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Old 06-08-2017, 07:33 PM   #1
zues126
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How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

This is a demanding question and would take time to respond to, but I would really appreciate the help. I think this post shows I'm trying to put in the work and just am struggling for direction.

OK. I have my flopzilla installed and have played with it a little. I have pokerstove. I have converted my ignition hands and dumped them into my PT4. I have worked on my hand reading. I am starting to grasp some basics about balance and GTO. It is making sense when I hear hand reviews by pros that are talking about balancing their c-bet bucket hands and their check back hands with value and bluffs. I am ready to start doing work off the table.

Great! Now how do I actually do this on my own!?! See hand below:

PokerStars - $0.25 NL (6 max) - Holdem - 5 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

SB: 116.48 BB (VPIP: 15.00, PFR: 15.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 20)
BB: 156.32 BB (VPIP: 75.00, PFR: 18.75, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 17)
UTG: 100 BB (VPIP: 25.00, PFR: 25.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)
Hero (CO): 101.8 BB
BTN: 94.96 BB (VPIP: 0.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 20)

SB posts SB 0.4 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.4 BB) Hero has Q A

fold, Hero raises to 3 BB, fold, fold, BB calls 2 BB

Flop: (6.4 BB, 2 players) A 3 T
BB checks, Hero???

In a vacuum with no villain info (I understand that later I can add reads and play exploitative but for now I just want to work on the baseline), how do I answer these questions:

What is the right c-bet % on this flop, and how can I determine what that would be on other flops? What is the thought process to be able to answer this question when I work on hands on my own? I know this varies by board type, but how do I take the answer from question one and start to determine the correct bet sizing? Using this hand as an example, could someone explain how I might come up with a balanced strategy for my entire range? Here were my thoughts so far:

On this texture I thought a good starting point would be to c-bet about 66%, with 2/3rds being bluffs and 1/3rd being value. (This is just a guess based on what I have heard to be fairly normal c-bet range. Help!) My range is roughly like this: 22+,A2s+,K9s+,Q9s+,J9s+,T8s+,98s,87s,A8o+,K9o+,QTo +,JTo

From the big blind I estimate his calling range to look something like this: 22+,A2s+,K7s+,Q9s+,J9s+,T8s+,97s+,87s,76s,65s,54s, A2o+,KTo+,QTo+,JTo

Looking at how this hits his range with flopzilla it seems he'll have top pair+ 35%, and another 35% he'll have other pairs from mid pair to weak pairs. There are also a few gutshots and back door flush draws. My thoughts would be that when I am bluffing I'm trying to get him to fold underpairs and possibly middle pairs by the river. When I'm betting for value I'm targeting top pair weaker kicker type of hands. And I'm trying not to stack to sets. My range hits this board well, with me having top pair+ 29% of the time, and other weaker pairs 44%.

So if I want to continue 66% I need 22% of my range to bet for value. I was thinking I'd bet my sets, and my top pairs with weaker kickers. I would balance this by bluffing my gut shots (although maybe K-Q/K-J has showdown value???) and my back door flush draws (42% or so), then probably barreling again when I pick up equity with my back doors, or checking back turn and bluffing some rivers to fold out his unimproved hands at that point. If I get raised or the pot gets too big I can continue with my sets, but let my weaker top pairs go to a lot of aggression. My sizing would probably be about 3/4 pot since I am targeting weaker pairs and some of those could float for 1/3-1/2 pot.

My checkback range would include two pair (A10 and A3s), and AK, AQ. The idea behind this is twofold. First, I am crushing the board and blocking the hands I want to get value from (weaker Aces, middle pairs). He's less likely to have those hands. If he has a weaker ace or a middle pair I'm unlikely to get three streets. But if I check back the flop villain might call two streets on turn and river with marginal holdings I am beating. Also, if he takes the lead on the turn I have pot controlled to the point that I can call down two streets and catch bluffs. If I get raised on the turn when I bet these hands are strong enough to call a turn raise and river bet since I checked behind flop. I should mention I'm not too worried about a free card since if he isn't likely to improve.

Again, I know all of this could change with reads.

