Half-stack facing min-raise with middle pair

chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
Recently on vacation, I had a chance to revisit the first live card room I ever played at: then known as the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room, in the summer of 2016. In my ignorance, I had played a $30 + $5 turbo tournament, and I was looking forward to playing it again, purely for nostalgic reasons. I also brought another $200 to play some cash afterwards. I ended up getting only 4 hours of sleep, but I'd been looking forward to coming back here for months, and I'm not about to be dissuaded!

It's a Wednesday afternoon, and I've been playing cash for around an orbit after busting. I've put $100 on the table and am up to $107 after a successful C-bet in the only hand I've played. Despite the poor sleep, I'm doing pretty well cognitively: calm, untilted, and thinking straight (and aware of the limitations from the lack of sleep).

Villain appears to be a $1/$2 reg. Friendly, chatty, and never misses an opportunity to explain his strategy after the hand. For example:
- I don't remember the preflop action, but the flop had 2 kings. Villain calls a multiway $10 flop bet from the player on his right, a middle-aged asian lady. The turn bricks, and Villain calls a $15 bet. The river bricks again, and the asian lady checks. Villain bets $50, she turns her K9o face-up, says she "has to" call, and does, losing to his KJ. Villain says, "I knew you had a king -- it's the only thing that made sense. My only question was how good your kicker was. When you checked the river, I knew it wasn't that good, so I bet."
- Another player makes a fairly big open-raise preflop, and villain calls. The flop is 9-high and disconnected, and villain leads out for 2/3 pot. The open-raiser makes a fairly hefty shove (~pot-sized?), and the villain folds, turning a 9 face-up. (The open-raiser ends up showing KK.)

So, yeah -- villain loves to share info about his strategy.

In this hand, I'm in the hijack with :KS: :JS:. I open-raise to $12, villain calls on the button, and one of the blinds calls. Pot is in the low $30s.

The flop comes :QH: :JH: :5C:. BB checks. I think, and cut out a $20 bet, then trade a red chip for a $2 to make it $17. Villain makes a min-raise with a cherry on top to $35, and the BB folds. Villain covers and I have $78.

What's your play here?

Half-stack facing min-raise with middle pair

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  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Also -- feel free to discuss your reasoning!
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,367 ✭✭✭✭
    I didn't vote because I don't bet the flop.
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Fair enough. I think checking is a good play too, and I suspect the EV is comparable to betting. I'm not sure what's the best way to approach this situation out of position.

    Feel free to vote "as played".
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,688 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Good question. Why does one bet?
    1. To get better hands to fold.
      • lol nope!
    2. To get worse hands to call.
      • I expect to get called by flush draws, open-enders, worse middle pairs, and pocket pairs below top pairs. So this is one good thing that can happen by betting.
    3. To deny equity.
      • Hands with significant equity that might fold: gutshots, ace-high (drawing to the ace), bottom pair (drawing to trips/two pair). In retrospect, this is not a whole lot, and I don't think equity denial should be a huge motivating factor to C-bet in this spot.

    But I flatter myself that I bet for a reason. :) In the moment, sure, I believe I was indeed thinking of some combination of value from the draws that won't fold, and denial for the draws that would. But as sleep deprived as I was, there honestly wasn't a whole lot of thought that went into the bet.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,688 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2018
    So a couple things are revealed by your analysis:

    There are worse hands that can call, and they are primarily draws or hand that can't take two streets of betting.

    However, the primary draws with nut equity will never be denied by a bet of any normal size.

    Extrapolating, you have now put in this bet with the expectation of being forced to call against a range that either beats you or has significant equity against you, or to fold out what rates to be often ahead.

    In other words, on the spectrum of choices to wager, you've made a questionable choice. The middle of the range on a drawing board is very hard to lay a price on and trends inefficient.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,425 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The hand isn't so much about position, it's about stack size, and yours makes this very awkward. You put in over 10% of your stack preflop. I'm calling the pot $35. The SPR is now 2.7. You should consider your next move carefully because it commits you to the hand. Therefore this poll question should not even exist. The question is, is this hand worth committing on the flop?

