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The villain just sat down a few hands prior to this, so neither of us should have had any reads on the other.

$1/2 NL (10 handed)

SB Villain (~$190)

BB Hero (~$300)

Normalish stack sizes for non-relevant players

Hero is dealt A♥K♥

Several limp, SB completes, Hero BB raises to $12, 2 MP limpers plus Villain SB call.

Flop (~$48) Q♥ 3♥ 3♦ Villian checks, Hero bets $25, others fold, Villain raises to $50, Hero calls

Villain is SB, so there is a non-zero chance he has the 3. Probably more likely though that he has the Q or some random pocket pair. My flush is likely to be good if it gets there, and maybe even my overs. The raise is cheap enough that I think calling and seeing another card is best.

Turn (~$148) A♦ (not positive about suit)

Villain bets $25, Hero calls

I was not sure what to make of this undersized bet. Villain might just not understand bet sizing relative to pot at all. I just caught up to KQ, QJ, 88 type hands, but I don't like raising in the off chance he has the 3 (which I can still catch up to with another heart). If he has A3 then I could actually understand the undersized bet though...

River (~$198): apparent brick, 8♣ or something

Villain tries to go all-in, pushing $95 with one hand and about $8 with the other. Dealer calls string bet and makes it just $95. What should I do here?

His line just seems so weird to me that I'm not sure what to make of it. That 3 is a possibility, but I did raise preflop. On the turn he seemed to not understand bet sizing, but then he goes all-in on the river. This is also the 3rd time he's fired at the pot.

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3 Answers

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I'm iffy about your flop bet-size. There are not many hands that you are worse than even-money with on that board. Represent the strength that you have so that your decisions later in the hand are easier. A half pot bet looks like you are just c-betting to c-bet.

Honestly, I prefer either a larger bet to maintain control of the hand, or a similar bet to the one you made, with the intent of 3-bet shoving. You're a coinflip with almost any legit hand in the villain's range (the hands that have you crushed are AA/KK/3x and all are fairly unlikely, both from the perspective of combinatorics and from the perspective of likelihood that a villain gets to the flop with them in this line). You gain value in the dead money when many of the hands you are flipping with fold to a flop 3-bet, and it more than offsets the loss for the times you are beat.

Given the flop as played, I am ok with the call on the turn, so long as you are planning to call any river. Your line screams weakness, and could easily be seen as a missed flush draw or as a weak Q. Given this, he has very little reason to expect you to call a big bet on the river, and could do it with any pair, as well as a lot of air. He could also be hoping against hope that this will get him value, but if that's the case it's good to get the read here and now about how he plays his monster hands.

Ultimately though, your play makes your hand look very weak. Since you have under-represented your hand through the small bet on the flop and just calling the tiny turn, you can't give up on the river without more information on this villain.

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"Represent the strength that you have..." isn't something i'd advocate to anyone in almost any situation. Why bet larger when you'll only isolate yourself vs better hands, when a smaller bet keeps the initiative, reps a broader value range, and collects dead money from villains PP's that he'll fold. As for calling a "big bet", the stacks aren't really right for that to hold true. If they were deeper then maybe. –  Toby Booth Jan 16 '12 at 1:26
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Against good players, I could agree with that. But this is a random $1/$2 live player. That's like an online player at $10nl-$25nl. There is something to be said for defining your opponent's hand range. As played, he could literally have any two cards. –  Jeffrey Blake Jan 16 '12 at 16:27
    
I agree his range is indistinct, being an unknown opponent. That said, to make the assumption he's a low skilled, low limit player (I assume you meant NL25 or $0.10-$0.25?!) is impossible to substantiate. From my experience taking the thought process and line I suggested is still what I'd consider best given the little information we have. –  Toby Booth Jan 16 '12 at 16:39
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Yes, those are the stakes to which I was referring. A random $1/$2 live game plays roughly equivalent to a $0.10/$0.25 online game. Thus random players from each should be treated the same. Are you arguing that those two games do not play the same? Years of experience running a low stakes online training site lead me to be confident in that statement. –  Jeffrey Blake Jan 16 '12 at 20:40
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I can barely imagine a villain against whom I'd give a second thought to shoving the flop after being raised, really... he would have to be pretty much the nittiest nit ever repping exactly QQ. On these stack sizes, we'd have basically been priced in to call a shove anyway assuming 12 outs (e.g. vs AQ), and trying to flat and look for a card we like just puts us to tough decisions and doesn't really offer implied odds, and means we pay for the cards one at a time. –  Karl Knechtel Jan 29 '12 at 14:08
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My rule is to call most of the time on the river IF I improve.

Yes, if I miss my flush and can be "sure" that my opponent was betting on say, three of a kind, I would fold AK. That might be the case if there were a pair on the board.

But I DID improve to "high pair," in this example. If there is even a small chance than my opponent was betting a low pair that I might now beat, I'd call.

And if there were a pair on the board, my opponent might have been betting "two pair," which I can now beat.

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I'd say you played it fine, and I would fold on the river.

From your estimates, villain has about ~$128 in stack prior to Turn bet, which the pot covers "(~$148)" so he's very close to pot-committed. That of course depends on if he understands this.

I'm thinking that his range consists of AQx, KQx, QJx, QTx, Q9x; A3x, 32s, 43s, 53s. That said, AQx is heavily discounted due to his preflop action, as are 32s, 43s, 53s, and any small number of random bluffs with air.

I haven't seen many players use a small turn bet, shove river line without a big value hand, as opposed to a bluff (catcher or pure), or thin value. His turn bet looks like an inducement and he's following through now. I can't see you being ahead here enough to justify a call, given the pot odds (~3-1). It's about 5-6 combos you lose to, and maybe 1-2 bluffs, so it's close. Players tend to overestimate others' looseness when faced with these decisions. I still fold as it's mostly EV neutral.

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I see the small turn bet not as an inducement but more as an indicator that the player might not understand bet sizing in relation to the pot (especially live where there's no digital indicator of the exact number of chips in the pot). –  Michael McGowan Jan 16 '12 at 15:26
    
If he's not paying attention to the pot size at all streets, then it's almost certain he's not a particularly skillful player :) –  Toby Booth Jan 16 '12 at 15:31
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Under the assumption that this player knows what he's doing, I agree with your line and your thought process. But I disagree with that assumption, given that we're talking about $1/$2 live. As such, I think your range is way too narrow. –  Jeffrey Blake Jan 16 '12 at 16:29
    
Why do you think AQx is discounted? I'm not sure sure villain here would pre flop raise AQx in the small blind. On that same note, I also wouldn't consider A3 off but would consider A3 suited to be within villains range. To me, the line the villain takes is that he hit his queen on the flop, got scared of the ace on the turn so they made a weak bluff, and then probably feels he has made himself pot commited and just ships it at the river with queen high... –  CheckRaise Feb 2 '12 at 19:41
    
@CheckRaise "Why do you think AQx is discounted?" Because of the Pre-Flop action. Also, he's closing the action after OP has raised and everyone involved still calls, so I'd still count all the A3x's due to the IO he's now getting. –  Toby Booth Feb 2 '12 at 19:59
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