2+2 gurus, please enlighten me! What feedback do you have on my general questions and my thought process here?
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:29 PM   #2
sixfour
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

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Originally Posted by zues126 View Post
What feedback do you have on my general questions and my thought process here?
That they don't belong here and that your thought process that led you to think this is a beginners question is wrong?
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:49 PM   #3
zues126
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

My apologies. This is so new to me I feel like I'm a beginner when it comes to understanding how to start determining post flop action. I am still learning my way around 2+2. I understand that this may be a little further along and not belong here. Is there a better forum to post this in? Can the moderators move the thread?
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Old 06-08-2017, 11:33 PM   #4
ArtyMcFly
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

Your thought process is good until...
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Originally Posted by zues126 View Post
My checkback range would include two pair (A10 and A3s), and AK, AQ.
No. These are slam-dunk value bets in position. Your check-backs will mainly be composed of:
* One pair hands that don't want to play for stacks over 3 streets, but can easily bluffcatch (or improve) on the turn and often the river as well (e.g. A8-A2, KK, QQ, JJ, JT, 99). These are your "mid-strength" hands, which tend to work well as bluffcatchers with showdown value. (Polk calls them 'category 2').
* Hands with very low equity, e.g. on AT3r, it's stuff like 65s, 76s, 87s, Q8s, especially in the suit that doesn't have a BDFD. Without even a backdoor flush draw, these hands can be considered to be AIR ('category 4') and should often be dropped in the "give up" bucket before you put another cent in the pot.

Your category 1 hands (value) are the sets, two pairs and good top pairs.
Your category 3 hands (semi-bluffs) are the draws, especially the ones with blockers but low/no showdown value (KJ, QJ, 54s would be the most obvious on AT3), but you can also consider anything with two backdoors (J9hh, for example) as a good bluffing candidate. On some boards the nut no pair is a good candidate for a check back (e.g. AK on 952), but on AT3 I think KQ is a bet, due to blockers and equity. Checking back KQ wouldn't be a huge mistake though, as you're quite happy to give free cards to hands like K9, and you don't want to get check-raised when you have two big cards and a gutshot to the nuts.

If you divide your range into 4 categories, your c-betting strat will start taking shape (bet categories 1 and 3, check 2 and 4). Some hands will be hard to categorise (e.g. 55, 44, K9s), but on boards (like the ATx) where you have a lot of top pairs (and villain doesn't), you can/should bet at a high frequency, so you can include more of the weaker stuff in your betting range, as villain will be folding more often than not.

As you're obviously interested in this kind of "beyond beginners" stuff, I'd recommend you start reading the Poker Theory sub-forum, get Matt Janda's book(s), and/or Upswing's Post-Flop Engine.

P.S. Villain's range shouldn't have more Ax than yours. He should be 3-betting all the best Ax and quite a lot of the Axs, so his flatting range is actually quite weak on Axx.

Last edited by ArtyMcFly; 06-08-2017 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:00 AM   #5
zues126
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

Thank you Arty.

Doh. I forgot to cap villains range. I still do that too often. 99-JJ is discounted because it would often 3 bet preflop, and QQ+ is very heavily discounted as it would almost always three bet pre. As would AK and a good amount of his A-x. So you're right that his top pair percentage would be much lower.

The category 1-4 helps a great deal. I learned a lot by watching Andrew Brokos's hand reading series and trying to implement it. He uses a similar model for hand strength.

My only concern is this idea of only checking back marginal hands and total air. If that's your entire strategy, doesn't that mean that villain can exploit us by potting us twice on turn and flop whenever we check back? Wait...I see that you're leaving A2-A8 in there to bluff catch two streets. Hmm...makes some sense. If he can beat our category 2 hands he only wins two bets because we pot control, and we make up for that when we catch bluffs. Meanwhile when we bet we are polarized, betting either the nuts, the near nuts, or hands that could make the nuts but right now could benefit from fold equity. Boy, I learned a lot here. Thank you again. But is there any concern with capping our check back range?

I did read the first two chapters of Janda's Applications online, the hard copy will arrive any day now. I am going to join the Upswing Lab in a little bit. My best friend signed up this week and said it is awesome.

Going forward I'll post on the poker theory subforum. I read a few posts over there and it is very interesting. Hope you read those posts too Arty, you have great insight!
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Old 06-09-2017, 01:36 AM   #6
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zues126 View Post
What is the right c-bet % on this flop, and how can I determine what that would be on other flops? What is the thought process to be able to answer this question when I work on hands on my own? I know this varies by board type, but how do I take the answer from question one and start to determine the correct bet sizing? Using this hand as an example, could someone explain how I might come up with a balanced strategy for my entire range? Here were my thoughts so far:

On this texture I thought a good starting point would be to c-bet about 66%, with 2/3rds being bluffs and 1/3rd being value. (This is just a guess based on what I have heard to be fairly normal c-bet range. Help!)
I would not start out with a target c-bet percentage. I would start with a target ratio of bluffs to value bets. Then I would determine how many value betting hands I have. Then I would figure out which hands I want to bluff (or semibluff) with to hit the proper ratio. That is how I would figure out my c-betting percentage.

The target ratio may depend on your bet-sizing, so I would consider playing around with different bet sizes. Your bet size may be different for different effective stack sizes.
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Old 06-09-2017, 03:21 AM   #7
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

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Originally Posted by zues126 View Post
Thank you Arty.

