Don’t scare op­po­nent out of his bluff range

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - POKER - By Chad Hol­loway

In Jan­uary, dur­ing the 2016 Aussie Mil­lions main event, a tour­na­ment that at­tracted 732 play­ers and had a prize pool of $5.1 mil­lion, I wit­nessed an in­ter­est­ing hand be­tween Dy­lan Honey­man and Adam Reynolds — one that served as an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of why you don’t want to scare away an op­po­nent when hold­ing a big hand.

The hand took place in Level 26 ( blinds of 6,000-12,000 and an ante of 2,000) with just 40 play­ers re­main­ing. Honey­man looked down at the Ks Kh and raised to 26,000 from mid­dle po­si­tion. Reynolds reraised to 66,000 from the but­ton with the Qs Qh. Af­ter the play­ers in the blinds got out of the way, Dy­lan Honey­man’s hand: Honey­man called, and the flop came down 6s 10s Jc.

Honey­man checked, Reynolds made a con­tin­u­a­tion bet of 78,000, and Honey­man check-raised all in. Reynolds called and was elim­i­nated from the tour­na­ment af­ter the Ad peeled off on the turn, fol­lowed by the Jd on the river.

With that, Honey­man chipped up to 1 mil­lion and went on to fin­ish fifth in the tour­na­ment for $238,023.

This may have seemed like a stan­dard hand, but I Adam Reynolds’ hand: was slightly puz­zled by one as­pect of it: Why didn’t Honey­man four-bet pre­flop? He held the sec­ondbest start­ing hand in poker and was out of po­si­tion — a big dis­ad­van­tage — so it seemed like a spot where he’d want to get as many chips into the pot as pos­si­ble. I de­cided to ask him about this dur­ing a break, and he had a great rea­son for not do­ing so.

“I wanted to keep all of his bluffs in pre­flop,” Honey­man said. “He was three- Flop: bet­ting me on the but­ton. He looked like he was a competent player. I didn’t re­ally know the guy, but I thought he could have some bluffs in there, and I wanted to make sure he kept those.”

In other words, Honey­man felt Reynolds could sim­ply be play­ing in po­si­tion with any weak hand, or what we might call his “bluff range.” If Honey­man four-bet pre­flop, he’d likely scare away such hands.

“I didn’t want to shove or four-bet,” Honey­man said. “I wanted to get his con­tin­u­a­tion bet as well. The stack sizes were per­fect for me to shove over the (con­tin­u­a­tion) bet. Hope­fully there’s no ace on the flop and it’s all good.”

Honey­man rec­og­nized that if he just called and checked the flop, Reynolds would likely fire out a con­tin­u­a­tion bet, re­gard­less of whether he ac­tu­ally made a hand. If by chance Reynolds was bluff­ing, Honey­man’s course of ac­tion would have at least won him an­other bet, which he’d have missed out on had he four-bet pre­flop.

Of course, we know that Reynolds held pocket queens, so even if Honey­man had four-bet pre­flop, chances are the out­come would have been the same. How­ever, an op­po­nent will of­ten have a much weaker hold­ing in this sort of sit­u­a­tion, so when you have a qual­ity hand like pocket kings, try to think of ways to max­i­mize the value of your hand, and don’t just au­to­mat­i­cally pour all of your chips into the pot.

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