PAHWM: Venetian LV 1/3NL, middle pair vs. action player

Schmendr1ck

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I'm in LV on business, but there's no possible way I would be here without a little bit of poker.

Last night, I played a session at The Venetian against a dream table. Multiple deepish stacks (200+bb), and the play was generally not very good. As an example, I saw a three-way river all-in on a paired board for north of $1000. Winner had a Q-high flush, he check-called all the way vs loser doing the betting with a J-high flush, third place didn't show but obviously it was worse.

The main villain in this hand was a middle-aged Asian lady wearing a bedazzled baseball cap. She was super actiony and aggressive: straddling every time she had UTG or BTN, seeing nearly every flop, almost always betting/raising when checked/limped to her, and playing TP+ hands hard and aggressively. She was also very sticky with draws and weak made hands, usually going into check-call mode. She was very nearly unbluffable.

Hero sat down with $300, quickly ran it up to about $550, then hit a series of whiffs, a couple of small stabs and a bigger two-barrel where he learned that the main villain was, indeed, unbluffable. Hero's stack had run down to about $250, but after shifting gears and catching a couple hands, he was back up to about $450 and covered the main villain.

Hero had been at the table about two hours at this point.

Pre-flop was pretty standard, so I'm going to skip ahead to the flop for feedback.

-----------------------------
Venetian 1/3NL
Hero (BTN): about $450
Villain (UTG): about $350

Preflop: UTG straddles for $6. One MP limp to Hero on BTN with :th::9h:, who raises to $25. Blinds fold, UTG calls, MP limper folds. (Note: Hero is surprised that we're seeing a flop heads-up. That was a rarity at this table.)

Flop ($53): :jd::td::6h:
UTG checks. Hero?
 
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if their range was stronger it would be a decent hand to check back and pick off bluffs with but you're pretty far ahead the range of someone calling almost any-two so bet 1/3rd pot and get her to call with all sorts of low equity hands or fold out a little bit of equity.

or were you asking about what bet size to choose?
 

Schmendr1ck

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if their range was stronger it would be a decent hand to check back and pick off bluffs with but you're pretty far ahead the range of someone calling almost any-two so bet 1/3rd pot and get her to call with all sorts of low equity hands or fold out a little bit of equity.

or were you asking about what bet size to choose?
Standard PAHWM so I'm open to street by street advice as well as an overall plan for the rest of the hand.
 

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Not sure what Hero's preflop plan was. T9s is a fine speculative hand, more so with the button. But the straddler isn't folding and often times several more will come along for the ride. The SPR is going to be pretty low in a multiway flop given the straddle has cut the effective stack sizes in half in terms of "BBs". And Hero isn't going to like getting 3-bet preflop. He will feel like his hand is too good to bet/fold preflop but often times he should. The lack of fold equity at the table makes most flops pretty bad for T9s.

Now that we are here . . . Hero has middle pair weak kicker and some back door draws. Vs a fit/fold table that would be plenty. Vs a sticky mess of a table, this puts hero in a tough spot. It is expected that villain is going to call any c-bet with a wide range. I suggest two < and a half > lines.

1. Hero bet/folds a cbet. Not calling a check-raise. A small bet maybe $30. If this were on-line maybe even a down bet. Hero is checking behind most turns.

2. Check flop. Call the expected turn bet from villain on "safe" turns. Fold the turn is fine on a gross run out.

And a half Hero shouldn't have bet preflop and is in the expected pickle. Why make matters worse basically playing villain's game. She would be fine with putting a hundred bucks on the line holding middle pair, weak kicker, poor draws. Should hero? Check flop. Fold turn unimproved. And even some "improvement" cards are dubious - say a nine to make two pair or an eight to give an OESD to go with middle pair.

I like the last option best -=- DrStrange

PS No need to be tricky with fancy plays vs this sort of table. T9s isn't a raising hand. Just don't.
 

