Missing Out on Value
Figuring out where you are in a hand can be tricky, but if you're not prepared to value-bet your marginal holdings you could be leaving vital extra chips on the table.
BoylePoker.com IPO: €180 NLHE Main Event
Duncan’s Stack: 7,750
Mad Marty’s Stack: 5,425
My Hand: 7s 7h
Board: 6c 4s 6d 3d 8c
Playing at a nine-handed table, “Mad” Marty Wilson limps under the gun and I call two seats behind with 7s 7h. The small blind completes and the big blind checks his option allowing the four of us to see a 6c 4s 6d flop. Both blinds check and Marty over-bets the pot for 500, which I call. The blinds both fold and the turn is the 3d. Marty then fires a smaller second barrel of 400 into the 1,400 pot and I again call. The river is the 8c and Marty checks over to me.
Should I now bet my hand for value?
As his name would suggest, “Mad” Marty has been playing quite erratically so far and has been seeing a lot of flops with a wide range of hands. His limping up to this point has not been purely confined to speculative holdings, but when he leads out for more than the pot it looks unlikely that he has just over-cards; far more likely is a pair, trips or some kind of straight draw, though the odd sizing of his bet leads me to believe that he is attempting to protect a vulnerable hand rather than extract value with a monster.
From over-betting the pot on the flop to betting less than a third of it on the turn, this is certainly a strange move by Marty. It looks very much as though he is attempting to get to the river cheaply by employing a “blocker bet” here, which strengthens my belief that he is either drawing or holding a fairly marginal hand. That said, I will not be raising here as doing so would only serve to fold out all of the hands that I’m beating and keep in the ones that have me crushed, so Marty will get his cheap river.
The 8c on the river looks to be a fairly safe card as the only straight draw it completes is 5-7, which already got there on the turn. If Marty did hold a straight he would probably bet for value here rather than check given the action up to this point, so that has now become far less of a worry. Therefore, barring the unlikely 8-7 holding, the river cannot have helped Marty, meaning my sevens are very likely to be the best hand. Having considered all of that, this looks like an obvious spot for a value-bet.
Despite my at-the-felt analysis of the hand, I am somewhat ashamed to say that I checked behind here. Though I did indeed win the pot against Marty’s 4-x, I really feel that I missed out on some value by not betting the river. The only hands that I could feasibly have lost to were 9-9 and 10-10 as all other over-pairs not only raise pre-flop but also probably bet the river for value as well. Couple that with the fact that Marty’s betting in the hand strongly hints at a holding with marginal showdown value such as a random four or pocket fives and it looks as though I’d be able to squeeze a further 900-1,400 out of him by betting the river. Electing to bet an amount towards the lower end of this range could also encourage him to make the occasional hero call with ace-high if he puts me on a missed draw, making my check behind an all-round poor play.