Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Final Table Takedown - Galen Hall Shares Blind-Versus-Blind Metagame Dynamics and Overbetting — Part II

Final Table Takedown - Galen Hall Shares Blind-Versus-Blind Metagame Dynamics and Overbetting — Part II

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: May 06, 2011


Galen Hall is a 25-year-old online player who grew up in Pasadena, California. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2008 and will be headed to the Stanford Graduate School of Business this fall. In 2010, he cashed for more than $1 million in online tournaments. In the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event, he came from behind to win after starting heads-up play at a 5-1 chip deficit against Chris Oliver.

Event 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event
Players in the Event 1,560
Buy-in $10,000
First Prize $2,300,000
Finish First

Key Concepts: Previous history and metagame; overbetting for value; paying attention to an opponent’s bet-sizing to get clues regarding his hand

Ty Reiman raises to 4,300 from the small blind.

Galen Hall: I have the A♥ 10♠ in the big blind.

Craig Tapscott: In the hand that we discussed in the last issue, you set up a dynamic between Reiman and yourself that was ongoing at the table. Since you’ve sensed that he is frustrated with your continued aggression against him, would it be profitable to three-bet in this blind-versus-blind situation with a pretty strong hand?

GH: There are some players I have a dynamic with online and can profitably three-bet, knowing that I’m going to get four-bet jammed super wide, and will call, but I don’t have that dynamic with Ty yet. So, I really saw no reason to three-bet here. If he four-bets, I’m never ahead, and I lose a lot of the value of my hand. Also, if he folds, I’m not happy, either, because I lose the ability to play a disguised strong ace post-flop in position against an aggressive player.

Hall calls from the big blind.

Flop: 10♦ 6♥ 2♠ (pot: 10,400)

GH: Amazing flop for me — super dry, rainbow.

Reiman bets 4,600.

CT: Was this Reiman’s usual size for a continuation-bet?

GH: It was a little bigger than usual, which is interesting.

CT: Why? What do you think he’s up to?

GH: Well, on such a dry flop, he knows that I’m going to miss a lot of the time. And if I’m planning on floating him, his bet-sizing won’t really affect my decision that much. So, I either missed the flop completely and am going to float, or have a pair (or even a reasonable ace high) and am never folding on this board. So, he chooses to bet bigger to get value from my floats and from my pairs. Because this indicates confidence, I weight his hand strongly toward a 10. He also can have pocket pairs higher than a 6.

Hall calls.

Turn: K♥ (pot: 19,600)

Reiman checks.

CT: Do you take his check as a sign of weakness?

GH: Well, if he’s bluffing, he’s almost always going to double-barrel a king on this super dry board. I’m floating a lot more combos of ace high than king high, so the king is actually the nut card in the deck for him to double-barrel. I don’t have it that frequently, and it’s a great scare card.

CT: So, what was he continuation-betting with on the flop?

GH: Since he’s an aggressive player who always bluffs this card, I felt like he would usually bet it when the king hit. But he could c-bet with K-J to A-K, or K-10, or sets of deuces or sixes. I wasn’t 100 percent sure about this, though, as I had been so super aggressive against any weakness. If he had a really strong hand like K-10, he might check it here and hope that I’d float and barrel off.

CT: So, in your eyes, what’s his perceived range after he checks the turn?

GH: I think his range now consists primarily of pot-controlling hands, like Q-10, J-10, 10-9, 10-8, 10-7, J-J, Q-Q, 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9, and maybe some very strong hands like two pair or better that are trying to induce me to bet.

CT: What’s your best option in regard to how to proceed?

GH: Betting and checking back are both viable options. I think betting might be slightly better, but I didn’t know much about Ty, other than what I had seen in previous play with him. I also knew that he’s a good player. A lot of good players are able to check and jam this turn with a pretty wide range. Then, I would probably have to fold my A-10 or play a huge pot while potentially drawing dead, or while facing a lot of outs even when ahead. If I knew that he wouldn’t check-raise this turn as a bluff or with draws, I probably would bet, but I wasn’t sure. So, I decided to check it back and try to use my position to my advantage on the river.

Hall checks.

River: 4♣ (pot: 19,600)

GH: The river is a brick, and almost always misses both of our ranges. He thought for a while, but not for too long, and …

Reiman checks.

CT: What’s he thinking when the river bricks? Get into his head for us.

GH: I could see his thought process as, “If Galen floated me on the flop with air, he definitely would have bluffed the king on the turn when I checked to him, but since he checked it back, he probably has some showdown equity.”

CT: So, you don’t perceive him as being very strong at all?

GH: I sincerely doubt that he ever has a really strong hand and checks the turn and river to induce me to bluff when it looks like I have some sort of weak made hand. If he has air and c-bet the flop, and then gave up, nothing really matters, since he is done with the hand and won’t call any bets. Even if he has J-J or Q-Q, he probably would think it’s unlikely that I have a king, and would value-bet thin to get called by a lower pair.

CT: So, what hands could he be holding?

GH: Well, like the hand that we discussed in the last issue, I pegged his range as almost entirely medium-pair hands. It felt like a weak 10 or 9-9 — definitely too strong to fold but maybe not quite strong enough to value-bet.

CT: What’s your feeling here? Can you use the same overbet that you employed previously to get his attention and a crying call?

GH: The game flow was such that I had won five or six pots from him without showdowns, and he hadn’t won one from me. Also, I had overbet him on the river and made him make a frustrated fold two orbits previously in the hand that we discussed in the last issue. I felt like he was frustrated, and had a hand that he wasn’t going to fold.

Hall bets 28,000.

GH: I overbet again, but more quickly this time. This is an ideal spot to merge my range, since his calling range is so inelastic, because there are so few combos of nut hands (sets and K-10) that I can have. And given the dynamics between us, it would feel like I could be bluffing, and more than 90 percent of his bluff-catching range loses to my A-10.

CT: Why that exact bet-sizing?

GH: Because I felt like he was going to call, no matter what. I thought 28,000 was a good amount to bet because it looked pretty bluffy, like I was trying to bully him out of the pot. If I bet more than that, he probably would get suspicious, because an overbet of one and a half times the pot can be a bluff or a value-bet, but overbets of two times the pot or more are almost always value-bets, in my experience.

Reiman calls.

GH: He called my bet almost immediately, and when I tabled A-10, he got a pained look on his face, like he had a worse 10, and then mucked.
Hall wins the pot of 75,600.

CT: You had to feel good about the way that this hand played out.

GH: These hands were critical for me, because they gave me a ton of chips early in the tournament. I was fortunate that both of my reads were spot on, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I knew that if I could make these moves on as good and accomplished a player as Ty is, I would be able to play with just about anyone. Also, it had a very direct benefit later on. I was able to really abuse Ty that day, mainly because he kept trying to play pots and I was being very aggressive directly on his left. And there was nothing he could do about it. It really drove home to me the point that no matter how good a player you are, it’s very difficult to outplay an aggressive player who’s directly on your left. ♠