NLHE - Missing the flop, with ace high, without initiative or position.

F Paulsson

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A loose and aggressive player opens from the button. He does that with, say, 35% of his hands. We have A8s in the BB. Effective stack = 100 BB.

An option is to re-steal. Against someone who folds a lot of his hands to a 3-bet this is immediately profitable, of course. However, this particular question isn't about re-stealing. It's when we call instead of raise, because our opponent is too likely to continue with even the weaker holdings and we don't want to see a flop out of position with a vulnerable hand in a big pot.

... and the flop is dry. It's, let's say, T-T-3.

So, for the people with lots of experience at NL, I ask: What's our standard play in a situation like this? We will often - most of the time, I'm guessing, but I haven't researched it - have the best hand. Do we play fit-or-fold? Do we come out betting some of the time? Do we check/raise-bluff some of the time? Do we float?

All options are of course viable in the sense "to mix it up" but I'm curious about the actions you take often. As in, anything you're liable to do - let's say - more than 25% of the time. So if you fold 40% of the time and call 40% of the time, but lead out 10% and c/r 10% of the time, it's folding and calling I'm interested in.

And what's the plan for the rest of the hand?

This is a spot where I've developed a strategy of my own, and I have a feeling it's something that I've picked up from limit hold 'em, and I want to run a quick line check to make sure I'm not completely off base with it. For the suspense, though, I'll save my line for later.
 
ChuckTs

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Calling preflop is a pretty significant leak - we should be 3-betting or folding these hands most of the time, especially against an aggressive player who's going to make getting to showdown very difficult if we flop a pair.

Calling is easily the worst of the 3 options and I'd go so far as to say never to call OOP with a hand like this against an aggro.

How we play it postflop is largely dependent on his reads - does he double barrel often? Does he give up UI often? Is he a two-street LAG (ie raise pf, c-bet, give up UI)? Is he observant? Does he know that a ch-r on this flop will often be a bluff?

I think as a very general answer to a very general question, I would say that usually I would check-raise here. The main concern here though is preflop - playing OOP is such a bad idea, especially against a lag. If we play fit or fold, we often fold the best hand. If we lead, we'll often get floated, and be completely lost on the turn. If we check-raise, we'll actually often get floated because if he's observant he'll know that we'll ch-r bluff this flop often. We also can't really float OOP.

So...fold (or raise) preflop :)
 
F Paulsson

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What's your range for not-folding preflop in this situation?
 
ChuckTs

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Such general questions FP...it depends :)

FR/6-max, my stats, his tendency to give up to a resteal, our history...
 
F Paulsson

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6-max, 18/13, he sees a flop with at least half of the hands he'd raise with. No big hands in your history.
 
ChuckTs

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Assuming that %35 ATS in the first post I'd be 3-betting like any pair, A7s+, A9o+, KTs+, KJo+, down to suited connectors...just basically going down that path of hands. Once he starts fighting back I tighten up accordingly etc.

I rely a lot on stats and BVB situations are really 'feel'-oriented so it's kind of tough. My restealing range depends a lot on our recent history but ATS and his fold to flop bet % are very important too.
 
shrtstakatak

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How we play it postflop is largely dependent on his reads - does he double barrel often? Does he give up UI often? Is he a two-street LAG (ie raise pf, c-bet, give up UI)?

I think as a very general answer to a very general question, I would say


Reading your thread, nice discussion. I got most of the acronyms accept UI... could you please enlighten me?

Thanks and sorry for the ignorance,
 
tenbob

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Against an unknown, I rarely find myself in this spot with a hand like A8, especially sober (ie drunk being the rare time).

Look at it, we have a weak(ish) hand, but a hand that very may well be ahead of the buttons range. I really feel your thinking about this in terms of a limit hand, where we can reach showdown against his range (relatively) cheaply. This is more problamatic issue in a no limit game, and we need to be a little more selective of just how we play our hands pre-flop. Even when we do hit a flop, we can play a large pot with a hand that we shouldnt be playing a large pot with.

So given that, we should be making a decision now, do we want to play a raised pot with A8 oop ? The answer should be a resounding NO, hence we never call. We can 3 bet and obviously fold to a 4bet, we can 3-bet and lead any flop or we can just fold pre-flop.
 
