Sometimes, no matter how thin your opponents’ value range is they just have it
Occasionally you will run into situations where your opponent is not representing very much, especially with the line that he has taken. A lot of online players that transition to live poker make the mistake of calling down far too much when their opponent has a thin “value” range. What they do not understand is that no matter how few combinations of value hands someone might have, frequently, especially when the pot gets large, their bluffing frequency is close to 0%. This trumps the fact that they are not representing all that much.
I can draw a perfect example of this from a hand that I played at the Commerce $5-$10 NL game last week. It was about 2am in the morning and I had worked my stack up to $2600. My image was a little above average. The game was a bit wild and crazy and we decided to have a round of “blind raises” to $20 from under the gun, as at the $5-$10 game straddles are not allowed. It got folded to me in the cutoff and I opened A♦ A♠ to $70. A late twenties player, who seemed to play a bit questionably (I had seen him call off huge portions of his stack with what appeared to be draws and then folded), called with $800 on the button and the guy in the blind raise spot, a late twenties nitty player who does not make a lot moves, also called. The flop came out K♥ 7♦ 6♣ and I bet $125 when it was checked to me. The button called quickly as did the UTG player. The Turn came the J♥ bringing in a backdoor flush draw. For hand reading purposes it is very important to notice that the K♥ is out on the flop. The pot was checked to me again and this time I bet $400. The button just called again, leaving himself with $200 and the UTG player over called. At this point I really thought that the button had some sort of draw that may have picked up hearts on the turn as he most likely would have shipped now if he had top pair. It appeared to me that the UTG player must have had something like KQ, KT, or AK to a lesser extent. As the board got more and more drawy I did not expect the UTG player to slowplay something like a set or KJ.
The river brought out the 6♦ and the pot was checked to me again. Trying to target the K that I thought was in the UTG players’ hand I bet about half the pot, $900. The button, not surprisingly, quickly folded and the action came back around to the UTG player. He actually quickly asked me “how much do you have left?” Then he went into the tank for a bit looking like he was going to call. After about 30 seconds however, he announced all-in. This was a very unexpected action. In fact I was really shocked.
Again, I never thought that the UTG player would have slowplayed something on an early street with the pot being this big and I did not think that he would check raise just a king at the end. It was also extremely unlikely that he would only call the turn with KJ to then check raise the river when the board paired and he could possibly lose to AA. So, in reality the only hand that he could have had here for value that was not overplayed or slowplayed was a 6. Now, how could he possibly have a 6? This is where attention to suit distribution becomes critical on a rainbow flop. It is possible that he might have had a hand like 5♥6♥, 6♥7♥ etc that took one off on the flop then picked up backdoor hearts on the turn. With the pot being $4700, $1100 to call I certainly was getting some enticing pot odds. And my opponent had so few combos of 6s that get to the end I thought it was really difficult to fold. However, no matter how little combinations of value hands that he was representing—he just “has to have it” in this spot. Obviously if he knew I was capable of bet-folding AA at the end than a raise as a bluff would be profitable. But we are not computers and this type of play just does not happen at this level. Even though I knew my AA only beat a bluff, say 89, I stubbornly called down and was shown 6♥3♥.