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A Poker Blog: Hands with Sauce #1
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Hey all.

Consider this blog as practice for my poker book (in the somewhat unlikely event I decide to write it). The format is going to be "Hands with Sauce", borrowed wholesale from the classic bridge book "Bridge with Reese" written by the renowned bridge pro Terrance. The idea is that I take the reader through my thought process, such as it is, in intriguing hands, stopping along the way to touch on various theoretical topics of interest and then, upon further reflection, dissect the plays which result. Without further ado then,

Hands with Sauce #1: 6bet shit-flinging vs AARookie

Stakes: 40/80nl 6-Max. Game was 5-handed
Hero (SB): $33,739.5
(BB): $42,479
UTG: $19,498
CO: $47,508
BTN: $16,000
Pre-flop: 9c6c dealt to Hero (SB) ... UTG folds. MP folds. BTN raises to $178. I 3-bets to $720. Villain 4-bets to $1920. I 5-bet to $5127. Villain 6-bets to $9055. I called.
Flop ($18,288): 8s 2s As I checked. Villain bets $6650. I called.
Turn ($31,588): Qc Check check.
River ($31,588): 4c I shoved. He called with 4d6d.

This hand seems to be fairly infamous across the internetz, and I still get pms asking about it fairly regularly. In the past I've given some one or two sentence answers which seemed to satisfy basically nobody, so here I'll try to do you guys a bit better and go through things piece by piece.

First, in order to get into character for this hand, you have to understand just how insanely aggro AARookie was playing during this session and previous sessions. As far as opening pots and 3betting, Rookie was unspectacular, playing maybe 15% 3b vs steal and then something like 40% steal himself. However, it seems as if Rookie felt he had found the holy grail in the positional 4bet, as I have never seen a sober person 4ball as much as AArookie did during the 20k hands of 40/80 he played in the couple months surrounding this hand. My HUD had him 4betting something in excess of 40%, and while I don't have a stat explicitly counting cold 4bets versus 4bets after opening, it was unmistakeable that his cold 4betting frequency was even more off-kilter than his 4bet after steal frequency. In order to combat this, of course, me and everyone else with half a brain at the table had tightened up our 3betting ranges significantly whenever AARookie had position (even if he was halfway across the table) and yet he was undeterred, and continued to 4bet seemingly everytime he hadn't checked the auto-fold button.

Judging from the opening size of $178 (although I don't remember explicitly), I'm guessing that the opener in this hand was Takechip, aka FLIPokerHer on Full Tilt Poker. At this time, Takechip was playing a curious strategy of opening nearly 100% of buttons, and then folding over 75% of the time to 3bets. He also seemed strangely unresponsive to punishment, so I was laying it on pretty thick and playing a strategy of 30% or so 3bet from the small blind, depending of course on the predilections of the particular bb. In this case I held 9c6c and so I was torn- on the one hand Takechip had offered me 2.2 bbs, but on the other AARookie was lurking behind me. Taking the hand from Takechip's perspective, I decided that he was likely to be especially loose from the button in this exact situation as Rookie was nitty versus steal in the bb, playing something like 40% of hands vs a minraise. Takechip was the type to pick up on this, but he wasn't the type to realize I would pick up on him picking up on this, so I decided to throw in $720 and see what happened.

Unfortunately, Rookie woke up behind me and made it his customary $1920. At this point you could argue that I got overly stubborn; there are certainly more ideal hands to 5bet bluff with than 9c6c. Previous to this action I had made three 3bets at the table, and on all 3 of them Rookie 4bet me, and finding myself with nothing I elected to fold. I believe 2 of 3 were cold 4bets, and I had witnessed a few other cold 4bets made by Rookie. Appraising Rookie's range in light of today's play and his overally splashiness I was confident it contained plenty of fluff and I could justify 5betting. To put a number on it, I guessed he was 4betting this spot with between 12% and 35% of hands. Quantifying my own strategy, my Rookie-avoidance plan was to go ahead and 3bet a fairly polarized 10-14% vs steal. As a rule of thumb, when the guy who puts in the 4th bet has a wider range than the guy putting in the 3rd bet, either the 3bettor plays awful or the 4bettor is putting too much money in too often. So, I knew I would be 5betting a frequently with my range in this spot for high profit, but not having tested Rookie's expansive range yet with one of my bluffs, I decided the time was going to be now since if he gave me credit he could be folding as much as 85% of his range. I made it $5127.