Legend5555

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We are effectively only 75bb deep. So with the straddle from a player that never folds, I don't think I'm raising for value or to isolate here very often. I just never expect to get folds. So I feel I'd just be bloating the pot unnecessarily. The fact the you were surprised the limper folded shows that you even thought this was going to go multiway. So going to the flop multiway at an SPR of only 5.5 to 1 with a hand that likely must improve to win at showdown is a bit optimistic.

Now, all that said, T9s is obviously a hand we want to be playing in position on a table like this. And if we think the straddler is going to raise a super high % of the time if we just limp, then raising ourselves makes a lot of sense. We buy a flop for a price we set, and almost always get to see the turn if we want to. This is where going for max exploitation over theory can make a lot of sense. What I'd want to know if if we raise smaller, like $12-15, will that still shut down the straddler from 3 betting? If so, I may do that still expecting to go 3 ways, but effectively buying myself the flop and turn for a reasonable price.

As played, against this type of villain, I'm just going to try and get to showdown as cheaply as possible. I'm likely going to check flop, then call safe turns against a bet, or bet safe turns against a check. What I don't want to have happen is bet this flop for protection and get raised by an aggro villain. She may have any two, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be happy about having to guess with 2nd pair on a draw heavy board.

Basically, this is a hand where I expect to get only 1 street of value. That can be now or on turn most likely. If she never raises draws, then you maybe can lean towards betting flop a bit more for equity protection. You also have backdoor hearts though, so if you get called it's much less likely she has some sort of backdoor heart draw that might call here. You are blocking some pair+hearts and blocking Qh9h and QhTh specifically. So when you get called, it's going to be more front door draws and pairs. Just a little something to think about.

Bottom line, you don't have to get "fancy" and play "theoretical" poker against tables/villains like this. Just see flops cheaply with hands that draw well, raise your strong value against all the limpers, open normal ranges as first to open, and just dial way back on the bluffing and betting marginal made hands on early streets. But value bet more thinly on later streets when their hands are more defined. You can just play pretty face up and never get punished for it.
 
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Taghkanic

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I kind of disagree with going slow/ proceeding with caution/ betting small on the flop. Let me see if I can explain why…

Based on the description—that she plays all TP aggressively—your middle pair is effectively top pair once she checks the flop. (Unless “aggressively” includes lots of check-raises.) And since she is sticky, I think you can get a lot of value even when showing strength on a wet board like this.

I’ve played against a fair number of villains like this, and honestly my approach is to try to play as many big pots with them as possible when I’m either in position, have a range advantage, or likely outflopped them. Or better yet, some combo of all three. Having some back doors doesn’t hurt, either.

Going after it with middle pair might make you seem like a maniac to some observers, but against this villain type I think it is +EV.

Sure, they are going to have some unbelievable suckouts. That’s why I prefer volume against these players. Whenever I have a quality hand (which in this context includes T9s), they are going to call, call, call with a worse range. So in the long run, I profit if I can stomach reloading as necessary.

In this case, I would expect villain to call almost any flop bet with bottom pair, a worse T or any draw, including gutshots and other bad draws to low ends of straights, as well as small pocket pairs.

With this particular flop, they are going to continue especially with hands such as 67/68/Q8/78/77/88, not to mention every single diamond combo… plus others you partially block like Q9 and T8. And they probably can’t release 22, 33, 44, 55 and most combos with a 6. There also players like this who will continue with just ace high for at least one street. (“I HAVE AN ACE!” is their whole strategy.)

In other words, I think you are way ahead of a massive amount of their flop calling range. There are a few better middle pairs they can hold (e.g. KT, QT), and some big combo draws to both straights and flushes. But those are a small part of the calling range.

[Note: All of this is assuming that they probably would’ve reraised you preflop and/or led out on the flop with ATo or better, JTs or better. So I’m taking a lot of hands which dominate you out of their range as played.]

So I think you are way ahead much of the time and likely to get paid even unimproved in many cases.

Plus, you have a lot of turn cards that could add equity for you, including most any heart, and most non-diamond cards between T-7 giving you trips, two pair, or adding a gutshot. A few of these are also going to help villain, but in the big picture there aren’t many cards to fear.

