The No-Limit Holdem Workbook - Exploiting Regulars by Tri Slowhabit Nguyen

August 3, 2017 | Author: boxwino | Category: Betting In Poker, Gaming, Gambling, Poker, Card Games
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Specia l thanks to one of the best No-Limit Ho Idem players in the world, Tom "kingsofcards" Marchese. This book wouldn't be as awesome without your insight and contribution.


Table of Contents

l . Introduction 2. The Bir th Of A Hand Range 3. What's tvly Range? 4. The Pouncer 5. Offense ls The Best Defense 6 . Balancing 7 . The Chosen One 8 . We Are T he Chan1pions 9. The Overbet: Wow, That's A Big Bet 10. M ini Rockets

l l . Instinctive River Play 12. The Exan1 13. T he Final N ote

14. Glossary



Chapter 1: Introduction

\Vith the exp losion o f training sites and personal coaching and fewer fish, No-Limit Ho Idem games have dried up . Or so it seems. There are players who sti ll w in a lot at their relative stakes. How do they do it? \Vhat is the di fference between you and them? The answer is that they exp loit the bad regulars better than yo u. No matter how many standard plays a regu la r has in his a rsenal or how solid he is, there are parts o f his game where he keeps making mistakes over and over again w ithout realizing it. \Ve are go ing to teach you how to recognize these m istakes and exp loit them. \Ve w ill be surpr ised if you don't become a belier player by the end o f the book.



Chapter 2: The Birth Of A Hand Range

Although it seems irivial, hand-reading s1arts before the flop. [fyou don't have a good idea of your opponent's pre-flop range, you are not meet ing the minimal requirements of a successful poker player. Stating that his pre-fl op range includes pairs, suited connectors, and some broadways doesn't say much about the player, since everyone has that range before the flop. You need to be more speci fie. Does Villain have offsuit broadways such as A To or QJo in his range at th is ptisit ion? Does Villain play suited connectors such as 65 and 67? \Vhat about su ited one-gap connectors such as 68 and 79? How does he play small pocket pa irs such as 22, 33, 44, and 55 from the bli nds? Know ing the answers to these quesiions will elevate your play against regu lars and improve your w in rate. To help us fom1 a c lear picture of the underlying hands in a range, we will analyze a solid winning regu lar's posit ional stat istic.~ . \Ve w ill look at his SB, BB, and UTG ranges because ihose spots are the most d.ifficult to play, si nce they're typ icall y played out-o f-posi tion. Additionall y, a pot often invol ves the CO or BTN versus one of the blinds, so it's important ttl kntlw htlW to exploit the SB and BB. \Ve are goi ng to study the range ofa player named T om as he takes different posit ions around the tab le. Small Blind Tom p Jays about I 7% of all hands from the small blind. Using Poker Stovent, we see that this range consists of (22+, A Ts+, K9s+, Q9s+, .19s+, T 9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, AJo+, KJo+, Q.Jo}, or about 225 of I ,326 possible hands.

Let's deiemline how many of these hands are suited connectors. There are four combinat ions each of65s, 76s, 87s, 98s, and T9s, for a total of20 comb inat ions, or rough ly 10% of Villain's range. Th is means that if we are facJlg resistance on a flop such as 6~ 7 • K~, we're more likely dealing w ith a set or two pairs than an open-ended straight draw since ihere are four comb inations of89s and eight combinations of66/7 i /67s. \Ve open on the button with JTo. Tcm1 calls from the BB. On a low paired flop such as 662 or 336, Tom almost never has a real hand when be check-raises. He is basicall y representi ng tr ips or a fu ll house. Based on his pre-flop range, he rare ly has 6x or 3x in his range. ff Tom has an overpair, he is usuall y going to check-call rather than check-raise. Add it ionall y, he would've re-5-

raised pre-flop most of the time w ith QQ+, leaving his flatt ing range as small pai rs, suited connectors, and somet imes AQ and 'p ranges. The re are two scenarios that usuall y take place afier we call the flop check-raise: V il lain w ill check-fo ld tum or V illain w ill fire the tum and give up on the r iver. Our tum act ion usuall y depends on how strong our hand is. \Ve w ill bet or raise the tum w ith the bollom o f our range and the top o f our range. Thus, our range for an aggressive play on the tum consists of air, gutshots, overcards, sometimes big overpairs, and tr ips or better. Our range for checking beh ind ma inly consists of medium pocket pairs w ith showdown value because we want to play a small er pot and want to avoid mak ing a hard decision on the tum . In the occasion that Tom fires the tum after the check-raise and we have a hand such as 88-TT, if we th ink T om w ill bet the tum and river enough, we should call the flop c heck-ra ise, then call the tum and ri ver. Many small- and mid-stakes players raise the tum to avoid a tough decision on the r iver, even though it's far more profi table to call the tum and river. The main reason is that we will catch his rive r bluffs. Also, if we raise the tum, we are almost always behind if we're called. And since Villain usua:Jy has a hand w ith at most six outs if we are ahead, the value of catching a river bluff is higher than the value of protection. Of course, if you have few chips lefi on the tum- i.e. less than a pot-sized bet- you should get it in on the tum.

Big Blind Tom plays about 21% of all hands from the big blind. TAGs lend to play too loosely from the SB relat ive to the BB posit ion. Looking al the posit ional stats o f regu lars, a common theme is their looseness from the SB posit ion relative to the BB posit ion, even though the stats should be reversed. \Ve need to exploit th is. You should be tighter from the SB against a late posit ional raise because you are out of


posit ion, you don't get to close the a:t ion, and your odds aren't as good. You should play more hands in the BB than in the SB because you get better odds and you get to close the act ion if the SB calls or folds. l\t!any players still play more from the SB than ihe BB, desp ite its posi tiona l disadvantage. One reason for th is is that re-raising against a CO or BTN who opens too loosely gives the SB the initiative and also forces the BB to onl y play when he has a good hand. Such reasoning is correct, but only because most players in the BB don't exp loit the SB's looseness. So, how do we exploit the SB if we are in the BB 0 The answer is simple: 4-bet a lot. Since there are 34 combinat ions ofQQ+ and AK, we can balance our range. in th is spot by adding another 34 combinat ions. Even ifV illain knows our range is QQ+ and AK as well as, say 34s and 96s, he can do nothing about it because mcire than half of the time we have a great hand. Th is means V il lain is going to fold very often pre-flop. Or he can start 5-bet shoving over our 4-bets w ith Jess than premium hJldings. Of course, in the forums, small- and mid-stakes players like io say they 5-bei shove ' ight in th is spot a Jot when in reality, it rarely happens. How many times have you caught a 6-max multi-tabler 5-bet bluffing in th is spot? N ot many. Otherwise, you can exp loit him by 4-bet bluffing in th is spot against other players and only do it for value against him. Regarding 3-betting ranges, it's important ttl note that as stacks get deeper (I 75BBs), many small- and mid-stakes players are very unba lanced because they do not 3-bet w ith hands such as J.J and QQ. They don't feel comfortab le 3-betting those hands because they feel they are overp laying them. Hence, they aren't 3-bett ing light enough as stacks get deep and are calling with suited connectors and broadways more often. If they were to 3-bet light, then QQ and .JJ are actually the top of their range and thus, they would be ecstat ic to 3-bet w ith these hands. T o exploit their unbalanced 3-bett ing range, stan 4-bet bluffing these players more. In the occasion that your 4-bet bluffs get caught, it's not the end of the world since you will get extra action and value for the top of your range--i.e. .JJ+/AQ+- since opponents will stan calling and shoving against your 4-bets Iighter. Under t he Gu n Tom plays only 12% of his hands from UTG. Th is is a reall y narrow range {22+, ATs+, KJs+, QJs, .ITs, T9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, AQo+, KQo} , and it puts him in a lot of tough spots, largely composed of low c.o nnected boards. Th is is a strong range with good equity against a great player who is in position, but Tom will often not realize that equity. For example, 98s only has pre-flop equity of36.6% against this range. However, there w ill be numerous boards where Tom w ill have io fold that range, sinply because opponents w ill correctly deduce that his range is often po larized.

