AQ OOP Against a Competent LAG at the Final Table. Multiple Decision Points.

Moxie Mike

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Scenario: Event #1 of a 16-game private online poker league. Table is 8 handed; HERO is 4th in chips with around 24,000. League points system uses the [25,18,13,9,6,4,3,2,1,1,1,1...] method. Top 3 get paid. There were currently 2 stacks under 10k when the hand started; these players occupy the UTG and UTG+1 seats in this hand.

Blinds are 200/400 with an ante. HERO is in the BB w/ :ad::qs:.

Villain is a LAG, thinking type player with a stack of 44k. READ: appropriately aggressive in later stages of a tournament but not maniacal. Competent player; Villain won the previous season's points race by a wide margin AND took 1st place in the league championship game.

Action folds around to Villain in MP1, who opens to 1,200. Action then folds around to HERO in BB, who calls. Pot= ~2,800.

Flop is :ah: :tc::5h:. HERO checks.

Villain c-bets 1600. HERO learns nothing about Villain's hand from this c-bet... Villain will c-bet this flop while in position against one opponent virtually 100% of the time regardless of how well HERO has or hasn't connected.

Folding is obviously out of the question. HERO's action?

HERO thinks for a few seconds and raises to 4,000. Villain calls with little hesitation. Pot= 10,800. HERO has ~19,000 behind.

Turn is :as:. HERO is first to act.

HERO's action?

HERO decided on a 'blocker bet' of sorts and leads out for 3,000. Villain calls again rather quickly. Pot= 16,800. HERO has ~16,000 behind.

The river is the :6h:.

HERO's Action?


HERO decides another blocker bet is appropriate as opposed to checking or jamming. HERO bets 4k.

Villain thinks briefly, then calls and turns over :th::qh:.

In subsequent discussions, HERO agrees that a larger turn bet would have been better but HERO didn't want to overcommit in this spot with many shorter stacks in the game. Villain acknowledged that a turn bet of ~2/3rd pot would have forced them to release, especially on a paired board. But the price they were laid on the turn, combined with the easily callable river bet really made the draw too strong to fold, even with two aces on the board. Villain also correctly assumed based on bet sizing that HERO wasn't full, and the likelihood of making a flush on the river while also filling up the HERO was rather remote.
 
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JMC9389

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Flat call.

I'm not looking to get it all in here if a straight or flush draw gets there on the turn or river. Lots of scary cards are out there especially if your read on the villain is that he isn't afraid to raise suited cards or two high cards in MP. Hands like AA, AK, KQ, KK, QQ, QJ, JJ, J10, and pocket 10's are all definitely in a wide MP range here, as we'll as any suited connectors or gappers.

If hero hits a set or two pair on the turn I turn up the heat, otherwise I'm check/folding any scary card that comes up on the turn.

Then again, I'll throw out the disclaimer that I'm a huge nit in regards to the above. I just don't think that on a super connected and wet board like this that my top pair would be good here if any of the draws hit.
 

JustinInMN

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I don't mind the flat pre. I like to flat pretty wide in the blinds both good hands and speculative hands. I also like checking 100% when I have flatted a big blind unless villain is unusually passive on bad flops.

So suffice to say, on board with the line @Moxie Mike presented as hero so far.

Given the read on villian, I think he has a decent hunk of Ax type hands being first in from middle position. He probably has some suited hearts hands with :kh:, but not as many as he could if the :ah: wasn't on the board. The hearts he does have probably also tend to be broadway gutters is my estimation as well. It's hard to for me to give him credit for too many Tx type hands here having raised pre.

So I tend to think if he's betting for value here, he usually has Ax, but certainly does not have to have AK or AT. If he's appropriately aggressive, he's opening pots and going for value when he connects. Otherwise he's semi-bluffing a combo draw, which isn't great news for hero either.

I feel like hero's hand is a call on this flop. We have a really high leverage turn coming (will be very good or very bad for our holding), and the only justification to raise is we might stack AJ right now. Otherwise we are behind AK and AT (not to mention the case AA or even TT) or in the best case we are going to play a huge pot against a combo draw. I like checking and calling and reevaluating after seeing if the turn completes anything obvious.

I might just be content to try and get 3 streets of value by checking and calling here. It's not "power poker" as most players think of it, but really it might be the best way to maximize wins while minimizing losses here.

The turn is going to be exiting.
 

Jimulacrum

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Since “Villain will c-bet this flop while in position against one opponent virtually 100% of the time” I’m popping him for a 4~5k raise here. If he pushes back over the top I’d fold.
This was my gut reaction, the check-raise. C-betting almost 100% in this spot means he's going to have less than AQ quite often here. All kinds of smaller aces, smaller pocket pairs, Broadway gutshots, etc., depending on his opening range.

