to four-bet and then see this guy get involved as I think I would be in real trouble in that spot.
I really liked “answer20’s” comment: “The thought process that needs to be considered was what would you have done if the 3rd person had 4-bet pre-Flop. Less likely I would think, but if you weren’t ready to call that 4-bet, you should have 4-bet yourself or folded”. I think vs. a creative aggressive opponent your reasoning here is bang on. Perhaps I should have stated that I considered this player, an older gentleman, on the passive side and felt him unlikely to four-bet with a weak holding although possibly capable of flat calling with a big hand hence my reasoning above.
Thirdly another reason I flat called was an interesting concept I saw in Elky’s book “The Raisers Edge” is that if your opponent c-bets 100 percent of the time checking the flop actually gives you position since you already know what he is going to do and get to act again after he bets. He may not be betting 100 percent of the time, but so far my history with him suggests that it is close to this number (I hadn’t seen him check with position yet as the pre flop aggressor). My plan was to flat call, check and re-evaluate based on the flop and the actions of my two opponents.
As “jimmytang” said a four-bet is certainly reasonable (quite possibly optimal). We are ahead of his preflop three-bet range in this spot. A 4-bet-fold is out of the question to me both for meta-game reasons and simply for the chips lost, so if we do indeed four-bet we have to be willing to go all the way with the hand, and with over 100BB’s that seems a tad excessive with A-Q off not to mention high variance.
After I call the flop comes a rather tantalising 8 6 5. I checked as planned, so did my next opponent then the villain bets 11,500. Unless he holds a straight flush we are far from drawing dead. If you play around on PokerStove with this situation, even a reasonably tight c-bet range leaves us with a lot of equity here. Indeed we know our villain to be a hyper-lag so folding is of course out of the question and we may have up to 65 percent+ equity vs. his range here depending on just how wide he is betting. That leaves calling, check-raising to say 25K-30K or shipping all in.
Check-raising all in is a large over bet and in my opinion screams semi-bluff and so it is my least favourite of the options left to us because it is the move least likely to make him fold. I’m not saying it’s a bad play as it puts a lot of pressure on the villain and will take the pot a good proportion of the time, but I think the latter two options are best.
If we check raise to 25-30k and he goes all in the pot will be too big to fold our hand and so we will have to call. Which is a fine option. If he flat calls we can re-evaluate on the turn, most likely making the all in push ourselves, continuing our show of strength to try and take down a very nice pot. However I prefer setting up the hand so that I’m definately the one making the all in push.
I went for a flat call here. A lot of people I’ve talked to have noted that we lose value with our draw as each street progresses. Which is true, but so does he. I think that a fair amount of his non-air range here could be pairs with a straight/flush draw, things like 7-7, 9-8, 8-7, 7-6, 9-9 etc… that I would prefer to fold and give me the pot uncontested. The best way to do that is to set up the hand to make the all in push ourselves. There are a lot of mid-strength holdings here that I want to make him fold along with his air.
After I called, the other opponent folded and the turn came the K. An important point and something I am personally working on in my own game is planning ahead for each eventuality. I decided that if I flat call the turn and check to the aggressor again that he will either check back and let us see the river for free or bet again. If he does check the turn that would signal weakness to me and I would bet any river strongly. Of course the hyper-lag didn’t defy convention and thus bet the turn for 25,000.
With the king being a good card to fire a second barrel (he could easily put me on a pocket pair here, possibly with one club that is unwilling to continue after an over card) I think he is still capable of firing with a hand he is unwilling to go all in with. The way the stacks are a check-raise all in on turn here is a nice sized bet. Not only that, but it appears much much stronger than a check-raise on the flop. Think about it, what hands raise preflop, call a 3 bet, call a continuation bet and then check raise all in on the turn in this situation? This play also allows him to put in more money into the pot with his second barrel before we make him fold. I only think he can realistically call with a decent 2 pair or better or A-A with a club.
The optimal play here of course is very much situational and open to debate. What is very important however is taking your time and planning your actions carefully depending on how the hand is likely to progress. Quite often a player will not do this and give away a lot of information in the form of physical tells when an unexpected and difficult situation comes up. I see players regularly give away the fact he doesn’t hold the nuts or near nuts because he has been landed in an unexpected situation and hasn’t planned for that eventuality. Because I had planned this hand ahead of time I knew exactly the move I wanted to make.
Unfortunately my opponent (nervously and reluctantly) calls and flips over his set of 8’s and I bricked the river.
On a personal note I remember feeling quite sick at this point, as this was the biggest buy in I had ever played at the time and the tournament circuit and its pressures were very new to me. However after agonising over losing my 100+ big blind stack I reminded myself not to be so results orientated or so hard on myself. Against this particular opponent, in this particular situation, setting the hand up so that I was the one who made the push couldn’t have been a bad thing. I wasn’t about to let him be the one to run over the table, that’s my job. So at some point I was going to have to teach him some manners and play back at him hard and this seemed the time to do it.
Thanks for your participation, feel free to ask any more questions or make any more comments below.