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StrategyWeekly No Limit

Crushing NL50 (6) - Lookout

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Crushing NL50 (6) - Lookout

by Hasenbraten

In this last article of the series we will take a look at several different concepts. The emphasis will now not be on theoretical lessons anymore but on practical examples.

The scope of this article is not enough to thoroughly explain all the moves that are mentioned. It is important to realise that there is more than illustrated here. You have so far only seen only the tip of the iceberg and this article won't be an exception to this. That's good for a start but remember that the iceberg is much bigger.

After this series you will have the theoretical tools to effectively work on your game and improve yourself further. What the introduced concepts can lead to will be shown in the following article.

Bluff 4-bets

Some will ask why this topic hasn't been brought up earlier. It is simply too specific to include it in an explanation of basic concepts. The name already implies what this is all about: a 4-bet that is played as a bluff.

On the one hand this is done for reasons of balancing when you also want to 4-bet your monsters, on the other hand you can briefly assess what their direct EV is.

EXAMPLE 1

100BB Stacks

Preflop: Player A raises 4BB, Player B raises 12BB, Player A raises 30BB

What EV does the last raise of player A have if you assume an equity of 0%?

EV = Pfold * 17.5 BB – (1-Pfold) * 30

The move is therefore EV neutral with a fold probability of 63%. Now everyone has to answer for themselves if this condition is met in a given situation. It is often the case. Player A can therefore make a profitable bluff 4-bet without going all-in. This will not be news to most of you. 2 further aspects shall be mentioned:

  • In which situations or with which hand does player A have to play 4-bet/call?

If player B goes all in for an effective stack of 100BB, player A has to call 70BB in a 201.5BB pot. He therefore needs an equity of around 35%. In order to give you a feeling for this, we will look at some example hands for player A and all in ranges for player B:

Player A
Player B
Equity Player A
55
QQ+, AK 35.65%
A5s
QQ+, AK
30.15%
67s
QQ+, AK
31.08%

Against a tight all in range, small pocket pairs are therefore not suitablefor a 4-bet bluff, their equity is too high. If you 4-bet them, you have to call the all-in here. The equities are of around the same size if player B pushes more loosely.

  • Which hands are suitable for bluff 4-bets?

With an almost EV neutral call, you might end up playing 4-bet/fold or 4-bet/call due to a low amount of equity. Which of the two lines you choose won't affect the EV a lot. For your overall image it should be positive, however, to be at the showdown with 55 in a situation like this. That will show that you don't really like to fold and exactly know your equity. Some players will even think you are a fish.

There is another reason to use a different hand, the so called card removal effect. This refers to the fact that it is less likely for an opponent to have a hand that contains a card that you already have. Helpful here are calculations in precise units of card combinations.

As an example: QQ+,AK are 18 + 16 = 34 combinations. If you have an ace with a kicker smaller than Q, you are blocking half of the combinations for AA as well as 1/4 of all combinations for AK. There are 34 – 7 = 27 combinations left, which amounts to around 79% of the initial probability.

For this range, Kx is a blocker as strong as Ax. Only Qx blocks 3 of 34 combinations. Therefore it is more profitable to bluff a hand with the card removal effect than without it.

Contrary to some opinions, it is also possible to bluff 4-bet rather strong hands. Independent of the question, if a call (out of position?) might be the better option, a 4-bet-fold with AJ or even AQ for example, can be profitable depending on the situation.

Let's have a look at some equities again:

Player A
Player B
Equity Player A
Reduction through Card Removal
AQ
QQ+, AK 25.46% 29.41%
AQ
TT+, AQ+
35.25%
27.41%
AJ
QQ+, AK
25.93%
20.06%
AJ
TT+, AQ+
28.74%
27.41%
KQ
QQ+, AK
21.83%
20.06%
KQ
TT+, AQ+
28.53%
27.41%

After a hypothetical 4-bet, only AQ is callable against a looser pushing range. However, the probabilty for player B to hold a hand from his all in range is reduced by 20%-30% - under a correct assumption of his all in range.

If you are sure that you won't get a call to a 4-bet, then you can not only consider a call but also a bluff 4-bet with a relatively strong hand, due to the high card removal effect.