After a bit of thought, Rookie made it $9055. At this point your guess is as good as mine as to his range. I have my particular way of strategy-reading, and one thing I am uncomfortable doing is making intuitive leaps with regard to a range I have never encountered before, and I had never encountered a Rookie 6bet before, certaintly not one with over 300bb stacks. Interestingly, many people who I have talked to about this hand thought Rookie's 6bet was obviously a bluff, but I have to admit that I don't think I could ever make that read, or would want to. But taking his incredibly wide 4betting range as an assumption, I could envision various ways in which he might decide to play, and which were consistent with his overall approach. So I ruled out a strategy where he would fold everything but QQ+ AQs+ to 5bet; he was probably an aware enough player to realize an opponent like me would be coming for him with bluffs at least occasionally and that if he didn't play back his strategy would be easily exploitable. This statement is not in contradiction with my previous paragraph where I conjectured he might fold 85% (all his non premiums), as once I saw the min 6bet against my first 5bet, the Bayesian probability of him playing fit or fold against 5bet goes down a little bit, and perhaps even more than the bare probability sugggests since it was the very first time I had ever 5bet and Rookie might be tempted to draw a line in the sand now in order to continue his putative exploitation of me in the future. I decided to attribute to him a strategy of playing back with between 20% and 80% of his bluffs (quite the wide confidence interval!), roughly 15% of his ATs-AJs, 99-JJ, AQo combos, and then roughly 80% of his QQ+ AQs+ combos. However, since his postflop strategy was also weak, and since occasionally Rookie's strategy might be very tight for 6betting, and since I held a hand with poor equity all in preflop without blockers, I decided not to jam. This was probably not the right choice incidentally, since I risk $28,612 to win $14360 if I jam preflop, and if I have 27% vs a calling range, I must succeed at least 58%. Taking a weighted average of my assumptions, he should fold at least 58%, making a jam +ev. Still, a call may very well be even better. Getting $3928 to $14360, or 3.65 to 1, and being only a 2.57 to 1 dog against a nightmare scenario of TT+ AK+, I felt I couldn't fold, needing to realize only around 2/3 of my equity against that range to break even. So we saw a flop of As 8s 2s and I checked, as I would do with my whole range.

Rookie bet $6650 into a pot of $18288. By all accounts I should fold here given that I have the absolute bottom of my range. I was reluctant though, as Rookie had a very persistent betsizing tell which made an appearance. Generally, on dry boards, or boards which looked favorable to Rookie's range, and especially in position, Rookie liked to bet a polarized range on the flop for 1/3 pot. He had exhibited this tell many times across various sub-textures and in various potsizes. I also had some stirrings of memory of him making a larger betsize with some strong but vulnerable hands, at least sometimes, and so this betsize made me think that he was some unknowable amount more likely than normal to have a range of AxKs+ type hands along with pure bluffs (as opposed to semibluffs). He might also have a range of AQ+ QsQx+ and then pure bluffs, electing to checkback with Ax type hands, mediocre made hands, and mediocre spades, and then some percentage of his nuttiest hands to trap. Whichever of these strategies he chose, everytime he had made this betsize his turn strategy was very transparent- he would barrel on the turn with the strong parts of his range as well as his strong semibluffs and the occasional pure bluff, and then check the remainder. He might also checkback some very strong hands on the turn in order to induce a river bluff, but as I had never seen him do so previously, I thought he was significantly more likely to play these hands as a bet/bet or as a check back flop to call/call. This texture presented an especially good opportunity for me to take an OOP float against many of the strategies he was likely to play- in all previous cases Rookie had not shown down a non-suited hand in a 4bet pot except for an offsuit ace, and since he cold 4bet with very deep stacks I expected him to have a range with more suited connector hands than his usual for deception and implied odds. So, on this board texture, his probable 4betting range would either flop a strong pair of aces which would bet flop, a flush which would usually bet flop, a few big pairs with spades which bet flop, and a few Ax w/ spades hands which would bet flop. This left him with a high ratio of essentially zero equity bluffs, the precise amount of which would depend on just how polarized a flop betting range he decided to play in this case. So, I could pay $6650 for the option to gain very accurate information about his range on the turn, and then if he checked, I could exercise my option to make a highly profitable river bluff for 2/3 pot. To sum up, if his range was possibly bluff heavy preflop, and by assumption from previous play I knew he was almost 100% likely to checkback AJ or worse without a spade, and if he was bluffing flop this was his single most likely betsize, I can update the Bayesian probability of his range containing bluffs to some amount higher than I had attributed it based on preflop play alone. If I had to quantify the muddle of my quantitative and psychological reads at this point, such as they are, I would estimate he was 6betting around 40% of his 4betting range, and cbetting a range of well over half bluffs. I chose to exercise my option and see if I could get my turn checkback.