Doh. I forgot to cap villains range. I still do that too often. 99-JJ is discounted because it would often 3 bet preflop, and QQ+ is very heavily discounted as it would almost always three bet pre. As would AK and a good amount of his A-x. So you're right that his top pair percentage would be much lower.

The category 1-4 helps a great deal. I learned a lot by watching Andrew Brokos's hand reading series and trying to implement it. He uses a similar model for hand strength.

My only concern is this idea of only checking back marginal hands and total air. If that's your entire strategy, doesn't that mean that villain can exploit us by potting us twice on turn and flop whenever we check back? Wait...I see that you're leaving A2-A8 in there to bluff catch two streets. Hmm...makes some sense. If he can beat our category 2 hands he only wins two bets because we pot control, and we make up for that when we catch bluffs. Meanwhile when we bet we are polarized, betting either the nuts, the near nuts, or hands that could make the nuts but right now could benefit from fold equity. Boy, I learned a lot here. Thank you again. But is there any concern with capping our check back range?

I did read the first two chapters of Janda's Applications online, the hard copy will arrive any day now. I am going to join the Upswing Lab in a little bit. My best friend signed up this week and said it is awesome.

Going forward I'll post on the poker theory subforum. I read a few posts over there and it is very interesting. Hope you read those posts too Arty, you have great insight!
It doesn't matter as much that he can valuebet against your checking range as long as he can't make a profit with his bluffs. These hands are there to catch bluffs, not to beat his valuebets. You use weak top pairs because they are strong enough to probably still be the best hand on the turn and basically the frequency he shows up with a better hand is quite low anyways. When he bets pot you can just fold a little under half your hands (air) and call with the bluff catchers. When he pots again you probably only need to be calling your Ax hands. The only thing you need to do is make sure that you check back enough weak aces along with hands like QQ to make it possible to defend against two bets.

edit: you should never be comfortable with a specific part of your range. If you are confident that your cbetting range is strong then you are probably neglecting your checks. It's true that you're basically putting up your weak top pairs against potentially two pair+ but that's a discomfort you just need to accept.
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Old 06-09-2017, 06:10 AM   #8
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

This is an interesting question in the sense that you managed at the same time to over-complicate and over-simply it. This frequently happens when a player decides to focus on a lot of things at once. Their knowledge base is wide, but it is extremely shallow.

For example, you're assigning a "balanced" calling range to a player that you only have 17 hands recorded with them. You don't have any basis to do this. There's no "fold to flop cbet" statistic given, just as an example. So you've over-simplified things by just giving him one randomly. At the same time, you've created a lot of calculation work for yourself by forcing yourself to do a lot of equity calculator work.

When playing against pure unknowns, you want to make the game simple for yourself, especially when playing online. You raised pf, got one caller oop and now have TPGK on the flop. You're likely to be ahead. When you are likely to be ahead, you want to bet. The size of the bet should be the same as if you had KJ in the hand or your actual hand. The lower amount you bet, the less often your cbet with air has to succeed. At the same time, you make less money when a weaker hand calls that could have called more.

Since I don't play 25nl 6-max, I can't tell you what that amount should be. Yet early on with limited data, the default play should be to bet.

I would forget for the moment that you ever heard anything about balancing your ranges or even playing GTO. Start working on getting your bet sizing down and working on extracting value.
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Old 06-09-2017, 05:16 PM   #9
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

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Originally Posted by zues126 View Post
But is there any concern with capping our check back range?
On some boards, it's appropriate to check back some extremely strong hands (e.g. top set) if you think villain is going to fold very often on the flop, but will often have a bluffing opportunity on the turn (e.g. a dry board, where villain hardly ever flops a draw or a good pair, but could turn some equity). It's particularly the case that you want to occasionally slowplay if villain is capable of overbetting the turn after the flop checks through. i.e. If he will overbet turn and bomb the river, you hate being capped at top pair no kicker, so you can strengthen your range in order to be able to show up with the nuts when he takes that line*. It's getting into the realms of fancy play when you start doing that though. On the AT3, having 40+ combos of top pair in your check back range means you won't be overfolding on the turn, so there's no need to get tricky.
Re-read Kelvis's answer too. It was very good.

* This is also partly the reason why you should sometimes check back a flush draw on the flop (by which I mean you check back some FD combos and bet with some others). If the flush completes on the turn, an overly aggro player will often bluff at it, thinking "He can't have a flush, because he would have bet the draw on the flop." By having the effective nuts in your range in various situations, you make yourself harder to read, and it prevents villain from running over you.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:35 PM   #10
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

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Originally Posted by venice10 View Post
This is an interesting question in the sense that you managed at the same time to over-complicate and over-simply it. This frequently happens when a player decides to focus on a lot of things at once. Their knowledge base is wide, but it is extremely shallow.

