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Poker Hand of the Week: 3/11/16

You Decide What's The Best Play


Give us your opinion in the comments section below for your chance at winning a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.

Ask any group of poker players how you played your hand and they’ll come up with dozens of different opinions. That’s just the nature of the game.

Each week, Card Player will select a hand from the high-stakes, big buy-in poker world, break it down and show that there’s more than one way to get the job done.

The Scenario

There are 21 players remaining in a $1,500 buy-in tournament and you are already in the money and guaranteed at least $14,404. You have 2,100,000 in chips, which is good enough for second place overall. The blinds are 20,000-40,000 with a 5,000 ante, giving you more than 52 big blinds to work with.

The chip leader, an accomplished player with 2,495,000 in chips, raises to 80,000 from the cutoff. You look down at KDiamond Suit10Club Suit and make the call from the small blind. The big blind comes along as well and the flop is KSpade SuitKHeart Suit5Spade Suit.

You check, as does the big blind, and the cutoff bets 110,000. You call and the big blind folds. The turn is the AHeart Suit and you check again. The cutoff bets 200,000.

The Questions

Do you call or raise? Is the ace on the turn good for you? How do you extract the most value from your trips? Given your opponent’s line, is it best to call and then check the river or raise on the turn? Are you worried about any potential draws? Would you play the hand differently against a shorter stack?

What Actually Happened

Jason WheelerAt the World Series of Poker Circuit main event at Bally’s in Las Vegas, Michael Rocco opted to just call a 200,000 turn bet from Jason Wheeler holding trip kings on a board reading KSpade SuitKHeart Suit5Spade SuitAHeart Suit.

The river was the 8Diamond Suit and Rocco checked again. This time, Wheeler checked behind, and mucked when Rocco showed his hand. Despite taking the chip lead, Rocco ultimately busted in seventh place, earning $50,806.

Wheeler rebounded from the hand to win the tournament, along with a WSOPC ring and the $323,236 first-place prize.

What would you have done and why? Let us know in the comments section below and try not to be results oriented. The best answer will receive a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.



8 months ago

Maybe a questionable preflop call, but after that it was played exactly correctly. You just call it down from the flop. Wheeler's range could include full house, trips with better kicker, or a worse hand like two pair or combo draw that will only lay down to a bet that is too large to justify the chips you have to put at risk. His betting line does not suggest a K9 or worse hand. If you put more chips at risk, what worse hands will he pay you off with that do not have at least a 25% chance of giving you a bad beat? You don't want to make a larger pot if he has a combo draw. From an ICM standpoint it is not worth building a larger pot even if you are ahead and even if your play would be positive EV. In a cash game you might raise, but there is way too much poker left, with 20 players, to think that doubling up now can take you to the promised land. Or if you bet and he comes over the top, don't you have to just lay it down? On the other a hand, a worse hand (like AQ, A5s or a combo draw) might keep betting at you and a worse hand probably won't get lucky on the river. So why not just let him give you whatever chips he is willing to give you while you are minimizing the risk of getting knocked way down in ICM value? Once you have put yourself in this tough spot with the preflop call, you have to just hold on for the ride, calling down unless the call just gets too expensive. You are hoping that a worse hand will give you more chips, and a better hand will be such a monster that they will not get too greedy on the value bet. Yes, it feels bad to just be a caller, but from an ICM standpoint, it is the only logical way to play it at this point in the tournament. Against a short stack of less than 15 BB you might be tempted to put it all in on the flop. You are never going to fold against a short stack, so either he calls your shove and you win or you lose, or he folds a draw and you avoid the risk of giving him more chips on a bad beat. Against a stack of 15 to 35 BBs, unless you know he has a wide range, you might be tempted to fold the K10 on the turn to a larger bet than 200K, but as played, you still have to call the turn bet and look to check it down on the river. Yes, the whole strategy is pretty passive and defensive, but seems better than aggression in this context.


8 months ago

Agreed with BPL. My instinct was to just call down if possible. Only b/c he's chip leader and if he's holding one of the 3 better hands on the turn, you will definitely go broke. Even though that's unlikely, by flatting you get him to bleed into you as much as he will.

I think it's both safe+effective though probably not optimal. Optimal play is to try and get him to double you up. You could assume he's highly unlikely to have you beat and in this case you should always go broke or attempt to maximize your profit by baiting him into a shove.


8 months ago

The hand was played correctly post flop. However, it illustrates exactly why the correct preflop play is to fold.

You're in 2nd place overall with 21 left and the only player with more chips than you is the preflop raiser. You hit one of the best possible flops for your hand AND YOU CAN ONLY CALL DOWN! No way this play is profitable long term.


8 months ago

This is a classic pre flop mistake calling from the small blind with trash (resteal or fold is the correct play in this situation fold is
the best play because of stack sizes # of play left in tournament )
Flop play
Hero equity is 80%
Villain range equity is 40%
Hero best play (play fast) isafish to lead out with a 80% of pot bet
And shove to a reraise if villian calls shove all
in on turn turn

Hero profile is a sheep (better know as clueless calling station)


8 months ago

Fortune favors the bold (not calling stations)
Try to win big pots and steal small pots is the way


8 months ago

I am not a "real" savvy player but I would have raised on the turn hoping he was going for a flush draw and would call. Not sure how many players were on table but if short table I see no harm in calling with k 10. If he shoved I probably would have called with that strong of a hand. Odds of him having the case king I feel was in my favor.
As I said, I'm in no way a professional player but go with gut feeling and some reliance on odds...


8 months ago

I'm ok with the pre flop call with KT. On the flop, I will bet out (and expect to be called) except that the flop was too good for me, thus justifying the check and call. I like the ace as that improves many of my opponents hands while not yet putting them in the lead. After the turn, I like the check and I hope for the villain to bet. At that point a call is a mistake. If I am up against a flush draw or a hand like AQ, now is the time to raise to make a call by my opponent a mistake.


8 months ago

Of course against a short stack, I push all-in as soon as my opponent has committed enough to feel likely to get a call.


7 months ago

Maybe I will make a mini raise to 400k-450k. Because there is only small chance that I am fall behind. But I can't find my position if there is a spade, a heart or an An Ace on the river. It will be very difficult to make a decision if there is a large raise from opponent on the river.
If the opponent call the mini raise, I will be careful about the river.
If the opponent make another re-raise, maybe he has 55 or AA. and I am fall behind in most situation. Because he is an accomplished player. I don't think the opponent has AK. There may be a raise to 90k-100k on preflop.
Because this mini raise, there will not be a big raise on the river if the opponent has KQ,KJ,KT or a flush. And I can protect my chips on the river easier. Because I have the chance to get 55 or AK from the opponent idea. And he can't make a large bluff.
From this move I can protect my chips, and find my position.