A Hand From Last Night/This Morning

Strategy & Advice by playinem Posted

I'm pretty fortunate to live Ten minutes from one of NorCal's best and biggest cardrooms in One direction and Ten minutes from a very large and nice Native American owned casino in another direction. I've been playing pretty regularly in the $1/$2 NLH games at the cardroom. Last night (Saturday night/Sunday very early morning) I chose the $1/$3 NLH game at the casino. At the cardroom I usually buy in for $150-$200. Last night I bought in for $300. I had to wait Forty-Forty-Five minutes before getting seated but I arrived at about Ten PM and the place was packed.

When I did get into my game the action was great with the game seeming to be softer than the cardroom games I've been playing in. After almost Three hours I had run my stack up from the initial $300 to $1,018 when I played the following hand. My basic strategy is two-fold, I'm trying to get as much of the money in pre-flop with premium hands because the action is so good and conversely when I'm in position with speculative hands that could blossom I look to see the flop as cheaply as possible.

9 handed in the HJ I am dealt 4h-4s. UTG straddles for $6. Second MP open raises for $30. This is a pretty normal opening sequence for this room, this table and these players. I flat for $30. I realize this call is loose but I expect Two or Three guys to come in behind me and that if I can hit my set that someone maybe a couple of someones will pay me off. The CO calls. The BTN calls. SB folds. BB calls. UTG calls.

Six of us go to the flop with$181 in the middle. The flop is Ts-6c-4d. Great for me and someone maybe more than someone probably caught some of this just by virtue of how many players are in the hand. The BB checks. UTG checks. The MP open raiser bets out $75. I should mention here that the BB had $844 at the start of this hand. UTG had $1,317. The MP open raiser started with $415. I had $1,018. The CO had $217 and the BTN had $316. I smooth flat the MP opener. The CO folds. The BTN goes in the tank and calls. The BB snap folds. UTG calls. We go to the turn with Four players still in and now $481 in the middle. The turn is Ks. UTG checks the turn. MP checks behind UTG. I make it $250. The BTN folds. UTG flats the $250. MP shove-calls for $310. I call the $60 and so does UTG. There are still Three of us in this hand and now we have $1,411 in the pot. One player (MP) is all in for $415 total. I still have $603 back and UTG has me covered with $902 back. UTG was at the table when I arrived. He is basically LAG getting involved in lots of hands but showing down enough high value hands to make the other players pump their brakes when he comes hard. The UTG player seems to specialize in getting into hands and playing along calmly for a street or two and then suddenly and swiftly putting his opponent(s) to a very tough decision/test. The MP player got to the table about half an hour behind me. He can be aggressive but mostly my impression is that he is a rock. UTG probably has something at least halfway decent. It could be a Q-J, Two spades and a flush draw or a pair from A-A to 7-7 as well as, Two high cards from A-K down to J-T. I really think the MP player has a high pair like Aces, Kings that turned into a set or A-K. Anything else other than a pair of lower cards that turned into a set on the flop is unlikely. I don't see the guy in MP hanging in and putting in a bet of $75 against as many opponents as were left if all he had was air. In fact I found it doubtful if he stayed in the hand with a top pair hand only considering the number of players in the hand and the sizing of the bets.

Was my play correct here? What about my bet of $250 on the turn? I don't think anyone can really question the $60 call when MP shoves behind my $250 bet. I have tried to describe pretty carefully just how I was thinking about this hand during the time it was being played even to the point of taking notes during the hand because I knew that I would be writing it up for you guys. Thank you gentlemen again, I am really enjoying this process of analytical reflection. As usual I will post the finish of the hand in a couple of days.


  1. In this hand, you have $1,018 and the initial raiser in MP started with $415. You think he is a rock, so getting almost 14 to 1 to call and flop a set is fine, especially given that you think that there will be callers behind. But, careful about two things when playing speculative hands though. First, you should really calculate whether the implied odds are correct based on the stack size of the initial raiser, don't count on calls behind you. If you need a call behind you to make it worthwhile, then tend to fold, unless the decision is really close. You can also include any calls in between as part of your implied odds when the decision is close. But, remember, when set mining or playing another speculative hand, you primarily want to be getting the correct odds to call when you can stack the initial raiser. Against a really tight player, nearly 14 to 1 is fine. The second thing to worry about is a raise behind you. It sounds like that was not an issue at this table, but you do need to get a little bit better price just to account for the times when you put in the call and there is a raise behind. Again, almost 14 to 1 in this particular case is fine.

    There is $181 in the middle on the flop of Ts-6c-4d and MP bets $75. Let's think about his range. He is tight but somewhat aggressive and has 5 opponents. You said you put him on a high pair or AK. I'd say at this point, AK is pretty much gone from that range, there is no way he is betting into 5 other players with AK. So, his range is pretty much an overpair or a set of 10s, maybe A-10 suited, although you seem to discount that possibility given what you've seen of his play. Given that there are 4 players behind you and the board is dry, I think flatting is the right decision and we get what we want with 2 calls behind -- the button and the UTG straddler.

    Now, the turn comes a king, which puts 2 spades on board. UTG checks and the MP player who had taken the lead on both prior streets checks. I think that takes AA out of his range, and probably 10-10 as well. I'd say he either has QQ or JJ or maybe A-10 suited, and hates the K on the turn, or he turned a set with KK and decided to slow down and trap

    At this point, the pot is $481 and
    MP, who started with $415, has $310 left behind
    Button, who started with $316, has $206 left behind
    You have $853 left and UTG has you covered.

