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Poker Hand of the Week: The Readers Decide What’s The Best Play

by Card Player News Team |  Published: May 30, 2012


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

You have a slight chip lead and you are heads-up for a major tournament title.

You are dealt 6Heart Suit 3Heart Suit on the button and decide to min-raise to 500,000. The big blind three-bets to 1,250,000.

You call and the flop comes JSpade Suit 7Heart Suit 5Diamond Suit. Your opponent bets small, only 625,000 and you decide to call. The turn is the 9Heart Suit and your opponent bets again, this time 1,325,000.

Your opponent has about 9,300,000 left and you are sitting with 10,800,000 million.

The Questions

What do you do with your double gut shot and flush draw? Do you move all in now or take another card? What do you do if you miss on the river and your opponent checks?

The Argument For Shoving

The best reason to shove is because at the moment, you have some fold equity. After all, you are still holding six-high and even though you may have up to 15 outs to win the pot, you don’t really want to rely on making your hand when you have the possibility of winning without a showdown.

Furthermore, if you do decide to call and evaluate the river, you may wind up having trouble getting value out of your hand. Your opponent may give up if he was bluffing, seeing as you just called two streets or he may become scared when a heart or a four-liner to a straight hits the board and refuse to pay you off.

Because you are looking at a draw-heavy board, shoving also has the added benefit of folding out better draws than yours. Bigger heart and straight draws will suddenly be getting a terrible price to continue, allowing your small draw to avoid disaster.

Your opponent has 9,300,000 million (37 big blinds) remaining and assuming he folds to a shove, you will be stacked with 17,200,000 million (68 big blinds). That’s a nearly 2-1 chip advantage that will allow you to apply pressure for the duration of the match.

The Argument For Calling

Let’s look at the action so far. Your opponent three-bet to 1,250,000 preflop, bet 625,000 on the flop and then followed that up with 1,325,000 on the turn. Doesn’t it seem like he may be trying to induce a raise?

Given the current stack sizes, a shove could be considered overkill. The pot only has 5,135,000 in it and you’d be risking an additional 10,625,000 to win it. If you get called and lose, you’ll be left with only 1,500,000 (6 big blinds).

But what hands actually call a shove of that size? You are certainly getting called by all strong hands, such as sets, two pair, straights and overpairs. You may even get hero called by most jacks, simply because the board is so draw heavy. Even if you get called by a draw, it will usually be a better one than you are currently holding. Don’t forget that you’re only holding six high.

Calling, however, leaves you with options on the river regardless of what comes. If you hit your draw and your opponent checks, you can go ahead and bet for value. Something around the size of the pot that will leave your opponent with just enough to give him false hope. If you miss your draw and your opponent bets, you can comfortably fold knowing you’ve salvaged your tournament. If you miss and your opponent checks, you can decide whether or not a bluff is in order.

Vadzim KursevichWhat Actually Happened

Vadzim Kursevich raised to 500,000 on the button and Paul Guichard three-bet to 1,250,000 from the big blind.

Kursevich called and the flop fell JSpade Suit 7Heart Suit 5Diamond Suit. Guichard bet 625,000 and Kursevich made the call.

The turn was the 9Heart Suit and Guichard bet 1,325,000. Kursevich moved all in and Guichard immediately called with 5Heart Suit 5Spade Suit for a set. Kursevich showed 6Heart Suit 3Heart Suit for straight and flush draws.

According to the Card Player Poker Odds Calculator, Kursevich would win the pot only 29.55 percent of the time because some of his flush outs would now give Guichard a full house. In order to win the hand and the tournament, Kursevich needed any non-board pairing heart, eight or four.

The river was the 8Club Suit, giving him the EPT Deauville title and a first-place prize of €875,000.

What Our Readers Said

Ironschef wrote, “Assuming that the hand plays out as written, I would prefer to call and see the river card. Committing my whole stack with a six-high draw, that may even have dead outs, is simply too risky. I would not even mind if I missed the river, and had to fold to a bet on river, leaving me with 10 million and still more than a fighting chance to win the match later.”

Answer20 wrote, “Each of these players ‘plans’ are included in my game and I don’t blame the villain for the weakish flop bet, but I probably would have made a larger turn bet to imply that the turn helped me. This possibly could have led to avoiding the all-in decision until the river when I can see the whole board. Knowing the hero might go all-in on the turn (and that I will call him anyway), an additional 3 to 6 big blinds on the turn lead-out bet while still leaving a decent amount behind lets me make a decision if another ‘bad’ card (especially a heart) comes on the river.”

Eric1 wrote, “I would have shoved to either represent that I turned the straight or to simply force him to make the big decision to hero-call me. As the hand did play out the way it did, shoving may have been the wrong play, but it paid off.”

Steven Vesper wrote, “I fold on the raise. With that board you have no way of knowing if your card hits that you are good in the hand. Why risk putting in one million hitting your card and getting in more trouble at that point? I know he hit his card and won, but to me the end doesn’t justify the means in this case. But it is probably why I don’t win more tournaments.”

Michael Hreha wrote, “I would flat call the turn. Whereas a 4 on the board to make a straight would squash your action, a third heart coming in runner, runner backdoor, is going to be less believable and would most likely get paid off for a three-quarters pot value bet. If you don’t have some kind of read on the other player, you shouldn’t let your emotions dictate that you move all in, just because you want to take down a big pot uncontested.”

Alex Robin wrote, “The worst move on the turn is value raising. It’s all in or fold. If he has 10-10, 8-8, he’s calling reluctantly. He may make a straight, or even worse, feel pot committed if he hits his set or a brick hits the river. Value raising the turn is essentially outplaying yourself. Shove and feel confident whether he folds or calls.”
David Cordell wrote, “With those outs on the turn, I would have raised to around 6.5 million. This basically puts the opponent to a decision for all of their chips. You would win most of the time when your opponent folds. If he calls or goes all-in, then you have an excellent chance for a redraw to win the hand and the tourney.”

Alex Di Fonzo wrote, “Flat the turn. Overbet shoving the turn is so transparent that we don’t want a call. If we miss the river and he checks, obviously bet like three-quarters pot to try and take it away. If we miss the river and he still bets I’d snap shove over him with six-high. Especially if the river was a Q, K or A. You’re going to make him lay down a ton of hands. Your line is ridiculously strong by this point. If you hit the river and he checks, obviously go for value.” ♠