For examp le, say Tom has pre-nop stats of2 1/1 6/2.5 and opens UTG. You call with 77. The flop comes Q~3•9~. \Vhen Tom bets th is flop, you should fbld because even if he's bett ing


100% of his hand range, you only have 40% equ ity w ith future streets to play. But if you ho ld 98s, you have up to 53% equity against the top 12% of hands, hence you should call. Now, let's go over the poss.i ble tum cards and dec ide if we should continue if we hold 98s. Turn 2~: If V illain is known to bet the tum w ith 100% of his range, we should call because we still have 49. 7% equity. However, no one bets here 100% of the time, so let's see what happens if Tom check-fo lds the bottom 40% of his range and bets the top 60%. Is th is a tum call ? Vill ain's pre-flop range cons ists of L8 combinat ions of pairs, 32 combinati ons of AK!AQ and 40 combinat ions of suited bniadways and connectors. That's 120 combinations, and 40% of 120 is 48, wh ich means Tom is check-fo lding 48 hands and betting 72 hands. Let's figure out what hands Tom wi ll check- fo ld and see how our hand does against the rest of his range. Tom w ill check-fo ld any AK that isn't AsKs; that's 15 hands. He will check-fo ld 44/55/ 66/77/88; that's 30 hands. Assum ing he's betting w ith everyth ing else, what is our equity against th is new range? \V e have an equity of36.5%, wh ich is decent, considering we are gett ing better than 2-to- I. The problem is that we st ilJ have one more street to play. Say the r iver comes 7~ . Vill ain bets again with his entire tum range. \Ve now only have 35.5% equity. \Ve w ill pnibably get greater than 2-to- I odds, so it's about a break-even cal l. But what if Vi llain gives up 20% of his turn nnge and bets with 80% of his range for bluff and va lue? Can we st ill call? \Vhat is our equity once we remove 20% ofTom's holdings from his river range? That's 20% of 78. \Ve' ll call it 15 hands: three hands of76s, three hands of8 7s, four hands of JTs, plus one each of T9s and 98s . \Ve only have 29% equity against th is range. Assuming that Vi Ilain is bett ing two-th ir ds pot on the r iver, it's barely a break-even call. Th is is the main reason why calling dcnvn 3-barrels from a so lid player who opens UTG is not a good idea over the long run- un less, of course, he is tilti ng. So, does that mean there's noth ing we can do when a TAG opens UTG w ith a strong range? That's not the case, because we have posit ion and wi ll be able to represent a w ide range of hands, especiall y on boards where we know he rarely has two pairs or better. The tum card (2~) dictates the frequency with wh ich Tom value-bets or bluffs. T om is less likely to continue his bluff on a non-broadway turn card because it's tougher for opponents to fo ld their pocket pairs . Opponents might tum two pairs i f the tum card is 6 to 9. Thus, when Tom is betting on a low tum card, we should fo ld more often than not. There isn't any type of leveling to the tune of, " l know it's a bad card to bluff Thus, if ! bet here, I have a good hand and he has to fo ld." So lid TA Gs don't th ink li ke that. They check-fold if they don't have a hand


on a board where

i ~s



represent a hand.

!i's another story on a broadway turn card. T om's bluffing frequency increases dramat icall y. \Vith a solid UTG range, a broadway tum card gives him gutshots, open-ends and pairs 10 bet with . Thus, Tom is likely 10 bet the majority of his range on a broadway turn card. Let's go over the ho ldings to see whether T om can deal with a tum raise. \Vhen the tum card is an Ace, T om is likely to fire another shot w ith his ent ire range. He's go ing to bet at least 85% of percent of the time. \Vhat's our play? Stacks are S200. UTG opens for S6; Hero calls; pot is S 15. Flop: S 12 bet + S 12 call + S 15 pot = S39. Vill ain bets S33 on tbe tum; pot is S72; he has S l 6 1 left and it's up to you. Due to the nop texture, Tom is Jikely 10 bet 85 to 90 percent of the time. Let's remove I 0 percent of his range and see what happens. \Ve' II take 22 and 44 (I 0% of 120 is 12 hands} out of his range, leaving Tom with about 108 comb inat ions on the turn . lfwe take 15% from those hands (1 5% of 108 is 16), we can remove 55, 66 and four combinations of67s and 78s. lf he check-folds w ith those holdings, how many of his turn bets are value-bets? Tom w ill bet-call w ith 27 start ing hands: three each of AA, QQ and 33, and nine AQ; he m ight also bet-ca ll w ith nine AK combinations. A lthough AK looks like a strong hand here, Tom is draw ing slim if he calls a turn raise with th is holding. Let's imagine a worst-case scenario and assume Villain will call w ith nine AK combinat ions. In total, 27 out of 96 combinat ions are value-bets. The rest are b lu ff~ and semi-b l u ff.~. So, V illain can only bet-call 28% of the time. Lei's sol ve a simple math prob lem to determine how often Tom has to fo ld 10 make raising the tum profitab le for us. lf we call there is S39 + S33 + S33 =S I 05 in the pot. If we raise Tom's tum bet to $99, we risk S99 to win SI 05, so Tom has to fo ld at least 99/ (99+ I 05) = 48.5% of the t ime if our turn raise is to be profitab le. Considering that Tom will bet-fo ld 66% on that spot, it's a +EV play. Although such a play may seem transparent, Tom might not notice that his tum bet is getting raised every time an ace lands on a broadway-small-small nop. Unti l he starts calling down and playing back, we should cont inue abusing him in th is situation. For discussion's sake, let's assume the flop is Q+2• 7~. How often is he fi ring the turn and how do we counter it? Let's assume Tom is betting w ith 75% of his range on a tum T • . Should we call , fo ld, or raise? Tom check-folds w ith 25% of his range, which is 30 comb inations . Let's figure out what holdi ngs Tom is check-folding w ith. \Ve wi ll remove 33, 44, 55, 66 and 88 from Tom's range,


leaving {99+, 77, 22, AT s+, KJs+, QJs, JTs, T 9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, AQo+, KQtl} . \ Vith wh ich of these hands w ill he bet-call ? The answer is something like th is: six AA, three QQ, three 22, three 77, three TT, one A• Q • , one A+ K+, one K •J+, 12 AQ. That's a total of3 1 hands. Considering Tom is betti ng the tum with 99 hands, he can only call 3 1/99- 3 1% of the time. From our math above, V illain has to fo ld at least 48.5% of the time. Thus, when the tum comes an ace, don't freeze. Th ink how frequently V illain is bett ing and what percentage AX hands make up of his pre-flop range.TA Gs rarely ever have worse than AT in their UTG range. This means he's bet- folding the tum w ith lots of hands. There will be times when Vi llain is check-calli ng the tum w ith AX as well. In such situat ions, he w ill fo ld to a river shove un less he's improved to two pairs or tr ip aces.

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Chapter 3: What's My Range?

And why is th is important? As you move up in stakes, your opp:lnents w i II read hands better in act ion.

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Example 4.1 : Th is is a spm where Hero can be a pouncer by betting the tum with the intcnti~n of bett ing the river. Vill ain's range is mostly high cards and he is rarely checking back with hands Stronger than 9X. You will get called on the turn some-of the times when Villain is holding hands such as AK. AQ, 88, 77. 76, and 44. But don't worry; he won't often call a river bet because your range is strong when you bet that tum ..Thus, you must follow through on your read of his tum range and bet the river. A non-pouncer would've bet the turn, and if he got

called, would have convinced himself that he'd get a call on the river if an ace or king didn't come, even though people don't often check behind on the flop with AK in a 3-bet pot and decide to blufTcatch with it on two streets.

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Exa m pie 4.1 : S31S6 6-tvlax SB : S581 BB: S355 UTG: S270 Hero (.\'IP}: S893 CO: S647 BT'.'/: $737 P re-flop: Hero on :\1P with J~ T~ I/old, Hem raises to $24, I/old, BTN re-raises to S78, 2/olds, Hero calls S5.t ' Flop: (Sl65) 9~•3~ (2 players) Hero checks, BTN checks T urn: (S 165) 9~6•3~5• (2 players) He;o?

