Optimal Postflop Play in NLHE 6-max – Part 2

In this series we apply game theory principles to heads-up postflop play in singly raised pots. Our goal is to design strategies that are hard to exploit. We focus mainly on flop play, but turn and river play will also be mentioned.

1. Introduction
This is Part 2 of the article series “Optimal Postflop Play in NLHE 6-max” where we’ll study optimal strategies for heads-up postflop play in NLHE 6-max.

In Part 1 we introduced a model and some basic theory for playing the flop heads-up in position after flatting a raise preflop. Alice raises from some position, Bob flats her raise in position, and all other players fold. Alice now c-bets the flop, and Bob has to defend enough to prevent Alice from profitably c-betting any two cards as a bluff.

Bob defends against the c-bet by raising his best hands for value, flatting the c-bet with his next best hands, bluff raising some of the best hands too weak to raise for value or flat, and folding the rest. In Part 1 we found that Bob needs to defend 57% against a 0.75 x pot c-bet to prevent a profitable any-two-card c-bet. We then estimated the optimal value/bluff ratio for Bob’s flop raising range to be 1 : 1. So Bob should raise one bluff combo for every value combo.

Bob’s method for defending against Alice’s c-bets is then:

  • Bob first chooses his value hands. These are the hands Bob raises on the flop with the intent of getting all-in if Alice 3-bets (and keep betting on most turn cards if Alice calls the raise and checks the turn). He now automatically knows how many bluff combos he needs, and the total number of combos he will be raising
  • Then he picks enough flatting hands to bring his total defense percentage (the sum of raising hands and flatting hands) to 57% of his total range on the flop
  • Then he picks his bluffing hands from the best of the remaining hands (the hands not good enough to raise for value or flat). These are the hands Bob raises on the flop, planning to fold to a 3-bet. If Alice calls the raise and checks the turn, he will sometimes keep bluffing on the turn, sometimes bet for value (when he improves), and sometimes check and give up

In Part 1 we worked through a detailed example, where we let Alice raise with our default ~15% UTG range:

Alice’s default ~15% UTG range:

22+
A9s+ AJo+
KTs+ KQo
QTs+
J9s+
T9s
98s
87s
76s
65s

194 combos
15%

Then Bob flatted on the button with the default “IP flat list” defined in Part 2 of the NLHE preflop article series:

Download link for this table (right click and choose “save as”):
IP_3-bet_summary.doc

The flop came:

We estimated the following optimal value, flat and bluff ranges for Bob:

Value raise:

  • Sets: {JJ,99,44} =9 combos
  • Overpairs: {QQ} =6 combos
  • Top pair/top kicker: {AJ} =12 combos
  • Monster draws: {A K , A Q , K Q , Q T } =4 combos
  • Total: 31 combos

Flat:

  • Top pair without top kicker {K J , K J , K J , Q J , Q J , Q J , J T ,J T ,J T } =9 combos
  • 2nd pair: {T 9 , T 9 , T 9 } =3 combos
  • Underpair higher than 2nd pair: {TT} =6 combos
  • Draws: {A T , K T } =2 combos
  • Total: 20 combos

Bluff raise:

{9 8 , 9 8 , 9 8 , Q TQ T , Q T , A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A T , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K T } =29 combos

By going through this process many times on many different flop textures, we can train our ability to estimate these ranges quickly at the table (we won’t have the time to find the ranges as precisely as in the example). In Part 1 we focused on the method for estimating Bob’s flop strategy, and how to train this method by repeating it over and over on many flops.

In Part 2 we’ll study this method in more detail, and we’ll discuss some points we only touched on in Part 1. Among other things, we’ll talk about:

  • How Bob’s value range changes as a function of the raiser’s preflop range and the flop texture
  • Play on coordinated flops versus play on dry flops (when should we slowplay?)
  • What should Bob do when Alice checks instead of c-betting?

