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Don't fold, just ask - when to second barrel after a squeeze play

» Don't fold, just ask

There are moments in the life of a poker player when he requires the expert opinion of a professional. Under the motto "together not alone", professional content chiefs , OnkelHotte (Fixed Limit), sammy (No-Limit, SNG), Wishmaster (Fixed Limit, Real-Life-Poker), answer your questions. Whether you have a query about a hand, theory or anything else, just ask!

Question from emophiliac


Dear sammy,
today I played and recognised an interesting hand on a nl25sh-table. I was in the big blind with K T . The BU openraised, SB called. I reraise, because my hand is bad enough and BU had demostrated a very aggressive pre-flop game, but a rather conserved, tight postflop game - he can fold good hands and react somewhat passively and helplessly in the face of aggression. It is about the 20th hand at the table and I had previously shown 2 semibluffs in unraised pots, 3 times I raised preflop and either I raised or reraised a hand I wanted to play, or showed no interest at all.

BU called, I assigned him a range of (AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, QJ, JT, T9s, 87s, 22-QQ), SB folded, effective stacks ~ 100bb. The flop came Q 8 3 . I bet 2/3 pot. The BU thought for a while, then called. I assume some type of made hand from villain e.g. AQ, KQ, QJ. JJ, TT, 99 I excluded in the flop call, but are technically possible. Had he called faster, we could probably exclude a flushdraw based on timing tells. He ccould be slowplaying a set, though he would probably raise this.

The turn is J , giving me an OESD and completing flushdraws. I have no heart, I bet 2/3 pot.

How often would you bet in this hand on this limit against this opponent? What if the turn was A , Q , A , 6 or 6 ? Also, more generally: which kind of board textures in relation to my hand are favourable for firing a second barrel against a standard opponent after a squeeze play?

many thanks for you answer
regards - emophiliac

Answer from sammy

Dear emophiliac,
This is indeed a very interesting game decision. In order to present the situation to all readers more clearly by summarizing your actions and reads:

No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10/$0.25$

BU - 25$
SB - 25$
BB(Hero) - 25$

Preflop: Hero is BB with K , T
BU raises to $0.75, SB calls $0.65, Hero raises to $3.00, BU calls $2.25, SB folds.

Jan Samuelsen aka sammy looks after the No-Limit section of PokerStrategy. A long time winning player and Black Member, he has undertaken the task of instructing new generations in the art of big-ball poker.
Flop: ($6.75) Q , 8 , 3 (2 players)
Hero bets $4.50, BU calls $4.50.

Turn: ($15.75) J (2 players)
Hero ???

Remaining stacks: $17.50

Estimated Preflop-Callingrange of BU:
22-QQ, AJ+, KQ, QJ, JT, T9s, 87s

Estimated Turnrange of BU:
99-JJ, AQ, KQ, QJ

Reads and own Tableimage:
  • We have played very tight and aggressive, notable for being able to make semi-bluffs.
  • The button seems to be a straightforward TAG, who responds to post flop aggression by being passive, which is typical of this limit.

Before I now analyse this situation in detail I remark on the use of the squeeze play on this limit:

Generally it is not wise or necessary to make squeeze plays in order to play profitably at this limit, since oppoents will call with very many hands and are unable to make tough folds postflop. They also do not take into account your table image, or the hands you have previously played. They will only consider their own hand and therefore make far too many calls. It is therefore very possible to beat this limit by playing a straightforward tight aggressive game.

Now the Hand:

In general, we have a fold here after an openraise from BU and a cold call from SB. There are, however, certain situations you may recognise in which a squeeze play is appropriate. (More on the squeeze play can be found in our platinum article)

After the preflop call from BU in a squeeze situation we should make a continuation bet on just about every board, since the opponent only hits 30% of the time and will very often fold. The betsize should be between ½ and ²/³ of the pot in order to generate sufficient foldequity and to get protection and value with our good hands.

Based on reads, we have set BU on a made hand after he called our continuation bet. Now in such a squeeze situation things do not look good for us and we should probably play check/fold as will we not very often have the odds to play check/call.

