PezRez and md261 are two of the poker world's most consistent 6-max SNG players. Together they run, which offers coaching and staking services. Here they dissect hands and games they've played. Also found at:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Ridiculous Fold

PezRez on the 17th August 2011


A situation came up for me recently that left me with a ridiculous choice to make. It’s the bubble and on the button with 4bb I‘ve got to shove any two. I found T2o and shoved it - or meant to, but I didn’t quite slide the bar all the way up and so raised to 700, leaving myself with 100 behind.

Then something incredible happened: the middle stack shoved and then the big stack shoved over the top! I watch in glee (“They’ve got it all in!”) - and then realise the action is back on me. Oh yeah, I opened this hand. And I have 100 left. All the chips are in the middle, and I have 23-1 pot odds to call all-in here with T2o. It seems like a no-brainer, but I just clicked fold and coasted into the money. Here’s the HH:

PokerStars Game $93.25+$6.75 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200)
Seat 3: MidStack (1515 in chips)
Seat 5: BigStack (6685 in chips)
Seat 6: Hero (800 in chips)
MidStack: posts small blind 100
BigStack: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Tc 2d]
Hero: raises 500 to 700
MidStack: raises 815 to 1515 and is all-in
BigStack: calls 1315
Hero: folds
*** FLOP *** [Jd 4h 5h]
*** TURN *** [Jd 4h 5h] [Qs]
*** RIVER *** [Jd 4h 5h Qs] [Kd]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
MidStack: shows [Ad 5c] (a pair of Fives)
BigStack: shows [7s 7d] (a pair of Sevens)
BigStack collected 3730 from pot
MidStack finished the tournament in 3rd place
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3730 | Rake 0
Board [Jd 4h 5h Qs Kd]
Seat 3: MidStack (small blind) showed [Ad 5c] and lost with a pair of Fives
Seat 5: BigStack (big blind) showed [7s 7d] and won (3730) with a pair of Sevens
Seat 6: Hero (button) folded before Flop

Now I revisited this hand at the end of the day and really wanted to know whether you should call or whether this ridiculous fold with 23-1 pot odds, leaving me with half a big blind, could actually be correct!

Unfortunately, ICM calculators like SNG Wiz aren’t capable of dealing with situations where you have already acted in the hand, such as here. In this situation, we need to do the ICM calculations longhand. Here it is also complicated some more by the fact we have two possibilities to consider: our probability of winning if we call (which we’ll label p) and the chance the Midstack busts if we fold and therefore we sneak into the cash (let’s call this one x).

For those of you who are not too bothered about the maths of poker, skip to the ending. To the rest that remain, let’s have a go at this problem.

So first off we are going to need an ICM calculator, such as can be found at Thankfully this does the really hard stuff, so we are left to concentrate on only the moderately hard. You stick the stack sizes and payouts into the calculator and it tells you each player’s equity, according to ICM. We can use this to figure out what our equity will be in various outcomes, and then construct an equation to compare.


If we fold, we are going to have 100 left after the hand. If the big stack wins, we’re in the cash! But if the midstack wins, with 100 left we are going to be f♠♦♥♣d.
The ICM calculator tells us that our equities in those two situations are:

EQ[we fold, bubble pops] = 35.33%

EQ[we fold and midstack wins] = 1.55%

1.55%. That’s what f♠♦♥♣d looks like.


Here we need to make an assumption to simplify things. We are going to assume that we know what their hands are in this situation and if we win the main pot (most likely by spiking a Ten) then the Big Stack will win the side pot, as it will mean that the Mid Stack failed to spike his Ace and so came third in the hand to my pair of Tens and the Big Stack’s 77. This will nearly always be the case, unless we get some funky board like A55 or TT55x or maybe AT2. These things are gonna happen, but very infrequently (like maybe 5% of the time), so let’s discount them. As for how this will bias our calculations, it will slightly overestimate our equity for calling and so we’ll end up with a slightly lower winning percentage we need to make the call.

So either we triple up and end up heads-up with Big Stack or we bust and get nothing. The ICM calculator gives our equity in the first case as:

EQ[triple up, make the cash] = 44.00%

And it should be obvious that if we bust, our equity is zero.


To analyse whether calling is better than folding, we need to set the equities of the two against each other in an equation and then solve it. The probability we calculate will be the winning chance above which calling will be better than folding. But since we have both p (our chance of winning) and x (Big Stacks chance of winning when we fold) in this case, we cannot “solve” the equation. We will have to introduce some likely values for one to look at what that would make the other.

So setting EQ[FOLD] = EQ[Call] will mean the following equation:

EQ[FOLD + CASH]*x + EQ[FOLD + F♠♦♥♣D]*(1 - x) = EQ[CALL + WIN]*p + EQ[CALL + LOSE]* (1 - p)

Putting our numbers in:

35.33*x + 1.55*(1 - x) = 44*p + 0

33.78x + 1.55 = 44p

Now we have our equation, let’s put in a couple of values. First of all, the Big Stack here is likely to have a tighter range than the Mid Stack, and he’s a much less fishy player, so let’s assume he is a 2-1 favourite when we fold (that is, x = 0.67). In that case:

35.33*0.67 + 1.55 = 44p

25.22 = 44p

p = 0.5732 or a 57.32% chance of winning

Well look at that! If the Big Stack is a good favourite here, you need a 57% winning chance to call - and I’m pretty sure that’s impossible with T2o in a three-way pot. It’s not just a fold - it’s a huge fold. And remember, because of the bias introduced by our assumption, this number is an underestimate.

What about if the Big Stack is not such an extreme favourite? Let’s see what happens if the two of them are all-in for a coin flip (x = 0.50):

35.33*0.50 + 1.55 = 44p

19.22 = 44p

p = 0.4368 or a 43.68% chance of winning

So whilst that has made a big difference, again you’re never gonna be winning 44% of the time with T2o in a three-way all-in. Remember, with a random hand versus two other random hands you are 33%. Here you have a decidedly below-average hand against two clearly well-above-average hands. Still a huge fold.

