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Hand 2 Hand Combat: Cash-Game Phenom Martin ‘DrGiggy’ Fournier-Giguere Goes Head-to-Head With a Very Aggressive Opponent

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Apr 29, 2011

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Event: Full Tilt Poker online heads-up cash game
Blinds: $5-$10
Stacks: Martin “DrGiggy” Fournier-Giguere – $2,174; Villain – $2,084.50

Craig Tapscott: Do you know this opponent well?

Martin “DrGiggy” Fournier-Giguere: I had never played against him prior to this session, but we had been battling pretty hard up to this point. I didn’t give him much credit in the beginning, as I had never seen him before, but the more we played, the more competent he appeared to be.

CT: How so?

MFG: Well, he’s playing very aggressively, bluffing in a lot of spots and just not folding much in general. He’s also playing very counterintuitively, which means that he tends to take a lot of lines that people don’t usually take with certain holdings. I suspect him to be doing that mainly for deception, since he definitely views me as a good hand reader, and he’s trying to catch me off guard in a lot of spots.
The villain raises to $30 from the button. DrGiggy reraises from the big blind to $110 with the K♠ 8♠.

CT: Why three-bet preflop with K-8 suited? Is that the norm for you?

MFG: That’s a hand with which I would usually call more than three-bet, being that deep, as it has good enough value to play well in a single-raised pot. I usually try to avoid building big pots when playing deep and out of position. However, this particular opponent was four-betting very little, and I decided to widen my three-betting range in order to take advantage of that.

Flop: A♠ 7♥ 2♠ (pot: $220)

DrGiggy checks.

CT: That’s a surprising check. Why no continuation-bet with such a big draw?

MFG: With the nut-flush draw, the standard play would probably be to c-bet that pretty dry ace-high board as a semibluff, and have him fold a huge percentage of the time. However, a couple of factors played into my willingness to check (with the intention of calling a bet). First, I definitely think that he expects me to c-bet pretty much all of my flush draws on that board, which means that I could have him bluffing if I get there on the turn or river. He’s aggressive enough to put his 200 big blinds in play to try to make me fold what would look like a weak made hand after a flop check-call, so there’s a lot of potential value in check-calling. Second, you have to realize what his betting range would be on that kind of flop. If he bets after my check, he’s going to be very polarized, meaning that he either flopped a good top-pair ace or stronger, or is bluffing.

CT: Yet, your hand has great value against that hand range, right?

MFG: Yes. My hand is pretty much perfect against that betting range, as I’m beating most of his bluffs (except for king high, better kicker) and have very good equity against his value range. What’s interesting here is that I’m much more comfortable check-calling that board with my K♠ 8♠ than I would be with K-K, for instance, because the two hands pretty much work the same against his bluffing range. But I have a lot more equity with my K-8 suited against his value range. It could be very different on other board textures, but this ace-high board plays perfectly for that, as I expect him to try to get any weak one-pair type of hands to showdown without much betting.

CT: Do you foresee any obstacles on later streets by playing the hand in this manner?

MFG: The biggest problem is that it will be difficult for me to make him fold those weak one-pair hands. But I would kind of have the same problem with a bet, as he would definitely call one street, and maybe more, given the dynamics in play. Anyway, the upsides of check-calling, which are to conceal a potential monster and pick off some bluffs, definitely outweigh that factor.

The villain checks.

CT: Does his check give you any information?

MFG: I don’t make much of his check back here. He could have nothing, could check back A-X and try to value later streets, or could have some showdown value that he wants to try to check all the way. I can discard only monsters here, which means that I really don’t expect him to turn over A-Q+, A-7, A-2, 7-7, or 2-2. He could have a slow-played A-A, not betting because he covers the board too much, but it’s pretty unlikely.

Turn: J♥ (pot: $220)

CT: Does this turn card change anything?

MFG: My situation hasn’t changed much. I still want to try to pick up some bluffs with my K-8, and betting has pretty much lost all of its value, as he’s definitely not folding any pair to a bet. He could fold to a turn and river double-barrel, but that’s pretty risky, as he still has some A-X hands in his range.

DrGiggy checks. The villain bets $150.

CT: What are your best options now against such an aggressive opponent who obviously could have air?

MFG: Folding is out of the question, as I still have the nut-flush draw and possibly the best hand. But, so is raising.

CT: How so?

MFG: By raising, I wouldn’t be representing much, and would make him fold only his bluffs, anyway. One very interesting thing about that turn card is that it puts a ton of backdoor draws out there. Any hearts, as well as 9-8, 10-9, 10-8, K-Q, K-10, and Q-10 have now picked up a draw, and are likely to start bluffing at the pot. I’m obviously not pleased about the possible K-Q and K-10, but it’s not that big a part of his range, given that he could barrel any other combinations of air, as well.
DrGiggy calls.

River: 7♦ (pot: $520)

DrGiggy checks. The villain bets $399.

CT: How do you interpret his bet on this river?

MFG: It means that he checked back an A-X on the flop or turned two pair or a set and is now trying to get value out of it, or he bluffed the turn, trying to represent exactly that. This could be a fold against many opponents who would give up on a lot of their bluffs (or wouldn’t have started a bluff in the first place). However, he’s shown enough aggression for me to be pretty sure that he’s not the type to give up on a bluff that he started on the turn. He definitely could still have an A-X, but I estimated that I had enough equity against his overall range, as I have to be good only around 30 percent of the time, given the pot odds.

DrGiggy calls. The villain reveals the Q♠ 9♠. DrGiggy wins the pot of $1,318.

CT: Great call. What was the deciding factor during the hand that led you to make the call?

MFG: You have to keep in mind that the flop check was my main decision here, as it set up the rest of the hand. When going out of your usual lines and making that kind of decision, you definitely want to have a solid plan for the rest of the hand, in order not to be stuck playing a big guessing game. The constant aggression that my opponent was showing was the main factor in the call.

CT: When facing an unknown opponent in heads-up play, what are a few of the key elements you need to be aware of to capitalize on his pedal-to-the-metal style of play?

MFG: You basically want to be able to recognize as soon as possible how your opponent understands the game and how he thinks about it. People often try to get too specific on their reads, and misinterpret a lot of information by making assumptions that won’t be true in the future. For instance, because your opponent checked back top pair in a single-raised pot, it doesn’t mean that he will do it all the time. You’d much rather want to get a good grasp of “why” he did that instead of “how” he did it, as it will give you a lot more useful information. It also makes you very flexible, because when you become good at it, you can anticipate how your opponent will adjust to your play. That enables you to stay one step ahead of him in the thinking and adjustment metagame, which in the end is one of the main goals in heads-up play. ♠

Martin Fournier-Giguere is one of the biggest winners in online medium-stakes cash games. In 2006, he started in 50¢-$1 games, and a few weeks later, he dropped out of school to play poker. He currently can be found crushing the $5-$10 to $25-$50 online games with his ultra-aggressive style that he teaches at Bluefirepoker.com.