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Calling Ranges, Hand Showdowns on ACR and WSOP SNG’s | Q&A | #73


Sky Matsuhashi

on June 17, 2016

I answer 3 listener Q’s about pre-flop calling ranges, learning from hand showdowns on Americas Cardroom and playing SNG’s at the WSOP.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


Calling Ranges, Hand Showdowns on ACR and WSOP SNG’s

Question 1 from Kris (1:20)

Sky, I enjoyed listening to your podcast and it is very helpful to think of this subject because the more I contemplate on it the more I realize I have never actually done it. How much does the tight EP opener open for?

So here's my answer:

  1. If the EP raiser is tight passive I'm certainly going to open my calling range wider while 3 betting light a little more of the time
  2. If the EP raiser is a standard TAG this is my calling range: (I would only call a percentage of the time to mix up my game) 22-QQ, 54s-AKs, 64s-AQs, A4s-A6s

I would occasionally 3 bet light if I had a physical read on the player and if the antes have kicked in. With the above range I'm a 44% dog vs the top 15% of ranges, but if I flop well then my hand is disguised plus I can outplay the opp on the flop.

With 100bb stacks, implied odds are still there to a certain extent but I still feel there are a few more variables that play into my decision. Well I look forward to reading your response.

Thanks, Kris

  • Kris was responding to my CHALLENGE from episode #72: Get started figuring out your own pre-flop calling ranges with this very common situation: You’ve got 100bb’s, on the BTN vs a tight EP opener.  We face this all the time, so what would you call with?
  • What does a tight EP opener open with?  I think it’s roughly going to be 10% of hands, or any pp, AJs+, AQo+ and KQ.
  • Before I devise my calling range, I first think of my 3betting range.  In this instance I normally 3bet JJ+, AQs+ and AKo.  I also toss in some semi-bluff 3bets, and right now that’s A3s and A4s.

BTN 3bet 4%

  • I randomize this occasionally with a suited connector or a suited gapper, but it’s normally suited Aces that I do this b/c they can flop pretty strong draws and having the Ace as a blocker means he’s less likely to have AA or a better Ace than mine.  Now, that’s a pretty small 3betting range of only 4%, but we’re up against a tight player in EP so I don’t feel the need to get super aggressive in this spot.
  • Now that I know my 3betting range, it’s time to think about what hands I’d call with.  You want to keep in mind that when you’re calling an open, you’re sweetening the pot for the SB and BB to come along for cheap.  If you call 3bb’s there’s now 7.5bb’s in the pot for the SB to call for, so he only needs 25% equity (the math for this is calling 2.5bb’s to win 10bb’s after his call so he only needs 2.5/10 or 25% and many hands have this).  Now that the SB has called, the BB only has to call 2bb’s to win 12bb’s total, so he only needs 17% equity (the math is the 2bb call to win the 12bb pot after his call is added, or 2/12 = 17%).  Because the blinds are likely coming along, you want to keep most of your calls to hands that play well in multi-way pots.
  • I’d call with 22-TT, ATs and AJs, AJo and AQo, KQo, sc’s KQ down to 76s and suited gappers KJs down to 86s and KTs.  I’d also throw in the other suited Ace wheel hands so A2s and A5s (remember, I’m 3betting A3s and A4s).

BTN call 12%

  • That’s a calling range of 12% of hands.  Combine that with the 4% of hands I’m 3betting, I’m playing a total of 16% of hands vs this EP opener.  I feel pretty confident with this BTN playing range and it’s got very good equity vs the 10% range at 45% equity.

Question 2 from Herodotis (8:05)

Hello Sky,

I really love the podcast and you have motivated me to take my poker study to a new level.  I am looking for a bit of help filtering hands from ACR in PT4.  Problem is that when I am away from the table ranging opponents, when I get to the showdown only some of my opponents hands show up.  I know that ACR does not show mucked hands but is there some sort of way I can filter out the hands that will not be shown at showdown.  Right now I have it set to only filter hands that went to showdown that I lost because all of those hands show up.  However, I am looking for something that will help me study my winning hands as well.  Also I am looking for something to tell me if my position versus position cold calling ranges are too tight or too loose.  I know this is a situational question but I am hoping you might cover these types of cold calling ranges versus a typical TAG.

Thanks for what you do and keep on keepin on.

