Thin Value

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. :slight_smile:

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.


Thanks for your hand analysis. I’ll try to give my own analysis later, but let me first try to roughly paraphrase what I was thinking on the river:

“Ok, so he bet turn and checked river. I don’t think he has many Aces here, so he most likely bet some flush draw, Kx, 8x, weak pocket pair, or gutshot on the turn. The only hands that beat me here are KT+ and I’d expect that at least some of those combos bet the river again. I can get value from some weaker Kx and 8x and perhaps even some weaker pocket pairs. Betting K9o feels marginal here, but I haven’t seen Yorunoame bluff check-raising the river a lot, so I can perhaps get away with a value bet here.”

1 Like

Alright, here is my analysis.

Effective stacks: about 116 BB
BU with K :clubs: 9 :diamonds: opening to 2.5 BB, SB folds, BB calls

Flop: A :hearts: K :diamonds: 8 :hearts: (5.5 BB)
BB checks, BU checks

Turn: A :spades: (5.5 BB)
BB bets about 3 BB, BU calls

Possible BB hands that could take this line:

  • All Ax hands, although some might check as a trap.
  • Many flush draws without a pair, and some flush draws with a pair.
  • Some KTo+ hands.
  • Some 8x hands, although checking is probably better.
  • Some air such as 43s no hearts.

Possible BU hands that could take this line:

  • Some weaker Aces such as A2-A7.
  • All Kx that were checked back on the flop.
  • All pocket pairs QQ-99.
  • Some of the pocket pairs 77-22 that were checked back on the flop.
  • Pretty much all flush draws that were checked back on the flop.
  • Most gutshots that were checked back on the flop.
  • Some 8x hands.

River: 5 :clubs: (11.5 BB)
BB checks, BB bets about 5.75 BB

Possible BB hands that could take this line:

  • Some Kx hands, although I expect KT+ to bet the river most of the time.
  • All 8x hands.
  • All 5x hands.
  • Most weak pocket pairs.
  • Some full houses as traps.

Question: Can the BU profitably bet with K :clubs: 9 :diamonds: or is it better to check back?

After reflecting on these ranges, I think this question really comes down to how many KT+ hands and how many K2-K8 hands the BB has in this spot and how many traps the BB checks on the river. During the live play, I had the impression that the BB could also have a lot of 8x hands, but if the BB follows the calling range posted by @Yorunoame, then there are not many 8x hands in their range, and those hands might not even bet the turn. Pocket pairs 99-QQ are most likely 3-bet preflop, and small pocket pairs 22-77 also don’t bet the turn very often. Also non-hearts Kxs hands are likely not betting the turn very often; this is another point that I misjudged during live play.

So, in the best case, the BB bets 100% of Kxs of hearts on the turn and also bets again with KTo+ on the river. In this case the BU river bet might get called by K7s-K2s.

So let’s assume that the BB

  • check-calls with 6 combos K2s-K7s,
  • check-raises with 6 combos of full houses as traps,
  • check-raises with 3 combos of air,
  • check-folds the rest of their checking range.

If the BU bets half pot with K9o and folds to a raise, then 40% of the time the BU wins an extra half pot, and 60% of the time the BU loses as the BB check-raises.

Even if the BB never traps, they will generally bet turn and check-call river with some of their KTo+ hands. There are 18 combos of KTo+, so as long as at least 33% take the bet turn and check-call river line, the K9o BU bet is not profitable anymore. Also, the BB will generally not bet 100% of their Kx flush draws on the turn, which also reduces the number of combos which could call the BU river bet.

Conclusion: Checking back K :clubs: 9 :diamonds: on the river is likely the better option for the BU unless the BB never traps on the river and bets KTo+ on the river with high frequency.


For what it’s worth, GTO seems to favor checking pretty much any Kx from the BB on the turn (6-max approximation):

If BB bets half pot on the turn and checks river, BU should almost always check back K9 (but KT-KQ are both bet and checked with positive frequencies).

