He Bet, She Raised -- A Married Couple's Ongoing Strategy Debate
Husband And Wife Break Down An Online Tournament Hand
In this column, Katie Dozier and her husband Collin Moshman debate strategy and current issues in the poker world.
Getting Aggressive with Suited Connectors
This hand, played by Dozier in a mid-stakes online tournament, was the source of much debate between the poker couple.
Effective Stack: 5,000
Action: A player in early position limps, Dozier limps in the lojack with 9 8
Katie Dozier: One of the reasons I love playing deepstacked multitable tournaments is because there is plenty of room to play speculative hands early in the tournament. I used to be the kind of player that would isolate the limper by raising in this situation, but now my preferred line is to overlimp good speculative hands when I’m likely to have position.
The primary reason for this is that I’m much more interested in winning a large pot post-flop than taking down a tiny pot preflop. Isolating here doesn’t make the most of the post-flop skill-edge I have. Furthermore, 9 8 is a hand that tends to play well in multiway pots.
Collin Moshman: I strongly prefer a raise to 150. Most of the time, you’ll play the pot heads-up in position against a weak player. Winning immediately is also fine. When you limp, you’re usually relying on making a hand to get paid, and you allow someone else to take the initiative by raising. Isolating weak, out-of-position opponents is one of the best ways to accumulate chips during low blinds.
Preflop Action Continues: The small blind completes, and Villain raises to 200 from the big blind. The original limper calls, and Dozier calls as well. The small blind folds.
Note: Villain has a voluntarily put in pot percent of 61, and a preflop raise percent of 11 after 73 hands.
KD: Obviously, I’m not thrilled when Villain raises five times the big blind. Now the decision morphs into one of implied odds. The small blind still being in the hand is possibly a factor that argues for a fold, since I can’t be sure that my action will close out the hand. However, the factors arguing for a call far outweigh that one negative, especially since it is unlikely the small blind will reraise after only completing at his first action. I like calling here because we are getting 3-to-1, will have position, have an effective stack of 125 big blinds, and because I perceive a significant skill advantage over my opponents that will sometimes allow me to win when I don’t connect with the board.
CM: For the most part, I agree with you on those points. You will face a lot of tough decisions though when you flop a hand like top-pair and your loose opponent barrels post-flop.
Flop: 2 7 4
Action: The small blind checks, Villain bets 160, and the original limper folds. Dozier calls, and the small blind folds.
KD: On the flop, Villain bets even less than his preflop raise size, and is laying me 6-to-1. Less-experienced players (as I perceive Villain to be) are often unfamiliar with optimal bet-sizing. They tend to not extract enough value with big hands, but betting 160 into 800 would be an extreme example of this tendency.
As for Villain’s range, a set is unlikely because a loose-passive opponent would have checked the majority of the time preflop with pocket sevens, fours , or deuces. Two pair hands are even more unlikely holdings. Given the extremely small bet size I think his range is weighted towards overcards such as A-K, although we can’t entirely rule out overpairs at this point.
Also, I think that if I was going to fold to a tiny bet on a dry board when I have overcards and two backdoor draws, then I shouldn’t have called the raise preflop. In addition, I have approximately 10% equity against an overpair and 30% equity against overcards. So while future betting complicates an equity-versus-range analysis, I do have decent equity for staying in the hand facing a one-sixth pot bet, particularly as I will be actively looking for opportunities to win without a showdown.
Raising is not the best option versus a loose-passive opponent, since he is unlikely to fold much of his range. I also dislike raising because, if the small blind does check-raise, then I will be forced to fold and lose far more chips than I had to. Calling minimizes my investment and maximizes my ability to win the hand later with the additional information of how villain decides to play the later streets.
CM: I prefer raising the flop. Villain’s tiny bet is transparently weak. If he had a hand he really liked, in particular an overpair, he’d bet bigger to protect it. If you raise to 600, you’ll win the pot immediately a lot of the time. It’s an easy fold in the unlikely event that Villain three bets, and when he does call, you have double-overcards and two backdoor draws. So, take the lead in this hand now and raise to win the pot immediately.
Action: Villain bets 320, and Dozier calls.
KD: On the turn, Villain increases the percent of the pot he bets, but he is still laying me heavy odds of 4.5-to-1. With his bet-sizing, I am even more confident about weighting his range more toward good overcards than overpairs. Against some opponents, I would semi-bluff raise here, having picked up the open-ended straight draw. But against a loose-passive opponent, I dislike that line for many of the same reasons that I disliked raising the flop. Furthermore, if I miss the river, I can be more confident that he doesn’t have an overpair if he continues to bet a small percentage of the pot, and potentially take the pot away by bluff-raising.
CM: We didn’t raise preflop, we didn’t raise the flop, and now we’re somehow not raising the turn? I think this line is too passive. Villain has only shown weakness post-flop with his small bet-sizing, and now we have at least eight outs with our open-ended straight draw. Semi-bluff raise to win the pot immediately; and if he does call, we could still spike a river straight and win a large pot.
Action: Villain bets 320, and Dozier raises to 1,175. Villain folds, and Dozier wins a pot of 2,400.
KD: Considering I didn’t hit, the river 6 is certainly a good card. When Villain bets the same amount as on the turn, into a much larger pot, I am very confident that his range is strongly weighed towards overcards that I can get him to fold. Since I can’t call with nine-high, the only way I can win the hand is to bluff-raise. My only real decision on this street is how to size the raise.
When a player displays a lack of understanding the fundamentals of bet-sizing, I make a real effort to exploit that leak. Many of those players interpret a raise on the river as indicating the same level of strength almost regardless of the size of the raise, and I suspect Villain falls into this category.
My goal is to make a raise that minimizes my risk in case he has been playing an overpair or set oddly during the hand, but assures me a fold in case he’s been barreling with a hand like A-K. The pot at this point is 2,080, so I decide to raise his 320 bet to 1,175 total. In order to show a profit, this raise needs to be successful a bit over one-third of the time. Given all of the information I’ve collected in the hand, I’m very confident that this play works at least that often.
CM: This may be a point-counterpoint article, but I actually really like the river bluff-raise. Villain has shown a lot of weakness throughout the hand, and nine-high is probably the bottom of your range with no showdown value. But next time, raise a bit earlier in the hand and save us a couple streets of debate.
Katie Dozier is an award-winning blogger, lead coach for Team Moshman, and one of the Grindettes. An accomplished super-turbo and MTT player, she produces videos for Drag The Bar and Poker Strategy. She co-authored “Pro Poker Strategy,” and “The Superuser” with her husband Collin Moshman. She tweets @Katie_Dozier, and can be reached through her website: www.KatieDozier.com
Collin Moshman is the author of “Sit ‘n Go Strategy,” “Heads-up No Limit Hold ‘em,” and “The Math of Hold ‘em.” He co-authored “Pro Poker Strategy,” and “The Superuser” with his wife, Katie Dozier. He heads Team Moshman, a coaching and staking team, and produces videos for CardRunners and PokerStrategy. He tweets @TeamMoshman, and can be reached through his website: www.TeamMoshman.com
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