Now in answer to the question, firstly we look at how our equity ranks against BU. I would not overvalue the timing tell here, as he may well have purposefully taken his time, though it is possible he was considering a raise with a nutflushdraw. I would include A T into his hand range, so he has the range:
99-JJ, AQ, A T, KQ, QJ

Against this range, we have an equity of 18,5% on the turn, and we are a large underdog against any made hand. Nevertheless we can consider firing a 2nd barrel, due to the scary nature of the board in order to push out the weaker of the hands in his range.

Given the equity calculation, we can no longer consider different bet sizes. Here we have only the option of a push, since every other reasonable betsize leaves us pot committed. It makes no differenc whether we bet 2/3 pot now and call a push or go directly all-in, so we should just go all-in to maximise our fold equity.

If we bet only ½ Potsize (7.8$), against a push we would have Pot odds of 9,7:41,05. This is 1:4,32. With an equity of 19,1% a call would then be profitable.

Bet/fold Turn with a bet <1/2 Potsize, check/fold River unimproved is not a particularly good way of playing, since such a small bet could be called by made hands which may fold to a push. Therefore we should either push, or play check/fold on the turn!!

The question is, therefore, what percentage of his hands must he fold in order to make a push +EV for us. The calculation:

(x corresponds to the percentage of hands he folds)

P(Push) = x * (+15,75$) + (1-x) * (0.185 * (+33,25$) + 0.815 * (-17,5$))

(For the purpose of legibility, I now omit the $ sign.)

P(Push) = 15,75x + (1-x) (6,151 – 14,2625)
P(Push) = 15,75x - 8,1115 + 8,1115x
P(Push) = 23,8615x – 8,1115 > 0
23,8615x > 8,1115
x > 0,3399
x > 34%

So he must fold 1/3 of his hand range in order to make a push +EV for us.
Now we can use our read. And this says that in such a situation, he is capable of folding his made hands. Given the arrival of the flushdraw, he will probably fold 99, TT and KQ, but it is unlikely that he will fold a set of jacks, or two pair.

There are 49 hand combinations in his range, when you consider the board: 6x 99, 6x TT, 3x JJ, 12x AQ, 12x KQ, 9x QJ, 1xA T

We say he will fold, 99, TT und KQ, so there are 24 combinations he folds, which is 49% of his range. Since 49 > 34, against this opponent we have a +EV-Push.

Suppose we now play against Villian1, who cannot fold all KQ hands and Villian2, who can only fold TPGK hands in 50% of cases, we have the following fold ranges:
Villain1: 24%
Villain2: 36%

So against an absolute Callingstation we should play check/fold on the Turn, and against Semi-Callingstations we have a much more difficult decision.

This illustrates how important an accurate read in No-Limit Hold’em can be.

Substitution of the Turncard
An ace here is a good Turncard, since a) it fits into our range and b) Weakens villains pair, so long as he does not have AQ. This makes it easier for him to find a fold with KQ and QJ. The cards we would like to see, after the A and J, are the K and T, because we get more equity for our push. Each other turncard (whether or not a ) gives us an equity of only 6% after villains call. Therefore, with blanks like 2, 7 or 3 the opponent will not fold in enough cases and a push is not advised.

The situation in general
Here we will assume that a flop call from an opponent in a squeeze situation indicated he hit a hand with showdown value. Only in the rarest of cases will he have called with a good draw. If one is facing a good opponent, he will very often push over the top with a draw on the flop, because
  • they  have a lot of foldequity
  • if they are called, the draw ensures they still have some equity.

A line such as call flop, Fold Turn unimproved in a 3-Bet Pot is extremely bad, and will only be played by absolute fish who do not generally know what they are doing.

Therefore in order to consider a 2nd Barrel we must first make sure the turn card falls into those cards which help out our handrange. With a blank card, a 2nd-barrel makes no sense because the opponent demonstrated they have a made hand and will therefore not likely fold to a blank turn. In single cases, we can exploit a Scarecard (e.g. an completed flush draw) as long as we have an accurate read on our opponent, that he will be able to let go of his made hands often enough and that our equity is still sufficiently large if we are called (not <12%).

In the example above, if say we wanted to push after seeing the 2 we would need a foldequity >48,2%, which is difficult to get against a standard opponent.