Category: Poker Hand Scenarios

K♦8♦ on the River, what do you do here?

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DECISION POINT:
In a Tournament where blinds are 500/1,000 it folds to you in the Cutoff. You minraise with K♦8♦ to 2,000 and it folds to Big Blind who calls. Big Blind checks the 2♠K♣7♠ flop, you continuation bet, and Villain calls. The 9♠ turn is checked. The K♥ comes on the river giving you trips and BB check-raises. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In a multi-table tournament at 500/1,000 blinds we are dealt K8s in the Cutoff seat. It folds around to us and we make a standard raise for this point in the tournament to 2,000 and the Big Blind is the only caller. Even though we only raised to the minimum amount preflop, often in the mid/late stages of tournaments this small of a raise size is more than enough to put our opponents to meaningful decisions and skew the risk vs reward heavily in our favor, allowing us to steal more often and play more hands.

The flop is 2sKc7s and the Big Blind checks to us. This is a relatively dry flop and we have a massive range advantage in this spot as the preflop raiser. Given both of these factors we should continuation bet and favor a smaller bet size. We choose to make it 2,000 and our opponent calls.

The turn is the 9s. This is actually a close decision for us. Our opponent could reasonably have called on the flop with a flush draw, but they could also have any pair as well as ace high. Many of those are hands that we beat that will fold if we bet again, making it tough for us to get additional value out of our hand.

On the other hand we don’t want our opponent to get a free card with any of the random hands containing only 1 they could have in their range. If the pot were much bigger in relation to our stacks, we could make a better case that equity denial is more important than extracting some additional value in this spot. We decide to check in order to induce some bluffs from our opponent on the river as well as get some value out of some 2x/7x hands (or hands like 55 or ace high) on the river.

Continued below...

The river is the Kh and our opponent checks to us. Given the action so far it is difficult to put our opponent on a big hand. We have to figure most flushes or Kx hands would bet this river given the action thus far, so we’re really targeting 7x/2x/55/Ax type hands if we decide to bet. Given those target hands are all relatively weak, a smaller bet sizing seems reasonable. We elect to go with 2,000 which may be a little too small as most players who will call 2,000 here will likely call a bet as large as like 3,000-3,500 as well. Our opponent raises to 5,000.

This is one of those spots where game theory would say to call 100% of the time with our hand. We only need to have the best hand 16% of the time and our line in this spot somewhat caps our hand range, making it harder for us to have a strong hand.

If our opponent believes we have a capped range, they should be bluffing some percentage of the time which makes this a fairly trivial call. In the real world we will run into opponents who simply never check-raise bluff the river and we are ahead here very close to 0% of the time.

The price we are getting to make this call is simply too good given the strength of our hand. If we had an opponent specific read then we could perhaps make an exploitative lay-down here. Absent that information we are simply too strong to fold.

Calling is the best play.

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8♠8♣ Facing a Preflop All-In, what do you do here?

88 Facing a Preflop All-In-optmzd.gif


DECISION POINT:
In a Tournament where blinds are 2,000/4,000 with a 4,000 big blind ante, it folds to the Hijack who pushes all-in for 13BB. The Cutoff and the Button both fold. You have 8♠8♣ in the Small Blind with a 32BB stack and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In a Tournament with 2,000/4,000 blinds with a 4,000 big blind ante we are dealt pocket 8s in the Small Blind. It folds around to the Hijack who moves all-in for 52,000 chips. Action folds to us and we have a decision to make.

The first thing we want to do when facing an all-in is estimate our opponent’s hand range. In this particular spot they shoved 13 big blinds. Since most players don’t start shoving all-in until they hit around 10 big blinds, this is far more likely to be a reasonable range of hands instead of a very wide range. In addition, our opponent may not want to play with a low stack to pot ratio (SPR) postflop.

With that in mind, it is less likely, although not impossible, that our opponent has QQ/KK/AA since they would be far more likely to just raise with those hands to encourage some action. If we put our opponent on a range of pairs 22-JJ, A2s+, ATo+, and KQ (both suited and offsuit) we are roughly 59% versus that range. With dead money in the pot it is very hard to justify passing up on nearly a 60% edge in a Tournament. Even against a range that does include the big pairs we are likely to be around a 55/45 favorite.

Continued below...

We could potentially fold if we had a player specific read that they are shoving much narrower here, but without that read we just have too big of an edge with additional dead money in the pot from the blinds and antes.

A shove in this spot is nearly half the Big Blind’s stack so if we continue we want to reraise all-in to maximize our leverage over the Big Blind and shut them out of the pot with big cards that have reasonable equity against us.