    You bet $17. We first say villain calls. That puts $69 in the pot, and you have $75 behind. Villain raises $18 now. If you called that there would be $105 in the pot and you have $57. This is why no one is voting for a call. But shoving is no fun either. Therefore, don't bet the flop :) Hand planning.

    Preflop raise was fine (with your stack you could also make it less). Short stack poker is about big cards (yes) and flopping top pair or overpair (no). As Obi Wan Kenobi once said as he waved his hand, "This is not the flop you're looking for."
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 326 ✭✭✭
    So should he be check-calling reasonably-sized bets on the flop instead?
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Thanks both of you for the great feedback! It helps me understand the reasons why the flop bet is where the hand went off the rails.

    As played, I slowed down and thought after getting raised (unlike when betting, heh).

    I think that this type of villain is almost never raising top pair. That leaves two pair and sets which have me crushed, and :TH: :9H: and :KH: :TH: that I'm behind. I don't think QQ is in their range because they 3-bet preflop -- JJ is more likely, although I block that pretty hard. So that's 6 combos of 2 pair (I think they flat all QJs and QJo pre), 3 combos of 55, 1 of JJ: 10 combos that have me crushed. (And note that I am blocking an additional 5 strong value combos, or fully 1/3 of their value range!)

    On the other hand, I think villain is likely to have lots of draws: I imagine they would raise any open-ender or better. Here is a sample range:

    My reasoning in the moment was that villain's raise would be weighted too heavily towards draws, as he has few nutted combos, and the board makes a lot of draws. I assumed at the time (and still think) villain would not adjust their raising range to correct for this board giving them more draws and fewer nutted hands. Based on my assumption that villain would be unbalanced towards draws, I decided not to fold.

    If I called, I didn't like the prospect of being out of position (although folks have pointed out that position matters less with stack/pot sizes being what they were). Villain could check behind and see two cards for free on a brick, and could make my life difficult on a scare card. I suppose I could have called and led out on a brick turn, but while interesting, that didn't (and doesn't) seem like much of a plan.

    Taking into account villain's presumed imbalance, and fully conscious of my own tiredness and its effects on my decision making, I ultimately decided to shove. My thinking was to get the money in reasonably good, assuming that villain would call off their draws. Further analysis to follow...
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Now for some more visual analysis. Let's start by analyzing the equity of the situation. The attached card-based diagram shows every hand that villain might have. Blocked hands are X'd out. Our hole cards are highlighted yellow, so we can see what they block. Flop cards are highlighted dark green, so we can see what they block.

    (Note how nice it is to have card information and hand information displayed together. It's very easy to see the two pair hands: they're the ones in the bucket where the green stripes cross. It's very easy to see the sets: they're the ones in the staircased buckets where green stripes reflect. etc., etc.)


    There are two things to notice about each square (each of villain's possible hands).
    1. The colour tells us who's ahead: blue is us, red is them.
    2. The intensity tells us how lopsided the matchup is: dark is pretty one-sided, and light means it's more of a toss-up.

    So, villain's bottom-pair-plus-flush-draw hands are pretty much coin flips. Neat.

    Now, do we see more red squares or blue squares? Lots more blue! This supports my assumption in the moment that villain is going to have far too many draws if they raise any open ender or better.

    How about the overall equity? It's in the title -- we have 54%. So if villain is raising "strong" draws, but isn't raising top pair (because it "isn't a raising hand"), we are actually ahead of their raising range.

    But we're not done yet. Poker decisions are judged by EV, not equity.
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Let's take the same diagram, but plot the shove EV instead of the equity. This is a function of the equity we already calculated, and the relevant stack sizes. (My memory is fuzzy, but I went with $87 pot, $75 shove, $57 to call -- these are reflected in the diagram.)