F Paulsson

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ChuckTs said:
Assuming that %35 ATS in the first post I'd be 3-betting like any pair, A7s+, A9o+, KTs+, KJo+, down to suited connectors...just basically going down that path of hands. Once he starts fighting back I tighten up accordingly etc.

I rely a lot on stats and BVB situations are really 'feel'-oriented so it's kind of tough. My restealing range depends a lot on our recent history but ATS and his fold to flop bet % are very important too.

You're quite a bit more aggressive than I am, then. We play the same hands, but I (default) call with the weaker half of it.

In "fighting back," do you include him just calling your 3-bet preflop, or is that strictly referring to him 4-betting?
 
ChuckTs

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Well basically I'll slow down with the 3-betting if he's calling them at a high enough frequency and calling flop bets at a high enough (%50+) frequency, or if he's 4-betting them 'often'. If he's calling the 3-bets and playing fit or fold on the flop then I'm 3-betting him TONS.

As Ed Miller says, calling a 3-bet with the intention of committing chips only if you improve is a huge leak, and I'd be exploiting that leak in that position.
 
ChuckTs

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PT3 and it's defined 3-bet and 4-bet stats will change this part of the game sooooooooo much. I think they're doing something with positional opening ranges too, so basically expanding on the ATS stat.
 
F Paulsson

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Against an unknown, I rarely find myself in this spot with a hand like A8, especially sober (ie drunk being the rare time).

Look at it, we have a weak(ish) hand, but a hand that very may well be ahead of the buttons range. I really feel your thinking about this in terms of a limit hand, where we can reach showdown against his range (relatively) cheaply. This is more problamatic issue in a no limit game, and we need to be a little more selective of just how we play our hands pre-flop. Even when we do hit a flop, we can play a large pot with a hand that we shouldnt be playing a large pot with.

So given that, we should be making a decision now, do we want to play a raised pot with A8 oop ? The answer should be a resounding NO, hence we never call. We can 3 bet and obviously fold to a 4bet, we can 3-bet and lead any flop or we can just fold pre-flop.
Yup, like I said, this is limit think. But I think it has its merits.

See, one thing I've noticed in playing no-limit is that very few pots get big. As in, I get involved in one big pot at most once every 50 hands, and by big I mean more than half my stack. Because people are, overwhelmingly, weak-tight postflop. There's a lot of raises preflop, and there's a whole lot of checking going on after the flop.

We shouldn't play a big pot with this hand, this is true (and, incidentally, why I'm not really that happy about 3-betting preflop). But the odds are really against a big pot happening. Most of the time, in my (admittedly limited) experience we'll see the river on average for only one more bet - and that bet will come when we still have an edge, i.e. on the flop. These players (in my experience, nota bene) very often c-bet the flop, and against a blind c-bet, our equity is fine. It's on the turn that it can get ugly, but it's also on the turn that we have a slightly unexpected advantage. I'll get to that, though. On the river, people either bluff or have big hands, and we can adjust accordingly. Of course, we'll pick up a real hand along the way some of the time as well.

Now back to our "unexpected advantage": In order to adjust to me peeling the flop more lightly, people have to bet two barrels with their weak holdings more often, and then THEY risk playing a big pot with marginal hands. I don't run that risk, because I don't have to call the turn - but they have to bet it in order to prevent me from seeing the river. This is the crux.

If they're bent on betting two barrels, then I'm the one who decides which pots get big and which ones don't, and it puts the opponent with an unimproved KQs (or any other high-card hand) in a fairly awkward position when I call a dry flop, no? I mean, what do YOU do when that happens? You can bet the turn, but then you've bet two barrels after a preflop raise, and the pot is getting big.

By calling preflop with some weaker ace-high hands, our opponent must commit ~20BB to win 9 (presuming 3BB raise PF and a PSB on the flop, and then a slightly smaller follow-up bet on the turn). If he always bets two barrels to push me off, I'm going to start calling with my weaker made hands and occasionally float flop and c/r bluff turn with hands like my weaker suited connectors that missed. If he instead goes the other way and starts checking behind everything on the turn, I'm doing REALLY well.

In short, I think he needs to adjust very well to my peels in order for them to not be +EV. And not that many people have the proper 2-barrelling frequencies/ranges memorized to play optimally against them.

Bear in mind that our opponents aren't exactly of the same caliber, either. I'm playing $25NL, and I table select somewhat carefully.