We’ll illustrate the principles with some simulations done with the analysis softwarePokerazor (which lets us estimate EV for postflop play). So Part 2 will be mostly about theory and modeling. When this work is done, we’ll work through some more examples in Part 2, where we’ll estimate Bob’s flop strategies on two different flop textures (one very coordinated flop, and one very dry flop). We’ll then let Bob use his default “IP flat list” (defined in Part 2 of the preflop series) on the button after a raise from early position, and the “Blind vs blind flat list” (defined in Part 7 of the preflop series) in the big blind after a small blind openraise.

2. Principles for choosing a value range on the flop
When we build a value range for Bob to raise on the flop, we want this to be hands that profit from raising and getting all-in when Alice 3-bets us. For simplicity, assume Alice either 3-bets our raise or folds, and that she never 3-bet bluffs. In this model, our equity has two components:

– What we make when Alice c-bets and folds to our raise
– The all-in equity we have when she c-bets, we raise, she 3-bets, we shove and she calls

It’s obvious that our value hands and our bluff hands make the same when Alice bet-folds (ignoring card removal effects), and the difference between them is the equity from getting all-in against Alice’s value hands.

Choosing value hands that are the favorite against Alice’s presumed all-in range is a good starting point (then both value components are positive), but it’s not an absolute must if Alice bet-folds a lot. It could be that we have a +EV raise with a hands that is a small underdog when getting all-in, if Alice bet-folds so much that the chips we win when she folds outweigh the chips we lose when she 3-bets us and we get all-in. However, for this type of hand we might be better off flatting the c-bet and playing the turn against her total c-betting range. This is analogous to flatting QQ preflop in position against a tight openraiser instead of 3-betting for value, even if 3-betting is +EV in isolation (but flatting is more +EV).

Let’s begin the process of building a value range by making some assumptions:

  • All hands two pair or better are automatic value hands on all flops (unless we elect to slowplay some monster hands)
  • Overpairs and top pair/top kicker can be value hands, but not necessarily. We shall see that this depends on the flop texture (coordinated or dry), the raisers range (tight or loose), and how high our pair is
  • Monster draws can be played for value. The most common monster draws are strong flush draws with extra (flush draws with a straight draw, a pair, or overcards)
  • Made hands top pair without top kicker, and all lower pairs, are candidates for the flatting range

We’ll now do some simple modeling on 4 scenarios to illustrate the effect of Alice’s open range (tight or loose) on two different flop types (coordinated or dry). We will then generalize and draw some conclusions about how to select our value range under different circumstances

2.1 Modeling of a value range
We’ll let Alice openraise two different ranges:

Alice’s default ~15% UTG range:

22+
A9s+ AJo+
KTs+ KQo
QTs+
J9s+
T9s
98s
87s
76s
65s

194 combos
15%

Alice’s default ~25% UCO range:

22+
A2s+ A9o+
K9s+ KQo
Q9s+ QTo+
J8s+ JTo
T8s+
97s+
87s
76s
65s

326 combos
25%

And we’ll use two different flops:

Coordinated flop:

This is the flop we worked with in Part 1. There we used top pair/top kicker as a value hand, and now we’ll check whether or not this was a good choice:

Dry flop:

This is a very dry rainbow flop without strong draws. This limits Bob’s possibilities for defending against the c-bet, since he now doesn’t have any draws to use. On the driest flops it might be impossible for him to defend sufficiently (57%) without flatting very weak hands. We’ll also see that we run into trouble on these flops if we automatically raise the few monster hands we have (mostly sets) on these flops, since this makes our flatting range weak and transparent. The turn can then be difficult to play when Alice knows we flatted the flop with a weak range of mostly one pair hands and overcards. .

Having a medium/weak flatting range is not a problem on a coordinated flop, since we’re flatting many draws with decent potential for improvement. So Alice can’t simply barrel her whole range again on every turn card, just because she suspects our flop flatting range was weak. If she does, she will often bet into our improved hands. But when we flat on a dry flop, the weak hands in our flatting range are unlikely to improve on the turn (since one pair hands have few outs).

