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Slow Playing is Risky

15/02/2018 by Jonathan Little
Hand Analysis

Today I am going to share with you a hand I played last year in a $1,000 side event at the Hard Rock in Hollywood Florida. Up until this point, my table had been fairly tight and passive. No one was too crazy.

Everyone folded to me in second position at a nine-handed table and I raised to 375 out of my 9,000 effective stack at 75/150 with Ks-Qs. The cutoff and button both called. The blinds folded.

When you raise and do not get 3-bet (re-raised), it is usually safe to assume that you are not against premium preflop hands, such as A-A and A-K. Instead, you are likely against marginal pairs, big cards, and suited connectors.

The flop came Qc-5s-4c, giving me top pair with a backdoor flush draw. I bet 600 into the 1,350 pot. Both the cutoff and button called.

When you bet for value, make a point to choose a size that can realistically get called by worse made hands. Notice that on this board, if I bet large, perhaps 1,200 or more, my opponents would usually only call with top pairs and strong draws. Since my top pair is only in marginal shape against that range, a large bet is not ideal. If I bet smaller, as I did, many made hands that I crush, such as 7-7 and 6-5, can call, allowing me to extract value.

The turn was the (Qc-5s-4c)-10s, giving me a flush draw in addition to my top pair. I decided to bet 1,000 into the 3,150 pot.

Again, my bet was purely for value, as I can get called by many inferior holdings. If I happen to be behind, I may river the flush.

To my surprise, the cutoff raised to 3,000. The button folded. I decided to call 2,000 more.

When the cutoff raised, I assumed he had a premium hand, perhaps two-pair and better, plus a few premium draws such as Kc-Jc. Although I was almost certainly beat at the moment, calling with my flush draw makes sense due to the pot odds plus the implied odds. I had to put in 2,000 more to win the 7,150 pot plus the 2,000 I would be putting in, meaning I needed to win at least 2,000/9,150 = 21% of the time to justify sticking around. Notice that in the worst-case scenario, when my opponent has three of a kind, I will only win 18% of the time, making this call slightly unprofitable. However, if my opponent doesn’t have a set, my call is immediately profitable. Also notice that if my opponent happens to have a set, I will likely be able to win a sizable bet on the river when I fit my backdoor flush, meaning I am risking 2,000 to win the 7,150 pot plus an additional 5,925 (the remaining stacks) on the river.

The river was the beautiful (Qc-5s-4c-10s)-As, completing my flush. I decided to lead all-in because I feared that my opponent would check behind with two-pair or three of a kind on this “obviously” scary river while he would still call a bet if I went all-in because the obvious flopped flush draw missed. I was pleased to see my opponent instantly call with three 4s, awarding me a nice pot.

So, where did my opponent go wrong? In my opinion, I think he should have raised my flop bet. When you flop a set on an incredibly draw-heavy board, you should be happy to build a pot. Instead, my opponent elected to make a small raise on the turn, forcing me to continue with my draws. This time, his error cost him his tournament life.