Wherein lies the value

(Part 1 +latest results) I was prompted to write this post by a long chat with the students, as a result of which it became clear that many do not understand why they take this or that action, especially when it comes to 3betting for value and bet sizing.

Perhaps what I wrote, many seem trivial, but I think that the subject will be hereinafter be found most useful. If you think that you have learned the fundamentals well – you can go directly to the section on 3betting. If you think that repetition is the mother of learning, read everything.
In this post I want to talk about the most important concepts that many players do not understand.

The basic strategy of most low-limit players is to build the best hand and win money from worse hands. In this strategy, the main goal is to get the best of it with a strong hand and drag in your opponent with a worse hand.

So, there are four typical scenarios, let’s see how this principle is implemented in each situation.

1. We made a pre-flop raise, the opponent calls

Now consider what hands we raise UTG. Take a very simple example – AJ. Why this hand, for example, why not A2s, JTs? Because this raising range depends on what our opponents will call. What callers of early raises usually have is 22 -JJ, QJs-AQ. Against this range in our hands is 48%. But this assumes that we are super-weak and only play our cards. Then yes – we would have won less than half the time. But in reality, we will win more often, as we have initiative and often we can win with a continuation bet, even if we have the worst hand – for example, AJ on a board of QT7, while the villain has 22-66. Plus, once in a while, we will almost always be stronger and unlikely to make a lot of mistakes. Thus our raise a raise with a strong hand, is ultimately a raise for value. В We and the opponent will both put money in the pot, but we will win more often (eg in 55% of cases) and he less often (45%). This is the basic idea of poker – to go in with the best hand better and pull in worse hands.

Now let’s see how we can win money from the opponent. There is a textbook example of how an opponent comes in with a dominated hand and he and I both catch top pair on the flop, and he stacks off to us. But in fact it is very unlikely scenario. And the most common ways in which we can realize our equity are:

A) We catch top pair, your opponent catches a draw. We bet two streets, the opponent calls. But the enemy’s chances of winning are about 20-30% per street. That is to say, the opponent and I put the same amount into the pot, but I will be successful in 60-70% of cases. This is a very profitable game for me. Moreover, if he does not make it, he may also bet a missed draw.
B) We catch top pair and your opponent has a pocket pair, which is 2/3rd pair to the board. He pays at least one street В and sometimes two. Again we put the same amount, but I will win in 90% of cases.

Also here you can add options when we catch top pair and the opponent second pair (for example, we have AJ, В he has KTs and the board comes JT4). Here we can also collect on one or two streets, especially if he picks up more outs on the turn.

Another option is that your opponent catches top pair on the turn or the river, we catch with our over cards, in which case we will definitely collect on 2 streets and not all opponents will be deterred by over cards.
And here I want to note that in a situation where you play the 3 streets with top-pair/over-pair and fish that call with wild cards hit 2 pair or trips, we should be happy that there are such opponents, who will agree to play a game with you, in which you will invest the same amount of money, but where the probability of winning 80-20 in your favour.

So I shall focus your attention on the fact that our task is to drag in hand which we have dominated, namely a worse hand.

2. Opponent raises and we choose to 3-bet for value

And here lies the mistake often made by many low-limit players, which is misunderstanding what exactly is the value of a hand.

The most common mistakes:

A) My opponent raises 15% from UTG, and we three-bet for value with JJ. What value – I ask in such cases. В Well, we’re higher than his opening range! Yeah, but if you 3bet, he is not going to call 100% of the time. He will fold some of that 15 % and if you 3bet against UTG, then he’ll dump most of his hands (60-70%) and you will not play against 15% in a 3bet-pot, but against 15*0. 35 = 5. 3%. Thus, against the 5 % our jacks are not really stronger and there is not much value in a 3bet.

B) The opponent raises from the button 40% of the time, folds to a 3bet 50% of the time and 4bets 15% of the time. With AJ, and even with AQ we call, i. e. we do not three-bet for value. Why not – I ask. Well, of course, AQ and especially AJ are dominated hands, suddenly we catch TP and your opponent will have top pair better kicker or an overpair. Yeah, that most of its range – AQ +, QQ +?? How can this be, if he 3bet calls in 35 % of cases, then his 3bet calling range is 40%*0. 35 = 14 %?

