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Overplaying A Full House

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Mar 01, 2017

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I recently observed a hand in the ShareMyPair hand-sharing app that demonstrates a mistake that many amateurs make that costs them a significant amount of equity in the long run. In a $5-$10 no-limit cash game, everyone folded to our Hero on the button, who raised to $20 out of his $800 effective stack with JSpade Suit JHeart Suit. Only the big blind, a somewhat splashy, but competent, player called.

I would have raised a bit larger, probably to $25 or $30, but min-raising is also acceptable. When playing with stacks deeper than 50 big blinds, it is usually wise to raise to 2.5 or 3 big blinds so you can easily get your entire stack in by the river when you happen to make a premium hand. When you min-raise, you may have difficulty getting all-in without using abnormally large bet sizes.

The flop came JDiamond Suit 3Spade Suit 3Heart Suit, giving Hero a full house. The big blind checked and Hero checked behind.

I would much prefer to see Hero bet about $20 into the $45 pot. While it is difficult for the big blind to have much, this is a situation where most players will stick around with a wide range when facing a small bet. Also, if the big blind has nothing at the moment, such as 8Spade Suit 7Club Suit, he is going to have a difficult time improving to a hand with which he will confidently call a turn and river. This should lead Hero to bet the flop to get value from king-high and better. I think a slightly smaller bet of $10 or $15 could also be fine.

Betting larger does not make sense because then, the big blind will start folding ace-high and king-high, which is a large part of the range Hero is trying to extract value from. Also, by betting, Hero gives the big blind the opportunity to check-raise bluff. He may bluff the turn when the flop checks through, but Hero would much prefer the pot get bloated on the flop. If you know your opponent will always bet the turn when the flop checks through, perhaps checking gains some merit.

The turn was the 3Diamond Suit. The big blind bet $20 into the $45 pot and Hero raised to $80.

I do not like this raise at all. While it is difficult for Hero to be beat (unless he is against quads), the big blind will have a tough time calling the raise unless he has a jack or better. Since Hero has two jacks in his hand, the big blind should rarely have a jack. Unless the big blind will call a turn raise and a river bet with an underpair or ace-high, calling the turn to induce a river bluff or thin value bet is the only play that makes sense. Always take time to think about the range you are trying to get value from. Hero likely did not do that at this point because if he did, he would realize there are very few hands that can call a raise. Those that can call a raise will likely value bet on the river.

The big blind three-bet to $200. Hero went all-in.

Once the big blind three-bets to $200, his range becomes extremely polarized to a jack or better, or a bluff. If he is bluffing, Hero should certainly call to keep him in the pot with his entire range that is drawing dead. If he has a jack or better, Hero is in marginal shape, given the big blind’s range is equal parts jack and quads. Notice there is one jack and one trey remaining in the deck. While most players call with more preflop hands containing jacks than threes, given the big blind was facing a min-raise, combined with this incredibly strong turn line, I think it is quite likely Hero is against a range weighted toward quads. Of course, the big blind could have a trickily played overpair (which Hero beats), but that is also unlikely. While I do not think Hero should fold to the turn three-bet, I despise his all-in because the big blind will certainly fold all his bluffs and may make a big fold with a jack.

This time, the big blind called with 10Club Suit 3Club Suit, for quads. This may look like a standard set up, but had Hero called the $20 turn bet, the big blind would have perhaps bet $80 on the river. At that point, Hero could raise to $200 for value. Then, he may have been pushed on, but at least at that point the big blind would still be in the pot with all his bluffs, making his range weaker. As played, Hero took a hand that should normally be in amazing shape and turned it into a bluff catcher. ♠

Jonathan LittleJonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings. Each week, he posts an educational blog and podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com, where you can get a FREE poker training video that details five things you must master if you want to win at tournament poker. You can also sign up for his FREE Excelling at No Limit Hold’em webinars at HoldemBook.com/signup.