Hand analysis – a “standard” superexploitative play

Okay, I’m not gonna make promises from now on about upcoming posts, because I can’t keep them. Despite that, I hope you’ll enjoy my next piece, which takes us into the deep realms of balance and exploitation. My favourite topic for sure.

I’ve just reviewed a session I played earlier, and as usual, I didn’t really stop at the hands I consider standard. When I ran through this hand, I remembered this was a standard hand, but while reviewing, a weird feeling got me. Was I overexploitative maybe? Did I butcher this hand, because of general exploitative thoughts? I considered the hand standard – but was I right?

Full Tilt Poker $5/$10 Limit Hold’em – 4 players
DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with T of hearts Q of hearts
CO raises, Hero 3-bets, 2 folds, CO calls

Flop: (7.5 SB) A of hearts 2 of diamonds K of spades (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets, CO calls

Turn: (4.75 BB) 5 of spades (2 players)
CO checks, Hero checks

River: (4.75 BB) A of clubs (2 players)
CO bets, Hero folds

CO is a weaker, passive kind of player, not the prototypical recreational player, but not a good regular either. He’s the kind of guy, that you don’t mind having on your right, given there’s another mark at the table.

So at first glance the hands seems standard, right? He called my cbet on this dry superscary flop in a 3bet pot, he’s never folding anything on the turn, also he might have some Ax even in his range, given his passivity. Also we don’t want to bet/fold with our possible 4 outs, but we have to if we get raised by some kind of slowplay. Clear checkback/fold obviously.

However, let’s examine the situation from the balance standpoint. My 3betting range against the CO looks somehow like this: 44+, A4s+, A7o+ K9s+, KTo+, QTs+, QJo, JTs – fairly standard, maybe a bit tight in the suited connector section, I’d add T9s at least, maybe other hands, but let’s stick to this one now. I cbet the flop 100% of the times, that’s also clear.

On the turn, given our multistreet alpha, we should have around 25-30% ratio between bluffs and valuehands. Let’s say we valuebet all Kx or better hands. In this case our range looks somehow like this:

Combonator Output – combonator.com

Group 1:  137 combos  74.1% (65.6% total)
Group 2:   48 combos  25.9% (23.0% total)

Group 1: Value
KK+, 55, A4s+, A7o+, K9s+, KTo+

Group 2: Bluff
88-66, 44, QTs+, QJo, JTs

Well, it seems a bit too much, isn’t it? Bluffing 88 just doesn’t make much sense exploitatively if we also valuebet every Kx, so let’s check back our worst kings – hell, let’s check back all of our kings. (We definitely don’t want to do that, but that’s another extreme we should look at.)

Combonator Output combonator.com

Group 1:   98 combos  73.1% (46.9% total)
Group 2:   36 combos  26.9% (17.2% total)

Group 1: Value
KK+, 55, A4s+, A7o+

Group 2: Bluff
66, 44, QTs+, QJo, JTs

Okay, this seems more like it, and it correlates with the idea of not bluffing too much, cause he won’t fold anything. Still, I think we lose too much value not vbetting at least KQ, KJ sometimes. But let’s stick with that range for now, just because it suits our case much better.

So 17.2% of our complete range should be bluffs, but we want to check back QTs – it seems to be highly exploitative, but let’s see, how much. QTs is at the 3rd percentile of our range (I would barrel JTs by the way, the only worse hand in our range). So we’re cutting off 83% (0.142/0.172 = 0.826) of our bluffing range – for this kind of deviation we have to have a really solid reason!

The only reason for cutting our bluffing range is that Villain is not going to fold enough hands on the turn, or for two bets by the river. So let’s see what’s his strategy is on the turn.

My assumptions are:

  • he opens ~27% in the CO
  • he’ll fold the flop with no pair no draw
  • he’ll fold low underpairs, let’s say 66 or worse
  • he raises the flop with better Ax hands (let’s say AT+) and twopairs, sets
  • he doesn’t ever bluffraise this flop (I think we can easily assume that in this situation)

With these assumptions he folds the flop at least 30% of the times, which is definitely too much from a balanced perspective, and that may raise the flag, but let’s continue.

On the turn he should fold 17% of his range, and that means a range like JTs, QT, 99-77 – honestly, that’s not impossible. Now he may or may not fold these hands, so let’s see the worse case scenario, when he doesn’t fold anything on the turn, but folds some on the river. If he calls turn 100%, he’ll have to fold the river 26% of the time. That’s the above mentioned range plus QJ and TT.

I’m truly surprised he doesn’t have to fold stronger hands than this. At this point I feel I butchered this hand really bad. I thought he may have to make herofolds in order to make me indifferent to bluffing – and keep in mind, we made an 83% deviation from our standard strategy, and even if he calls down every pair or better, he’ll just make a 43% deviation from his balanced strategy. That’s a big difference, and I should really look into these situations a bit deeper in the future, cause I feel totally lost now.:)

But that’s poker, isn’t it?

3 thoughts on “Hand analysis – a “standard” superexploitative play

    • Hey,

      I guess I meant weak and passive in a different way. He definitely wasn’t a loose-passive player, he was just a tad bit more passive than me, mostly postflop, missing some thin and not that thin value. It definitely doesn’t mean his preflop range is tighter than average. Live he might not even count as a weak player, just some LAGTAG playing cautiously. He’s definitely not the prototypical recreational player.

      I guess you meant it’s an easy fold preflop. Against a 30% opening range (the absolute minimum I give to this player) it does fairly well in equity (45%) and with position, implied odds and skill edge I don’t even think it’s a close 3bet. Against a 35% range we have the required equity to 3bet, without implied odds or any kind of advantage. I think not 3betting this is pretty nitty and definitely a mistake against most players, especially if they’re not very tight openraisers.

  1. Your game is so different from mine that I won’t contradict anything you say! OTOH, I went to your old site and there are definitely some posts worth cross-posting. My #1 favorite was teaching your girlfriend how to play. I even showed it to a friend of mine (and Glenn) and needless to say, they were ROFL.

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