There's another point I want to discuss that's closely related, but I'll hold on to it for a little while, I think.
 
F Paulsson

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By the way, this is the kind of stuff I think about when riding my bicycle home from work. What other non-poker-playing people think about, I just don't get.
 
OzExorcist

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Like the others have said, I can't think of any situations where I'd be wanting to flat call this OOP pre-flop.

Assuming I had though, I certainly wouldn't have done it to play fit-or-fold on the flop: this hand just doesn't fit enough flops to make it profitable.

So to me, a lot of it is about the hands we can represent plausibly. What do we flat call with before the flop that's worth betting now?

My gut reaction would be to lead straight at a flop like this most of the time. I'm thinking it allows us to represent a broader range of hands that could be ahead of the villain, and therefore make our bet more plausible: a ten or a variety of medium pocket pairs would all be in our range.

I think the check-raise very clearly defines the range we're representing: it says we have exactly a ten with a good kicker, or we have exactly 33.

In either case though, we're seriously lost if we get called and I think in both cases we have to give the hand up if we're raised. That being the case, it's probably another reason I'd favour leading at the flop: it'll be cheaper if we're forced off.
 
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Original Post:
I'll lead 40-50% and shut down if called or raised, check/fold the other half, and check/call close to never.

This is a hand where I am trying to build my next hand, not particularly concerned with winning this one. But Hey, if I do Great!
 
zachvac

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easy fold preflop imo. If we do 3-bet this we are doing it pretty much disregarding the cards we hold because we are NOT playing to show it down unless we flop a monster (2-pair, trips, flush if it's suited). But there is no way we can call this. As you mentioned this could be a good call in limit. But in NL the bets increase and you cannot reach showdown cheap. If we call this we are at risk for hands like KQ betting us out and we can't commit very many chips UI. Against any reasonable opponent I'm folding this without a second thought. A8 to a raise, no reason to get involved. I'd be more inclined to call with 9T than with A8.
 
Munchrs

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folding/calling/raising are all legitimate options.

Folding: Ends the hand there and then, you loose 1bb no more no less but also give up the opurtunity to win 100bb or loose 100bb.

Calling: Means you will be playing the hand OOP and without the initiative. Unless you think you have a serious post flop play skill advantage over this opponent, and also be able to have this advantage OOP/without the initiative then calling is a good option. If you dont feel you have this advantage then I certainly fold preflop.

Alternativel you can call the (assuming) 3bb raise with the plan to stack him on flops where you hit hard or play the flush with the right odds. This is a somewhat SC's strategey and means that you wont find yoursel in sticky postflop spots as you will almost always be c/f'ing the flop or playing for a big pot.

Raising: Takes the initiative away from your opponent and means that you can steal alot of pots post flop. Again I wouldnt usually do this unless I feel I can outplay my opponent in a biggish pot.

Your hand isnt really strong enough for you to be swelling the pot pre flop. I prefer using pot control and trying to keep the pot small until you no wether you are commited.

This hand needs some serious planning esspecially if you intend to go with the 3-bet route. I already said what I would be doing with what hands if I call pre flop. But with 3-betting it becomes much more player dependant.

What type of hands are you most likely to make?
well with A8s you are most likely to hit nothing and have Ace high or hit TPWK or hit the 8 which will usually be middle or bottom pair. If you decide to 3-bet then you should have already planned as to what hands you will commit you stack with postflop. THis usually depends on what type of opponent you are up against.

A high: If you dont c-bet 85%+ of the flops after you 3-bet then you probably shouldnt be doing it light. Effectively by 3-betting yu are saying ive got a big hand, so you need to back it up on almost all flops, scary flops are often going to be scary to your opponent aswell as when he calls your 3-bets without PP's then he is only going to improve on the flop 1/3 of the time and some of the time he will improve but the board could mean that his hand is still pretty weak. When I 3-be ti employ the same sort of strategey from OOP as with medium PP's, blindly c-bet as you will take down alot of the pots on the flop and can just give up when you dont as you have a weak hand.

TPWK: I would usually not commit with this unless I was against some horrible calling station who I could confidently get 3 streets of value out of.

pair of 8s: im not commited and would c-bet the give up if called/raised.
 
