A Couple of Hands

Hey Guys,

I know you’ve had high expectations of me after my two long blog posts on my first day.  I’ve been at the tables almost nonstop since then.  The nature of higher stakes cash games is such that sometimes I’ll have plenty of free time, and other times I’ll have none.  I guess that’s my preemptive apology/excuse for the next time I’m gone a while.

I probably will go to bed soon and try to wake up for tomorrow’s games, but I didn’t wanna leave you hanging for too long, so I’ve decided to share a hand with you that I think some may find non-standard.  For some, maybe it is standard, but perhaps for the wrong reasons:


Poker Stars $50/$100 Pot Limit Omaha Hi $20 Ante – 3 players

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

BB: $10165.50

BTN: $21627.00

Hero (SB): $11465.00

Pre Flop: ($210.00) Hero is SB with K of diamonds 7 of clubs J of clubs K of clubs

BTN raises to $300, Hero calls $250,

Both players are strong players, though their tendencies differ.  The button opens fairly wide in late position, but I feel that calling the first time around with my KKJ7cc plays a little bit better for many reasons, even though I’m certainly well ahead of his range here.

Looking at my options facing the initial raise:

1) I can 3bet

The + side is that I’ll be well ahead of the button’s range, and he’ll often call with a hand that mine dominates.

The – side(s):

-The button is a strong player, and he has position on me.  Although my hand is strong, I don’t think I’m making a ton of money playing a 3bet pot OOP to him.  He will do a good amount of floating/bluffraising/slowplaying/etc. to make my life hard.

-BOTH the button and the BB are capable of 4betting light.  They both, of course, will also 4bet AAxx.  With my particular hand, I would be in an extremely tough spot facing a 4bet from either player, and this is a reasonably likely possibility.  If they were both so reckless that I could count on a 4bet, it would be a different story:  I just 3bet and happily jam over their 4bet, but I think they both have very “good” and balanced 4betting ranges in this spot.

Basically, I view 3betting as:  Best case, I’m HU oop with slightly the better hand against a very strong player.  Worst case, I face a 4bet and hate my life.  I either fold the best hand too often, or get it in with 30% equity too often.  The fact that I have specifically KK in this spot makes their 4betting tendencies a big problem for me.

2) I can call:

The – side of calling is that I don’t get more money in against the buttons loose opening range.  If you want to look at it more meta: I don’t punish his loose opening strategy, and I “let him get away with” stealing light.  I’m not super worried about this, as I still have plenty of hands in my 3bet range (as does the BB).

The + side of calling is that I have a hand that plays very well in a single raised pot, both HU or 3way.  Sure, I have a hand that could be a profitable 3bet, but that doesn’t mean that a call isn’t as or more profitable.  There’s still plenty of value in playing this hand for one bet.

Another benefit is…

BB raises to $1260, BTN calls $960,

The BB has a wide 3betting range here vs. a button open and SB call (both not very strong ranges, so he’s right to have a wide 3b range).

I now find myself in another interesting spot where I have some options.  This is where I think my opinion differs from many of my opponents.

I have the ability to re-pot here and get in about half of our stacks with a reasonable equity advantage.  This might not be true against some other opponents, but I believe that the Button has AAxx less than 2% of the time (and still has a good chunk of his stealing range hands), and the BB has a range of, I’d guess maybe 20%ish of hands, slightly less probably.  Against those ranges I have:

Not bad at all.  

The problem that I see with 4betting is that I’m pushing a very small edge in a spot where I think I can find a bigger one.  (I should point out, that if I 4bet, BB calls, and button folds, that would be very good result for me as well)

When I 4bet with this hand, I’m going to be pushing a very small equity edge preflop, and essentially no playability edge postflop.  What I mean by that is, my opponents aren’t going to be making more mistakes than I am postflop.  For instance, it looks a lot like I could have AAxx when I 4bet.  However, if the flop comes A87r, and one of them has AKT3, they aren’t folding with 1/3 PSB left.

This is how I like to analyze decisions on all streets between forcing the money in now or waiting till later:  First, do I have an equity edge or fold equity?  Second, who is going to have the advantage on future streets?

In this case, I’d say that I have a small equity edge with very little fold equity.  I’d say that the Button has the slight playability advantage, followed by me, and then the BB, who will have to face my flop shove with the Button yet to act behind him.

Given those things, I can be sure that a 4bet is “profitable” in that it’s better than outright folding my hand.  However, I think that calling has a lot of value that many people may overlook.

When I call here, I still am getting SOME money in good (just not as much).  But what’s very important, in my opinion, is that I have a ton of playability postflop.  

1) My hand is one that flops well very often.  

2) Most of the time that my hand suffers a huge equity loss against their ranges is when an Ace flops.  This is extremely easy for me to identify (just look to see if there’s an Ace on the board), and play accordingly.  I call this having good “visibility,” which will allow me to make very good decisions postflop.

3) Even though I’m first to act, I actually have the BEST position of all three of us.  

