Friday, January 6, 2012

The Donk Bettor's Delight: The Null Flop, pt. I

Null Flop: a flop that typically has all of these specific characteristics

1) It contains a pair.
2) It contains zero flush draws.
3) There is at least a 3 gap between the pair and the remaining card.

Drier than the Sahara Desert, the null flop, by it's very definition, is extremely difficult to hit in any meaningful way, despite how tight or loose the players involved in the hand are. When I say "meaningful", I mean hit in such a way that it can support 3 streets of legitimate betting action vs. a thinking player and creates this massive black hole of null ranges for both opponents in a heads up pot. Here are three examples:

  • Tc Td 4h
  • As 5h 5d
  • Kh 9s 9c
Many open-raisers are of the opinion that you can bet all your air with immunity on these types of flops, believing that they either tend to hit your opponent very hard or not at all.

And they would be right unless, of course, that particular villain is thinking precisely the same way you are and decides to take the lead in the betting with a donk bet, which is typically 2bb in a 20bb CAP setting. Perhaps it would be helpful to stop thinking in terms of the derogatory term "donk bet" and begin thinking of it more as a "reversed c-bet".

Before analyzing any of these specific flops, you must first begin thinking in terms of ranges. If you grew up in or around Russia, where apparently the only type of poker that they have been exposed to is played (coincidentally?) with exactly 20 big blinds at all times, your BB flat range vs. a standard button open of 33.3% will look something like this:

The specifics of the range are not nearly as important as noticing what this range almost never consists of: strong aces and small-middle pairs. There is a premium placed on suitedness and connectedness, but very rarely will villain sneak up on you with complete trash, although they will show up with the occasional KK or AA. Essentially, you are looking at a range of hands that can flop or draw well but tend to be undervalued in 3-bet situations even if they do still show a profit when shoved, like Q9s or KJo.

Now, let's look at how this flat range connects with Kh 9s 9c by means of Flopzilla, assuming that all hands will be distributed in equal proportions (they won't, of course):

And now villain leads into you...what does this mean?? Check back early next week to find out on the The Null Flop, pt. II!

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