If we never slowplay on dry flops, a flat tells Alice the following:

  • Our flatting range on a dry flop consists mostly of marginal one pair hands and overcards
  • These hands rarely improve on the turn

So Alice can safely bet for value with both her monster hands and her good one pair hands, and she can balance her value bets with bluffs and put a lot of pressure on our marginal hands. We’ll talk more about this problem later, but it’s obvious that we can fix this problem (at least partly) by slowplaying on dry flops, thus making our flatting range stronger.

We now define a model for Alice’s and Bob’s postflop play. We define top pair/top kicker as a hand in between the obvious value hands (where two pair or better are always value hands) and the obvious flatting hands (where one pair hands lower than top pair/top kicker are always flatting hands). Note that we have made these choices to get a simple model that is easy to work with. The assumptions will not always be the best for all situations, but they are reasonable.

Now we’ll model how Bob’s top pair/top kicker perform against:

– Alice’s UTG range on the coordinated flop J 9 4
– Alice’s CO range on the coordinated flop J 9 4
– Alice’s UTG range on the dry flop J 3 2
– Alice’s CO range on the dry flop J 3 2

In all scenarios Bob uses his default “IP flat list” for flatting on the button preflop. We’ll use Pokerazor to compute the EV for Bob’s value raise with top pair/top kicker in these 4 scenarios. Before we can do this, we also need some assumptions about how Alice plays on the flop.

  • Alice raises pot (3.5 bb) preflop, Bob flats his “IP flat list” on the button, and all other players fold. Both players start with 100 bb stacks, so the pot is 8.5 bb on the flop with 96.5 bb left in the stacks.
  • Alice c-bets 6.5 bb with all her hands, Bob raises to 17 bb (~1/2 pot) with top pair/top kicker, Alice folds, calls, or 3-bets to 34 bb ((~1/2 pot) and calls a shove
  • Bob shoves all-in if Alice 3-bets his raise. If she calls his raise, both players check the hand down

Alice’s postflop strategy after Bob’s raise is:

  • 3-bet (and call a shove) with top pair/top kicker or better, together with flushdraw + pair, flushdraw + straight draw, and flushdraw + 2 overcards
  • Call the raise with top pair without top kicker, and let the hand be checked to showdown
  • Fold everything else

Note that we’re not trying to design a perfect flop strategy for Alice. We’re simply making some reasonable assumptions that we can model over. What we are interested in is finding out how the EV for Bob’s value raise with top pair/top kicker changes with the flop texture and with Alice’s openrange, given the assumptions we have chosen for the model.

So it’s the EV differences between the various scenarios that are of most interest to us, not the absolute EVs for each separate scenario. The trends we find for Bob’s EV when he raises to pair/top kicker for value will tell us something about how he should select his value range, given Alice’s openrange and the flop texture. Top pair/top kicker is a hand that can be used both as a value hand and as a flatting hand, so a model study for this hand will tell us a lot about where to draw the line between value range and flatting range.

2.2 Model scenario 1: 15% UTG openrange on coordinated flop J 9 4
Bob’s “IP flat-list” after Alice’s 15% UTG raise is {QQ-22,AKs-ATs,AK-AJ,KTs+,KQo,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s}, where QQ and AK are in the flatting range preflop. The top pair/top kicker hands on this flop are the 12 AJ combos, and we use all of them to get an average EV (they are not 100% equivalent, since some of them have backdoor flush draws).

Alice’s presumed value and flatting hands from her UTG range on this flop are:

  • Top pair/top kicker or better:
    {JJ,99,44,J9s,AA,KK,QQ,AJ}
  • Monster draws:
    {A K , A Q , K Q , K T , Q T , 8 7 }
  • Flatting hands (top pair without top kicker):
    {KJs,QJs,JTs,J9s}

The EV for Bob’s flop raise with his AJ hands on the J 9 4 flop against Alice’s 15% UTG range is:

EV (raise TPTK) =-3.55 bb

Raising top pair/top kicker in this scenario does not quite work for Bob against Alice’s tight openrange, even if the loss is not catastrophic. Bob makes money when Alice folds to his raise, and when she calls with some worse top pair hands, but he loses too much when he gets all-in against her tight value range.

