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The Rise and Fall of a Big Draw Part II

by Daragh Thomas |  Published: Jul 01, 2010

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This is the second part of an analysis of a hand I played recently. The hand occurred in a live no-limit hold’em £1-£2 game in London, at the Empire Casino on Leicester Square. I had been playing for around six hours when the following hand occurred. I raised to £7 from early psoition with Qh Jh. I got several calls from around the table (we were playing ninehanded).

The flop came up A-T-9, with the 9 and 10 of hearts, giving me a straight flush draw. There was about £28 in the pot, and I bet £18. It was folded to the cutoff, who made it £50. It was then folded back around to me. I called. The turn was a bad card, an offsuit ace. I check-called a bet of £60. At this stage I was concerned that my opponent, who appeared to be a good pro, had a house.

The river was a quite staggering Kh, giving me a straight flush. Not only had I made a straight flush, but I had rivered it against an opponent who more than likely had a good hand, and plenty of money still left to go in.

The action is on me now — being out of position — and I have to decide what to do. As in all these situations, your opponent’s hand is very important, so you need to think about what type of range he or she has, and how best to play your hand against it. At this stage this is what I thought my opponent could have:

1. A house. A-T or A-9 are both likely holdings, as well as 9-9, T-T, and an unlikely A-A-A-A (bad beat jackpot here we come!). There is a small chance of A-K (which is now also a house).

2. A lone ace (which is now trips). A-J or A-Q, or possibly even a worse one. It’s important to note that this is now a very weak hand.

3. A bluff, or a counterfeited two pair.

4. A flush.

Also it’s important to think about what my opponent thinks I have. We had played together for several hours and he would have realised that I am pretty competent. Before I do anything on the river, I would imagine he thinks that I am likely to have a pretty good hand here. I think he would slightly discount me having a straight or flush since I called a bet out of position on a paired board, it’s definitely in my range, but it’s more likely I have either an ace or a house.

A-K, although unlikely, suits my play exactly (especially if I lead the river). I called a flop raise because I thought he could have a worse hand, called a bet on the turn because I have trips, and have now made almost the nuts on the river.

So what to do? There is about £600 in the effective stack, and roughly £200 in the pot.

There are two clear choices:

1. Check, with the intention of raising all in.

2. Bet close to the pot.

(You could also bet small hoping to induce a raise, but he is too clever for that, and it’s not a tactic I use very often.)

Check-raising works well if he is bluffing, or he has a strong hand. If I check to him he will bet all houses, flushes, and some bluffs. If he has a weak house he will still find it very difficult to fold having invested most of his stack in the pot when I raise all in (obviously he can’t fold the better houses). He won’t bet trips, but, and this is a big but, if I bet, I think he is good enough to fold trips if I lead anyway, so I don’t lose value against trips by checking. He probably wouldn’t have called anyway.

So given all that, check-raising is better. The only range of hands I lose value against by check-raising is those that will not value bet themselves, but will call a bet, and I don’t think there are any hands like that.

When I lead he is going to be terrified of A-K since that fits my play exactly, and only raise in the unlikely event he can beat it. (In which case it doesn’t make much difference what I do).

Unfortunately I chose the wrong option and bet, he called quite quickly. I showed my hand and tipped the dealer. He then showed his hand, T-T, for a turned house! I made two large mistakes in this hand, calling the turn bet, and leading on the river, but I still managed to win a £600 pot, and a £50 bonus for winning a best hand prize. My opponent played the hand much better than I did. Spade Suit

Daragh Thomas has made a living from poker over the last three years. He also coaches other players and writes extensively on the boards.ie poker forum, under the name hectorjelly.