Under the Gun: Executing operation mind-f***

Dan O’Callaghan plays a hand from the PartyPoker High Roller and executes operation mind-f♣♥k perfectly

Along with thoroughly splitting my sides, Get Him to the Greek taught me two important poker lessons. Firstly, that furry walls are an incredibly therapeutic and under utilised form of tilt- busting interior design, and secondly that ‘mind f♥♣king’ has way more utility than tricking someone into eating their own head (though that’s pretty much what we end up doing in this month’s hand!).

It comes from PartyPoker’s daily High Roller. We’re sitting in the big blind with 140k at 1,500/3,000/500 (47bb), when the button opens the action, flicking in 6k of his 101k chips. Facing a min-raise, the small blind folds and we make a pretty trivial defend with K-Jo.

Against most opponents, we could make some strong arguments for three-betting here. Not only are we likely to have the best hand (and two good blockers), we’re going to get a shed load of folds too.

Nonetheless, I decide to flat, which has its own merits. It keeps the pot small and our opponent’s range as wide (and weak) as possible, while giving us better board coverage and making life a little more difficult for our opponent postflop. To be honest, anything other than folding K-J here is fine. The flop comes 2♥-3♦-J♥ (pot: 17k).

Not a lot to say with the flop going to fire J-2-3 somewhere in the region of 300% of the time, which makes missing out on a free c-bet pretty damn criminal. I check and villain bets 4,800.

Feeling fruity

Now this is where things get a little fruity. Villain is a very good reg, with a decent ROI at an average stake of over $200, which means we can expect him to hand read pretty darn well. Check-calling is standard but it looks strong. Aside from the occasional spew-float out of position, we are very unlikely to have any bluffs in our range when we call, and so we can be pretty sure our opponent will assume we have showdown value. This is actually pretty bad because it means our opponent will be far less likely to barrel. (Sure he might try to move us off a Two or Three every now and then, but I don’t think this will happen that often since we should be weighted more heavily towards J-x hands after calling a raise). I raise to 15,200.

Since most people check-call J-x in this spot, our opponent probably assumes our range to be pretty polarised here. By check-raising, we represent a much wider range than when we check-call: we are no longer limited to strong(ish) hands but instead have a variety of random button clicks, semi-bluffs, and made hands.

In terms of perceived value hands here, we’re actually pretty limited. We would probably fold J-2 and J-3 preflop, which means we would only usually have a handful of set combos in our range here (six in fact, since pocket Jacks would probably three-bet preflop). Compare that to the combos of flush-draws, gut-shots, and pure or backdoor semi-bluffs that It’s a fact that most poker players losing hate folding… Folding equals we can have (I stopped counting at 50!) and we make bluff-catching far more appealing to our opponent, a dream result when your hand beats the vast majority of his bluff-catchers! Villain calls 10,400 and the turn comes the 8♠ (pot 47,400).

No-fold poker

We now initiate operation ‘mind-f♦♣k’, moving all-in for twice the pot. From our opponent’s view, our line looks more like a draw than anything else. We’re basically bluffing that we’re bluffing, and because it’s way more likely that we would play a bluff this way, shoving has to trump checking. As the cool kids keep saying these days, ‘Story checks out’.

Sure, we don’t know for certain that we have the best hand here, with the button having way more two-pair and overpair combinations than we do, but he also has the most bluff catchers, and we beat most of them. Most poker players, hate folding. Folding equals losing, and that means countless timebank seconds are wasted searching for an excuse to call. Here we give our opponent 79,397 of them. Yes, we might get called by A-J and lose sometimes, but who cares? 2x pot-sized bets make people uncomfortable and, at the very least, you’ll get your money’s worth watching your opponent squirm for a minute or two.

Villain calls and tables A♥-9♦ and we win a huge pot. Self-five! This hand is a great example of how to adjust your ranges against tough opponents. Not only does merging your range like this make it far more likely that a competent opponent will make a mistake, it allows you to achieve bluffs way more successfully in future…

Watch this hand here and follow Dan at Twitch.tv/ danshreddies. He streams Mondays and Wednesdays, and other random times – follow him for notifications!

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