99 facing Aggression in Position Midway Through a 2-Table MTT.

Moxie Mike

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***Full Disclosure: I'm not looking for advice by posting this. I thought it was an interesting situation that doesn't get discussed as often that people might learn from.***

Scenario: Approximately 90 minutes into an online league game (#9 of 16). NLHE. 17 runners, 16 remain. $25 entry fee includes $5 contribution to the end-of-season prize pool. Top 3 get paid.

Relevant stacks: SB: ~8,000
UTG: 18,000
HERO MP2: 18,000

Blinds 150/300 with an ante.

Reads:

SB: Maniacal at times, especially with a chip stack. Enjoys tabling uncalled bluffs. Preflop calling range includes virtually any two cards even marginally worth taking a flop with. Not observed to slowplay monsters. Does not factor position or SPR information into preflop decision making. Loves to gamble it up (in all casino activities including sportsbooks) and frequently drinks to excess while playing cards. Kind of what you might describe as a preflop calling station but less so post-flop and has the capability to make some intelligent folds; i.e. is bluffable. Has unconventional betting tendencies and patterns but has at times shown bet-sizing tells. Likes to mash the '1/2 pot' without consideration of other factors. Usually is either one of the first ones out of the tournament or he wins when he runs good. Is currently tied for the league points lead due to a couple early-season wins but hasn't often qualified for the championship game in past seasons.

UTG: Similar to SB in terms of weird betting patterns but much less maniacal and not as much of an action junkie. Plays a little more straightforward. Not a bad player overall... is currently 4th in the league point standings. Has consistently in past seasons placed in the top 10 in league points standings to qualify for the championship game.

On to the hand:

UTG opens to 900. HERO calls with :9c::9s:. Action folds around the SB who calls. BB folds. Pot=~3,000.

Flop: :4s::6c::kh:. SB min-bets 300.

UTG calls the 300 without hesitation.

HERO's action?

What do we make of the SB's minimum-donk bet into two opponents including the preflop aggressor? What assumptions do we make about UTG's call?


The SB has a history of habitually post flop min-betting into the field from OOP. These are usually probing bets that he uses to gauge the strength of his opponents' holdings. SB has been observed in the past to re-raise when someone raises his min-bet.

SB's range includes everything from bottom/medium set to air. HERO suspects SB has connected with the board with something less than top pair. A-6 or 7-5 for the OESD seem like the most likely holdings.

UTG is never folding here given the price - but the fact that he didn't raise indicates he most likely has an Ace-hi type of hand or perhaps QQ, JJ, TT, etc. There's also a small possibility he has KK for top set and is hoping to keep me in the pot for future punishment.

UTG's flatting range is likely not strong here. SB probably reaches the same conclusion.

While HERO considers a raise in this spot, HERO elects to flat call in the interest of pot control. Pot=~3,900

The turn is the :3d:. SB bets 1/2 pot (1,850). UTG folds.

HERO?

HERO calls. Pot=~7,800.

The turn card doesn't change much. The potential OESD got there but other than that it's as good of a card as one can ask for. HERO believes he has the best hand and is sticking with his read. HERO calls knowing SB could barrel the river with a very polarizing bet.

The SB's betting pattern on the flop and turn suggests he's betting to induce a fold, whatever he puts HERO on (probably a King).

River is the :th:. SB bets 3,300, leaving himself about 2,200 left in his stack.

HERO?

Posting the final spoiler so I can go to bed.

HERO tanks for 2/3rds of his time bank and eventually calls. SB turns over :qh::9d: for a stone cold bluff on all 3 streets.

HERO makes this call based on a lot of history with the SB, along with the price being laid for a river call. SB leaving himself a small amount is a pretty significant tell - he wasn't committed enough to the bluff to risk his entire stack. There are so few made hands this board could provide... so other than the one straight (well I guess two) combo, a few sets and a bunch of ragged 2-pair combos not much is plausible. Getting better than 3:1 immediate odds on a call, HERO figures SB is bluffing here at least 1/3 of the time based on history.

HERO made the call and dragged his pot. This was met with the SB jumping into the table chat for the following exchange:

SB: HOW do you make that call?

