Quick Hand: 6-Max No-Limit Online Poker Strategy

I review one hand I played during a session and try to break it down to see why I played it correctly or incorrectly, and why. This shows you what type of thinking goes into evaluating your own play in No-Limit Hold’em.

Here I am under the gun with Q9 of spades. First off, this is too loose to be opening with from under the gun (UTG). The action folds to big blind who calls, and we go to the flop. I get lucky and hit top two pair. Let’s look at what type of range he may have here. Even if the range is wide it is important to always be thinking about our opponent’s possible holdings.

To save time I used Pokerstove, which is a great piece of software for analyzing hand ranges, there is a link in the description in you are interested in the free download. For the big blind’s range I used the top 20% of hands but this isn’t exact and his actual range will be slightly different, 20% serves as a rough starting point. On the flop, we can see that against that range we are 84% to win. The Big blind checks, I make a standard continuation bet and our opponent flat calls. The turn brings an Ace of clubs; this is a bad card for our hand. Let’s take a look at how our opponents range and relative hand strength changes once he calls our bet on the turn.

Now, before he even called my turn bet the equity of his range went up to 76.5% and once he calls, eliminating some of his weaker hands we drop to about 72% equity against his range. The King on the river really messes things up, additionally our opponent instantly shoves the rest of his chips in, approx. nine dollars into a 21 dollar pot. Even against the full turn range we put our opponent on we are now only winning about half the time, but the fact that our opponent shoves all his chips in, leans my read heavily toward the value part of his range. We see that we lose to virtually 100% of his value range and therefore we will only ever win when he is bluffing. Even if he has every J4 combo (which I used abstractly to represent 16 random bluff hands) and he has Queen Six suited in his range, which is unlikely, we still only have 18.5% equity.

18.5% is literally the best scenario I can imagine. Even if our opponent is just being a nut (which we have no evidence to support) we would need to be getting more than 4:1 on our money. That means I would be able to call a 9 dollar bet to win 36 dollars, and that isn’t even quite enough under the most optimistic circumstances. Here, we are calling 9 to win about 21. This mistake is massive; plays like this will destroy yours and my win rate.

This may just look obvious to you when you see the hand, and maybe it seems like I am just terrible, but I see lots of players make these mistakes and occasionally when I am distracted with things like live streaming, I can make them too. A friend of mine in the chat pointed it out immediately and he was 100% correct. To simplify thinking he asked what hand the villain can shove for value that we are ahead of. There isn’t a single hand that is being bet for value that we can beat. Because of how this hand was played he couldn’t even be bluffing 10% of the time because 50% of his range has us beat.

The odds to profitably look up a bluff here would have to be near 10:1, not the measly 2:1 we are being offered. I hope I was able to use my own mistake to teach a valuable lesson, this analysis applies in many situations and these mistakes are more common than you might think. If you learned something and enjoyed the article about poker strategy please hit the like button.