We are on the river with 97s on a JJ922 board. Our opponent has bet 3/4ths the pot into us, and we are put in a tough spot. We know from the past streets that our hand look weak and our donk opponent, who seems to never fold (ever), could easily have a J, 2, overpair, or 9 and better kicker. He could be bluffing as well, but we feel like not enough to the point where we should call. It’s close. What should we do, call or fold?

The funny thing about decisions is a lot of time our mistake isn’t whether we should called or folded on the river, but instead how we should’ve played preflop, or even the flop.

Every decision you make in poker should be influenced by how the decision will affect later street play. For example, if we raise AA preflop, and AA only, our later street ranges are going to be very, very tight. If we raise 12% of our hands, we will have looser ranges on at least the flop, and likely the turn and river as well. And if we raise 25% of our hands, our ranges on later streets will likely be even weaker. Same goes for cold calling, threebetting %, and limping. However tight or loose we make a decision preflop will greatly affect our play postflop. Versus players who are tight postflop, having super wide ranges are okay, as we can bluff a lot and pick up some solid money when they fold. When players are loose postflop however, we may want to have tighter ranges postflop.

Let’s say we’re on the BU in a .5/1 Full Ring game (Hey! I’m using full ring guys!), the blinds are both 25/2’s, loose and passive preflop, but we feel they are too tight postflop. This is a spot where we should be raising a large frequency on the button, maybe as much as 40% of our hands. We can take the EV from stealing their blinds and also can afford to have wide ranges postflop. Digressing a bit, you may even want to raise 4.5x-5.5x the BB here, no matter what your standard raise size is (Although it doesn’t really have to do with this article, this is worth thinking about).

Now to another common example. We’re in a 1 / 2 6 max game and decide to raise 97s MP. The annoying 65/25 maniac behind us calls in position. The villain seems to be running so hot, as he is always betting and never folding. You know the player, and god is he annoying. The flop comes JJ2, and we cbet our standard 12 into a 16 pot. He calls. Turn is a 2, so we of course decide to give up, we check and he bets and we muck. “If only we could hit a hand.” We tell ourselves.

The truth is, we played this hand fine postflop. The issue with the hand was with preflop. What the hell are we doing raising 97s in middle position with a complete maniac behind us? We are going to get called by the maniac most of the time, and most of the time we are going to miss and have to give up, or even hit one pair and be put in a tough spot. As you may have remember from my previous article “There is no such thing as a made hand,” any draws we may flop are pretty worthless versus a wide range. Versus this type of player, we only want to raise hands like 22+, and pretty much any broadway cards. Top pair is so valuable versus this player when any broadway card pairs we essentially have the nuts, as we our never folding. With this range adjustment preflop, our maniac opponent changes from the type of player who annoys us to some fish whose stack is as good as ours!

We can make the same type of adjustments on the flop. If we cbet less, our turn and river ranges when we cbet become tighter. The more we fold on the flop, the less bad hands we have on our turn and river range. The more we raise preflop, the more air we will have in our range postflop. Every decision we make has side effects on later streets, so make sure to watch what your doing!

Hand for analysis:

This week in a thread I made in the short handed forum about bluffing, Galapogos posted a hand I thought we could all learn from.


A pretty common spot: A donk player leads into us, on an uncoordinated board, and we feel like he has a weak range. He’d probably c/r two pair or a set, and much of the time this is mid or bottom pair, or a weak top pair, sometimes its air trying to take away a flop that was unlikely to hit us. So should we raise Jd7d here?

Well, the question should actually be, what range should we raise here? It goes back to the question of forming ranges. Jd7d has no back door flush draw, and likely only has one good overcard, and sometimes he’s drawing close to dead. So, the only reason we’d raise Jd7d here is if we thought that we should be raising close to 100% of our hands here, as Jd7d is one of the worst hands on this board for us to have. What we want to find is our best few hands after our easy made hands to raise (top pairs or better), and raise those as well. So 76, 64,96,97,74,AK/AQ with backdoor flush draws are all solid candidates. We could raise our midpairs, but we’re going to want to face a weaker range, one that wont call a flop raise, with those hands. So the answer is we don’t raise Jd7d, unless we felt like when this player lead, he was folding an enormous amount of the time, which is never the case on this board.

In fact, I don’t expect our opponent to fold very much on this board, but this is very much an ISF theorem spot. I expect his leading range consists of hands that he does not want to stack off with, so we should double or triple barrel nearly the entire time we raise the flop. We should find a lot of folds on the turn or river.

As played, regarding the river bet, I don’t think our opponent will call without an ace or better, so this bluff is marginal, but fine.

That’s it for this week.


Find more articles by ISF, aka IowaSkinsFan, aka Danny Steinberg here.


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Predicting the Future and a Hand For Analysis
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