In fact, against a range of the top 20%of hands for the Mid Stack and the top 15% for the Big Stack, your T2o has a 19.5% winning chance. With these ranges, when we fold the Big Stack has 54.9% equity in the pot. So looking for x = 0.549 and p = 0.195...

EQ[FOLD] = 20.10%

EQ[CALL] = 8.58%

Calling here would cost me 11.52% equity, equivalent in this $100 buy-in game to $64.45!


These calculations have proved that in this situation it is in fact correct to fold the hand, despite your 23-1 pot odds and half a big blind remaining. Not only that, but it would be a grave error to call here, costing me in fact almost two-thirds of my buy-in in equity if I call. SNGs, whilst being such a repetitive and formulaic format, never fail to amaze me sometimes. Never would I have thought that calling with 23-1 pot odds could possibly cost you $65 in a $100 buy-in game. If you take anything from this post, it should be that in SNGs, ICM is King.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Full Tilt Hearing

PezRez on 2nd August

Hey guys,

No strategy discussion for this post, but I thought I would talk a little about the situation at Full Tilt. As I'm sure everyone is aware, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, who regulate Full Tilt, pulled the plug a little while back, throwing everyone's funds into limbo. There was a lot of vitriol directed online to the AGCC, and to the United States - and President Obama. While Obama may or may not be a tool, in this case I suspect the real culprit are Full Tilt. If the AGCC had discovered, for instance, that Full Tilt were unable to pay out their customers, then by pulling the plug they absolutely did the correct thing. If they knew that there was a rotten company trading, they could not do nothing and allow people to put more money into the business with little hope of getting it back. Having said that, the AGCC should make every effort to ensure players get their funds back, and they don't get sucked into the Black Hole of Doom that is the US treasury, to cover interest on repayments to China and bullets for shooting Afghans.

So the AGCC public hearing was held in London last week, and Al(md261) and I decided to go along to see if we could find out what was happening to our money. The room was full, with maybe 70-80 people, and proceedings started a little late. As a portly gentleman whose interest was obviously as a player rather than an industry observer derisively snorted, the lawyers for Full Tilt, explained that they wished to make a preliminary appeal for the hearing to be held in secret. They had good reasons, they said (to more snorts from our friend in the fifth row); just those reasons were a bit sensitive too, so they made a Pre-Preliminary Appeal to explain to the AGCC exactly why the preliminary appeal needed to be held in secret.

Now I'm not a big fan of secrecy, but as ridiculous as it sounded, this seemed quite reasonable. Our portly gent, no doubt planning to make a scene from the get-go, stormed out, saying, "This is a disgrace, you should be looking after the players and not this corrupt company", or some such. But I think maybe that's what the AGCC were doing. The thing is, it sounded to me like Full Tilt needed a rescue in order to save it from oblivion. There have been rumours swirling around about a possible buy-out, which if it occurred, needless to say, would result in the players being returned their funds as a matter of priority. However, Full Tilt's argument was that, essentially, they had been so naughty (tsk tsk) that if it was revealed what they had been up to, their reputation and so any hope of a rescue for the company (and my cash) would be destroyed. Which is absolutely understandable. Of course, Full Tilt were acting in their own interests when they asked for secrecy, but in this case I think it's quite likely those interests coincide with our own, as players hoping to retrieve the money we may have lost. So I think that man's self-indulgent rant, planned from the beginning, was a little off the mark.

In any case, secrecy was granted and nothing much happenned that day. There is to be another hearing, some time in September I think, which after this experience I will think twice about attending. For all of us hoping to recoup our losses, let's hope that Full Tilt gets bought out swiftly.


Monday, 25 July 2011

Destroying Value Part 3

PezRez on 25th June

PokerStars Game $27.58+$2.42 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1315 in chips)
Seat 2: Hero (1295 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1280 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (830 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (4280 in chips)
Player 1: posts small blind 15
Hero: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Js Jc]
Player 3: folds
Villain: raises 60 to 90
Player 6: folds
Player 1: folds
Hero: raises 165 to 255
Villain: calls 165
*** FLOP *** [6d Ad 2s]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 525
Hero: raises 515 to 1040 and is all-in
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (515) returned to Hero
Hero collected 1575 from pot
Hero: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1575 | Rake 0
Board [6d Ad 2s]
Seat 1: Player 1 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: Hero (big blind) collected (1575)
Seat 3: Player 3 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: Villain folded on the Flop
Seat 6: Player 6 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Yes, that’s right children – another instalment in the smash-hit Destroying Value series. And yes, kiddies, it’s the same as always. But when this hand occurred today, I had to post it as yet another confirmation of my point (as if parts 1 and 2 were not sufficient).

Preflop I make a pot-committing reraise against a terrible, terrible fish. Imagine a donkey made sweet love with a fish; he could be their illegitimate child. No really; he is awful. But I think you get the picture.

So on this flop, given how awful he is, I could just shove, and he probably would call with a fair few hands (I should call this post “Slightly Minimizing Value Pt.1”). But I remembered the exhortations I made of you all in previous posts, and went for the check. He quickly bet 525 of his 575 remaining. I put the rest in, and he insta-folded (I laughed quite hard at the time).

Told you he was a fish.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

Recognising what range my opponent perceives I hold...

PezRez on 11th June 2011

PokerStars Game $70+$6 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 2: Villain (4067 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1200 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1383 in chips)
Seat 6: Hero (2350 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 50
Villain: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Kc As]
Player 3: folds
Player 5: folds
Hero: raises 150 to 250
Villain: calls 150
*** FLOP *** [Qd 9s 7d]
Hero: bets 300
Villain: calls 300
*** TURN *** [Qd 9s 7d] [Ah]
Hero: bets 550
Villain: calls 550
*** RIVER *** [Qd 9s 7d Ah] [Kd]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 2200
Hero: calls 1250 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (950) returned to Villain
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [4d 4c] (a pair of Fours)
Hero: shows [Kc As] (two pair, Aces and Kings)
Hero collected 4700 from pot

First of all, I must offer my sincerest apologies for not having posted any new hands for over 2 months. I spent the time in Spain, brushing up on my Spanish, and so took a holiday from poker and posting. I’m now back and raring to go, albeit in a poker world which seems very different from the one which I left in April, after Black Friday, the repercussions of which are still being felt and I’m sure some of which remain to be seen. But ho-hum. [Some of you may notice that this hand is an old one, as the buy-in is no longer offered on Pokerstars (all these changes, sigh). This is in fact an interesting hand from several months back, which I had saved (with several more where that came from). ]

So this post is all about recognising your opponent’s perception of your range. My opponent in this hand is an excellent player who just loves to get all up in your grill. Contrasted with my opponent in ‘A Cautionary Tale’, who I needed to recognise had no thoughts/expectations/brain, this player is very likely to read the sequence of the hand in a certain way, which I was lucky enough to be able to exploit with the hand that was dealt to me.

