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Firing The Second Barrel

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Oct 16, 2013

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recently took a trip to Barcelona to play the EPT events, which always have a significant value. I have been working diligently on getting out of my comfort zone and really targeting my opponents’ specific ranges, which often results in playing an overly exploitative style. While getting way out on a limb will leave you broke if your assumptions about your opponent’s ranges and tendencies are wrong, if you are right, you will frequently find yourself with a large stack.

This hand comes from the €5,300 main event. We were around five hours into the first day. I got fairly short stacked right off the bat when I had top pair lose five times in a row. When things go poorly at the poker table, there is no point in getting discouraged. You must continue playing your absolute best. I eventually ground back to the starting stack of around 30,000.

In an interesting hand, a loose aggressive kid with 9,000 chips raised to 800 from second position. I picked up A-Q offsuit and decided to reraise to 1,800 out of my 30,000 stack from fourth position with the intention of getting all in if the kid decided to put his stack in. While A-Q is normally not a good enough hand to get all in with against opponents who raise from early position, I knew my opponent was wild, making getting all in perfectly acceptable for 22 big blinds. To my surprise, another kid with 20,000 chips, who was unknown to me, cold called in the cutoff seat. The initial raiser folded, even though he was getting amazing odds.

As an aside, I believe the initial raiser should call with his entire range besides hands that are almost certainly dominated, such as all A-x and K-x hands, where x is a jack or lower. If he had a suited connector or pair, he should certainly call and try to flop the nuts.

While it is fairly difficult to put the cold caller on a range because it is such a terrible play, you will find most players cold call with hands they think are too good to fold but not quite good enough to reraise. This is usually a range containing hands such as J-J, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, A-K and A-Q. Assigning your opponent a range is important because it will help you formulate a plan for the future betting rounds. That being said, you must be capable of adjusting your opponent’s range based on his actions after the flop if you are unsure about his preflop range. It is important to note that some overly weak players will cold call reraises with hands such as ASpade Suit JSpade Suit, JClub Suit 10Club Suit, and 8Club Suit 7Diamond Suit, but I did not think that was the case in this situation because my opponent appeared to be at least competent.

The flop was KSpade Suit 8Diamond Suit 8Heart Suit. While this flop is obviously not good for my hand, it is good for my range, and if you look at the range I assigned my opponent, it is pretty bad for his range because, unless he has A-K, he has an underpair to the king on board. Knowing this, I decided to bet 2,000 into the 5,450 pot, fully expecting to get called basically every time by his entire range besides A-Q. My opponent quickly called.

You may be wondering why I would make a bet expecting to get called when I have the worst hand. My plan is to bet again on the turn, forcing my opponent off his entire range besides A-K. It is important to note that I am unsure how my opponent would actually play A-K. Some weak opponents would raise the flop, but that is usually an awful play because it forces me off most of my worse hands. A much better play is to call. Because of this, I should assume he has at least some combinations of A-K in his range. I also assumed he would fold to a turn bet with his underpairs. I thought he would think I would only bet again on the turn if I had a king or better. If this assumption is wrong, betting the turn with the intention of giving up on the river would be lighting money on fire. If instead, I thought my opponent would call my turn bet then fold to a river all in, I should certainly continue firing on the river.

Sticking with the plan, I bet 5,000 into the 9,450 pot on the 4Club Suit turn. Notice if my opponent calls this bet, he will only have 11,200 left in his stack. This would set me up to have a wonderful river shoving stack. It should be clear that, given my assumptions about my opponent, I was not going to go all in on the river. I simply wanted it to appear to my opponent that I was going to push the river basically every time. Making this 5,000 bet puts my opponent in a terrible spot with his underpairs because in his eyes, I am willing to go all in. Most opponents will not be willing to put their entire stack in with a hand such as J-J in this situation.

He thought for a while, which is often what will happen when you are trying to force your opponent off a fairly strong hand, but eventually folded, giving me a nice pot. Whenever you can pinpoint your opponent’s range, if you are fairly certain your opponent will fold almost his entire range to multiple streets of aggression, don’t be scared to get out of line and try to steal the pot. If you find your opponents constantly surprise you by either showing up with hands you did not put in their range or by making plays you did not think they were capable of, you should adjust your thought process and realize your analysis of these situations is flawed. From there, you can work to adjust your thought process, allowing you to make better plays in the future. ♠

Jonathan Little, 2-time World Poker Tour champion has won more than $6 million in tournaments since 2006. He is sponsored by UltimatePoker.com, 3bet.com, Instapoker and BlueSharkOptics and teaches poker at FloatTheTurn.com and www.JonathanLittleSecrets.com. Follow him on Twitter @ JonathanLittle.