As of November 2021, the APT Forum is closed to new posts. Like with many online forums, usage has decreased in recent years. All previous posts are still available.

Tough spot with JJ


Seven-handed 1-2 NLH at my local cardroom. Just sat down at this table less than two orbits ago and don't recognize anybody.

Relevant players:

UTG (covers) - Hero
UTG+1 ($27) - Has not raised yet; limped a few times then folded before showdown
Button ($200) - has been very active so far, making pre-flop raises in three hands prior to this one
SB ($170) - No raises, bunch of limps

Hero opens from UTG for $6 with Jc/Js.
UTG+1 calls. (Wat? Who flats a $6 open with a $27 stack?)
Folds around to the button who 3-bets for $20.
SB calls, BB folds.

Hero calls. In an expert game, with this much action I think I'd have found a fold here, but in a 1-2 game with a super-fishy player population, I'm not giving UTG+1 or SB much credit for a real hand.

UTG+1 shoves the remainder of his stack for another $7 on top. Calls all around.

Pot: $110
SB: $143 behind
UTG: covers
UTG+1: all in
Button: $173 behind

Flop is 6d/7c/9c.

SB checks, Hero checks. Not much to say here. It's a good flop for me but not so good that I'm going to donk out in a 3-bet pot.

Button bets $60. SB folds.

This bet is sufficiently committing that I quickly rule out flat-calling as a reasonable option here. I ponder whether to jam or fold.

There's nothing in the button's 3-betting range that he necessarily wouldn't C-bet in this spot, so I can't really narrow that range down any. I'm losing (about 90% of the time) to AA-QQ and 99. What might he have that I'm beating? Obviously TT. Probably most AK and AQ combos. Possibly some smaller Ax club combos. That's enough that if the button had jammed already, I could call. The math is complicated by the presence of UTG+1 who has some uncertain but probably small equity in the main pot, but I don't try to work through that any further and I just jam.

Button snap-calls.

Runout comes Tc/9s, which makes me cringe on account of the trips and flush draws that just came in. But it didn't matter: button shows AA and takes down the full pot after UTG+1 mucks.

So how'd I play this? Was this just a cooler, or should I have availed myself of one of the exits?


  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    I think there are others who will give you better population-specific comments but I'll toss in my 2-cents on the parts I think I have a grasp of.

    1) I think you have it backwards in terms of finding a fold in an "expert game". Not only would this not be a fold 7-handed, it would likely be a 4-bet. Ranges expand dramatically and rather than facing a 4-way pot OOP with a hand that is going to see overcards 57% of the time on the flop, I'd want to weed out at least the SB who cold-flatted the 3-bet. If you are 5-bet jammed on, you can exploitatively fold because the shoving ranges in these games are pretty much only KK and AA, weighted more towards AA. In a more advanced game, unless you have a sick read on the 5-bettor, you call and hope you are facing AK (which is still nearly half the combos in the QQ+ AK range)

    2) The UTG+1 is nearly irrelevant to the hand postflop. The only thing I would consider is what their call-shove range would be. Probably any suited A or pair or suited Broadway cards. You actually have some decent removal effects from this hand if you weight his range to Ax and Broadways because it reduces the frequency someone else can have AA, KK or QQ.

    3) I would have been less worried about the flush-draw coming in because you held the Jc which blocks many combos of 3-bet hands that have those draws (AJ, KJ, QJ and sometimes JT or J9 if people are being frisky). Same thing with the 9 as the only 3-bet combos containing a 9 are J9s, Q9s and 99 and these are infrequent enough to discount greatly. As you said, it didn't matter because you were all-in at that point.

    As played, with an SPR of 1.5 you cannot fold an overpair there ever. If you could go back and do it again, I'd suggest the small 4-bet and fold to a shove. You would have lost a chunk of your stack but wouldn't have been felted. Folding JJ to a 3-bet, even if his range is QQ+ and AQ+, isn't +EV.

  • dfranked
    edited August 2018

    I think you have it backwards in terms of finding a fold in an "expert game". Not only would this not be a fold 7-handed, it would likely be a 4-bet. Ranges expand dramatically

    3-betting ranges certainly do tend to get wider as you move up in skill. In a two-way pot, I'd never dream of folding JJ to a 3-bet from a strong player. The focus of my comment was mostly on the cold-call from the SB. Pros would do that very rarely, and when they do it deserves massive respect. But a lot of 1-2 players will cold-call there with whole lot of garbage just to see a flop, thinking $20 isn't all that expensive.

    You're not the first person to tell me I should have 4-bet that spot. I see the logic, and yeah, in this case it would have ended up saving me money since I'd have an easy fold when the button invariably 5-bet jammed. FWIW, PokerSnowie disagrees. It wants to fold here, rating a flat call just very slightly worse at -0.14BB. It chooses a 0.25 pot bet size in the spot which is obviously terrible (-5.91BB), but at 0.5 pot, which tends to be my default 4-bet sizing, it puts a raise at -2.94BB. Thus, in a GTO game it's a blunder, but maybe still the right thing as an exploit. I'm on the fence.

