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GUKPT Manchester Key Hand

by Ian Simpson |  Published: Jan 01, 2014


Here’s a critical hand from the early stages of GUKPT Manchester, in which I managed to place 8th out of the 180 entries for £5,500. I went into this final table with the chip lead and should probably have placed better than 8th. I did manage to rectify my mistake a few weeks later and come 2nd in the UKIPT London main event for £106,000. Some might say I’m running good!

Anyway, I get dealt ASpade Suit 4Spade Suit UTG+1, the blinds are 25/50. Its 9 handed and I raise it to 175. Peter Charalambous makes the call from the hijack and we see a flop. About an orbit ago Peter had flat called pre flop with J-J in a similar situation. For those who don’t know, Peter is a very good no limit hold ‘em player with the results to back this up. We both have approximately the starting stack of 20,000 chips.

The flop comes 10Spade Suit 5Heart Suit 2Spade Suit. Just my kind of flop! I have a sneaky gut shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. My Ace high gives me 3 possible out’s as well, or may even be the best hand right now. I bet 325.

Peter wakes up now with a raise to 850 making the pot 1,600. I don’t think I like the prospect of re-raising here. If I raise it will be to over 2,000 and this will leave me out of position in a ~100bb pot vs. a strong player. If I miss my draw immediately on the turn, I don’t particularly like this situation.

So, I call making the pot 2125 and the turn lands the JClub Suit. I check to the raiser who makes it 1,400 to go. There’s 3525 in the pot giving me 2.5:1. Since we are so deep and I have the sneaky gut shot to go with my flush draw I’m happy to call this to try and get paid big on a good river card.

The river comes the JSpade Suit. Now I’ve found myself in a bit of a tricky position. I’ve made my flush, but the board paired.

Let’s break down the different holdings he could have and assess what we think he will do with them. What hand does he flat call pre flop, raise with on the flop, and fire another bullet with on the turn?

Full houses or quads fit his line and will re raise me if I bet. Not a position I want to be in. Some people might discount 1010 from his range, but I don’t. If I had top set on this flop facing a bet I would raise to charge the flush draws and to create a big pot in the event my opponent has J-J+ or a smaller set. Just calling the flop has some merit as it might allow A-K to catch a pair and pay us. But personally I don’t want to give my opponent free cards in the hopes that one of his possible holdings might make a pair, when I can extract a lot of value and create a big pot in which I am a big favourite against the rest of his range.

A-10 probably won’t call a bet and will probably happily check behind. Betting is slightly better here in case he wakes up with a hero call, but that is unlikely against a strong player given my line. I probably don’t get much value here either way.

Weaker flushes will probably bet if I check and might just call a check raise. They will probably only call if I bet out, fearing a bigger flush/full house. The exception would be KSpade Suit QSpade Suit which will probably re-raise if I bet out. While him having a flush here would be great, personally I don’t think he would play most of his flush draws in this manner. KSpade Suit QSpade Suit could take this line for sure. I think weaker flushes would often just call the flop and re-assess on the turn.

How would Q-Q+ play the river here? Given my line it’s likely I have a flush if I bet out and he may decide not to pay me off. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case against a weaker player I hasten to add. If I check he will likely value bet these hands. How likely is it he has one of these hands given he only flat called pre flop? I know we saw him flat call with J-J earlier, but even still Q-Q+ tends to make people hit the raise button. If he does have one of these hands, we probably get more value from them by checking and disguising our hand strength as betting out on the flush card here screams that I’ve hit my draw. We gain nothing from check raising these hands as they will almost certainly fold to such a strong move on a dangerous board.

I highly doubt he has 3 of a kind Jacks. (J-10 fits his range perfectly for a full house) K-J would probably just fold the flop, while A-J, if it got involved, would flat call the flop (float) to re-assess on the turn.

He could have bluffed with something like K-Q or 9-8 which turned an open ended straight draw which he continued firing with. If this is the case, by the river he has no way of winning the pot except by firing another bet. Again we gain nothing by check raising against these hands and scare them out of the pot should we bet.

To summarize I think full houses/quads, A-10 and KSpade Suit QSpade Suit are his most likely holdings. While flushes, Q-Q+ or 3 of a kind are all less likely but not impossible. A bluff isn’t impossible either, but possibly less likely given the stage of the tournament.

If I bet and he re-raises I’m in a really really tricky spot as the only hand that might re raise that I can beat is KSpade Suit QSpade Suit, weighing his range heavily to full houses should he take this line. I don’t like a check raise here. I think the only realistic hand that I beat that can call a check raise is KSpade Suit QSpade Suit. The rest of the time he folds which means the check raise gains me nothing from his weaker hands and pays off his stronger hands. That leaves me check calling the river. I’m not convinced A-10 or Q-Q+ will call my bet, as betting right here looks exactly like the hand it is. But I think Q-Q+ will probably bet for value if I show some deception and check, thus earning me another bet. I also think checking lets him fire another bullet with some bluff hands too.

So, I went for the check call and I was shocked to see Peter turn over KSpade Suit 5Spade Suit after he bet 2500. He was just as shocked to see me turn over ASpade Suit 4Spade Suit! ♠

After spending a year sponsored by Paddy Power Poker through their Sole Survivor promotion, Ian Simpson went on to win the 2013 Irish Poker Open to take home €265,000 euros. He currently plans on doing some work in schools in between travelling the tournament circuit and writing for Card Player Magazine. You can find him on twitter