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Conditionally Committed

Knowing when to commit to your hand or lay it down can be a tricky proposition. Stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) theory lays down a number of solid guidelines to help you decide when you expect to come out ahead when all the chips are in the pot. But knowing when to commit is not always a matter of simple arithmetic.

The hand that I'm posting today demonstrates the idea of being conditionally committed to your hand. Conditional commitment comes into play when SPR alone is not enough to warrant getting all the money into the pot without first meeting other specific preconditions. These preconditions can be based on a number of things such as:

  • Opponents playing styles
  • Board texture
  • Reads
  • Table image
In a hand that I played the other night, I had a slightly loose table image. In the last fifty hands, I'd picked up a number of quality hands but hadn't shown down anything yet.

On the other hand, the Villain in the hand was a total crazy LAG: VP$IP sitting at around 40% with a PFR of about 36%. More importantly, the Villain had shown a willingness to bet weak hands on all streets. I'd already seen him commit a lot of chips to pots holding far less than TPTK. But I'd also seen him fold a lot hands when played back at by his opponents.

I finally got a chance to get paid in a blind versus blind confrontation.


PokerStars, $0.50/$1 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

Villain (SB): $183.10
Hero (BB): $100
UTG: $221.80
CO: $100
BTN: $160.25

CO posts $1
Pre-Flop: T A dealt to Hero (BB)

UTG folds, CO checks, BTN folds, Villain calls $0.50, Hero raises to $6, CO folds, Villain calls $5

(Villain liked to limp from SB quite a bit despite his high PFR %. My hand rates pretty well against Villain's hand range of "any two". I raise a little more than usual because of my image and the Villain's playing tendencies.)

Flop: ($13) 5 4 T (2 Players)
Villain bets $8, Hero calls $8

(I flopped TPTK. Villain donk-bet into me as he'd done on most hands he'd played thus far. Against most opponents, my best bet would be to raise the flop and take down the pot immediately. But I remembered that the Villain liked to bet weak hands on all streets but might fold to a large re-raise on my part. By calling the Villain's flop bet, I needed to decide whether or not I was willing to commit to my hand (ie. willing to call a large bet after I've put in more than 30% of my stack) with only TPTK in a hand with an SPR of 7. [NB: SPRs of 7 can be good with TPTK hands against certain loose opponents.]

Since I knew that the Villain would bet both the turn and river, I was bound to play a big pot unless I was willing to raise the flop and take control of the hand. I'd lose value if a raise would force the Villain to fold hands worse than TPTK. So why not let the Villain keep betting? Why do the pushin' when he'd do the pullin', right?

Therefore, I was conditionally committed to my hand as long as I let the Villain do the betting.)

Turn: ($29) 4 (2 Players)
Villain bets $18, Hero calls $18

River: ($65) 3 (2 Players)
Villain bets $43, Hero calls $43

(Since I made my commitment decision back on the flop, calling the river bet getting better than 2:1 was a no-brainer.)

Results: $151 Pot ($2 Rake)
Villain showed 5 5 (a full house, Fives full of Fours) and WON $149 (+$74 NET)
Hero mucked T A and LOST (-$75 NET)


I got a little unlucky that the Villain happened to flop a set on me. But I made a well-though out decision on the flop and stuck with my plan. I'm sure most of my readers will interpret my play as a simple over-valuing of TPTK. I still like my play here. What do you think? I suspect Alan might have something to say about this...

I'm taking a mini-vacation from posting with the four day weekend coming up. I'll be back as usual next Tuesday with some more poker-related content for everyone.

So have a great long weekend! Be safe, eat lots of food, and be sure to stuff as much chocolate into your mouths and those of your children (if applicable).

As for me, I plan on playing some poker at PokerStars, playing some Saints Row on my Xbox 360, and eating my own bodyweight in ham, scalloped potatoes, and Cadbury Mini Eggs!

3 comments:

SimpleStyle said...

Overall, I don't like the idea of having a set-in-stone plan. For example, if the turn brings draws to the board, I wouldn't be as willing to let villain do the betting and keep control of the hand. What I'm saying is to make sure you're always evaluating board texture and adjusting your plan for the hand if need be.

In this specific hand I think it works out fine and the call-down is alright. Unlucky that he flopped the set but you're really losing the minimum given your read on the guy.

Klopzi said...

simplestyle -

Of course, I can always pull out when conditionally committed. It can suck having to do it, but it's necessary at times.

For example, being in a 3-way pot, having a flush draw complete, and having both opponents push all-in. That would definitely force me to re-evaluate my level of "commitedness".

And if draws to pop up, I could always pull the trigger and force my opponent to put up or shut up.

Thanks for the comment!

Have a great weekend!

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Naturally, I hate the preflop raise. 6xBB? It just makes no sense. You have a solid hand preflop so raising is alright. But just raise the normal amount. After a raise, regardless of your read, TPTK is vulnerable enough that I would say it's worth raising. If the guy has a ten, he'll still call you. But if he were behind with a hand like KQ, you're giving him a free opportunity to catch up. Either way, it would be hard not to lose a big pot here. Seriously though, what's the difference between SPR and implied odds/straight up pot odds?