Hand Reading On The River

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Today, we’re going to finish up the final instalment; part 4. We’re going to analyze the river of this hand 15 from the Hand Reading Workbook for Live Players: Volume 1. If you haven’t already checked out parts 1, 2 and 3, please check them out first. We analyzed the preflop action and range, flop action and range, turn action range, so of course, today we’re talking about the river.

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So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

In case you forgot what happened on the previous streets, again, we’re playing a live $1/$2. The cutoff opens to $10. We call on the button with J9s. The SB calls as well. We analyzed that range in video 1. In video 2, we analyzed hero. SB leads $20. We decide to raise to $60. They decide to call. On the turn, they bet $70. We call. And on the river, which is what we’re going to start analyzing today, they decide to lead out again, this time for $150 or just about half pot.

As always, let’s start by pulling out Flopzilla and getting to work. We’re going to plug the king of clubs in on the river, and let’s just do a bare bones, basic look at how we’re doing here when we get to the river. We notice that he has some very, very strong stuff. I almost always start by looking a the super-strong stuff, the stuff that beats me. In this scenario, that’s about 4% of the hands that he will get to the river with this way. In the rest of it, we crush. Top pairs, we annihilate that. Weak pairs, yeah, crush that. Bluffs, obviously we annihilate that too, so this is a really good thing for us to be aware of generally.

Now, when we’re trying to assign the range to the hands that he would take this line with, and follow it up with a $150 bet on the river, what do we think he would do? Well, again, starting with the super-strong stuff, do I think he would do this with boats? Yes, unless he’s pretty reasonable. And based upon the size that he chose on the turn, which was about half pot, I think that if he had decided to take this exact line with a full house, he would continue that half pot on the river.

Again, bad players chose bet sizing for very, very different reasons and with very, very different strategies than we do. So, oftentimes, if they went half pot and they thought $70 was large, they might feel that $150 is huge, and for whatever reason, they just choose that as their numbers.

So, don’t just think about their bet size in terms of how that compares to your own bet sizing, think about how they would visualize that bet size, and does that feel big or small to them? I think full houses make a lot of sense, so I’m going to keep all that in here. And you may be looking at this and saying, “Why the heck don’t you have KJ in here?”  Well, if you’re wondering that, again, go back to part 2. We analyzed that in the flop range when he just decided to bet-call as opposed to bet, 3bet or take any other line.

Going down, let’s look at top pairs. Would he take this line if he has something like K5h or KTh? I think he would. Again, bad players, they just don’t focus too much on hand reading you. He’s not thinking you could have a jack. He’s just thinking, “Oh, my goodness, I have top pair. Hooray!” Here’s a bet; they don’t have really good logic when they make the plays that they make, so keep that in mind.

I’m going to include all top pairs when he takes this line. Then going into things like weak pairs, the question is would he turn any of these into a bluff?

A bad player isn’t going to understand when a bet is turning this hand into a bluff versus for value. Bad players just don’t understand what that means.

I do think he’s going to bet some weak pairs. I just don’t think he understands what he’s doing them for. I think he just bets because he’s uncomfortable. So I’m going to apply a filter to all of them. I’m going to say he does this, leads out with them about 20% of the time, which I think is pretty fair given the fact he has the lead going into this street. Then also with bluffs, I think he is going to bluff some percentage of the time. Again, probably not a tremendous amount, but some percentage of the time I think. And I’m going to say that he does that 20% of the time, go from there. Again, A high is the same kind of concept, so let’s say he does that 20%, too. Apply filter to all, accept and check it.

You notice that based upon the range that we assigned here, we thought that they would do this about 31% of the time. Cool. Number of combos, go into tab mode in Flopzilla, gets us to 22 combos. Wow, that’s pretty narrow. Then we’re also going to do Control/Alt/T, control/copy that, paste it in and there we go.

Again, this gives us a very, very precise range of hands that we think the SB would take this exact line and action with. Remember, when we went back to preflop, we looked at this and we saw that they started with 816 combos, and after all the action, all the things that have happened so far, we’re down to making a river assessment of 22 combos. So when there’s big action, when the pot is getting very, very large, it’s not uncommon to see a very, very small number of combos, especially when you’re talking about weird actions like donks and weird spots or check-raising and weird spots. You can sometimes see combo counts that are very, very small.

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But even with such a small range of hands, you notice that against pretty much all of it, we’re absolutely crushing it. So with all of that in mind, let’s answer the questions in the workbook. Down below, after you assign a range that the small blind would take this exact line with, answer the following questions: Should you fold? Well, goodness, no. We’re absolutely crushing that range, even against the entire range that we would take this line with. Only 14% of that is a full house. Everything else, we absolutely smoke. So, no, definitely not folding ever here.

If no, should you call or go all-in? Well, in this exact situation, again, we never make the decision solely based upon the fact that we have trips. A lot of players look at this and say, “Well, I have trips. The guy is bad. So, okay, I jam.” But let’s have a better logic and rationale than that. The reason is, yes, some percentage of time when we shove, we’re going to end up getting called by the boat and lose the hand. That happens. But what we’re really focused on is if we jam here, can we get looked up by K5 of hearts? Can we get looked up by a cry call 7x, any of that kind of stuff?

Remember, 32% of the range density on the river, which is roughly a third, is top pair. If I shove, it’s only for what, another 60 more. Yeah, I don’t see him always folding that. I want that. I want him to continue with top pair. I want him to give me that last little bit of value and he can’t possibly fold top pair because he finally got there with K5 of hearts.

So, yeah, I’m definitely going to be shoving here. I don’t think there’s any reason to just call. Sure, when you shove, you lose A high, you lose the bluffs. Actually, there’s probably a high percentage of the chance that he folds something like 7x or 88s, but I think some percentage of the time, he might just cry call too. Again, the more second best stuff he’s calling with, the more you should be shoving with because you are just absolutely crushing, not just the range he donks with here, but also the range that he’s going to continue with when you do shove.

This is how you break down a hand. Yes, it takes some time. Yes, it’s very technical. Yes, it’s a little bit challenging, but when you break down a hand and objectively look at ranges you know exactly what to do because you know exactly what they have.

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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