This thread was inspired by a recent hand played, where a strong player made a half pot bet on the river that initially left me thinking there were not enough combinations of hands that would call and be behind (I thought most of the calling range would be ahead). I mentioned this right after the hand, and the player thought it would be fun to see a thread on the topic, and so here we are.
I’ll probably try to select a number of other hands as I play that I think either illustrate thin value, or going too thin, and welcome others to do the same, or share how they approach making bets close to the edge of value.
Here’s the hand that inspired this:
Let’s think about things street by street, and try to come up with some possible ranges.
I think a raise from the button from a strong and competent player represents a very wide range, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% to 65% of hands. I don’t know what BW’s frequencies are (I need to start tracking a bit better), but let’s just assume 45% for now, or something like:
What do I cold call with as the big blind? Again, there is quite a bit of variability involved, as I’ll change my ranges from week to week, and might be inclined to play someone strong quite differently than someone I feel I have a large edge against, but let’s pick something fairly vanilla, and say my calling range looks like this (full combos of everything in green, and partial combos of anything with some green):
I found the lack of a bet on the flop to be quite surprising, as the board heavily favors the pre-flop raisers range. What kind of hands check here?
- monsters like AA and AK, that block value combinations I might have
- marginal showdown value hands, like some of the weaker kings, eights, and under pairs
- some trash that is giving up early (I’m least clear on what hands these might be)
On the turn, I fire a bet a little over half pot. What hands are most likely to make this bet?
- any ace
- some kings
- flush draws
- some lower equity straight draws like QJ, QT and JT, especially with 1 or 2 hearts
- combo draws of various sorts (Kx and 8x of hearts)
- some protection bets from weak pairs
In calling the turn bet, most of the trash is now gone (though there will of course be some draws that take this line, many would bet the flop or raise the turn). Weak kings and middling strength hands are still around, as are some of the monster hands.
On the river, can K9 bet half pot for value after I check? Note that my check on the river compresses my range to an extent, lowering the frequency of most of the stronger hands. How many combos call and are better than K9, and how many call and lose?
Those that are better than K9:
- all aces call, but while most would take the line taken on the flop and turn, a lot don’t check on the river… so maybe 1/3 of the starting combos, or lets say 18 combos
- Kings will often check the turn some fraction of the time because of the degree to which the flop favors the opponent’s range, and so again I think combos are reduced here (and K9 blocks the combos here). KQ, KJ, KT, K8 and K5 exist at some frequency, but I’d round it down to about something like 7 to 8 combos.
- 88 and 55 exist, but both would often not check the river, and 55 is probably mostly not betting the turn… maybe 1.5 combos?
So really it seems like the density of hands ahead of K9 is less than I guessed during live play, and already it seems likely we’ll be able to find more than 27 or so combos that will call and lose:
- 1 to 3 combos each of K7s, K6s, K4s, K3s and K2s (slightly reduced because those without a flush draw might just check on the turn. We’ll say 10 combos in total.
- 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33 and 22, with combos reduced for the lower pairs, as they are less likely to bet the turn, and more like to fold to the river bet if they do bet the turn. Perhaps only 12 combos will get here and then actually call at the end? (Note that I’m assuming TT and 99 mostly 3 bet pre-flop, but they will also get be in range some of the time, but I think less than 1 combo)
- So how many pairs of 8’s get here and call. I think a lot are in range and might call, but I think some fold too. On the turn, before the bet, we have 4 combos of Q8s, 1 or 2 of J8s, maybe 1 T8s, 3 98s, 2 87s, 3 86s and 4 85s. But I think most of these hands check the turn at a fair frequency, and many will also fold to the river bet if the do make the turn bet. Hard to say, but maybe 5 combos (10 at the high end).
- Note that missed draws will never call, either folding or firing a bluff raise
So that gives 27 combos that call and lose… so this really gets down to what you think my range looks like on whether this is thin value, or or if K9 is better served to just check back here. I’m inclined to trust BW’s play here, and think this is a great example of how a strong player is not afraid to test the edges of value.
Edit: oh, I should probably mention that my actual cards were Kh4h.