Heads up tournament with A7s

atomiktoaster

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Playing a 300k stack heads up NLHE tournament for the highest stakes imaginable (bragging right against my wife). About 20 minutes in, we've moved to lvl 2 (1k/3k). I'm slightly behind, but stacks haven't moved much, had a couple hands checked down each way. Call it 270k/330k She's pretty much a beginner (maybe played 3 other times so far). My read would be a loose passive calling station who will play most hands with a face card and values a made hand much more than a draw. Very hard to push her off top or middle pair. Will call with monster hands on flop and turn rather than re-raising. I have played very few hands heads up, and feel like I'm usually guessing wrong on big pots when I do. My image is comparatively TAG.

I'm on the button with :ad::7d: and limp for the extra 2k. She checks.

Flop comes :ah::jd::8h: and she checks to me. Next move?
 

MrBo

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Agree with the jam-master. Raise pre knowing you are unlikely to be reraised, will have position, and can gain a little information (maybe?) about her hand. Heads up against a random holding you are likely ahead. I would bet flop and plan to bet at least one more street for value depending on how the hand plays out.
 

atomiktoaster

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I'll admit that raising pre-flop to narrow the range from ATC would be a good move. Moving on:

I bet 10k on the flop, she calls. Turn is :4d:. She checks again.
 

MrBo

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I'd be suspicious about her calling your big flop bet, but you've also picked up backdoor flush outs now in the case you are behind, plus you may still be ahead. I'd bet 16-18k and probably shut down or go for thin value with a smallish bet on the river unless you improve to trips, 2-pair, or the nut flush, in which case I'd go for more value.
 

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I am checking the turn because I think Hero has no fold equity and is behind more often than ahead. If Hero scores big on the river, he'll get paid something. This villain is a poor target for fancy plays - she sounds like a sticky, low level thinking player. Hero's hand has some showdown value - barely.

DrStrange
 

MrBo

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I'd be suspicious too. I may even check behind to see if I nail the flush on the river. But I'm a nit.

Really? You don't think Villain is ever calling the flop with single top or middle pairs, flush draws, T9, or some sort of combo? Based on OP's description I'm inclined to think her range is pretty wide, including both the nuts and plenty of weak holdings we have decent equity against. I guess AT would know better. Is you wife calling this flop overbet light or does it narrow her range? For example, would she call 4k with a Jx hand but fold for 10k?

As someone who has played his own wife heads up I know how frustrating it can be to play against someone who has no clue what they're doing.
 

grandgnu

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Really? You don't think Villain is ever calling the flop with single top or middle pairs, flush draws, T9, or some sort of combo? Based on OP's description I'm inclined to think her range is pretty wide, including both the nuts and plenty of weak holdings we have decent equity against. I guess AT would know better. Is you wife calling this flop overbet light or does it narrow her range? For example, would she call 4k with a Jx hand but fold for 10k?

As someone who has played his own wife heads up I know how frustrating it can be to play against someone who has no clue what they're doing.

What MrBo said. Headsup you've got to be much more aggressive, especially in position. She's most likely a calling station type player who will give up on later streets when she doesn't make her hand.

As such, you can essentially pickup some decent sized pots without a hand just by being aggressive.

In this particular hand, you've hit top pair. Her flop call doesn't mean you're beat, usually if you're beat a player like this will raise BIG because they have a BIG hand and can't contain themselves (and don't know how to extract value)

She can easily have flush or straight draws, a pair and backdoor straight draw, etc. I expect you to be ahead the vast majority of the time in this spot. The turn only improves your hand with the nut flush draw, keep betting!
 

Chippy McChiperson

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He bet 10k into a 6k pot, and got called. Without any specific hand history of that player, I would think he's behind more often than not. The flush draw is nice, but it still has to hit. And if she's a calling station like he says, she'll call a big overbet if he hits the flush on the river. If he misses, he gets out rather cheap.
 

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The overbet wouldn't phase her too much if she got a piece of the flop. It's only "two oranges" and she's got a big stack of them (CPS :cool:). She's doesn't look at the size of the pot, just the size of the bet she's calling when deciding if it's too much.

