Was This Bluff a Mistake? (Analysis)
This two-part article series will help you improve your strategy with missed draws.
In part one, cash game crusher Fried Meulders missed a flush draw with Q♥ 7♥, but got his opponent to fold with a couple of huge overbet bluffs.
This time Fried misses a straight draw in a 3-bet pot. Will his aggression be enough to take the pot again?
These hands were played at $2.50/$5 Zoom on PokerStars. Fried’s full session was recorded and analyzed for members of the Upswing Lab training course. If you’re a member, you can watch the session here.
Let’s get started.
The game is $2.50/$5 Zoom on PokerStars.
Fried raises to $11.50 on the button with J♥ 8♥ and a player called smcommerce 3-bets to $50 out of the small blind. Fried calls.
Fried should be opening here with around the top 40% of hands, and J♥ 8♥ is a very good opening hand well within that range.
Facing a 3-bet of this size, Fried should defend about 50% of his opening range (assuming his opponent is a strong player), either by flatting or 4-betting. His calling range should look something like this:
So, perfect preflop play from Fried. Let’s see a flop.
The flop comes T♠ 7♦ 3♣ and smcommerce bets half pot (~$50). Fried calls.
Since his range is much stronger than Fried’s, smcommerce should bet very frequently on this flop.
That being said, he uses a decently big bet size — big for a 3-bet pot on a dry board, at least — which may be indicative of a stronger betting range. It’s hard to say without more info on the player if his range is balanced or not when using this bet size.
In smcommerce’s spot, PioSolver likes betting fairly frequently for a large size. See the PioSolver solution here.
Fried’s call is very profitable according to the solver, which assumes that smcommerce’s bet size is being perfectly balanced. See the solution for Fried’s spot here.
In general, you should continue with a lot of your range in 3-bet pots in position as the defender, especially if you are up against strong aggressive players. In this case, Fried should continue with:
- All of the pocket pairs except 22
- Every flopped pair
- Every draw
- Hands that have a lot of backdoors and at least an overcard (such as Q♣ 9♣, K♦ J♦, or A♠ 8♠).
To the turn!
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The turn is the 6♣, making the board T♠ 7♦ 3♣ 6♣.
Smcommerce checks, Fried bets 33% pot, and smcommerce calls.
This turn is favorable for Fried as the in position player. The 6♣ improves a lot more hands in his range than in the 3-bettors range (76s, 54s, 98s, and a lot of backdoor draws that are now strong gutshots or combo draws).
For this reason, the 3-bettor should play a more defensive strategy. A lot of his overcard hands (KQ, QJ, etc) have now whiffed and will be forced to fold versus a bet. To protect these hands from getting robbed of their equity, he should check some stronger hands as well. See the PioSolver solution for smcommerce’s spot on the turn.
When smcommerce checks, his range is made up of a lot of overcard hands that will be forced to fold against even a small bet. Because of this, and because Fried’s range contains a lot of hands that need protection, the best bet size to use is a small one (33% pot). See the solution for Fried’s spot here.
The river is the 2♣, making the board T♠ 7♦ 3♣ 6♣ 2♣.
Smcommerce checks and Fried shoves.
This is one of the worst possible river cards for Fried’s range as only a handful of his bluffs have improved, which lowers his overall expected value (EV). That being said, he still has a lot of value hands (sets, straights, and flushes). Those value hands need to be balanced by bluffs to force the opponent to call with his bluff-catchers.
So, how do you pick which bluffs to continue barreling? You are looking for blockers to your opponent’s calling range. In this case, you want to have a flush blocker and/or zero showdown value (such as J8s, J9s, QJs, etc).
Here’s PioSolvers solution for Fried’s spot (I’ll summarize it below the image):
The solver barrels as a bluff on the river with missed straight draws (A5, A4, K9, Q9, J9, J8) and some overcard hands that reached this point (AQ, AJ, KQ, QJ). Fried’s specific hand J♥ 8♥ is barreled by the solver at a 96% frequency. The bet size it uses is all-in.
Of course, this is all in theory. When playing against real-life opponents, you should aim to create a strategy that takes advantage of your opponent’s imbalance. For example, if you think he is going to fold very often in this spot, you should always shove with all your non-made hands and tighten your value range.
On the other hand, if you think your opponent will call you down too often on this runout, you should tighten your bluffing range and only use the worst hands in your range (J♥ 8♥ is a perfect candidate for this as it’s very low in your range).
Smcommerce calls with 9♥ 9♣ and wins the pot.
Even though Fried got looked up here, there’s no reason to doubt his play based on what we know.
Since he will sometimes shove with a strong value hand on the river, he needs to bluff with some hands as well. J8 is the perfect candidate because it’s one of the worst hands he can have — and, unsurprisingly, PioSolver agrees.
What do you think about smcommerce’s call? Was it good, was it bad? Let me know in the comment section below!
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