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The Poker Play: Alex Wice Vs. Aaron Wilt

Cash Game Analysis From Live At The Bike

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Alex WiceEvent: Live at the Bike
Format: Cash Game
Blinds: $10-$25
Villain: Aaron “WiltOnTilt” Wilt

Alex Wice: This is a hand I played recently on “Live at the Bike”. It was a cash game with hole cards streaming online, and everyone was more or less at least 300 big blinds deep. It was folded to me on the cut-off with AHeart Suit 7Heart Suit and I raised to $75. Aaron “WiltOnTilt” Wilt was the button, and called. The small blind folded, and Jonathan Duhamel called from the big blind.

Flop: AClub Suit KClub Suit 8Diamond Suit Pot: $235

Duhamel checks. Wice bets $150. Wilt calls. Duhamel folds.

Turn: QClub Suit Pot: $535

Wice checks. Wilt bets $350. Wice check-raises to $900.

Rebecca McAdam: Why did you decide to check-raise?

AW: First, lets look at my range and his range before the turn betting. Preflop, my range from the cutoff is going to be about 30 percent — roughly being all pairs, suited to the 8, most offsuits to the 9, A-2s+, 5-4s+, and 8-6s+. As a good player, Aaron is going to flat call the button with all the suited aces (even A-2s) because they play very well deep in position; all the broadways [maybe leaving out J-To and Q-10o], A-9o, some suited connectors (T-9s-7-6s), and the pairs. With hands like A-Q+, 9-9+, and suited one gappers, I expect him to put in a raise in position this deep.

I’m going to bet an A-K-x flop very often. I won’t bet every time, but because I have 15 extra combos of A-K, K-K+ that other players are likely not retaining from their action preflop, it allows me to start bluffing this flop (and continue bluffing) more often than other flops. Meanwhile, Aaron will continue with any ace, any king, any flush draw, a set, Q-J, and possibly some good gutshot like QClub Suit 10x or JClub Suit 10×. He must continue with these K-X type hands because of how likely it is that he is going to have the best hand.

He is unlikely to overly float this flop or raise it with better than average hands he wants to continue with because he is perceived to be capped while I am not, so he expects to face extra betting.

This means on the turn, I’m still wide (about 27 percent), but with my hand on this turn, I am actually flipping his range equity wise — if you were to stop all the betting and deal the river, I would win on average half the pot at showdown. More specifically, combination-wise I am beating about 45 percent of his range that looks like K-X type hands, about 30 percent of his range is A-Xs type hands that I am flipping or slightly behind, and about 25 percent of his range is two pair or better that he is crushing me with.

RM: And your turn decision?

AClub SuitW: I start with a check because my hand is too weak to bet for value, and also to protect against pure floats because I am betting very wide on the flop. Protection isn’t really a concern for me because my hand is too weak for value (and protection is a consequence of value-betting only), but also because a lone club from a good player is always going to be JClub Suit or 10Club Suit, which is a very strong hand at this point with a lot of options — I don’t want to protect against these lone club hands, because that kind of hand is stronger than mine and could push me off the winner with a raise.

Anyways, when I check, check-calling is actually pretty ugly for me. He wants to bet all his floats (protected by his healthy two pair+ range) and he wants to bet all his K-X type hands for protection versus a weak club or a weak pair plus gutter type of hand.

Aaron WiltEven though versus a turn bet, I am flipping his range equity-wise, the hand plays really badly on the river. Theoretically, my hand may be a check-call, but in a vacuum Aaron will probably play on the river as if I have the kind of hand I do face up, and overall this is going to make check-calling worse than check-folding when you factor in how much I lose from bluff-catching or folding the winner on the river.

RM: So you chose to check-raise…

AW: My goal with check-raising wasn’t really to fold out better hands than mine, but to make the play on the river better for me. First, I think Aaron (or any good player) will be extremely suspicious of me playing a two pair+ hand in this way. Because he views my range as polarised on this turn to two pair+ or air (and because the most likely potential ‘air’ hands could be like a pocket pair with a club in it), it may make him view A-T, A-2, K-J, K-T as all the same hand — a bluff-catcher on the turn, and his suspicion may lead him to peel all these hands as if they were the same hand. (It is also possible that he may instead be unsuspicious and fold anything that isn’t two pair+ or a club, which is also a decent result for me to fold out better aces, and A-X—K-X and Q-X hands with decent equity versus me.)

I also wasn’t worried about a three-bet bluff that much. Obviously with any JClub Suit he could bluff-raise, but I felt prepared to make a read, knowing most of his legitimate JClub Suit XClub Suit raising hands are a royal flush only (so it is hard to get paid twice if I can’t have the 10Club Suit). And I think he might feel the same way that it is better for his overall game if he just calls with a naked JClub Suit so that I can keep bluffing my air (or possibly thinly value-bet a small club), after all, he can always raise the river.

Anyways, the key difference between check-raising the turn and check-calling the turn is the play on the river. Because he percieves me to be polarised on the turn after my check-raise, I think all his one pair hands (including hands with the JClub Suit or TClub Suit that have one pair in them) will play honestly on the river.

So instead of me checking the river and him value-betting and bluffing perfectly as if I have A-X face up [which is what I have], he will play as if I have K-Q face up, which leads to much better river play for me, as I don’t lose so much from bluff-catching or folding the winner.

Wilt calls. Pot: $2,335

River: 5Diamond Suit

Both players check.

AW: He had ASpade Suit 9Diamond Suit so he won with a better kicker at showdown.

RM: If you could go back and replay the hand, do you think there’s something you could have done differently to win it?

AW: Maybe if I bet the river I win.

RM: Did you learn anything from the hand?

AW: I learn something in any hand that makes me think. From thinking about and writing down the exact combos of what Aaron could have, I have a better sense of a good player’s range in this spot for the future. Next time I am in this situation, a check-raise with a less polarised hand may be a more visible option for me.

At just 22 years of age, Alex Wice has more than $1,1 million in lifetime winnings. This includes three six-figure cashes, one of which he received quite recently. The Canadian’s skill turned heads at the European Poker Tour Deauville where he finished in third place for a payday of $449,145. He is a regular at $2-4 and $3-6 no-limit hold’em online and plays all the Sunday tournaments.