Her bet sizing is frustratingly consistent. I've seen 5-6 BB from her on flop, turn, river when I'm absolutely crushed by her set or similar and I have middle pair with a good kicker. "I didn't know what you had, but I thought my hand was pretty good". She can show some aggression, but rarely in response to mine. She's content to let me hang myself pretty frequently.
 

grandgnu

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He bet 10k into a 6k pot, and got called. Without any specific hand history of that player, I would think he's behind more often than not. The flush draw is nice, but it still has to hit. And if she's a calling station like he says, she'll call a big overbet if he hits the flush on the river. If he misses, he gets out rather cheap.

If she's a recreational calling station, then she isn't concerned with calling bets that make no mathematical sense (except perhaps an all-in for all her own chips). In this spot, I expect Hero to be ahead the vast majority of the time. As such, he should continue firing because he has a monster heads-up (top pair, disguised because he limped, plus the flush draw to go with it). I don't think Hero NEEDS to hit his flush draw to win most of the time here, but it doesn't hurt to have it.

Keep firing
 

atomiktoaster

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I take what turns out to be Gnu's line and fire off 20k. One more call and on to the river.

Flop :ah::jd::8h:
Turn :4d:
River :td:

Checks to me one more time.
 

grandgnu

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I take what turns out to be Gnu's line and fire off 20k. One more call and on to the river.

Flop :ah::jd::8h:
Turn :4d:
River :td:

Checks to me one more time.

Fan-freaking-tastic! Gotta bet for value. Let's see, there's 8K+20K+40K= 68K in the pot. I'd bet anywhere from 50-80K since she's a station and will pay off if she's got a pair of Aces and will fold if she was drawing to the heart flush regardless of what you bet.
 

atomiktoaster

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I take what turns out to be Gnu's line and fire off 20k. One more call and on to the river.

Flop :ah::jd::8h:
Turn :4d:
River :th:

Checks to me one more time.

EDIT: Screwed up the river suit. No flush :(

EDIT TO THE EDIT: I am interested in the hypothetical rivered nut flush play anyway, since it was big on my mind.
 
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grandgnu

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EDIT: Screwed up the river suit. No flush :(

Hmmm, well that changes things. Still, most station type players, when they hit their flush will come out firing. She checked. She could've had a straight draw that got there (gutshots included) but is worried about the flush, or she could have a pair.

Honestly, I think you could shove all-in and get her to fold a better Ace here pretty easily, since I don't think she has the flush. If you're more risk-averse you can either check behind with showdown value, or bet 34-45K for value. Given villain could play two pair this way and Aces that beat you, I lean towards checking behind on the river if you aren't going to shove here.
 

Chippy McChiperson

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If she's a station she's not folding a better ace. Check behind you have decent showdown value. If the river was a diamond I would bet 56k.
 

MrBo

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Here's a thought: if we're worried about being behind after Villain calls the flop bet why not bet an amount that she'll call with her entire range, including all weak holdings? That way we're not value-owning ourselves when we're way behind and building a big pot that we have little chance of winning, but still building it a little to get extra value from weak hands / when we nail our flush and can bet bigger on the river. Unconventional, but against this type of player, a bet of 1/3rd-1/2 pot or so may be more EVier.

As played, on this river I'm probably just checking behind. I don't think Villain (sorry to keep calling your wife this, btw) is calling most bets with worse or folding better unless we really go big.

Given stack sizes I'd be much more happy to play small ball against Villain for now, especially given that we know we'll get to be in the driver seat and can pot control most hands. I'd probably be raising almost every button and bet-sizing pretty transparently, unless she starts to pick up on things. Show bluffs in smaller pots every now and then to reinforce her loose-passive play and convince her that you're full of it in bigger pots where you're actually going for value.

Stack the chips, win the marriage, easy game.
 

atomiktoaster

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Villain is apt here. She was trying to cloud my thinking with lingerie, high heels and suggestive behavior the whole time. Pretty underhanded stuff.
 

atomiktoaster

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Doc, cards were her idea in the first place. I didn't see another option here. There was some obvious equity in busting out early though.

Not giving her any credit for sticking with a naked heart draw this long and then slow playing it, I grab 4 of the greens and throw out a 100k bet. That was going to be my line if I hit the diamond, and I think I somehow convinced myself it was a semi-bluff and might fold her higher pair and get called by a lower pair often enough to be +EV. It left me around 100k in my stack, which was going to be enough to play with if things didn't work out.

