Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Learning No-Limit From Scratch ­- Shoving the Turn

by Roy Cooke |  Published: Sep 28, 2016


Poker decisions aren’t always easy. Inevitably, some tough spots will present themselves. You’ll often base your decisions on information that isn’t clear or accurate. In such cases you just have to think it through, make the best estimates and go with your thoughts. Of course, it won’t always work out in your favor.

I’d been playing $2-$5 for about 30 minutes. I remembered playing with only one opponent before; the others were new to me. My limited assessment of my opponents was a mix of local regs and a few inexperienced players.

I’d made several aggressive pre-flop and post-flop plays and had busted a short-stacked player when I picked up two aces. I was a few hundred ahead with an aggressive image when a solid reg, $660 deep, opened for $20 UTG+3. Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser was called by two players, and in the big blind I peered down at the 5Heart Suit 5Diamond Suit before I tossed in the extra $15. We took the flop four handed, with $80 in the pot.

The flop was fantastic, coming AHeart Suit 5Club Suit 3Club Suit. I’d flopped middle set. While an overcard assumes the risk of being coolered, the overcard also presents greater opportunities to acquire action, particularly if it’s an ace.

Also, I was in a good position to obtain action. Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser was likely to bet that flop with any ace or flush draw, plus there may well be some bluffs and weaker holdings in his continuation betting range. Additionally, if I checked planning to check-raise, Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser’s continuation bet would have the potential for action from the other pre-flop callers before showing the strength of my hand. I checked, hoping Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser would fire.

He didn’t disappoint and tossed $45 into the pot. One pre-flop caller folded, and one called. Being out of position and on a draw-heavy flop, I check-raised to $170. Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser tanked for about 30 seconds and called, the other caller folded. There was $465 in the pot.

The turn was the 10Club Suit, filling the flush. The effective stack size was about $470, the amount Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser had left, so we had a low effective stack-to-pot ratio. I knew there were some flush draws in his flop continuation-betting and check-raise calling range. In addition, he might have called my check-raise with a big ace, and just under half of those would include a club.

He also could have some hands like aces up, a set of treys, or an ace with a gutshot. That said, those were all hands in his range I would discount in varying degrees since I felt he would likely have played some of them differently up to this point. When I put players on a range of hands, I discount those hands that I think are possibilities, but which my opponent may have played in alternate ways. How much I discount them depends on the situation and is a best-guess estimate, but utilizing that methodology gets me closer to reality.

I thought about how the hand would play out. If I checked, Mr. Pre-Flop-Raiser would bet all the hands that beat mine and likely check most of those which I beat, many of which had potential to draw out on me. I didn’t want him to realize his drawing-hand equity for free, nor did I want to lose my stack to his flush range. But if he bet, I’d call since he might bet hands that included a single big flush card. I had 10 wins against any made flush and he might bet other hands I beat as well.

That being the case, checking would allow him to bet his flushes, bet some of the hands that he would call with, but also check some of his hands that had equity. Since I was calling if he bet, I didn’t want to check and let him check any hands in which he had equity in a pot of this size. If I moved all-in, effectively a $470 bet since that was all he had left, I would shut out the equity of any hand he held a single club or get him to make a call getting 2-1 on a 4-1 shot. A call I thought he might make with a big ace hand with a club given my aggressive image. Adding additional equity to my bet was any value achieved from any of the two pair or lower sets in his range. “All-in,” I announced.

He hemmed and hawed for a while. He asked, “You’re repping the nut flush?” adding “I have the second nuts.” Then he called and turned over the KClub Suit QClub Suit. The river came the 7Club Suit, and I tossed my hand into the muck.

Yeah, I lost the pot. I’d made a decision based on my estimate of an unfamiliar opponent, and the results weren’t good. I left the game shortly after and still am unsure of which hands in his range he would have called the all-in turn bet with. But I’m not unhappy with the logic of my decision. All you can do in poker is make your best decision and then whatever happens, happens.

And while you should retroactively review your decisions, the result shouldn’t be part of the equation. If you misread an opponent’s range, then you should take note and learn from it. But sometimes, like in this case, your opponents are at or near the top of their range. And had they held any of the remaining portion of their range that you read them for, the play would have been correct. What’s important to realize is that the play is correct for how ALL of his range plays out, not the portion he happened to possess in the current situation.

Poker is never a perfect world with perfect information. Just gather the most information you can and process it the best you know how. Work on how you gather and process your information.

Do that well, and your game will continuously grow. ♠

Roy CookeRoy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters-including purchase, sale or mortgage his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy’s e-mail is His website is Roy’s blogs and poker tips are at You can also find him on Facebook or Twitter @RealRoyCooke