So, all that said… On the flop, POT, with the intention of putting them all in on almost any turn besides an A or a 6. Make their flush draws a wash, and their worse hands/weaker draws pay big time. Again, based on description, I am making the assumption that they will be almost completely indifferent to bet sizing up to pot, so might as well push it.

If the turn’s a diamond, I’d then slow down… but not necessarily give up. If they have a one high diamond they may continue chasing the backdoor. I’d have to re-evaluate if they lead out.

If they have somehow slowplayed a monster, so be it. You’ll get them 4 times for every 1 time they have it or suck out.
 
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JustinInMN

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UTG straddles for $6. One MP limp to Hero on BTN with :th::9h:, who raises to $25. Blinds fold, UTG calls, MP limper folds. (Note: Hero is surprised that we're seeing a flop heads-up. That was a rarity at this table.)
I am also plus one for flatting pre on this, especially with the table read provided and the MP limp. Raising to isolate the straddle in position makes sense and glad that's what we ended up with. Otherwise I would flat to invite the blinds and try and hit a bigger pot. That said, the straddle is live, so maybe this is a sort of ""blocker raise" to make a "straddle squeeze" more expensive. So I could see if you are going to play T9 otb, maybe a raise makes sense.

As for the flop, how likely is villain to check raise Jx here? Is that part of the "aggressive" play you have observed. That is what is really going to inform this decision. I want to bet as hero to make sure to collect something from the draws, and villain can have plenty of weak and strong draws here. But if I get check raised I will probably have to give it up.

This may also be a good spot to check for pot control and then go for a bet on a safeish turn. But this like makes it tough to get more than one street of value.

Still it's hard to get called twice by anything worse than a 10, even against an aggressive opponent.

I think it's bet (50 ish)-fold > check >>>>>> anything else.

Maybe call a check raise of a small size of you bet. But a check raise should signal playing for stacks, and I am not sure this is the spot for that.
 

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Really want to know where you stand?

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Seriously though, I'd make a small c-bet around $25 in hopes of taking it down there.
 

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This is a big part of what makes me advocate for a pot sized flop bet:

She was also very sticky with draws and weak made hands, usually going into check-call mode.

If the read on villain is off, then my approach would be a bad idea. But it sounds like hero had watched her closely.
 

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I'm in LV on business, but there's no possible way I would be here without a little bit of poker.

Last night, I played a session at The Venetian against a dream table. Multiple deepish stacks (200+bb), and the play was generally not very good. As an example, I saw a three-way river all-in on a paired board for north of $1000. Winner had a Q-high flush, he check-called all the way vs loser doing the betting with a J-high flush, third place didn't show but obviously it was worse.

The main villain in this hand was a middle-aged Asian lady wearing a bedazzled baseball cap. She was super actiony and aggressive: straddling every time she had UTG or BTN, seeing nearly every flop, almost always betting/raising when checked/limped to her, and playing TP+ hands hard and aggressively. She was also very sticky with draws and weak made hands, usually going into check-call mode. She was very nearly unbluffable.

Hero sat down with $300, quickly ran it up to about $550, then hit a series of whiffs, a couple of small stabs and a bigger two-barrel where he learned that the main villain was, indeed, unbluffable. Hero's stack had run down to about $250, but after shifting gears and catching a couple hands, he was back up to about $450 and covered the main villain.

Hero had been at the table about two hours at this point.

Pre-flop was pretty standard, so I'm going to skip ahead to the flop for feedback.

-----------------------------
Venetian 1/3NL
Hero (BTN): about $450
Villain (UTG): about $350

Preflop: UTG straddles for $6. One MP limp to Hero on BTN with :th::9h:, who raises to $25. Blinds fold, UTG calls, MP limper folds. (Note: Hero is surprised that we're seeing a flop heads-up. That was a rarity at this table.)

Flop ($53): :jd::td::6h:
UTG checks. Hero?
No problem with the raise or the sizing. You got head's up with the player you want to be playing with. Pefect.