Example 4.2: Th is is a classic situation where Example 4.2: S3/ S6 6-!Vlax pouncers w in a lot of pots. You re-raise in SB: S417 posit ion w ith h igh cards and cont inuation bet on a BB: S732 missed nop. You then check back the tum and UTG: S l 97 don't improve on the river. A pouncer would or 1v !P: S I09 shou ld almost always bet the river. CO: $974 Hero (BT '.'I): S835 Th ink of your range after the pre-fl op, llop, and tum acti on. Assuming the river isn't a queen or Pre-flop: Hero on BTN w ith Ao!>QY ace, wou Id you ever show up with a hand 2/olds, CO raises to S2 1, Hero re-raises stronger than TT by the river? to S72, CO cal Is SS I For th is reason, if you are in CO's spot, you shou ld h igh ly cons ider betting the r iver if you can't beat ace-h igh. If you have a hand Iike 78 or TI when you get to the r iver, the decision to check-eva luate (mostly end up check-calling) or to bet the r iver yourself depends on whether you have been betting a lot of rivers. If you have, you are more likely to get called by worse, usuall y a small pair or AK/AQ. l fyo u haven't been bett ing, then check-evaluate is a betler play.

Flop: (S 153) JY7Y5+ (2 players) CO checks, Hero bet~ S 111 , CO cal Is S 111 Turn: (S375) J• 7•5• 2~ (2 players) CO checks, Hero checks River: (S375) J\'7• 5+2-!oX (2 players) CO?

It also depends on whether your opponent is aggressive. lf he has been active, then c hecking the river is a superior play because your range looks li ke a draw. Additionall y, si nce he is aggressive, he' ll often have air. The reason is if he is aggressive and has a h igh, there's no way he's checking the tum because he kr.ows he's aggressive and w ilJ likely get looked up light. Back to Examp le 4.2, where Hero is on the button. Against an aggress ive opponent who's tak ing down a lot of pots, y()u might have w call somet imes w iih ace-h igh on the r iver. Good river cards to call on the river are board-pairing cards and cards that are lower than a 7 since players don't defend re-raises out o f position w ith small suited connectors or small pocket pairs . Another strategy is to try to show up at the ri ver sometimes w ith hands stronger than TT. But since that is diftlcult to do because we want to stack our opponent, it is better to bet the tum and hope for a fo Id. Exercise 1: Open a notepad and t it le it "\Vhen V illain Tanks." Save three hand histories from your session when V illain is legitimately tank ing over a wugh decision but ends up fo ldi ng.

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Note whether you are bluf6ng or betting (rais ing) for val ue. ff you were betti ng (raising) for value, th ink o f what is the best hand that he w ill call you w ith in that spot. Over t im e, you w ill see a familiar pattern in these hand histories. V illain folds way too o fien in certain spots. These are the spots where you can add a lot of bluffing and semi-bluffing hands to your range.

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Chapter 5 : Offense Is The Best Defense

Poker is a much easier game when you are the aggressor and not the defender, check-calling both streets afier the flop w ith a marginal hand is neither fun nor pro fitab le. It's also easier to balance your betting range than to balance your check-calling range. And betti ng allows you to bluff and sem i-bluff without hav ing a hand. You can o ften fold out your opponent's ace-high hands that have showdown value when you hold some random suited connectors.

Example 5.J: Some p layers like to check-call in

Example 5.1: S3/S6 6-1v!ax

th is situati on. They say they li ke to balance the ir check-call range here so that opponents w ill be less likely to barrel them on the tum and the river. Bui once you chec k-call the tum, un less an opponent is reall y good, he is un likely to bluff the r iver since you frequently have Qx, or won't fo ld hands li ke 88-JJ .

SB:S82 1 BB: S l 93

Hero (UTG): S988 MP: S295

CO: S622 BTN : S734 P re-flop: Hero is UTG w ith K+ Q+ Hero raises to S24, 2/olds, BTN re-raises to S72, 2/olds, Hero calls 548

By checking on the tum w ith K+ Q+, you are checking w ith the top o f your range and are losi ng value on yc;ur non-showdown ha nds such as 9Ts, JT, 78s, AK, and AJs. If you aren't Flop: ($ 153) 7+5Y2~ (2 players} bett ing the tum w'.th the top of your range, what Hero checks. BTN c hecks are you betting the tum w ith? You should almost always bet K+ Q+ on the tum so your bett ing T urn : (S 153) 7+5Y2~Q• (2 players) range isn't weak and you get more credit frnm Hero? your opponent.

Betting w ith K+ Q+ also al lows you io get away w ith betting your non-showdown hands that can take down the pot w ith a tum bet when V illain is holdi ng hands such as AJ, JT, A4, and 8T. But if you check, those bands are likely betting on the turn since you checked tw ice and you can't bluff-call. Thus, it's better to j ust bet the ium w ith K+ Q+ in this spot. Then you can also bet w ith 88-.JJ for protection and to prevent yourself from gett ing bluffed i f V illain decides to fi re the ium and the river. Of course, we can close our eyes and call the turn and the river. Bui it's sometimes better to take the Iine that keeps you out of a di fficult situat ion. [fyour opponent starts checking back and raising your iurn bet, you should consider checking the tum more o ften . - 16 -


Chapter 6: Balancing

Balancing your range is an important practice. But how do you balance? Before we get to balancing, we should state the reasons for bett ing. \Vhen you bet, you are either bluffing, bett ing for value, or betting for prntecti on. \Vhen you bluff, you try to represent a made hand to induce your opponent to fo ld . \Vhen you value-bet, you try to represent a blu'f so your opponent can call. Betti ng for protect ion doesn't occur as much in no-limit hold'em as it does in pot-li mit Omaha, but you w ill sometimes do so when you have a good but vu lnerab:e hand and you want to charge your opponents for drawing when they are beh ind. \Vhy is it important ttl know the reasons for bett ing? By knowing why you are betting, you avoid mak ing costly mistakes such as m indl essly bett ing in situat ions where you should check, and vice-versa. Furthermore, recogn iz ing these situations will help you to bluff and value-bet more effectively.

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Example 6.1: Th is is a spot where players sometimes check beh ind for pot control. Un less you have a better reason ihan "checking beh ind 10 keep the poi small wiih my marginal hand," you should bet on the tum way more often than you check. Vill ain's range afier the flop call is JJ, 66, 55, 78s, .IT, QJ, KJ, AJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, and 67s. Villain may also check-calJ with hands such as 9+8+ or A+Q+, though those hands are more likely 10 check-raise the fl op than 10 check-call.

Exauo pie 6. 1: S3/S6 6-M ax

SB: S700 BB: S642 UTG: $755 MP: S623 CO: S3 1I Hero (BTN): S934 Preflop: Hero on BTN with K~J~ 3/ olds , Hero raises to ) 18, I f old, BB ca.lls 5 12

Flop: (S39) JY6+5~ (2 players) Against the above range, discounting 9+8+ and BB checks, Hero bets S34, BB calls $34 A+Q+, we have 60% equ ity. Although ii is un likely ihal a worse hand than JT and QJ will call Turn: (S l07) JY6+5~Q~ (2 players) our turn bet, betting the turn makes our hanJ a BB checks, Hero ? li ttle easi er to play. It also protects our twobarrell ing range and charges our opponent to draw.

\Ve will fold if we're check-raised on the turn . One might reason that making the hand easier 10 play isn't the most profitable line, and that's true. However, there are situations in wh ich we don'i know our opponents' tendenc ies as well as we would like to, in wh ich case bell ing prevents our making a costly mistake on ihe river, whether by calli ng or fo lding incorrectly. It is important to note that al though we strive io play perfectly and make the most profitable play whenever we can, we ofien don't play perfectly and don't have enough infomiation to make the best play. ~\1aking

the most profitable play can also increase variance. lfyou know you have a 1il1 prob lem and start 1op lay worse if an opponent outdraws you on the river, then you should bet the turn. This definitely shouldn't be the reason why one would choose a less profitab le play, bui sacrificing a litlle EV so you can continue playing your A game is very imp:lrtant and shouldn't be underestimated. Alternative Line: \Ve can check behind ihe tum and call all blank rivers. Blanks river in th is situation are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and Q. \Ve can fo ld to an 8, 9, T or ace. \Ve can raise a river J and depending on ihe opponent, we can also ra ise a K. Th is line is very profi table against opponents who Iike to float oul of position or !um whatever weak made hand ihey have on the fl op into bluffs al the river. lfyou don't know whether !his trait app lies 10 your opponent, start analyzing - 18 -

more hands.

Important Note: 1fVi ll ain is tr icky and aggressive, we should check behind on the tum a 101 o f the t ime to avoid a check-raise.