HERO: Because you're a dumbass.


Observer(s): LOL LOL

SB: No seriously HOW?

SB: HOW?

SB: HOW?

SB: HOW?

SB: HOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


HERO: LOL

And finally, I awoke this morning to find a text from SB in the group text: "Excellent call with those 99. Well done."

So if he was still thinking about the hand a day later, I figured it might be interesting enough to post here.
 
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dmoney

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SB - medium-strength Kx (i.e K7-KQ) immediately comes to mind. Along with the start of some fancy play 66, 44, 64, k6, k4, plus perhaps 57, 35 and combo draws ie 45 or 65? Middling pairs perhaps possible too, but seem less likely - 77, 88, TT

UTG - Maybe some suited (spade, club, heart) 3-card broadway hands can stick around hoping to steal the pot on later streets with good runouts (AT-AQ, QJ, etc.). TT-AA, AK, KQ, KJ might be some value hands that take this line, with the same middling pairs (77, 88, 99, TT) not likely folding for this price either (I probably wouldn't). I really wouldn't fault UTG to call with almost any connection to this flop or any underpair for this price.

Hero: You and SB are the only players who should have 66 or 44, so this isn't a bad spot to start a bluff and possibly get heads up or win immediately - I'm targeting Kx hands for a fold on later streets with multiple barrels and a clean runout - most broadway cards are bad based on how I've ranged the other opponents, with 2s 3s 7s 8s likely being safer, especially against UTG. At this price, there might be marginal value in calling to close the action hoping to either get to showdown cheaper, hit a miracle 9, and/or hope to realize equity in position and get more information on the next street. I'm not folding.

Action: Raise to 2,000 with the plan to fold to a raise from any player.
 

grebe

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Just getting here, hold on!!!
-min bet and call from SB and MP show little strength. Both feel like "I missed, but maybe I'll get lucky". Neither have shown they have a K, our hand is probably good. Raise to a number that makes sense for the size of the pot and make them commit to see the next card. 1/2 to 2/3 pot sound good. Let's say, Raise 1800.
 

grebe

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The way you played turn told SB you have nothing either. Still don't believe he has a K. You didnt raise the flop, so my guess is you will not here to a decent bet, either. You have position, you should have control of this pot.

I really feel you missed the opportunity on the flop. Are you committed to calling this dude down with a bluff catcher? If not, fold and on to next hand. You have told him to keep betting....he is listening.
 

Moxie Mike

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The way you played turn told SB you have nothing either. Still don't believe he has a K. You didnt raise the flop, so my guess is you will not here to a decent bet, either. You have position, you should have control of this pot.

I really feel you missed the opportunity on the flop. Are you committed to calling this dude down with a bluff catcher? If not, fold and on to next hand. You have told him to keep betting....he is listening.
I tend to agree that a flop-raise is probably the highest EV play. However, a raise on the flop opens up the possibility of getting re-raised by either opponent... which the SB is capable of doing with air. I didn't discount the possibility of UTG slowplaying a set of kings on that flop. Calling keeps all the SB's bluffs in - a very opponent-specific factor that is of some significance here.
 

CraigT78

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Moxie Mike

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What am I learning?
I thought it was an interesting case study in analyzing the betting patterns and bet sizing tells from a particular type of player.

Maniacal players can be difficult to deal with... And middle pocket pairs are notoriously challenging to navigate on later streets.
 

grebe

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After spoiler #2...this bet looks really strong, tbh. I would expect a shove from a weaker hand. Like I said, a raise on the flop would help define ranges a little better, and we really have narrowed nothing down....he could very well have air, but he has bet all three streets and the last two look very value bet heavy. I guess you have to sigh call, and wonder what could have been had you made a substantial bet on the flop. I expect to see some weird 2 pair....or maybe he drilled the ten somehow.
 

dmoney

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Interesting hand, and played well - thanks for posting! As my first post shows, I sometimes tend to give players more credit than they deserve - sort of projecting my own desire to be a thinking player onto them. I think your experience with villain really cleared things up for you in this spot, helping you to determine that his line and tells were more likely to be bluffs than value.
 