The turn was the Qc and the action was check/check. The river was the 4c, and after a suitable 2-3 second tank I shoved as planned. Rookie went very deep in his substantial timebank and ended up calling with 4d6d.

Post-Mortem Analysis

The two attached Cardrunners EV trees should do a pretty good job of modeling the profitability of my ambitious float. I tried to set fairly pessimistic assumptions relative to my various reads: the preflop conditions give Rookie an initial 4betting range of 18% (low relative to the mean of my assumptions of 12-35%), and I gave him a 6bet range of 80% of his premiums (I expect him to slowplay them occasionally) which I defined as QQ+ AQs+, 15% of his stronger hands 99-JJ AQ ATs+ (I expect him to mostly call them), and 40% of his possible bluffing combos (fairly low relative to my assumptions of 20-80%). I also gave Rookie credit for a pretty unfavorable postflop range for my float, betting flop with 100% of his AQ+ combos, and then having the presence of mind to checkback turn with 60% of his flushes and 40% of his big combo hands to induce my bluff, and I also stipulated he would call the river shove with 40% of his middle pair combos and 10% of his bottom pair type combos. It is also important to note that a turn or river spade is an especially good card for my bluff, (proceeding on the assumption he will only call a river jam with a flush) as his flop betting range is spade-light. Given all of this, on the actual runout, my flop call gets a turn check/check 54% of the time, and a river fold 62% of the time. Given his small flop betsize this makes my flop call worth $334 relative to fold, or +4bb.

Keeping postflop assumptions static and playing with his 6bet bluff frequency, my line starts to be bad at a 6bet bluffing frequency of around 35%. Although this depends a fair amount on just how good various other runouts are for my play (assuming I see the 1/3 pot cbet sizing from Rookie on all runouts when he does decide to cbet) and I haven't done further analysis of these contingencies. There is also the question as to how often he elects to hero call any pair on the river- set this number to 100% and my play becomes quite -EV, although I do expect that the EV for my range might increase. All in all, I think my float is winning me a handful of big blinds across the weighted set of his possible strategies, although its precise value is unknowable.

There are quite a few interesting points to this hand in my opinion. Mostly, Rookie's play shows us what not to do. Cold 4betting too often with only one bb invested in the pot relies upon your opponent having large pre or postflop leaks- typically of the folding variety. Since I don't fold too much, pre or postflop, Rookie's 4bet mania was bound to cost him eventually. The other lesson here concerns postflop play- by continuation betting a polarized range on a fairly static board texture, not bluffing enough turns, and not slowplaying enough turns by checking behind, Rookie allowed me to get very good information on his range by just calling a 1/3 pot flop bet. This information proved valuable enough to turn my entire range into +ev floats.

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Comments 29 Email Blog Entry  
steel108 is offline steel108
steel108's Avatar

Would have a preferred a cool PLO hand, but beggars can't be choosers.
Kesky is offline Kesky
Kesky's Avatar
POTY, indeed.

Also, fuck PLO.
ultrasPNT is offline ultrasPNT
ultrasPNT's Avatar
Also from the "what not to do" category:
Unfortunately, Rookie woke up behind me and made it his customary $1920. At this point you could argue that I got overly stubborn; there are certainly more ideal hands to 5bet bluff with than 9c6c
Rookie bet $6650 into a pot of $18288. By all accounts I should fold here given that I have the absolute bottom of my range. I was reluctant
Mostly "what not to do" in this hand, how about some "what to do", hands vs fish maybe?
lancelott_ is offline lancelott_
Ben thx for sharing this
I know today people (esp top regs like you) dont really wanna share any info like that, because games get tougher etc etc, but its nice to see you are still opened and give something to community (which imo is very nice of you. Reallisticly, to really reach somewhere close to your level, it will require countless hours of real WORK on each regualrs behalf, its not like they are gonna read this and imrpove dramaticly. But reading how toptoptop reg thinks is just insanely motivating, if anything).
gl, hope to see more poker related blogs posts from you in the future
jupiter is offline jupiter
I was happy when you commented on this hand earlier in the year. This post is amazing though, thanks.
jonstermonster is offline jonstermonster
im guessing you are shoving all your ax hands for value on the river? Are you value betting like qj kq (i'm guessing these are in your 3bet range from the blinds, especially with an aggro squeezer behind, and you would/could just 5bet with them oop? I feel like some of your weak Ax and most Qx hands you'd use as bluff catchers?? i don't think you have any sets in your range (AA some % of the time?)? Obviously it's a very crazy dynamic but I'm super super curious how thin you are shipping the river here. I'm guessing very thinly, or at least I imagine you have(should) to be. Thanks this just made my day.
jonstermonster is offline jonstermonster
i mean i guess you'd have to value bet qx idk, once you check river it's kinda obv you have showdown value of some sort IDK. please tell me sauce!
BobboFitos is offline BobboFitos
nice blog ben
akashm12370 is offline akashm12370
nice analysis, agree with whoever said fuck plo also.
jupiter is offline jupiter
Did anyone else have trouble viewing the attached EV trees?
Probability is offline Probability
Probability's Avatar
great post. the thumbnails are small for me but viewable.
shootaa is offline shootaa
Oh man, you've been saving this one for a while, eh? Happy you decided to post it! (and more?)
2Ciaran2 is offline 2Ciaran2
thanks for the great post sauce
Beans is offline Beans
This is just pure awesomeness, thanks a lot Ben!