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Example 6.2: This is a bet on the turn . A lot of worse hands such as JJ, T 9-A T and 78 are calling. Betting the tum also protects our two-barrelling range. Th is is especiall y important when the turn is a king. If Villain knows you are capable ofvaluebetting with less than a pair of kings on the tum, he's less likely to call your second barrels w ith marginal holdings in future hands, and th is allows you to bluff more. Unless the river is an ace or ten, we should va luebei the river as well. JJ and T x w ill cal l somet imes since the king is such a great card for you ttl continue bluffing.

Example 6.2: S3/ S6 6-Max S B: S688 BB: S405 I JT G :


Hero 0'lP) : $623 CO: S290 BTN: S740 Preflop: Hero on MP w ith Q+Q+ I f old, Hero raises to S 18, 2.folds, SB ca lls S IS, I fo ld Flop: (S42) T~7Y3+ (2 players) SB checks, Hero bets S36, SB call s S36 Turn: (S I 14) T~ 7Y3+ KY (2 players) SB checks, Hero?

lf we bet the tum, we should fo ld if we're checkraised. There are too many combinations of hands that beat us versus the combi nations of draws that Villain is check-raising the tum w ith. Important ~ote: As in hand 5, if Villai n is tricky and aggressive, we should often check beh ind on the turn m avoid a check-raise.

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Example 6.3: Th is appears to be a simp le spot to value-bet the ri ver. But your r iver range is reall y strong after the pre-flop, flop and turn action. It's difficult for KJ or KT to make hero calls on the r iver because most draws get there and your opponent can on Iy beat air or a missed backdoor flush draw in a situat ion where you rare Iy have air and don't o ften have a flush draw.

Example 6.3: S3/ S6 6-ivlax SB: S385 BB: $676 UTG: S289 Hero (.MP) : S972 CO: S544 BTN: $635 Pre-flop: Hero on CO w ith A• K• I f old, Hero raises to 524, 3 f olds, BB calls S l8

There's a small chance that your opponent is call ing w ith wmse and a big chance that your opponent can show up w ith hands better than AK, Flop: (S5 1) 7• K~Qo!o (2 players) so you should check back. BB checks, Hero bets S46, BB ca lls S46 On the same note, since your r iver range is strong here when you bet, you should cons:der turn ing AJ , 89 and 56 into bluffs ifvou make it to the ' river w ith them. Those ha nds rarely, if ever, w in at shtl\vdown after the flop and tum act ion, st) i ~s pro fitable to somet imes bluff with them.

Turn: (S l 43) 7• K~Qo!o6+ (2 players) BB checks, Hero bets S I 12, BB calls S I 12 Ri"er: (S367) 7•K~Qo!o6 •9~(2 players} BB checks, Hero ?

Hav ing a pair also lessens the chance o f your opponent hav ing a low set, wh ich h is strong ha nds are composed of if he's check-calling from two streets after defending from the blinds. KK and QQ usuaLi y re-raise from the b hnds, and KQ probab ly check-raises the flop most C>f the t ime.

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Chapter 7: The Chosen One

\Vhenever you gei to the river, there are only a few strong hands in your range, i.e., ihe strong hands that you are trying to represent const itute only a small percentage of your pre-flop range. For examp le, i f you've bei the flop, turn and river on a board of K~J~8+ 7+3•, your strong hands are KK, KJ, K8, K7, AK, KQ, JJ, J8, 88, 9T, 77 and AA . Assuming you opened from UTG and your pre-l:lop perceniage from that position is 14%, PokerStove shows that you are opening w ith (22+, A Ts+, A5s-A2s, KTs+, QTs+, J9s+, T9s, 98s, 87s, AQo+, KQo }. Th is range inc ludes 144 hands. Now, let's look at our strong hands and see if they are congruent with our pre-flop range. lfyou are opening only 14% UTG, you don't have K8, K 7, and J8 in your river range.You only have 48 hands: KK, KJs, AK, KQ, JJ, 88, T9, 77 and AA. So, at the river you are representing almost 33% of your pre-flop range. That's a lot of hands. \Ve w ill assume that you w ill check KQ on the river, since the tum comp letes a straight, and what worse hands are going to call your bet? KT is going to have a tough time, and ihe majority of V illain's range is a pair plus a draw on the tum. This leaves you w ith 36 river hand comb mat ions. Now you are only represent ing 25o/o of your pre-tlop range. Which is sti LI a lot. It should be noted that th is is a great board to 3-barrel because a lot of hands w ill call ihe turn but check- fo ld the river. Let's look at a more interesting hand w iih a board that hits less of your pre-flop range. Suppose you open UTG and ihe board runs K7594. Yem bet fltlp, turn and river. A good player should shove over your river bet since you can't have that many strong hands by the time you get to the nver. On ihe river, you are beit ing AA, AK, KK, KQ, KJ, K9, 99, 79, 75, 77, 55, and 68. Thal seems li ke a 101 of hands unti l you realize that KJ, K9, 79, 75, and 68 aren't part of your pre-flop range. You're left with AA, AK, KK, KQ, 99, 77, and 55. That's 42 hands, wh ich sti ll make up a large percentage of your pre-flop range.

But how many of these hands can call a river shove? You literall y have no strong hands in your range. You w ill call w ith KK, 99, 7i, and 55 because-let's be honest-· no one folds sets. Alihough on the river, AA. is the same as A K/KQ because it's hard to imagine someone val ueshoving w ith worse ihan KQ in th is ;pen, but no one folds aces even though ihey shou ld if they are folding AKIKQ in th is spot. N ow you are left w iih KK, 99, 77, 55 and .A.A from your

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original river betting range. That's 18 hands. So, if you bet the flop, turn and river on a board of K7594, you can only call a river shove w ith 18 hands. Th is is a spot where you have lo revert to what part of your range your hand is in. A smart player is go ing to know you rarely show up w ith a strong hand. And i fhe's a pouncer, he w i II try to take the pot from you. The most comp licated situat ion is when you open UTG and the flop comes 977 rainbow. \Vhen you bet and get raised, except for four combinat ions (three 99 and one 77), you are going to have a tough time play ing on . Conversely, you should seriously consider rais ing the flop and runn ing a 3-barrel bluff This is why it's tough for UTG raisers ttl call r iver bets on paired boards and boards with one high card and a bunch of small cards . It should be noted that the best spots to mess around w ith are when the top of your opponent's range consists mainly of pairs. Of course, you shou ldn't try to w in every pot; give up sometimes so your opponents don't know what you are up to. It's very easy to play post-flop when we are ab le to narrow our C>pponents' pre-flop ranges by so much. Th is is why we should cons ider re-raising from the cutoff or the button whenever we can. Players generall y don't know how to play well out of position, so their ranges end up being very unpolar ized. For examp le, a so lid TAG opens at UTG+ I and we three-bet on the button. A typ ical so lid TAG w ill call your 3-bet w ith 77-JJ, AQ, KQ, AJ, JT and QJ. That's probab ly it. He w ill rarely have AA-QQ because he would usuall y 4-bet these. He doesn't like ca lli ng preflop with AK out of position because if the flop comes a bunch of low cards, he' ll end up checkfo ld.i ng with the best hand. Thus, for him, 4-betting pre-flop is never a bad idea. But when you are playing against opponents who are active in position and know how to read hands well , it's bad to have an unbalanced pre-flop calling range. Thus, you should consider calling 3-bels out of posi tion w ith AK some of the lime as well as calli ng w ith AA-QQ. Generall y, with AA-KK, the most optimal line to take is basicall y to close your eyes and checkcall against an aggressi ve opponent. Don't be afraid . \Vhen the flop comes J32, a good player is go ing to bet. Then if the turn is a Q, he's going to bet again . And on a r iver 9, he's going to bet again. He never puts you AA or KK. He puts you on someth ing such as a stubborn TT that will fold to a river bet, or maybe KJ. He is also value-betting hands such as AQ, KQ, KK and A.A.. QQ is a little tricky; you just have to go with your reads. You can't go too wrong by checkcalling all the way. [f s actuall y a reall y good strategy. Good players aren't afraid to move you off your hands. They are going to apply a lot of pressure to you. So, when you have a good

