I was one of the chipleaders at my table in the middle stages of a $150 online tournament

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In Which The Author Learns From His Mistakes

This next hand occurred a few months after the first, during which time IӤ put a lot of thought into the re-steal and similar plays. I was one of the chipleaders at my table in the middle stages of a $150 online tournament. The player two seats to my left, also one of the chipleaders, was a great tournament player with whom IӤ often discussed strategy. We are both very aggressive players and had a lot of history of stealing and re-stealing from each other in past tournaments.

Blinds were 80-160. The action folded to me on the button, and I opened to 480 with ATo. The SB folded, and my friend in the BB re-raised to 1440. With these stacks, I am going to be opening a very wide range from the button, and I knew that he knew this. Consequently, I expected that he was going to re-raise me with a relatively wide range of his own.

After his re-raise, there were 2000 chips in the pot. Even with position, I'd rather move all in or fold than call with ATo. Thus, I had the option of betting my last 9520 chips or folding. I put my opponent on a range of something like 20% monsters (JJ+, AKo, AKs), 60% medium-strength hands that figure to be ahead of my button opening range (22+, A2s+, K5s+, Q9s+, JTs, A2o+, K7o+, Q9o+, JTo), and 20% weak holdings just looking to re-steal from me. If he only calls my all in with his monsters, then he is folding 80% of the time.

Even 72o has about 20% equity against a calling range of JJ+, AKo, AKs. The Expected Value (EV) of an all in with 72o is the value of my fold equity (.8 * 2000 = 1600) plus my equity from winning at showdown (.2 * .2 * 20,080 = 803) minus what I'll lose at showdown (.2 * .8 * 9520 = 1523), or about +880 chips. Thus, if he only calls my all in with the 20% of his range that consists of monsters, then I can profitably make a move on him with any two cards.

But I knew my opponent better than that, and I knew that he knew me too well to leave himself open to such exploitation. As it happened, I moved all in for a total of 10,000, and he called instantly with A2o.

My opponent in this hand is a great player, but I don't intend to hold up this particular call as an exemplary one. In my opinion, it is a losing call, but it does demonstrate just how dramatically a smart player may adjust his range against another smart, aggressive player, to the point where he is calling a 4-bet all in for 62 BB's with A2o.

It is not going to be profitable to make a move on this player with any two cards. Even though including all of his medium strength holdings in his calling range actually increases the showdown equity of 72o to roughly 29%, it drastically decreases my fold equity to 20%. The EV of moving all in with 72o against this expanded calling range is -348 (.2 * 2000 + .8 * .29 * 20,080 + .8 * .71 * -9520).

ATo, on the other hand, is actually a slight favorite against that very wide calling range. As this difference illustrates, beating tough players requires more than blindly shoving chips into the pot in situations where they are likely to be on a wide range. They recognize these situations as well as you do and can adapt accordingly. Instead, you must be able to make thin value plays and stay one step ahead by adapting your range more effectively than they adapt theirs.


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