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Tough River Decisions Part 1 � What would you do? (Quiz)

Published January 01, 2009 - RSS/XML Feed RSS
By Sean ‘Icemonkey9’ Gibson
It’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. More often than not the situation is that you’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 you’re left scratching your head wondering if they have the nuts or air. Sometimes, our donkey villain is probably wondering the same thing about their own hand, but let’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 “if we made this same play in this situation an infinite amount of times”).
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, “sharkpuppet1” 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). 
The donkey limps in and our villain with The Hilton Sisters (QQ) raises up a nice solid amount and he gets a call. It’s a somewhat wet flop (wet meaning lots of draws) so our hero bets $4 into $5.50, and our villain flat calls. 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. Finally a 4 hits, the flush draw does not come and now there’s potential filled draws for some really weird hands like A3 or 36. Our hero puts out a blocking bet of $5 into $30 and our villain shoves over the top. Now think about that hand and if you were in this situation … what would you realistically do? Call or fold?
I think this is a situation where thinking would take you to the following:
Mr. Donkey: “Well, I have an overpair, that’s awesome, I call all day.”
TAG-fish: “I’ve shown so much strength. He must have hit the straight or two pair or even slowplayed a set, otherwise there’s no way he can do this to me. I’ll give up and wait to fight another day.”
Hero: “I might be beat here, but given his hand range, I really feel this is a situation where I have to look him up.”
For definitive analysis of our possible decision we’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. When we plug it in the numbers really speak for itself:
“My hand is best 95.02% of the time”
“My equity vs villain’s range in this round is 76%.”
Clearly, the numbers say we should call. In this example, our hero did call and the villain turned up 87 of spades, for a pair of 8s. 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 he’s a bad player but not a totally complete donkey) but only 3bets 3% of the time. That means our villain’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. The third heart comes on the turn which seems to scare both the players. On the river no more hearts come, but an 8 fills up our hero with a boat. Strangely enough our villain throws out a bet on this board … so what would you do in this situation?
Again let me try to guess what some people might be thinking:
Mr. Donkey: “I’ve got a fullhouse! I’m unstoppable! WEEEE!!! ALLLLL IN!!!!!”
TAG-fish: “Well he might have an 8. I mean, I always lose. He has an 8. Oh geeze. Well wait what if he has TT? Or something like 99? Let me throw a little raise and see what happens.”
Hero: “Crap. The odds of him having an 8 are really remote, but I’m beat by a possible straight flush, which is again remote, but there’s definitely the possibilities because of his betting that he’s holding Aces, Kings, or Queens. I better just flat this because I doubt I’m ahead more than half the time.”
Using pokerazor we can see from this situation that if we put our villain on his 3% 3bet range that the numbers say:
“My hand is best 48.57% of the time.”
“My equity vs villain’s range in this round is 46.2%”
So what’s the answer here – fold or call (since raising seems out of the question)? If you said call, you’re right. Basically the numbers say that our equity is 46%, but we’re only having to pay $11 into a $41.50 pot (4 to 1 price!) to see if our hand is best. This is a no brainer call everytime. Unfortunately for our hero, the villain does show up with QQ on this hand.
Some quick things to take away from this article…
·         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.
·         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.
·         A great way to get better as a player is to go through your hand histories and plug them into these tools and see where you might want to alter your play in the future.
·         As we move on more articles will be published that will help quiz you on not just river play but all streets.

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