Ben8257

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I would have been gone buddy so good job sticking to your guns and taking down the pot. Guess that's why I suck, but given the 300 bet on the flop I would have obviously stuck around to till the turn bet but then run for the hills and live to see another hand.

I think it was interesting Mike and thanks for sharing! All about those awesome reads and knowing your players.
 

JZPdub

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So I wrote this before reading the spoilers

****
To answer the questions -
Hero's action; re-raise to 900

SB - I find then when people min-donk bet into the pre-flop aggressor, they generally have either middle or bottom pair or a draw. I'd put SB on anything from 34s, 56s, 78s, maybe 57s or maybe a weak K (K10, K9s) who is betting to try and a) find out where they are and b) put pressure on a premium starting hand that missed (AQ, AJ, A5s). A monster is probably going to check it down on such an uncoordinated board to see if someone leads into them, so I'm ruling out 44, 66, AK, KK, AA from the SB.

UTG - to me the quick call is either a float or a strong hand. A 3x UTG raise is strong, but could be a pretty wide range. Given the tiny bet relative to the size of the pot, I think UTG can make this call with a wide range, much of which has missed and is just hoping to improve on the turn (any hand with an A for instance) or has a strong hand is hoping to bring others along (KQs, KJs).

While I'd like to play small and get to showdown cheaply, I think we need to use our position here to get some information.
Make the small raise to 900; if we get re-raised, fold. If we get called, evaluate the turn. If the read is right (draw/middle bottom pair for SB and float for UTG), we can take the pot down now pretty cheaply.
****

After reading the spoilers, I feel goods about me reads, with the following exceptions:
- If SB re-raises on the flop, I'm folding - 99 isn't good enough to trap him, but I'm ok waiting for a better spot. You seem to think this is a play in his arsenal. That being said, I'm ok with widening my flop raise range, so that when I do have a monster (2 pair, set) he can raise bluff me in those spots as well.
- If SB folds, which is what I would guess, then I'm not stacking him like you did. Perhaps missing out on a big pot; perhaps winning a small pot if an A comes on the turn instead of the 3
 

CraigT78

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I thought it was an interesting case study in analyzing the betting patterns and bet sizing tells from a particular type of player.

Maniacal players can be difficult to deal with... And middle pocket pairs are notoriously challenging to navigate on later streets.
But you put him on a hand, that hand hit, and you decided to continue forward. This doesn't seem to be a case of a good read, rather an example of a hero call down to the river.

You state, I put him in OESD. Then it got there.
 

Moxie Mike

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But you put him on a hand, that hand hit, and you decided to continue forward. This doesn't seem to be a case of a good read, rather an example of a hero call down to the river.

You state, I put him in OESD. Then it got there.
I disagree sir. I simply said the OESD on the flop is within his range and fits the pattern.

Now to be fair, the betting pattern on all 3 streets was consistent with how the SB would play a flopped OESD in that spot. So it was as much a study of whether I believed the story he was telling - and how I came to the conclusions I did. In that case, I considered all the ways I could be behind while also considering the probability that he was bluffing. The fact that there was only one semi-reasonable combo that makes a straight (assuming he's never holding 5-2 there) makes it less likely that's what's going on.

After spoiler #2...this bet looks really strong, tbh. I would expect a shove from a weaker hand. Like I said, a raise on the flop would help define ranges a little better, and we really have narrowed nothing down....he could very well have air, but he has bet all three streets and the last two look very value bet heavy. I guess you have to sigh call, and wonder what could have been had you made a substantial bet on the flop. I expect to see some weird 2 pair....or maybe he drilled the ten somehow.

A flop raise is probably appropriate. The problem is I have no real plan if the SB calls. If he re-raises (something he is capable of in this spot), I obviously have to give him credit for a hand I can't beat and release. But if he calls (and UTG folds), how does the rest of the hand play out? What do I do if he leads out the turn? Probably have to give him credit for a real hand and release. What do I do if I check back and he leads the river? Probably the same.

So by the line of calling the flop and calling the turn, I commit roughly the same amount as if I'd raised to 2k on the flop... distributed over 2 streets while keeping his bluffs in play.

