$1/$3 - Shrug call or spew with AK-high?

Senzrock

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(convo seems to have slowed, so gonna wrap this one up).

River action:

Hero calls.

River thoughts:
A small weird thing: villain doesn’t verbally announce his bet this time as he has on the previous streets. He doesn’t even really seem to calculate the pot size, he just kind of quickly and a little shakily (though we all know shaky hands can cut both ways) pushes a $100 stack towards the middle. Kind of a spring-loaded bet, where the others had been a little more controlled. That’s a deviation, and I flag it, before trying to think through the hand.

River is good and bad? Cuts TT down to one combo, eliminates AdTd and KdTd from range, though as I’m thinking through the spot on the river I wonder if there’s some ATo or other Tx that I was discounting wrongly. As far as eliminating sets goes, we’d obviously rather see a 6 or a 4, since some of villain’s Tx that took this line and likely intended to check-back the river now upgrades to trips. QQ and JJ seem like mandatory checkbacks, and underpairs, middle pairs, and whatever-weird-two-pairs-could-show-up-here have an interesting decision w/r/t checking back with showdown value or turning themselves into bluffs to target overpairs.

Is villain the kind of guy that bets $100 because it seems like a big amount of money without thinking about things like pot size? (I think @Senzrock makes a good implied point on that issue: villain could be thinking about the money in terms of money rather than in terms of big blinds and/or pot size. I.e. villain thinks of the $25 open as $25 rather than effectively 4 big blinds since there’s a straddle on.) Shouldn’t his whole range be going at least a little bigger? Is he repping a rivered trips and trying to get called by an overpair? Is he astute enough to turn some pairs or counterfeited two pairs into bluffs here to fold out overpairs, rather than just frustratedly check back (with the winning hand, but still)? Are there other bluffing with the best hand combos or hands where villain has no idea whether he’s bluffing or value betting (like a random 99 or something)? Without much hand history, the wife’s comment about him “being the poker player in the family” is giving me conflicting information—he should be capable of bluffing given that info, but also smarter about sizing, right?

I take about 15-20 seconds and call, given the price and the way villain conducts himself on the river. The deviation from verbal betting, the shaky motions, and the just pushing a $100 stack into the middle without seeming to think about the pot size were live tells tipped me towards calling. That’s probably giving myself too much credit and extrapolating too much from live reads (and there’s the obvious caveat that I still lose to any pair that’s bluffing). Obviously, plenty of the time I’m going to be shown a rivered quads (half-expecting TT that was just betting small the whole way because it was terrified that I would fold lol), 66 or 44 for a rivered boat, or Tx that can confidently value bet this river.

I honestly think this is a pretty trivial call in theory with the ~40% pot price, our showdown value, and there being enough theoretical unpaired bluffs in his betting range to give us the right price. But I think we’ll lose more often than the theory would suggest, particularly because most people (myself included) just don’t triple barrel as much as we should, and, as @grebe and others note, we lose to any pair turning itself into a bluff.

Results:

Villain shows 8c7c (pair of TT, 8-kicker).
Hero shows AcKh (pair of TT, A-kicker).
Hero wins $435 pot.

Post-hand thoughts:

Villain flopped a double gutter, turned a combo draw, missed, and knew he needed to bluff to win. We scoop (yay), but this is the kind of spot where I can easily conflate “winning the pot” with “playing it well.” Many of the comments in this thread are nailing the distinction between the two and helping me realize the various spots where I likely went wrong in this hand. In particular, it can be tough for me to toggle out of “here’s what I think the theoretical play is here” (which I’m probably wrong as to what the correct answer is there, anyway) or give villains hands that might be “in range” but they seldom have at $1/$3. And I’m prone to trying to rely on live tells to confirm those suspicions. The “live tell” was maybe right here, but that could’ve just been a quirky one-off thing that confirmed bad habits for me moving forward.

His exact combo makes me curious if his only river bluffs are specifically open-enders and double gutters that turned BDFDs. If so, he’s reduced to two surefire bluffing combos instead of eight. (Not to mention the reasonable doubt in this thread from some people that villain even has 75 suited). In that world, a smaller bet size also makes sense because he has almost zero bluffs, though I think this bet size is still too small. Villains in this game aren’t used to getting looked up with A-high on a relatively dry runout (with good reason), so I think villain would think his $100 bet would fold out those hands.

