Friday, January 13, 2012

The Null Flop, pt. II

In my last article concerning the null flop, I ended with the beginning process of reading a donk bettor's hand on a K99 rainbow flop by first understanding his common flat range. If you have not yet done so, please read the previous article, lest you become hopelessly lost and confused as we move forward.

As it stands, the red-outlined ranked hands below are the only ones we will concern ourselves with, being that your typical villain has little to no desire to draw to a backdoor flush when out of position. Notice how I include all gutshots as hits, as they not only give villain some small chance to improve, they also allow him the ability to bluff even when he misses if some inconsistency in your betting pattern is detected.

Facing off against the widest possible villain flat range (most ranges won't include the weakest suited kings, etc.), we can see that he connects at least weakly with this flop just under 50% of the time. From here, we need to divide the two basic actions of betting and checking and determine which hand ranges are appropriate for each one. Check-raising is excluded from this specific flop because any villain worth his salt will quickly realize that this aggressive action can't possibly be supported by his range when contrasted with our own, i.e. all check-raises look like they are begging for a fold as few hands within our own range can bet/all in.

When villain checks:

Again, if we assume that he is only giving up in those rare instances when he flops a weak ace high, he is likely going into check/call mode with the very top of his range (due to the deck being crippled), as well as AA (occasionally donked, yet rare), some 9x, as well as all Kx hands, which are effectively now all bluff-catchers due to domination concerns.

The presence of the gutshot here might present something of an oddity to experienced players. Notice how I listed the appropriate response as a check/call. Since clearly he does not have the odds to draw to the gutshot, why is this appropriate? It's simple: by check/calling, he gets to realize the full equity of his hand because he can sometimes improve to a pair and win if hero just bets once with his air and then gives up on the turn and river. If you combine that with his ability to bluff if his draw bricks out after hero checks the turn, he now has a very profitable play on his hands.

When villain leads out:

Now we are down to business. Since villain's top pair range is severely weakened by domination concerns, we can scratch this possibility from the list. Though he might also choose to lead with AA, this most radical scenario that fails to include card removal from our own open raise range and a 0% 3-bet frequency on his end makes this a complete non-factor at just over 2%. We can effectively exclude this from his donking range entirely.

Adding all this up means that his donking range is severely polarized between air (50.4%) and trip 9's (12.9%). If we give him full credit for having trip 9's as well as all air when he donks, that means he is almost 4 times as likely to have nothing as he is to have a 9!

So we should raise every donk bet, right? Right?!


Check back in for The Null Flop, pt. III as I walk through every step from the flop to the river!

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