Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is paying off a flopped set always right when you give your opponent a bad price?

I don't know if this statement is true or not:

When your opponent makes a play that you know to be unprofitable in the long run, you can feel justified in paying him off.

This situation comes up frequently against loose players who call three-bets lightly with low pocket pairs. They're hoping to hit a set and get paid off, even though they don't have the immediate odds to do so, and their implied odds are questionable.

I'm confident that calling a three-bet is usually wrong preflop when you have a low pocket pair. It's only made right when you're highly confident your opponent will gift you his stack when you do hit, and you have to pay less than 1/8 of your stack to see the flop because you'll only hit your set 1/8 of the time.

For example:

5/10 6-max with 100BB effective stacks

Loose fish calls $35 from CO
Hero raises to $120 from Button with AA
UTG folds
Loose fish calls.
Pot is $255

458 twotone

Should you always stack off here, knowing that your opponent may have called a $85 three-bet preflop with a low pocket pair? He needs to expect an average profit of roughly $680 ($85*8) for this call to be correct. It's unlikely he'll get paid off enough to make that kind of profit, no matter how you cut it.

I don't know the correct answer. Should you:

a) Get all in on the flop every time I hold a premium hand, knowing that your opponent will lose money in the long run by making these kinds of expensive preflop calls. If he's willing to make a mistake like this, I want to encourage him to do so. It's not like I'm going to have AA or KK in this spot every time I three-bet, which means I'll fold a broad range of lesser hands on the flop, thus reducing my opponent's implied odds.

b) Fold sometimes when your opponent shows unexpected aggression on a flop that was unlikely to hit anything except for a set. After all, stacking off would justify his implied odds, which makes his preflop call almost right.

Is there an absolute answer? Thoughts?


Alan aka RecessRampage said...

This is one area that I struggle quite a bit on. But basically, I am of the opinion that if the guy hits a set on a board like the one you mentioned, I am probably gonna get stacked unless we are really deep. 100BB or less and it's very likely that I will get stacked. The problem is, my button reraise range is a little bit wider... AA-QQ, AQ+ is the standard and quite possibly wider depending on who the raiser in the CO is. So, I would cbet those like 100% of the time. If I'm getting played back, that may not necessarily mean a set... it could just be a higher pair (like JJ or TT on a 8 high board). So, if the guy actually hits a set, it would be incredibly hard for me to not get stacked off.

Klopzi said...

Haven't played a cash game for a little while, but this seems like an SPR problem.

Pot is $255, effective stack size is $880. Your stack to pot ratio is less than 4. Against most players, an SPR of less than 4 in a heads-up pot is really good for an overpair hand.

I see nothing wrong (and many things right) with committing to your hand and trying to get all-in.

Personally, I do my best to ignore the possibility of my opponents flopping sets. If I go down that path, it's far to easy to force myself to lay down hand after hand.

lucko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucko said...

Stacking off for 100bbs in a reraised pot with AA is standard. Esp when there are other lesser overpairs in your opps range. If you never fold AA there, you are almost never making a big mistake.

Folding a winner in these spots is a much bigger mistake than calling and paying off a set.

Fuel55 said...

You lose to 4 hands here and his range is 30+ hands so yes you gotta stack off.

Shrike said...

I don't think there is (or ever could be) an absolute rule, but with 100 BB stacks I do think you have to be a payoff wizard here unless you are quite certain you've been outflopped. So I tend to agree with lucko & Fuel et al. that you have to ship it in here.

For what it's worth, I also agree that it's a -EV play to call OOP in a re-raised pot with small pairs for precisely the reasons you give.

scoph said...

"I'm confident that calling a three-bet is usually wrong preflop when you have a low pocket pair."

In the example you give, I don't think your opponent had the right odds for his call.

OTOH, the statement I quoted above isn't right either. Your loose opponent made 2 mistakes on the hand, but got paid anyway, so hopefully he will keep making them.

The first mistake was raising pre-flop with a small pair. In itself not a terrible move, except that once you re-raise, he no longer has the right odds to call, and so his second mistake was calling the re-raise since he no longer had the right odds.

If he had not raised pre-flop and you had done the same raise to anywhere from $35 to $50--let's say $50 to keep the math easy--then he would have been correct to call. He would then be paying $40 more, into a $75 pot, clearly bad expressed odds. But his total upside now is $950 (assuming you both started with $1,000 or 100 BBs). That's almost 24 tmes his intitial $40 investment. He won't make that all the time he hits his set. But its large enough to make up for the times the board flops 3 to a suit (including his set) and one or the other of you fail to get all your chips in even though one or both may have hit your sets, and the many other situations where he won't take your whole stack, or may even lose after making his set.

In Harrington's book on cash games, he likes a figure of 20 times the call amount left behind in both stacks, for a call like that. Ed Miller, et al in Professional No Limit Hold'EM v1, indicate they like a figure of 12 times the call amount. I like Harrington's number better.

Sklansky also mentions this in his No Limit book, where he proposes the thought experiment where you know your opponent has AA, and has announced he's going to raise. The question is "Should you fold?"

The answer is: "It depends."
It depends on how much the raise is, how much will be left behind, and how much you can get out of your opponent if you hit a set against his AA.

scoph said...

I should also say that if you both had really deep stacks, say 200 BBs or more then it may well be that BOTH of his plays become correct, since when he calls your $120 bet now for $85 more, you both have $1,880 behind, over 22 times the amount he has to call.

And if your re-raise is an indication that you have an above-average willingness to commit all in if he shows aggression, then it might be right with a lower amount, say stacks of 150 or so BBs.