Going back in the hand: I thought a flop check or 1/3 bet was standard here on this sort of board, but there’s clearly disagreement on that point so I likely need to re-evaluate. The flop x/r is such a good price, but I wonder if on this board I should only be calling (and small frequency 3betting) flop with my suited AK that have BDFDs and other suited broadways that can turn combo draws. Even if villain has enough air to make this flop call profitable, it might be a good time to just exploit fold and wait for a better spot, as others suggested.

Even if this hand/spot itself isn’t very interesting or has a clear answer that I disregarded, I’m trying to navigate bluffcatching in these games where people might not really have super defined ranges or be thinking through pot odds and bet sizing. In that vein, I’m also thinking through what a complete calling range would be here. Giving villain XX and keeping the same linework, I’ve got 24 combos of overpairs, some amount of Tx (in this formation, likely only suited tens, so two combos each of AT – T9). Definitely river x/r TT, 66, and 44 for value (getting shown the bad news here when I have 44). Maybe x/r AT suited for thin value, though I can easily be punished for going too thin. So, are we just calling overpairs and Tx? Or for this price do we need to bring a few more hands into our calling range? 99 – 77 and 55 are obviously stronger, but I don’t like that they block villain’s bluffs. And there’s the permanent problem that people at low stakes just don’t bluff enough, meaning some hands that could theoretically be added in should probably just need to see themselves back out again.

***Thank y’all so much for the feedback. Lots to work on!
Interesting hand for sure. I don't love the call on the river because it feels pretty value heavy for this small amount, same reason I don't love a turn call. I think I still stand by my initial analysis that (1) Flop is always a call, (2) Turn is a great spot for a check-raise, but otherwise probably give up. River he does give you a good price, which would make me more suspicious, but your hand reading is very strong here, ruling out several of the hands that villain should be checking back (various pairs of his - really anything but Tx + sets that have made a boat). Well done.
 

AR_poker

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Interesting hand for sure. I don't love the call on the river because it feels pretty value heavy for this small amount, same reason I don't love a turn call. I think I still stand by my initial analysis that (1) Flop is always a call, (2) Turn is a great spot for a check-raise, but otherwise probably give up. River he does give you a good price, which would make me more suspicious, but your hand reading is very strong here, ruling out several of the hands that villain should be checking back (various pairs of his - really anything but Tx + sets that have made a boat). Well done.
Eh, again, I'm not sure that this is good hand reading or that I'm a spew that got lucky catching villain at the bottom. But I'm not one to turn down kind words!
 

AR_poker

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Might be fine with a couple AK combos but pretty spewy with any that have Ac
I went back and forth on that on the river. It sucks to block Ac5c and any other unpaired AcXc bluffs that take this line (and, separately, it's nice to block KhTh). But it's nice to block AcTc and, for my specific hand, Ac4c--two holdings that could definitely land on this river, depending on villain. But you absolutely could be right that there are more than two AcXc bluffs, making this a negative instead of a wash.
 

JustinInMN

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Sorry I missed out on this one. But here were my thoughts as I read.

preflop, pretty standard, and I like doing a 4x sizing on the against a straddle pre.
Flop, I think the bet is automatic unless you are going to make a conscious effort to check stronger hands here like AA or TT. Otherwise checking makes you too easy to read. I would just be betting 100% of my range in this spot. Does suck to get raised, but it is a really tiny raise relative to the pot. I think I would flat even better hands like KK or QQ here, I have no problem with an AK peel here.

The turn he doesn't escalating the betting but with one card to come calling again is a tough sell. Now we are firmly in bluff catching mode if we continue and we have to resolve to call the river as well unless we suspect our calling the turn would get villain to abandon any bluffs. Then we can actually play perfectly on the river.

So if I am ever going to fold this hand it's here on the turn. And I probably would unless I had a pretty decent read villain is out of line often enough to bluff catch. Could be interesting to raise the turn here to put pressure on the pocket pairs under 10. I really didn't suspect many straight draws cold calling the raise pre but...