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hand in a 3-bet pot, call. \Vhen I'm out of position with AK-AJ, I like to call the 3-bet from an aggressi ve player and play post-flop. I will check-cal l on almost every flop because I know he's goi ng to bet a Jot of them. Additionall y, when the turn comes a high card, especiall y when it's an ace, I'm goi ng to get another bet since he's going to try to move me off my hand. The river is also a check-call. Opponents will usually 3-bet before the flop, check back the tum and fold to a river bet. Thus, if the tum goes check-check and you don't improve by the river, feel free to bet. He's going to fold a lot because check-cal Ling the flop and betting the river isn't a good line to take as a bluff. But "~th our outs that can lead to strong hands, check-call ing with those big-card hands is a good strategy. lfwe improve to a pair other than aces, we should bet for value. I wouldn't bet an ace on the river 100 often because this is a scare card to many players, and they will bet at it 10 represent a big pair. You will obviously check-call. It's a good strategy to check-call the river against aggressive opponents, even if you inprove. He's goi ng to bet frequently after you check the river if it's a broadway card. A more important reason is for ba lance and protection for your range. You don't want your regu lar opponents to th ink that you cannot show up with a good hand on certain boards in 3-bet pots. You want them to know that you are capable of showing up with a big pair after you reraise the flop, bet on a flop of 2~ 7~8•, check on a tum 5• , and check on a river Q• . The reason is you want him to be a litt le gun-shy the next time he's in a pot and has posi tion on you. That way, you wiU get cheaper showdowns for your marginal holdings. From the examp le above, marg inal holdings would be 76, 99 and A5. One important note: balancing is not as important if you are up against bad players who don't pay attenti on to what you are doing; in th is case you are free to bet the river. Don't make a play without any logical j ustification and chalk it up as balanc.e . Although th is shows your opponents that you are capab le of the occasional bonehead move, it's generall y a bad way to approach the game. Here is an example where it's difficult for Villain to call a 3-barrel bluff because his range is weak.

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Exa mple 7. l is a good spot to 3-barrel. Unless Villain is reall y balanced in th is spot, his range is mostly AK, AQ, suited connectors, 99, TI, and some random hands that he 3-bet with.

Exa mple. 7.1: S3/S6 6-Max SB: $700 BB: S544 UTG: S673 MP:S804 Hero (C O) : S900 BTN: S434

Vill ain will often bet Jx, QQ and KK and check with JJ and AA once in a long time. There are times when Villain might check with J+X+ but it doesn't Preflop: Hero on CO with Q~T~ occur very often. \Vhen peop le flop such a monster 2folds, Hero raises to S 18, I fold, SB after 3-betting pre- Aop with a marginal hand, they re-raises to $60, Hero calls S42 can't help but bet the maj ority of the time. \Ve should bet the i:lop because Vil Iain's range is likely weak. \Ve can continue playing aggress ively on a lot of turns, such as 9, K, Q, spades, and diamonds. It is probab ly best to shove any river if Vill ain calls the turn.

Flop: (S90) .1~ 7+3 + (2 players} SB checks, Hero ?

Your flop bet will frequently be ca[eci No need to worry. Just calm down, ti re the ium and fo llow through on the river. VilJ ain seldom has a strong hand in th is spot after the pre-flop and flop action. If you size your flop and tum bets so that your river shove is the size of the pot, then Villain will have a pretty tough call. If the board is rainbow, it's a little different because Villain is more likely to slowp lay and go for a flop check-raise or go in check-call mode with overpairs and sets. But a two-tone flop is a green Iight to barrel it off. I would bet S75 on the fl op. If the tum pairs the board, I'll bei S90 because it gives the ill usion that I have the hand locked up and want to lure his draws in. I will fo llow through with a big river bet. If the turn doesn't pair the board, I' ll bei something like S 195 so l can make a pot-sized river shove. I will shove on the river un less I improve to a hand with showdown value such as a pair of tens or queens. Of course, if the tum and river cards are small er than a jack, I will likely shove the river with a pair of queen; for value.

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Chapter 8: We Are The Champions

\Veil , sometimes. \Vhen we get to the river against a good, aggressive player and our river bet gets raised, somet imes we close your eyes and call to avoid being exploited. He's going to bluff-shove often because he knows our range is very narrow by the r iver. Of course, many low- and mid-stakes players mindlessly call bets and raises at the river, claiming they can't fold because they are at the top of their range and don't want to be exploited. Th is is a valid claim, but only against the right type of opponent. Low- and mid-stakes games are so fu ll of bots who are constantly playing 8+ tab les that when they raise your river bet, it's al most always the nuts. You can fold in th is case. But as you move up in stakes, good opponents will try to move you off your hand if the hands at the top of your range are not the nuts. That's when yo u sometimes call.

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Example 8.1: Th is is a spot players often get into but they don't usually talk about it in detail. On the river, A • K• is usuall y the best hand we can show up with after the previous action. Th is means we w ill have a tough time fo:di ng since we are at the lop of our range. Our river range consists mostly of one-pair hands and bluffs. So, do we cal I? The answer depends on several variables. The river is a fo ld against the maj or:ty, if not of all players below 400NL because they wi ll rarely bluff-raise their one-pair hands on the river. If they have a hand such as 76, their thinking process in th is spot usuall y goes lo the tune of, "The Ko!o is a good card to bet because it is congruent w ith T ri's pre- flop range. However, there are times when he wi ll bluff with ai r and with the right pot odds, I can call."

Example 8. 1: S3/S6 6-/\·1 ax SB: $300 Hero (BB): $I 087 UTG: S583 ;\'IP: Sl720 CO: SIOO BTN: S500 Pre-flop: Hero on BB w ith A• K• I f olds, MP raises to S 18, 3 fiJlds, Hero re-raises to S66, M P call s S48 flop: ($ !35) 2o!o6•9~ (2 players) Hero bets S I 05, CO bets SI 05 Turn: (5345) 2o!o6•9~5• ( 2 players) H~ ro checks, CO checks River: (5345) 2o!o6•9~5•Ko!o(2 players) Hero bets S268, MP raises all-i n, Hero ?

The option of bluff-raising sometimes goes into their process but they w ill debate back and forth and eventuall y choose the safe choice, wh ich is folding or call ing. They rarely pu ll the bluff-raise trigger. Thus, whenever you find yourself in th is spot, fold. Don't call and j ust ify it by saying, "I was at the top of my range," whenever you see sets and 78. And you are going 10 see Iots of them. However, as you move up in stakes and play against tougher opponents who are capab le of and willing to pu ll the tr igger, you are going to have w close your eyes and call. Does th is mean you are going to call al l the time here since you are at the top of your range? No. for one thing, allhough you rarely show up w ith a hand stronger than one pair on the river, the trequency with which you are gelling bluff-raised is much lower than in theory. Thus, you are only cal ling some of the time. The reason for calling is 10 protect your river range so that your opponents don't get the idea that you are consistently bet-folding the r iver in th is spot. Otherw ise, your life wi II be di fficult. You should suspect your opponent L-; turn ing his made hands inttl bluffs on the r iver if you are consistentl y in th is spot against him. If you are, he is likely blufllng you because combinat ionwise, it's tough 10 show up w ith a good hand on th is board all the time.

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lf you're not sure htlw to respond io a river raise, then checking the river is a viable opticm. However, betting the river is beiter in small- and mid-siakes games because you will gei some light call-downs and you will also be protecting your river b luff.~. After all , if you aren'i betting with A+K+ for val ue here, then what hands are you betting with on the river? Your river range will be unbalanced and it will be weighted with a Jot of bluffing hands.