Let’s see what happens against Alice’s CO range:

2.3 Model scenario 2: 25% CO openrange on coordinated flop J 9 4
Bob’s “IP flat-list” after Alice’s 25% CO raise is {JJ-22,AQs-ATs,AQ-AJ,KTs+,KQo,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s}, where QQ and AK now gets 3-bet for value preflop. Everything else is as in Scenario 1.

Alice’s presumed value and flatting hands for her CO range on this flop are:

  • Top pair/top kicker or better:
    {JJ,99,44,J9s,AA,KK,QQ,AJ}
  • Monster draws:
    {A 4 , A K , A Q , K Q , K T , Q T , T 8 , 8 7 }
  • Flatting hands:
    {KJs,QJs,JTs,J9s,J8s}

Alice has two monster draws more than in Scenario 1 (since she now also opens A4s and T8s), and she now also flats the raise with the top pair hand J8s. These rest of her postflop strategy is identical to Scenario 1.

The EV for Bob’s flop raise with AJ on the J 9 4 flop against Alice’s 25% CO range is:

EV (raise TPTK) =+1.33 bb

Bob’s EV goes from negative to positive. Since Alice uses almost the same 3-betting and flatting ranges as in Scenario 1, most of the difference must come from Alice’s folding. She c-bets a much wider range now (25% vs 15%), but the hands she defends with against the range has not changed much. Bob’s value raise then picks up a lot of pots uncontested, and his EV increases.

Note that this problem for Alice is something we have worked with in the preflop series as well. It’s much easier to defend a tight range correctly against aggression than a wide and weak range. This is true both preflop and postflop.

Now we do the same simulations on the dry flop:

2.4 Model scenario 3: 15% UTG openrange on dry flop J 3 2
Bob’s “IP flat-list” after Alice’s 15% UTG raise is {QQ-22,AKs-ATs,AK-AJ,KTs+,KQo,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s}, where QQ and AK are in the flatting range. His top pair/top kicker hands on this flop are the 12 AJ combos, and we use all of them to get an average, as before.

Alice’s presumed value and flatting hands from her UTG range on this flop are:

  • Top pair/top kicker or better:
    {AA,KK,QQ,JJ,33,22,AJ}
  • Monster draws:
    None
  • Flatting hands:
    {KJs,QJs,JTs,J9s}

The EV for Bob’s value raise with AJ on the J 3 2 flop against Alice’s 15% UTG range is:

EV (raise TPTK) =-0.96 bb

The EV for value raising top pair/top kicker against Alice’s 15% UTG range is a bit better on the dry flop texture than on the coordinated one, but still negative. Alice must fold a lot, but a tight c-betting range is still easy to defend.

Then we let Alice openraise from CO:

2.4 Model scenario 4: 25% CO openrange on dry flop J 3 2
Bob’s “IP flat-list” after Alice’s 25% CO raise is {JJ-22,AQs-ATs,AQ-AJ,KTs+,KQo,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s}, where QQ and AK now bet 3-bet for value preflop. Everything else is as before.

Alice’s presumed value/calling hands from her CO range on this flop are identical to the hands she played on the coordinated flop, except one additional flatting hand (since she now also openraises J8s):

  • Top pair/top kicker or better:
    {AA,KK,QQ,JJ,33,22,AJ}
  • Monster draws:
    None
  • Flatting hands:
    {KJs,QJs,JTs,J9s,J8s}

The EV for Bob’s flop raise with his AJ hands on the J 3 2 flop against Alice’s 25% CO range becomes

EV (raise TPTK) =+3.02 bb

Raising TPTK on this dry flop becomes even better when Alice starts with a wide range. This is obvious, since Alice now has to bet-fold a lot in our model (she has no draws to defend with, and only a few value hands). We are now in poor shape when we get 3-bet, but all the fold equity we have makes this a nicely +EV raise.

