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Finding the Line: A Street-By-Street Strategic Look At A Poker Hand

David Cossio Takes On James Dorrance at the WSOP Circuit Hammond Main Event

by Steve Schult |  Published: Dec 11, 2013


Playing a hand well requires multiple streets of good decisions, which pros refer to as a line. In Card Player’s new Finding The Line series, readers will be able to let us know what they consider to be the most optimal lines in hands played by professionals.

Card Player will give the options of a player on each street and the readers can put together what they consider to be the most optimal line and leave it in the comments section below.

The Situation

You are heads-up in a live, mid-stakes poker tournament against a very aggressive, solid player. The blinds are 100,000-200,000 with a 30,000 ante and you hold a chip lead with 21 million in chips to your opponent’s 13 million.


You are in the big blind and hold ASpade Suit4Heart Suit. Your opponent min-raises to 400,000 and it’s your action. Do you:

A) Three-bet – Your opponent is aggressive and ace high rates to be ahead of his button raising range. You want to get in as many chips as possible while you have the best hand.

B) Call – You want to keep the pot small with a weak ace and bloat the pot with a hand that doesn’t flop well. You also have some added deception by not three-betting with an ace in your hand.

C) Fold – It’s just a weak ace and you will be playing out of position against an opponent who will be playing very aggressively post-flop and will probably force you to fold on the majority of flops you don’t hit an ace. You can find a better spot.


David Cossio is playing heads-up against James Dorrance in the World Series of Poker Circuit main event in Hammond, Indiana. Dorrance min-raises the button and Cossio calls.

The Flop

The flop is QClub Suit5Heart Suit3Spade Suit. You flop an overcard and a gutshot straight draw. Do you:

A) Check-call – You know your opponent is going to fire a continuation bet with most of his range and you can call with what could be the best hand and see what develops on the turn.

B) Check-fold – You didn’t flop anything that great and you can just let the hand go with a minimal loss.

C) Bet – You can take the initiative away from your opponent and maybe take the pot right there on the flop. This would force him to bluff-raise you or float you in order for him to bluff you.

D) Check-raise – You turn your hand into a bluff and maybe get him to fold a small pair. You also pick up the pot when he bets as a bluff and has nothing.


Cossio checks and Dorrance bets 400,000. Cossio calls and they see a turn.

The Turn

The turn is the 7Club Suit. You improve to a double-gutshot straight draw and you still have an over card that could be an extra three outs. Do you:

A) Check-call – You want to be able to see a river card with all of the equity your hand has. You think that check-calling will be the cheapest way to see the river.

B) Check-fold – You don’t think your opponent could be double-barreling light and he’s got to have a hand in order to bet the turn. If you hit the straight with the six, your hand will not be disguised and your opponent may not pay you off on the river.

C) Bet – You think your opponent may check back some of his bluffs that may have you beat like some bigger ace-highs and he also will have a decent amount of equity with two live cards to make a pair. You may also get him to fold some small pairs.

D) Check-raise – You can make your hand look very strong by taking the check-call/check-raise line. This is typically a line indicative of a lot of strength and you could maximize your fold equity.


Cossio check-calls 800,000 from Dorrance and they go to the river.

The River

The river is the 6Diamond Suit. You make your straight. Do you:

A) Check-call – You can let your opponent bet his worse hands and you doubt he can call a raise with a worse hand.

B) Check-fold – I can’t think of a good argument to check-fold this hand on the river.

C) Bet-fold – You make your hand and you don’t want to risk your opponent checking back some hands that he may call a bet with like a set or two pair. But if you get raised, you don’t think he could ever be getting raised by something worse than a chop.

D) Check-raise – You want to let your opponent bluff at the one-liner to a straight and then hope that he thinks you are bluffing and will call a raise.

E) Bet-call – You make your hand and you don’t want to risk your opponent checking back some hands that he may call a bet with like a set or two pair. But if you get raised, you think he could have some worse hands in his range or that you are getting too good of a price to fold a chop.


Cossio led out for 2.2 million and Dorrance moved all in for just under 9 million. Cossio tanked before calling. Dorrance tabled 9Spade Suit8Heart Suit, giving him the nut straight and Dorrance took a 3-to-1 chip lead.

He took that chip lead and went on to win the heads-up match and the tournament. Dorrance took home a WSOP Circuit ring and over $418,000. Cossio took $260,100 for his second-place finish.

Cossio took a line of B-A-A-E with this hand. Let us know what line you would take and why in the comments below for a chance at winning a Card Player digital subscription. We’ll post the results of the most popular line in the next edition of Finding The Line.