So first things first: I’m second in chips, with the big stack, an excellent player, to my immediate left in the big blind. And I have AK. Contrary to how many people might feel about this situation, I’m not thrilled with my hand here. AK can be hard to play out of position, especially with this stack size and especially against a player of this calibre. I don’t really see any other options, however, than a standard-sized raise. My opponent calls. Uh-oh, here we go.

The Q97 flop is not good at all. Generally flops with a JT,QJ,J9,T9 etc combination are bad to continuation bet on, and I feel like my big-stacked opponent is highly likely to float me here. Nonetheless, I feel I probably have the best hand, he could fold, and it would just be too weak a way to play AK to check-fold when I miss here. I put out a grudging C-bet with my fingers crossed and my opponent quickly calls. Well, I did see it coming.

The turn brings likely salvation. A shiny Ace of hearts gives me top-top. You might think the thing to do now would be to check and allow my opponent, who is likely floating, to represent the scare card, then BAM! – hit him with the check-raise. However, I need to think how my opponent will perceive my various actions. True, when I check he will likely bet. But a call or raise will give away the fact that I definitely have a piece of this board here, and my action is likely to stop there. What if I bet? Well, my opponent would have expected me to C-bet with the majority of my range on this flop. The Ace would appear to hit my range solidly, but he knows I know this. When I bet strong, it’s probably not a middling Ace (A7-A9, for example), as I might prefer to check these hands, let my opponent bluff and avoid difficult situations. So it’ll be a big Ace (exactly what I have), OR... a bluff. He knows that the Ace looks like a tremendous scare card for me to bluff with. So when I bet, I think the range he will put me on will be big hands (big Aces, two pairs, sets etc.) or a shit-load of bluffs. In fact, since most regulars reliably bluff scare cards too often, the bluffs far outweigh the real hands. I think my tenacious opponent, with a mountain of chips, won’t be able to lay down any hand here, as he will think there is just too good a chance he can take this pot away from me. He calls.

The river gives me top two-pair and I feel pretty confident I’m ahead. The pot is 2200, and I have 1250 remaining. Perfect to push all-in, right? That would be the plan if I thought my opponent was value-calling me. But as I elaborated previously, I think he is quite possibly itching to make a move, and I need to give him an opportunity. So I check, he snap-pushes, I snap-call and he had pocket 4s! At least this time my estimation of my opponent was spot on.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Don't Leave $$$ on the Table

md261 on 27th April 2011

There has been exciting events in the poker world recently. Not much has really changed for non-US players, but since many people are reacting by withdrawing a large percentage of their bankroll from the big 3 and are looking to play elsewhere, a great opportunity has occured for everyone who can play at Non-US sites.

Networks like Party Poker, iPoker, OnGame and others are looking at this as the big opportunity to sweep up some of the players leaving Stars, FT and Cereus, and add them to their own network.

This surge in activity has led to real competition and price-warring between the networks. They view every player they gain now as a potential revenue stream for many years to come, and they are willing to do many things to gain players at this time. Competition is great for consumers as companies have to offer better value-for-money or better services to their clients, otherwise people will go elsewhere.

Networks want to get big players on, and will offer high % RB deals (sometimes even as high as 60%+) to get these players. If you are a full time pro, a high RB deal can add $10,000-$100,000 to your yearly winnings, for no extra work. Networks do not widely publicise these deals, because then players who do not know about it, and who think they are getting a great deal at 30% Rakeback, will demand a better deal, which means less money for the Network. Regardless of the stakes you play you can often get higher RB deals than you are getting.


As a general economic rule of thumb, the more competition there is, the better deals the customer/consumer gets, this seems to hold true for poker sites as well. Many people do not fully understand the relationship between a poker network and a poker skin.

Pokerstars and Full Tilt have no skins, you can only join the one site to play on one network, sites like are not skins, because .fr players cannot play on the same network as players outside of France. However a site like iPoker is a different case, here are a list of some of the skins that belong to the iPoker Network:

Bet365, Betboo Poker, Betfred, Betmost, BigSlick, Bluesq, Centrebet, Celebpoker, Chillipoker, DafaPoker, Expekt, Hansapoker, Mansion poker, noigpoker, nutspoker, pokeroceanm pokeruts, redfoxpoker, the nuts poker league, titan poker, vulcan poker, and others I do not know about.

This means that if you sharkscope sittysutty, who plays at celebpoker on sharkscope, you will realise that if you sharkscoped him on any of the other pokerskins listed above, it will also tell you his results. This is because they are the same player, you cannot have the same usernames on 2 different skins, because they are essentially playing on the same site.

A Network like iPoker will have a simple business strategy which almost guarantees them income, which will go something like this (the actual %'s are guesses). iPoker will give 65% of all the rake that a player brings in to the skin he is playing on. If sittysutty rakes $10 at CelebPoker, CelebPoker will receive $6.5. The skins are all competing with each other, and since there are so many skins there is lots of competition, so they may offer 60% RB to get players to play there, so sittysutty can receive $6 before any profit from the games. He need only break even at $50 turbos and he can get a $150+/hr hourly rate (12 tabling) without making any 'sharkscope' profit.

This is a good business strategy for the skins as well, if you are for example Manchester United football club, or William Hill bookmakers, you have a client base who may want to play poker, and you can take advantage of that by creating a skin like Manchester United poker, or William Hill poker. The skin just changes the colour scheme to Manchester United colours, and doesn't have to do anything else and it has created a new revenue stream. Manchester United Poker would have too few players by itself for any games to run, and they would need to pay lots of money to create the poker site and do all the programming, but as a skin they can make money and not have to worry about anything else.