2.5 Summary of the modeling of EV for value raising flops with top pair/top kicker

– Against Alice’s UTG range on coordinated flop: -3.55 bb
– Against Alice’s CO- range on coordinated flop: +1.33 bb
– Against Alice’s UTG range on dry flop: -0.96 bb
– Against Alice’s CO range on dry flop: +3.02 bb

We can draw some conclusions from this:

1. Raising top pair/top kicker for value can be a slightly losing play
In all model scenarios we were either a small loser or a small winner. This is not totally unexpected, since top pair/top kicker is a good-but-not-great hand somewhere in the region between obvious value hands and obvious flatting hands. We have good equity against all other one pair hands and against draws, but we struggle against better one pair hands, and all hands two pair or better. But overall we did not lose much when raising was -EV.

2. Raising top pair/top kicker goes down in value against a tight openraising range
When Alice starts out with a tight UTG range, she has an easy job defending it against Bob’s flop raises, even if she bet-folds a lot. On both the dry and the coordinated flops her UTG range contained enough value and flatting hands to make Bob’s value raise with top pair/top kicker a slightly losing play, given the assumptions in our model.

But Bob’s raise was +EV on both flops when Alice started with the much looser CO range. Now she had to bet-fold much more, so Bob cashed in on fold equity.

3. Raising top pair/top kicker for value is more profitable on dry flops than on coordinated flops against a raiser that c-bets her entire preflop range on the flop
Note the assumptions used in our model. We have assumed that Alice c-bets her entire preflop raising range on both flops, which isn’t entirely realistic. A good NLHE player will check more of her weak hands on coordinated flops, because she knows that these pots will be hard to win uncontested (she is out of position with a weak hand, and coordinated flops hits her opponent’s preflop flatting range hard). So she will check-fold more weak hands, and her c-betting range will become stronger.

But against a “primitive” player who c-bets too much, and who does not distinguish between flop textures, our model and our conclusions are more valid. We then have much more fold equity on dry flops than on coordinated flops, so the EV for any raising hand increases (and against such a player we can also consider bluff raising a lot more than against a good player).

So we have learned that top pair/top kicker isn’t always a value hand. We have to take the preflop raiser’s c-betting range into consideration, as well as flop texture, before we raise for value, planning to shove all-in after a 3-bet. Furthermore, tight c-betting ranges contain much less “air” than loose ranges, regardless of flop texture. So we have less fold equity when we raise against a tight range, and this reduces the EV for all raising hands.

As a rule of thumb for later postflop modeling, we can assume that it’s fine to draw the line for value raising at top pair/top kicker, regardless of the flop. As a default we will never raise worse hands for value, and we will always raise better hands for value (assuming we don’t want to slowplay). With top pair/top kicker we will sometimes raise for value and sometimes flat. But as we shall see, we won’t necessarily have a value raising range on all flop textures. On the driest flops we might want to slowplay all our strong hands, planning to raise the turn instead.

3. Slowplaying on dry flops
As mentioned previously in this article, we have to take care not to give away too much information about our range when we flat on very dry flops like J 3 2 . For example, let’s say we elect to defend against Alice’s c-bet on this flop by raising all hands top pair/top kicker or better, flatting all lower one pair hands and the best overcard hands (KJ/99/AK/AQ, etc.), and bluffraising some of the better weak hands (KQ, QT, etc).

Some consequences of this flop strategy are:

  • Our value raising range is now easier for Alice to read than when we raise on a coordinated flop (where we can have many draws). This is not a big problem, since we balance our value raises with bluffs, but it will be easy for Alice to see which hands we are representing
  • Our flatting range becomes very transparent. This is our biggest problem when we raise all our best hands on a dry flop and flat with our marginal hands. Now Alice knows that our flatting range contains only marginal one pair hands and some overcard hands, and that we have few outs to improve on the turn.

