Hey guys. I've been going through last month's hand history and I found one hand that I would play very differently now. I think it's quite interesting to discuss improvements within my game in a bit more depth, by talking about my old logic in this spot and how it compares to my new logic. This hand comes from a PLO2 table, against a maniac and a quite passive player, who seem to switch roles partway through the hand, leading to an interesting dynamic.
UTG raised full pot. He was playing a 70/40 with little positional awareness, so I decided to 3bet to isolate the weak player in position. The small blind flat calls - my reads on him from his stats are that he seems quite loose passive, playing 60/0, however this is only over a 20 hand period so it isn't set in stone. The way I played this hand made me think I wasn't paying a huge amount of attention to this, or I just struggled with how to adjust to it. UTG calls, and we go 3 ways to the flop.
The flop is a good one for me. I flop top pair, a gutshot, the second nut flush draw and a backdoor nut flush draw, with an effective SPR of about 3. My perceived range also hits this board very well, as I hadn't been 3 betting very much so it probably looked like aces. The loose passive player donks, and the maniac folds. I'd not seen either of these happen before on the flop, so I assume it threw me off a bit. I think my logic of flat calling the donk was that I had a good draw and I didn't want to scare away action. However, in hindsight, the small blind had been very passive on every flop so far, and for him to donk into a board which hits my perceived range so well is bizarre. I have two theories, the first being that he's not paying attention to how often I'm 3betting and trying to blow me off a hand. This seems quite uncharacteristic. The second theory is that he's flopped something and wants to go with it. This makes no sense as my perceived range flopped the nuts here, so he mustn't really be paying that much attention. A set makes sense trying to protect from a flush draw or wrap, however its very unlikely he has AAxx as there's only two aces left. I have outs against all of those combinations with my flush draw + gutter, and if I raise the flop I have a good fold equity as I'm repping aces well at every point. He could also have a flush draw or wrap himself, which is uncharacteristic for him to donk, however unless he specifically has the king high flush draw, I'm crushing it and even if he does I'm holding outs, and I have top pair so I'm ahead. I also block a lot of wrap outs with my QJ. So, unless he very specifically has a set or two pair plus a king high flush draw, my equity isn't terrible, and with all of those hands I have fold equity if I raise here from my aces repping. I think the answer here is to raise full pot and commit myself, giving myself a good chance to take down the pot there and then without having to hit my draw, and also often having good equity if they call. There is an argument for flatting to keep bluffs in his range, but I don't think I can do that when my hand is mostly drawing and I may end up just having to fold to a few barrels anyway. Plus, it keeps in his entire range, making decisions on later streets much more awkward. Even if he is bluffing, aggression on almost any turn card will get rid of him so I don't make any more money from the hand. However, I flatted, and here we go.
The turn completes my flush, and the small blind checks to me. I think he's giving up with most bluffs here as it'd be hard to get a set of aces to fold here against your average PLO2 player, so bluffs are in his range. I also think he may consider check calling for pot control with a set, or consider check shoving with a flush. I elect to check back here, thinking I was being trapped. Now, I would be betting small here, about 20-25BB. I'm definitely getting called by worse with this bet as it looks quite weak, and worse is also check jamming, for example weaker flushes trying to get it in against a set of aces, or a set semibluffing the flush. I don't really think he has the king high flush here a lot, especially with the line he took on the flop given he's so passive, I think we'd see a check call on the flop most of the time. Plus, there just aren't that many clubs left in the deck, so it's less likely than the other options. I think he definitely has the king high flush here sometimes, but the SPR is about 1 and he definitely gets it in here with worse more often than he does better. I should be betting, but I didn't, and we see a puke river.
The board pairs on the river, and he bets near full pot, committing himself. Considering I thought he had two pair or a set on the flop, most of the time he's just made a boat or quads. I folded, which I don't particularly mind, because the way I played the hand on earlier streets set this up to be a difficult decision. However, I need to be good 33% of the time to make this call. I left bluffs in his range by not betting the turn, and he still has weaker flushes, with now added fold equity from the scare card and from the fact my check back on the turn looks so weak when the flush completes. I think he bets the river a lot simply because of that without paying a huge amount of attention to what the river card is. In my mind his range is fairly split between flushes and flopped two pairs. Most of the flopped two pairs just boated, considering I block an ace. Am I good here 33% of the time? I think it's impossible to say considering we don't know enough about the player to know how often he's doing this with bluffs - this is the first river he's seen with us at the table. So, to make a proper decision, we have to resort to raw equity.
I gave the villain a 15% RFI range preflop. This may seem questionable, but he was being very loose pre without a lot of positional awareness. 12% may be more appropriate, but it doesn't change the numbers very much. On the flop, we give him a flush draw and 2 pair plus, which makes sense in my opinion with his street actions. We are 68% in his range, so if this range is accurate and if he is never ever bluffing, we are profitable calling off. We may have to narrow down his range to stronger flush draws than just any of them, but I think the times he's pouncing on the weakness shown by our turn bet compensates for this. In hindsight, I like calling.
So - what message can I take from this? The main one is not to be thrown by something I don't expect. Consider why villain may be doing this, consider why I wasn't expecting it in the first place and how it contradicts the reads, and help to use all of this to define a range, and go from there.Another message is quite a big morale booster - as you may have read, March wasn't my best month, but this hand was exactly a month ago today, and from writing this analysis I feel as though I definitely am improving. Even if I am wrong with some of the stuff I've said here (which I'm sure I am) I'm certainly thinking on more levels than I was a month ago. I probably had the longest HH review session of my life today, about 2 and a half hours, and I caught myself making a lot of stupid errors. The plan is to continue to review in large volume over this month, and try and take one interesting spot from each review and write about it.
Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe