Under The Gun with Dan O’Callaghan

Since my last article was so well received, I thought I’d look at another hand where I get stuffed, this time by fellow GPPT champ Nathan Farnaby.

The hand comes from a deep live £1/£2 game. Nathan opens from EP to £7 (from £500) and is called in a couple of spots. With a similar-sized stack we flat from the BB with 8♠-9♦, and go four ways to a J♦-5♠-7♠ flop. Nathan made a c-bet of around £20 and it was folded to us.

This brings us to our first decision. With folding out of the question, it’s a toss-up between raising and calling. Before we decide, let’s break down his expected c-betting range. He’s a decent reg so I don’t expect him to have a pure air-ball. Not only is the board relatively connected, there are three other people in the hand and he’s out of position to two of them. In a spot like this, bombing with no equity would require Jeremy Kyle DNA result levels of optimism.

With this in mind, I’d expect the weakest parts of Nathan’s c-betting range to include strong backdoor combo draws with over cards and 88-TT, with the rest of his range comprising of sets (nine combos), overpairs (18 combos), good J-T+ top pairs (48 combos), decent draws (around 30 combos) and the three remaining combos of 5-7s. This makes about 125 total hand combinations in his c-betting range. Against this range, we have around 34% equity, which means we can make decent arguments for a call here.

Nonetheless, I prefer a raise. A player like Nathan is going to deny us a lot of equity by barrelling, so despite having the correct odds to call the flop, we’re going to be forced to fold the turn pretty often.

Also, a raise makes our opponent’s range easier to define. Our casino allows you to run all-in pots twice and I know Nathan would try to get all of his sets and big combo draws in on the flop almost every time. This is great for us as it caps his flop-calling range at two-pair, meaning we can barrel him off his hand on a lot of run-outs.

Raising also gives our hand more flexibility. The most likely draws to check-raise here are flush draws, which means our straight would be disguised and we would be perceived to have more bluffs too.

Check-raising gives us more ways to win – he can fold hands such as 8-8, 9-9 and J-T, we can attack his capped range with big bets on future streets, we get paid when he gets stubborn with an overpair and we make a straight, and we can represent a flush sometimes too.

The downside is that we may get blown off our equity when Nathan three-bets the flop, but this isn’t a huge deal because we only expect him to do this with his combo draws and sets here, a range which not only has us in terrible shape but also consists of only 15 or so combinations (or 12%) of his total c-betting range. In short, he’s probably going to call or fold something like 88% of the time we raise here. He’ll fold a lot of his one pair hands too because he will probably expect us to barrel pretty often. We raise to £60 and after a brief pause, Nathan calls. The turn is the T♦.


This a gin turn card for us. Not only have we made the nuts, there are now two flush draws, meaning that Nathan will have an even harder time folding his overpairs – a chunk of his flop-calling range (18 combos).

Also, Nathan will probably only expect us to raise one 8-9 combination (8♠-9♠) and never to check raise J-T, so he will probably see the turn as a bit of a brick, albeit a wet and scary one. This is a must bet since we expect Nathan to make the turn with almost exclusively overpairs and good draws, none of which are likely to fold. We bet £90, Nathan calls. The river is the 5♦.

To my mind the river is a great card. Not only does our read make it difficult for Nathan to have a house (he only has two combos of 7-5s), the 5♠ counterfeits our J-7 combos and reduces the likelihood that we can have 5-5 or 7-5 ourself. This makes it way more difficult to fold an overpair, especially since most flop draws missed and I have a reputation of running some big bluffs in this game.

We have significant blockers too. It wouldn’t be too unrealistic to expect Nathan to bet/call the flop with 8-9 himself, so he can get to the river with the nut straight too. However, our 9♦ makes it near impossible for him to have a straight draw that backed into a flush as he probably folds 6♦-4♦ in EP preflop. What’s more, the flopped J♦ blocks his flopped pair backdoor flushes too.

I really like a shove here. The only hands I realistically envision losing to are 5-7s and 6♦-4♦, and there’s nothing to say that he has these hands in his range. Even if he does, he’s six times more likely to have an overpair.

We shove and Nathan tanks before calling us with K♦-Q♦, a hand we removed from his flop-calling range.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say Nathan made a mistake but in truth I think his flop call is too ambitious. Low equity floats are good for exploiting weak ranges that will give up and fold later in the hand (like a flop c-bet), but I don’t think I check/fold the turn anywhere near often enough for this to be good once I’ve check-raised the flop. Sure he’ll pick up equity with his K-Q but as we can see from the hand, he’s going to be forced to play defensively on the turn because I’m going to be barrelling it with a strong, uncapped range a high percentage of the time.

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