14th February 2011, 10:22 PM
Poker at: ACR/BCP
Game: NL Holdem
QTip (Owen Gaines): The Bell Shaped Range
This month's video includes an excerpt from QTip's new book.
Hope you enjoy! Owen will be in responding to any questions you might have.
"Owen Gaines has released his second book, Hole Card Confessions: Hand-Reading and Exploitive Play. This ground-breaking book is designed to give you an edge in the poker battle by showing you how to navigate the sea of information at the poker table. With this information and some experience, you’ll often find your opponent’s hole cards are speaking volumes. It’s just a matter of tuning your ears to their frequency. Once you’re tuned in, you will have obtained a key ingredient needed to become a force at the poker tables. Get your copy today at www.qtippoker.com
Below is an excerpt from pages 81-84 showing you how to exploit the bell-shaped range verses straight-forward opponents."
We already discussed what the bell-shaped range is all about. Our opponent's range is almost completely comprised of what he perceives to be marginal hands with little to no weak or strong hands. Let's look at the bell-shaped range verses different player types.
As I've discussed, you'll have higher steal equity against players who like their money and need a good hand when the pots get large. These players are normally the nits and the TAGS. These types allow us to quickly identify a bell-shaped range. Most of the time when these players have a bell-shaped range, they are going to be playing quite passively. The exception would be if the stack to pot ratio is very small; in that case, many players will play aggressively with marginal hands. Outside of that exception, most of these players are trying to control the size of the pot by keeping bets smaller, checking on a street or two. Generally, they hope to show the hand down and perhaps get a little bit of value from their marginal hand. They're trying their best to follow the mantra "Big pots for big hands and small pots for small hands." This is even more reliable on very wet boards since most players want to charge draws, and build pots quickly with very strong hands on wet boards. So, when they're playing more passively on wet boards, it's even easier to identify their range as bell-shaped. Let's look at a couple examples of identifying a bell-shaped range and how to respond.
It's a $1$2 NLHE game and everyone has $200. A nit player opens from early position, and you decide to call on the button with 7♦8♦. The flop is Q♠7♠6♦. Your opponent checks the flop, so you decide to bet $10 into the $14 pot. He calls. The turn is the 5♣, and he checks. You decide to check as well. The river is the 2♥, and he checks again. Let's pause for a moment and shape his range.
Without even going street by street and chiseling his range, it's easy to see he's not proud of his hand. As I told you, nits like to get the money in quick with their big hands, especially when the board has draws like this. They wait and wait for the monster hands and they do their best to get paid when they have one. He's done nothing but check, check, check. He did check/call your flop bet out of position, so it's likely he has some sort of hand. These types rarely raise in early position with suited hands like T9s, so he really has very few flush draws. Most of the time, you'll see a nit take this line with pairs somewhere between the 7 and Q. I'd bet he has a hand like 88-JJ.
Now, stop and think about your hand.
Inexperienced players look at their hand here and think, "Well, I have a pair; let's check and see if it's good." Let me save you the suspense. It's not. Of course, sometimes you'll check and be surprised this player went outside his normally tendencies and check/called the flop with something like AJ. However, that will certainly be the exception and not the rule. The point is, your hand is trash against virtually his entire range.
What should you do?
The answer is to bluff. Yes, turn your pair into a bluff.
How much should you bluff is the next question. Well, the pot is $34 right now, and you both have about $180 left. How about a $20 bluff? He'd need to fold to your bet about 40% of the time. Will he do it? Maybe, maybe not. But, let's dig further. Here's what his hole cards are confessing.
"Dear opponent. I really want to show this hand down. I like it, but not that much. I'll go ahead and play a small pot. Please, let's just play nice, keep the pot small and turn the cards over to see who has the best hand."
This should be your reply.
"Dear opponent. I appreciate the fact you're out of position and have a marginal hand. That is always a tough spot. I also appreciate you want to just keep the pot small and see a showdown. However, that's just not going to happen. This is going to get very expensive for you, if you want to see a showdown."
How about betting $100 into the $34 pot? That sounds about right to me. That's the way you attack a bell-shaped range that’s begging you to keep the pot small. Use your stack like a weapon and crush their hopes of getting to showdown cheaply. The nit will likely fold 100% of his range to this bet. You can run the math as long as you like, but it's hard to beat having your opponent fold 100% of the time. In these situations, I would say your $20 bluff is a losing bluff. The hand has really played out just the way he would like it. Only two streets were bet and the bets weren't that large. You're probably going to get called by a hand like TT quite often, especially if you're viewed as an aggressive player.
Now, some players get concerned here and say "But, what are we really representing?!" My response is this. When a nit gives you his story, you don't need one. He just loves his stack too much to make a huge call with his bell-shaped range. He'll fold and wait until he has the nuts next time. Only thing he doesn't realize is we know he never has the nuts in that situation.
Part 1 of the Series:
YouTube - QTip Bell-Shaped Range Part 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMkJ3j-CaHY)
YouTube - QTip Bell-Shaped Range Part 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IxC2qya0KI)