Saturday, March 30, 2013

Double Luck

Hitting a strong hand is only half the battle. Your opponent has to have enough hand to pay you off also.

.50/$1 home game last night, I'm hovering a bit above my starting $110. I raise pocket nines from an early position, and three people decide to take a flop with me.

Flop is 9 6 3, all different suits.


Ok, I'll take that flop. No flush draws for anybody to chase, but 78 and 45 can come along. Most players can have TT also, and some can have JJ (others would threebet it). I bet $8 into $15 and one player decides to come along. Time for the inner happy dance...

The turn brings a jack, and completes the rainbow - no flush draw possible. I'm going to bomb away now, $22 into a $31 and hope for a call. I get it!

The river brings an ace, which I actually think is a bad card for me. What the hell can this player have besides a busted draw? I suppose Ace-nine or Jack-nine are possible, but 3 nines are accounted for. So what's my play?

I could check to induce a bluff from a busted draw. A good option against some players, but not this opponent. I think with the pot bloated up this big, he'll just check behind and say "I missed". So I'm going to completely rule out trying to get paid by 78 and 45.

I could bet small to get a crying call from his pairs. Probably the correct play.

I think there's a better question available than "what does he have?", and that question is "what could I have?". Look at my line. Raise, bet, bomb, with the jack coming as an overcard, and the river the over-est overcard, the ace. How am I bombing away on every street? If I bomb the river again, what possible hand can I have except for 99, JJ, or AA?

I think when your perceived range is this narrow, a giant, polarizing bet looks very suspicious. It has to look bluffy. I learned that in my Big Pot Fear Training hand two weeks ago. Should I bomb the river and hope he has something that can pick off a bluff? I don't think it's going to work very often, but it doesn't really have to.

I take out a stack of red $5 chips, add a few to the top, and slide it out. I feel the table shift nervously at the big bet. "How much?", he asks. "$65", I say, and unstack/restack it up to count it and make sure. "Well, I have to call, I have top two", I hear after a second. He flips over ace-jack.

I have no flipping idea how he's holding ace-jack by the river. So indescribably lucky for me. Not only lucky enough to flop a set, but lucky enough for someone to decide to float while drawing 100% dead on the flop, and to runner-runner two pair.

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