For my fifth strategy article, I thought I’d put myself on the chopping-block and breakdown a hand from the 2018 Irish Open. I made the final table of the ‘JP Masters’, eventually finding myself heads-up against breakout poker star and WSOP Main Event 8th place finisher Jack Sinclair.
The hand is the poker version of a game of ‘cat and mouse’ as Jack and I try to exploit the tendencies that we presume the other possesses. We didn’t know each other when the hand took place, but became friends later so it was fun to look back on it.
Take a look at the video below or read on for a summary of the hand.
Editor’s Note: This article is by Irish tournament pro and Unibet Poker ambassador David Lappin who we recommend you follow on Twitter. Alongside Irish poker legend Dara O’Kearney, David produces and hosts the GPI global poker award winning podcast ‘The Chip Race” sponsored by Unibet Poker. All episodes are available on Apple Music, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
Game: JP Masters, Norwegian Poker Championships, Dublin, March 2018
Ante: No Ante
David Lappin has 3,120,000 (26 big blinds) and is the effective stack.
1st ~ €29,620
2nd ~ €19,690
Jack limps in with 10♠ 6♥ and I check with J♦ T♣.
Not a lot to say here. This is certainly a stack depth where Jack has a lot of hands he wants to limp. One would expect him to be pretty balanced with some limp-folds, limp-calls and limp-shoves.
JTo smashes the check range as it is neither good enough nor bad enough to want to raise.
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The Pot: 240K
The Flop: A♣ K♥ 3♠
David checks. Jack checks.
I don’t have any leads on this board as the texture heavily favors Jack’s range. In fact, PioSolver gives Jack a 55%/45% range advantage.
Jack has a high frequency c-bet here, but he elected to check, arguing that it’s good to keep some air in his check back range with the intention of barreling if I check turn. In that spot, I would appear very capped and vulnerable to getting blown off whatever equity I have by two big bets.
My co-host Dara drilled down further into the solver output to reveal that Jack should bet his range 60% of the time, and his specific hand 50%.
The Pot: 240K
The Turn: (A♣ K♥ 3♠) 7♣
David checks, Jack bets 140K, David calls.
I gave serious consideration to a lead. Jack’s flop check has weakened his range and I could bet with the intention of folding out Queen-high hands, while also denying equity from two random cards.
In the end, I opted for a check with the intention of calling a bet. Jack-high will be good a decent amount of the time and I have a draw to the nuts.
Jack sticks to his plan of betting with the intention of betting again on the river if necessary. I stick to my plan of calling, believing it to be the best of my three options. The solver bears that out with Dara, making the point that raising is profitable, but calling is the most profitable option.
The Pot: 520K
The River: (A♣ K♥ 3♠) 7♣ 3♣
Stack-to-Pot Ratio: 5.5:1
David checks. Jack bets 360K. David calls.
My check felt standard in game, but the solver does like a 50/50 mix between leads and checks with this exact hand. Presumably, it leads flushes and 3x hands, so it needs to find some bluffs from my remaining range. This is my worst hands and it contains a club, which has some valuable blocking effect. That said, opting for a no-lead strategy here seems reasonable as a leading strategy would be quite difficult to implement in practice.
Exploitation is the name of his game as he searches for spots in which the population tendency is to under-bluff, over-bluff, under-call or over-call. Jack believed that he had identified one such spot versus me here and, to be fair, his bet with T♠ 6♥ becomes good if I over-fold, even just a little.
Unfortunately for him, I don’t. If anything, I could be fairly described as a sticky, disbelieving, and a curious Irishman who loves to station. My call is also not solver approved and long term loses 20% of a big blind. Similarly though, it becomes a good call if Jack is over-bluffing, which he freely admits he is.
Jack shows the T♠ 6♥. David tables the J♦ T♣ and wins the 1.24M pot.
Diverging from equilibrium to make a hero call is a dangerous game and one which specifically relies on your opponent’s tendency to over-bluff. Exploitative lines can be absolutely valid but it’s important to understand that, by their nature, they open you up to being counter-exploited.
I may have been right this time versus Jack, but it ain’t no fun when the rabbit has the gun.
The Irish duo also make a web-show called ‘The Lock-In’ and strategy videos like the one below, both available on their YouTube Channel
What do you think of my call with Jack high? Would you have played any street differently?
Let us know in the comments.
If you want more hand analysis, check out Doug Polk Flops a Straight vs Phil Hellmuth — And Lays It Down?!
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