C) The opponent raises 30% of the time from the CO and folds to a 3bet 60% of the time, we have AQ or JJ instead of 3betting, call. Why? Well because AQ is not a made hand, suddenly we are left with air and have to play check-fold when we have so much money invested. And do not 3bet jacks because suddenly overcards(s) fall on the flop and then what do we do?
So to explain, our task, if we make a 3bet is to enter the pot with a better hand and to drag in worse hands (not necessarily dominated ones).
Again, let’s look at what the value out of our hands is and how we can extract it. In fact, the most likely scenarios are the same as in the case when we were the preflop raiser:

1) The most common. We catch top pair the opponent catches a draw. We c-bet and in response often get a raise and race, with 65% versus 35 %. Or he calls with a gutshot and checks the turn, having put in half his stack and having 10% against our top pair. В I would like to use this example to draw special attention to those who do not 3bet unpaired hands, fearing to lose the 10- 12BB when they do not catch. Yes, two times out of three you lose 10BB (when you’ve got a strategy to play by), but on the third time you win 50 to 100BB. And think about whether you can draw to win 100BB with top pair in a raised pot, even without being a pre-flop raiser.

2) We catch top pair opponent has a pocket pair and the flop is dry. (For example, we have AQ the board shows Q73 and the opponent has 88) or we 3bet jacks and the opponent comes in with connectors or a medium pocket pair hits top/2nd pair on the flop (T9 with T75 of Q97 on the boar or 66 and 922 on the board). Obviously, no one is going to fold a pair to a continuation bet and on dry boards many can pay even on 2 streets. Ie 2 streets in 3bet pot = 40BB, and think if you can extract more money from the middle pocket pair, the same 66 on the board 922, with jacks if you call instead of 3betting?

3) Textbook, we catch top pair of an overpair, and the opponent has top pair with an average kicker, and we collect their stack. But I remind you, it is not the most likely.

The same situation when we catch top pair and the opponent has second pair and the variant where your opponent catches top pair and on the turn or the river, we catch our overcards. Also, you can still win if your opponent has a middle pair and the turn comes with overcards, and even if we do not hit very often we can pick up the bank with a bluff on a dangerous card.

This is the value of our hands – that we can pull in worse hands (in this case into a 3bet pot) and win a lot of money. В For example, 55 there is no value in a 3bet, nor in 89s and A7s because by 3betting we leave our opponents only BETTER hands. В And if we have the reverse problem, e. g. if we have JJ, and we will often be stronger than the opponent, then our task is to play to get as much as possible into the bank. If your opponent offers us the choice of playing a game in which we have 70-30 $ 3 (if we call), or in a game in which we have 65-35 $ 10, it is obvious better for us that the pot is bigger.

And here I want to add a very important point regarding 3betting against fish. As I have said and will repeat, our task is to go in with the better hand and pull in the worse hand. If we play against a loose fish, they tend to have a high raise percentage and a low fold to a 3bet percentage. В For example, they may raise 50%, fold 40% and 4bet 15%. So the he calls a 3bet with 50*0. 45 = 20%, minus the top hands that it is likely to 4-bet. In fact, this situation is similar to having something to raise and an opponent with an open-call rate of 20%. Now let’s think, is Axs included in this range, suited connectors, high connectors, hands like T+ paint? So in this case, a hand like AJ, ATs, KQ, TT and KJs is not all that different from AK, which we certainly would three-bet here. Are we stronger than his range we? Can we win 30 – 40BB with these hands against your opponent in the 1st or 2nd scenario? Of course, yes. So when 3betting against fish, remember that you do not necessarily have a dominant hand, the main thing that it is better than his range.  Going forward we’ll talk about when to call a raise and a situation where we should make a 3bet… P. S.  Well, as promised, here is the screen with the latest results.