Very Respectfully, HERODOTUS

  • Yeah, that’s one of the bummers with ACR that it allows for players to muck their losing hands and the hand history doesn't record those mucked hands.
  • Even though you don't see their cards, you should still be ranging these opponents in your winning hands that got to showdown.  It does feel a little incomplete when you don't get to see their cards, but let's assume you ranged them through the streets and in the end they've got 90 combos of hands in their range.  You've got a set, and the only hands that beat you are a higher set, a straight or a flush.  If only 30 combos of hands beat you, and they lost the hand, then you can assume that they had a hand within the inferior portion of the range you assigned.  Looking back at your street-by-street play, knowing now that they had an inferior hand, did you go for sufficient value?  Was your bet sizing enough to get paid off by inferior hands and draws?  Did you bet too small to give draws better odds to call?  Or did you play timidly and miss out on value?
  • Another thing you could think about is what the opp does with his inferior hands.  Let's say the remaining 60 combos are all weak pairs and busted draws (like a gs that didn't hit).  Then you know this player called down with a draw or weaker, so you can make notes on him that reflect this, so when you play with him again you can use this to extract greater value.
  • The only way that I can recommend to see all hands at showdown regardless of win or loss is to play on another site as well as ACR that records them like Carbon and Bovada.  It doesn't hurt to spread your action across different sites as well.
  • When it comes to cold-calling, you're right that it's very situational.  But here's a few things to look for when you're either thinking about cold-calling or when reviewing cold-calling hands:
  • Opponent's opening ranges vs your cold calling hand/ranges – put your opp on a range and see how your specific hand plays against it.  You can also, when doing a hand history review away from the tables, assign your entire cold-calling range and using Equilab or Flopzilla (with HoldEq) to see how your range fares vs his.
  • Hand strength vs one or multiple players – generally there are some hands that play well vs only one player, and others play well vs many players.  If you have a hand like AK and you've got lots of passive players yet to act (whether in the blinds or in a later position) you prolly want to raise to isolate the raiser and get it HU on the flop.  With a hand like 76s, calling is great b/c if others call it just adds to the implied odds of your hand, and if you hit big you can win a large pot vs multiple players.
  • Post-flop weakness – when calling a player's raise, look at his post-flop stats.  Is he flop or turn honest?  Is he a fit or fold player?  Look for ways that you can possibly exploit him in the future now before you call the flop bet
  • Players yet to act – Consider the types of players yet to act to get a good idea of what your call will elicit out of them.  Are the players yet to act very aggressive and likely to squeeze?  Or are they passive so you'll get lots of overcallers and you'll end up seeing the flop with lots of other players?
  • 3betting ranges – of course you're 3betting your value hands, but what other hands are you 3bet semi-bluffing or bluffing with?  A good rule of thumb is to 3bet strong hands and hands just outside your calling ranges.  Let's say the worst hands you'd call with in a given spot are A9s, KTs, J9s or 87s.  Then you can 3bet semi-bluff with A8s, K9s, J8s and 76s.  Throwing in these semi-bluff hands increases your 3bet frequency, making you less predictable.  Plus, if you hit hard with these your opp will never see it coming.  Don't 3bet the hands that you want to call and see a flop with b/c if you 3bet, he could 4bet and push you off those flop-worthy hands.

Question 3 from Scott (14:45)

Binked a single table and made a deal. Have $500 lammer I don't know how to sell.  Ideas?

– Scott

  • For those who don’t know, they’ve got SNG’s running 24 hours a day at the WSOP.  I think the lowest is $125 and all the way up to $1,000 or more for the big events.  They’re all intended to give players a chance to win entry into a bracelet event.  They give out a little cash to the winners, but most of the winnings are paid in “lammers” or $500 chips.  These aren’t normal casino chips that can be cashed out at the cage, but can only be used to buy-in to bigger events.
  • It sounds like Scott won a lammer but didn’t want to buy-in to a bracelet event.  I recommended to him to just stand in line and try to sell to others who are buying in to events. He'll eventually find someone willing to buy it for the full $500. Sometimes you'll have guys try to buy it for less, but screw them, just look for someone willing to help you out and pay full value.  I bought a lammer once for the full $500 to help a guy out.  Also, the floor staff might try to stop you so don't shout it out when you’re in line. Be discreet and quietly ask the people in line with you.
  • Some people make a ton of money from the SNG’s there and don’t play in any events.  It helps if you’ve got lots of friends willing to buy these off of you.  Oh, and another great aspect to the SNG’s there are the last longer bets.  So of course when you buy-in there’s a rake, but you can make lots of rake-free profits if you organize last-longers when you get to the SNG table.  I’ve seen some at just $20 per person, and others hit $100 per person.  I’m sure they do it for $1,000+ for the bigger buy-in SNG’s.  If you’re a good LIVE SNG player, this could make for some great profits for you.

Up Next…

In podcast #74, I'll continue the Hand Reading Lab series with part 5 where I’ll discuss the importance of having a growth mindset within poker and when practicing hand reading.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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