1 Like

Wow, even my hand, Kh4h gets checked on the turn 99.8% of the time. Interesting… I’d imagined I could check the turn some fraction of the time, but would have never guessed betting would be that rare.

1 Like

99.8 is an incredibly high number for those cards. Would have never thought that.

I guess it makes more sense as I think about it more. The suited kings have the highest showdown value of any of the flush draws (aside from the aces of course, but they already have trips). You see more bets from the queens and lower. Interesting that JTo seems to be the most likely non-value hand to bet.

It’s hard to play like a solver, to say the least.


Next hand. Same two players. Same result, LOL.

After looking at the hand below, you might wonder if this even belongs in this thread. Especially in older poker books, an over pair was a classic 3 streets of value hand. But I think getting the final street of value from these hands is often a thinner proposition than you might imagine.

I raise from the low-jack with AsQc and get 3 bet by the HJ, the player in the big blind cold calls the 3 bet, giving me a fairly easy call.

I’m assuming the HJ 3 betting range consists of the hands in orange (again, just my assumption… I’ve seen hands show up that seem likely outside of this construction, and so the actual 3 betting range may be wider, or perhaps just shaped differently and more polarized [or less]).

The big blind has no hands that should be in range, as this is a spot to raise or fold, but I imagine this player makes this play with a fairly wide range of hands (all sorts of pairs, suited connected cards, and maybe many suited face cards).

Without the caller in the middle, my flatting range probably looks something like the green part of the image below. Note that AQo is not in range, but the call from the big blind gives me much better pot odds, and I’m also likely to assume that the big blind has by far the worst equity share of the pot (I’m assuming that their range is not particularly strong, that their positional disadvantage counts for a bit, and that they are unlikely even without those factors to achieve a fair share of equity realization), and so I’m priced in with quite a few hands that I’d usually fold. So I think my calling range expands to include a higher calling frequency with pairs like TT and lower, and with the suited cards that are already calling at some frequency, and I’d guess that some other holdings could also be added at some frequency. I think the 4 betting range also expands somewhat, with many of the hands already 4 betting doing so now at a somewhat higher frequency.

On the flop of 5hQhJs, I think a continuation bet is coming at a pretty high frequency (especially at around 1/3 pot size), and so doesn’t change the range already shown too significantly (though it does still strengthen it, especially considering it was a 3 way pot).

On the turn of 7s, the just over 40% pot bet with 2 opponent’s having called the flop bet is probably not made by most complete trash, which compresses the range down to mostly made hands with some value (probably mostly a pair of jacks or better, though maybe a hand like TT or 99 might think about a protection bet), and draws, of which there are many now available. The turn bet sheds the big blind.

What about my range after calling on the turn? I think my range compresses and de-polarizes here quite a bit (and gets capped). I’ll call with some of my draws, but I’ll also re-raise all-in with quite a few of them, and probably any set most of the time also. So I’m left with some draws, most queens, some jacks, and possibly QJ, as QJs might have some combos in my expanded flatting range (though not many).

The all in bet on the river is quite a bit under pot sized, and so you might think a reasonable number of hands will feel priced in to a call, especially if you feel the river bet might have a pretty good density of busted draws. But I think something like a pair of jacks will mostly fold here, with only an occasional hero call. I think even KQ has to consider folding, though I have no idea what the correct ratio between folds and calls might be. Probably with AQ or KQ you ideally want a hand without hearts or jacks, unblocking the flush draws that missed and that might now bluff on the river (my hand did that for the primary flush draw, but not the back door).

So what calls and beats KK, and what calls and loses?

