Interesting Hand from Multiple Points of View

Strategy & Advice by allin67 Posted

I wanted to analyze a hand from several points of view. To do this, I will have to reveal information in pieces. Glad to see there have been some recent upticks in strategy posts and hope to keep that going here. On to the hand....

Table: Playing seven handed in a home game. Blinds are $0.50 and $1.00. Stacks are generally in the $20 to $60 range. Play is pretty loose, as is typical in most home games.

On the hand in question, there is a straddle to $2. Three people call the $2 and action turns to the small blind. The small blind shoves all in for $45 total (significantly over-betting a pot of $9 to $10 depending on how you count the blinds).

First Question: You are in the Big Blind for $1 and are sitting on a stack of $70. With what kind of range do you call the SB's $45 shove?

One more question to come, but I'd rather start with analyzing the Big Blind's play here first.


  1. Depends on the SB's state of mind. Has the SB lost a big pot recently and is on tilt? That would widen his range.

    Since there is very little chips to win (need to call $45 to win $55), I need a pretty big hand to call. Likely Jacks or better and AK. This might seem tight, but if I feel that I am the best player at the table, I would rather outplay my opponents in small pots than to put in about 2/3 of my stack with a hand like nines which I may be way ahead, but it may be way behind....or flipping.

    Also remember, you can't end the action. If you call $45, there is a good chance one of the limpers will do as well if they are enticed by the pot odds. Then a hand like nines really shrinks if it has to beat more than one opponent.

  2. Okay, a bit on the Small Blind in this hand. He is a tight aggressive player. He is on his first buy in (for $40), so barely ahead on the evening (which is to say, not too likely that he is on tilt here and you have no other reason to believe this player is on tilt). It would be somewhat uncharacteristic for this player to be on a total bluff here, although he is in love with exotic bluffs with 5-6 suited. You somewhat discount 5-6 suited here, however, since he doesn't usually stick his whole stack in that weak. So, you decide this player is pushing with what he thinks is the best hand (but such hand range is certainly bigger than just AA, KK, and A-K) given the action on the hand. I would prefer NOT to comment on my exact read of this player's hand range (which may or may not even be right), but to give you a general sense of the type of player this is (not a total rock but not likely to make a move with air here given the bet size).

  3. (Is this is a cash game, BTW?)

    Given the information we've got: What's the point of calling here? You have callers behind who have an obvious interest in the hand (They've called the straddle), and once one of them calls, you can pretty much guarantee the limp/call parade starts... Unless one of them has an actual hand, in which raise you can count on the iso raise.

    ...All of which isn't really your concern if you're willing to shove for the whole $70. So you're not really calling $45, you're in most cases in effect putting in $70. But even if you have AA here for example, you're probably up against 2 callers (Where your AA is 73%) and maybe even 4 callers (Where your AA drops to 55%)...

    Question at this point seems to be: Do ya wanna gamble? If the question is range, I think I'm only calling here with top 15% of my range. But I'm kinda tightish.

  4. Donkeyface - Thanks for the response. I don't think of range exactly in percentage terms, so I hope my next comments/questions make some sense. I think FightingIllini's response is basically he calls here with AA, KK, QQ, JJ and A-K. I think this represents roughly the top 5% of the range and is fairly tight. I don't know what the top 15% looks like exactly, but I am sure you have added in A-Q, 10-10, and 9-9. Maybe also A-J or A-J suited. Maybe K-Q. I would actually call this a somewhat loose range in that you are increasing the odds that you are dominated one way or another. Regardless of what is right here (and if I was really sure of the exact right range to play on in this situation, I don't think I would be writing this post), let's turn to the next question.....

  5. Question #2 - What range would you put the small blind on here? I commented slightly on this and you can incorporate that information in your response on not. Happy to also treat this more academically and simply say "when an unknown player in the small blind way over-bets the pot in a situation like this, what hands do you think are in his range when he does this?"

  6. I did read fightingillini2's response and your clarification about the small blind before posting this. But, even before that, my initial gut reaction was even tighter than Illini. I'm not calling with anything, I'm reshoving with AA, KK, and AK suited. My reasoning is with AA, you've got the best hand. With KK, you've got the 2nd best hand and are not getting away from it for 45 big blinds, especially given there are 6 big blinds of dead money in the pot from the straddle and calls. AK suited gives you blockers to the small blind having AA or KK and is a coin flip with any other pocket pair. Also, I'd stick to AK suited because being suited improves your odds by about 5% when you do run into either AA or KK and gives you that same 5% edge when the small blind is open shoving AK offsuit.