Flop: pretty good flop, we are betting a standard Cbet here. PLenty of draws and whateverthefuck hands she will call with....whatever betting you were doing when she would get super sticky, bet that. I would put 5 reds out there expecting a call from any 2 cards.
 

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This is a big part of what makes me advocate for a pot sized flop bet:

She was also very sticky with draws and weak made hands, usually going into check-call mode.

If the read on villain is off, then my approach would be a bad idea. But it sounds like hero had watched her closely.
Not sure I'm sold on full pot over say 66%-75%. But, if she is true to form, and betting here basically always ensures she checks to us on the turn, then seems like a good idea.

The way I see it, we basically are getting to either see the turn for free 100%, or getting to see the river for a price we set a decent amount of the time. I would not be looking at this as a hand where I'm trying or expecting to get multiple streets of value though. Aggressive or not, are we really going to get her to call down with worse the T9 for multiple streets? I find that hard to believe. Lot of draws to get value from for sure, but not a lot of worse made hands that are going to be paying us off.

Plus, we just aren't that deep. Betting multiple streets for a large sizing is committing a lot of our stack. If we pot and get called that makes the pot $175 and we only have $370 left. How do we proceed on turn then? Hand isn't strong enough to jam for 2x pot because we just can't expect to get called by worse. Any other normal sized bet, even just 33%, leaves us with pot or less on river. So I can't imagine betting turn without improving.

I think our best case scenario is we bet flop and get called, bet turn and get called, and check down river and win. And I'm just not sure that's going to happen often enough. This all seems like just unnecessary variance against a villain we can just take to value town in much safer spots.

Like I said, I think we get one street of value most of the time here is we are good. Going for two streets would have to be done on flop and turn as getting called by worse on river seems optimistic. And betting flop AND turn puts us in tough spots on lots of run-outs. I just say we use position and keep the pot manageable in line with the strength of our hand. Whether that's betting now, or on turn, I'm mostly indifferent. We don't need to think about balancing here very much.
 

grebe

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Against a player like this, we always need value when we think we are good. Two mindsets that I think are counter productive in these instances:
1) trying to see a free card (because V gets same chance)
2) trying to get them to fold, because once again, this is a situation that if you overbet/shove, you will get folds by worse and calls by better.

I am TOTALLY against checking this board behind. DO NOT GIVE UP the lead here for free! You want to check, check the turn.
 

JustinInMN

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I am TOTALLY against checking this board behind. DO NOT GIVE UP the lead here for free! You want to check, check the turn.
If there is no risk of a check-raise, I would 100% agree. That needs to be part of the read on villain. But that's my only hesitation about going for value here.
 
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Taghkanic

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If we pot and get called that makes the pot $175 and we only have $370 left.

Maybe I misread the set-up, but I thought she started with $350.

If you pot it, wouldn’t it then be $198 in the middle (1+3+6+6+25+25=66+66+66=198) and the Villain should have $259 behind.

So you’re setting her up for a turn shove, if safe/favorable. You also have the option of either it going check/check on scary turns, or betting some other amount to deny equity vs flush or straight draws which are still out there. However, with her stack size almost any smaller bet size is going to commit her to the river.

She should call the shove when she’s behind a lot, or if she folds you got an extra $66 on the flop. Not bad for middle pair.

Again… All this dependent on the reads being correct.

And again, I’m thinking long-term here. I want to get it vs this Villain heads-up whenever I think it’s a good spot. She’ll win some but over the long haul it should be profitable. It’s kind of like a meta-thin-value strategy.
 

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Maybe I misread the set-up, but I thought she started with $350.

If you pot it, wouldn’t it then be $198 in the middle (1+3+6+6+25+25=66+66+66=198) and the Villain should have $259 behind.

So you’re setting her up for a turn shove, if safe/favorable. You also have the option of either it going check/check on scary turns, or betting some other amount to deny equity vs flush or straight draws which are still out there. However, with her stack size almost any smaller bet size is going to commit her to the river.