Wherever you are playing it is well worth investigation regularly if you could be greatly increasing your hourly rate by changing where you play. It is very easy and comfortable to play at only one site, where the software is good and you know exactly what the blind levels will be, and who the good regs are. Spending 5 hours investigating other options could increase your hourly rate greatly, and even upping it $10/hr can make tens of thousands of $$$ difference over the year. Even if it doesn't it only costs you 5 hours.

This post is long, so I will not go into further detail, I may follow up this blog post with another post about the reliability of skins and why Rakeback affiliates are not allowed to advertise and have to remain concealed if people are interested.

When people we have staked or coached have asked for advice I will suggest to do good research, and make sure you are getting the best RB deal possible. I am always happy to pass on players details to a select few people I know who offer these deals to get their offers, but you should always do your own research and make sure you are confident that you are getting the best deal you can. Otherwise you are leaving money on the table.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Turning Bottom Pair into a Bluff Heads-Up

PezRez on 5th April 2011

In this hand I bluff the turn with a hand with some showdown value because a bet folds out a large portion of my opponent’s range that beats me.

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 4: Hero (4490 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain (4510 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 50
Villain: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [6d Qh]
Hero: raises 150 to 250
Villain: calls 150
*** FLOP *** [Jc As 6h]
Villain: checks
Hero: bets 200
Villain: calls 200
*** TURN *** [Jc As 6h] [Kd]
Villain: checks
Hero: bets 500
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (500) returned to Hero
Hero collected 900 from pot
Hero: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 900 | Rake 0
Board [Jc As 6h Kd]
Seat 4: Hero (button) (small blind) collected (900)
Seat 6: Villain (big blind) folded on the Turn

My opponent has been tight throughout the game, so I’m happy to open a lot of buttons. If I’m not going to open Q6o in this situation, what am I waiting for? I raise to 2.5x, and surprisingly my opponent calls. I am sure this tight opponent has a real hand, but as he’s pretty straightforward I feel he would have reraised me with anything close to premium.

The flop is a good one. I have bottom pair – but most importantly an Ace has flopped. This is the most populous card in my range, so I stand to have a good deal of fold equity on this flop. The bottom pair means my bet is really a semi-bluff; if I get called the chances are slim that my pair of Sixes is in the lead, but at least I’ll have 5 outs to make a genuinely good hand. On these Ace-high boards, your opponent has few draws (and no overcards) with which to call, so he’s likely to fold to any bet if he hasn’t connected (about two-thirds of the time). Consequently you can save some chips by shaving down your continuation bet to not more than 40% of the pot, as the impact will be pretty similar to a larger bet. If I’ve hit the flop I’ll make this same bet to encourage action and my opponent is probably expecting me to bet more if I’m bluffing, so I don’t think he’ll attempt a move.

My opponent calls, and with his flat-calls both preflop and on the flop I’m not convinced he has an Ace. A baby Ace is definitely possible, but at this point 80% of the time he has specifically a Jack. He calls because he can’t fold middle pair on the flop; but he worries I have an Ace and is playing cautiously, waiting to see what develops and whether I bet again. As I’m quite sure he has me beaten, I’ll probably take a free card if a blank hits, but if I get a decent scare card to bluff with I’m sure I can squeeze those Jacks out with some well-applied pressure.

A King is exactly what I’m looking for; another overcard to the Jack and a very plausible card for a button-raiser to hold. On the other hand it gives me a gutshot to go with my pair, so if I get called I still may well have 9 outs. Usually I would be checking behind with bottom pair and a gutshot heads-up, mostly because it’s clear no worse hand will call. However, here many better hands – all those timid Jacks – will fold reliably, so given that’s what I strongly suspect he holds a bet is obvious. 500 into 800 is plenty to achieve the desired effect, and I take the lead in the heads-up.


Thursday, 31 March 2011

Will he risk all that Equity?

md261 on 31st march 2011

PokerStars $23+$2 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: Hero (5427 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain (2253 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1320 in chips)
Player 4: posts small blind 50
Hero: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [7c 7s]
Villain: raises 120 to 220
Player 4: folds
Hero: calls 120
*** FLOP *** [Kd Th 8h]
Hero: checks
Villain: checks
*** TURN *** [Kd Th 8h] [Kc]
Hero: bets 200
Villain: raises 480 to 680
Hero: calls 480
*** RIVER *** [Kd Th 8h Kc] [5c]
Hero: checks
Villain: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [7c 7s] (two pair, Kings and Sevens)
Villain: mucks hand
Hero collected 1850 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1850 | Rake 0
Board [Kd Th 8h Kc 5c]
Seat 1: Hero (big blind) showed [7c 7s] and won (1850) with two pair, Kings and Sevens
Seat 3: Villain (button) mucked [Ah 6d]

The middle-stacked Villain in the above hand is a decent lower-stakes break-even player, although he does not play often enough to be considered a reg.

Pre-Flop: The Villain puts in a small raise from the button. Being fairly deepstacked the Hero elects to just call, the Villain is not going to be raising super-wide here, and reraising may encourage a stack from a large part of his range. You generally don't want to bloat the pot Out Of Position with a hand like 77.

Flop: In previous hands the Villain has had to fold often when the Hero has used the bubble situation to force the Villain off weak holdings by check-raising his c-bets. Consequently the Hero checks this wet board, reasoning that the Villain will be afraid of the 'inevitable' check-raise, so if the Villain bets, it is an easy fold.

Being Out Of Position, betting is not an attractive prospect for the Hero, as many hands can call a bet here and 77 is unlikely to improve on later streets. The Villain checks behind. This strongly indicates he does not have a hand he is willing to get all-in with, as he surely would have bet AK and KQ, assuming he could reshove over the 'inevitable' check-raise. Furthermore, he is unlikely to slowplay vulnerable made hands on this draw heavy flop.

When the Villain checks, his range will mostly consist of Pairs lower than a K (including JJ=QQ), A high, and a large variety of drawing hands.