I see the result on the River, nice hand. Glad you made a plan on the turn and stuck it out.

I would not have faulted a fold on the turn either. Villain told a pretty good story he was on a T, and clearly could have had many tens given his actual holding. Also valuable to find out a player doesn't have to have strong hands to call raises preflop. Definitely a good note to take on a player.
 
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grebe

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"You have a shitty bluff catcher. Even cant catch all the bluffs (like 55). You only have to be good here 25%, but I don't think you are. You either jam as a complete bluff....which needs to work 1/2 the time, or you fold.

Villain is my hero. He played this hand better than you....even if you call and get lucky.

To answer your question: Spewy AF."




Then again, I suck. I am 1 and 2 for the week.

It's nice you picked up on that tell, but like I said, you can't even beat all his bluffs here. Long term, this play will cost you piles.
 

AR_poker

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Sorry I missed out on this one. But here were my thoughts as I read.

preflop, pretty standard, and I like doing a 4x sizing on the against a straddle pre.
Flop, I think the bet is automatic unless you are going to make a conscious effort to check stronger hands here like AA or TT. Otherwise checking makes you too easy to read. I would just be betting 100% of my range in this spot. Does suck to get raised, but it is a really tiny raise relative to the pot. I think I would flat even better hands like KK or QQ here, I have no problem with an AK peel here.

The turn he doesn't escalating the betting but with one card to come calling again is a tough sell. Now we are firmly in bluff catching mode if we continue and we have to resolve to call the river as well unless we suspect our calling the turn would get villain to abandon any bluffs. Then we can actually play perfectly on the river.

So if I am ever going to fold this hand it's here on the turn. And I probably would unless I had a pretty decent read villain is out of line often enough to bluff catch. Could be interesting to raise the turn here to put pressure on the pocket pairs under 10. I really didn't suspect many straight draws cold calling the raise pre but...

I see the result on the River, nice hand. Glad you made a plan on the turn and stuck it out.

I would not have faulted a fold on the turn either. Villain told a pretty good story he was on a T, and clearly could have had many tens given his actual holding. Also valuable to find out a player doesn't have to have strong hands to call raises preflop. Definitely a good note to take on a player.
All super good points. I agree with you--we're squarely in bluff-catcher land. I don't think this hand really has any merit as a check-shove on the turn, and I don't think my range wants to x/r to any other size given SPR and really awkward river spots. And I think you're right that, even with this price, folding the turn just isn't a bad play. I had zero history with this opponent, and no sense of whether he was capable of double or triple barreling with bluffs. I'm likely check-shoving AcJc+ and my flopped sets; overpairs and Tx can call (probably even JcTc+ at some frequency, to keep some strong flush draws in my range). This hand might just need to drop out.

Also, re: planning the hand after calling the turn: my plan was to fold to a bet on a river 9, 8, 5, or 3 (all cards that could complete the straight draws we identified), evaluate but lean fold on a rivered club, evaluate but lean call on a rivered Q or J, and evaluate but sigh-call on a rivered A or K (those cards smash my range, and I'd be concerned that villain only bets sets and checks back/gives up everything else if he put me on AK, if villain is thinking about ranges at all; I'd need to think a little more).
 

grebe

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@AR_poker it's obvious you are a thinking player, and it's good that you have justifications for your play.

Thanks for posting it up! There are a few really good players in here with slightly different ways to talk thru hands, so it's nice to have another voice... Even if you have a strong bias against old bald white guys.

I hope I didn't come off too harsh, I try to keep my posts witty.
 

Stufflymcstuff

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I don't think KT will be in range, so thinking ATs (less likely because we block it with our own AK and some tighter players don't call $25 pre with AT) + all the pairs, with the occasional set mixed in.
You think KTs is folding but 75 is calling pre?

I doubt this hand is posted if you call and are wrong which I think most would agree you will be large majority of the time.

It’s also crazy to say that this is a standard call in theory. Basically 100% of your range is beating his bluffs and you just aren’t getting there with much worse than ace high, and it’s debatable whether this should even be getting to the river.

your optimal defence should be about 70% of your range. What do you think your range is? Are you really getting here with worse ace highs? Are you reliably opening 87 from early position? It’s not as clear cut of a fold as somethjbg like 77 in theory and you will have a tiny number of busted club draws like QJcc that floated the flop light but it’s strictly worse than overpairs, And you will have a decent number of tx hands.
 

