Today’s question comes from Radu and Radu says, “Hi, James, great videos. There is a lot of information about 6 max, but not so much about full ring, so thank you. I have problems in pots out of position, more so if there is a small SPR, I have this example.” This hand is from 5NL Online, there is a raise from UTGn+1, the button calls, and I decide to squeeze from the small blind with KK…
As played this is 100% standard, I definitely like the fact that Hero is squeezing here. My only nitpick is going to be with the size itself. I’d really like to see the squeeze size be a little bit larger. Honestly, probably something like 75 cents. I say that because what I assume that most micro-limit players are going to do is two things: One, they’re going to continue wider than they should against three bets, which means that obviously kings are going to be more and more valuable pre-flop. Then two, I expect that when they do continue, they’re going to be more inelastic with their range, which means they’re going to continue pretty much just the same frequency regardless of the size that I use. I definitely like to use a larger size when I have my huge monster hands pre-flop.
Now, if I were playing against really good opponents, I wouldn’t want to do that because it would make my ranges really, really face up and I’d allow them to destroy me quite easily, but against bad opponents and just as a pure default, I assume that a micro-limit online player is not going to be particularly good, I assume that I can get away with a slightly larger size, even though to a really good player, it would be a little bit too exploitable. In this situation, I’m at least happy to hear a squeezing. I just wish that the squeeze size, again, were a little bit larger for pure, pure value.
In this situation we end up getting both callers and go to the flop. It’s not the most common thing in the world the flop top set, but it will occasionally happen, so it’s important that we know how to play it from this point. In this situation, Hero decides to bet for 90 cents, give or take around half-pot. I don’t think that it’s an awful size by any stretch, we just have to remember something, that it’s going to be pretty difficult to get a ton of action in this situation. Just simply because we have top set, there’s not very many kings left in the deck, in fact there’s only one, so there’s not a tremendous amount of combos with like king X-type hands. Because of that, it’s just one of those where my major focus is to maximize value from nines through queens and then maybe occasionally induce some sort of bluff raise.
I think a 90 cent bet definitely gets the job done here. I definitely don’t want to pot it, I don’t think that really does anything, if anyone has a king, we’re definitely going to hear from them and we’re definitely going to start pretty much building that pot as quickly as possible. But I think this 90 cent bet is really, really good, I think it accomplishes a lot of goals and we’ll just simply go forward from here.
Again, if we thought our opponents were a little bit more inelastic and would call really any size regardless if they had something like jacks or queens or whatever, then I would definitely make this a little bit larger, $1.25, $1.35, something like that, but 90 cents in general is going to be just, just fine.
You end up getting just one caller, go the turn, which is a J♥ and Hero continues betting. Some people might panic here because the third heart did fill up, the flush draw is now fully completed and they might either consider checking here or might consider say $1.50 and then panicking if we face a raise. But what I want to talk about real quick is thinking about the actual texture of the board and how that relates to heart combos. Because there’s the king of hearts on board, it makes things like ace, king of hearts, and KQ of hearts 100% impossible to have. He can’t have AJ of hearts. Realistically, the only real strong heart hit he could have would be AQ of hearts and if he had something like ace/queen of hearts, is he just going to call the flop or would he consider raising or shoving on the flop when he faces that continuation bet?
That’s normally something that you want to consider. That’s not to say that there aren’t other heart combos, there is thing like queen/ten, queen/nine, seven/six of hearts, those kind of things and those are possible, I suppose, but if it’s possible for him to have a flush that that’s weak, that means that he’s calling squeezes pre-flop very, very wide, which means that it’s also higher probability that he could have something like a Kx in his hand as well, same as like a KTs, a KJ, where he just turned it to a pair, that sort of thing and maybe he even floats the flop a little more liberally or maybe he takes sixes too far on the flop, that sort of thing.
My point being that in a normal range, really wouldn’t expect there to be any heart combos possible, but in a situation where I’m playing against a fishier opponent or an opponent with a much wider range of hands, if there are heart combos possible, that also means that there’s other like pair of combos and pair and draw-type combos that are possible as well.
I can’t ever just put him on a range of flushes or a density that’s like super flush made. I really just can’t do that in a situation like this. Because of that, I’m definitely going to continue being in a value-bet mindset. Because I’m a value-bet mindset, I’d actually prefer this bet size be a little bit larger. I still want to maximize value, the times that he’s calling and taking things too far, like a single pair and a heart, like if he has a king/queen with the queen of hearts or he has ace/jack with the ace of hearts, then you may say, “Well, why the heck would he have ace/jack?” If we think that he’s bad enough to have something like a small heart here, obviously it’s possible for him to have floated liberally on the flop and then gotten here with some sort of bizarre hand. It is possible, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the most likely thing without some information, but it’s certainly possible if you’re going to factor in other heart combos as well.
The other thing is I also want to try to maximize value against things like pocket nines with a heart, pocket tens with a heart, those sorts of things. Again, I think if he is a bad fishy opponent, then I can definitely make more than just $1.50 here. I’d really like to see this, maybe something like the $2.25/2.50 ballpark, and just generate some extra value from there. If he shoves, I’m just going to hate life and call it off, hope that he doesn’t have hearts and like I said, I do expect that there will be some other things and again, if he could have AK, there is AKwith a heart left, there is KQ with a heart left, those sort of things. If he’s bad enough to have KJ, well, he’d probably shove two pair on a board like this.
Again, I’m not thinking that I’m just against hearts by any stretch. So when he calls and the five bricks off on the river definitely shoving just like Hero did, Hero ends up getting called but unfortunately it ends up running into the queen-high flush.
I don’t know what I could’ve done. Being out of position I think I can’t just check/fold top set. What could I have done better? Thanks.
Radu, I don’t think you did anything wrong in this hand. I think your general idea as far as actions were correct the whole time, as far as squeezing pre-flop, as far as betting flop, betting turn, shoving river as played. My only real nitpicks were with your sizing and the little details. Again, bigger squeeze size pre-flop, bigger turn bet as played, but overall, there’s really nothing you could’ve done here. If he’s bad enough to have hearts, again, he’s definitely bad enough to have some other hand types, so I’m not really worried, I’m not thinking that I’m only value-touting myself whenever I make any of the actions that I did post-flop. It’s just one of those where you chalk it up to run bad, chalk it up to a cooler and you went about your business.
Definitely make sure you’re taking note on UTG+1 though, one, that he opened from UTG+1 with Q9 suited—great note to take. Also that he called a squeeze pre-flop with Q9 suited is definitely something that I like to know. If you like to take really detailed notes, I would take a note that he did not raise the flop with a flush drawing a three-bet pot. That’s something that I like to take note against regulars, but against bad players, or also keep it just in case the situation ever comes up again.
So Radu, thanks again for the great question!