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What’s His Hand? Nit vs LAG Results

by Andrew Brokos |  Published: Feb 02, '13


Wow, thanks for all the comments on What’s His Hand? Nit vs LAG! For whatever reason this post generated more guesses and discussion than any other WYP. And sorry for the delay in getting results up – I just ran out of time yesterday.

Hero’s Hand

I’ll start by telling you my hand, since it will make it easier to talk through why I played the way I did: I had QT.

Many people correctly deduced this, and a few asked why I didn’t shove flop with an open-ended draw and possibly a live overcard as well. The short answer is that I doubted Villain would fold much of anything he considered worth raising, and since I had a pretty good idea of his hand, I expected to make better decisions on future streets despite being out of position. Jamming the flop couldn’t be a big mistake, but I thought I had a better expectation playing the hand out.

Villain’s Flop Raise

Alex hits the nail on the head with his comment:

On a dry, rainbow board, it is typical live player mentality to raise TPTK to “protect your hand”. This man, although described as Tight-Passive, probably will 3b AA/KK pf, and possibly QQ, which is why 80% of the time on the flop, Andrew can put him on one “exact hand”

I couldn’t be certain, but I strongly suspected AJ. Other candidates are discounted but not eliminated for various reasons: overpairs probably 3bet pre, top pair with a worse kicker may not raise at all, sets are always unlikely and also may raise more or not at all, and two-pair hands are probably not in Villain’s pre-flop calling range.

A few people questioned whether AJ was even in Villain’s pre-flop range. Although I raised “under the gun”, we were only five-handed, so I was essentially raising the cutoff (remember that it was a straddled pot). Also I think the primary way in  which this sort of player responds to someone he perceives as overly aggressive is to assume that player never has anything. He’s going to play more or less his entire button range as though I hadn’t raised at all, including hands that he might fold to raises from other players.

Why Bet the Turn?

Despite my relative certainty about his hand, I’ll admit to two things: I didn’t know how he’d respond to a bet, and I didn’t know what he’d do if I checked. With my exact hand, that compelled me to bet for two reasons:

1. A check could result in a shove that I wouldn’t be able to call. If I bet less than all in, there was a chance that even if Villain didn’t fold he would just call. At that point I wouldn’t expect him to ever fold the river, so I’d be freerolling on the rest of the money he had behind. This wouldn’t be a good play on his part, but that’s no proof that he wouldn’t do it.

2. I had 29.5% equity against AJ, and the size of Villain’s stack was roughly the size of the pot, so I needed barely any fold equity to justify betting and, if necessary, calling off the rest. This is more or less equivalent to jamming the flop, except that I expected my fold equity to be better on a (slightly) scary turn card like this one as opposed to on the flop. I didn’t mean to represent a turned straight so much as two-pair. I wouldn’t actually play T9/JT this way, but that wouldn’t necessarily stop Villain from seeing monsters.

Admittedly there’s some tension here with my pre-flop claim that Villain wasn’t inclined to give me any credit. My hope was that a strong line combined with the fact that the pot was getting large and threatening his entire stack might put a little more fear in him than a $30 pre-flop raise.

Gareth asks, “if Andrew wanted to semi-bluff the turn, why did he choose such a size?” My hope was that $175 would somewhat effectively leverage Villain’s entire stack without require me actually to risk it all. In other words, it might not have quite as much fold equity as shoving, but I thought it would have perhaps 85% of the fold equity for a much lower cost.

Villain’s Call

It might have been a little excessive to bump my certainty to 95%, but James Antill sums it up when he says, “we can rule sets out here, nit villains at worst snap call sets here IMO even if they think they are losing and even if they don’t fold river when they see how much it is.” More likely, as Jeff says, “he would continue to be aggressive” and shove turn with a set, which is what he should have done with AJ if he wasn’t going to fold it but passive players don’t always think that way.

Similarly, I can’t see JQ or QQ tanking. With those hands, he’d have top pair plus a good draw and would probably call much more quickly. The sense I got was that Villain was debating folding, not raising, and I don’t think folding would cross his mind with those hands. Even with KJ he might be more inclined to call than with AJ because of the gutshot, but I considered that the next most likely possibility.

River Action

Of course all of this is academic. Whatever Villain had was ahead of me, and I didn’t expect him to fold the river with the price he’d be getting, so my plan was to check and give up if I didn’t improve.

As many of you noted, my check precludes my having a hand that beats Hand A (ie what I expected Villain to have 95% of the time). Alex referenced an article of mine entitled Calling is Not a Compromise, in which I argue that,

There is one reason to check and call on the river, and that’s to induce bluffs. If you don’t expect your opponent to bluff the river, then your options are either to value bet the hand yourself or to check and fold. Checking and calling makes no sense in this situation because virtually any player’s calling range will be wider than his value betting range.


Hand A: AJ

Hand B: KJ

Hero’s Hand: QT

Villain did in fact have AJ and won the pot after checking down the river.


Andrew Brokos is a professional poker player, writer, and teacher. He is also an avid hiker and traveler and a passionate advocate for urban public education. You can find dozens of his poker strategy articles at and more information about group seminars and one-on-one coaching at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


almost 5 years ago

Hate the way you played the hand you let the old guy win 300 off you


almost 5 years ago

What would you suggest doing differently?


almost 5 years ago

Check turn