Very often, I’ll check, and the BB will cbet with a lot of his range.  Now the Button is forced to make a decision (for his stack, usually), and I get to wait and see what he does.  If the button folds, I can breakdown the BBs preflop range, estimate how often he’d cbet that particular board, and make an informed decision.  If the button shoves, I can get away from a lot of marginal hands, or reship with my monster hands.

OR, the BB will check behind, indicating a weak range, the button will then bet a (likely) polarized range, and I still have a very good grasp of their ranges.

Looking at it from their perspectives, it should be obvious that the button will be in an awful spot on the flop – facing a cbet with me behind him.  If you think about it, the BB is also in a pretty tough spot, deciding if he should cbet into two, knowing that if he doesn’t, he’ll give his hand strength away as weak (usually), and that the button is still behind him to take advantage of that.

Because of all that, I believe that calling is a better option than 4betting, even though we are “leaving” money on the table with the best of it.


Hero calls $960


As it turns out in this actual hand, everything came together perfectly for me.  I flopped a very strong draw, the BB cbet, forcing the button into a VERY tough spot with his weak draw, and I was able to reship behind with way the best of it:

Flop: ($3840.00) 3 of clubs A of clubs T of hearts (3 players)

Hero checks, BB bets $3200, BTN raises to $13439, Hero calls $10185 all in, BB calls $5685.50 all in

Turn: ($33095.50) A of hearts (3 players – 2 are all in)

River: ($33095.50) 3 of hearts (3 players – 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $33095.50

BB shows 4 of diamonds Q of clubs J of diamonds 8 of clubs (a pair of Aces)

BTN shows 6 of clubs 5 of clubs 4 of clubs 7 of spades (a pair of Aces)

Hero shows K of diamonds 7 of clubs J of clubs K of clubs (two pair, Aces and Kings)

Hero wins $2599.00

Hero wins $30495.50

(Rake: $1.00)


Aaaaaand for my second hand, I’ll just whine:


Poker Stars $50/$100 Pot Limit Omaha Hi $20 Ante – 2 players

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

Isildur1 (BB): $64780.00

Hero (BTN/SB): $51263.00

Pre Flop: ($190.00) Hero is BTN/SB with 6 of spades 4 of spades 2 of clubs 4 of diamonds

Hero raises to $300, Isildur1 raises to $940, Hero calls $640

Flop: ($1920.00) 4 of hearts 9 of spades 3 of diamonds (2 players)

Isildur1 bets $1400, Hero raises to $4350, Isildur1 calls $2950

Turn: ($10620.00) T of diamonds (2 players)

Isildur1 checks, Hero bets $7850, Isildur1 raises to $34169.50, Hero raises to $45953 all in, Isildur1 calls $11783.50

River: ($102526.00) Q of hearts (2 players – 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $102526.00

Isildur1 shows 8 of spades J of hearts J of clubs 7 of clubs (a straight, Eight to Queen)

Hero shows 6 of spades 4 of spades 2 of clubs 4 of diamonds (three of a kind, Fours)

Isildur1 wins $102525.50

(Rake: $0.50)


Take care, guys.


27 Replies to “A Couple of Hands”

  1. hi, very interesting hands. one thing i want to mention is that im paying way higher rake at micros which makes me ultimately sad. take care phil!

  2. Hey Phil,

    Great breakdown. I would probably still go ahead and backraise the first hand if his 3-bet from the BB is that high, but I like your logic and thought process.

    Omaha Hi Simulation ?
    658,008 trials (Exhaustive)
    Hand Equity Wins Ties
    kc jc 7c kd 41.42% 270,340 4,462
    4d qc jd 8c 28.67% 185,884 5,563
    6c 5c 4c 7s 29.90% 196,221 1,101

    Omaha Hi Simulation ?
    666 trials (Exhaustive)
    board: Ac 3c Th
    Hand Equity Wins Ties
    kc jc 7c kd 63.06% 417 6
    4d qc jd 8c 12.91% 83 6
    6c 5c 4c 7s 24.02% 160 0

  3. hey phil. great post. I have a question for you, though:

    would you say all your poker decisions are based upon the question, “what do i do if he bets or raises when i check or bet? will i fold, call, or raise when that happens?” before every decision?

    For example, say you have middle pair in holdem and you’re deciding to bet it or not. Is the first question you ask is whether or not you’ll fold, call, or raise to a check/raise?

  4. Great description of the though process going on.I love getting an insight into the high stakes mind-set.
    keep up the good work, loving the blog

  5. very detailed analysis , great to see your thought process, whats your id under stars (still OMGClayAiken) , be good to be able to rail you, gl at the tables.

  6. Hey Phil,

    I would have used this for my opponents ranges:

    Hand Equity Wins Ties
    KsKc 7cJh 38.25% 223,537 12,007
    45%!AA** 28.26% 164,997 9,169
    18% 33.49% 194,416 13,105

    By back raising preflop we are making $498 with 5k and 6k stacks left to bet. I think this is enough value to go ahead and backraise, especially since we get some occasional folds from button when big blind reshoves.

