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Hand Analysis: A Deep-Stacked Online Miscue at 100NL

Hand Analysis: A Deep-Stacked Online Miscue at 100NL
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  • Hand Analysis: A 100NL hand in which a player's preflop and flop overbets turn his hand face-up.

  • Gareth Chantler analyzes a 100NL online hand showing what not to do when the stacks are deep.

Continuing a theme concerning what not to do when playing 100NL online, the following is a true hand, played at an online site where cards whip, chips fly, and fungible currency zooms between silly avatars representing incomprehensible names.

Six-Handed 100NL: Don't Get Too Deep

An up-and-coming player who has been crushing 50NL for the past few weeks has moved up to 100NL ($0.50/$1) and run up a 350-big blind stack. He opens under the gun to 2.2x, his standard raise.

In the big blind, a tested regular, tilt-free and having a good day, three-bets to 10 big blinds from out of position.

Both players are starting this hand quite deep — 265 BB effectively — so already we know that the big blind's range should be tight. Even if UTG is opening wider than he should in this position, the BB has a hard time doing much about it since position and stack depth conspire together in UTG's favour.

UTG responds by four-betting to $30.

Alarm Bells

Here is a quick question — would UTG do this with {Q-}{Q-} or {A-}{K-}? The answer is probably no, as the player should be unwilling to get in all 265 big blinds with either hand. (Of course, we might see {A-}{K-} four-bet here as a kind of semi-bluff.)

We also might want to think about if this four-bet sizing could be a mistake. If UTG wants to represent a wider four-betting range, we might see a four-bet to something like 24 BB — this would allow him to four-bet more hands and cover more boards with those hands.

But anyway, now the big blind can't five-bet {K-}{K-} for value, really. Never mind that, though, because the big blind just calls.

The flop comes {Q-}{10-}{5-} rainbow (all different suits).

A change has come to the relative strengths of ranges here. Remember we don't really expect UTG to four-bet {Q-}{Q-}, {10-}{10-}, {Q-}{10-}, or {5-}{5-}, particularly to the size he chose. Thus the player now unable to hold the nuts is no longer the BB, but our four-better UTG.

Here we witness the first clear mistake of the hand. BB checks and UTG bets $45 (close to a pot-sized bet). Not only should UTG consider checking his whole range in this spot, if he does bet on a flop that favors the BB relative to his range, he should choose a smaller size, certainly. The BB calls.

Slowing Down to Speed Up

The turn is an offsuit {8-} and both players check. The pot is 148 big blinds after the rake. The river then brings an offsuit {2-}, making the board {Q-}{10-}{5-}{8-}{2-}. The big blind shoves all in for 190 BB. What should UTG do here?

The truth is UTG has gotten into a quagmire, because he in fact only has one-pair hands on this runout — and the vast majority of the time, he has pocket kings or pocket aces. If BB knows this, he can shove hands worse than that as a bluff and of course, any better hands for value.

Hands like {K-}{J-}-suited and {A-}{J-}-suited come to mind as bluffs. What else? UTG is left playing a guessing game.

Most players don't balance their 30-big blind four-bet range with enough bluffs, or enough of a mixed range to cover boards like this. Thus BB knows that UTG will feel like {A-}{A-} is the top of his range, and moreover that UTG mostly has {A-}{A-} and {K-}{K-} here.

BB can expect, therefore, to be called in an unbalanced way when shoving here. Because people don't fold aces too much.

BB was indeed called by UTG who had {A-}{A-}, and the big blind showed {Q-}{Q-}, scooping a huge pot.

What about {A-}{K-} in BB's hand, you say? Well, didn't that possibility end when UTG chose to bet a massive size on the flop? And would BB necessarily feel that {A-}{K-} had to bluff on this river?

What Not to Do

What did UTG do wrong here, if anything? Well, first he might have considered not four-betting to that size with his range. He may have also considered that because he had chipped up to a deep stack and had recently moved up in stakes, he could lose that stack if not prepared to take on spots like this.

But mostly he overestimated the big blind's ability to bluff in this situation with a hand like {A-}{K-} and to value shove a hand worse than aces, like {K-}{K-}. Most of the time, if BB somehow got very sticky with {A-}{K-}-suited on the flop, he is checking the river to showdown. And most of the time, if BB has {K-}{K-} on this river, which he often will, he is check-calling or betting something smaller, something that can be called by worse.

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