Turn: The offsuit K on the turn is the perfect card. It is highly unlikely he has a K now. It is now time for the Hero to bet since his hand is liekely best, and it is a draw heavy board. The Villain raises, an unusual and unexpected move. He is a good enough player to have bet the flop if he had a K, but would probably just call with QQ-JJ for pot control in this bubble situation. QQ + JJ are possibilities, as is AT, but one would still expect him to flat call here most of the time. It is most likely that the Villain thinks the Hero is trying to steal the pot. The Villain is therefore very likely to be raising here as a bluff or semi-bluff. The Hero calls with a plan in mind, folding to a river bet.

River: The pot is now 1750, the Villain has 1250 left, as much as the 3rd player on the bubble. the river card is a blank. From his previous analysis, one could expect he Hero to check with the intention of calling an all-in. THere is a competing logic however. The Villain is no fish, he is unlikley to bluff off his remaining stack at this point on the bubble, especially when he will be giving such great pot odds to the Hero.

Furthermore a large % of the Villain's range including weak pp's and A high would be beating the Hero's hand if the Hero has a missed draw. Consequently the Hero called the turn bet with the intention of folding to a river bet. For the Villain, this is a prime spot to get value with AT or JJ, but most players will be too afraid to squeeze value here, and will be happy and relieved to check behind and take down the pot.

The Villain's range here is very likely behind the Hero's after the river, but if he bets, it is hard to see how the Hero cannot be beaten.
The Villain checks and shows A high.


Monday, 14 March 2011

A Cautionary Tale

PezRez on 14th March 2011

PokerStars Game $46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
6-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: Hero (3704 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1500 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1585 in chips)
Seat 6: Hyperbowl (2211 in chips)
Hyperbowl: posts small blind 50
Hero: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Jd Jh]
Player 4: folds
Player 5: folds
Hyperbowl: calls 50
Hero: raises 150 to 250
Hyperbowl: calls 150
*** FLOP *** [Qh Th 4d]
Hyperbowl: checks
Hero: bets 200
Hyperbowl: raises 200 to 400
Hero: calls 200
*** TURN *** [Qh Th 4d] [Kd]
Hyperbowl: checks
Hero: checks
*** RIVER *** [Qh Th 4d Kd] [4s]
Hyperbowl: bets 600
Hero: calls 600
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hyperbowl: shows [9d Qc] (two pair, Queens and Fours)
Hero: mucks hand
Hyperbowl collected 2500 from pot

This is a cautionary tale about understanding the level your opponent is on. I’m in the Big Blind with a pair of Jacks, which, for all that rubbish you read about JJ being ‘a classic trap hand’, is a great hand to hold. To make it better, I’m playing in position against a sole opponent. And not just any opponent. He’s not just a fishbowl, he’s much worse than that. He’s what md261 and I call a Hyperbowl; a player who is just so terrible, they should be played with at any opportunity.

I need to raise with my hand, for value and to stimulate the future flow of chips into the pot. I make it 2.5x, which is my usual preferred raise size in the Big Blind in blind-on-blind pots, as I find my out-of-position opponents rarely call raises of 3x or higher once the blinds are bigger. (On reflection however, I clearly should have raised to 3x or more; my opponent is a hyperbowl after all and will not dwell on his position. Since he’ll call bigger bets more frequently, I could have gotten some extra value).

The flop brings one overcard, a Queen. Hyperbowl checks and I bet 200 into 500. I don’t feel the need to check for pot control; my opponent is so bad there are many worse hands we will call with here, so there is a lot of value to be seized. I make my C-bet a little smaller than usual both because I want a little room to manoeuvre later in the hand and I’m not too worried about outdraws against a single opponent with such a wide range. Unfortunately I got minimum check-raised. Hmmph. Well at this stage, I still have a good hand, good pot odds and good position. And my opponent is a hyperbowl! What more do I need to say?

When I pick up a straight draw on the turn, the sensible way to respond to his check is to check it right back. I can take a free card with my draw whilst now exercising some pot control, with my opponent having shown some strength previously.

The river is where the big decision comes in. The pot is 1300, and my opponent bets 600. I look at the board, and I am thinking: what can he value-bet here? He check-raised me on the flop, indicating he probably had a piece then, perhaps a Queen. He probably checked the turn because he didn’t like the King. So why would he bet this river with a Queen? What could he expect to call? It doesn’t make much sense. I find it hard to picture a plausible hand my opponent would bet for value here, so call expecting to see a busted draw, complete air or something strong like an AK or straight.

Oops. My opponent held a Queen after all, value-bet me nicely and took down a good pot. So where did I go wrong? As some of you may have noticed, I lost sight of the fact my opponent was a hyperbowl. On the river, my reasoning relied on me putting him on a thought-process, when in fact I should have been hesitant to put him on a thought. My decision should have been just about the absolute strength of my hand and my pot odds. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have called; I may have done. Sometimes you need to pay off hyperbowls. But for sure my reasoning was wrong.

Like I said, a cautionary tale. Always pay attention to your opponents and consider their level of thought when you play. I lost sight of this here, and it may have cost me.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ignoring The Clear And Present Danger

md261 on 24th February 2011

Seat 2: Player 2 (3935 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1720 in chips)
Seat 4: hero (1415 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (630 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1300 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 25
Player 6: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Qc Ks]
Player 2: folds
Player 3: folds
hero: raises 70 to 120
Villain: calls 95
Player 6: folds
*** FLOP *** [Kc As Jd]
Villain: checks
hero: checks
*** TURN *** [Kc As Jd] [6d]
Villain: bets 150
hero: calls 150
*** RIVER *** [Kc As Jd 6d] [Qh]
Villain: bets 200
hero: raises 945 to 1145 and is all-in
Villain: calls 160 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (785) returned to hero
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero: shows [Qc Ks] (two pair, Kings and Queens)
Villain: shows [Ah 2h] (a pair of Aces)
hero collected 1310 from pot

The villain is a standard 1st Level Loose Fish, the kind of player who often tries to be clever by *slowplaying* his good hands and hitting you with a *surprise* checkraise. Chances are with him strong means weak and weak means strong.

