Picking Off Bluffs On Bad River Cards

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Today’s question comes from Larry who wants me to review this hand played with 87 in $1/$2 live game. In this hand there’s a limp under the gun, folds around to Hero who decides to attack for $10 – and I’m totally cool with using your position. Yes, I’m totally cool with raising limpers. Yes 87 isn’t my favorite hand in the world to do it with. My main gripe here is with the size. I think going to just 5x is going to get you called by the limper pretty much always and I wouldn’t be shocked to pick up another caller once or twice as well.

This is a situation where I think $10 is not the size you want to use. Something like maybe $15 up to $20 would probably get the job done a large chunk of the time and yeah I’m okay if I use that large and everyone folds as they’ll pick up 5 bucks uncontested, that’s pretty awesome I don’t really have to worry about much, as opposed to going too small and then all of a sudden you’re creating situations where this is going to happen much more often than you probably want it to.

Hero did describe this table as fairly loose. And he says that the small blind is known to bluff but we’ll talk a little bit more about that later in his hand as it progresses. In this situation with flop or straight draw, there’s a donk by small bind and again remember a donk bet is just a bet made into the previous street aggressor. We were the we aggressor pre flop. He lead into us on the flop so it’s called donk bets, yes it’s a derogatory term but it’s not necessarily calling him a donk.

In this situation hero decides to call. I would call as well I don’t really see much reason to raise. I really don’t want to raise here and then all of a sudden he decides to blast off and now we’re in a really really awful situation with just an open end of the straight draw, where is we can just call, use our position force him to do some stuff and of course actualize our equity as we go through. So 5 on the turn is a pretty great card for us. Small line checks. Hero decides to bet for $60. So at this point of course I am totally cool with betting. I’m totally cool with betting large especially against someone who you view as kind of more a loose aggressive player which Larry said he was. Because he’s loose you can assume that there are enough second best stuff that can and will continue. You can assume there’s probably a little bit more in-elasticity with other draws so all this is very very good. I like what we’re doing so far.

“Should I move all in on the turn and move him off his hand?”

But Larry asked a very specific question that says “Should I move all in on the turn and move him off his hand?” So this is something that has been talked about a little bit in the YouTube comments on some of the videos that I posted recently and it’s just one of those were like people panic so much when they have nuttish hands and they think well I should just pile it in early and hope I get called some percent of the time but more often then I’m just going to pick the pot up and I just don’t want to risk losing the pot right? This seems to be like the thought process and logic that used. And I just want you to get rid of that thought. It’s a terrible terrible thought process.

Because essentially all you’re doing is you’re saying “Hey villain would you like to play perfectly? and if so, go for it” right? Because if you just drill it here, you’re only getting called by like the same hand, maybe a set occasionally but more often than not you’re just allowing small line to play perfectly with draws, queenax, all that kind of second best stuff. We don’t ever want to allow our opponents to play perfectly. Yes you may pick up a pot uncontested and you don’t have to worry about getting sucked out on but that’s not the way we play poker. Yes sometimes you’re going to make a great play and sometimes you’re gonna get sucked out on. Or sometimes we’re going to run to the top of our opponents range we’re going to lose anyway. It is what it is, but it doesn’t mean that we just want to pile it and all of a sudden just allow our opponent to play perfectly by doing that we’re making huge mistakes and leaving a lot of money on the table even though yes we will lose the pot some percentage of the time.

So should we move all in on the turn? Most certainly not. I love the fact that we’re betting. I love the fact we’re betting nice and large near pot. We get called, the river fills up the flush draw and the small bind decides to pile it in our face.

Okay so now I’ll share all the other information that Larry gave me. So Larry says the small bind is a loose aggressive player. Hero’s image is pretty tight although he does loosen up on the button. Hero says that the small bind bluffs a lot. He saw him bluffing a busted draw past and he was actually caught by someone else earlier, or actually a few hands ago, trying to represent a flush as well. So one of the things when you’re using information like that, especially things like you know saw someone representing or saw someone bluffing, whatever it is, think about the context of that pot was it for an all in situation or was it just a small bluff on the river in a smaller pot right? Was it against someone who does small bind may have had history or dynamic with? Was it a very specific situation or board texture right? You can’t just say “Okay well I saw someone representing a flush once” and say “Okay well any single time that a flush draw fills up and they bet they must just be trying to rep it.” They probably don’t right? Everything is contextual and I don’t want to see you like over using information like that.

One of the big things I would think about in this situation is would the small bind ever show up here with things like 2 pair, sets, any of that kind of stuff. And I don’t think so. Doesn’t really make much sense if this person would decide to just like check call the turn when the only draw that fills up is 7/8 and then decide to pile it in when the flush draw fills up. It just kind of is really really awkward. I don’t think we’re going to be looking at things like sets and 2 pairs very often.

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Then I ask myself are there any busted draws that make sense? Now Jack ten of clubs obviously got there, Jack ten of Spades probably double barrels the turn, so now we’re only looking at a couple combinations of Jack ten suited left and it’s not like our opponent can have like 7/8 of clubs because we have the 7 of clubs in our hand so it’s not like they will be doing it with that kind of hand. And then the other thing you keep in mind is like “Okay maybe he does this with like, I don’t know King 10 of diamonds or something like that” but even that’s kind of a little bit awkward as well. So realistically there are a lot of possible flush combos that the small bind could have that they would reasonably play like this, at least in my opinion, again thinking that they’re loose, thinking that they’re going to be pretty inelastic in calling a large return bet. Yes I don’t think a good player’s going to do that with a flush draw but someone like this usually could.

We’re just in a situation where a lot of flushes make sense. Not a lot of 2 pair or sets ever make sense and then it just is there enough extra stuff that he would turn into a bluff right? Does he really call the turn with King ten of diamonds? I don’t really think so. So I think it pushes a large density of this range to be flushes. And as much as I hate making really really big folds, if it’s a situation where it’s just not realistic that he’s going to show up with enough second best combos, you know we’re only getting 2.6 to 1 on a call.

We need to be good here at least 28% of the time and more than that so we can actually make solid profit. And I think in this situation it’s going to be a little bit tough just because again, I don’t expect very many bluffs. Yes we’ve seen him bluff in the past but contextually I don’t think it makes much sense that he’s going to get to the river with enough possible bluff combos, unless he’s just check calling turns with a whole bunch of gut shots. In which case, okay maybe but again I don’t really see that given the size that we used.

Unfortunately in this situation I think the call was a little too optimistic but again I’m not going to super blame you because you saw him making this kind of play in the past, but again when you see that kind of play, really think about the context of it. Not just “Did someone try to rep a flush and bluff?” but “What was the exact spot and doesn’t make sense that this spot is a pure parallel to it?”

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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