Deciding what to do with a missed draw can be tricky.
Sometimes you should bluff, and sometimes your stack will be better off if you wave the white flag. Choosing the wrong option will either cost you the pot or your stack.
To help you better understand when to bluff with missed draws, we’re about to review a hand played by cash game pro Fried Meulders in a recent $2.50/$5 Zoom session.
Fried’s entire session was recorded and analyzed for members of the Upswing Lab training course. If you’re a member, you can watch the session here.
In part one of this two-part article series, Fried has to decide whether or not to fire a big bluff on the river with a missed flush draw. In part two (coming next week), we’ll review a hand in which Fried is in the same predicament with a missed gutshot straight draw.
Let’s dive in!
A player called readraise raises to $11 from the cutoff off of a $1,150 stack. Fried has a $570 stack in the big blind and defends with Q♥ 7♥.
Readraise should be raising with roughly the top 25% of possible starting hands from the cutoff. For visual aid, here’s the cutoff open-raise range from the Upswing Lab’s Chart Viewer app:
Against such a range and given the great pot odds that Fried is getting, he should call with quite a lot of hands as the range below shows (also from the Upswing Lab’s Chart Viewer):
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The flop comes K♥ J♥ 5♦ and both players check.
Fried elects to check as he will do with his entire range. Fried is operating with a range disadvantage and he is also playing out of position, so he should never lead out here.
Readraise should c-bet at a high frequency using mostly a medium size, according to the PioSolver solution below.
The likely reason for this aggressive c-bet strategy: readraise has a huge range advantage (56.5% equity vs 43.5% equity) and also a big nut advantage.
To explain nut advantage further, 6.2% of readraise’s range is two pair or better, compared to only 4.3% for Fried. This advantage allows readraise to use larger bet sizes more profitably.
Further reading: How to Use Positional, Range, and Nut Advantages to Maximize Profit.
The turn is the 9♦, making the board K♥ J♥ 5♦ 9♦.
Fried overbets for twice the size of the pot ($46 into $23) and readraise calls.
When a player checks back on a board that should be bet at an extremely high frequency, it usually means that his range is decently strong and weighted towards hands with showdown value.
Against such a range, Fried is still behind equity-wise, but he now has the nut advantage. This allows him to profitably implement an overbet strategy.
That said, according to PioSolver, this isn’t the prevailing strategy in Fried’s situation:
The solver rarely elects to overbet, doing so only 4.68% of the time.
However, Fried’s specific hand should be overbet quite a bit more often. On the right side of the image above, you can see that the solver likes overbetting with Q♥ 7♥ 20.7% of the time.
It also chooses to overbet at significant frequencies with very strong draws (such as nut flush draws and combo draws). This is likely because these hands have a lot of equity and will often improve to very strong hands on the river, at which point Fried can overbet for value.
Side note: In practice, this low frequency overbet strategy will probably work even better than the solver suggests. Humans don’t play nearly as balanced and unexploitable as solvers, and therefore an opponent will likely fold too often versus the overbet.
The river is the 6♠, completing the K♥ J♥ 5♦ 9♦ 6♠ board.
Fried chooses to make another overbet for twice the size of the pot ($227 into $115).
Once Fried overbet on the turn, he polarized his range (meaning he has either a really strong hand or a bluff).
When all draws miss, it makes sense to continue overbetting as he is representing the same polarized range. This range consists of strong value hands (two pair or better) and a mix of missed flush draws.
When most of your draws miss, you should give up with some of your bluffs. Since all draws missed in this case, Fried should (in theory) bluff with some of his draws, but give up with most of them. See the PioSolver solution for Fried’s spot here.
However, since we are not playing against perfectly balanced poker gods, our strategy should often shift towards exploiting the weaknesses that we believe our opponent has. This is where the skill of exploitation comes in handy.
When deciding whether or not to bluff in spots like this, we should consider the following:
- The opponent’s tendencies (are they a calling station? A nit?)
- Our recent history against the opponent (has he already caught you bluffing a few times this session?)
- How the opponent has been running lately (might he be on tilt and willing to call down light?)
- Any other information we have gathered about the opponent.
Readraise folds and Fried takes the $115 pot.
That’s all for now, thank you for reading! I hope you liked this article — it was a fun one to write. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section below!
Be sure to come back next week for part two of this series. Click here for a preview of the hand we’ll be covering.
In the meantime, you can check out another hand analysis series featured Fried Meulders here.
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