The Big Blind is an enormous Fishbowl, the hero doesn't mind getting into a pot with him deepstacked with a hand like KQ which plays well post flop, so he make a standard (but on the smaller side) preflop raise. It is no great shock to see the loose Villain in the Small Blind call . Being a loose 1st Level fish his range of hands here is fairly wide, including the premium hands like AA as well as the Fish hands like JToffsuit.

The flop is a mixed bag, the Villain is very very rarely ever going to bet out, he is unlikely to bluff at this spot, and he will likely check his stronger hands as he likes to appear weak by checkraising! Consequently the handsome and humble hero checks behind, since the prospect of facing an all-in check-raise with semi-decent pot odds does not look like a good situation to get into here, and the Villain is unlikely to have many outs if he is behind on the flop.

The Villain bets out on the turn, still no information is really gained, he is likely to bet stronger hands if his check-raising masterplan has been foiled, he is also likely to think that the mysterious hero's check is a sign of weakness and may have decided to bet with an underpair or pair of kings or Jacks. The annonymous Hero calls, reasoning there are still not many cards to worry about if he is ahead, and to re-evaulte when he sees if the Villain bets the River.

The river card is both good and bad for our secret hero, but mainly good because of the stack size situation. If the the Villain had pushed the river if it was a blank serious consideration would have been given to folding, no such thoughts linger now he holds 2 pair. The Villain bets most of his remaining stack, but not all in. First instinct would be to call, but that woud be an appaling waste of potential Equity. It is worth considering what hands the Villain is likely holding.

The Premium pairs which are now sets are possible. AK-AT would likely have repushed preflop, as would many of the medium Pocket Pairs. Ace rag and KJ are likely and his bet would be a blocking bet. A ten is unlikely though, he would surely have pushed if he had the straight, as it is tought to put him on and he is very short stacked so would likely be called often, furthermore, there not many tens in his preflop calling range, unlike weak Aces. For all these reasons it is +EV for the Hero to push over the top. The very fact that the Villain has few chips behind is important, the punishment for being beaten is small, so there is not much risk. If the effective stacks were deeper, the punishment for raising the river would be greater, since the Villain would likely fold many weaker hands like a rag Ace, and would likely repush himself if he had the straight, putting the hero to a tough decision.

The hero repushes, the Villain calls and shows Ace rag, a poor preflop call, but not played too badly post flop. The hero knew there was a chance he was behind on the river, but reasoned that the Villains calling range of the river repush would hold more Hnds which were beaten, than which were ahead, and thus maximised his EV.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Big Fold On The River

PezRez on 22nd February 2011

PokerStars Game $36+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)
Seat 1: Player 1 (1470 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (840 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (1605 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (1890 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1695 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1500 in chips)
Player 5: posts small blind 15
Player 6: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ah Qc]
Player 1: folds
Player 2: raises 30 to 60
Hero: calls 60
Villain: calls 60
Player 5: calls 45
Player 6: folds
*** FLOP *** [Jh 6h 9h]
Player 5: checks
Player 2: checks
Hero: bets 150
Villain: calls 150
Player 5: calls 150
Player 2: folds
*** TURN *** [Jh 6h 9h] [Td]
Player 5: checks
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 390
Player 5: calls 390
Hero: calls 390
*** RIVER *** [Jh 6h 9h Td] [Th]
Player 5: checks
Hero: bets 510
Villain: raises 780 to 1290 and is all-in
Player 5: folds
Hero: folds
Uncalled bet (780) returned to Villain
Villain collected 2910 from pot
Villain: shows [8h Qh] (a straight flush, Eight to Queen)

With AQo, facing a raise from UTG +1, I don’t think I need to reraise here. His range is probably strong and my hand isn’t brilliant. With position, the best move is probably to flat-call and see what develops on the flop, so thats what I do. Two callers behind me: a tough player on the button, and a hyperbowl from the small blind.

The flop is a decent one for me; although there are three players, I have two overcards and the nut flush draw, making me a favourite over a hand like KJ or JT. When it’s checked to me, I put out 150 into the 250 out there. I may win the pot right now; if not I might buy the button so I can give myself a free river. As I may be a favourite, my equity on the bet is decent. I get called by the two players behind me, and the original raiser folds.

The turn gives me a straight draw to boot, but I’m not too confident my straight outs will be live here. I could bet again, but I’d be in a tough spot if someone shoved, since I’d probably have to call. I don’t want to commit myself with this hand right now, so I decide to check, content that at least I’ll have the odds to draw if the player on the button puts in a standard bet. The hyperbowl calling just sweetens the deal, and I call the 390.

Bingo! Nut flush on the river. I’m a little concerned about the board pair, but what can you do? It’s checked to me, and I have to bet here. The button isn’t likely to bet as a bluff in a three-way pot, so if I check there’s a great likelihood it’ll get checked round. The pot is big, but an all-in makes my hand so transparent. Then again, a lead-out does too, but the bowl might not be able to resist those odds with a hand like AJ. I lead out for 510, leaving myself with 495 in chips. Obviously, I’m pot-committed.

But wait! When the button pushes, I resist my urge to snap-call and think about what he could have. With my lead-out I was trying to sucker in the fish; I accepted that my hand would be obvious. So why is the good player pushing? He has no fold equity, and can’t be bluffing with the hyperbowl sitting behind him. But he must know I have the nut flush. I figure he’s probably got JT, and has backed into a full house. It’s consistent with all his previous bets. I probably didn’t play this hand brilliantly, but no sense throwing good chips after bad, even with almost 6-1. I fold with an unhappy frown, which lightens considerably when the button decides he’s so proud of his rivered straight flush, he just has to show everyone.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Leave Room For A Move