Let’s study this in more detail on the example flop J 3 2 where we have flatted out default “IP flat list” after a CO raise from Alice. So we begin with the preflop range {JJ-22,AQs-ATs,AQ-AJ,KTs+,KQo,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s}, and we decide to never slowplay on the flop. Alice c-bets the flop, and we call. We would have raised all hands top pair/top kicker or better on the flop, and Alice knows this based on the reads she has picked up on us. She also knows our preflop flatting range.

Alice can now draw some strong conclusions:

  • We don’t have any overpairs in our flop flatting range (we would have raised AA-QQ preflop).
  • We don’t have top pair/top kicker or sets in our flop flatting range (we would have raised these on the flop)
  • So the best hand we can have after flatting the flop is KJs, and most of our flatting hands are weaker than this

Alice now has easy pickings on the turn. She can continue to bet safely for value with all her made hands top pair/top kicker and better, regardless of the turn card. Of course some turn cards will improve some of our flatting hands, but usually they won’t, and the percentage play for Alice is to keep value betting all her best hands. And on a flop without draws, Alice don’t have to worry about clashing with a flush or a straight on the turn.

Furthermore, Alice can easily take advantage of both scare cards and blanks on the turn to force us to fold our weak one pair hands and overcard hands. Let’s say we’re at the turn with a mix of marginal hands like AK, 99, 88, etc after flatting the flop c-bet. It will be difficult for us to call another big bet on the turn, even if it’s a blank. An in addition, scare cards can come (typically overcards) that will make it extremely difficult for us if Alice bets again.

Problem:
Playing straightforwardly with strong hands on dry flops makes it difficult to play our flop flatting range well on later streets.

Solution:
On dry flops we have to consider slowplaying some (or all) of our best hands, and flat them together with our marginal hands. This serves two purposes:

  • We make our flatting range stronger
  • We make more money from Alice’s bluffs. Sometimes she improves and keeps betting (but now for value). Other times she keeps bluffing, assuming our range is weak after we flatted the flop

Do we need to slowplay on coordinated flops like J 9 4 ? We can if we want to, but our flop flatting range will be strong on many turn cards, since we flat with a lot of draws. So Alice can’t simply barrel away on the turn, assuming our flop flatting range is still weak on the turn.

The thing about coordinated flops is that many of our flatting hands can improve to the nuts or near-nuts on the turn. And since our flop flatting range in practice will cover all turn scare cards, Alice can’t simply bluff at any turn scare card and get away with it.

Also, slowplaying on coordinated flops is more risky with regards to giving Alice a cheap shot at drawing out. Slowplaying top set on a J 9 4 flop is much more risky than on a J 3 2 flop, since Alice will have many flush and straight draws on the first flop.

We’ll talk more about slowplaying on dry flops in Part 3. There we will look at Bob’s flop play on two different flop textures (coordinated and dry) with two different preflop flatting ranges (IP flat list” and “Blind vs blind flat list”). On very dry flops we might not want to raise at all. If this is the case, we do all the flop defense with a flatting range, planning to raise our monster hands for value on a later street.

4. What do we do when Alice checks the flop?
It should now be clear from examples and discussion that Bob’s flop strategy of value raising, bluff raising, flatting and sometimes slowplaying will prevent Alice from profitably c-betting blindly on all flop textures, particularly on the coordinated flops that hit Bob’s preflop flatting range hard. So Alice will have to check some hands, planning to give up. What should Bob do when Alice checks?

It’s obvious that we want to bet our value hands and balance this by buffing with some weak hands, particularly if Alice rarely checkraises in these scenarios. There are always lots of hands without a pair, a draw or showdown value in our range. We should bluff a lot of these hands when Alice has checked, since she has told us that she is probably weak, and it will be difficult for us to win the pot unless we bluff. We can also consider turning our weakest one pair hands into bluffs when checked to, if we believe this will be more profitable than trying to sneak cheaply to showdown.

