AQs facing large 3-bet. Plan?

KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
500NL on a soft site. The limpers are very fishy. BB is a good player and aggressive 3-bettor, his 3-bet is about 13% over 1k hands. I hated all my options here. I hate calling big 3-bets OOP. Folding seems nitty. 4-betting would normally be OK but I would want fold to a rip, but the sizing here made that impossible. At least I feel like I would be committed calling a jam. Even if I clicked back I would be getting at worst 2:1 on a call.

PokerStars - $5 NL (6 max) - Holdem - 5 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

BB: 112.42 BB
UTG: 127.97 BB
CO: 135.74 BB
BTN: 80.86 BB
Hero (SB): 124.64 BB

Hero posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has :Qh:AH:

UTG calls 1 BB, fold, BTN calls 1 BB, Hero raises to 5 BB, BB raises to 21 BB, fold, fold, Hero??


  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,056 -
    4-handed, your iso here can presumably be interpreted by BB as being fairly light, and they have a massive 13% 3-bet. How bad can shoving be? Yes, you'll probably get called only by better and a couple of flips, but with a 3-bet range that wide I think you're also getting a lot of folds and avoiding the mess of any alternative.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,056 -
    I should mention I'm essentially working by analogy to MTT spots where, consistent with your logic, if your natural 4-bet size gives you 2:1 or better when shoved on, the default play is to shove.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    Yeah 4-betting even to 40BB here means that the pot coming back to me if he shoves is 154BB's and I'll have 72 behind. Makes sense that if I do go with 4-bet it might as well be a shove.
  • RoblivionRoblivion WisconsinRed Chipper Posts: 352 ✭✭✭
    Because he's 3-betting so wide, this is certainly a spot where you should be 4-betting a ton, since so many of his hands just won't be able to continue. However, it seems like maybe you have the perfect flatting hand this time. As Kat pointed out, you're basically never going to be super ahead when he calls. You're also going to be letting him off the hook when he folds some dominated hands (which is of a bit less concern, being OOP). But also as Kat pointed out, he's going to have to just relinquish so often and give you the pot, so shoving certainly can't be bad. I would say the only thing you absolutely shouldn't do here is fold.

    What does your initial iso range look like in this spot? If you have a good amount of small pairs, AXxs, KQo type hands, it seems to me those would likely be your best jam candidates along with JJ+, AK.
  • Jeffm333Jeffm333 Red Chipper Posts: 6 ✭✭
    The thoughts given so far make good sense. Against a 13% 3-bettor AQs likely ahead... and the SPR you'd be left with if you 4-bet, the shove is probably at least fine and probably best if you choose 4-bet. I really like Roblivion's input on folding being worst option and just calling so you don't fold out what you dominate; given no other info I like this best. Even though fold is worst option probably and just feels too nitty, I don't think a fold it is absolutely horrid; you could make the case for it as the SPR is weird/challenging with the big 3-bet and ultimately if you're superior to all your other opponents at this table it's not terrible to just not pay the high price with the call and to tangle in a huge pot (likely to be for stacks on later streets) while out of position against another aggressive strong player.

    Warning: Here comes some seriously anal over-analysis....

    In practice what I would try to do in this uncertain spot, is try to squeeze some more information out of the situation to help me make the decision. (not always possible of course) I'd ask myself how this player's 3-bet frequency is changing with position, and I would try to recall information related to his past 3-bet sizing, and use those items to try to understand why he's made the larger-sized 3-bet and what that may mean about his range and what it reveals about his potential plans post-flop. Other factors you didn't specifically talk about is your range here and what your opponent THINKS your range is here, that could help you narrow villains range more, but Kat and Roblivion eluded to this already so I'll just focus on some subtle (and questionable) things to use to gain more info.

    1) since this is a very frequent 3-bettor you could have some info in your 1k hand database on villain that is more position-specific. If your hud is set up to quickly look at detailed info by position, knowing if this 13% is something villain does across the board or if it more appropriately changes by position, and even more specifically identifying what it is from the BB, this can help you decide if villain will squeeze often here or is more heavily value-weighted here; if possible I'd check this quickly in-game to see if it reveals anything useful. (Could also check villains C-bet percentage after 3betting... by position even if you have a large enough hand history. If villain is doing something unbalanced like C-betting 100% or only 20% does this change your inclination to call/shove or fold to the 3-bet?)

    2) bet sizing,positional considerations: Can I extrapolate any info from this? Is this 4.1x 3-bet abnormal for villain in general, or from them when in the blinds? In online games we have a database of info to use (even if just 1k hands currently) but it's tough to analyze this deep on the spot; even so analyzing after-the-fact can allow you to figure some stuff out and put a note on your opponent for the future like "Oversize 3-bets very wide from the blinds" or even put a note with specific hand like "Saw oversize 3-bet in BB w/AA", etc. May help you next time.

    3) bet sizing,finding-the-why: In live games I have more success using abnormal bet sizing changes combined with other physical tells and body language to sometimes get an inclination of how the opponent is feeling about the bet and what they are wanting to accomplish with their specific sizing, but it is likely still useful online as well if you can remember anything about his past sizes or review his hand history database in detail. If the sizing is unusual for villain, I'd want to assess/guess villain's WHY behind it. Is villain just doing the standard "raising somewhat larger preflop from the blinds because that is what we are taught is optimal due to being out of position for the rest of the hand"? And thus he does this consistently with all his 3 bet range here? Or is villain wanting to discourage action/calls in this specific situation? If so, is this a fear-influenced thing so it is done more-so with the weaker part of their range? If so, how does this change my weighting of call vs fold vs shove?