Senzrock

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You think KTs is folding but 75 is calling pre?

I doubt this hand is posted if you call and are wrong which I think most would agree you will be large majority of the time.

It’s also crazy to say that this is a standard call in theory. Basically 100% of your range is beating his bluffs and you just aren’t getting there with much worse than ace high, and it’s debatable whether this should even be getting to the river.

your optimal defence should be about 70% of your range. What do you think your range is? Are you really getting here with worse ace highs? Are you reliably opening 87 from early position? It’s not as clear cut of a fold as somethjbg like 77 in theory and you will have a tiny number of busted club draws like QJcc that floated the flop light but it’s strictly worse than overpairs, And you will have a decent number of tx hands.
You may have misread what I wrote. I actually was saying that none of those hands were in range (not KT, not most of his gut shots etc) - although, obviously in retrospect, they were! Proving once again, if we haven’t learned our lesson yet, that when we are sitting with a new player, we simply can’t make too many assumptions about their ranges until we have seen a few hands.
 

ninedeuce

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Overall, you took an, um exploitative line here

The more interesting parts of this hand for me are the live reads/aspects.

  • "He's the real poker player in the family"

Most folks who play a lot of live poker, absent some kind of catastrophic losses, think they're good at it. This is mostly because it's easy to not keep records of your play/wins/losses, selective memory, etc. Statistically, very few players are winners esp when factoring in rake.

So although villain might not be bad (and is up at least $100 when he switched tables), his wife's statement tells us more about how he perceives his poker skill than his actual skill.

  • Villain verbalizes his bets on flop and turn (when he's strong) and bets silently when he's weak

This might be the most well-known verbal tell, so much so that I'd be suspicious of it being a reverse tell. But apparently villain's not aware he does this. For this alone, I'd try and play as much as possible with villain!
 

Stufflymcstuff

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he isn't strong on the flop or turn though. a double gutter isn't something people give speeches over.
and if we're going to put any weight on the 'talking when strong' read then it just makes the flop and turn decisions even easier folds, doesn't it?
 

AR_poker

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@AR_poker it's obvious you are a thinking player, and it's good that you have justifications for your play.

Thanks for posting it up! There are a few really good players in here with slightly different ways to talk thru hands, so it's nice to have another voice... Even if you have a strong bias against old bald white guys.

I hope I didn't come off too harsh, I try to keep my posts witty.
I liked your feedback!

I think your general takeaway was mine: this is a fold in reality more than it is in theory, and I probably got lucky catching villain at the bottom of his range here. The wit was appreciated. And as for rooting for villain, hero is dumb and gave villain plenty of later chances to take advantage of that dumbness.
 

AR_poker

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You think KTs is folding but 75 is calling pre?

I doubt this hand is posted if you call and are wrong which I think most would agree you will be large majority of the time.

It’s also crazy to say that this is a standard call in theory. Basically 100% of your range is beating his bluffs and you just aren’t getting there with much worse than ace high, and it’s debatable whether this should even be getting to the river.

your optimal defence should be about 70% of your range. What do you think your range is? Are you really getting here with worse ace highs? Are you reliably opening 87 from early position? It’s not as clear cut of a fold as somethjbg like 77 in theory and you will have a tiny number of busted club draws like QJcc that floated the flop light but it’s strictly worse than overpairs, And you will have a decent number of tx hands.
I'm relatively new to the more concrete theoretical aspects of poker, so I could easily be wrong on this! I noted that in one of my comments—I'm trying to be theoretically sound, but I'm also likely wrong a lot of the time as to what that means in practice since there's a lot of things I misunderstand or misapply. My general approach on that front to this hand was that, in theory, we have a lot of calls when villain bets very small across all streets.