Ideally, if Hero check-raises, Villain folds. If Villain reraises, it's an easy fold for Hero. Unfortunately, if Villain flat calls, this spot gets really messy for Hero really fast, due mostly to being out of position.

If Hero check-raises and intends to bet the turn if called, then this line essentially commits him to the pot, which will likely result in Villain winning the maximum when ahead but losing the minimum when behind (and Hero losing the max when behind and winning the min when ahead). If Hero check-raises but doesn't intend to follow through with a turn bet if called, then this move is just turning the hand into a bluff.

I think flatting may be the best move here, but I need to ask a question first: How often does Villain follow up his c-bets with turn and/or river barrels when he's checked to? If he does it often, check-calling on each round to let him hang himself may be the way to go. Of course, you'll be paying off his big hands too, but the only way you can get those hands to reveal themselves is by raising here, which chases off all his weak hands and may trap you for the rest of your chips against a monster.

I can't imagine very many cases where you check-raise AQ here and he even pays off the check-raise when beaten, never mind paying off more than that, but you could get him to pay off a lot more with much weaker hands if you under-represent your hand.
 

Legend5555

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I'd 3bet pre a good percentage of the time, especially against a competent player. As played, you have position, are covered but still have ~60bb, and have taken the passive line, so I think just call to control the size of the pot seems perfectly fine. I don't see many hands you have here that call pre and raise flop except KhXh or 55.

I assume you'd 3bet AK and TT a decent amount of the time. And it seems like AQ is the top of your preflop flatting range. So your strong value range is quite capped. So it's hard to have many raises here IMO.
 

Moxie Mike

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I think flatting may be the best move here, but I need to ask a question first: How often does Villain follow up his c-bets with turn and/or river barrels when he's checked to?
Villain mixes it up on later streets to the point that a discernible pattern is not obvious. Villain has been observed to barrel 3 street with air and bet 3 streets for value. Villain is capable of checking back strong hands on the turn to induce bluffs/allow worse hands to improve to their detriment. Against the HERO, Villain tends to be a little more straightforward and will likely fold to a C/R if he hasn't flopped strongly.

Villain and HERO have hundreds of hours of history against one another in both live and online play and know each other's games quite well.

HERO has gotten the best of the Villain many times by using their aggression against them. HERO has also lost value on many occasions when Villain disappointingly checks back to avoid traps. Villain plays a lot of 'small ball' and avoids over-commitment - HERO knows this from countless post-hand discussions.

Villain's range from an MP1 open generally eliminates most junk; however Villain's opening range gets proportionally wider with his opponent's propensity to fold. In this case, with 3 players left to act preflop that could leave them OOP, Villain probably isn't opening super light. But Villain's range includes everything from ultra-premiums to suited one-gappers and everything in between.
 

Jimulacrum

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Villain mixes it up on later streets to the point that a discernible pattern is not obvious. Villain has been observed to barrel 3 street with air and bet 3 streets for value. Villain is capable of checking back strong hands on the turn to induce bluffs/allow worse hands to improve to their detriment. Against the HERO, Villain tends to be a little more straightforward and will likely fold to a C/R if he hasn't flopped strongly.

Villain and HERO have hundreds of hours of history against one another in both live and online play and know each other's games quite well.

HERO has gotten the best of the Villain many times by using their aggression against them. HERO has also lost value on many occasions when Villain disappointingly checks back to avoid traps. Villain plays a lot of 'small ball' and avoids over-commitment - HERO knows this from countless post-hand discussions.

Villain's range from an MP1 open generally eliminates most junk; however Villain's opening range gets proportionally wider with his opponent's propensity to fold. In this case, with 3 players left to act preflop that could leave them OOP, Villain probably isn't opening super light. But Villain's range includes everything from ultra-premiums to suited one-gappers and everything in between.
No wonder he's done so well in your league. This is a legitimately tough spot with such an unpredictable opponent.

I'm still leaning toward the check-call here, though, for the reasons I've stated. If he can three-barrel bluff, then set him up to do it. If he plays a lot of small ball, he might even check back the turn, which will save you a bet. The more cheaply you can get to showdown, the better.

Alternatively, you could check-raise, but with the understanding that it's a one-time shot. If he calls, from the sound of it, that would indicate you're beat, and you'll have to shut down (unless the turn is a Q) and let him take it if he bets again.
 