F Paulsson

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But in NL the bets increase and you cannot reach showdown cheap.
I thought I had made a pretty good case as to why I disagree with this. People check behind on the turn and river very, very often. Perhaps I'm the only noticing because I'm the only one flat calling flops, heh. :)

It's not that I'd rather play this hand out of position than in position, but I think it's worth repeating that if my opponent c-bets most of the time, then most of the time - by flat-calling and peeling the flop - I'll put in 9BB as a favorite. In order to pick those up, with KQ as you said, he has to be willing to commit 20BB on a dry flop. It's an expensive bluff. Also, and I feel this was an important point in my lengthy previous post, it's a bluff that's fairly difficult to achieve a non-exploitable bluffing frequency with, or at least most players don't try. No, it seems to me that an overwhelming majority of players bet the flop and then shut down if they're called and don't improve. Sample size of course being an issue, I seem to win a very decent chunk of money by contesting more pots when they're still small with hands that beat his range but can't really take much action.

Peeling the flop is conditional on him being a loose, but otherwise weak, opponent. Had he been tighter, leading out is a good option, sometimes checkraising, sometimes folding. But I probably contest it slightly more than half the time on dry flops, and giving up most of the time if I get played back at.
 
F Paulsson

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Like the others have said, I can't think of any situations where I'd be wanting to flat call this OOP pre-flop.

Assuming I had though, I certainly wouldn't have done it to play fit-or-fold on the flop: this hand just doesn't fit enough flops to make it profitable.

So to me, a lot of it is about the hands we can represent plausibly. What do we flat call with before the flop that's worth betting now?

My gut reaction would be to lead straight at a flop like this most of the time. I'm thinking it allows us to represent a broader range of hands that could be ahead of the villain, and therefore make our bet more plausible: a ten or a variety of medium pocket pairs would all be in our range.

I think the check-raise very clearly defines the range we're representing: it says we have exactly a ten with a good kicker, or we have exactly 33.

In either case though, we're seriously lost if we get called and I think in both cases we have to give the hand up if we're raised. That being the case, it's probably another reason I'd favour leading at the flop: it'll be cheaper if we're forced off.
I like leading, if our opponent is tight. If he likes to peel flops in position with overcards, however, I prefer just calling and see what he'll do on the turn.
 
ChuckTs

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I thought I had made a pretty good case as to why I disagree with this. People check behind on the turn and river very, very often. Perhaps I'm the only noticing because I'm the only one flat calling flops, heh. :)

It's not that I'd rather play this hand out of position than in position, but I think it's worth repeating that if my opponent c-bets most of the time, then most of the time - by flat-calling and peeling the flop - I'll put in 9BB as a favorite. In order to pick those up, with KQ as you said, he has to be willing to commit 20BB on a dry flop. It's an expensive bluff. Also, and I feel this was an important point in my lengthy previous post, it's a bluff that's fairly difficult to achieve a non-exploitable bluffing frequency with, or at least most players don't try. No, it seems to me that an overwhelming majority of players bet the flop and then shut down if they're called and don't improve. Sample size of course being an issue, I seem to win a very decent chunk of money by contesting more pots when they're still small with hands that beat his range but can't really take much action.

Peeling the flop is conditional on him being a loose, but otherwise weak, opponent. Had he been tighter, leading out is a good option, sometimes checkraising, sometimes folding. But I probably contest it slightly more than half the time on dry flops, and giving up most of the time if I get played back at.

Well I agree with Zach in that we're rarely seeing showdowns OOP, but this is considering I'm pretty much a terrible postflop player and suck at getting there :)

IME a lag will often double barrel scare cards on the turn (A-J, 3) and often even rags which makes it really hard to call. Yes it's an expensive bluff (maybe more than 20bb) but I often see it.

On a side note, as played preflop, how you play it postflop greatly depends on how you play other hands as well, ie balance. Oz says to donk out and that's fine since I assume by the way he responded that's how he'll play a lot of hands. He also says ch-r represents only a ten or 33 which I find a little amusing since I'll do it as a bluff, with 88, with a hand like A8 that I know is often best but can't stand to more than one barrel, and of course with monsters.

I don't think doing what would represent the biggest range would be best, but somewhere in between that and what represents the most polarized range if you catch me. Like we don't want to ch-r if we only do it with Tx/33 because we're just so unlikely to have those hands. We also don't want to ch-r if we do that every hand because he won't respect that. I think oz says it best: "represent a broader range of hands that could be ahead of the villain".