  • We’ve already mentioned that most sets jam the turn, but I think some are left and of course call, and my range is reasonably dense with sets. Still, I’d guess it is perhaps only 3 combos or slightly less.
  • I don’t have too many hands that call the first two streets that have a 7, but still, hands like 87s and 76s, especially of hearts and clubs, are in range, even if half or more of those jammed the turn. Maybe something like 1.8 or 1.9 combos are left.
  • While QJ might be in range, I think it is only about a half combo or less.
  • Note that AA is probably not in range… especially with the big blind, I’m almost certain to 4 bet

So with the line taken, and actually thinking a bit more about the ranges, I think the turn bet on such a wet board does a good job of removing many of the strongest holdings that will beat KK, something I probably did not fully appreciate while playing.

What calls and loses?

  • I thought about folding my hand, but not for long. Maybe with AhQs I think harder, but I think I still call some of the time. If AQo had not been in range, then maybe this really would have been thin value, but if we have 8 to 12 combos left (which I suspect we do), then even if every combo of KQ folds, then KK can make this bet for value if it is only losing to about 5 combinations. So I’d have to fold most combinations of AQ, and almost never call with KQ, before the value in this bet would melt away… and I’m a call station.

Note that all of this assumes I got to the river with all 16 combinations of AQ. I think I did in fact have all 16, but it probably wouldn’t be safe to assume that. If I fold even some of the off suite combos of AQ pre-flop, then the river bet becomes a much thinner proposition for KK.

BW mentioned that it is quite a bit harder to get a solver solution for a 3 way pot. And on top of that I have no idea at all what to put in for the big blind’s range… but I think you can almost approximate the solution just ignoring the big blind, except in that it expands my calling range pre-flop and on the flop.

In the process of writing this, I’m more convinced than I was that the solver would also go for 3 streets of value, especially if it got to the river the way the actual hand did. But I’ve discovered I’m not really all that good at predicting what a solver solution will look like, LOL.


I am not much into GTO or solvers, but it strikes me that on RP checking the flop here with Kx must be nearly always right, because the RP opponent will nearly always bet the wrong amount.

If the opponent bets too little, that improves your chance of seeing another card cheaply and improving your hand. If the opponent overbets, they are mostly giving a signal that you are beaten, and thus saving you some money. Most RP opponents do not like to bluff into flopped aces with pocket pairs in case they are walking into a check raise.

What I don’t fully understand is whether a solver can take into account the probability that a specific opponent is bluffing on a specific street, or only take into account the percentage of times you are most likely to have the best hand at showdown against a given range.

A lot of the ability to succeed on RP evidently depends on your speed of thought, because you have only a few seconds to make a decision, and even if you are using your entire time allowance, that will often suggest to your opponent that you are analyzing his range vs yours.

On RP the timing of opponents’ bets and calls is often significant. A very quick call usually signifies confidence and that opponent has already decided to flat call any bet, often with a flush draw or straight draw, but sometimes with top pair/weak kicker or second pair, hoping to make 2 pairs, or hit a set on a later street. A very quick call does not suggest that opponent is calculating the pot odds vs the odds of hitting an out before deciding to bet. Many opponents on RP are also very prone to instacalling small or middle pocket pairs all the way to river, even with 3 overcards on the flop.

Playing at the professional level is obviously very different, because players will often be very familiar with the playing style and hand histories of opponents, and so there will be several levels of bluff and counter bluff.

What you do need to know from the GTO point of view is what is the probability that your hand, for example K9 suited is the best starting hand from your table position, what are the relative stack sizes of players who have entered the pot, or have the potential to enter the pot, and what kind of potential your hand has to come from behind and lead by the river.

For example, with the hand K9 suited above, it has some high card strength and potential to flop top pair. If it is folded to you in the SB, chances are that you are ahead of the BB. If the flop brings 2 clubs, then you have approximately a one in three chance of flushing by the river, but may not have the nut flush. Four to a straight on the flop will leave you with a gutshot draw on the later street, which has relatively little value, particularly if opponent seems to like the flop too.

On the other hand, K9 suited is dominated by AK, KQ, KJ, KT, and A9, so has rapidly declining value from earlier positions as flopping top pair will be increasingly precarious.