I kind of disagreed with some of the other commenters as far as what villain's range looks like through this line (i.e. I don't think he should be x/r-ing flop with hands like 55 or 77-99, etc., and definitely not continuing to bet once called, and definitely not firing a third barrel, though some villains do those sorts of things!). If I was villain, I think the hands I could take this line with (obviously with different bet-sizing throughout) would be 44, 66, TT (I'm 3betting it pre some), AT suited (I'm 3betting it pre some), 87 suited (I'm 3betting it pre some), 75 suited, 5c4c, Ac4c (we block, and I'm also 3betting that pre some), and 64 suited sometimes as a bluff given its set-blocking power. So my at-the-table-math was something like 12 combos that beat me (even though some of those are bluffing) and 8 unpaired bluffs. Even assuming that range excluded hands that I overlooked including (e.g. villain probably has some additional Tx here, ranging from JTo up to KT suited, depending on construction, or maybe villain flatted KK pre to be tricky and feels that he deserves to win the pot), we can add ~24 more combos and still have the right price to call, since 8/36 = 22.22%, and that's assuming no irrational unpaired bluffs.

I think as far as my range is concerned, I absolutely arrive at this river with almost all better hands. You're super right: this is likely the stone bottom of range. Most of my other broadway flop floats to a tiny x/r (things like QJ with a BDFD, etc.) are folding turn unless they pick up equity. But if villain's range is constructed such that my stone bottom still has the right price (admittedly, probably an unearned assumption on my part), idk what to do. I think @Stufflymcstuff really gets to the root of what I struggled with in this hand. If villain bets $3 on this river, we obviously flick it in even though we don't win a lot of the time. If villain bets pot, we fold. But there's some unidentified point between one big blind and a pot-sized bet where even a generally-losing play is fine as a call given the price. Pot odds is one model to solve that, but it's not the end-all be-all, especially with real people at play instead of computers. I'm trying to find that unidentified point in my games, and I'm struggling with it a lot! If I'm going to use being "priced in" as a justification, I probably need to be more disciplined about folding flop with these kind of combos so I don't let myself just get sucked along with weak bluffcatchers like this one.

I was lucky/right in this one spot, but I'm trying to be careful and not mistake "winning the pot" for "making the right play" across all streets. And everyone's feedback has been great on helping me learn!
 

AR_poker

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he isn't strong on the flop or turn though. a double gutter isn't something people give speeches over.
and if we're going to put any weight on the 'talking when strong' read then it just makes the flop and turn decisions even easier folds, doesn't it?
Sorry, I might not have been clear in my initial posts. Villain didn't make any speeches throughout the hand. On the flop he announced "raise to $45," and on the turn he announced, "$45" when he bet. On the river, he just moved chips in.
 

Stufflymcstuff

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So my at-the-table-math was something like 12 combos that beat me (even though some of those are bluffing) and 8 unpaired bluffs. Even assuming that range excluded hands that I overlooked including (e.g. villain probably has some additional Tx here, ranging from JTo up to KT suited, depending on construction, or maybe villain flatted KK pre to be tricky and feels that he deserves to win the pot), we can add ~24 more combos and still have the right price to call, since 8/36 = 22.22%, and that's assuming no irrational unpaired bluffs.

you're finding a lot of reasons to discount a lot of hands that beat you - you have to apply that same scrutiny to them even getting there with 75s pre. i know nothing about this guy or how the game plays but a substantial percent of players will fold it every time, and many will fold 98s. and the ones who call with both are likely to get there pre with all the Tx offsuit broadways, and probably some offsuit non-broadway Txs. so it's not really clear whether it's better for you that the guy is loose or tight.

I think as far as my range is concerned, I absolutely arrive at this river with almost all better hands. You're super right: this is likely the stone bottom of range. Most of my other broadway flop floats to a tiny x/r (things like QJ with a BDFD, etc.) are folding turn unless they pick up equity. But if villain's range is constructed such that my stone bottom still has the right price (admittedly, probably an unearned assumption on my part), idk what to do.

there is a size where nothing is priced out but 1/3rd pot on a dry board isn't it.
a sizing that small should be called a lot more frequently but the corollary of that is that they should be very rarely bluffing.


