What Do You Do Here?

On 4 July I posted a hand to Twitter (https://twitter.com/mttpokerschool/status/882175407151362048) and asked 'What Do You Do Here?' Thank you to everyone who responded, there were some really great suggestions. What I think is clear, though, is that there was no common answer.

77 Hand Final Table

We're sitting 5/6 and pick up 77 in the CutOff. I always encourage students to think through all of their options, so have a quick think about what you could do here:

1. Jam

2. Raise/call

3. Raise/fold

4. Fold

[5. Limp/fold]

[6. Limp/jam]

When studying these spots it's important to understand the process rather than the result. What that means is it's better that I teach you how to solve similar spots in the future, rather than giving you the back-of-the-textbook answer.

1. Jam

Using a program like Holdem Resources Calculator we can work out the EV of shoving here:

Shoving here is definitely profitable. It's worth 0.02% of the prizepool on average, which is the equivalent of a whopping $0.93!!! Hmmm...

2. Raise/call

Using the advanced hand tool we can see that 77 doesn't make the cut in terms of raising in the first place and is therefore not in our range to call off should someone shove. Already we're seeing that shoving is a higher EV play than raising.

Hopefully you're looking at this range and thinking that something doesn't quite look right. Why are we raising some funky hands here like K4o and Q8o? I created a model that only looked at raising and shoving as options. There are no flat-calls available in this model, which means that HRC is valuing the hands with blockers to our opponents' shoving ranges more than hands that play well post-flop.

If we keep the frequency the same (23.8%) and create a more realistic opening range here, then maybe 77 will make the cut?

Versus this range, when the BB makes an equilibrium shove (19.6%, 22+ A2s+ AJo+ K5s+ KJo+ Q8s+ QJo J9s+ T9s 98s) our calling range is:

So calling here is a neutral EV play, much lower than the 0.02 we got from shoving. As played, I think folding versus the jam is the play here. However, the BB is very unlikely to shove this range and is probably shoving something much, much tighter. HRC is suggesting such a wide range of hands simply because we're folding the majority of our range versus a jam.

We opened 23.7% and we're calling 7.1%. This means that we're folding 1-(7.1/23.7) = 70% of the time! Raising with such a range here makes us really exploitable since we end up folding a large percentage of the time. This points us in the direction of shoving rather than raising and taking away our opponents' weapon of shoving on us. This also shows us that 77 is unlikely to be a profitable open in the first place.

In final table scenarios you will start to see a pattern of wanting to be the shover rather than the caller. By shoving you have fold equity and hand equity, but when you call you have to rely on having the best hand at showdown.

3. Raise/fold

Raise/folding here is a good plan if you don't believe the players behind will shove 'correctly'. If they're going to play fairly snug and the BB is quite tight then raising here as a steal and folding versus a jam is definitely a viable option. It is, however, difficult to prove the EV since there are so many variables at play.

4. Fold

Folding here is a neutral EV play meaning that we win/lose nothing (apart from the ante I guess). We've already shown that shoving is higher EV than folding. Raise/folding might also be higher EV than folding, but it can be difficult to prove. Raise/calling versus a wide BB jamming range is exactly the same EV as folding, but with much higher variance. Open folding is probably the worst of all four options

5 and 6. Limp/folding and limp/jamming

Limping here to induce a light iso-raise and then jamming over the top is a realistic option, especially if you believe that your opponents will be happy to raise, but not so happy to call an all-in. The problem with limping is that you remove the chance of winning the pot preflop that comes from raising.

I've chosen not to run the simulation for limp/folding and limp/jamming and instead encourage you to investigate whether limp/whatever is better than shoving.

Thanks again to all of you who tweeted a reply to the question. Hopefully you can see that investigating most of your options can point you in the right direction in spots like this. You should always be looking to make the highest EV plays possible in any given situation and if you work out that shoving is the highest EV play, as I did, then shoving is what you should do.

Good luck at the tables and let me know when you've discovered whether limping is a good strategy or not!

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