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Chapter 9 : The Overbet: Wow, That's A Big Bet

It has been a long time since overbets were common in smal l- and mid-stakes games. \Vhen Prahlad Friedman was crush ing the competition w ith absurd overbets, everyone mimicked him because it was the natural th ing to do . You copy those who win big. The use of overbets has decreased iremendously since ihen . \Vhen th inking of situations in wh ich w 3-barrel, look for nops where Villain almost never has the nuts but w ill check-calJ often w ith marginal holdings. Examp les of such nops are 442, AA5, and Q2T. You just have to trust me. They fold a lot of r ivers. You should use an exploitive strategy against amateurs and bad players by overbett ing mostly for value. They don't fo ld and they don't care if you are only overbetting w ith the nuts. People don't like to do th ings outside the nom1 because the standard p lay looks more correct. After all, it is standard for a reason. No one can crit icize your play. Bui if you want to improve as a player, you must think try to think outside the box in certain si tuat ions. One example is imp lementing tbe overbet in your game. No one w ill disagree that adding the overbet t(> your arsenal makes you a very tough player. But you must balance your range so that you don't become exploitable. Lucki ly, almost no one in the small- and mid-stakes games w ill be ab le to exp loit you except for a few ti lty call s that happen to be right. Players at th is level aren't good enough to beat you even if you have an unbalanced range because when you overbet, it's either air or nuts. As you improve, your nut range w ill widen. An overbet is profitab le primaril y because players like to fo ld and wai t for a better spot. An overbet can be effective when your opponent has a very narrow calli ng range. For examp le, a so lid player w ith stats of 16% for UTG+ I opens pre-nop. You call w ith 76 on the cutoff. The flop is Q62. He cont inuat ion-bets and you call. In th is situat ion, you are never folding th is flop. He can have air or high cards, and y3u have outs to improve to a better hand to which he w ill have a hard time folding. The iurn is a 4. He bets. River is a 3 and he bets again.You want to tum your hand into a bluff here and overbet-shove his river bet. lv!any players have a bet-fold mentality in th is situat ion. They don't want ttl check and lose value to hands such as QJ, QT and .J.J. They a lso don't want to check and ca ll a big bet. So they bet with the intent ion of folding. Besides sets, what can call th is river shove? It's un likely he has a 5 in his range, consider ing that he is so tight pre-flop. It is easy for you ttl have a 5 in your

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range. You can even have a hand such as 75s that decides 10 float this flop bet w ith a backdoor and luck-box into a straight on the r iver. Since he can ho ld few hands that can call on the r iver, you should try the bet size that will make him told most o tten. A basic value bet w ill induce some 10 told . l3u1 he'll o tlen have Kt)+ here, and once he bets the r iver, he'll tend w call th is bet because he's getting odds and he is curious. He' ll have a tough time ca lling when you jam the river. \Ve need to balance our range so as to be more capab le of shoving on 75 or a bare 5 here. T oward this end, we can shove sets on the river, and two pai r will be fine against people who like 10 make hero calls or just hate fo lding. In any case, V ill ain wil l rarely have hands that can call us. \Vhen he does show up w ith the nuts, he w ill see that we are capab le of shoving a w ide range of val ue hands in this situation and w ill have 10 gi ve us credit the next time we make th is play. 11 is important to remember that as your val ue range w idens, you w ill be able 10 get away w ith more bluffing hands as well. A simple analogy is pre-flop play. If you can re-raise w ith QQ preflop, then you can add more weak hands to your pre-fl op re-raising range. ff you only value reraise with AA, then the next time you re-raise, people are going to call you often because no one has AA that often. One meia-game consideration is how to adj ust if you recently overbet the r iver and your opponent fo lded and didn't see your cards. The so lut ion is fairly simple.You overbet again until ib is part icu lar opponent starts calling. Although ii seems like people wi ll start calling if you keep overbetting, th is isn't true. Some players are very good at taking abuse and w ill fold unt il they have a reall y good hand to call with . Some players, i.e., recreat ional and bad players, get curious or t ilted af\er seeing you making two r iver overbets and wi ll start calling you. But many players, especiall y tight regu lars, just filld over and over.

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Exam pie 9. 1 presents a good board to 3-barrel and overbet-shove the river.

Exa mple 9. 1: S3/ S6 6-Max SB: S I 14 BB: S625 UTG: S789

\Vith so much money beh ind on a draw-heavy flop, V illai n is go ing to check-raise the fl op ~IP: $1502 majority of the time w ith premium hands such as Hero (CO): $1020 two pairs, sets, and straights. One reason is w BTN: S738 protect his hand. Another reason is IO get a lot of money in before a scare card comes on the turn Preflop: Hero on CO w ith A •Q~ and we slow down with AJ or better. Since Villain is out of position, it's hard for him to attract value I f old, Jv!P raises to S 12, Hero re-raise to S36, 3 f olds, iv!P calls S24 on later streets because we can check back the tum and contro l the pot. Flop: (S80) J• 8+7• (2 players) i\.1 P checks, Hero bets 5 72, Jl.1P calls After the fl op call, V illain's range is somewhat defined. He w ill have mostly a pair plus a gutshot such as T J, 89, TT, or 99. He might also have JQAJ . [f he slowplayed pre-Aop w ith QQ-.1\A, it's not a great Aop for him; he'll usuall y play passively with those hands for fear of overp laying them .

Turn: (S224) J• 8 +7• K~ (2 players) M P checks, Hero bets S 195 River: (S6 14) .I• 8+ 7• K~ /v!P checks, Hero ?

X (2 players)

Against the flop range we have given him, a K~ on the tum is probab ly the worst card for him . \Ve should continue betting the tum and following through on the river. Even if the turn is a di fferent card, th is is st ill a great spot to continue bluffing because his range is made up mostly of hands that can call bets on the flop and turn due to their draw ing equity, but they aren't strong enough to call a r iver shove. Thus, by betting the turn and shoving any river, you are go ing to get him to fo:d the majority of his range. Vil lain won't call un less he improves w a great hand on the r iver . \Ve are c.o nfident that he can't call a river shove without improv ing because w ith our tum bet, if he has a made hand stronger than t"o pai rs, he wtluld've check-raised all-i n to end the hand and avoid making an incorrect decision on the river. There's only one pot-size bet left after the tum acti on and the board is so drawy . It would be disastrous for Villain if we held a hand such as A• T • or Q Ts and he failed to end the hand. l~s

possible that V illain is check-calling with two pairs on the tum, but it is high ly un likely due to stack size and board texture. Considering there's so much money in the pot already, a m istake on the r iver is very costly and he should try to avoid it.

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Chapter 10: Mini Rockets

P layers otten have a hard time playing small pocket pai rs trom the bli nds agai nst a good cutoff and button opener. lmpli ed odds aren't great because when you hit a set, you don't get paid off that ofien since your opponents' ranges are wide and they usuall y don't have good enough bands to stack off. You are out of position and often fold the best hand. One strategy is to fo ld 22 to 55 before the flop. That's fi ne. Just don't let people know you are fo ldi ng small pocket pai rs out of the blinds or you'll have difticulty playing on flops such as 2-!o3-!o9Y or 4+5-!oQ~, or basicall y any flop w ith a big card and tw o cards below six . Another common strategy is to re-raise w ith these holdings against loose cutoff and blind openers. You usuall y take it down pre-flop, and if your (>pponents play fit-or- fold poker, you can take it down w ith a conti nuation bet. If your c-bet doesn't do the job, you w ill ofien see the tum and river for free, s ince V illain will frequently go check-check. It's not the end of the world if you're caught runn ing a huge bluff w ith a small pocket pair, since you' II be re-raising out of the blinds with big pocket pairs and you'll get paid off on those holdings. The th ird strategy is to call pre-flop. Generally, the plan is to check-call low flops or flops w ith only one card higher than ten and hcpe for a cheap showdown. O f course, if your opponents are good, th is showdown isn't usuall y cheap and that's where most players are lost. lf only they knew that one can check-raise the r iver. You can check-call the flop on boards w ith a broadway and two small cards, and ifthe turn goes check-check, you should seriously consider check-raisi ng the r iver. On boards such as Axx or Kxx, once V ill ain checks beh ind the turn, he rarely has top pair beat; otherw ise he would bet the tum for value. So, when you check the ri ver hoping to see a showdown and your opponent doesn't oblige, you should o fien check-raise. People take this same li ne w ith strong hands such as sets and two pai rs, so your opponent doesn't need a lot of convinci ng to fold bis marginal ho lding. Based on personal exper ience and that of many of my students, you w i IJ get a lot of folds at the river. The times you don't get fo lds are when your tipponem improves to two pairs or hits a gutshot. As we all know, having two pai rs or better in a hold'em game is pretty difticull. For balance, you should also check-raise the rivers w ith strong holdings. Don't be afraid to lose value in the event that the hand is checked through. Your opponent will see what you have and know that you are capable of check-raising the river w ith strong holdings. Th is w ill add credibility to your r iver check-raise bluffs.