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    Very interesting about Snowie and I am trying to figure out why. I'm going to spitball a bit here so I may be off. 1st of all, I love Snowie for theory so I'm not questioning its results for optimal v optimal play. However, using GTO solutions in what I am seeing as a non-GTO play (flat by SB) is not optimal in reality. I'm going to question the results it spit out because of this. Part of learning the GTO-based strategies is to be able to recognize exploitable behavior from opponents. This is what I was seeing here because for the life of me I can't think of a cold-flat range from the SB in a 3-bet pot. I've done a lot of work on my SB play because it was a weakness of mine and I can't remember coming into a situation where a solver recommended a flat from there in a 3-bet pot. Again, I could be wrong and I'll play around with Piosolver and Snowie later.

    I want to go back to the idea of experts, pros and GTO-based strategy. There are very very very few pros who have anything close to an optimal game, even based on the approximations of optimal we have currently. NLHE isn't solved aside from HU play. Even to the extent we have approximations, there are exactly 0 players who can execute it because there are simply too many variables and frequencies to incorporate into a game. This is even online. Live its even farther from GTO-approximate because we don't have the tools at our disposal. Anyway, I think GTO-based strategies are essential to learn if you plan to play online at decent stakes or live at high-stakes. Below that, the GTO approximations are not maximizing value. Don't take my word for it, look at what Doug Polk and Fedor Holz have to say on the matter (among others). The point is that even at the very top there are very few instances of GTO-perfect play so the money is to be made in seeing the most glaring deviations and exploiting them. This is what popped out at me with the SB flat you described.

    As I said at the start, I may not know population tendencies as well as many here do. I've been playing mostly 10/20 and 25/50 live games for well more than a decade and had moved up to 5/10 online earlier this year. The players are mostly good but not close to perfect and the way to beat the games is through exploitation. I've been overlaying my exploitative game with what I consider to be a GTO-based defense, so minimizing the ways I can be exploited while looking for holes in other players' games. Its been effective so far. In the games I've played, my move is the 4-bet in your spot. I play JJ more aggressively than most for sure but it is also a hand I've done far better than the field with. I find that many people play the hand far too passively and allow themselves to be outdrawn. That's just my thing though.

    Anyway, good discussion and I'm glad you brought it up. I did not open a solver before I responded because of what I saw as an exploitable opportunity. I wouldn't look to GTO solutions for this. Mostly I'm now curious to see what hands could possibly be flatted in that spot and still be +EV vs perfect players. I've been running it through in my head while typing and I can't think of any. He isn't closing the action, he's in the worst position, the initial open was from UTG (who may 4-bet a lot of his range so he would have to fold pretty much everything he flatted with). His only saving grace is that if UTG called and didn't 4-bet, the UTG+1 jam wouldn't reopen the betting for the BTN to potentially raise again. Maybe I'm being thick here but there are 0 hands I can come up with that are flats in this spot from the SB. Its going to drive me a bit nuts until I find out if I'm missing something :)

  • dfranked

    Don't take my word for it, look at what Doug Polk and Fedor Holz have to say on the matter (among others).

    Got links?

    Maybe I'm being thick here but there are 0 hands I can come up with that are flats in this spot from the SB. Its going to drive me a bit nuts until I find out if I'm missing something

    A flat from Snowie here means either QQ or AKs. With both of these hands it plays a mixed strategy, usually flatting but occasionally raising with QQ, and usually raising but occasionally flatting with AKs.

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    @dfranke - Thanks for the hands that fit the flat range. I want to look closer at this because its slightly odd to me and wouldn't work in practice if trying to play a GTO-based game. In practice what you said means that QQ is the only flat because when implementing most frequency specific decisions, human players must simplify. This is what I was referring to when saying that not even the best pros are playing even the approximate GTO theory in practice - its too complicated to implement most frequencies like this. (For a reference on this, go to Upswing Poker and read pretty much any of the articles where they go through hands using PioSolver.) Therefore, if the simplified range is exactly 1 hand, then it cannot fit into a balanced strategy because there is nothing to balance it with. So, in theory there can be 2 hands that fit the criteria but in practice there are none because having only 1 hand in your range is 100% unbalanced and therefore exploitable.

    Here is 1 link for Doug Polk:

    I'll look for something from Holz - I saw it a while ago on a forum he contributes to.

    You can go to YouTube for videos using the search parameters of "GTO vs Exploitative play". I took out the link because it seems to embed the entire screen shot and that's annoying. I left the 1 above because I can't figure out how to eliminate it and still provide the specific link. There are views both and pro and con with many agreeing that the GTO-based strategy should be the starting point and then moving to exploitative play as you gain information on your opponents. I re-watched some videos to refresh my mind and the main theme is that trying to apply GTO to fish is massively sub-optimal.

  • highfive
    I agree totally with @1warlock 's original assessment. What many do not recognize is that the 4bet is cheaper, small 4bet vs stack. UTG you have all the premiums in range so a shove over your 4bet is a relatively simple fold.

    Snowie says fold from it's experience and snowie is deathly afraid of UTG opens. So when utg gets 3bet, it applies a super strong range to 3bettor.

    From the hand, alarm bells went off for me when an unknown hero opens utg and gets 3bet. My thought was " button doesn't care." Of course the " doesn't care " holding is AA and maybe Kk.

    Feels like I watched thousands of hours of Doug Polk playing. Slight exageration but I can almost tell you what he will do with all 169 hands pre. In this hand he would call pre, call flop standardly depending on price. Have the reads 1warlock gave. Then likely fold to a shove. Just recently saw him fold QQ in a similar hand. He'd never fold pre.

    Don't think this post helped much but there you go.)
Sign In to comment.