Moving all-in is the best play.

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  • What it takes to "close the deal" in Tournaments including final tables, short-handed play, heads up play, and deal-making
  • How to thrive in today’s competitive tournaments

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Q♥J♥ Facing a Preflop All-in, what do you do here?

QJ Facing a Preflop All-in-optmzd.gif


DECISION POINT:
In a Tournament where blinds are 800/1,600 it folds to a Middle Position player who limps. The Hijack folds and you raise to 5,200 from the Cutoff with Q♥J♥. The Button folds, the Small Blind goes all-in, and both the Big Blind and MP2 fold. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In a Multi-Table Tournament with 800/1,600 blinds and a 20 chip ante we are dealt QJs in the Cutoff. The MP2 open limps and it folds to us. We could potentially limp behind and play QJs speculatively as a suited connector. Specifically in tournaments, picking up chips is at a premium and a preflop raise here gives us an opportunity to take the pot down preflop or potentially on the flop with a continuation bet. While calling behind is profitable, raising is a better play. We decide to isolate with a raise to 5,200.

It folds to the Small Blind who moves all in for 19,000 chips. All of the other players fold and it is back on us with a decision to make. At this point there is 27,560 in the pot and it is 13,800 more to call. This means we are getting almost exactly 2:1 pot odds. Preflop hand values in No-Limit Hold’em run close enough together that it is extremely rare for a hand to have less than 33% equity versus all but the narrowest of ranges. We also have a reasonably strong hand for this situation, although probably not the best hand at the moment.

Continued below...

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Even if our opponent has a fairly narrow range such as 88+, ATs+, KQs, AJo+, KQo we still have over 33% equity here. The final factors to evaluate are specific to this tournament. If calling in this spot would have a significant impact on our stack’s ability to accumulate chips in the rest of the tournament we could consider passing on this edge. For example, if we call and lose and our 25-30 BB stack is reduced to 10 BB stack, we would lose the ability to steal or reshove and must play push/fold poker.

In this situation, if we call and lose this hand our stack will be reduced from around 30 BBs to 20 BBs. While the impact of losing our stack is not insignificant, it is not enough to warrant passing up on a profitable call here.

Calling is the best play.

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Q♥Q♦ Facing a River All-In, what do you do here?

QQ Facing a River All-In-optmzd.gif

DECISION POINT: In a Tournament a Middle Position player raises and it folds to you in the Big Blind. You 3-Bet with Q♥Q♦ and get a call. On the 8♠A♥J♣ flop you bet and MP2 calls. You check the 4♦ turn, MP2 bets, and you call. The river is 5♠ and you check. Your opponent goes all-in and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are dealt pocket queens in the Big Blind. It is folded to MP2 who raises to 2.5 BBs. It folds to us and we reraise to 10 BBs and our opponent flat calls. The flop is 8sAhJc. With a stack to pot ratio (SPR) of just under 2 here it’s very difficult to get away from our hand. So the question is: how we can extract the most value out of our Pocket Queens?

A pure GTO solution to this situation involves a mixed strategy of checking to induce bluffs as well as betting extremely small (around 5.5 BBs). Both of these strategies keep our opponent’s range extremely wide and allow them to either bluff with much of their range (when we check) or call with worse hands than ours (when we bet small). In this situation we elect to make a small bet of 5.5 BBs and our opponent calls.

The turn is the 4d, which changes very little. Given our small bet on the flop we have encouraged our opponent to float (a float is when someone calls the flop to take the pot away on a later street) with a wide range. This means checking to them makes a lot of sense here to potentially encourage bets from many of the back door flush draws, weaker hands, and pure air that is in our opponent’s range. We check and our opponent bets 8 BBs.

Against tougher opponents who are capable of fighting for pots in this spot it is very important that we call here or else we have set our opponent up to be able to float us VERY profitably in this spot with their entire range. Against very straightforward opponents who are not capable of floating or bluffing with the correct frequencies we could make an exploitative fold here, but against tougher opponents we must call and we do.

Continued below...

The river is the 5s which changes very little given neither of our ranges rarely connect with it. We check and our opponent moves all-in. This is an extremely difficult spot versus a tough opponent. We’re getting nearly 3:1 on our money so before considering any other tournament factors, we need our opponent to be bluffing here around 25% of the time as we should only beat a bluff. If you use a GTO solver on this problem, it actually recommends a mixed strategy of calling and folding.

This is one of the real benefits of GTO solvers. It shows us how to optimally play against the very toughest opponents who are fighting hard for every last chip. Against the absolute toughest opponents who are capable of bluffing in this spot we should absolutely be calling some percentage of the time.