For example, if Bob has 22 on the flop J 9 4 , it’s fine to bet the hand when checked to, mostly to win it right there, even if his bet isn’t for value (he can’t continue after a checkraise). Betting can be a bad idea when no worse hands call and no better hands fold, but there can be merit to bet to collect dead money, even if we never get action from hands we beat. If Alice is usually weak and will rarely checkraise, betting to protect a hand with weak showdown value can be fine.

But if our marginal hand is strong enough to call a turn bet if we check the flop, and/or if it’s difficult for Alice’s worse hands to draw out on us, we have more reason to check behind. For example with QQ on a A 9 3 rainbow flop. Now we can check the flop, planning to call at least one bet, should Alice come out betting later. And giving Alice a free card will rarely cost us the pot, since she her worse hands can never have many outs against us.

If Alice checks the flop, we can also semibluff with the draws we would have flatted a c-bet with, and we can bet for thin value/protection with some of the better one pair hands that we would have flatted with (typically the top pair hands). In general, we don’t want to give Alice a free card when we have a vulnerable hand, but we have to be cautious about betting marginal hands behind players that also slowplay good hands. Against players that checkraise a lot and give us tough decisions, we should check more of our marginal hands on the flop, and then we play the turn (planning to call a lot of turn bets if we get bet into by an aggressive player).

On the other hand, against a straightforward player who rarely check good hands, we can bet more turns. Either for value (our flop value raising range), as a semibluff (draws not in our value range), or as a thin bet for value/protection (some marginal one pair hands that we would have flatted against a c-bet). And of course we will bet lots of pure bluffs (the bluff raising hands, and some more).

Getting these betting opportunities is a bonus effect of defending strongly against Alice’s c-bets, using our optimal value raise/bluff/raise/flat strategy. Alice sees that we defend more than half the time she c-bets (57% to be exact), so she has to give up any-two-cards bluffing, and she is forced to check many weak hands to us. Note that she can in principle balance her weak checks with some strong checks (slowplaying) but this is difficult to do well. Her strong hands also need to balance her c-betting range, and she only has so many strong hands to use. Balancing both a c-betting range and a checking range is very hard, and against most players you can get away with a lot of betting after they check to you on the flop. And many of your bets should be pure bluffs.

5. Summary
In this article we have talked about choosing our value raising range against a c-bet on the flop, and we have modeled value raising with top pair/top kicker in 4 scenarios:

– Against a tight UTG range on a coordinated flop
– Against a loose CO range on a coordinated flop
– Against a tight UTG range on a dry flop
– Against a loose CCO range on a dry flop

We saw that top pair/top kicker is a hand that can sometimes be used as a value hand (particularly against a loose c-betting range), even if it’s an underdog against the range the c-bettor continues with after we raise. But top pair/top kicker was a marginal value hand at best in our model, and sometimes flatting the c-bet will be a better way to play it, for example against an UTG raiser with a tight range.

Then we discussed slowplaying on dry flops, and the consequences of always value raising our best hands for value on these flops. Our flatting range then becomes transparent and easy to play against on later streets, so we have to consider slowplaying some (or all) of our best hands as well. On extremely dry flops we might not want to raise for value at all, and only defend with a flatting range (more about this in Part 3).

Lastly, we talked about what to do when Alice checks to us instead of c-betting. Our defense strategy against her c-bets forces her to check some hands, and her checking range will usually be weak and easy to play against. This gives us the opportunity to bluff a lot when checked to, particularly against a player that rarely checks strong hands or checkraise bluffs in this situation.

In Part 3 we’ll see how these principles are applied in practice. We’ll pick a coordinated flop and a dry flop, and see how Bob designs his defense against Alice’s c-bets on these flops, taking the positive effects of slowplaying into account on the dry flop. To practice using our default preflop ranges postflop, we’ll let Bob use two different preflop flatting ranges: First the standard “IP flat list” on the button, and then the “Blind vs blind flat list” in a blind vs blind scenario where he flats an openraise made by the small blind.

God luck!
Bugs

– See more at: http://en.donkr.com/Articles/optimal-postflop-play-in-nlhe-6-max—part-2-761#sthash.dzqhKRUQ.dpuf

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