    The colour scale is similar to the equity diagram, but with green and orange instead of blue and red so as not to confuse them.
    1. The colour shows the sign of the EV: green is +EV, orange is -EV.
    2. The intensity shows the magnitude of EV: light colours are close to break-even, dark colours are a big EV swing.

    We can see the -EV hands clearly in orange. Note that not even the extremely strong combo draws ( :KH: :TH: or :TH: :9H: ) are -EV to shove! They just show up a lighter green than the other hands in their bucket.

    Our overall EV (see title) is a little more than $42. We can quibble around the edges, but if villain is playing the way I think we are, then we have to shove, as (mis)played. Folding is out of the question, and calling is gross.

    What about the stats? Well, yes, sometimes we're crushed if we hit one of the 10 value combos. Versus certain hands, our EV might be as bad as -$61 (see the right side of the legend).

    On the other hand, it could be as good as +$81 (I guess if villain calls it off with an OESD).

    And the median EV is $58. So, half the time we do better than this, half the time we do worse. The median is a lot better than the average (again, $42, see title), because the median hand is a draw, which has a decent chunk of equity. Even villain's worst hands likely have equity, and their best hands have us crushed.

    Still though, the EV analysis overall supports a shove. It turns out to be worth nearly half the pre-existing pot of $87. I wonder what that implies about villain's EV...?
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Let's flip this around and look at things from villain's perspective. We'll use the exact same colour scale to keep things easy to compare.


    The first thing we notice is that villain has no -EV hands (no orange boxes). This is reflected in the stats on the right side of the legend: villain's min EV is +$6. Villain should never fold to our shove.

    The overall EV is more than $44, which is higher than our EV of $42. This is despite the fact that villain is a dog here to our 54% equity. It turns out, calling $57 gives them a nice discount compared to our $75 shove, which more than compensates for their disadvantage (but only just).

    Note that villain's median EV is just $29 -- still clearly +EV, but rather smaller than their average. So usually villain will sigh-call with a draw and hope to draw out on us.

    And occasionally, they will beat us into the pot with a call, and collect their maximum EV of $154 (out of an absolute-possible-maximum of $162!).

    So now that we know villain never folds, and we know I did in fact shove -- what did they have?
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    After I went all-in, villain thought for a long while, to my surprise. I focused on my breathing and awaited the results.

    At long last, villain began to speak.

    "Well, I've got outs. If I knew how he played, maybe I could call. But I haven't seen this guy play enough yet..."

    Villain folded their hand, and I collected the $87 pot -- $6 more than what I now know to be my maximum EV.

    Hope you folks enjoyed my analysis! Let me know if you have any alternative raising ranges to plug in.
  • EazzyEazzy Red Chipper Posts: 925 ✭✭✭✭
    Call $18
    Regs making a min raise on a drawy flop like this logically can only be one type of hand.

    If they have a big hand...why are they, min riaising such a drawy board its insane.

    If they have a draw. why are they not raising more, they want fold equity....

    So what left...top pair ok kicker, 2nd pair top kicker type thing. Problem is both these hands are ahead of you.....

    Give yourself AQ KQ and for me its a call....let the turn go check check, and shove the river so he can pick off yo ur missed flush draw...

    But here you have 2nd pair....so unless you want to turn your hand into a bluff...with not that much behind and plenty of real bluffs in your range...you pretty well have to fold...

    Of course, checking calling the flop makes a lot more sense here...
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 326 ✭✭✭
    chip_hogg wrote: »
    Hope you folks enjoyed my analysis!

    Loved every sentence and figure :)
  • chip_hoggchip_hogg Red Chipper Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Thanks very much for the kind words! :)

    I'm planning to put together a video and/or blog series to explain the ideas behind these diagrams more fully. It'll have to wait a while, though, as my day job keeps me pretty busy (and mentally occupied). The only reason I was able to finish this version of the software was a little extra downtime due to some "surprise surgery" :P
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 326 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2018
    Dude you created this yourself? Swell!

    Good luck with your recovery

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