    Given all of that, I don't like your bet size on the turn. Betting $250 means that if MP shoves, it's too small to reopen the betting and allow you to re-shove. So, I think you have 2 choices, make a really small bet to try to get UTG to, as you put it, "suddenly and swiftly putting his opponent(s) to a very tough decision/test" or bet close to pot sized and realize that you are pot committed when you do. Since the UTG player has already checked the turn, I think the better choice is to put out a big bet now. If that UTG player were acting after you, I might make a small bet or check and see if that would induce him to bomb the pot; but he's not, so bet big, I'd say around $400 and I don't mind going pot-sized here.

    But, as played, the UTG called and the MP shoved. We have to call the $60 as does the UTG player. So, the pot is $1,411 and you have $603 left. That puts you in a really weird spot, since if UTG shoves river, then the pot is effectively $2,014 to you and you are getting better than 3 to 1 to call. Being in this weird spot is why I don't like your bet sizing on the turn.

    Now let's look at the UTG player's range. You say UTG "probably has something at least halfway decent. It could be a Q-J, Two spades and a flush draw or a pair from A-A to 7-7 as well as, Two high cards from A-K down to J-T." Let's really think about that range a little bit. He straddled and called a preflop raise to $30 after 4 other players called. I think that almost certainly takes AA, KK and QQ out of his range. With that much action, he is going to re-raise those hands.

    On a flop of 10-6-4 rainbow, he check-called a $75 bet from someone with $310 behind and 2 callers, one of whom is shorter than guy betting the $75. I think that takes 99, 88, and 77 out of his range, as well as a lot of the 2 high card hands, including 2 high spades.

    He just isn't going to call a bet there with less than top pair or a hand like AK, KQ, or QJ and hope to pick up something on the turn. Look at it from his perspective, there is an MP player who led preflop and on the flop and has $310 left behind. There's a button caller who tank called flop with less the $310 behind and there is you has called twice and has a decent stack left. The pot is $406 when it gets to him. Why would he call there and hope to pick something up? Other than you, there is no one in the pot with a stack that is worth risking $75 to get unless he already has something. The only draw out there is a straight draw with 7-5 suited or 5-3 suited. So, I'd narrow his range down to hands like A-10, K-10, Q-10 or J-10, plus J-J, 10-10 or 6-6 and I'd add in at least 7-5 suited and possibly 5-3 suited, since he closed the action preflop.

    On the turn King, he called a $250 bet from a player with $663 behind with a short stack of $310 still in the hand after checking. I think that takes A-10, Q-10, J-10 and probably J-J out of his range, because he has to be afraid that you have a hand like a set or K-10 when you lead on that turn. So, he likely has K-10, 10-10 or 6-6, with the 5-3 and 7-5 suited combinations in there as well, particularly 7-5 and 5-3 of spades that picked up a flush draw on the turn. Looking at the hand combinations, that would means 6 sets that beat us and 9 combinations of K-10 that we are ahead of, plus 4 combinations each of of 5-3 and 7-5 suited. With those combinations, I think you pretty much have to call off any river if he shoves. I'm not loving it if a spade, a straight card, a king or a 10 comes, but because he could have any of those combinations, I think better than 3 to 1 pot odds justifies a call.


  2. @Dap Poker Thanks Dave that is really good commentary. You are absolutely correct I need to really focus on my sizing. One of my goals is to move up in limits when both my bankroll and skill level merit such a move. Sizing is one of the leaks in my game that I need to address. As it turns out I was behind all the way to the river in this hand but got bailed out with a 4c at the end. UTG shoved river and showed the two red 6's for a boat. The MP player had Kc-Kh. I've been thinking about this hand a lot in the week or so since it happened because it was one in which I really thought I had them when all along they had me. I've been a pretty profitable low limit player always trying to improve but when something like this hand goes down it gives me pause and really makes me think even though I sucked out in the end.

  3. i do not comment on advice on specific hands or give strategy for playing hands, BUT:
    i will comment here, but with respect to another issue you probably never thought about.

    you are sitting in a game in which you have more than tripled you buy-in.

    to get to that point, you have to be either crushing the game, or variance has been VERY
    good to you.

    do you really think you have the skills to still be sitting in such a game. do you have any experience playing in deeper stack games. from the questions you ask, i would say you do not.

    while you were able to suck out on this hand, maybe the question you should be asking yourself is should you have been sitting in the game to begin with when the hand started?
    for your skill set at this point , leaving when your stack was $1018 would have been the smarter play.

  4. @zzyzx Maybe leaving would have been smarter for some people. I have a profession...I'm a tax attorney. My primary focus when I play is to gain a greater understanding and proficiency with respect to the game. While I don't want to lose money and certainly I enjoy and appreciate winning and showing a profit, I am not playing for a living and don't intend to be. I play because I enjoy it...I am pretty successful at it and I am very competitive with a burning desire to get better...in fact to craft myself into the very best player/decision maker that I can be. I used to be heavily involved in sports now poker is the focus of my competitive desires and motivations. The type of law I practice involves little to no courtroom battling so poker is pretty much it for me. This year to date for every dollar I've invested at the poker tables, I have earned One Dollar, Fourteen and 31/100 Cents. I started playing around 2005/2006 and by 2007 I was a break even to small profit (2.5-5 Cents on the Dollar) player. If my ROI never improved much beyond what it is now but my poker skills and decision making abilities at the table advanced and continue to advance...I will be very happy and very satisfied. Thanks for your comment. Perhaps after reading this you will have a better understanding of who I am and why I play the game.

  5. @playinem what happened? River? Action?