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Good spot to make a thin value bet?

10/02/2018 by Jonathan Little
Hand Analysis

I was recently told about a hand that illustrates a clear mistake that some amateurs make while working to improve their strategies. Our particular Hero was working on making thin value bets when this hand took place.

With blinds at 400/800, a loose, passive player limped from first position out of his 40,000 effective stack. Another loose passive player limped from second position. Our Hero decided to call from the hijack seat with Ks-Tc.

While I am fine with this call, both folding and raising have merit, due to K-T’s poor postflop playability. I would typically fold, mainly because K-To doesn’t fare too well against a competent first position limping range.

The button and big blind called as well. The flop came Kc-Js-5c. The big blind and initial limper checked, and the second limper bet 2,000 into the 4,400 pot. Hero called.

I am fine with Hero’s call. While he could be crushed at the moment, his top pair plus backdoor straight and flush draw are enough to justify sticking around. If someone yet to act raises, Hero should make a snug fold.

The button and initial limper both called as well. The turn was the (Kc-Js-5c)-Qc. The initial limper checked to the flop bettor, who bet 5,000 into the 12,400 pot. Hero called.

At this point, even with a pair, flush draw, and straight draw, I would fold. It is simply too likely that Hero is crushed by a flush or straight. Even if he improves to a flush, he could still be behind. While it is never fun to get a decent turn and have to fold, Hero will usually be in horrible shape.

The button and initial limper folded. The river was the (Kc-Js-5c-Qc)-Qs. The opponent checked and Hero bet 15,000 out of his 32,200 remaining stack for value.

While bluffing the river may have a bit of merit, hoping to make the opponent fold a weak flush, Queen, A-A or A-K, Hero’s idea of betting for value makes no sense at all. If you think about the hands that will call a value bet, essentially all of them have Hero beat, and those that don’t will usually only call a tiny bet. I can’t even come up with many hands that the opponent could have in his range that Hero could get value from, besides perhaps Ac-Jx, or 9c-9x, and those hands will almost certainly fold to a 15,000 bet. If Hero wanted to bluff the river with his full house and flush blockers, he should go all-in because many players will call a 15,000 bet with a weak flush, Queen, A-A or A-K.

The opponent thought for a while before making a big call with Ac-Kh, awarding him the pot.