Today we’re going to look at a hand in which Hero has pocket Aces. Usually playing AA in a 4-bet pot at NL10 is pretty straightforward, but here we get an interesting turn spot as a result of a misclick by Hero. So thanks to Lord Kelvin for sending in this hand, and let’s jump right into it:
Hero opens A♣ A♥ on the button, gets 3-bet by the big blind, and hero opts to 4-bet. So far, all pretty standard. Lord Kelvin has the following observations on Fennic in the big blind:
Fennic was an unknown player, as I had never played him before. He was already in action when I joined the table and struck me as a middle of the road TAG player. He did fire the occasional bluff, and could call light to snap off possible bluffs. This was the first hand I played with him, and this was the first 3-bet I saw him make. I 4-bet a little more than a min-raise to induce a 5-bet shove, but that didn’t happen as he called the 4-bet.
Everything so far looks great. However, there’s one part of the background info that I think requires comment. Lord Kelvin says Fennic was an unknown player that he’d never played against before, but then he goes on to say Fennic fired the occasional bluff, and that he could call light to pick off a bluff. That is an awful lot of information on an “unknown” player. You only have that kind of detailed information if you know what kind of a player this is. So either Fennic is genuinely unknown, or Lord Kelvin is making some massive assumptions about Fennic’s tendencies and playing style.
The main reason I bring this up is that I see player’s do this a lot. They either get lazy and claim someone is unknown simply because they are not paying sufficient attention, or they have limited information on a player and make unreasonable extrapolations and assumptions about their opponent. So try to be really honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know, and make sure you’re gathering all the information available.
The Q♥7♥5♣ flop goes check-call, but let’s back up a step and look at the bigger picture.
First of all, what is the SPR? This is a critical question because the SPR helps you decide how willing you should be to get your stack in the middle. Here it is around 2.5. Whenever I have an SPR below about 3, I’m already in an auto-commit mindset. Here when holding an overpair on a non-threatening board I’m more than happy to commit. For example, had Fennic check-shoved the flop I’m snap-calling. Sure we’ll occasionally go broke in this spot, but making super nitty folds in small SPR pots is a great way to lose money.
Back to the flop. I like the fact that we’re betting. The sizing is probably a little large for a couple of reasons. First, given the low SPR and thus the amount of money behind, it’s going to be easy to get stacks inside over the three remaining streets with smallish bets. Second, a smaller bet here is more likely to induce mistakes from our opponent, primarily by keeping their calling range wider.
The turn is the 4♣, Fennic checks, and Hero misclicks $0.10 into the $12.75 pot. Fennic decides to check-raise this tiny bet to $4.80. Lord Kelvin has this to say:
On the turn, I was pretty sure the four didn’t make him a straight, and the min-bet was a misclick, but he wouldn’t know that. I wondered if this misclick didn’t induce a big raise. I figured to be ahead of everything except for trip queens – a hand he could very well have had that would be consistent with his play both preflop and in response to a ½ pot c-bet.
I agree with all of that. Lord Kelvin continues:
I’m holding back the results so not to bias the analysis. The big question here is: is there any time you could get away from this hand? If so, should I have abandoned this hand, or would that be too nitty?
First off, I love the fact you’re asking if folding would be too nitty here. It’s a question many players should be asking themselves far more often. It’s true that nitty plays can sometimes be ideal, but far more often they are costing players money. So continually ask yourself if your play is too nitty or passive.
So let’s address the two inter-related questions that Lord Kelvin asks. Is there any time that I could get away from this hand? No. If we abandoned this hand here would it be too nitty? Yes.
Looking at this more generally, the nittier the fold you’re contemplating, the more certain you need to be that it’s the optimal play. Too many people make the nitty fold an integral part of their game and neglect to base it on their opponent’s ranges and frequencies. It’s a common leak to default to folding because of uncertainty, but uncertainty is central to poker. You’ll leave money on the table if you fold simply because it feels more comfortable.
Let’s break down Fennic’s range here. Sure he can have QQ, but he can also have KK. There are 3 available combos of QQ and 6 of KK. He can have AQ, possibly KQ and even worse. It’s also conceivable, if unlikely, that he has a hand like 54 that beats us, but if he can have 54 he can also have 76 that he might play the same way. There’s a lot of uncertainty in exactly what Fennic is holding at this moment, but if we think about his likely range it’s clear we’re in great shape.
So the bottom line is we’re not folding here, but note too that this decision was really made when pulling the trigger on the flop. At that point in the hand we had an overpair in a low SPR situation and decided we were committed. Nothing has changed.
Despite this hand being fairly simple in itself, it highlights a lot of fundamental big picture concepts, hence the deep dive into the decision points. To round the hand off, if I faced the turn check-raise I would just shove all-in and expect to get called by a range against which we’re doing great.
You’ll notice that in addition to using the SPR, hand reading made us feel secure in our final decision. So I’m inviting you to join my free e-mail course with daily hand reading tips so you can work on this crucial part of the game.