For example, you're assigning a "balanced" calling range to a player that you only have 17 hands recorded with them. You don't have any basis to do this. There's no "fold to flop cbet" statistic given, just as an example. So you've over-simplified things by just giving him one randomly. At the same time, you've created a lot of calculation work for yourself by forcing yourself to do a lot of equity calculator work.

When playing against pure unknowns, you want to make the game simple for yourself, especially when playing online. You raised pf, got one caller oop and now have TPGK on the flop. You're likely to be ahead. When you are likely to be ahead, you want to bet. The size of the bet should be the same as if you had KJ in the hand or your actual hand. The lower amount you bet, the less often your cbet with air has to succeed. At the same time, you make less money when a weaker hand calls that could have called more.

Since I don't play 25nl 6-max, I can't tell you what that amount should be. Yet early on with limited data, the default play should be to bet.

I would forget for the moment that you ever heard anything about balancing your ranges or even playing GTO. Start working on getting your bet sizing down and working on extracting value.
i think i have this problem too. im not sure of i understand you because no speak english, but i think yes.
my question is, if we do not question for balanced ranges, how we can desbalanced for exploit villains?
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Old 06-17-2017, 05:37 PM   #11
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

I think if OP learns how to count combinations (combinatorics) this might simplify what he is currently having trouble figuring out. Personally, I can't think in terms of percentages, I need to have an idea of how many combinations I'm betting for value vs. bluffs
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Old 06-17-2017, 06:03 PM   #12
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

You're in a steal position and you flop a pair of Aces with a kicker that dominates lots of hands in the big blinds range. I think you should bet 100% of the time with AQ here and anything better, and perhaps even worse hands like A9s with a backdoor flushdraw.

With the weaker kickered Aces, I check back here at non zero frequency depending on lots of stuff.

Bluffs? On that flop I like this setup to complement my value bets with profitable bluffs:

all broadway draws bet 100% with rare exception.

backdoor flushdraws with third pair draws bet at high frequency.

backdoor flushdraws with second + third pair draws at medium frequency.

All this is with a bet that is about 75% pot, adjusted for flop texture.

I think this gives pretty good turn and river card coverage as well as betting and checking ranges that can stand up to lots of different betsizes later in the hand.
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Old 06-17-2017, 10:38 PM   #13
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

There was a fairly good article posted on Upswing yesterday about this kind of flop situation (an AT6, instead of AT3). It's got a couple of minor errors, and I could quibble with the ranges, but the general ideas are useful. https://www.upswingpoker.com/analyze...nd-techniques/ (Scroll down to 'Attacking from the CO' for the parts most relevant to this thread. The first half of the article is more about defending vs c-bets).

For an AT6 flop in CO v BB, it includes this chart for the basis of c-betting in position:
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:52 PM   #14
zues126
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

I just want to say thank you all again.

Since I posted this I have subscribed to Upswing and the Poker Lab. I am very slowly making my way through Janda's Applications book.

The bit about matching draws with value hands and marginal hands and air makes a lot of sense. As does the suggestion about better counting hand combinations.

I have been very slowly reviewing hands and looking at how they hit the flop, which hands would fall into which categories to achieve a reasonable balance. And I like the suggestion of determining which hands I want to be for value and then figuring out how often I should be bluffing, and then with which hands. Assuming I am using an opening range similar to what Polk recommends.

I am very wobbly right now as this is overwhelming, but I know that if I continue to work at it a hand at a time it will start to come more easily. I also just read Upswing's articles about minimum defense and how to review hands.

So thanks again for the thoughtful answers. Look forward to the next one!
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:03 PM   #15
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

As long as one gets away with a 100% c-bet, it is the most +EV, also as or if you have the stronger range (you didn't get 3- or 4-bet).

If one needs to check some junk even heads up, they would in theory be the weakest, like less than (strong) ace high and less than two (strong) overcards. They would have the least chance to win when called.

I also consider how likely the flop hit my opponent, and how he is likely to play when he likely missed.

If one should check made hands (maybe including ace high) seems to me to be mostly a matter of an opinion (when you are damned in both ways).

If the OOP is less likely to float, and more likely to check raise, as far as his checking range goes, then it makes sense to me to check some made hands IP, or maybe c-bet smaller, in cases (could be a size tell).

The BB is generally the weakest, so one will get away with a c-bet more often (but flops that hit his range too often).
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Old 06-20-2017, 01:07 PM   #16
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Re: How do you build a balanced flop continuation range?

Quote:
As long as one gets away with a 100% c-bet, it is the most +EV,
Not necessarily. Quite frequently checking will have a higher ev than betting.
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