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Narrowing Ranges on the River in 100NL Online

Narrowing Ranges on the River in 100NL Online
  • Ranges get narrow on the river in general, which means pay attention to those big raises on the end.

  • An analysis from online six-handed 100NL showing how big river bets narrow hand ranges considerably.

Here is another interesting hand of six-handed 100NL ($0.50/$1) played online. The last raise in this hand is the most important one, and in fact the hand illustrates why the last raise when playing deep-stacked should never be taken too lightly.

Mitigating Positions

The hand begins with action folding around to a regular with a monster stack who raises from the button. He gets called by another regular in the small blind who has 230 big blinds, and a recreational player in the big blind who has 80 big blinds.

Our out-of-position regular, Mr. Small Blind, should probably be calling here a lot more often than we would otherwise see.

He is deep and out of position against a big-stacked regular, so three-betting a hand like {A-}{J-} (for example) could expose him to being four-bet, or playing uphill. Meanwhile three-betting that kind of hand could force the big blind out of the pot with lots of hands with which he would be willing to splash around, including dominated hands like {J-}{10-} or {A-}{8-}.

So Mr. Small Blind can have lots of hands that are worse than {Q-}{Q-} but probably better than {8-}{7-}-suited. Meanwhile Mr. Big Blind, well, he can bring just about any two cards to this party.

A Slow Burn

The flop comes {9-Spades}{8-Clubs}{3-Clubs}. The blinds check, the button bets $4, and both blinds call. Everyone then checks the {Q-Clubs} turn. We can rule out the button having either a flush or a straight (since he would bet either hand in position here).

The river is the {3-Diamonds}, pairing the board. Now all hell is about to break loose.

Mr. Small Blind finally takes some action and bets $6.50 into $21, a rather lowly bet you'll agree. Our "any two" big blind gets out of the way, then the button raises to $19.

Remember what we just said — the button can't have a flush or a straight. So is he claiming to have trips — like {A-}{3-}? Or perhaps a full house?

Narrow That Range

Here Mr. Small Blind is not dissuaded, and raises to to $69, the river three-bet.

The small blind could be bluffing. It is hard to imagine the button having a straight, a flush, or a full house, since he would have to had checked the turn with such a strong hand. And would he raise {9-}{3-} or {8-}{3-} on the button, anyway? The combinations are getting a bit thin.

On the other hand, if Mr. Small Blind had a straight or a flush or even trip threes, he could just call the river raise to $19, having induced just the right amount of extra action given the relative strength of his hand. So when he three-bets the river he either doesn't believe the button checked the turn with something that filled, or he really has it.

After all, the small blind could easily check-call flop with top set hoping to keep the big blind in the pot. He would definitely have checked the worst turn in the deck, too. All of which means Mr. Small Blind can definitely represent big hands here.

A Raise Too Far

If our button does not believe Mr. Small Blind, he should call the river reraise. Otherwise, he better hope he can beat nines full, because we would expect here to see {3-}{3-}, {8-}{8-}, and {9-}{9-} from the small blind, the times he turns up with what he is representing. Pocket nines makes the most sense — the least likely of those three hands to check-raise the flop.

Well, on this occasion, it wasn't a matter of belief for the button, because he did check the turn with a set — {8-}{8-} — and he felt this made him impossible to beat. He went all in for the rare river four-bet, and another 154 big blinds.

Of course, since the button has {8-}{8-}, that means small blind can't have {8-}{8-}. Not just that, but any full house the small blind has beats {8-}{8-} here, since no regular would call the small blind cold versus a button raise with {8-}{3-}, {9-}{3-}, or {Q-}{3-}.

What Not to Do

Let's rewind. Would Mr. Small Blind three-bet the river with a flush or a straight on a paired board? It seems ambitious to imagine he would do that and then also call a raise for another one-and-a-half buy-ins. The button knows he is perceived not to have straights or flushes. So if Mr. Small Blind is correctly three-betting the river for value, it is with something that can beat even some full houses. Or so our winding logic would have it.

Ranges get narrow on the river in general. This is even more the case when the river is three- or four-bet. Our button regular, full with confidence from his huge stack and big session, did not pause to think of the hands his opponent could have.

He got bad news. Quadzilla.

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