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Chapter 11 : Instinctive River Play

Th is is a very important concept. Ut:lizing it in the right situations can be the difference between a break-even player at 2/41\L and a big w inner at 3/6N L. It took me a lot to put it into pract ice. The concept is not c.o mp lex, nor it is difficult to grasp. The difficult th ing is knowing whether you are applying it in an actual game. I didn't know I had th is leak until l started playing PLO, where on the r iver it's more djfficul110 extract value from th in hands than in hold'em because ranges are more po lar ized_ On ly through thousands of PLO hands did I recognize that I wasn't checking enough in N LHE . The bet-bet-bet line is very strong in N LH E. Th is line is mrely used with marginal holdings-you usuaJl y have either the nuts or ai r. let's go lCl an examp le. Example I I. I: Unless you have an aggressive and bluffy image, you should check the river here more often than you bet. K+J+ is the bottom of yo ur value range by the r iver when you are taking the bet-bet-bet line. Thus, you won't often get worse hands 10 call. You're not go ing to be very ha ppy when you check and see hands such as KT , A 9, 9T, and .JJ showdown. But un less you've been gelli ng out of line, those hands aren't call ing your river bet. There are also several draws that could have missed on the river and w ill consider bluffing.

Example 11. 1: S3/S6 6-ivlax SB: S493 BB: S200 Aero (UTG): $680 MP: S500 CO : S720 BTN : $770 Pre-flop: Hero is UTG with K+Jt Hero rnises to 5 18, lds, BTN call s S 18, lds Flop: (S45) K+9~5~ (2 players) Hero bets S38, BTN call s S38

For these reasons, you should check and evaluate. The decision to check-call or to check-fold depends Turn: (S 12 1) K+9~5~3• ( 2 players) Hero bets S I l~, BTN calls S I 14 hea,~ l y on what type of player you face. Is Villain the type lo tum his hand into a bluff, or w ill he happiJ y show down 9X or TT and hope you have a River: (S349) K+9~5~3•Q • (2 players) Hero? missed draw as we[I?

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Example I 1.2: \Vhat is your action '.or each river card? Before we detem1ine what we shou Id do for each river card, we should fi gure out Villai n's range after the tum action. Once we know ih is, our river decision becomes much easier. On the flop, Villa in is calling with KK, 88, 33, Kx, 8x, A3s, clubs, and sometimes 99-QQ. After ihe turn, un less we have a crazy image, Vill ain's range is Kx and clubs. \Ve should go over what fl ush draws hand Villain calls with on the tum. He could have Ao!> Ko!>, Ao!>Qo!>, Ao!>Jo!>, Ao!>T o!>, A"'5o!>, A"'4"', Ao!>2"', K"'Qo!>, Ko!>.fo!>, and Ko!>T"'. He could also have Q"'J"', Q"'T"', .f"'T "', and To!>9o!>. Since our opponent is a regular and not a random fish, it is not often Villain calls our iurn bet with a naked queen-high fl ush. For the sake of equity calculation, we will include Qo!>Jo!> and Qo!>To!> in Villa in's range. Vill ain could get stubborn wiih 8x and 99-QQ and call our tum bet i f he feels we 2-barrel too much.

Example 1 1.2 : S3/S6 6-l\1ax SB: S400 BB: S548 UT G: S755 Aero (MP): $678 CO: S766 BTN : S334 Preflop: Hero on l\·'fP with A~A t I f old, Hero raises to S 18, CO calls S 18, 3/ olds flop: ($45) K~8o!>3"' (2 players) Hero bets 54 1, CO calls S4 1 Turn: (Sl27) K~8o!>3"' 2" (2 players) Hero bets SI 00, CO calls SI 00 River: (S327) K~8"'3"' 2" (2 players) *Hero has S5 I 9 behind. \Vhat is Hero's action iFthe river is: A.Kt B. Qt C. 9o!> D. 9"

Now, Vill ain's range head ing to the river is {KK88, 33, Ao!>Qo!>, A"'Jo!>, A"'T "'' Ao!>5o!>, A"'4"', Ao!>2o!>, KJs+, Qo!>Jo!>, Qo!>To!>, KQo}. \Ve left out Ao!> Ko!> because Villai n will usually re-raise preflop with AK. Now, let's figure out what our river action should be.

A. If the river is a Kt , the question is should we check or should we bet. lf we check, is ii a check-fo ld or check-call? Since Villai n has a lot of busted draws in his range and may value-bet worse, we shtmld check instead of betting. Agai nst the above range on a river Kt , we have 65% equity. Thus, if we know Villai n bets his entire ri ver range, we should check-call. However, Villain is rarely betting his ent ire river range - 35 -

so we are goi ng to modi fy it a little bit. Let's assume that he' ll check back with 99, TT, J.J, and A+2+ because they have showdown value and w ith the exception of JJ, not a lot of worse hands are calli ng a river bet. This is because a pa ired river card usuall y discourages people thlm bluffing with a missed draw. That means we should check- fo ld more often w ith our bluff-catcher hands. Against V illain's modified range, AA has 43% so we should call again. Now, let's make V i Ila in a reall y tight regu lar. He's fo lding any non-nut flush draws on the turn. He's not bett ing with anything worse than Kx for value on the river, either. Is the river still a cal.I ? No. Our equ ity is 22.7% against a range of /KK-88, 33, A+ Q+ , A+ J+ , A+ T +, A+5+ , A+ 4+, KJs+, KQo, AA). Since we usuall y get 2.5-to- I on a river pot bet, it's a check-fold . If we th ink V il lain is ca lli ng our pre-t:b p range w ith 6+5+ and 5+ 4+ and w ill bluff the river if he misses, it's still a fo ld because AA only has 29% equity on the river. Note that when the K + pair s the board, V illain is less likely to bluff when checked to; fewer combinations give him made hands (particularly trips) to value bet, so he's more likely to be call ed_ This is where you enter the level war but as a default, the river is a check-fo ld.

B. I f the river is a Q+, should we bet or check? lfwe bet, we get Kx or better to call and everyth ing else to fold. However, by check ing, the same Kx or better hands w ill value-bet. \Ve w ill lose to two pairs or better but we can still gain a bet from KJs, and we can pick off some m issed fl ush draws or a random bluff. AA has 58% equ ity against a river range of {KK-88, 33, A+Q+, A+J+, A+T + , A+ 5+, A+4+,

A+ 2+, KJs+, Q+ J+, Q+T + , KQo } on a river Q+. Since the river doesn't pair the boarci, Villain's bluffing frequency wi ll increase. Afier all , he' ll rarely w in w ith ace-high . Vi lla in may also value-bet w ith worse hands such as KJs and KTs. Thus, it's a check-call.

C. If the river is a 9+, shou Id we bet or check? Since we don't have the A+, we should check. Not having the A~ increases our opponent's number of nush draws by at least 50%, wh ich means that more hands will beat us. Thus, after checking, if V illain bet.~ two th irds pot on the river, it's a fo ld. lfwe have the A+ and the river is a ~ lub, we can safely bet-fo ld the r iver. Our having the A+ removes a lot of flush draws from our opponen~s range, and he's going to have some Kx in his - 36 -

range that have a high chance of calling a r iver bet. lf we check, do we check- fo ld or check-call? AA has 58% equity against a river range of {KK-88, 33, A+ Q+, A+ J+, A+ T+ , A+ 5+, A ~+, A+ 2+, KJs+, Q+ J+, Q+T + , KQo\ , so it's a river call even though it looks like we should check-fo ld. The main reason we are calling the r iver is the high probabil ity that Villain is valuebeiting KQ. lf we know that Villain is tight and doesn't call a pre-flop ra ise w ith KQo or doesn't value-bet th in on the rive r, it's a check- fo ld. [fhe value-bets th in, then it's a call. D. If the river is a 9Y, check-call , bet- fo ld, a nd check-raise are all viab le opti ons. \Ve check-call if our op ponent is aggressive and somet imes bluff at the r iver. Additionall y, he can value-bet w ith worse. \Ve can bet-fo ld to extract value from calli ng stations but generall y don't value-bet thin or have a curious mind. \Ve are rarely getting bluff-raised in ih is spot because our line is reall y strong. Additionall y, since there's a flush draw on the flop, if Vill ain thinks we are bluffing, he's go ing to call way more o ~en than turn ing a pair into a bluff. \Ve can check-raise all-in on the r iver to get a few hero calls from KQ or KJs that value-bet the river and feel they don't want to fold the top o f their range. Check-raising also w idens our check-raise river range and a llows us to get more. credit when we check-raise the r iver as a bluff.