Interesting hand, and played well - thanks for posting! As my first post shows, I sometimes tend to give players more credit than they deserve - sort of projecting my own desire to be a thinking player onto them. I think your experience with villain really cleared things up for you in this spot, helping you to determine that his line and tells were more likely to be bluffs than value.

Thanks Man. SB is a thinking player and harbors a high level of awareness... but in a less conventional way. His aggression pays off for him quite a bit - but he often works himself into some unnecessarily tough spots and has to muscle his way out of them with big bets. 90% of conventional players would c/f (or fold preflop) on this flop. But not this opponent.

Looking at the hand from his position, I've shown pretty significant strength by calling the turn bet. He has to assume I'm holding a K-J/K-Q type of hand since there's no obvious draws I would have there (I'm never in there with 5-7 against a 3x raise from UTG - he's aware of this).

So looking at this from his perspective, he knows he's either got to be able to beat top pair at showdown, or move me off my hand. I assumed he thought I had a King and was hoping I'd release to what he wanted to appear to be a value bet.

To put it another way, what is he trying to tell me with this bet? That he can beat top pair. To be fair, he'll have it some of the time... but not nearly as often as a conventional player.

The reason leaving himself a couple thousand chips is significant is because it's an 'in case he gets called' type of tell. Notice I didn't say 'in case he's beat'.

This was a strong indicator that there's a good chance his hand has no showdown value whatsoever. He knows any call I can make beats him... but he can't let it go check/check on the river because the pot is large. So his only hope of dragging this pot is to barrel the river but he doesn't want to be eliminated from the tournament. He knows if my hand is strong enough to call I'll call any amount he has left... so he might as well save a little to try to work back into contention in case it doesn't work out.

After reading the spoilers, I feel goods about me reads, with the following exceptions:
- If SB re-raises on the flop, I'm folding - 99 isn't good enough to trap him, but I'm ok waiting for a better spot. You seem to think this is a play in his arsenal. That being said, I'm ok with widening my flop raise range, so that when I do have a monster (2 pair, set) he can raise bluff me in those spots as well.
- If SB folds, which is what I would guess, then I'm not stacking him like you did. Perhaps missing out on a big pot; perhaps winning a small pot if an A comes on the turn instead of the 3

Thanks for chiming in. I agree that a flop raise ends the hand 90% of the time - which is probably the highest EV play overall and definitely the lowest variance (any time you can drag a pot uncontested it's generally the best play). The problem is what do if either player continues. It's safe to assume UTG folds the majority of the time... but not all the time. I'm kind of in a bad spot if I raise and the hand doesn't end there. Getting to showdown without any more exposure will not be easy if either player continues.
 

CraigT78

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By your own admission you stated "most likely holding" it's in the OP.
 

grebe

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A flop raise is probably appropriate. The problem is I have no real plan if the SB calls. If he re-raises (something he is capable of in this spot), I obviously have to give him credit for a hand I can't beat and release. But if he calls (and UTG folds), how does the rest of the hand play out? What do I do if he leads out the turn? Probably have to give him credit for a real hand and release. What do I do if I check back and he leads the river? Probably the same.
I guess we just have different views on what donk bets signify. You obviously know how to play this specific guy, and that's a good thing. However, for general population of people that have a donk bet in their handbook (especially at the minimum), they are trying to see the next card for cheap, or see where their shitty pair "is at". My general play is to punish these fools regardless of what my hand may be. I can't even remember if anybody has ever donk bet then raised against me.
 

Legend5555

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Here's my take. If the guy is bluffing so often here that you feel a call down with 99 on this specific board is warranted even with all the other stuff in his range, then you basically can never fold any decent hand to this guy in any similar situation absent some live physical read.
 

Moxie Mike

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Here's my take. If the guy is bluffing so often here that you feel a call down with 99 on this specific board is warranted even with all the other stuff in his range, then you basically can never fold any decent hand to this guy in any similar situation absent some live physical read.

Yeah I've called him down light and snapped him off quite a few times... and other times he's had the goods. I still fold here and there to show him I'm willing to do so... He should know not to run these bluffs against me by now but he keeps firing :)
 
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