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Poker Strategy With Jonathan Little: The River Check Raise All-In Bluff

Little Walks Us Through A Recent Hand He Played Online

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I recently had the opportunity to travel to Malta to commentate on the Global Poker League. While there, I witnessed my Las Vegas Moneymakers teammate Jake Cody run a very nice bluff raise on the river when the backdoor flush came and he held the nut flush blocker. After my first week of commentating, I had the weekend off, so I played a few World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) events on PokerStars. I wasn’t particularly looking for spots to attempt the river bluff raise, but when this spot came up, I just had to give it a try.

On the second day of a $100 buy-in event that had 20,000 entries, with blinds at 2,000-4,000 with a 400 ante, the action folded around to a somewhat loose, aggressive player in the cutoff who raised to 8,000 out of his 165,000 stack. I defended my big blind with AClub Suit 6Spade Suit. When facing a min-raise, you need to defend with a wide range if you don’t want to allow your opponents to constantly steal your blinds. I defend with many hands that are much worse than A-6 offsuit.

The flop came 9Club Suit 8Heart Suit 6Heart Suit.

I checked, my opponent bet 8,000 into the 21,600 pot and I called.

I do not think raising has much merit in this situation because when my opponent calls, he will have either made hands that crush me or draws that have plenty of equity. With my marginal made hand from out of position, my goal is to get to the showdown as cheaply as possible. Folding would be too tight, even though I could easily be in bad shape.
The turn was the 3Club Suit.

I checked, my opponent bet 28,800 out of his 153,000 remaining stack into the 37,400 pot and I called.

I could certainly fold my hand on the turn, but given my opponent’s loose, aggressive tendencies, I am fine seeing the river. I fully planned to fold to an additional bet if I failed to improve. You must be careful to structure your ranges such that you do not fold too many of your holdings on any individual street. In this spot, folding this specific bottom pair would be a bit too weak.

The river was the QClub Suit.

I checked and my opponent bet 44,000 out of his 124,400 remaining stack into the 95,000 pot.

I was unsure what to make of my opponent’s bet. Of course, he could easily have a nut hand such as a flush, straight, or set. He could also value bet with all over pairs and top pairs. However, given I have the nut flush blocker (it is impossible for my opponent to have the nut flush when I have the AClub Suit in my hand) and a six (making it more difficult for my opponent to have two-pair or a set) I decided to turn my weak bottom pair into a bluff, hoping to make my opponent fold his one-pair and perhaps some of his two-pair hands.

After some deliberation, I went all-in for 80,400 more. My opponent thought for about a minute before mucking, awarding me a sizable pot.

I continued making somewhat aggressive plays until I lost a big all-in coin flip at the end of day 2, leaving me with only 10 big blinds with 27 players remaining. I eventually petered out in 18th place, cashing for roughly $5,500. All in all, it was a lot of fun! ♠

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.