She should call the shove when she’s behind a lot, or if she folds you got an extra $66 on the flop. Not bad for middle pair.

Again… All this dependent on the reads being correct.

And again, I’m thinking long-term here. I want to get it vs this Villain heads-up whenever I think it’s a good spot. She’ll win some but over the long haul it should be profitable. It’s kind of like a meta-thin-value strategy.
I misread. I thought hero was the effective stack. This makes me dislike the preflop sizing even more.

But again, are you really thinking we are getting multiple streets of value against worse hands here? I'm not betting flop thinking about trying to jam safe turns because I just can't imagine getting called by worse made hands. Even if she calls off with draws, it's not like we are doing amazing against a range of better made hands + draws. Betting flop is almost entirely equity denial and to get the free river.

I think some of you think I'm completely against betting flop. And I'm not. I'm just arguing that expecting to get more than one street of value here is very optimistic. We have a marginal made hand. We don't need to be thinking about how to extract multiple streets of value.
 

JustinInMN

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I really don't hate bet-fold as a line here either. Arguably, this would be about the bottom of hero's range. Maybe hero gets here with 88 and 77, but those are probably just good give-up candidates hero wouldn't bet flop with.

If the only downside to a bet is the risk of getting raised, I'm leaning more toward betting it, and just deciding this is a give it up if we get raised. If we just get called or if villain folds, then hero knows it was a value/protection play.

Villain probably can't get too out of line with a check raise based on re-reading the read, it's a lot of loose calls, so maybe safe to assume a check raise is Jx or better and we can fold confidently.

So yeah, I am for betting about $30-$40 here. $30 is an amount that won't lead to playing for stacks. $40 is closer to that figured because if villain calls the effective stack would be about 1.5x pot. A $30 bet and call puts about $120 in the pot and villain is still about $300 deep. I bring this up mainly because if part of villain's aggressiveness is making big shoves with anything, we are also going to have to give up the hand.
 

Taghkanic

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But again, are you really thinking we are getting multiple streets of value against worse hands here?

Not against a nittier player, or against a unknown. Against the specific sticky, overactive villain described? Sure I do.

Making the shove roughly pot sized vs. their stack I think only increases the likelihood of a call by draws and worse made hands. By the turn they are going to feel there is too much to go away, even with draws which at that point will be getting a bad price. If this Villain even thinks in such terms, which is kind of doubtful...

A small turn bet gives Villain’s draws too nice a price. It also sets Hero up to be too frequently bluffed off the turn, if this Villain is capable of bluffs (which I don’t know based on the description). Any overcard or diamond or Jack they might perceive as a scare card and take a shot. Meanwhile, there is no incentive to try to show weakness in order to *induce* bluffs, since the OP says this Villain is pretty much unbluffable. Another reason to go for thin value with the middle pair which is effectively top pair.

Sometimes this type of player is paying just enough attention to check the flop when their top pair has a very weak kicker (J2, J3, J4 off), fearing that you may have a better J. But my experience is that these players are not thinking about their opponents’ hands, just whether they made *anything* on the flop. And if they have made anything, or have a pocket pair, they are calling down with as little as 4th pair.

If you pot the flop and get called, but they fold the turn to a shove, that’s still a good outcome—Hero gets value he otherwise probably would have missed. If they call, you probably still have a decent chance of winning the hand on a lot of run-outs.

One thing I would be watching out for is whether Hero has seen the Villain slowplay big made hands at all. It doesn’t sound like it. That would change my thinking a lot. In the absence of such evidence, I think a big flop bet followed by a fair number of turn shoves also has value over the arc of the game—Hero can do the same thing vs. this Villain with stronger hands and occasional air. The rare times when they show up with 66 or JJ, you just say nice hand and know that that is almost never the case.
 

Taghkanic

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... Part of what’s maybe driving my thinking here is that the description of the Villain is so like someone I played with several times at a Massachusets casino, pre-COVID, at the same stakes ($1/$3).