  7. Hi Phil. I’m wondering what your rationale is for your flop raise sizing in hand 2?

    My immediate thought process would be we are playing deep against an aggressive player with a hand that we are happy to stack off with, and we have the best chance of getting it in with a pot size raise. Since this flop is unlikely to hit his range a lot of the time our range we should have a lot of bluffs in our range, but I expect that small bluff raises here aren’t going to get a lot of folds.

  8. hi phil,

    in isildur’s spot on the 2nd hand, how often are you peeling the flop raise oop in his spot to try to catch a J, T, or 6? would the lack of the bdfd deter you any, or does it not matter much when you are trying to bink the 100k pot?

  9. Thanks for the breakdown Phil.
    I love that the rake for a 100K+ pot is .50

    Looking forward to many of your future posts. You always have great insight, are down-to-earth, and extremely thorough.

    Thank you for letting us peek into your world.

  10. Hey Phil, nice blog again. Just starting to play PLO. Different but enjoying the challenge. You didn’t seem to concerned with the A out there,and I guess when the 2nd one hit it’s less likely either had one. And on the second hand, well….. Ouch!Daniel.

  11. first hand shows how +ev is checking from early position vs aggressive plrs n hiding your hand strength preflop

    in second hand why do you think isildur1 check shove the turn? foldequity?

  12. There’s a lot of implied odds on having effective position on the BB and button. Button is going to be the one forced into making bad decisions post if we flat PF.

  13. hey phil is there any thought on checking back turn and check folding or checking back river, with potential he has 999 TTT or QQQ or str8? about what are your percentages on turn and how strong are his 10 outs?

    1. With 3rd nuts HU against Isildur1, when the turn adds FD and possible wrap?
      I’m pretty sure Phil will always bet there.
      In regard to the turn %: Isildur1 has more than 10 outs there. More precisely, he’ll win with QQQQJJ888777666 (15 total). that means he will win the hand 15 out of 40 possible river cards, or 37.5% of the time.
      Do notice the flop is quite dry and Isildur1 might think Phil is picking on that to bluff him.

  14. Very interesting thank you Phil. In hand 2, the flop SPR is huge (~25). Given his peel, I understand why you raised flop versus him. Would you still take that line versus a less aggro opponent?

  15. Phil,

    Love the new blog, always find your posts extremely informative and well written. Out of curiosity, do you think isildur’s play in hand 2 is standard? His flop call/turn c/r seem extremely spewy to me, but obviously I don’t play this high so i was just curious. Thanks again.

  16. Wow,that’s a great analysis.Nice funny touch at the end.I’ve played a ton of holdem but not much omaha(like 10k hands low stakes) so a good chunk of it went over my head but I re read it and I think I get the thought process(mostly).Anyway,keep these up,they are fun to read and very interesting.GG

  17. Hi Phil,
    1. What do you do if the flop comes 972r or 962r and BB bets, BU calls or shoves?
    I think you far ahead against the BU calling range, because I think he will shove his twopair combos and the draws against which you are behind or flip like T876 or K876.
    Against the BB range I think it is not clear he can easily have 97 or 96 combos in his range against which you have under 20% on 962r and 26% on 972r. Also if he does not have twopair I think you more often flip then you are ahead, because I do not see him CB that loose.
    So against the BB range I think you are slightly behind depends on how loose he will CB.
    All in all I think you have to c/shove this boards.
    How loose do you think will the BB CB and which hands will the BU just call with under 3PS behind and which will he shove?
    I think he will also shove some hands against which you are ahead, but I think against a BB bet and a BU shove you have to fold

    I think on a board like 972s without clubs you just have to c/fold. What do you think?

    2. Do you just c/call or do you c/shove on a board like 922r if BB call and BU fold?
    I think the benefits of c/call are obvious. You induce bluffs on later streets. On the other side, if a J,T,8,7 comes on the turn you check and your opponent check back he maybe draws you out on the river.
    If the BU calls I think the likelihood of given a freecard on the turn is much higher by calling the flop and checking the turn so I think you have to shove.

    To hand 2:
    1. In your videos a few years ago I think your raises on the flop were much smaller IPS on such dry boards. I also raise on dry boards very small, because I think my bluffraising range is much bigger then my value raising range.
    But in the last months I thought that raising bigger has a lot of benefits, getting more value, bringing the opponents in tougher spots, I think about changing my betsizes now.
    Is my opinion right that you raise now bigger? If yes is it a special thing you do in HU games or did you change it in general?

    2. Maybe Isildur overplayed his hand on the flop of course you have a very big bluffing range in this spot, but I think against a tough opponent there are lots of mistakes could be made on turn and river OOP, without hitting the turn. Of course he has ten outs J,T,6 which made his hand good to play maybe he also thinks a 4 and a 3 are good cards for him.
    Is it overplayed by Isildur or do I just not be good enough OOP against though opponents?

    A few questions about the hands. I would be glad if somebody can help me finding some answers.

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