AK might still be a continue on the turn but if it does it should be one of the worst hands you should call with. not because there's a material difference between AK and AQ but because the slightly worse ace highs should be played as checks, and the lower unpaired broadway hands should mostly be bet/folds (aside from the ones with multiple bd draws).

so then you get to the river with a range that is AK, some bd club draws that missed, a bunch of overpairs, some mid pairs like 88/77 and a bunch of Tx.
AK is 16 combos, bd flush draws that missed are maybe 4, there are 24 overpair combos, probably 20ish Tx combos, and 18 99/88/77 combos.

your optical defense frequency against a 40% pot bet is to call with a bit less than 30% of your range. where does AK fall into that equation? it's better than 77 or 88 against moderately competent players but not much else. the solver based response in that case would be to fold 88/77 and most of your AK combos.


i'm not disagreeing with your reads btw. i'm just putting down the theory for the sake of theory.

your reads shift things a bit but i think peoples general inclination to bluff has to count for something too and this is not a spot i see people bluffing often. which is why i'd just fold the turn. the river is a lot closer, in part because of the timing tell, in part because of it offers information for at worst a small price (because obviously he's bluffing some of the time).
 
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ninedeuce

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he isn't strong on the flop or turn though. a double gutter isn't something people give speeches over.
and if we're going to put any weight on the 'talking when strong' read then it just makes the flop and turn decisions even easier folds, doesn't it?
Maybe not you, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with a double gutter as a flop betting candidate in position, and even better when I pick up a flush draw on the turn vs an opponent who's checked twice on a low board.

If I were villain I would've bet the turn pretty big, though, possibly even an overbet. I've picked up a bunch of equity, but I have no showdown value and my opponent is showing tepid interest in the pot, he just needs a little convincing. I've heard a saying that big bets encourage opponents to do what they were going to do anyway, and small bets cause opponents to change their mind. Seems like a contributing factor to hero sticking around was the price he was getting.

The challenge with river bluffs is that you have no more betting leverage. When you bluff the turn, your opponent understands you may be firing a larger barrel on the river and he won't get to realize his equity, so it's a tougher call. On the river, your opponent needs to just call this bet and that's it.
 

AR_poker

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you're finding a lot of reasons to discount a lot of hands that beat you - you have to apply that same scrutiny to them even getting there with 75s pre. i know nothing about this guy or how the game plays but a substantial percent of players will fold it every time, and many will fold 98s. and the ones who call with both are likely to get there pre with all the Tx offsuit broadways, and probably some offsuit non-broadway Txs. so it's not really clear whether it's better for you that the guy is loose or tight.



there is a size where nothing is priced out but 1/3rd pot on a dry board isn't it.
a sizing that small should be called a lot more frequently but the corollary of that is that they should be very rarely bluffing.


AK might still be a continue on the turn but if it does it should be one of the worst hands you should call with. not because there's a material difference between AK and AQ but because the slightly worse ace highs should be played as checks, and the lower unpaired broadway hands should mostly be bet/folds (aside from the ones with multiple bd draws).

so then you get to the river with a range that is AK, some bd club draws that missed, a bunch of overpairs, some mid pairs like 88/77 and a bunch of Tx.
AK is 16 combos, bd flush draws that missed are maybe 4, there are 24 overpair combos, probably 20ish Tx combos, and 18 99/88/77 combos.

your optical defense frequency against a 40% pot bet is to call with a bit less than 30% of your range. where does AK fall into that equation? it's better than 77 or 88 against moderately competent players but not much else. the solver based response in that case would be to fold 88/77 and most of your AK combos.


i'm not disagreeing with your reads btw. i'm just putting down the theory for the sake of theory.

your reads shift things a bit but i think peoples general inclination to bluff has to count for something too and this is not a spot i see people bluffing often. which is why i'd just fold the turn. the river is a lot closer, in part because of the timing tell, in part because of it offers information for at worst a small price (because obviously he's bluffing some of the time).
That’s all very helpful—thank you!
 

BGinGA

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Although referenced as such multiple times throughout the thread, Villain's raise on the flop was not a x/r. Hero bet, Villain raised, no checks to be found. Unless x/r means something else to the poster.....
 

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Although referenced as such multiple times throughout the thread, Villain's raise on the flop was not a x/r. Hero bet, Villain raised, no checks to be found. Unless x/r means something else to the poster.....
good edit, my b
 
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