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

Frogzilla

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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.
I think the turn sizing was pretty good, my comment of bet tell was just reacting to the exploit villain used of taking boats out of hero’s value range. Hero should be using the same turn sizing with those boats (hero’s line probably contains a lot of TT, 55, AT) as well as his bluffs
 

Moxie Mike

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. They are appreciated.

I'm not sure if it matters, but I was not the HERO in this hand. HERO's description and reads are from them personally as they were relayed to me in many discussions.

It cannot be overstated how the amount of history between HERO and Villain plays into decision making. Because of this, they've become very aware of one another's patterns. Unconventional moves and deceptive play are critical to gaining an edge when this is the case.

Against a random, unknown opponent, a more ABC approach would make more sense.

HERO elected to flat call preflop as to not bloat the pot OOP against a player who can stack them. HERO will find them self in an awkward position if their 3-bet pre is called and they miss the flop - which will happen often if they're sharing a card (likely the ace). Flat calling closes the action and disguises the strength of their hand - and if they miss they can c/f the flop and move on to the next hand with minimal stack damage.

There's a valid argument that a 3-bet pre is appropriate since HERO is likely ahead of a significant percentage of Villain's range - however realizing their equity isn't always the primary objective at this stage of the tournament when in order to do so requires significant exposure, which was the case in this hand.

I thought the flop play was the most interesting part of the hand. A C/R on this flop basically tells the Villain that HERO probably holds AJ or better. Villain's call of the C/R makes HERO nervous - since Villain is very capable of sandbagging a big hand here.

If I were in the HERO's spot, I probably just flat call Villain's c-bet. This keeps the pot size reasonable and continues the passive line that HERO took preflop. If a player's strategy is to feign weakness, then continue telling that story.

The turn was a plot twist that pleases HERO but still makes them nervous. Trip aces with a Q kicker is probably not something HERO is going to get away from. As played, HERO needs to make a larger bet on the turn and just make the best decision they can if they're jammed on. There's also a case for check/calling though... HERO holds a really good-yet-vulnerable hand OOP and is exposed to a high degree of risk-of-ruin. If Villain checks back, at the very least HERO can probably get to showdown without going broke.

The river is unpleasant but there's always the possibility Villain holds a smaller ace and this river card doesn't change anything. Villain might have stubbornly call the flop C/R with a weaker ace, and couldn't release it on the turn given the price they were laid. The point of a blocker bet is when holding a hand that'd difficult to fold, losses are minimized when you bet an amount that's less than you'd likely be facing if you checked and your opponent bet. It also has the appearance of a 'please call me' bet, meaning if you are raised, you can fold confidently.
 

grebe

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. They are appreciated.

I'm not sure if it matters, but I was not the HERO in this hand. HERO's description and reads are from them personally as they were relayed to me in many discussions.

It cannot be overstated how the amount of history between HERO and Villain plays into decision making. Because of this, they've become very aware of one another's patterns. Unconventional moves and deceptive play are critical to gaining an edge when this is the case.

Against a random, unknown opponent, a more ABC approach would make more sense.

HERO elected to flat call preflop as to not bloat the pot OOP against a player who can stack them. HERO will find them self in an awkward position if their 3-bet pre is called and they miss the flop - which will happen often if they're sharing a card (likely the ace). Flat calling closes the action and disguises the strength of their hand - and if they miss they can c/f the flop and move on to the next hand with minimal stack damage.

There's a valid argument that a 3-bet pre is appropriate since HERO is likely ahead of a significant percentage of Villain's range - however realizing their equity isn't always the primary objective at this stage of the tournament when in order to do so requires significant exposure, which was the case in this hand.

I thought the flop play was the most interesting part of the hand. A C/R on this flop basically tells the Villain that HERO probably holds AJ or better. Villain's call of the C/R makes HERO nervous - since Villain is very capable of sandbagging a big hand here.

If I were in the HERO's spot, I probably just flat call Villain's c-bet. This keeps the pot size reasonable and continues the passive line that HERO took preflop. If a player's strategy is to feign weakness, then continue telling that story.

The turn was a plot twist that pleases HERO but still makes them nervous. Trip aces with a Q kicker is probably not something HERO is going to get away from. As played, HERO needs to make a larger bet on the turn and just make the best decision they can if they're jammed on. There's also a case for check/calling though... HERO holds a really good-yet-vulnerable hand OOP and is exposed to a high degree of risk-of-ruin. If Villain checks back, at the very least HERO can probably get to showdown without going broke.

