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Ignore Them, Focus On You

During SCOOP I played a hand in a $55 tournament where I think my opponent made a really bad call. When I ran the hand I noticed that my mistakes might be even worse...

Here's the hand:

We discussed this hand in-depth in the weekly workshop I do for MTT Poker Academy and there are some really important concepts to think about. I actually planned to review 5 key hands from SCOOP 2022, but this hand actually took a whole hour to go through from start to finish.

Here's the abridged version...

Flop 632r

I would classify this flop as low-connected, and as such, given we're LJ vs BB I want to play a big bet or check strategy here. Hands like A6/K6 and overpairs will want to bet big very frequently, while hands like ATs or 87s will want to check a lot.

My exact hand can bet big or check. In this hand I decided to bet big.

When the Big Blind calls my flop bet, we go from having ~56% equity (with our range) to only ~46%. This is a huge drop, but not unexpected given that he's now folded all of his garbage hands.

Turn 632r - Kh (badugi)

As turn cards go, the Kh is one of the best for us. As a proportion of our range, we have almost 3x as many Kx hands as the Big Blind in our range going into the turn. They have to fold hands like K9o-KJo and K8s/K7s on the flop.

So this is going to be a pretty good card for us to barrel for a big sizing with our range and target the 2x and 3x hands that don't have draws and some Ace high hands too. Some 6x hands are now indifferent as are hands like 99 and 88. When we bluff with low cards, we can target gutshots with a high card (like Q5 or J4) to fold too.

NOTE: 77 is also a hand that should(!) pure fold on this turn card. Not that I'm salty or anything, but it's losing about 0.5bb, which is HUGE! But let's get to our mistake, as we can't do anything about his decision making.

Our exact hand can bet big or check here, but it's interesting to note that a hand like QTs bets much more frequently as it blocks the Big Blind's most obvious Kx (KQ).

River 632K - 2

If the turn card was great for us, the river card is terrible! The Big Blind now has a huge advantage in trips and better. Our equity drops to ~41% and here comes my mistake...

I thought we'd be able to bet most if not all of our Kx hands on the river because he would be calling with all of his, which meant we could get away with bluffing a lot of hands like our exact hand and target any 6x, 3x, 99, 88, 55, 44 hands that now are put in a spot.

But the actual solution shows us that our value jamming range is actually quite narrow. The worst hand we can value jam here is KT, and even that doesn't jam 100% of the time. K9s and worse has to check back. And this means that we don't get to bluff as much.

When we jam in this particular spot, we should have roughly 2 value bets for every 1 bluff (because we're betting close to pot). By betting T9s we're massively overbluffing, and we end up losing even more EV when our opponent calls a hand that shouldn't even get past the river.

My mistake in this hand was believing that we could jam wider for value and then I end up bluffing way too much because of that.

Now you might be thinking, "How do we check back a hand that has zero change of winning at showdown?" Great question! The simple answer is that checking back is 0EV (neutral) and jamming is -EV... about 0.5bb again(!).

So what did we learn?

  • You can't control your opponent's decision making

  • River cards change EVERYTHING

  • How often you can bluff is directly linked to how often you're value betting

If I can give you one bit of advice it's to make sure you keep an open mind when reviewing hands. While your opponents can make terrible calls, you have to accept that you can't control that. But if you spend too much time focusing on them, you're not spending enough time focusing on you.

Stay humble, admit when you made a mistake and look for learning opportunities everywhere.

Ignore them, focus on you!

Good luck!


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