This was a middle-aged Asian woman, evidently a lady of leisure, who would sit down with a big purse full of $5 chips, and order a steady stream of mixed drinks. Very easy to play against.

She would VPIP something like 80% of hands, call a similar amount of flops, and station you on the river with any pair and any A. She would sometimes even call a river bet with as little as Q high with her missed draws. So by the river she was showing down with roughly half of the entire deck.

When she hit TP or better, she’d donk bet, or reraise if in position. Would pay you off even if the board got scary. And then open the purse and pull out three more stacks of 5s, and do it again.

I fully admit that maybe the Villain in this hand isn’t quite that bad and I’m overestimating how aggressively to play it, but that’s the type of player I have in mind.
 

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But again, are you really thinking we are getting multiple streets of value against worse hands here?
I am always amazed by the hands I get value from.

The other night playing 1/2 limit....I flopped the NUT FLUSH action went check bet call. TURNED THE ROYAL FLUSH (4 spades on board) action went check bet call. River check bet call. 3 streets of value. guy had 65 for a single pair, no spade. You know, because I could have been bluffing.
 

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... Part of what’s maybe driving my thinking here is that the description of the Villain is so like someone I played with several times at a Massachusets casino, pre-COVID, at the same stakes ($1/$3).

This was a middle-aged Asian woman, evidently a lady of leisure, who would sit down with a big purse full of $5 chips, and order a steady stream of mixed drinks. Very easy to play against.

She would VPIP something like 80% of hands, call a similar amount of flops, and station you on the river with any pair and any A. She would sometimes even call a river bet with as little as Q high with her missed draws. So by the river she was showing down with roughly half of the entire deck.

When she hit TP or better, she’d donk bet, or reraise if in position. Would pay you off even if the board got scary. And then open the purse and pull out three more stacks of 5s, and do it again.

I fully admit that maybe the Villain in this hand isn’t quite that bad and I’m overestimating how aggressively to play it, but that’s the type of player I have in mind.
It may be. But those types are pretty rare. So in absence of more specific info, I'm going with the assumption this player VPIPs high pre and will call down with a lot of draws and TP or good 2nd pair type hands, but isn't just going to call off with worse to pot+ sized jams, or call river value bets with much worse than 2nd pair.
 

Legend5555

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I am always amazed by the hands I get value from.

The other night playing 1/2 limit....I flopped the NUT FLUSH action went check bet call. TURNED THE ROYAL FLUSH (4 spades on board) action went check bet call. River check bet call. 3 streets of value. guy had 65 for a single pair, no spade. You know, because I could have been bluffing.
For sure it happens. But how often is the key thing here. It's great that those kinds of crazy things happen, but it's not really the norm. Most small stakes players are very showdown oriented. They don't value bet on any board where a potential straight of flush is possible with less than 2 pair. And they don't typically call large bets with worse than TP or draws.

I'd rather use the most frequent player profiles as guidelines than the extremes.
 

Legend5555

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Also, when going for value...if you don't value own yourself from time to time, you are not betting thin enough....meaning you are leaving value out there.
I'm all for betting for thin value. This texture combined with our kicker doesn't leave many worse hands by the river that are going to call though.
 

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For sure it happens. But how often is the key thing here. It's great that those kinds of crazy things happen, but it's not really the norm. Most small stakes players are very showdown oriented. They don't value bet on any board where a potential straight of flush is possible with less than 2 pair. And they don't typically call large bets with worse than TP or draws.

I'd rather use the most frequent player profiles as guidelines than the extremes.
As you may well have picked up by now, I am more of the "keep betting until they tell you to stop" kind of guy. It's a scary board for sure....but it's scary for both players.

Although I do concur that this flop hits a normal player's calling range more than a preflop raiser's range, we have the button and we have an overall range advantage to this player with a high VPIP. Of course they have a bunch of Jacks and draws in their range, but they also have a bunch of garbage....some of which includes a worse T or a 6. Also, if they DO have a straight draw, we need to make them pay to miss that draw.