  7. @allin67 - on Question #2, I think that there are 2 possible scenarios.

    Scenario #1, small blind is a really tight, good player who taking advantage of the overbet to get a call from a significantly worse hand out of the straddle or one of the limpers. If this is the case, small blind has an EXTREMELY narrow range -- I'd say AA, KK, AK, QQ and maybe JJ. I have seen players shove using this narrow a range while playing zoom poker online.

    Scenario #2, small blind is tight but not as good a player. This range is going to be wider and include a lot more pairs that don't play well multiway out of position. Since you have said he is tight, I'd say it's still going to be a really narrow range, but I'd say it would be something more like 88 to AA, plus AK and AQ suited. I wouldn't include hands like AJ suited, A-10 suited, KQ suited, any suited connectors or smaller pairs because you've said the opponent is a tight player. Those might be in a range for a looser player to make a move with but I just don't see a tight player doing it with those sorts of hands.

    My answer to the first question was an extremely narrow range primarily because that range does well against scenario #1. Running it through equilab, a range of AA, KK and AK suited is 63% favorite against a range of AA, KK, QQ and AK (suited and offsuit). Obviously, as you add more hands into the small blind's range, the advantage of re-shoving with an extremely narrow range increases. But it does so really slowly -- even against a random hand, that range is "only" about an 80% favorite.


  8. Dap, thank you for joining the party and for your excellent thoughts on the hand. I guess it is time to reveal.....

    I was the small blind in this hand. I raised all-in here with J-J. My thought process was that I was happy to take down the $9 to $10 pot that was already out there (the pot would be $10 if I were foolish enough to only call here... and I was absolutely never folding this hand so it was either call or raise). Not wanting to play this hand multi-way and out of position when the likely overcard fell, I was just trying to take down the pot with what was likely the best hand. I thought a raise here to $10 or $15 was too likely too get called, possibly by quite a few players if the BB or Straddler called.

    The Big Blind tanked and eventually called my shove with K-Q offsuit. He's a loose player and I couldn't decide if he made a good play (in retrospect, he certainly had the odds to call the hand that I actually had) or if he made a bad play (I probably shove here with A-K as well as some other hands like J-J; he would NOT be getting the right odds against A-K). Interestingly - and perhaps wrongly in a home game - I would NOT shove all in here with A-A. I'd make a sold raise to something like $15 and shove on virtually any flop. So, I do wonder if my shove partially gave away that I was strong but not A-A (and maybe not K-K) strong.

    If any one wants to comment - positively or negatively - on the play of the SB (me) or the BB calling my shove with K-Q, I am happy to keep the conversation going. Again, thank you to everyone who has commented so far.

  9. @allin67 - I can see shoving with JJ given your stack size, but the reason I don't like it is that a big overshove seems to attract calls from "curious" opponents with random high card hands like KQ offsuit that assume that they are a coin flip against a hand like 88 and just happen to be a coin flip against your hand. That's why I'd probably limit the shove to a little tighter range -- maybe every QQ and AK suited plus some of my AA, KK and AK offsuit hands. With the rest of my AA, KK and AK offsuit hands, as well as with other hands like AQ, some other suited aces and some suited connectors, I'd make a standard raise. The idea is to "balance your range" by keeping both some really strong and some weaker holdings in both your standard raising range and in your shoving range. That keeps your opponents guessing, which is what you want.

    The big blind's call is absolutely terrible. If you put a player on the wider range that I suggested (88+, AK and AQ suited) he is almost a 2 to 1 underdog -- and he is getting crushed by 38 of the 62 hands in that range (AA, KK, AK suited and offsuit, and AQ suited). Not only that, he had a straddler and 2 limpers behind, so his call doesn't close the action and he may get involved in a multiway pot with just KQ off.

    My "standard" raise from the small blind with the action to that point would be $12 - 3X the straddle, plus a big blind for each limp and another big blind for being out of position. I think I'd use that here as well. I don't love committing that much of my stack with JJ out of position, but I think it's a big enough raise to get it to heads up a lot of the time which is what you want with a hand like JJ.


  10. @Dap Poker agree 100%. Also, potentially loosing a lot of value by shoving.