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Strategy with Kristy: Run It Once Elite Pro Nick Rampone, Pt. 2

Nick Rampone, a highly successful tournament grinder and an Elite Pro on the training site Run It Once, returns to the Strategy with Kristy podcast for Part 2 after he broke down a cash game hand last week on Part 1. This week, he analyzes a tournament hand which illustrates the concept of bluff catching.

Game: Full Tilt Sunday Major $250,000 Guarantee Reentry
Blinds: 60/120
Stacks: Hero (6,365); Villain (5,804)

Preflop and flop action: Hero raised to 240 from the cutoff seat with the {j-Spades}{9-Spades}. Villain called in the big blind, and the flop came {2-Hearts}{q-Hearts}{j-Hearts}. Villain and Hero both check.

Rampone: I decided it was a good spot to check back, and I think most good tournament players would agree. My thinking was that if I bet and I faced a check-raise, I would have no idea what to do. He could do that with {A-}{3-} with the {A-Hearts}. I’d be ahead, but not in great shape. He could do that with a flush or two pair, and I’d be in a heap of trouble. By checking, I really prevent myself from facing a difficult decision.

If I’m betting all my really good hands on the flop like my flushes, my two pair, my pocket aces and kings, that’s a lot of hands. I have plenty of good hands I can bet with, but if I bet with this hand here, I’m not really accomplishing much for this specific hand or for my range. However, if I check it back, that’s one of the strongest hands I’ll check back here.

If I had a semi-bluff hand with {A-Hearts}, I’d be betting as well. I’d want to build a pot in case I hit, and also if I miss I’d want to be able to credibly put on pressure on the river. By checking back, I have a relatively strong hand I can play pretty comfortably on the turn and river. That also makes it so that he has every single hand in his range that he defended with. If I would have continuation bet, he may have folded his air. By checking back, it keeps all those hands in, and he may feel compelled to try to bluff into me.

When you cap your range by checking back, meaning you are taking out all your very strong made hands and semi-bluffing hands out of your range, you are essentially setting yourself up to bluff catch, right?

Rampone: Yes, you’re spot on. I realize I am going to be facing some bluffs when I do that, and I am prepared to call some bets on some turns.

Turn Action: The turn was the {9-Diamonds}. Villain bet 360. Hero called.

Rampone: On this particular card, I feel great about calling. Some would ask the question, “Why not raise?” I’ve got a couple answers for that. The first is that my opponent could still have flushes or straights. I could raise into hands that have no intention of folding and that have me crushed. So, I don’t think that accomplishes too much. Now one might argue that there are so many scare cards that could come. But the thing about scare cards is that they could cause a player to bluff more. The second reason I want to call is because I continue to represent a capped range, but I still have one of the strongest hands I could have. This could be very favorable if my opponent tries to take advantage of that on the river.

River Action: The river was the {4-Diamonds}. Villain checked. Hero bet 1,750. Villain moved all in for 5,189.

Rampone: He could be checking here with a lot of his weak range that took one shot at the pot and is now giving up. He could have some queens that he doesn’t feel comfortable value betting. Maybe he has a jack. I just think most of the time he’s folding to a bet here. I feel like I almost always have the best hand here, and I’m very happy to value bet even though I realize I’m not going to get called all that often.

I made a little bit of an overbet. I bet 1,750 into a 1,400 pot. I don’t feel too strongly about betting this size or a smaller bet size. My thinking was that there are a lot of missed draws on this board, and I could rep some of those. I think if he had a {Q-}{X-} kind of hand, he’s just as likely to call a slight overbet as he is to call a half-pot bet.

When he goes all in for that amount, I’m getting a good price which works well for me in the sense that I’m getting a good price, but also it’s bad for me in the sense that he’s probably not expecting me to fold as often. Then I have to think, “What does he have?” I don’t see any compelling hands to bluff with here, but I don’t see any super compelling hands for him to check for value on the river. I’ve represented a capped range here at this point, so I’m quite likely to check back here on the river if checked to. So if he has a flush, I don’t see why he would check to me when I’m going to be checking almost always. Given my price and given that I just don’t see any hands he’d check the river with, I felt pretty confortable calling.

Showdown: Villain showed the {k-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}. Hero showed the {j-Spades}{9-Spades}. Hero won the pot of 11,758.

Tune in every week for new episodes of Strategy with Kristy. Feel free to send in questions, ideas or suggestions for the podcast to Also remember to follow Kristy Arnett and PokerNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.

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