5-betting and 4-betting frequency

There is a problem with 4-bet bluffs: You risk a big part of your own stack and open yourself to counter moves. In the situation illustrated in the previous paragraph, player B only needs low fold equity for a profitable 5-bet all in after the 4-bet.

In relation to this, it will be helpful to look at the graph of the required fold equity in correlation to your own fold equity. It is EV = 0 = Pfold * 43.5BB + ( 1-Pfold ) * ( Equity * 117.5BB - ( 1-Equity ) * 88BB ).



All in all you learn from this that a bluff 4-bet frequency of around 50% or similar is hard to balance. Playing 4-bet/fold that often is impossible. If you wanted to do that, you would have to play 4-bet/fold with marginal hands much more often in order to counter a light 5-better. For an interpretation of this graph, let's look at the following equities:

Player A
Player B
Equity Player A
55
QQ+, AK
35.65%
A5s
QQ+, Ak
30.15%
67s
QQ+, AK
31.08%
JTs
QQ+, AK
29.22%

As a bluff 5-bet or a semibluff are usually used in looser dynamics, you will be shown the equities of these hands against the range TT+, AQ.

Player A
Player B
Equity Player A
55
TT+, AQ+
37.10%
A5s
TT+, AQ+
31.23%
67s
TT+, AQ+
31.64%
JTs
TT+, AQ+
32.10%

These calculations serve to facilitate your understanding of 3-, 4- and 5-bet situations - also considering bluffing aspects. Instead of making many 4-bets, it is often better to only call 3-bets. The game against 4-bets is not particularly difficult and can often be exactly represented mathematically. This is not true for postflop play in a 3-bet pot, which is why it is often more easily possible to gain an edge there than it is preflop.

Call flop vs raise flop

Both moves should be a standard part of your play, both as a bluff and for value. Without going into as much detail as we did for 4-bets, we will still look at some aspects here which you should pay attention to when making more creative moves.

In order to decide whether you want to play call flop or raise flop against a good player in a certain situation, you need to consider how your particular action will affect your opponent.

The biggest difference is probably the direct generation of fold equity with a raise. Playing against good players, you should also take into consideration later streets when making your decision on the flop.

You have to state a goal for your hand and the evaluate which decision on the flop would benefit it best. This is particularly important for bluff multi barrels, not only in the context of this one decision.

The question is not if you should play a standard float, but if you can use a bluff to make your opponent fold some hands from his range.

Therefore you have to ask: "How often does he have an attackable hand such as top pair? Can I make him surrender his hand, and if so, how?"

Lines such as call flop, raise turn as bluff or semibluff, or call flop, bet turn, bet river should be considered here. It is often interesting to play seemingly pure value lines as a bluff or a semi bluff on later streets.

On the flop, many players are prepared for attacks and will react accordingly. If you raise on a dry board on the flop, you might often induce a calldown due to your polarised range.

If you raise the turn or even the river, your opponent will put you on a bluff less often or almost never. This is  because they are no typical bluff lines. Here we have to consider the concept of self exploitation again. Imagine the following situation.

EXAMPLE 2

100BB Stacks

Preflop: Hero is MP with AA
Hero raises 4BB, BU call 4BB

Flop: K, 8, 3 (9.5BB Pot)
Hero bets 5BB, BU calls 5BB

Turn: 2 (19.5BB Pot)
Hero bets 12BB, BU calls 12BB

River: 9 (43.5BB Pot)
Hero bets 21BB, BU raises 79BB (All-In), Hero?

Hero has to be good in around 30% of all cases in order to call. This example is not illustrated for you to imitate when you are in the BU, but only to explain the problem. With a BU in this spot, you would not assume a bluff. Therefore it might be a good spot.

The question is of course how often hero has a set that he calls. The question is if this is a good bluff spot for BU or not. If you put yourself in hero's shoes, the decision with this hand is not easy at all.

Now assume BU had raised on the flop. In most cases you would simply play call down. What would have happened in the situation of a raise on the turn? Would hero still call down?

We can use a bit of maths here to answer the question: which part of hero's range occurs how often or how often does hero have a real monster here? Then you can decide whether or not it is a good bluff spot, even if hero doesn't want to make this decision with a somewhat weaker hand on the river.