All these points are blindingly obvious and taken for granted to professional or top class players, but not so much to most RP opponents.

The best way to win on RP is to get reads on opponents from their betting patterns.

1 Like

Here’s another hand with -BlackWidow- and Bromholm1, where both players thought BW probably missed a chance for thin value at the end. I’ll be discussing the ranges I thought both players might have, but note that I’ll be almost certainly incorrect for both ranges. It’s often hard enough to know what your own ranges really are, let alone with other players when you are not using a HUD, or even carefully tracking their frequencies.

Pre-flop, we start with an early raise from BW (seat 4), CO and button flat, and then Brom, as the big blind, puts in a slightly small 3 bet squeeze. BW flats, CO folds, and the button calls to close the action.

I’m really not sure what kind of range Brom will squeeze with here. Some players will tighten their ranges with these two callers in the middle, while others will widen it (I’m usually in the latter camp). I’m going to assume here that he falls in the middle, and has a range (in orange) similar to what I’d expect without the callers:

BW is getting squeezed, which should make her inclined to tighten her ranges, but she may feel she has a large enough post flop advantage over those players to do the opposite, so again I’ll fall somewhere in the middle, and assume she flats with the green hands below (note that I wouldn’t expect full combos of the smaller pairs and suited connectors, as a mixed strategy will often be employed with these for the initial raise, with these cards sometimes folded initially, but then always calling a 3 bet):

The flop then comes 3c7c8h. Note that this hits BW’s initially capped range quite a bit harder than Brom, with BW having far more sets and straights, but that Brom will have a fair density of premium over-pairs.

Brom continues his pre-flop aggression by leading with a bet of just over half pot. As this bet is being made out of position, into two players that might call or raise, on a board that could easily have hit one of the other players strongly, I think this bet mostly gets rid of random over-cards, and leaves a range heavy with flush draws and over pairs. BW’s cold call with one player left behind to act also gets rid of most random trash, leaving a range dense with over-pairs, sets, flush draws and straight draws, and various combo draws.

The turn is 3c7c8hTh, and Brom slows down, checking. BW then fires a bet of about 1/3 pot, and Brom calls.

After the hand BW and Brom agreed that Brom would typically fire a bet on the turn with AA or KK. By the same token then, with all of the flush draws, I think he’d also bet with any rare sets, and probably with some of his flush draws. I would have thought he’d check AA and KK some of the time, given that he checked JJ, though JJ does play a bit differently thanks to the 4 straight outs. But both of the players involved seemed to feel that aces and kings were mostly removed from his range on the turn.

The river is 3c7c8hTh4h, bringing in the back door flush. Both players have a reasonable density of flushes that now hit. Brom checks, and I’d guess that he would bet most of the time with an ace high flush here (or any other flush). BW has QQ… can she bet for value?

The turn bet probably did not eliminate a lot of the flush draws, as it was a bit of a smaller bet, and stacks are pretty deep. So I think Brom gets to the river with most of his Ahxh combos, but then probably loses a sizeable fraction of those when checking. So if he got to the river with 5 or 6 combos of flushes (including non-ace flushes), I think only 1 or 2 combos are left after the check (and he probably has fewer than that, since some would also bet the turn). If Brom mostly bets AA and KK on the turn, then the starting 12 combos there are also reduced, but is it really down to zero? I’d be inclined to say at least 2 combos remain (along with any weirdly played hands, like TT), for 3 to 4 combos of hands that beat QQ.

In my chart, Brom doesn’t initially 3 bet with a full 6 combos of JJ (more like 1.5), but that he may not have a mixed strategy with this hand, and so might have all 6 combos, or something higher than 1.5. But I think JJ also often does not take this line on the turn, which drops combos, and what else calls that QQ beats? There might be some rare hands like ATs, A8s, or A7s, but I think those often do not be the flop (though probably would check the turn if they did bet the flop. There are also a few rare combos of hands like 99, 98s and 87s, but I don’t think they are dense enough to provide many combos.