    4) bet sizing,villains future plans: With some opponents I can categorize their play and thought process and make assumptions about what they are planning (or willing) to do with their hand on future decision points. Does this larger size 3bet indicate any of the following tendencies:
    A large 3-bet indicative of a hand they only want to play heads-up and/or are happy just to get it in with as soon as possible? Or maybe restated as is an oversize three bet and pot-bloating here a sign of "pot-commitment" for this villain? (If so this could change my thoughts on the shove as it not only confirms I'm getting called, but that the range is stronger than average and I have a near-zero chance of getting a fold)
    Can I make more detailed assumptions about villains range? Would this mean the hand is weighted heavily towards 99/TT/JJ AK and maybe AQ? or what do you think specifically, if anything?
    Would this building of a larger pot reveal that villian would be comitted on the flop no matter what, or be more likely to cbet, etc.?

    Against a really strong, aggressive, and balanced thinking player I often may not really get any usable extra info here... but I could get just enough to help sway me between the otherwise fairly evenly weighted options of calling/shoving/folding. If this is a regular strong player you face at this level, I'd get as large a hand history on villain as possible and dedicate some study time to their play, and make specific notes on how to possibly exploit them, or even to possibly avoid them and just learn from them at the very least.

  • KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the detailed post. One of my more recent goals is to start going through my database and analyzing some of the regs in my game and looking for exploits. While I have 1K hands on him, there are some other regs that I am 10K hands deep with. There are no obvious leaks in their play that I have picked up on passively, but I'm sure I can find some mistakes by digging through the DB. I like the advice of using the expanded HUD to try and get situation specific stats. That's another item on to-do list.

    One challenge though is most of my hands are at 200NL, although I have been shot taking 500NL somewhat recently when the games are good like this one was. The main difference I have noticed is that the good regs are 3-betting to larger sizings. The usual 3x IP and 4x OOP seems to be more 4-4.5x IP and 5-5.5x OOP. It's definitely made me re-think my defense frequencies, that's for sure. Even guys I clash with at both stakes seem to prefer larger 3-bets in the bigger game.

    That said I decided his overall 3-bet frequency was just too high and that AQs was too good to pass up here, and went with 4-bet, and chose to 4-bet in about half my stack. He ripped, I had to call, and got stacked by AKo. Some other good players I respect said this spot is likely a call for many of the reasons you outlined, specifically keeping in all the parts of his range I beat.

    The flop ended up being a Jack high single heart flop, which would have made it interesting to play. You're pretty much destined to lose a decent chunk anytime a LAG coolers you, so I didn't feel too bad, but just wondered what the optimum play was in this spot.
  • Jeffm333Jeffm333 Red Chipper Posts: 6 ✭✭
    At the risk of pointing out something that is probably obvious to any serious player these days... I can't emphasize enough the value of using PT or HEM or H2N to specifically target some of your regular opponents and study them. These days doing it to identify exploits and seriously narrow their ranges and basic strategy by position to help you when engaging with them is likely the most valuable reason, but there is also value in possibly identifying things they may be doing that are profitable but you aren't doing. Back when I played much more online in the pre-black-Friday days, I would generally use PT in-game and then use HEM for post-session study. (They weren't the same company back then and I was more familiar with the PT HUD during-game but liked some of the post-analysis powers of HEM; I think both software packages have likely evolved significantly since then so probably doesn't matter much which you use)

    Doing this back then was EXTREMELY beneficial for my game. It likely did more than any book, video, course, or forum ever did. Healthy sample size stats don't lie; I could see over the most recent 500k hands where I'm making 2.2BB/100 but the top 10 players at my level were all making around 4.5BB/100... so clearly they were doing some things differently (and better) than me. Another advantage back then was shark scope wasn't an "opt-in only" thing and you could pretty much review the top-100 performers at any cash-game level and pick the absolute highest-performing 10 players to constantly study on any major site. These days I suppose you'd have to rely on what your database tells you about your population of regs and their individual win rates... coupled maybe with your gut feeling around who is the toughest of your competition. (although today the strategies and understanding of the game is significantly evolved compared to back then, and there are already tons of resources out there that more accurately guide you to perfect your game... back then I don't think that knowledge was as available so studying the exact players kicking everyone's a$$ was the best choice for me) Since with some of these opponents I think I had amassed 50k-100k of hand history, I could build specific ranges by position, better understand their 3bet and cbet strategies as it related to their position, hand, and board texture, etc. (Back then it was mostly some general stat analysis, and then literally re-playing the hands that went to showdown so I could see their decisions on every street while I'm also seeing all the opponents stats that this player is adjusting to... then whenever they would make a different decision or choose a different sizing than I would, I'd try to look at their opponents stats and their hand/board texture to figure out why)

    I miss having the power to analyze others games (and my game) to that detail, so I've contemplated playing more on some of the sites in the US I still have access to and can use a database and a HUD. Although I'm fearful that the population is saturated with strong GTO-focused regs that also have HUDs and million-hand databases, and littered with bots playing a mostly-decent strategy... i.e. are there really enough fish left to justify grinding a few tables at 100nl? (Maybe that's a topic of discussion in a new post?)

    May good fortune bless you at all your poker tables where I'm not also sitting,
    Jeff :)

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