I played a hand a recently that got me thinking about the kind of range typical low-stakes live players will check back against the preflop-raiser on low, coordinated, flops in a heads up pot. It seems that when a sufficiently aggressive player checks back here, they have removed most, if not all, one-pair hands from their range.
I was playing in a small local cardroom. I’m a dealer and regular at the room. The player pool is small; everyone knows each other. I have a tight image, and the villain in this hand is one of the more experienced players in the player pool. His preflop ranges are typical of a $1/$2 regular, but he will play fairly loose for a reasonable preflop raise from late position, and from the blinds after a flat caller, with stacks of ~50BB+. Postflop, he will not stack off that light and rarely if ever makes large, multi-street bluffs, or bluff-raises.
Blinds are $1/$2. We start the hand in the HJ with $152. Villain is on the BTN and covers.
Two players in EP limp in. We raise to $12 with [As][Kd]. Villain calls on the BTN. The blinds and limpers fold.
Pot is $31. Heads up to the flop of [8h][6h][5d]
I didn’t have a great image at this point in the session, the villain had been winning and will have called preflop with many hands that have hit this flop.
I check. Villain checks.
Turn [8h][6h][5d] [Qc]
At the time, I wasn’t thinking fully through the hand, and just thought the Q was a good card to rep with my image, so I went for a delayed c-bet of $20. Villain called.
Pot is $71.
River [8h][6h][5d] [Qc] [Kh]
Once again, I wasn’t thinking clearly about the hand and made a $45 bet for value. The villain quickly asked how much we had behind, and then said, “all in,” raising $75 more. I folded.
I misplayed the turn and river, because I didn’t recognize how his check back on the flop affects his range.
He, and I think most $1/$2 regs, would virtually always bet the flop with 99+, 98, 87, 77, 44, 33, 22, 67, 57, 64, 54. In essence, when he checks back this kind of flop (middling/low and coordinated) against the preflop raiser, he does not have one pair. He has a slow-played two-pair-plus hand, or air. It is player dependent as to how often he will bet a flush-draw on the flop. I expect this particular villain to usually bet a flush draw on the flop.
Recognizing that when he checks back the flop he eliminates one-pair hands from his range, the best play on the turn is to check-fold. I have the nut-non-pair, and if somehow he did check back the flop with something like JJ, 98, or 77, he is not going to fold to the turn bet.
If we did check the turn and he checked back, and the river was the [Kh], we might make a small value bet, but there isn’t much he can have to call us with.
As played (betting the turn), betting the river for value doesn't make sense either, as the only possible hands we could get value from would be AQ, QJ, and QT.
What are your thoughts about this premise? Do you agree that when a low-stakes live regular checks back a middling/low and coordinated flop, heads up against the preflop-raiser, they usually do not have one pair?
Thanks for your thoughts!