So while Brom did have the very hand that might have called a river bet, unless he really bets AA and KK on the turn a very high percentage of the time, I think there are more calling combos ahead of QQ than behind. But if ranges are shaped differently than I’ve assumed, or if they contract differently than I’ve imagined across the different decision points…

Let me know what you think.

1 Like

First, I think that Brom’s squeezing range is heavily tilted towards high pocket pairs with the occasional suited connector (including AKs) mixed in. I wasn’t particularly worried about the backdoor flush as I expect most of those to continue barreling the turn. I think TT would definitely have continued on the turn given the flush draws. So, on the river, I think Brom’s range is pretty much narrowed down to JJ+, and the question is how often does he check those hands on the turn. I wasn’t sure about it and being check-raised on the river would have sucked, so I decided to check back.

Brom said he would almost always keep betting with AA and KK. However, in retrospect, I think AA and KK are more incentivized to pot control on the turn as being raised by my polarized range with sets and flush-draws would put these hands also in a tough spot 250+ BB deep. I find the turn check with JJ a bit odd as this hand has more reason to protect against my potential Ax+ of clubs, especially against AQs+ of clubs.

So, I think checking back QQ was a good play there.

1 Like

Here’s another recent hand between bbkinds and lordcurt44. I’m not even going to try to guess the ranges this time, as both players are pretty far out on the LAG end of the spectrum. Still interesting to see that bb was able to get value on the river with the weakest possible value hand. I know I’d have a hard time getting the extra chips he made on the river.

for the KK vs AQ hand. If black widow plays like gto, then this is pretty easy call for all 3 streets I think. if he just never or almost never bluff 3 streets then it’s a fold on the jam since you are at best chopping to another AQ. he has many possible bluffs like any A high flush draw, AK AT KT it’s just a question of whether he normally bluff like that or not.

Also as played. I think the flop and turn bets are way too small and gave tons of equity to draws

1 Like

just witnessed the most insane soul read ever? is betting with bottom full house (using both cards) too thin value here? my mind was blown. He explained that he felt like the guy might have small two pair with the check raise on turn due to being in the BB.

1 Like

Great question! Cool hand too. Keen to see the answer to this one.

I’m at a complete loss as to how either player didn’t bet on the river. There are just a ton of weaker hands that would still usually call. That said, I thought the turn was more than a little weird, also.

I’ll guess that @Sergente21 was trapping, pretending to be afraid of the flush, and hoping that @KKQQQ would either have it and bet, or bluff pretending he did.

As for KKQQQ, I really don’t understand how he could check back there. But I’d guess he has a lot more experience playing Sergente21 than I do, and might feel his min raise is never a draw or just a strong pair like AJ, and so if combos are really dense around two pair or sets, then well, that is a lot of higher boats when 8h pairs the board on the river.

1 Like

Hey Yorunoame,

at river I definitely wanted to send out the message that the 8 wasn’t what I wanted when I raised at turn. Normally, in my experience, after I raise at turn if it rivers a pair that I’m aware is useless to villain - because I have another 8 so the possibilities that he has the 4th are near zero - if I c-bet I’ll just get a fold. I knew I had the hand, so tried to trap him into betting.

1 Like

If you follow the charts posted you pretty much fold every hand unless you have a pair or the nuts. Kind of takes the Human element out of it ???

I’m not sure what charts you feel are implying that all hands fold without a pair or the nuts… normally there are also draws and a few complete trash hands that call or even get feisty. It’s just a strategic framework in any case, and the actual playing of the game is inescapably human, as long as humans are doing the playing, though I imagine that any attempt to introduce discipline to playing parameters will feel a bit dry and alien to some.

Like i said these charts are the parameters for percentages only. The Charts that are posted on this thread is what I was referencing. Again I say if you follow these charts you are folding 86% of the time.