JMC9389

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Spoiler #1 Posted.
Double flush draw with potential straight draw still out there? Even with 50 BB's in your stack, I'm either betting pot or maybe even jamming or check/jamming to any bet. I like checking here the least in case villain bricked their heart draw and gets to see the river for free.

Villain's snap call after your check/raise tells me they have the nut heart draw or a set. I can't imagine they'd snap call with an ace well within your range.
 

Moxie Mike

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Double flush draw with potential straight draw still out there? Even with 50 BB's in your stack, I'm either betting pot or maybe even jamming or check/jamming to any bet.

Villain's snap call after your check/raise tells me they have the nut heart draw or a set. I can't imagine they'd snap call with an ace well within your range.
Apologies. It was the :as:.
 

JMC9389

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Apologies. It was the :as:.
I put in a ninja edit to see that I like checking the least out of the initial options I was thinking.

As in my original post, I turn up the heat after absolutely nailing the turn. Pot size bet or even get it all in here. Make it hurt for the sets, two pairs, and draws to call. This is a snap fold if I see this as the villain with a high pocket pair.
 

Moxie Mike

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Villain's snap call after your check/raise tells me they have the nut heart draw or a set. I can't imagine they'd snap call with an ace well within your range.
Villain knows that HERO knows their preflop opening range is rather wide, so they also know that HERO's defending range is rather wide. Historically, Villain has observed HERO c/raising many of Villain's c-bets from blind-defense positions with a variety of holdings, including air. Villain's call guarantees their holding is worth peeling the turn with, including sets. Villain may have a set or aces-up, or even AK and is waiting for a safe turn card to commit a lot of chips. Both HERO and Villain are aware of the ICM implications of losing a bunch of chips in any given hand.

Weak aces are also in HERO's calling range - Villain understands the metagame aspect of playing against the same opponents all the time. Showing HERO they can't be pushed off top pair so easily is something Villain is cognizant of.

About all we can know for sure is that Villain doesn't have anything like 99 or worse.
 
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Jimulacrum

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Gross response to your check-raise and gross turn card. If he was ahead, he's still ahead, even though you've improved, though there are fewer possible winners he could have, now that we can account for 3 aces.

My prior advice was to prepare to fold if he calls, but that ace is pretty significant, as there are now far fewer combos he could have that beat you. Let's try a bet on the turn, say 6.5K or 7.5K. Large enough that he should hesitate to call it off with just a draw (on a paired board), but small enough that if he comes over the top, you can escape with enough chips to keep fighting. (Obviously the plan is to fold if he shoves.)

If he just calls on this turn, though, you're pot-committed. In that case, plan to check the river, hoping to get some bluffs mixed into his bets along with the winners.
 
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With your check raise after the flop, as villain I’d probably narrow you to a strong ace or pocket 10’s.

As such, from the villains perspective that turn probably helps you. I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that you’ve taken the lead.

With that in mind, I’m definitely not giving out a free card. I’d say at least a 3/4 pot bet, if not a full pot bet to push out his draws. This would still leave you with enough chips in your stack to appear that you might be making one more stab at buying it, on the off chance you were making that check raise with air like you had mentioned.

All in works here too, but I think I prefer trying to bleed him a little more vs. presenting a good opportunity to fold.
 
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Frogzilla

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STP of 1.8ish so natural bet sizing is either overbet shove or something like 50% setting up river shove. Top paired board has enhanced removal effects that don’t help us so we want to go smaller sizing with entire range. AQ is definitely strong enough to bet value at this sizing, I bet 5k
 

Jimulacrum

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Super gross river. If Villain didn't have Hero beat, he was likely chasing a draw, and the only draw worth chasing that hard was the flush draw (or a combo draw that includes it). So either he was ahead already or he is ahead now, aside from maybe the odd case of AJ.

Check with the intention of folding. Drown your keyboard in puke when he pushes you out and shows :kc: :jd:.
 
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JustinInMN

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Oh boy, missed the rest of the hand I see. I don't hate the check raise either because AJ can pay and semi bluffs will have to pay too. But I worry that isn't a wide enough range to target for value.

But given we raised the flop and hit a pretty good turn I think we lead. I am pretty sure AK would have had to 3 bet the flop sowe are either still trying to charge a combo draw or collect from a lesser ace.

River is pretty safe so it's really a question of whether you think villain will bluff misses here if checked to or if you just want to hope villain has a payoff hand. But who knows what that would be, maybe Kk-Jj make sense?

After the reveal, it's obvious villain is opening wider than I first assumed. Betting is probably right if he can have that holding and gets trapped into calling with it.