So the question we have to ask ourselves is: Is our opponent capable of floating and bluffing in this spot? In most regular tournaments where the field isn’t as tough and doesn’t play as optimally as the computer does in these spots, most players simply aren’t bluffing in these spots for all their chips often enough to justify calling here against all but the absolute toughest opponents.

Knowing the optimal way to play a situation and then adjusting for opponent tendencies is essential to adapting to the field in a post solver world.

Folding is the best play.

What would you do here?
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At the Final Table with T♠T♥, what do you do here?

At the Final Table with TT-optmzd.gif


DECISION POINT:
At a 6-handed Tournament final table where blinds are 6,000/12,000 the Middle Position player limps and the Cutoff raises. It folds to you in the Small Blind with T♠T♥. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: At the final table of a daily local casino tournament the blinds are 6,000/12,000 with a 12,000 big blind ante we are dealt pocket tens in the Small Blind. The MP2 player limps and it folds to the Cutoff who raises to 35,000. The Button folds and action is on us.

Play has been a little tight and players have still been limping with some regularity. The first thing we need to do here is put our opponents on estimated hand ranges. Normally the open limper would be a bit concerning as they have only around 8 big blinds to begin the hand and most players are aware that with a short stack they should be either pushing all-in or folding a vast majority of the time. Given that limping is going on with some regularity, we can assign a range of some premium hands and some hands our opponents want to “see a flop” with such as mid pocket pairs and connectors or broadway hands such as QJo.

The Cutoff player, if they are aware of players limping fairly wide ranges, should be raising quite wide here. With the Hijack only having 65,000 chips and it being the final table, pay jumps should be fairly significant at this point. This means MP2 should be very wary of busting prior to the Hijack without a decent hand so they move up the pay scale.

Continued below...

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Given both of those factors, our pocket tens are likely well ahead of both ranges. Another factor to consider is how important is it for US to not bust before the shorter stacks and move up the pay scale. Certainly if our hand were a bit more marginal like pocket sevens we would have to seriously consider folding here.

Pocket tens is a premium hand and even though we are unlikely to generate a huge amount of fold equity when we move all-in, our chip stack does potentially hurt Villain and take away many of their opportunities to abuse the shorter stacks in this way. This means we will generate some folds which will give us an additional 77,000 chips. In other instances we will be playing a pot with a significant equity edge over our opponent’s range of hands that if we win, will make us the chip leader and give us opportunities to abuse these same concepts against the rest of the table.

While this decision is closer than it may seem on the surface, our hand is still far too strong versus our opponent’s ranges in this situation to fold.

Moving all-in is the best play.

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LearnWPT: Best of River Decisions

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Ahhhhh the River…

It’s only one card however it can drastically change the outcome of a hand, not to mention there’s usually a pretty sizable pot at stake.

The world’s best players know how powerful the River can be. They are masters at analyzing key factors, including preflop hand ranges, stack sizes, and how an opponent’s actions through the hand can help figure out what kind of story they are trying to tell us.

They have an arsenal of moves designed to maximize value and cause doubt in an opponent when there are no more outs to come.

Do YOU have trouble making raises, calling big bets, or folding big hands on the River?

Put your decision-making skills to the test against our Pros using the scenarios below and be ready to make the best decision possible the next time you are on the River:

Deliberate application of key concepts at the table and consistent practice of your decision-making skills is essential for success in No-Limit Hold’em.

Remember… Amateurs play, Pros practice!

That’s why we ask that you read these scenarios and keep practicing… even if you don’t always agree with our analysis.

See you online,
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HOW CAN LEARNWPT HELP YOUR GAME?

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Think Like a Pro

When we created LearnWPT.com our goal was to provide a place that empowers players to ask questions, help get them focused, and provide a solid game-plan to bring to the table every time they sit down.

Some of the ways we accomplish this is by:

  • Teaching and presenting examples of proven, winning concepts through our Strategy Episodes (short 10-15 minute instructional videos)
  • Providing a place where Members can send questions to receive answers and guidance with the Ask a Pro feature and LearnWPT Community Forums
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Q♠T♦ Facing a Turn Bet, what do you do here?

QT Facing a Turn Bet-optimized.gif


DECISION POINT:
Tournament final table where blinds are 25,000/50,000 and you are 6-handed, it folds to you on the Button. You raise to 110,000 and the Big Blind calls. BB checks the T♣7♦6♥ Flop, you c-bet and get called. Your opponent bets the 8♥ Turn and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: This is a tough spot on the turn. When our opponent check calls the flop, they have many 9x and 8x hands in their range. When the 8 comes on the turn, it improves the equity of Villian’s overall range quite a bit. It is simply a much better card for our opponent than it is for us.