EXAMPLE 3

100BB Stacks

Preflop: Hero is MP with K J
Hero raises 4BB, BU call 4BB

Flop: K, 8, 3 (9.5BB Pot)
Hero bets 5BB, BU calls 5BB

Turn: 2 (19.5BB Pot)
Hero bets 12BB, BU calls 12BB

River: 9 (43.5BB Pot)
Hero checks, BU bets 33BB, Hero?

Does hero still have an easy call? Which hands of the BU can Hero beat? As you can see, the decision on the flop can have interesting effects on the entire dynamics of the hand. To extensively think about what these effects might be can bring you the advantage that you need against other winning players.

Check/call vs check/raise

An interesting examination can also be lead by the question: Check/call or check raise? Both has its advantages and disadvantages. With a check/call you immediately get to see the turn card cheaply and the pot is kept small. A check raise increases the pot size and launches the action again.

Your goal for medium strong hands is to see a cheap showdown. For strong made hands the goal is a big pot. For draws the goal is to either draw cheaply or get the opponent to fold. That's why you could technically play check/raise and check/call with draws, check/call with medium strong hands, and check/raise with strong made hands.

But this results in a relatively weak range for check/call that contains many vulnerable one pair hands. If your opponent is willing to take this into consideration, he will cause you many problems. You will only be able to make hero calls against him with the weak part of your range, on the other hand you could follow a passive line with a very strong hand.

When playing such opponents, you should also ask yourself when you want to use the vulnerable part of your range for a bluff. What to take into account as well is the effect of a check/call on a more passive, tighter opponent. He will not be so likely to think "Oh wow, he is weak, I will shoot him off his hand" but "Ah! He has a made hand that he will take to the showdown".

Floats out of position are also possible against his way of thinking. If you bet the river against a check/behind on the turn, you will often enough get folds from weak made hands.

Particularly good continuation bet boards with a high card are suitable for this. They are less likely to be barrelled twice and you can have a hand that you can reasonably value bet on the river.

We also have to mention the possibility of waiting until the turn to make value lines as well as semi bluffs. You play monsters as well as strong draws check/call on the flop with the intention to check/raise on the turn.

This is particularly good on deeper boards on which there can often be potential cards for a 2nd barrel of your opponent, than for him to bet some of his hands on the turn for free showdown.

The line can be balanced well and will give your opponent a bit of a headache. You risk more with semibluffs, particularly due to the lower equity, but you also ,allow your opponent to make mistakes. Depending on his reaction, you can also just play this line as a value line or a semibluff line.

Multiple Barrels

2nd barrels haven't been a big topic so far, although they follow directly from the examination of the continuation bet. Although they are important, we haven't specifically considered them so far. Also, a 3rd barrel is basically a steady continuation of the concept.

The plan for your hand is important. Ask yourself which hands you can get to fold with how much aggression and if you can determine your opponent's range to the extent that he won't too often play a hand that does not fold exactly like that. If you can be sure of that, you could, for example, raise the flop, in order to get a one pair hand to fold on the river at the latest.

As long as the situation ends in a profitable river bluff, the line can be used. In general: firing multiple barrels is a sign of great strength. On the one hand your line should make sense, on the other hand you shouldn't be playing an opponent who would downcall too stubbornly.

You have to distinguish here: There are players who make one call against a polarised line (e.g. a checkraise) or two calls (e.g. a following bet) or three times (to the showdown). The last catergory is not bluffable.

Vice versa, an inconsequent opponent can often be rebluffed more easily. An opponent who never continues betting a bluff on the turn, can be profitably floated on the flop against a raise simply because he surrenders his bluffs. If he bluffs often enough, this is also a good counter line.

» CONCLUSION

These articles along with the videos should have given you an understanding of how to beat NL50SH. Of course, the theory is not enough. You also need to practice a lot. Play at the tables, try your moves, make your decisions and learn from each situation. This is how you will further improve your game.

 

Comments (1)

#1 yeahyoung0312, 09 Sep 10 16:06

Awesome series! Thanks x 2 for making it available to bronze users!