Friday, March 19, 2010

Polarization in effect y'all

Haven't posted a hand in awhile so thought I'd show an interesting one I played earlier in the week. If you can understand my river call here, you're on your way...if not, don't worry, you can win w/o thinking at this level.

No-Limit Hold'em, $6.00 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

Button ($957.55)
SB ($414)
BB ($868.90)
UTG ($633)
MP ($1165.50)
Hero (CO) ($1054.45)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 7, K
2 folds, Hero bets $16, Button calls $16, 2 folds

Flop: ($41) 2, 6, 9 (2 players)
Hero bets $32, Button raises $112, Hero calls $80

Turn: ($265) 9 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks

River: ($265) 6 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $346, Hero calls $346

Total pot: $957

Button had 9, 9 (four of a kind, nines).
Hero had 7, K (two pair, nines and sixes).
Outcome: Button won $954

Villain was running at 23/19/7 w/ agg 5.8 (over 1500 hands). Mind you, even if his agg level was around 3 I'd still call the river, but being 5.8 made it an easier call. Granted it turned out to be wrong from a results oriented standpoint, but let's look at why I thought and still think it's probably the correct call.

Every street except the river is pretty standard. I may 3bet/stack off on the flop vs certain villains for 100bbs deep, but we were 150bbs deep here. One of the ways to succeed in poker is to narrow down opponents' range of hands so you can make better decisions. Let's look at this hand more in depth and try to find a range of hands per street...

Preflop he can have just about any 2, but we can nearly rule out big pairs and big aces as most regs would 3bet on the button vs co. Once he raises the flop, his range is still wide, including sets, flush draws, straight draws, 9x hands, and random air hands. When he checks back the turn, we can eliminate 22, 66, and 9x hands as he would bet those for value and protection (protection more applicable to 9x than boats). We can rule out big pairs in case he just flatted those preflop as well (esp. w/ his agg level). On the river, w/ his overbet, we can w/ a strong degree rule out all pps, and prob. all Ax high type hands. The reason being that he probably doesn't want to value town himself w/ such an overbet in case I was holding 6x of diamonds, or a big pp that I was going to hero call w/. There is a possibility that he can show up w/ 6x here, but I think he continues to bet the turn w/ those hands, esp. 6x of diamonds hands. Also, most tend to not overbet w/ an underfull on these type of boards. They don't want to value town themselves in case opponent has the big fullhouse, and they reason what worse hands will call when there are 2 pairs on the board.

So that basically leaves us w/ 1 possible combination of hands that he's value overbetting here w/. That is 99. If his agg level is 5.8, he can possibly show up here w/ busted straight draws, busted flush draws, and random air type hands trying to get me to fold due to my perceived weakness (from c/c flop and checking back 2 streets). So there are numerous combos of those, ranging from worse flush draws, bunch of straight draws (54, 87, T8, etc.), not to mention some random hands like QJ (we'll leave the discussion of why one can raise w/ air on some flops to another time, but the quick answer is for balancing purposes). So again, I'm not a big #s guy, so I won't run the #s by to show why this call is probably profitable, but he will have enough combos that are bluffs vs exactly 1 combo of 99 that makes my call ok. Obviously we can give more weight to the fact that he'll show up w/ 99 here more often than usual because of the overbet, but that is also slightly offset by the turn check on his part (most would bet turn w/ 99 here for value w/ all the draws possible and the fact that we're relatively deep). But w/ the pot odds, and his possible combinations of bluffing range vs 1 combo of the nuts, I think my call is ok. This is what is known as polarization, meaning that in this instance, his range is polarized to exactly 99 or air. Another way is saying his range is nut type hands or weakish type hands, and not medium strength hands.

One last note. On the outside, people will see the hand and say wtf pretty much. It'll look like a bad call, but if you have good and sound logic to back up your decisions, that is more important than how you look to others.


  1. Cool hand , what do you think of his turn check ? At first i didnt like it but now checking with the intention of overbetting the river vs you seems good to me. I could be wrong with all this but when the baord pairs that cuts down alot of the range you would be willing to call another barrel with since you could be drawing dead plus it removes much of nut portion of his range espically since you guys are deep. If you hold FH money goes in ethier way , if you hit on river he will get paid and if not hes likely to get looked up by any decent bluffcatcher.

  2. Initially his turn check looks alright, cuz he got me for the max since his vbetting range is super narrow as I mentioned when we get to the river. W/ 100bbs, I don't mind it, but we're over 150bbs deep here so I think its better to just bet w/ 99 on turn here in case I had a big hand myself, or decided to go nuts w/ a combo draw on turn. If I had 22, or 87 w a flush draw I may chkr turn and have to get it all in, whereas by checking back turn he misses out on that opportunity and loses value if I had 22, since I prob. just turn it into a bluff catcher at riv. So when deeper, you want to try to stack the opponent when you have the best hand, and you probably need 3+ streets of betting to do so.

  3. Yeah that sounds good to me , what this hand really shows to me is your abilitly to think and evaluate spots so quickly , give most thinking poker player the time and they can evaluate a hand and come with the best play but to be able to do it so quickly while multi-tabling is what impresses me most , i guess thats something you only acheive with experience.