Brad Owen’s Brutal Decision With Flopped Nut Flush (Analysis)
Could poker vlogger Brad Owen have gotten away from this one?
If you think you should never fold the top of your range in poker, your answer will probably be no. But should it be?
This concept of capped ranges has been around for a long time. However, according to high stakes poker pro Uri Peleg, the misapplications surrounding this poker rule-of-thumb run far and wide.
In this article, Uri analyzes a monster pot played by Brad Owen and discusses whether or not Brad could have avoided what might seem like an unavoidable bad beat at the Bellagio.
Let’s take a look at the hand!
Note: Uri is the creator of Elite Cash Game Exploits, an advanced training course made for poker players who want to gain a massive edge on their opponents. Learn more about Elite Cash Game Exploits here!
Brad Owen Flops the Nuts at the Bellagio
$10/$20/$40 at Bellagio. $5,230 effective stacks.
Preflop: Brad is dealt in the Hijack
Brad raises to $120. Big Blind calls.
Big Blind checks. Brad checks.
Big Blind bets $320. Brad raises to $1,000. Big Blind calls.
Big Blind checks. Brad bets $2,000. Big Blind raises all-in $4,110 effective. Brad…?
Thinking about ranges, it’s fair to assume Brad’s range is pretty much capped at having a flush — he probably wouldn’t raise the turn with a set, so he can’t possibly have a full house.
The Big Blind, meanwhile, has an uncapped range and is now representing a number of the full house combinations that are certainly within that range.
Brad’s logic of always having to call with the top of his range is a heuristic taken from GTO poker theory. In GTO poker, it’s pretty much a fundamental rule that one must call with the top of one’s range in virtually every spot in order to prevent being exploited by opponents.
In short, if Brad is folding the nut flush here, he theoretically opens himself up to being exploited by an aggressive bluffing strategy.
Misapplications of Capped Range Theory
While most GTO poker players would agree with Brad’s logic, in Uri’s opinion, Brad still made a big mistake by feeling like he was forced to have to call it off on this river. Here’s why:
Always calling with the top of our range was thought of as a way to make sure that our opponents could never profitably bluff us. [The logic goes:] Sometimes we’ll get stacked, sure, but our opponent won’t be able to profitably bluff us.
You can calculate exactly where this line is by using pot odds and/or solvers.
Brad needs to call with roughly 50% of his range to reach the minimum defense frequency (MDF) and keep himself from being exploitatively bluffed — this number is based on the pot odds his opponent is getting on his bet. In theory, if Brad folded more than ~50% of the time, his opponent could show a profit here by bluffing every. single. time.
Without looking into a solver, Uri estimates that Brad will need to call with about 75% of his flushes in this spot to reach that minimum defense frequency.
Now, we are at a crossroads. There are two choices for how to approach this hand:
- Take the balanced GTO approach (call) and make the opponent indifferent to bluffing.
- Fold “too often” and accept the possibility of being exploitated.
Uri would urge you to lean towards the second option.
Breaking Out of the Capped Range Mindset
Uri explains that there’s a key question to ask yourself if you’re ever stuck in a similar situation: “Is this a spot where it’s important for me to stop my opponents from over-bluffing?”
Here’s Uri expanding on that thought:
Look at the way this hand played out. Brad’s opponent potted the turn, called a big raise, and then would be doing this suicide check-shove if he were bluffing on the river.
With Brad only having about $2,000 behind, it’s just tough to imagine what his opponent could even be bluffing with.
For me personally, this is a spot where I wouldn’t worry about drawing a line in the sand.
To Uri, there isn’t any reason to stress about folding the top of our range in this spot. He compares it to worrying about running a red light in a country with no police and no cars around for a 100-mile radius.
Just run the red light. Or in this case, just fold. You don’t need to concern yourself with being exploited in ways that are virtually impossible.
Brad calls the $2,110 more with on the board. His opponent shows and drags the $10,510 pot.
Do you agree with Uri?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you agree with Uri’s basic assumptions — that an opponent would never shove a worse flush nor would he shove as a bluff — this is an obvious fold.
But even so, it’s tough to fold the flopped nut flush for a min-raise on the river. Even though I agree with Uri’s analysis, I’m not sure I could make the fold in-game. Could you?
That’s it for today. Good luck at the tables!
Note: Become an exploitative machine and P-R-I-N-T money at the poker table when you get Uri Peleg’s Elite Cash Game Exploits course.
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