Also: 2/3 of the time, your hand misses the flop....but so does theirs.
 

Taghkanic

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It may be. But those types are pretty rare.

At 1/3, on a Friday or Saturday night, not so rare. More common than than highly skilled players, anyway.

So in absence of more specific info, I'm going with the assumption this player VPIPs high pre and will call down with a lot of draws and TP or good 2nd pair type hands, but isn't just going to call off with worse to pot+ sized jams, or call river value bets with much worse than 2nd pair.

True of most players... But not the worst ones. At these stakes I spend a few orbits trying to ID which are the ones who will do this. There is often more than one.

One thing is that they seem to hate the idea of being bluffed more than they fear losing money.

The other is just that they get attached to their hands, and make no serious effort to think about what you might be shoving with.

I’ve been playing off-and-on through the pandemic in a private group, usually two table tourneys, sometimes a cash game. These are people I have also played live with for years. Of the two dozen people who play semi-regularly, I would say a good 15-20% are people who can be exploited this way. And overall this group is more experienced than your typical casino crowd.

Examples: There’s one guy who VPIPs a good 60% and will call down with any pair and any draw. Another guy who sticks around with any ace. An older woman who *never* believes I have anything on the flop, calls all my flop bets, then folds the turn unless she has a monster. This means I can double-barrel almost any hand heads-up against her and it is profitable. Just shut down if she calls the second barrel.
 

Schmendr1ck

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Fantastic discussion so far, thanks. And it sounds like Hero's preflop decision was a little controversial.

The logic was that based on Villain read, if Hero didn't raise then Villain would (she 100% raises her straddle when limped to). If Hero's seeing a raised flop he wants to do it with control of the betting. And with only the (slightly tighter) blinds to get through and a single limper, it was almost certainly going to be a three-way flop. Hero was surprised that the limper folded to a single raise.

Additional info based on some of the above comments: Hero had not seen Villain check-raise in the two hours he was at the table. She was very consistent about either aggressively leading the betting, check-calling, or folding. Check-raise did not seem to be a tool in her kit.

On to the turn!

-----------------------------
Venetian 1/3NL
Hero (BTN): about $450
Villain (UTG): about $350

Preflop: UTG straddles for $6. One MP limp to Hero on BTN with :th::9h:, who raises to $25. Blinds fold, UTG calls, MP limper folds. (Note: Hero is surprised that we're seeing a flop heads-up. That was a rarity at this table.)

Flop ($53): :jd::td::6h:
UTG checks. Hero bets $40, Villain calls quickly.

Turn ($133): :jd::td::6h::2c:
UTG checks. Hero?
 

Moxie Mike

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I don't have a problem with the preflop raise - 10-9 needs to smash the flop against multiple opponents in order to have a chance to win...

Flop bet is fine against this Villain. HERO is ahead of much of her range since she's basically holding 2 random cards.

The snap call of what is a sized up c-bet is a little troubling. Obviously her calling range is wide here... marginal jacks, middle pocket pairs, any FD/SD type hand are going to peel the turn from this type of opponent. Second pair is going to be good here a decent amount of the time.

The :2c: on the turn is as innocuous as it gets. How did the Villain react to the turn card? Did she check immediately or did she stare at it for a few seconds? What was her body language like?

That said, I advocate a check back. Here's why:

Villain isn't folding to any reasonable bet here. So if HERO believes he's ahead and wants to drag this pot now, it's going to take a very large bet to induce a fold - and it still might not work. Betting ~$70 into this pot will certainly be called and HERO will learn nothing in the process about the strength of the Villain's hand.

Bloating this pot is bad from a STP perspective... since it makes a river jam much more reasonable. HERO doesn't want to be stacking off here regardless of what the river is.

Checking back does run the risk of giving a free card to someone who is probably drawing - typically a terrible move. But here, a check back allowed HERO to re-evaluate on the river. In all likelihood, a check will induce a bet from the Villain on any river, and Hero can decide from there if he thinks second pair is good.
 
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