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When Blockers Don't Count: Analyzing an Online Poker Disaster at 100NL

The following poker disaster actually happened to some poor soul. The player lost real money on a virtual table holding a card that he thought mattered. But it didn't. Let me explain.

Flops Away!

The game was six-handed no-limit hold'em, 100NL online (\$0.50/\$1.00), and the action began with a raise from second position. Both the cutoff and button called, and the small blind folded.

The big blind was an enterprising, loose-aggressive regular who was having a great session, something easy enough to see from his stack of 400 big blinds (\$400). Following the raise and two calls, he squeezed by reraising to \$13, and all three of his opponents called.

So we have a massive pot already — a preflop three-bet called by three players and 53 big blinds in the middle — when the flop comes . The squeezing aggressor decided to lead with a bet of \$46, and only the cutoff called.

That player, also a regular, had started the hand with about \$300, and had called an initial raise, a three-bet squeeze, and now a giant flop bet in a huge pot on a board that should suit the cutoff's range enormously.

That all looks pretty strong.

Really, at this point, the big blind has done a lot to try to get folds from weak hands. He's invested nearly 60 big blinds trying to do so. Maybe the big blind should have some equity if he wants to keep going. Just an idea.

The turn was the .

Let's think about the calling player's hands at this point. There is no reason the cutoff can't have the two remaining combinations of ten-nine suited — and . There's also no reason he can't have that one combination of pocket nines (), or the three combos left of .

One would think the cutoff would have three-bet pocket queens preflop, but maybe he was scared of the depth of stacks and the possibility of a four-bet.

The cutoff can also have flopped a straight with either -suited or -suited. Of course -suited is also possible in two combinations, as is one combination of -suited.

What else could the cutoff have? -offsuit presumably would be hard-pressed to find itself in this spot at some point. Meanwhile -suited and -suited will be pretty scared by the time the river comes if a lot of money goes in.

Those latter possibilities — weak one-pair hands with a straight draw — are what the big blind might be trying to get to fold by bluffing big. But instead the big blind leads the turn with a bet of \$48 (almost exactly one-third the pot).

What kind of value hands could the big blind have here? Continuing with seems quite ambitious. When the big blind has two kings, his blocking value targets and , and only blocks two -suited combinations for strong hands.

Also worth observing — pocket kings loses very little opportunity if it checks a street. If he hadn't checked the flop, what about the turn? The only card that could come to cause problems is an ace.

Do you see where this is going? How many value hands is the big blind representing? Would he squeeze all these guys this deep with pocket jacks? It really looks like the big blind flopped it with -suited or is at risk of overplaying .

Size Significance

The idea behind the smallish turn sizing (after huge flop sizing) could be that the big blind has an invulnerable hand such as pocket queens, and thus has no reason to worry about giving a free card.

Or it could be that he is saving all his fold equity for the big river bluff he wants to get through. There were still 240 big blinds back on the turn and nearly 160 in the pot, meaning that if he bets under 50, he can set up a larger shove in relation to the pot. Going larger than 50 with the turn bet means the stack-to-pot ratio on the river diminishes.

Here is a question. On this board, if the big blind had or , isn't his hand vulnerable? Like really vulnerable — two clubs, a paired board, and a risk of being counterfeited by a or a or an ?

Results Orientated

Let's spoil the story. The river brought the backdoor flush with the , the big blind ripped the rest of the effective stacks in with , and the cutoff called.

Sure, the big blind was blocking , but by the time he shoved nearly 200 big blnds on the river following that four-way flop in a three-bet pot, is that so important? is folding to this action, anyway, as is , unless it is .

Our big blind has made a large mistake, putting in so much money and narrowing ranges so far as to render irrelvant both his equity (the gutshot would not have been good had the hit it) and his blocker (he didn't block anything worth blocking).

Lying in the weeds, and scooping the over \$600 pot, was, of course, . What a way to ruin a winning session.

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• Gareth Chantler analyses a "poker disaster" occurring in a 100NL hand played online.

• Talking position, bet sizing, board texture and other factors in this \$0.50/\$1.00 NL hand analysis.

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