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A. I f 1hP. river is 1hP. A+ , chP.r.k- fO ld ing is Exttmple II .3 : S3/ $6 6 lv!ax the best option. Ln addi tion to the 99 and 7x SB: S480 hands that Vill ain may hold, nut-tlush Hero (BB) : $748 draws also beat us . UT G : S500 ~IP : $776 Moreover, since our hand looks like a CO: S l 40 busted draw, it's un likely that V illain is BTN: S228 turning 9x, TT and small pocket pairs into bluffs. Pre.flop: Hero on BB w ith J• J+

Vi II ain doesn't have that many draws at the river si nce the board pairs the tum. Th is lowers T8 and non-nut-tlusb draws' imp lied odds. Those hand might also be draw ing dead. Thus, on the r iver, it's a check-fo ld . B. If the river is a 2+, it's a shove. Villai n's range for calling a river bet is w ide here since there are so many draws that miss. It's not unusual to see Vi ll ain show up w ith 9x or Tl -QQ at the river.

I f old, M P raises to S18, 3folds, Hero calls $ 12 flop: (S39) 9+7~ 3~ (2 players} Hero checks, NlP calls S35, Hero check-raises to S I 15, M P calls S80 Turn: (S269) 9+ 7~3~7• (2 players) Hero bets S 188, MP cal Is S 188

River : (S645) 9+7~3~ 7• X (2 players) •H ero has 5427 behind. \.Vha! is Hero's action if the ri ver is:

C. If the river is a T+ , it's a check- fo ld.

A .A+

You no no Ionger beat TT. Moreover, hands such as 9x or 88 are less likely to call your ri ver bet because T+ comp letes some straight draws. You might also have

B. 2+ C. T+ D. Q~




Vill ain rarely has a pair ofiens on the r iver at\er the tlop action since having a ten in his hand means that he w ill have a combo straight and flush draw. Such a hand will likely 3-bet the flop and try to get all the money in on the flop.

D. If the river is a Q~, it's a close spot. It's a check-fo ld against most players. Against a few good regulars, it's a check-call. The reason is once you check the r iver, you rarely have Qx beat, un less you have AA and KK. If your opponent is capab le of recognizing th is, he should tum any pair worse than Qx into b luff.~. \Vhil e it is true when you check the river, you most likely have a busted straight draw or a - 38 -

random bluff, V illain should sti II bluff w ith 9x in the occasion you have A 9s and K9s, TT, and JJ and w ill fold to a r iver bet a lot. It's ra re for you to call on th is r iver if you check on a Q~ . Important Note: A majority o f players below 600nl, if not all, won't be turn ing 9x into bluff. UTG raises to 518, 2folds, Hero re-raises to S63, 2folds, UTG calls S45 Flop: (S 135) .1~8~3• (2 players) BB checks, Hero ?

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P roblem 6: S3/S6 6-M ax SB: S539 BB: S632 UTG: $937 tv!P: S239 00: S387 Hero (BT N) : $7 10 Pre-flop: Hero on BTN w ith T~9~ LffG raises to S 18, 2folds, Hero re-ra ises to S63, 2folds, UTG calls S45

Answer 6: Th is situat ion occurs frequent!y and many smal I- and m idstakes players misp lay it. On the surface, it is easy to see we have an open-ended straight t!Iaw in a 3-bet pol. Assunung IOOBB stacks, it is never too bad to bet and get it all- in if we're check-raised. \Ve always have some equity in the pot and are rarely draw ing slim. B ut it's usuall y better to check back the flop in th is situati on or any t ime we have the same amount of outs against a pol arized range.

flop : (S l 35) J~8~3• (2 players) BB checks, Hero ?

Players tend not to check back th is !lop in th is situation; they feel the need to bet to continue representing strength. A fier al I, that's what one does w ith strong hanJs such as AA-QQ, AJ, J8, and .tU. Thus, when check ing back th is !lop, players are afraid that their range is face-up and opponents are going to take the pot away from them by betting the tum. But th is is not the case. You can w in the pot w ith a delayed tum bluff ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

\Vhen we bet the flop, we want a fo ld since ten-high isn't going to win at showdown. The hands that are going to fo ld are ace-high, suited connectors, and some random sma ll pocket pairs. Against these hands, they are going to check-fo ld the tum a good amount of the time anyway. If not, they w i LI fold to a bet on a tum queen, king or ace since those cards hit the major ity of our flop check-back range. On a tum 9 or T, we can call a turn bet and evaluate the river. \Ve are calli ng a bet on a rag turn such as 2, 4 or 5. Vill ain w ill bluff sometimes ; S39, Hero calls S39

Turn: (S l23) J~5•3+2+ (2 players) tvfP bets S96, Hero calls $96 River: (5315) J~5•3+2+A • (2 players) MP bets S248, Hero ''

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Answer 7 : If there is ever a spot to b lu ff-raise the river, th is is it.

P robl em 7: S3/S6 6-M ax SB: S648 88: SI 149 UTG: S740 ~IP :

A r a ise on the r iver is legitimate for a straight since that's how you wou ld p lay w ith 54 a nd 44. Sometimes, this line works w ith 64 and A4 as well.


Hero (CO): S972 BTN : S582

The great th ing about th is spot is that the A• increases Villain's b lu ffin,g frequency because he's trying to move you off JX. It a lso incTeases his va lue-betti ng range s ince he m ig ht have A J, A5, A3, and A2. He can also hav e AA .

Pre-flop: Hero on CO w ith 6"'°5"'° i\ i!P rai ses to S l 8, Hero calls $ 18, 4/ olds

Flop: ($45) J~5•3+ (2 players) l\!ff' b ets S39, Hero calls S39 T urn : (S l 23) J~5•3"'°2"'° (2 p layers) MP b ets S96, H~ro calls S96 River: (S3 15) J~5•3"'°2"'°A • (2 p layers) M1' b ets S248, Hero ? '--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~__,

A lthough those hands are strong, they are on ly b lu ff-catchers in th is spot since you are rarely sho ving w ith worse for va lue. Thus, if you hav e a so I id image, you c a n o ften get away with this.

If you' re known as a great aggTessive p layer, then yo u won't likel y get peop le to fo ld A5 or betier, since those hands are at the top of your opponent's range by the river. Lastly, make s ure the stack s]ze.s are correct when sh oving the r iver. You d on't want ttl o ffer your o pponent 4-to- I odds and sigh in di sbe lief w hen he calls you off w ith a marg inal ho lding .

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Problem 8: S3/S6 6-Max SB: S522 BB: S600 UTG: 5605 MP: S73 l 00: S687 Hero (BT:"llen aces and kings than AK, a fo ld is belier.

MP: $745 CO : S694 Hero (BTN) : S642 Pre·flop: Hero on BTN with Q+Q• UTG raises to S18, ~1P calls $18, I fold, Hero re-raises to $72, 3/olds, ~pre-raises to SJ64, Hero?

Of course, in the heat of the moment, it's difficult to fold but after careful consideration, you will see it's a trivial fold. Here is some simple math on why we should folding. The total pot is S l31 I if we gel it in. Since we have 40% eq uiiy, we w ill w in S524.4 lm average. Th is is bad because we are risk ing S570 10 win S524.4. Add itionall y, when a so lid regu lar does something weird pre- Oop, he's more likely 10 have AA than

'--~~~~~~~~~~~~~__J AK.

- I 00 -

Problem 28: S31S6 6-Max SB: S472 BB: S744 Hero (UTG): S928 MP: S622 CO: S804 RTN :


Pre-flop: Hero on UTG with A.,A~ Hero raises to 524, 2/olds, BTN ca:Js S24, 2 folds Flop: (S57) 9., 7• 7~ (2 players) Hero bets 545, BTN raises io S 138, Hero calls $93 Turn: (S333) 9., 7 + 7~3., (2 players) Hero checks, BTN bets S 195, Hero calls S 195 River: ($723)

9•7 • 7~3•Q~

(2 ploycrs)

Hero checks, BTN beis all -i n, Hero ?

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Problem 28 : S3/S6 6-Max SB: S472 BB: S744 Bero (UTG): S928 ~MP: $622 CO: S804

BTN: S739 Pre-flop: Hero on UTG w ith A"A~ Hero raises to S24, 2/olds, BTN calls S24, 2

f olds flop: (SS7) 9" 7• 7"1- (2 p layers) Hero bets S45, BTN raises to S 138, Hero calls S93 T urn : (S333) 9" 7+7"1-3" (2 p layers) Hero checks, BTN bets S195, Hero ca lls S195 River: ($723) 9"7• 7"1-3•Q~ (2 p layers) Herr>r.her.k
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