Villain calls, tables :js::tc: and poses suggestively over her pile of chips. I don't know how far the definition of "tilt" stretches, but hero's play the rest of the night was definitely affected. Busted out pretty quickly.
 
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MrBo

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Bummer. Moving on to post-river play...

Hero berates Villain for being a luckbox fish, busts out next hand, and concedes "alright, you win, you get to put your lingerie and high heels on now."
 

atomiktoaster

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Any more lessons to take away besides accepting that sticky low level villains will mean higher variance (and don't stake her yet if I expect a profit)? Tighten my own hand range? Raise pre-flop to avoid facing any two cards (she might have called the 10k pre with JTo, much less a min raise)? Don't confuse value betting with semi-bluffing (though we need to avoid bet size tells with other villains).

Report card:
Pre-flop: D Should have min-raised for good habits
Flop: B Can't say top pair is too bad
Turn: A- The flush draw justifies putting some chips in the pot, I feel. 20k might have been greedy though
River: F Should have tightened up and checked it home when given the chance. Looking for fold equity is terrible against a sticky opponent, and I should wait for a better spot than a coin flip here.

Post-River: A+ ;)
 

grandgnu

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Any more lessons to take away besides accepting that sticky low level villains will mean higher variance


Not necessarily higher variance, just an adjustment in how you play against them. These type of players generally call call call all day long, but come out firing when they make what they perceive to be big hands (i.e. they don't bluff, so value bet them all day, and they're willing to check a lot of hands down so you won't face tons of difficult decisions against them like you will a competent LAG)


Tighten my own hand range?

Heads-up? Most certainly not.


Raise pre-flop to avoid facing any two cards (she might have called the 10k pre with JTo, much less a min raise)?

If you're heads-up you should be raising your button the vast majority of the time. You will have position post-flop and your calling station opponent will act first, giving you all the information (i.e. if they have a monster, they will come out firing, it's extremely rare for them to slowplay monsters, which allows you to fold strong or marginal hands). Also, heads-up she should be calling your raise with JTo



Don't confuse value betting with semi-bluffing (though we need to avoid bet size tells with other villains).

A calling station isn't going to pay much attention to bet, pot or stack sizes until it's an all-in bet. I've seen players like this call off almost all of their chips chasing a draw, and then folding on the river when they whiff (like calling a 3K turn bet with 200 behind and then folding the river)

Report card:
Pre-flop: D Should have min-raised for good habits
Flop: B Can't say top pair is too bad
Turn: A- The flush draw justifies putting some chips in the pot, I feel. 20k might have been greedy though
River: F Should have tightened up and checked it home when given the chance. Looking for fold equity is terrible against a sticky opponent, and I should wait for a better spot than a coin flip here.

Post-River: A+ ;)

PRE-FLOP: I know a lot of players love the minraise these days, I'm still in the 2.5x the BB camp myself. But you shouldn't be waiting for big hands, you have to be raising a very wide range here, you can't afford to wait for Aces.

FLOP: Your top pair is disguised and in a heads-up match factors to be the best hand. Your opponent should (and most likely will) call with any pair that's hit the flop and many draws as well.

TURN: Your opponent is a calling station, if she was very strong she'd be firing into you. She's in check-call mode. Continue firing, extract value with your hand (plus build a larger pot should you make the stone cold nuts on the river so you can extract even more value)

RIVER: I think it's possible, given this type of opponent, that you could bluff-shove that river flush card and get her off a better Ace. She "might" fold two pair in that spot, fearing the flush (if she rivered the flush she'd have bet into you, so that's how you know she doesn't have it). But the all-in shove is obviously going to be a high variance play, but can pay dividends. I'm fine with a check behind as well. That river card unfortunately completes a number of hands that you were ahead of pre-flop, on the flop and on the turn that pull ahead of your one pair. Definitely don't like the 100K bet.

POST-RIVER: Need to see pics and/or the video to provide strategy advice here
 

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In situations like this you hope your partner is fully stacked. Almost every time you are looking to get it all in the middle post-flop. You don't want any baby pairs so always protect your hand, I'd suggest using a capper. Preflop your play is fine... slow play it. Even on the flop, still slow, but maybe start to apply some pressure, you don't want her to lose interest in your stack. The next street is tricky, things can get messy if you don't play the turn correctly... I think you should still be playing it slow, slow, fast, slow. Obv. jam on the river is obv. Hope you get a call.
 
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