Given that fact, Villain can very logically construct a turn leading range that includes many straights, some other made hands and some semi-bluffs. This puts us in a very difficult spot with a one pair hand with few outs to improve. With our particular hand, we should fold in this spot the majority of the time.

Continued below…

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However, we cannot simply fold all of our one pair hands to this bet or we would be very exploitable. Hands such as AT and overpairs like KK and AA should continue in this spot. Since there are so few remaining chips left in stacks we should shove with those hands.

In this scenario we should fold against a default opponent when we hold QT.

Folding is the best play.

How would you play it?
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When we created LearnWPT.com our goal was to provide a place that empowers players to ask questions, help get them focused, and provide a solid game-plan to bring to the table every time they sit down.

Some of the ways we accomplish this is by:

  • Teaching and presenting examples of proven, winning concepts through our Strategy Episodes (short 10-15 minute instructional videos)
  • Providing a place where Members can send questions to receive answers and guidance with the Ask a Pro feature
  • Giving Members the ability to record, save, and send real hands they’ve played to receive expert analysis of their play using the Hand Input Tool

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A♠J♠ Preflop 6-Handed, what do you do here?

AJ Preflop 6-Handed-optimzd.gif


DECISION POINT:
In a Tournament you are 6-handed and blinds are 1000/2000. The MP2 player limps and Hijack raises. Action is on you from the Small Blind with A♠J♠. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We have about 17 big blinds total and are facing a limp from a 16 big blind stack and a min-raise from a 5 big blind stack. The short stack’s range is too wide to ever fold our hand.

Given these stack size and range considerations shorthanded we must continue and we should move all-in over the minraise. This would deny equity to the remaining players in the hand, especially MP2, who would not be able to call with many hands in their range given the now worse pot odds we are giving them after a shove.

Continued below…

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Getting the pot heads-up against the short stack is the ideal outcome in this hand, so maximizing our fold equity with our range and shoving instead of raising smaller will be the most profitable line to take.

Moving all-in is the best play.

How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!


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When we created LearnWPT.com our goal was to provide a place that empowers players to ask questions, help get them focused, and provide a solid game-plan to bring to the table every time they sit down.

Some of the ways we accomplish this is by:

  • Teaching and presenting examples of proven, winning concepts through our Strategy Episodes (short 10-15 minute instructional videos)
  • Providing a place where Members can send questions to receive answers and guidance with the Ask a Pro feature
  • Giving Members the ability to record, save, and send real hands they’ve played to receive expert analysis of their play using the Hand Input Tool


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Playing from the Blinds

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In No Limit Hold'em, players lose more money from the Blinds than any other position in poker.

Why? Most players are either playing too aggressively (they don't want to give up chips without a fight) or playing too passively (fearing a 3-bet or their raise getting called).

Whether you are defending from the Big Blind, completing from the Small Blind, raising limpers, or 3-Betting late position raisers, understanding how to play each position as profitably as possible (no matter what your cards) will help keep those chips in YOUR stack!

Put your decision-making skills from the Small Blind and Big Blind to the test using the scenarios below:

  1. Set of 9♠9♣ on the Flop
  2. K♥J♥ vs a Large Raise
  3. Q♠Q♦ on the Flop
  4. A♦K♦ vs a Raise and a Call
  5. A♠Q♦ on the Turn


Understanding and mastering the strategies delivered in the following LearnWPT Episodes will give you the opportunities to exert a skill edge against your opponents and play from the Blinds effectively:


Keep on practicing!
-LearnWPT


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How Do You Play Pocket Pairs?

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Pocket pairs can be tricky, and misplaying them can put your chips in serious trouble!

A pocket pair can look great preflop but how does the strength of your hand change on the Flop, Turn, or River?

Whether you have ducks, treys, walking sticks, snowmen, ladies, cowboys, or rockets, understanding what your pocket pair is worth on every street will give you a skill edge against your opponents.

Put your skills to the test in these decisions involving pocket pairs!

  1. 3♥3♠ with 17BB Stack
  2. 5♦5♣ in the Small Blind
  3. 6♠6♣ on the Flop
  4. J♠J♥ on the Turn
  5. T♣T♠ on the River

Understanding and mastering these strategies will give you the opportunities to exert a skill edge against your opponents and play your pocket pairs effectively:

Keep on practicing!
-LearnWPT

PS: a Membership with LearnWPT is the easiest and fastest way to add more levels of complexity and nuance to your game. Members have access to over 150+ scenarios like this to practice their decision-making skills!

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