Whilst playing in a MiniFTOPS event on Full Tilt Poker I came across a scenario that I see all of the time.
I open and find a caller. The flop is ace-high and I don’t have the ace.
I need to figure out if I can represent it or not.
In these types of hands I’m never quite sure when to give up and accept that my opponent has the ace or when to continue my aggression.
I reached out to the recent Genting Poker Series (GPS) Newcastle Main Event winner, Ludovic Geilich, to ask his thoughts on the matter. This is what he had to say.
Blinds 60/120. Hero is in the HJ with 29,840 and [Kd] [Qd]
I open to 360 and the CO calls from a stack of 14,985.
Flop: [Ac] [6d] [3d] (990 in the pot)
I bet 450 and he quickly calls.
Turn: [Js] (1,890 in the pot)
I bet 900 and he calls.
River: [5s] (3,690 in the pot)
I bet 2,800 and he calls.
Lee Davy Commentary: Pre-flop is standard. Once he calls the flop I put him on a range of pocket pairs and suited connectors.
On the flop I decide that if I’m going to c-bet I’m going to fire three barrels to get him off a stubborn pocket pair.
I follow through with this plan after he calls flop and turn very quickly. I know he could also have an ace and I don’t think he is folding.
So I guess the point here is how do you proceed with these things when he could have either hand range that I describe?
The Difference Between Online and Live Poker
Ludovic Geilich Commentary: “The first point I would like to enforce is to understand how differently this hand plays dependent on whether you are playing live or in an online poker room.
“You are far more likely to get someone to pass this type of hand when playing live than you are online.
“The online game changes all of the time. The live game, not so much. Some of the things I do when playing live are insane.
“I would never get away with some of these things when I play online poker. When I play online the majority of good players are far better than me.
“But when you put them on a live table I will run them over because I will gather so many chips from the weaker players and use my stack in an aggressive fashion to make life difficult for the stronger players.
“You have to fight for every pot when playing live.”
Lee Davy: What I take from that is identifying opponent types is exceptionally important?
Ludovic Geilich: “It’s extremely important. Take this hand, for example. You are bluffing and so you need to know how likely your opponent is to fold.
“If you don’t have this information then you are allowing more luck to enter your game than skill.”
LD: At no time during this hand did I ever consider if my opponent would fold or not. I made my mind up on the flop that I would fire three streets, irrespective of the run out.
Ludovic Geilich: “That’s a mistake on this type of board. You have [Kd] [Qd] and the flop is [Ac] [6d] [3d].
“This means that the [Ad] is still out there so I wouldn’t be trying to get all the chips because I won’t be able to find the nut-hand.
“If the [Ac] was the [Ad], and we make a flush, then it depends on the strength of our opponent’s hand.
“If I think he has a set, top pair or even top pair-top kicker, when the diamond arrives, with my image, I think I can get the lot.
“Even if I over-bet the river, I believe I will get the chips, 80% of the time.
“With Ace-high, two diamonds, it’s hard to fire three barrels. I’m not saying you have to give up all of the time. But the texture of the board is incredibly important.
“Queen, jack, ten or nine high boards – with two diamonds – I agree that you could fire three. But with ace high boards I think you can fire twice and then give up.
“Your opponent will have top pair too often when they call twice. Even if it’s a strong player who can fold a hand only a diamond will scare your opponent.
“And even then they may not give up top pair. So it’s not a hand to fire three barrels.”
LD: At what point do you give your opponent credit for the ace?
Ludovic Geilich: “You bet 450 on the flop and he immediately calls. This is an online poker tell.
“If he is a bad player he has an ace. If he is a good player he could be giving off a false timing tell.
“It depends how well you know the player. You can use HUD stats or notes to collect information on your opponents to make your decisions a little easier.
“Imagine it’s a top online reg who has earned $1-2m+ in his career. In this spot, when I bet 450 and he immediately calls, I don’t know what he has because his timing will be balanced.
You can fire twice to get 77, 88, 99 or TT to fold.
“You may even get called twice with a worse flush draw. If you snap check the river, he might check it back and you may win the pot with king high sometimes.”
LD: What if you have zero reads on your opponent?
Ludovic Geilich: “If you have zero reads then your job is to control the size of the pot.”
LD: What else should I take into consideration?
Ludovic Geilich: “The run out is very important because it determines the range of hands you could use as a bluff.
“In this hand, you open and the flop comes [Ac] [6d] [3d]. If it runs out 45, 57 or 47 (and ends up being a one-carded straight) you may be able to bluff the river.
“But this is where a good understanding of your opponent is also important. A good hand reader will know that you rarely have a low card in your hand, making the straight, and this means your bluff will get called more often.
“When he snap calls the flop it’s highly unlikely he has the [Ad] because he would take his time and try to sell himself more.
“In this circumstance when he snap calls, because you are blocking AQ & AK, I would weight his range to pocket pairs, AT or AJ. He is calling quickly because he doesn’t want to face three barrels.
“It looks like you have AK or AQ but if he has AT & AJ he is still going to call you. If you were holding AK in this spot then you could put in a thin value bet on the turn to get value from AT and AQ.
“If you have AQ you can also bet for thin value off AQ. The jack is a bad card as it slows down the play.
“If you have AQ you will have to check-call, and AK would be a bet and then evaluate. The way the hand played out I think it’s pretty reasonable that he had AT or AJ.”
LD: He did have AJ but by the time I get to the river I still have pocket pairs in his range and this is why I bet for a third time.
Ludovic Geilich: He will have those hands. Possibly because it’s early in the tournament, and you are so deep, he will even show up with jacks because he doesn’t want to 3B with JJ this early.
“So fire twice but if he calls you give up the river.”
LD: What other advice do you have for beginners in these spots?
Ludovic Geilich: “You need to get to a point in your game where a lot of your decisions are being made without thinking.
“This frees up more energy to think through the more difficult spots. You can only achieve this goal by playing as many hands as possible.
“If you are a beginner poker player I would start out by determining how many tables you can play simultaneously and maintain a high level of concentration.
“Let’s pretend this is four. Then I would play with money I could afford to lose, fire up four MTT or S&G tables, and go to work.
“Each time you’re eliminated from a poker tournament you load up another table. S&G games are great for learning how to play short-stacked poker and MTTs for deeper stacked games.
“If you keep playing as many hands as possible your brain will get to a point, by a process of elimination, that it works faster.
“Let’s say you open up AT in early position and are always calling a 3-bet and then losing money. Over time your brain will remember this and the hand will automatically be dropped from your early position range.
“Or you will open but then fold to the 3-bet. That’s one piece of a very complicated puzzle solved. It’s a leak that has been fixed.
“Playing continually has contributed to this. Poker is like everything in life. You have to work hard to reap the rewards.
“Don’t buy into the bullshit that players only win because they are lucky. It’s hard work, skill, dedication and a pinch of luck.”