Hands under the microscope

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Hand #1

You’re heads up on the button holding Ace-six of clubs vs. an early position raiser. For the sake of assumption, the player has shown down quality hands played in position. He raises 4x’s the big blind and was second to act preflop. T

he pot contains his four initial bets preflop, your four bets, and the folded big and small blind bets. You were rather certain the big blind would have made a call if he had something playable and were originally calculating his call into your equation when you decided to call.

For simplicity’s sake, the pot contains 10 bets (we’ll just say 10). You each have stacks of 1000 remaining. The flop is rainbowed and comes Ace diamonds -six hearts -three clubs. The opponent checks to you, what now?

My thoughts are that while you “may” be able afford to give a free card here, the opponent checked to me on the flop, yet he liked his hand enough to raise preflop out of position. I’m thinking that normally, he’d continue his bet if the flop didn’t help him somewhat. More than likely, he’s got a high ace, maybe even suited. He could also be holding kings-nines, however, he’d be more apt to bet the flop out of continuation to say the least. On the other hand, I’ve been helped by this flop significantly. Top two pair at the moment and a backdoor flush draw. I’m convinced this flop helped me and also got him a piece in such a manner that he was comfortable checking to me. If I check I have two streets to get his entire stack into the center (this is now my goal). If I bet, I get to see how much he thinks this flop helped him. It should be noted, if he folds to my bet, it’s likely this flop would have produced zero for me, thus it makes little sense to give a free card. Additionally, there’s no over cards to come, so checking now with the purpose of bluffing or semi-bluffing later is not going to apply here. If he has ace-king, ace-queen, etc. he’s going to pay you off. Heads up, two pair vs. early position when this board is checked to you, I make a clear argument for betting here and will gladly await a check raise coming back at me..

Clayshooter, long time SPT vet and first quarter CheckRayz Leaderboard Poker Tour champion offers the following analysis:

1/2 pot sized bet. If he missed he won't catch up enough to pay you off big, so just take 10BB here. If he has A + anything he might catch a higher second pair so I bet to say I also hit the A plus have a kicker. Any kind of trap giving free cards hoping he'll catch a K-Q or whatever may lead to him catching higher two pair or making a set out of his pocket pair. Bet it and take it here, even if ahead you're not so far in front as to not be caught.

As you can see, Clay and I both agree betting is appropriate in this situation... I didn't list a bet size, but would be sympathetic to the 1/2 pot sized bet. Once again, if he folds, he was folding no matter what here.

Hand #2

You have Pocket sixes in the middle position, three handed on a flop of Ace clubs -King hearts - six clubs. You have one person acting before you in the big blind and one person in the cutoff to act behind you. The big blind is a trappy player who checks to you. Pot contains 12 bets, once again everyone has 1000 chips. Once again, you’ve been helped by this flop. While the BB may be trappy, he most likely didn’t overcall with pocket aces or kings. The cutoff didn’t simply call either with aces or kings. If either of them did, you’re destined to get stacked. There’s no over cards to the board for a bluff/semi-bluff here either, which means that if they‘re not scared of this flop now, they‘re not going to become scared short of queen-jack of hearts coming on the respective turn and river. I’d be inclined to continue the bet on this flop and hope both of them want to stick around and play back at you. Once again, my goal is to get each of them to donate 1000 chips to the center of the pot. I don’t wish to appear too excited, nor do I want to play too cautiously. Betting, once again, is the clear answer.

Clay's response:

check this all the way to the river, looking to reraise if the turn doesn't bring another club - unless the king. I likely get a bet out of one of them as they are likely playing at least one A or K here, maybe even both. A flop bet scares out all flush draws and K's while a check might lead to both betting the turn. I'm waaay in front and want someone else to take lead on this hand. I won't give a free river card only if the turn is a club, save the king.

Here Clay's opinion and my opinion differ. Remember, I'm against a trappy, tough player. When against a player who plays like this, they tend to interpret bets just as they intend them to mean, for the most part. If I check this flop, I look strong to him, because he'd check a strong flop. I'd prefer to play as if I am strong, in hopes of appearing weak. Odds are, he caught a piece of this flop, and there are no bluff over-cards to come. Though, there is the flush draw, which you still have to somewhat protect against. I bet somewhere between 1/4 and 3/4 the pot here, trying to pass it off as a disguised continuation bet. I personally believe a free card, checking down is -EV.

We'll cover more of situation three and four, on Monday. Additionally, we'll move to the turn and river of these hands in the near future.

Feel free to submit feedback on these hands for discussion.