Hand No. 20 with Dusty Schmidt

POKER STARS $5/$10 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 4 PLAYERS

With the small blind re-raising so aggressively, ace-queen has good equity. 4-betting would likely be an immediately profitable play, since SB will fold a large portion of his range. With position and effective stacks of 162 blinds, however, calling gives Dusty a chance to outplay his opponent postflop and make a larger profit with the hand.

If Dusty flops a strong hand, there’s a good chance he can let his opponent fire off three barrels. Inducing bluffs like that can have huge value with big stacks in a re-raised pot.

As it turns out, the flop is of no help. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it doesn’t hit the small blind’s range very hard either. With stacks this deep, there is room to make a small flop raise, a moderate turn bet, and still fire a significant river shell. This is a line that few players take as a bluff, so it looks very credible, despite the fact that it represents a fairly narrow range – basically just sets (TT, 66, 55), straights (87s), and big pairs (AA, KK).

The critical aspect of this hand is bet sizing. Let’s imagine for a moment what would happen if Dusty raised the flop to $330. Assuming the small blind called, the pot would be $890 heading to the turn with stacks of only $1182. That leaves just a little more than a pot sized bet on the turn. Even by betting only half the pot on the turn ($445), the river would feature a pot of $1780 with stacks of only $737. That leaves less than a half pot bet on the river, which would offer the small blind better odds and command less fold equity.

By making a larger flop raise, Dusty would be giving his opponent only two chances to fold instead of three. By betting less on the flop and turn, he leaves room to make a significant enough river bet to earn a fold from everything besides a set or an extremely curious opponent.

One related point is that calling a raise to $265 instead of $330 on the flop, or $365 instead of $445 on the turn, should be even less attractive to the small blind. It’s true that his immediate pot odds will be better. That would help if he were on a draw or if he expected Dusty to give up on his bluff with a high frequency. But if he expects Dusty to follow through often enough to justify a calldown, he still needs to put in the whole enchilada. So the price is the same when Dusty commits to shoving the whole stack in.

But what about the times Dusty gives up? Now the small blind wins less. So he wins or loses the same amount when all the money goes in, but wins less when the turn or river check through. By betting less, Dusty is presenting the small blind with the same risk, but less reward.

Despite the fact that Dusty is representing a narrow range, the only hands the small blind is likely to call the river with are pocket jacks, jack-ten suited, and maybe ten- nine suited. That’s a small portion of his range. There are tons of hands he could fold on the flop (all of his air and small pairs), fewer hands he is likely to fold on the turn, and hands like pocket aces, kings, queens, along with ace-ten, king-ten, and queen-ten, which will all fold the river the vast majority of the time.

Aside from bet sizing, the other key to this hand is that few players have the heart to bomb off almost two buy ins on a cold bluff. Doing so indiscriminately would be a huge leak. But finding specific situations where your opponent will have a hell of a time calling down – well, you can turn a hell of a profit. The only way to take advantage of those situations is to give yourself permission to make a mistake from time to time. You will run into sets here and there.

But if you avoid making these moves on draw-heavy boards, you’ll get a lot of folds too.

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