A friend and student called me up in a bit of a funk, and lucky for him I offer coaching and poker therapy at reasonable prices. We met a while ago when I was giving a group class down near MD Live! casino. He is a thinking player with a tight and aggressive (TAG) style. The unfortunate thing is he had been on a recent downswing. He claims he was still making logical decisions, but he had been bitten by variance and was in a lot of pain from it.
He was $1,600 deep at $2-$5 with pocket Kings. A solid hand, good for a raise from any position. He opens for $20 from middle position. A loose passive player calls from the button and then a tightish regular from the Big Blind makes it $80 to go.
We might convince ourselves we are not letting tilt get the better of us, but when a solid player like this is laying down Kings
- In position,
- 300+ BB deep
- To a standard squeeze
- In a game where people are known to “3-bet with anything”
I know he is not thinking rationally. He might think he is, but he is not. What was his Monsters Under The Bed thought process and how can he be made to see the mistake for himself?
He thinks the Big Blind has exactly this range:
- AA – 6 combinations
- AKs- 2 combinations
- QQ – 4 combinations (discounted because Villain would sometimes flat)
Putting all this into account he rightly assesses that he is behind that range. It is 47.6% to 52.4% so he ended up folding preflop.
The pain is worse because the hand gets to showdown and the Big Blind won with QQ. The really sad thing is that the flop was:
K♣ Q♥ 6♣
My student missed out on a set over set situation $1,600 deep because he would not call the three-bet to $80. This is result-oriented thinking, but my student made a few mistakes in thinking here. I asked him exactly the right question to make him see the mistake for himself.
“Would you have called with 77?”
Yes, he would have called with Sevens and tried to flop a set. He then says, “Why would I call with 77 but fold KK? That is ridiculous!”
Even if he was playing as logically as possible, he was still filled with fear. The fear was that KK has reverse implied odds vs AA on most flops that are Queen high or less. With 77 though if he misses he knows he will not lose any more money. He did not want to get stacked again after a month of awful luck. I know, I have been there myself. I have seen those monsters under the bed. Well, I did not actually see them, but I heard them and they sounded hungry.
So, then I asked him another question.
“If you had the discipline to fold pre-flop because you thought you were behind, would you have had the discipline to fold later?”
Yes, he would have had the discipline. Then Hero thought about what happens if he calls the three-bet. The Button is likely to close the action by calling with a wide range.
AK: The regular is unlikely to continuation bet with AK unless he hits. The Big Blind would lose a lot of money with AK if the case King finds his way into the flop, and Hero is not losing much if an Ace flops. There are no reverse implied odds versus AK, rather there are some really nice implied odds when the case-King hits the flop.
AA vs KK: Yes there are some reverse implied odds here. Hero is likely going to pay off a street of value on the flop, but is only a 6:1 dog by the time the turn comes out. He will likely know exactly what the Big Blind has and what to do about it on the turn. There are some nice implied odds if a King does come out by the turn. He will lose some money in this matchup, but you are supposed to.
QQ vs KK: Now the implied odds come our way and the Villain in the Big Blind is unlikely to push QQ for value on the turn even if they are an overpair still. We won’t likely get three streets of value from this matchup, but we will do just fine.
I am not saying that Hero should simply “try to flop a set with Kings” and play set-or-jet on the flop. There are few players so tight that you can soul read and fold KK, in position, 300+ big blinds deep, in position. Hold your nose and call.