Well played, sir.
 
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Legend5555

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I generally think if your plan is to check raise flops where you hit TP after calling from the blinds, then you should probably just be 3 betting pre most of the time instead. It just gives you more chances to win and reduces your positional disadvantage by attempting to end the hand earlier. Plus it reduces the SPR when you do hit top pair and makes justifying getting it in much easier.

I can sometimes get behind the pre flop flat when the raise is from early position. But in order to check raise, I'd generally want AK specifically for a flop check raise, or have a shorter effective stack.

I don't hate the way it was played post flop, though in general I would not check raise flop very often in the abstract. And if your going to play TP this hard, then probably need to bet bigger in the turn given the amount of draws. I will say that making a river block bet only works if you think you can get called by worse a decent amount of the time. Would the villain call down with AJ here? If not, then I don't think block betting is very effective. It stops you from getting raised for sure. But if he had AJ I think the money would have gotten in on the turn. So, does he really have worse to call with on river?

Edit: small change in my last couple sentences.
 
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grebe

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Without looking at any other replies or spoilers, I think this is a great 3bet hand. If he is LAG, his range is wide and AQ is well ahead of his range. Preflop I 3 bet to 3600ish on the norm....maybe a bit bigger if you consider that he is going to be strong post flop, and we are out of position. 4K is my bet.
 

grebe

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Without looking at any other replies or spoilers, I think this is a great 3bet hand. If he is LAG, his range is wide and AQ is well ahead of his range. Preflop I 3 bet to 3600ish on the norm....maybe a bit bigger if you consider that he is going to be strong post flop, and we are out of position. 4K is my bet.
Continuing on to post flop...if we had 3 bet, we can bet small/medium repping our ace and usually just take this pot down (if we didnt take it down pre). He might continue with a worse ace or peel with a hand as bad as JT, which we are demolishing and getting clear value from. Even if he has hearts, our SPR with the 3bet is 3:1ish, so we are in great shape. The only hands that should really concern us are TT, AT, and 55....but so many other hands we just crush. AK could be possible too, but we would have got a 4bet from better than AQ pre to engage spidey senses.

I bet 3500 hoping to get calls from a worse A or a 10....maybe even a gutshot.

As played: I check/call whatever he bets.
 
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grebe

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Our hands merge here to my Cbet outright and your check/raise. Either way we have trips with a really good kicker....we are now in get it in mode. I lead for 8K. I am shoving any river not a K. With a K, we are probably chopping, so I check/call?

Either way, money goes in for me.
 

grebe

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Just read all the comments, especially the OP's reads on the Villain. This is exactly the type of spot where aggression is absolutely key! Even OP said, weaker aces are in Hero's opening range and he knows he has to not be pushed off top pair/bad kicker. This needs to be punished when we have a hand like AQ. ESPECIALLY playing semi-shallow WITH AN ANTE. This is a 3bet pre all day, and we possibly take it down pre, but hitting that flop and turn, we just punish too much of the Villain's bet/call range. Think of it from his side if you 3bet pre, then lead on the flop and turn. Can he really continue, even with 2nd pair and a flush draw for over half his stack? He is being given several tough decisions. Instead, you were the one making the tougher decisions.

3bet pre and leading the flop turns the tables on this hand. If he calls and you lose, se la vie. You had the best of it the whole way and he sucked out. Most times, the pot is coming to you.
 

Frogzilla

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Villain has offered up that you have a really strong bet sizing tell. If this is the true (and, it seems like it might be), its worthwhile to work on. One technique is to use the board texture and range advantages to determine the best sizing, ignoring the actual hand we hold. Then once sizing is decided, a second decision for does this hand make sense to bet at that sizing
 

grebe

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Villain has offered up that you have a really strong bet sizing tell. If this is the true (and, it seems like it might be), its worthwhile to work on. One technique is to use the board texture and range advantages to determine the best sizing, ignoring the actual hand we hold. Then once sizing is decided, a second decision for does this hand make sense to bet at that sizing
Even if he didnt have a "bet sizing" tell, just look at the odds, we laid him: post flop after the check raise, he is calling 2400 to win almost 11k...over 4:1. 9 outs to his flush, plus another 2 10's and 3 queens (he doesnt know his Q is counterfeit) table side math gives V 14 outs to improve to 2 pair or better is almost 2:1. Turn bet of 4K means 4K to win 15K (excluding implied) is just under 4:1. V still has 11 outs to flush or better and is right on the cusp of making this profitable....throw in implied money of being in position and it's a profitable call. We gave him good odds with our betting the whole way.
 
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