Taking a Trip to Valuetown

value-town-pokerThis hand is from the $10,000 buy-in Bellagio cup event that takes place near the end of the WSOP. The field is usually quite soft because many pros are still in the WSOP main event, or so worn out from the series that they skip this tournament. This event is effectively acts a “last chance” high roller tournament. Day 1 did not start off too well for me. After grinding up my 40,000 starting stack to 60,000 by winning lots of small pots, I lost a big hand with A-A versus J-J in a 4-bet pot when my opponent rivered trips. This left me with 30,000.

At 200/400-50, everyone folded around to me on the button and I raised to 1,000 with Kh-Th. A somewhat straightforward player in the big blind reraised to 3,400 out of his 40,000 stack. I did not view his reraise as being abnormally large because most of the player pool is currently reraising to about 3.5 times the initial raise from out of position. I was unsure how loose my opponent’s reraising range was. He could easily be reraising with only premium hands, or he could be reraising an incredibly wide range including all A-x, K-x, and junky suited hands, plus some total bluffs. It is impossible to know without a strong read on my opponent, which I didn’t have. While I could easily be dominated, given I am in position with a 75 big blind stack, I think my Kh-Th is too strong to fold. Reraising has some merit, but I am typically happy to call and see a flop with a hand that flops well enough, which is what I did in this situation.

The flop came Kd-7d-2c, giving me top pair with a marginal kicker. My opponent bet 3,600 into the 7,450 pot. He will probably continuation bet with his entire preflop reraising range on this board. He may elect to check marginal made hands such as K-3 and Q-Q. My top pair is way too strong to fold. Raising with top pair with a marginal kicker is not a good idea because my opponent will usually fold most made hands worse than mine, meaning when he continues, I am either crushed by a better made hand or I am slightly ahead versus a flush draw. So, I called.

The turn was the (Kd-7d-2c)-Ks, improving me to trips. My opponent bet 5,600 into the 14,450 pot. It is difficult to assess an unknown player’s turn continuation bet frequency. He may continue barreling with his entire preflop reraising range, or he may only bet with trips and better made hands. I imagine most players would make this somewhat small bet for value with perhaps T-T and better made hands and also with flush draws. He may also continue bluffing with A-Q, A-J, and A-T, hoping I fold all hands worse than trips. Notice again that raising has no merit because my opponent will probably only call a raise with A-A and better, which is a range I am not in great shape against. This led me to call.

The river was the (Kd-7d-2c-Ks)-Qs. My opponent checked. At this point, I assumed he had slow played trips, a strong pocket pair, Ace high, or a missed flush draw. I lose to most of his trips and I beat the rest of his range. Given the obvious flush draw missed, if I bet, I assumed my opponent would frequently put me on a missed draw. It is difficult to know how wide my opponent’s check-calling range is, but I think if I make a sizable bet, my opponent may hero call me with Ace high. I do not think a small bet of 6,000 makes mush sense in this situation because it looks as if I am trying to get called. Against decent players, you rarely want to bet your strong value hands in a manner that looks as if you are trying to get value. I also don’t think a huge all-in bet makes much sense because it may induce my opponent to shy away from making a hero call. So, I bet 13,000 into the 24,450 pot.

screenshot-quiz1After about one second of thought, my opponent called with A-K, scooping a hefty pot. Notice that I only realistically lose to Q-Q, 7-7, A-K, and K-J by the river. Since I thought my opponent would call my value bet with perhaps A-T and better, my bet should be profitable. Even if he only calls with a Queen and better, there are many more combinations of hands I beat than hands I lose to. All in all, I am happy with my play. It is worth mentioning that if my opponent value bet the river, I would have called, losing roughly the same amount. I like my opponent’s check though, because my marginal made hands like J-J and 8-7 will fold to river bet. His check also lets my busted draws bluff. My opponent played the hand well. It is tough to win when your opponents play well!

If you enjoy this type of analytical content, check out my interactive poker training site, PokerCoaching.com, which features quizzes, homework, and live homework review webinars. Check it out and let me know what you think!