/end rant, I'm half asleep.
 
F Paulsson

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I haven't worked this out completely yet, but off the top of my head, here's my (gut feeling) ranges for different moves on the flop vs. a lag:

Leading: Not with any default range. If he will c-bet close to 100% of the time (and his range is 35%), I'd rather check/raise and win a bigger pot unimproved (presuming he'll fold at least the same range to a c/r as he would to a lead - is that a reasonable assumption?).

Check/calling:
(UI/strong) i.e. A-8+, KQ*, trips, 33.

KQ deserves its own explanation, though: Calling on the flop is because of the parley between two things:
1. I sometimes have the best hand still and he will shut down,
2. I have 6 likely outs, and three bluff outs (the aces). I will lead if a Q, K or A hits the turn.

Check/raising:
(Bluffs/weak made hands) QJs, 22+.

As you can see, my default ranges are meant to be exploitative, not game theory optimal. Without history with an opponent, I will mostly just c/r the weaker stuff of my holdings, because he typically fold so often that I should really not give up bluffing/protecting, while at the same time I can afford to slowplay when I actually have it.

This is a habit that I'm going to have to adjust when I start noticing who the regulars are, but the player pool at Stars $25NL is just too big to start worrying about mixing it up much.

...


By the way, don't take this as me trying to convince you all I'm right. I haven't given this a lot of thought, but I've thought about it some, and I like to try to argue my case (because I'm past the point of "accepting" dogma, so to speak) and I need the sparring to wrap my head around some of these things.

RIDICULOUSLY SMALL SAMPLE SIZE STATISTICAL ANALYSIS BEGIN

My sample size for determining whether I'm right or wrong by looking at my Poker Tracker stats is way too small, so nothing much can be seen there either, but for what it's worth:

Over 1k hands (since I started playing this way, essentially), I have:
  • 15 hands where there was a steal attempt and I just called from one of the blinds.
  • 6 of those 15 went to showdown.
  • 4 others of those 15, I won without showdown.
  • and the remaining 5, I folded before showdown.
I showed a net profit of the 9 hands that didn't go to showdown.

BB/hand was +1.75. Only one pot was for more than half my stack (and that's when I hit a flush and stacked him). Of the other five hands that went to showdown, the average pot was 15BBs, meaning that it cost me less than 8BBs to get there.

RIDICULOUSLY SMALL SAMPLE SIZE STATISTICAL ANALYSIS END

(By the way, even if I eventually get a really large sample size and it still shows me in the black, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm right to coldcall preflop. It could be that I'd be even better off 3-betting)

Dinner time!
 
OzExorcist

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On a side note, as played preflop, how you play it postflop greatly depends on how you play other hands as well, ie balance. Oz says to donk out and that's fine since I assume by the way he responded that's how he'll play a lot of hands. He also says ch-r represents only a ten or 33 which I find a little amusing since I'll do it as a bluff, with 88, with a hand like A8 that I know is often best but can't stand to more than one barrel, and of course with monsters.

I don't think doing what would represent the biggest range would be best, but somewhere in between that and what represents the most polarized range if you catch me. Like we don't want to ch-r if we only do it with Tx/33 because we're just so unlikely to have those hands. We also don't want to ch-r if we do that every hand because he won't respect that. I think oz says it best: "represent a broader range of hands that could be ahead of the villain".

The part in bold is basically what I was getting at - I feel like if I check-raise in this spot, villain has to figure either I've got a ten, I've got 33, or I'm bluffing, and that I'm bluffing a fairly big chunk of the time, because with a more medium-strength hand in the same spot (JJ, AQ, or even 66-99) I would've just lead out most of the time. I'll lead a ten most of the time too, because that's just how I roll at the moment.

The range of hands will be different for each player though, so that's gotta be taken into account. I think that's always going to be the biggest factor here: taking the line that's most plausible for a range that beats the villain.
 
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Calling preflop is a pretty significant leak - we should be 3-betting or folding these hands most of the time, especially against an aggressive player who's going to make getting to showdown very difficult if we flop a pair.

Agreed.

It's basically not a situation we want to be limping in preflop with; occasaionally enter with a raise to mix things up, but otherwise these are not worth playing.
 
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