Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big > Small

A question sent in by a reader:

"You have QQ in BB. Folded around to the button who raises to $2.00 You and villain both have $95. You have no information on your opponent, 9-handed, game is solid. Do you?
  1. RR
  2. Call
You actually RR to $5.00 and the Villain calls. The flop comes 3-8-9 rainbow. You lead with a standard $7.00 Bet.Villain raises to $18.00 What do you do?

  • Reads: It was not stated, but given the stack sizes, I assume this is a $0.50/$1 game. The game is also said to be "solid" which implies the unknown villain is therefore a solid, level-2 or higher TAg player. Let's further assume that he thinks the same of us.Villain's min raise on the button is definitely small. If he's the good player we think he is, he's either doing this because it thinks he can steal this cheaply against us (which is doubtful, given that he also knows very little about us), or that he has a pretty good hand and wants action. Initial range is 88+, AQs+, some of the bigger broadway SCs, and the like. I'm a cautious "low variance" person by nature, so I'll assume he likes his hand.
  • Estimate: Against this range, our QQ is around a 60:40 favorite.
  • Decide: We've got solid Value.
  • Implement: We're ahead, but we're also going to be OOP with a vulnerable hand. Calling OOP with a 60:40 hand is dumb when 100bb deep, as you're going to get in trouble if an A or K or coordinated board hits. Reraising is the right play. The reader chose the right line, but the execution was poor. A $5 reraise is too small. Why? First, you have a value hand so you want to build a pot. Five dollars is not going to allow stacks into the middle by the river if your hand remains strong and the action goes bet/call through fifth street. Second, to a solid L2 villain at $100NL, this tiny blind reraise screams that you've got a big hand and want action.  And third, betting this small mathematically prices in many of the villain's drawier "bust'em" hands. I would suggest a bump to at least $7.50 or higher.
  • Reads 1: Villain's cold call of our $5 RR doesn't eliminate anything except AQ or maybe AK from his range. The big question is whether we can eliminate KK+ or not. The majority of ABC players in the micros are going to 4bet us pre with cowboys and rockets. The question, of course, is whether this player is ABC or not. I don't think we have enough info to go broke with yet, so I think we have to leave these hands into his range. Further, at the $100NL and up, players tend to get trickier IP with these big hands facing 3bets. Ergo, let's keep our range at something like 88+ and JTs-KQs.
  • Read 2: the flop is rainbow and no flushes are possible. The 8-9 part of the flop, however, hits the connector part and the lower pairs of the villains range. Our lead of $7 is again too small into the $11 pot when the flop connects with the bust'em/draw part of our villain's range. I'd like to see at least $8.50 or more. In any case, the villain repops us, and he also does so on the small side. With flopped sets, he's probably going to let us hang ourselves on a later street (given that he's put us on a big hand), but that's not a certainty. He knows that you know the flop has straight draws that connect to his range, and he knows you'll try to protect with the cbet. He's also put you on a strong over-pair kind of hand. Him reraising here with 88 or 99 is not crazy, but it's somewhat less likely than him doing this with KK+. He could be doing this reraise with the JT part of his range on a semi-bluff, but the his sizing seems suspect (i.e., low).
  • Estimate: Given the board texture and the villains smallish reraise, I think we've gone from a favorite to even money at best. If we leave in 88 and 99 in his range, in fact, we're now a dog at 45:55. For now, however, let's call it a generous 50:50.
  • Decide: Our hand went from solid value to basically break even in the blink of an eye. We're OOP with just an overpair against an opponent that has a range that connects with this board as a draw and/or is ahead of us. Further, if you reraise here, it has to be to at least $40 or so, which means you're pot committed. So ask yourself: why would you reraise? Value? Nope, you're even money. Bluff? Nope, he's folding out his worse hands, and he's only going to call with hands that crush you. Finally, do you want to go broke with a one pair hand? You might argue that you have showdown value here, but I think you're actually on a marginal fold line.
  • Implement: Fold.

  • Lesson 1: Reader needs work a bit on bet sizing. At best, the small bets feel like FPS. At worst, they make your own hand very easy to read and don't accomplish anything very effectively (build a pot with value or put pressure on to fold out better hands).
  • Lesson 2: Reader needs to actively put his opponents on ranges. Nowhere in the original problem statement was there made any mention of hand ranges of the villain. It feels way too much like "We has Queens! We gotta be ahead! Let's get trappy!"
  • Lesson 3: Queens always look so damn sexy when you're dealt them, but they can fall from grace very quickly on so many different flopped boards.
  • Lesson 4: Don't go broke with an overpair in NL cash games.

All-in for now...

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