Don’t scare opponent out of his bluff range
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.