Hand of the day: Creating bluffs

CardRunners pro James ‘D_Zoo’ Hartt on why you need to ignore your hand and look at your opponent’s range

While doing a ‘leakfinder’ session with a student of mine at $1/$2 no-limit, the following situation arises.

Hero opens 3BB (3x) under the gun with A♣-5♣ and everyone folds except the button. The villain has played 31/23/13 (31% VPIP, 23% preflop raise, 13% three-bet percentage) in 13 hands so far and has no history with the hero. The flop comes 5-2-3.

Hero has top pair, top kicker, but more importantly needs to think about his raw equity and fold equity against this player. His raw equity is decent with top pair top kicker, but his fold equity is presumably very low, especially on this board texture. The villain has a decent gap between his VPIP and PFR in the few hands we have on him, meaning he could be a weak or passive player.

His high VPIP means he is more likely not to want to fold on this kind of board, since he has a piece of the flop, an overpair or a draw a lot of the time. Why is this important? Well, we need to be able to instantly recognise that on this board against this player, it is most likely going to take multiple barrels to get him to fold.

If we had nothing, we would most likely need to fire three barrels, since his range is very wide preflop and almost as wide for continuing on this board postflop. As such, firing a c-bet with air and check-folding the turn would not be very good here.

As soon as our hero sees this flop he knows he will need to fire multiple barrels on good cards. Even though he has top pair, top kicker, he is willing to turn his hand into a bluff, since it is such a good spot to do so. The villain can have him beaten with overpairs, and the hand is very tricky to play for value on this board out of position.

As such, the hero c-bets $11 into the $14.25 pot and watches the villain’s timing. The quicker his reaction, the more likely he is to have draws or weaker hands, which makes firing another barrel even more profitable. As it happens, the villain calls relatively quickly and the turn is the K.

The King almost never hits the villain’s range, as he tends to three-bet K-K and A-K preflop and would reraise A-K on the flop a decent percentage of the time if he flat-called preflop with it. High offsuit cards are great cards to barrel, as the villain is likely to have a pure float and will fold a lot of draws, or call and fold a lot of rivers.

The final shot

Since a lot of his draws contain a combo such as pair plus flush draw or overcards plus a gutshot, we definitely need to fire a third barrel once we bet this turn. Judging by his preflop stats, he could be the type of player to call on the button loosely with A-x and would now be floating the flop with his overcards and gutshot draw. 

Again we are thinking raw equity and fold equity. Our raw equity stays around the same (we have a marginal value hand out of position on a draw-heavy board) and our fold equity does not change much either – as mentioned, his draws can contain combos which means he is less likely to fold the turn no matter what it is. He will be folding floats and naked draws some of the time, so if he calls we can give him a narrower range of 6-6 through T-T and combo draws.

Hero bets $28 into $35.15 and again is called relatively quickly. The river is the J♠, which is a tremendous river based on all the factors. It hits our perceived UTG opening range and it doesn’t help the villain’s wider range of draws and smaller pairs that now face two overcards on the board. The hero fires $60 into $90, which is a value-sized river bet, and the villain quickly folds.

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