PezRez on 7th February 2011

PokerStars Game $36+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200)
Seat 5: Villain (4780 in chips)
Seat 6: Hero (4220 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 100
Hero: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ad Ah]
Villain: raises 200 to 400
Hero: calls 200
*** FLOP *** [6s 7c Kc]
Hero: bets 400
Villain: calls 400
*** TURN *** [6s 7c Kc] [7s]
Hero: bets 800
Villain: calls 800
*** RIVER *** [6s 7c Kc 7s] [4s]
Hero: bets 1000
Villain: raises 2180 to 3180 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1620 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (560) returned to Villain
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [9d Jc] (a pair of Sevens)
Hero: shows [Ad Ah] (two pair, Aces and Sevens)
Hero collected 8440 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 8440 | Rake 0
Board [6s 7c Kc 7s 4s]
Seat 5: Villain (button) (small blind) showed [9d Jc] and lost with a pair of Sevens
Seat 6: Hero (big blind) showed [Ad Ah] and won (8440) with two pair, Aces and Sevens

I’m heads-up with an aggressive regular and we’ve been at it for a while now. He has been frequently minraising from the button, which I have been countering by calling and three-betting. However the stacks have mostly been too big to repush, so I have been sparing with my three-bets and have mostly been taking advantage of my good pot odds and his wide range to call. With Aces, I decide not to reraise and to just call, as I have been doing frequently. I may be missing out on some value if he has a hand he will call with preflop but probably not postflop (for example 66), but as I have not been three-betting very often I feel he will fold a lot if I do so.

I have been betting out a lot in this heads-up, which is something I have to do with both my good and my bad hands fairly regularly if I call a lot out of position. Since he has seen me do it a couple of times with bluffs and hands like middle pair, I figure I may induce a move, and certainly my hand is going to be well disguised. So I lead out for 400, like I have been.

His call means he might have a made hand, or he may be floating. I could consider checking the turn to let him go through with his float, but once I raise in that spot he’ll know I have a big hand and will fold most of his hands. If I follow through, he may still make a move, and will probably call with any pair and some Ace-high hands too, so that’s my move. He calls again.

At this stage, he probably does have a hand. However, he will probably fold his Ace-high hands, pairs of sixes and a lot of pocket pairs if I move in, although he’ll likely call if I make a smaller bet. Most importantly though, I want to leave him room to make a move. My bet looks consistent with a last desperate stab, possibly with a hand like 89, so if he’s feeling optimistic he may make his own last desperate move with his own missed draw, or very persistent float hand. Consequently I lead out for a weak-looking 1000, and he ships. I snap it, and he shows me J9! No draw, no hand; he just really didn’t believe me and decided to gamble his tournament on that fact. Just shows sometimes it pays to leave them room for a move.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011



md261 on 20th January 2011

$46+$4 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: hero (2020 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (2110 in chips)
Seat 3: Seat 3 (1320 in chips)
Seat 4: seat 4 (1400 in chips)
Seat 5: seat 5(840 in chips)
Seat 6: seat 6(1310 in chips)
hero: posts small blind 10
Villain: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Ad Ac]
Seat 3: folds
seat 4: folds
seat 5: folds
seat 6: folds
hero: raises 80 to 100
Villain: calls 80
*** FLOP *** [Qc Qh Js]
hero: bets 120
Villain: calls 120
*** TURN *** [Qc Qh Js] [6d]
hero: bets 300
Villain: calls 300
*** RIVER *** [Qc Qh Js 6d] [Ks]
hero: bets 800
Villain: calls 800
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero: shows [Ad Ac] (two pair, Aces and Queens)
Villain: mucks hand
hero collected 2640 from pot

Pretty straightforward Hand with a straightforward message. The money you make comes from fish, if there were no fish, there would be no online poker professionals. It is best to tailor your play whenever possible to exploit the fish to the maximum, even if this means giving away equity to a reg that is involved in the hand. The table this hand was taken from was full of good professionals, but was still +EV because the Villain was such an enormous fishbowl.

The 5x raise from the SB is an unusual move, but hero wants to try to steal as many fishchips as he can in only 4 rounds of betting. The Villain's calling range for a 5x bet wil likely include a good 30% of his range.

The flop is a mixed bag, there is no reason to suspect Villainhas a Q, but there are not too many hands which have connected, so a 2/3 c-bet is required.

Now that the Villain has shown strength enough to call the flop, it is worth considering his range of hands, J9-JA, KA-K9, any pocket pair and any Ace. Most of those are behind the Hero's pocket Aces, and will likely call a largish bet on the turn.

On the river some of the Villain's range is now ahead of the Hero's Aces, but the majority of it is still behind, and the Villain is very likely to call a large river bet, thinking it may be a bluff (he is an enormous fishbowl). 4/5 Pot goes in on the river, and Villain reveals A4o for A high, a terrible bit of play on his part, but totally predictable.


Monday, 17 January 2011

The Joy of Check-Calling

PezRez on 17th January 2011

PokerStars Game $110+$9 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
Seat 2: Hero (2015 in chips)
Seat 4: Villain (3950 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1530 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1505 in chips)
Hero: posts small blind 50
Villain: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ac Js]
Player 5: folds
Player 6: folds
Hero: calls 50
Villain: checks
*** FLOP *** [Td Jh Kd]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 100
Hero: calls 100
*** TURN *** [Td Jh Kd] [3d]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 200
Hero: calls 200
*** RIVER *** [Td Jh Kd 3d] [Kc]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 700
Hero: calls 700
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [5c 8s] (a pair of Kings)
Hero: shows [Ac Js] (two pair, Kings and Jacks)
Hero collected 2200 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2200 | Rake 0
Board [Td Jh Kd 3d Kc]
Seat 2: Hero (small blind) showed [Ac Js] and won (2200) with two pair, Kings and Jacks
Seat 4: Villain (big blind) showed [5c 8s] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 5: Player 5 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Player 6 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Villain in the big blind is a good, winning player, but to me he looks a little bit too aggressive. When the hand was played, his pre-flop raise percentage was 29%, whilst he had attempted to steal the blinds a whopping 45% of the time. I love to limp in the big blind, which aggressive regulars like Villain here will attempt to exploit. Because of this, I have to sometimes be willing to limp hands I’d usually raise. This Ajo looks like the ideal hand; if Villain raises, as I expect him to, I am happy to shove over the top, thus exploiting his aggression to win a larger pot and dissuading him from raising in this spot in the future. If he checks, it’s not ideal, but he is unlikely to include such a strong hand in my range and I may be able to use this fact to harness his aggression if I do make a hand.