The river is unpleasant but there's always the possibility Villain holds a smaller ace and this river card doesn't change anything. Villain might have stubbornly call the flop C/R with a weaker ace, and couldn't release it on the turn given the price they were laid. The point of a blocker bet is when holding a hand that'd difficult to fold, losses are minimized when you bet an amount that's less than you'd likely be facing if you checked and your opponent bet. It also has the appearance of a 'please call me' bet, meaning if you are raised, you can fold confidently.
My VERY non-expert summation of all this is HERO was playing to "not lose". I will not pretend to know how leagues play in to this, but generally, when I am playing in a tournament, I am willing to take on some calculated risk in spots like this (I mean, this is such a great spot!) and bloat the pot when it favors me. Here, against a good opponent and out of position (both bad) BUT WITH RANGE ADVANTAGE (good), I want the smallest SPR I can get. It increases my upside while minimizing my downside.

I understand where the Hero is coming from here, but he really played right into V's plan. The V loves this about Hero, as it seems the hero intentionally is playing V's game thinking about preservation rather than exploitation.

Also, thanks for posting this, @Moxie Mike ! Good hand to think about from both viewpoints.

One last thing: nice hand villain, wherever you are....
 

JustinInMN

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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.

I agree with all of this. I did not suspect villain was as wide as it turned out based on the original read. I probably would not have gone for the check-call line knowing payoffs were possible below top pair.
 

JustinInMN

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HERO was playing to "not lose".

That is the definition of winning tournament strategy. All tournament strategy eventually revolves around the truth that gains are less important than avoiding losses. Small edges should be sacrificed in the name of survival, that would never have to be sacrificed in cash play.

Now that said, the determination on whether AQ is a small edge or a big edge is pretty villain-dependent. In this hand, it turned out to be a much bigger edge than I would have expected pre-flop given the showdown no doubt.

From the flop onward, it's pretty tough to gauge since villain can have a lot of flush draws and combo draws which run close in equity against hero. Also since Hero didn't 3-bet pre, villain is still pretty uncapped in his range, so very tough to determine where AQ actually ranks here. Villain won't be worse than "a little behind" too often if he continues.
 

kmccormick100

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I think a 3b pre-flop is almost always correct in this position, especially against a LAGgy player. If they fold you take down a free 2k in blinds, antes and his bet, if he calls you have a much more defined range, and if he 4b you have a pretty easy fold. I don't want to take a flop OOP against and undefined range and tricky player. I'm making it 3k pre flop and folding to a raise.

On the flop, had you 3b pre you have an easy continue for ~2400 into 6600, you're keeping all of his weaker aces, Tens and draws in there. When you hit the Ace on the turn you want to be piling in money, well ahead of his range on a draw heavy board and charging his draws. I'm making it probably ~8k into 11.4k, leaving an easy 1/3pot bet to get it in on the river if the board runs out clean. When the river brings in the flush, the obvious draw, I'm checking and probably folding, I think he's checking back any worse ace trips and only betting flushes+ TT, 55, AT, A, A6 boats. You end up in about the same spot chip-stack wise, but have multiple opportunities to take down the pot before reaching the river (always a good thing at this stage in the tournament). Just how I'd play it in an ideal scenario I think.
 

grebe

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That is the definition of winning tournament strategy. All tournament strategy eventually revolves around the truth that gains are less important than avoiding losses. Small edges should be sacrificed in the name of survival, that would never have to be sacrificed in cash play.

Now that said, the determination on whether AQ is a small edge or a big edge is pretty villain-dependent. In this hand, it turned out to be a much bigger edge than I would have expected pre-flop given the showdown no doubt.

From the flop onward, it's pretty tough to gauge since villain can have a lot of flush draws and combo draws which run close in equity against hero. Also since Hero didn't 3-bet pre, villain is still pretty uncapped in his range, so very tough to determine where AQ actually ranks here. Villain won't be worse than "a little behind" too often if he continues.
Two off the bubble and a table full of people that play this way and just want to make the money. Ahhh, it makes my heart happy. Discount chips!
 

JustinInMN

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Two off the bubble and a table full of people that play this way and just want to make the money. Ahhh, it makes my heart happy. Discount chips!

The true discount of your chips is that if you win 100% of what's in play you get 40% (or whatever) of the prize pool. This is why gaining chips in a tournament is less important than not losing.

Survival is rewarded, not dominance.

Obviously gaining chips is important, the more chips you have the longer you avoid elimination on average. But there is value in avoiding marginal spots in tournaments.

Now in this particular hand, given how wide villain is opening, AQ is a hand with a big edge. But against a tighter opener, it's not a hand to take to war.
 
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