Question: You’re in a $5/$10 NL 6-handed cash game. It has folded around to the cutoff, who is a weak player. He has a $400 stack and raises to $40. You have him covered, and you re-raise from the button to $100. You hold Ac-Ah. He calls. The flop comes out Kd-6s-4s. He bets $100. What should you do?
Answer: (b) Raise
Analysis & Explanation: The key to this hand analysis is thinking ahead preflop. Here’s why:
- Reads of Situation:
- General Game Situation:
- $5/$10 NLHE six-handed cash game. The problem doesn’t state whether this is live or online. I’m assuming it’s a live setting. If it were online at these stakes, we’d probably be in a very, very tough game. Live, a $5/$10 game is roughly equivalent in skill and player strength to a $0.50/$1 online game today. Still not particularly soft, but definitely beatable.
- Effective Stack Size = $400
- Villain Type and Tendencies:
- This problem states that the villain is “weak.” There are a couple of interpretations of this term, but for this quiz I assume it means that he’s not tricky or imaginative, playing a straightforward easy-to-read ABC style. Further, his weird 40bb size starting stack is suspect; often a stack size in the 40-80bb range means the player is outside his comfort zone and/or playing with a sizeable chunk of his bankroll– maybe all of it. The implication is he’s in over his head at these stakes.
- Most players open-raise a pretty wide range from the cut-off. Call it 44+, A2s+, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, ATo+, KTo+, QTo+
- When this unimaginative villain flat calls our re-raise preflop, we can narrow his range down pretty far. For example, we can rule out AA, KK, and probably QQ from his range, as he would probably re-raise us preflop with those cards. We may or may not be able to rule out AK, KQ, and KJ etc from his range, as weak-ish players often flat in this situation. Similarly, he might be flatting with his middle pairs, like JJ-88, and maybe some other broadways. Below that, even bad players have to understand they’re not getting the right odds with $400 effective stacks to chase smaller sets. He probably is also folding out most of his suited connectors, gappers, and weaker broadways. Let’s call his final preflop range something like JJ-88, KJ+, AJ+
- Villain’s donk lead into us on the moderately dry board could mean a lot of things, but often you’ll see weak players do this as what they believe is a kind of tentative blocking/probe/protection bet. Even weak players understand the concept of checking to the preflop raiser–especially if they have flopped big.
- General Game Situation:
- Evaluation of Reads:
- Our pot equity against villain’s range on this board is huge, at something like 75% or greater.
- The stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) on the flop before he bets is $300/$215 = 1.4. This is a very committing SPR, which generally means we’re getting it all in with TPGK and above hands.
- With half his stack in the middle after donking on the flop, the villain is probably also feeling pot committed. Ergo, our fold equity against this bad guy is very low.
- High pot equity + low fold equity = big value bet.
- Villain is feeling pot committed and doesn’t hate his hand. We might as well get it all in here with a raise.
Discussion/Takeaway: There are two key takeaways from this example. First is the easy one: we have strong pot equity and low fold equity. I’ve blogged about this before, but if you’re at all confused about the concept I’d suggest taking a quick refresher on continuation betting here. Yes, this situation isn’t technically a c-bet scenario (because the villain donks into us), but the same principles apply; i.e., we’re in the upper left-hand corner of the chart, so we’re betting for value.
The second takeaway is that of pot commitment. You have to be careful when playing against short-stacked opponents in these scenarios. With such a small SPR, you need to be wary of committing yourself with weaker hands. We were fortunate enough to wake up with Aces, but imagine you had a pair of sevens in this same situation. How would you play it? Similarly, if you had KQo or KTs? Not quite as simple, is it?
The classic poker book Professional No-Limit Hold’em by Miller, et al., has a good discussion on this concept of SPR and commitment. If you haven’t yet read the book, I’d strongly suggest getting a copy and boning up on the theory. Figuring out whether you’re going to be committed or not before you act in a hand is essential to winning poker. Professional players make these SPR calculations and decisions in their head before deciding on a preflop line, and so should you. The goal is to make poker decisions easy after the flop, and you start this process by looking at your commitment threshold and planning before the flop.
Other Related Posts: Collection of Donkey Test Questions & Analyses
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