This flop of KJT with a flush draw possible looks superficially dangerous, but if we think about it, it isn’t really. I have second pair with top kicker, which is very likely to be the best hand in a heads-up pot, particularly since my aggressive opponent declined to raise. Meanwhile the only overcard to my pair that could fall is a Queen, which will make a straight for me. As for the straight draw, I have one of the Aces, and if one falls on the turn I could still fill up on the river. The flush draw is also unlikely, given I only face one player. Assuming he has a random hand, with 47 cards unseen and 9 diamond among them, the chances he has a flush draw are about 5.1%. I don’t really need to factor in the presence of the flush draw too heavily in the way I play my hand.

My aggressive opponent will think that this flop will have largely missed my limping range, and when I check, he is likely to bet a very high proportion of his range, the majority of which I am way ahead of. So check I do, and my aggressive opponent obliges with a bet. Many players would raise here and end the hand, but I’m not too worried about seeing another card, as I elaborated previously, and would like my aggressive opponent to dig himself into a hole. So I call.

The turn is a diamond – not a good card, but as I explained, he is almost 20-1 against to actually have the flush. The main danger it brings is actually the flush draw, which increases the likelihood he’ll draw out on the river, but that may be a risk I’ll have to take. If I check here, my opponent will likely put me on a Queen, figuring I would have bet any made hand on this draw-heavy flop to protect it (think again, Villain). Thus an aggressive player like this will see it as a great opportunity to fire another barrel. Another check seems like the appropriate move.

My opponent bets again, and after the customary 5-second Hollywood I just call again. I am risking the river filling the straight or flush draw but let’s think about what happens if it doesn’t (which, don’t forget, is most of the time). My opponent will have seen me check-call twice on a draw-heavy board. Aggressive players tend to overestimate the proportion of weak hands in your range, optimistic as they are that their consistent plugging away will reap the desired rewards. I am quite sure that he will be quite sure I have a Queen, possibly with a diamond, and if he holds a hand with no value whatsoever he will feel that it is mandatory to bet, given I’m folding that Queen high (which often beats him in a showdown) every time.

The King on the river is a fantastic card, failing to help any hands I beat whilst also increasing the likelihood my Jacks are good. Without hesitation I check, confident my opponent will bet far, far more hands than he would call with in this spot. He bets 700 into the pot of 800, and I snap-call him, beating his eight-high and taking the chiplead in the tournament. To those that always thinks aggression trumps passivity, I ask: could I have extracted 1100 chips from my opponent’s 58o (which, by the way, was a 25-1 dog) in any other way? Answers on a postcard, please.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Irritating the Volcano

md261 on 11th January 2011

Seat 2: Hero (5770 in chips)
Seat 5: Villain (3230 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 75
Hero: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero[8s 7s]
Villain: raises 450 to 600
Hero: calls 450
*** FLOP *** [8d Qs 6s]
Hero: bets 400
Villain: raises 2230 to 2630 and is all-in
Hero: calls 2230
*** TURN *** [8d Qs 6s] [3s]
*** RIVER *** [8d Qs 6s 3s] [2c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero: shows [8s 7s] (a flush, Queen high)
Villain: shows [Kc Th] (high card King)
Herocollected 6460 from pot

The Villain is a new player, his play up to this point has revealed him to be a fish.
The Heads-up has been long and gruelling, having gone on for over 20 minutes from 25/50 Blinds. The stacks are barely fluctuating, though there has been a slow trickle of chips from Villain to Hero.
In the last 10 minutes Villain has been getting frustrated by the Hero's persistent small bets and raises, and has recently resorted to shoving any hand that he wants to play on the flop.

Knowing how likely Villain is to stack off with a marginal or non-existent piece of the flop Hero calls the large pre flop raise with Suited Connectors. The flop is brilliant, giving Hero middle pair and a flush draw, leaving only the question of how to get the chips into the middle. There are 4 options in this spot generally;

Option 1: To stack all-in - This isn't as bad an option as it may first appear. Villain raised 4xthe Big Blind, he very likley has a pocket pair or an Ace, both of which he may strongly consider calling an all-in with, thinking that Hero's all-in must be a draw or a bluff. The risk however is the Villain folds.

Option 2: Check-raise all-in - Very unlikely to actually happen against this opponent, if Villain bets the flop, you can be fairly certain it will be an all-in bet, however it is not impossible that he would check behind, perhaps being wary of the pre-flop call. This would be a poor result, giving him a free card.

Option 3: Check-call - Realistically against this opponent this is the same as option 2, if Villain bets, it will be all-in. He has been consistently shipping any hand he wants to play for the last 10 minutes, so there is no possibility of the Rope-a-Dope slowplay.

Option 4: Donk Bet - Hero has been sticking in these tiny bets all Heads-Up, there has never been any reason to bet more than 1/4 pot because Villain either stacks all-in or folds. This looks weak, and Villain knows the Hero has often folded after leading out small. The risk is that that he floats with overcards, taking his 4-1 pot odds, but even this small bet denies him the pot odds he would need to profitably float, furthermore, the Villain hasn't called any of these bets before.
Basic human nature says that Villain is unlikely to be able to fold to this tiny bet, and since he never calls, that leaves him with only one option (in his mind there is only one option), to raise all-in, regardless of his cards.

Hero went for option 4, the Villain stacked it in with KTo, which was not an unreasonable play considering how often it has worked before. Villain was a victim of his style, he would stack all-in on the flop about 40% of the time to win tiny pots, this meant that Hero could take down many small pots, whittling Villain's stack down, at the same time waiting till he actually hit a top pair or strong medium pair to call one of Villain's all-in's. The Villain risked his stack 20-30 times in this Heads-Up, the Hero never risked many of his chips. Being a new player and unfamiliar with Heads-Up play, the Villain's frustration at the slow pace built and built, until he exploded, resorting to stacking for huge amounts with a wide range of hands on many flops. It was just a matter of time before Hero picked up a hand and got his chips in the middle as a favourite.


P.S. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!