Maybe Vitas can do something about the small thumbnails, i cant read them but would like to!
pocketsmcgee is offline pocketsmcgee
I'm pretty sure sauce misplayed this hand post flop. He forgets his own 6 bet oop calling range is super thin and consists of aa, kk and hands that airball this flop completely. So floating vs. "raising for value" on the flop is inconsistent with his range which makes the river call doable since his hand doesn't make any sense.
zachvac is offline zachvac
"This left him with a high ratio of essentially zero equity bluffs, the precise amount of which would depend on just how polarized a flop betting range he decided to play in this case. So, I could pay $6650 for the option to gain very accurate information about his range on the turn, and then if he checked, I could exercise my option to make a highly profitable river bluff for 2/3 pot."

I'm curious why you have to bet 2/3 pot against such a range? If all you have to do is make him fold his zero equity bluffs on the river, what's wrong with betting 1/5 pot or possibly even smaller?
morph1 is offline morph1
this is easily becoiming my favorite blog
Syzzzurp is offline Syzzzurp
Syzzzurp's Avatar
by far the bast thing i have read first thing on xmas morning - cheers bro loved it
jungleman is offline jungleman
nice post, though i actually dont agree with some of the postflop analysis

one particular critique for the comments: the bluff costs what you float on the flop (6600ish)+ your bet on the river ofc, you prob realize this though as written it's a bit misleading (in actuality this bluff has to work over half the time easily)
shootaa is offline shootaa
You don't have to bluff if he shoves turn (in fact you can't), so its a bit more complex than (flop bet + river bet = cost of bluff).
chuikapridi is offline chuikapridi
since I risk $28,612 to win $14360 if I jam preflop, and if I have 27% vs a calling range, I must succeed at least 58%.
Could you please show calculations where did figure 58% ?
Flyp is offline Flyp
Could you please show calculations where did figure 58% ?
I haven't done math in a while so I did this for you just to see if I could. Hopefully someone can confirm if this is right:

When you get called:
27% of the time you're winning (28612 + 14360) = $42,972
73% of the time you're losing -$28,612

Thus, the EV calculation when you are called is:
28612 * 0.73 + 42972 * .27 = -9258

This means every time you shove preflop and get called, you are expected to lose an average of $9258.

You need to win an average of $28,612 to break even, therefore, you have to win (28612 - 9258) = $19,327 from villain folding preflop.

Since you win $14,360 when villain folds, all you have to do is 19327 / 14360 = 1.35

For every 1 time villain calls, you need him to fold 1.35 times. To turn this into a percentage you need villain to fold, 1.35 / 2.35 = 57.45% just to break even.
Flyp is offline Flyp
Sorry, I made a mistake with the EV calculation it should be:
-28612 * 0.73 + 42972 * .27 = -9258
lahkoziv is offline lahkoziv
wow destroyin isildur at ps right now!
can u please write about this match, please? good luck in future!

greetings from slovenia!
Daniel_Ror is offline Daniel_Ror
Indeed , Thanks for sharing this,
Daisy_Ror is offline Daisy_Ror
Hey that was awesome, thanks for sharing some deep online poker information, , it was nice reading from all top to bottom.. Keep writing and sharing..

Online poker

Daisy_Ror is offline Daisy_Ror
Hey that was awesome, thanks for sharing some deep online poker information, , it was nice reading from all top to bottom.. Keep writing and sharing..
Daisy_Ror is offline Daisy_Ror
Hi Thanks for the wonderful information you have shared with us. I daily search new new online poker blogs, today i found yours, and found nice info as well.
grogheadflow is offline grogheadflow
grogheadflow's Avatar
^ Why are those bots always so terrible