Itâ€™s inevitable for microstakes and even some low stakes players to be in some weird and tricky situations by the time the river card hits when playing No Limit
Holdem.Â More often than not the situation is that youâ€™re playing against a real donkey that is in half the hands they are dealt with and just call you all the way down
to the river (draws or not), and youâ€™re left scratching your head wondering if they have the nuts or air.Â Sometimes, our donkey villain is probably wondering the same
thing about their own hand, but letâ€™s examine some hands that went to the river and see what the best move for positive equity (meaning the best move in terms of
â€œif we made this same play in this situation an infinite amount of timesâ€).
Hand 1: QQ faces bizarre river shove
First we have to look at our HUD stats from Holdem Manager, and when we do we see that the villain in the hand, â€œsharkpuppet1â€ is a 50/0/3 meaning that he voluntarily
puts money into the pot 50% and never raises preflop, and has an aggression factor of 3 (high).Â
The donkey limps in and our villain with The Hilton Sisters (QQ) raises up a nice solid amount and he gets a call.Â Itâ€™s a somewhat wet flop (wet meaning lots of draws)
so our hero bets $4 into $5.50, and our villain flat calls.Â The five hits which potentially fills a straight draw if the villain has 67 but our hero bets again (as he should) with $8.50
into $13.50 (meaning that the hero is pricing out all the draws) and the villain flats the bet again.Â Finally a 4 hits, the flush draw does not come and now thereâ€™s
potential filled draws for some really weird hands like A3 or 36.Â Our hero puts out a blocking bet of $5 into $30 and our villain shoves over the top.Â Now think about that
hand and if you were in this situation â€¦ what would you realistically do?Â Call or fold?
I think this is a situation where thinking would take you to the following:
Mr. Donkey: â€œWell, I have an overpair, thatâ€™s awesome, I call all day.â€
TAG-fish: â€œIâ€™ve shown so much strength. He must have hit the straight or two pair or even slowplayed a set, otherwise thereâ€™s no way he can
do this to me.Â Iâ€™ll give up and wait to fight another day.â€
Hero: â€œI might be beat here, but given his hand range, I really feel this is a situation where I have to look him up.â€
For definitive analysis of our possible decision weâ€™re going to plug in the hand with Pokerazor (freeware software program) that will let us know how often we have the best hand
in this situation and what our equity is in the hand.Â When we plug it in the numbers really speak for itself:
â€œMy hand is best 95.02% of the timeâ€
â€œMy equity vs villainâ€™s range in this round is 76%.â€
Clearly, the numbers say we should call.Â In this example, our hero did call and the villain turned up 87 of spades, for a pair of 8s.Â Chalk up the $41 pot to our hero.
Hand 2: JJ faces a tough river decision
Our villain here in Holdem Manager is a 32/7/3 (you can interpret that as heâ€™s a bad player but not a totally complete donkey) but only 3bets 3% of the time.Â That
means our villainâ€™s range here is the top 3% of hands.
Our hero calls the preflop 3bet with Jacks and then makes a raise on the flop with his overpair, and our villain calls.Â The third heart comes on the turn which seems to scare both the
players.Â On the river no more hearts come, but an 8 fills up our hero with a boat.Â Strangely enough our villain throws out a bet on this board â€¦ so what
would you do in this situation?
Again let me try to guess what some people might be thinking:
Mr. Donkey: â€œIâ€™ve got a fullhouse! Iâ€™m unstoppable! WEEEE!!! ALLLLL IN!!!!!â€
TAG-fish: â€œWell he might have an 8.Â I mean, I always lose.Â He has an 8.Â Oh geeze.Â Well wait what if he has TT?Â Or something
like 99?Â Let me throw a little raise and see what happens.â€
Hero: â€œCrap.Â The odds of him having an 8 are really remote, but Iâ€™m beat by a possible straight flush, which is again remote, but
thereâ€™s definitely the possibilities because of his betting that heâ€™s holding Aces, Kings, or Queens.Â I better just flat this because I doubt
Iâ€™m ahead more than half the time.â€
Using pokerazor we can see from this situation that if we put our villain on his 3% 3bet range that the numbers say:
â€œMy hand is best 48.57% of the time.â€
â€œMy equity vs villainâ€™s range in this round is 46.2%â€
So whatâ€™s the answer here â€“ fold or call (since raising seems out of the question)?Â If you said call, youâ€™re
right.Â Basically the numbers say that ourÂ equity is 46%, but weâ€™re only having to pay $11 into a $41.50 pot (4 to 1 price!) to see if our hand is
best.Â This is a no brainer call everytime.Â Unfortunately for our hero, the villain does show up with QQ on this hand.
Some quick things to take away from this articleâ€¦
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â It is an evolutionary step of a poker player to go from simply
looking at their own cards and the board to defining hands that their villain might have based on their defined range of hands that they would play.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Use poker tools (which are legal at all the poker rooms) like
Holdem Manager and Pokerazor to assist you in learning which situations are positive for your equity.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A great way to get better as a player is to go through your
hand histories and plug them into theseÂ tools and see where you might want to alter your play in the future.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As we move on more articles will be published that will help
quiz you on not just river play but all streets.
In this article we'll look at some hands from my hand histories at low stakes, specifically $0.50-$1 No Limit Hold'em (both 6max and Full Ring) and also give HUD stats of the villains and see
how that might affect our thinking in terms of making a decision.