This is a hand I played online recently that had a couple of interesting decision points. I’ve left some space at each decision so you can think about what you would have done. At the end of the post I go over my reasoning for each decision and you can see if you agree with my thought process.
Relevant reads: CO is a solid regular. SB is playing 28/18 and 3betting 4% over a small sample and I suspect he is on the fishy side.
Merge Network $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold’em – 6 players – View hand 2055754
Hero (BTN): $101.40
Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 9 A
2 folds, CO raises to $1.50, Hero???
calls $1.50, SB raises to $5.00, 2 folds, Hero???
Flop: ($12.00) 8 9 4 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero???
Turn: ($12.00) 7 (2 players)
SB bets $10.00, Hero???
River: ($32.00) 2 (2 players)
SB bets $30.00, Hero???
raises to $86.40 all in, SB calls $20.72 all in
Pre-flop: A9s is definitely good enough to play on the button against a cutoff raise. You could raise or call with this hand. The fishy player in the small blind tips it toward a call for me. We want to give him a chance to enter the pot.
When he 3bets I expect him to have a stronger hand than mine, but his raise is very small. I only have to call 3.5 with 8.5 already in the pot. In terms of raw equity that means I only need 29% to continue and A9s does that well even against a very strong range. Given that we have position throughout the hand against a weaker player, I think a call should definitely show a profit.
Flop: He checks, which is a little weird. I would expect him to continuation bet with most of his range. With top pair, top kicker, against an opponent who’s shown weakness by checking, betting seems to be the obvious play. But at this point I expect him to have either A) a high-card hand like AK or AQ that’s missed and is now giving up, or B) an overpair that’s trapping. I think a check actually plays better against this range. If he has AK or AQ, he only has 3 outs to improve. If one of the 2 remaining aces hits on the turn, we likely get his whole stack. If he has an overpair he’s probably planning a check-raise. If we get check-raised by this player I think we should probably fold our hand, but it’s unfortunate to have to fold top pair, especially since we have 25% equity against KK-TT. In all I prefer a check, but I wouldn’t fault someone for betting.
Turn: We pick up the nut flush draw, which is very nice of course. He bets 10 into 12, a rather large bet. He could be making a delayed bid for the pot with AK or something, but at this point I think it’s quite likely that he does have an over-pair. Weaker players often love to trap with their over-pairs. When they don’t get any money in on the flop, they suddenly realize they’re at risk of not winning a big pot and make an extra-big bet to “make up for lost time.” I think if he was making a play at the pot with a weak hand he’d be more likely to bet something like 8. Of course, I can’t fold with top pair and the nut flush draw. I’m nearly priced in against an over-pair just in terms of immediate odds, and if he does have an over-pair I can expect great implied odds as well. And of course there’s a chance my top pair is good. I think calling is the only play.
I see people raise in this spot in live poker. I think they just get so excited by how much potential their hand has that they put in the raise without thinking. You need to think about what your raise accomplishes. If he has an over-pair, we get our stack in as a 2-1 dog. If he’s bluffing, we force him to fold when he’s probably drawing almost dead against our hand. Having the nut flush draw ourselves, there’s not much we need to protect against. I guess a raise could be good if he somehow has T9, but against the hands he’s likely to have a raise doesn’t do much.
River: We river the nut flush and obviously ship it in over his raise. He calls with KK.