Spin & Gos are some of the softer games on PokerStars for obvious reasons. The lightning quick structure and chance of a huge score acts as a lure for recreational players who do not have the time to grind cash games or MTTs. Moreover, the fast-paced flurry of this format can at times induce a disregard for thinking. All of this means that fold equity is very often lower than average especially in the 2x multiplier tournaments.
Consequently, there are less profitable bluffing spots in Spin & Gos than in most other formats. Today we shall first outline how to build a solid bluffing strategy when fold equity is normal, and then how to identify spots where we should exploitatively shrink or even remove our bluffing range altogether in Spin & Gos.
Bluffing Blank Turns
We have already covered c-bet bluffing on the flop, and so today, the focus will be on turn play. The flop is Q♠10♦5♥ and we have limped in on the SB and been allowed to see the flop Heads Up. We make a small bet on this texture (20 into 40) with 500 in the effective stack and this is a bet we will make at a very high frequency with many different hands. Our flop strategy is justified by the fact our limping range is well equipped with Qx and Tx hands where as BB would have raised many of these hands pre-flop. Have a look back at Episode 2 for a reminder of our pre-flop limping strategy in this position. Villain calls the c-bet and the turn is the 2♣, the blankest of blanks. The pot is now 80.
What should our turn game plan be against a competent opponent, who is not just going to call everything in his range a second time because ‘nothing changed.’ We should be polarising our range at this point and selecting betting hands for the distinct reasons of:Value: We are ahead of villain’s calling range to our bet.
AndBluff: We are behind when called but have enough average fold equity from better hands, plus improvability to make the bet profitable.
Our bluffs should therefore be hands without much showdown value. Betting T6s here makes little sense. The hand is not in need of protection because Villain does not have random overcards to a T with this action on this flop. We have usually already folded out Kx with our flop bet and Ax would very often have raised us pre-flop.
We can neither bluff nor value bet with T6s as it is likely to get called on the turn by all and only better hands. Our bluffing range then, with unknown or average fold equity is going consist of hands like [KJ, J9, J8, 98]. These are the primary candidates to bluff with. If we were in a player pool with higher average fold equity, we could also add some hands with less nut potential to our bluffing range such as: [A3s, 76] but we would have to make this sort of bluff with a much lower frequency lest our range would quickly get out of control. When we bluff in this spot, we shall use a size of 60 into 80, applying more pressure now that our range has polarized. This will create a river pot-size of 240, allowing us to threaten most of our opponent’s stack with a normal bet size on the last street.
As we have already noted, fold equity in the Spin & Go player pool is lower than in other formats here on PokerStars. Against weaker players, we should be very selective about what hands we bet on blank turns because these opponents are often blinded by board texture and do not realise that our range strengthens when we bet a second time. ‘If I was ahead on the flop, I’m still ahead’ is the fatal mantra; and while this is possibly true, it does not mean that they are ahead as often as they were on the flop. On this run-out, I would advise you to only bluff against a weaker sticky opponent with very high equity hands like KJ and J9. These are hands that need very little fold equity to bluff profitably due to their great improvability.
Theory and practice are often two entirely different realms when it comes to bluffing and this is especially true in Spin & Go pools on blank turns.
Bluffing Game-Changer Turns
‘Game Changer’ is a term I have coined to describe turns that create new possibilities of hand strength that did not exist on the flop. Common examples are flush making turns, large overcards and potential straight completers.
The situation is the same as above, except this time the flop is 6♣5♣2♥ and the turn is the K♣. This is a situation in which we should favour bluffing, in theory, when we hold a club because we reduce Villain’s flush combinations and pick up more equity against his better hands. That is not to say that we must exclusively bluff with clubs and only clubs. It is also fine to throw some A♥3♥, 8♠7♠, and 9♦7♦ into the mix.
In practice, in Spin & Gos, this is a turn on which we can expect more fold equity even from the sticky weaker player. The reason for this is that: ‘A lot changed.’ For an unsophisticated thinker who only looks at board texture (and this will be a lot of our opponents at small stakes Spin & Gos) the board just got scary. The dreaded flush and the infamous AK just got there and even though these hands are quite rare in our range, the weaker player can visualize them easily and has a seemingly compelling reason to consider the fold button for once.
On game changer turns, we should feel free to use a theoretical approach even in this player pool because of the added fold equity on these cards.
Now that we understand how to think about the turn, it’s on to river play for the next part of the series before we finish up with a couple of articles about Heads Up play at two of the more common effective stack sizes in the later stages of the Spin & Go.