When our BU min-open gets flatted by the BB and we go heads-up to the flop, the pot is 90 with an effective stack of 460. This allows for bet-sizes that get the money in over three streets and makes slow-playing a riskier option as we cannot afford to allow the pot to stagnate unless we are sure that checking our strong hand will be better than betting it due to a read.
As the pre-flop raiser on the BU, our range is wide, but it is also uncapped and does not contain terrible junk like 84s. BB’s range, however, is capped, very wide, and loaded with junk as we saw back in Part 3. This means that we will have a large range advantage on two of the three types of flops. All flops fall into one of three categories:
Our job is to first identify the flop type and then implement the appropriate c-bet strategy assuming that BB checks to us.
• On Type 1 Boards: We will bet all of our range for 25 into 80. The small bet is a great way to keep all of our range together and push our equity advantage. Villain will have to call some very weak holdings, allowing us to make thin value bets and will also have to fold the worst parts of his range allowing us cheap equity denial with marginal showdown value hands. The bigger hands and bluffs can make up for this slow pot growth by betting larger on the turn. As Spin & Gos are very shallow games, even a bet of 25 will start setting up stacks for the river.
• On Type 2 Boards: We want to develop a small checking range, still preferring to bet the majority of the time. The reason for checking some hands is that our equity advantage is not as powerful as it was on the type 1 flops. Villain’s range has moved ahead of our pre-flop nutted holdings a more significant amount of the time now. As a result, we shall check some utter trash as a give-up and also check some of our mediocre holdings for pot control and bluff catching purposes. On a flop of Q♥Q♠5♠, for example, Villain does very well whenever he holds a queen, and this levels the playing field somewhat for his range. We might check hands like J♣J♥ here for pot control and K♦4♦ as a give-up. Our bet size can be slightly larger here due to the fact that we are betting less very thin value hands and less hopeless hands. 35 into 80 should work well.
• On Types 3 Boards: We want to check behind with a much higher frequency. On a flop such as: A♣9♣8♣ there are a lot of nutted hands in Villain’s range. Recall that he is flatting our small BU open with close to 100% of the suited started hands. As a result, we will now be quite selective about what we bet, electing to fire a larger c-bet with strong value hands and well-chosen semi-bluffs, electing to check a wide array of more marginal hands. We would want to bet flushes, sets, two pair and some top pair good kicker; but check behind most underpairs as well as some weaker top pair and, of course, a hand with no prospects like 5♠4♠. This sort of hand can bluff later on in the hand when Villain’s range is more capped (provided he checks again on the turn and/or river) and where our terrible equity is no longer a relevant factor for bluff selection. When we do c-bet the flop, our sizing here will be about 50 into 80 as value is more urgent on these wetter boards.
When the BB calls our flop c-bet, his range strengthens, and this removes a big part of the range advantage we wielded on the more favourable flops. The fact that BB’s range shrinks causes an equalization which forces us, at least in theory, to bet more selectively on the turn. This means that many of the bluffs we used on the flop will now give up and many of the thinner value/protection of equity bets that we made have done their job by betting the flop and will now check behind for pot control.
The result is that our turn betting range will always be polarized. A polarized betting range is one that selects the best bluffs and the stronger value hands, checking anything in between or any hand with showdown value that does not have the strength to bet multiple times for value. On the board of: J♠7♦5♥2♣, which is type 1, we bet with every hand in our range on the flop. On the turn, we start throwing hands in our checking range like 99, AQ, and K4s. We bet with hands like QJ, 22 and 75s for value, balancing these hands by bluffing something like A3, 98 etc.
The main teaching point here is that the flop is a street where we can have a very wide c-bet range on the more favourable textures, but when this bet gets called, we must respect the narrowing of our opponent’s range and bet more selectively on the turn. Next time we will discuss bluffing in Spin and Gos: who to do it against and how to select the most profitable bluffing hands.