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Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: Jan 03, 2018


The check call lead out on the turn can be attacked.

A few weeks ago I played an interesting hand in a three-bet pot at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. The game was $5-$5 no limit hold’em and had a maximum buy in of $1,000. I was doing well for the session and sat with $2,200. The villain in the hand had had a $5,000 stack at one point but had lost a bunch of pots and now sat with just $1,000. It was pretty obvious to me that he was a fairly recreational player as he had drastically overplayed hands when he sat deep. It was also obvious that he was a little flustered.

I sat to his immediate left and in the hand in question it was folded to him in the cutoff and he made a standard open to $20. I looked down on the button at 5Heart Suit 4Heart Suit and decided to three-bet to $70. Against an early position raiser I may just flat or fold this hand but in this configuration I felt that this weaker holding would do better if played heads-up. I also might get an immediate fold preflop. The blinds got out of the way and the villain called. The flop came down AHeart Suit JSpade Suit 9Spade Suit and my opponent checked. Since this flop should hit my three-betting range and also because a lot of players at this level do not pay attention to positions (the fact that I could be wider as I was on the button three-betting his cutoff open) I decided that a continuation bet of $80 was in order. I also had backdoor straight and flush draws and planned on double barreling cards that would improve my draw.

My opponent called rather quickly and the turn brought in the 2Heart Suit giving me a straight flush draw. Now, unexpectedly my opponent led out at me for $120. Since the deuce was rather irrelevant for the most part, with the exception of A-2 suited, I figured the turn did not help him. I also thought that if he had flopped something big like a set of nines or A-J, that he would have either check-raised the flop or the turn, not take a check-call, lead line. Also, my opponent called rather quickly preflop causing me to discount a lot of A-K type hands, which might four-bet, or at least take some time to think about what the proper action would be.

To me, this lead out represented a lot of one pair ace type hands that were “betting for protection.” With the equity that I had in my hand (12 outs versus an ace) I decided that the best play was to shove all-in and put a ton of pressure on my opponent. “Damn,” he proclaimed immediately after I made the bet and visibly got uncomfortable. He took about one or two minutes and finally folded Q-Q showing it to the other side of the table.

Besides the fact that this was a really ridiculous line with Q-Q (as he gets all hands worse to fold and only better to call) his line was consistent with a medium-strength holding. The problem was that he left himself open to an aggressive semi-bluff that forced him to fold. If you are playing out of position against a good aggressive player, remember if you play the check-call, lead line on the turn with a medium strength hand you are opening yourself up to being punished. However, if you do this occasionally with some strong hands you can get someone like me to bluff the entire stack off thinking that you are weak.

Bet sizing leads to proper hand reading.

One of the advantages of playing a lot of hours is that you can pick up on common betting patterns from players that play occasionally. And one tell tale betting pattern that is tried and true is when a player bets the same amount or less on the turn compared to the flop. This is consistent with weakness.

We can look at an example of this from a recent hand that I played at the Commerce Casino’s $5-$10 no limit hold’em $1,500 cap buy-in no limit game. My opponent in the hand was definitely a recreational player and was still steaming from a few bad beats that had happened from the round before. When he was not steaming he played relatively tight but after losing some hands he was showing down a very wide range. In this particular hand I was in the big blind and he was under the gun. First to act and with a $1,000 stack he raised to $40. It got folded to me and I called in the big blind with A-10 offsuit. The flop came down ASpade Suit JSpade Suit 6Club Suit giving me top pair. I checked, my opponent bet $50 and I called.

Whenever you flop top pair of aces with a weakish kicker, defending from the big blind against an early position raiser can get dicey. That’s because if your opponent continues to show strength you can easily be beaten by A-J-A-K, hands that almost everyone opens for a raise from early position. In these situations I typically pay close attention to the opponents’ turn bet sizing as many times that will reveal the strength of their hand. This bet-sizing concept is one of the many that is examined in my live training site,

The turn brought in a total blank, the 3Heart Suit. I checked again and this time my opponent repeated his bet of $50. In my experience this is almost always a weak hand that is trying to make a bet in position on the turn so that it does not have to face a large river bet. With A-10, I even considered check-raising very small, which seems unorthodox, but thought better of it and decided that calling and then leading the river on a blank would be the best play. If the under-the-gun player had a hand like K-J or a weak ace he would be often times confused by this bet and call because the front door spades bricked out.

I call this line an “upfront bet.” This technique can be used when we have a medium strength hand and because of our opponents’ bet sizing, specifically on the turn, we think we have the best hand. We also feel that check raising will fold out a lot of these inferior hands but we do not want to check the river as our opponent will check behind with his showdown value. Ideally we gamble on a blank river coming and we come out and bet. You would be surprised how often this line will get paid off. This whole line of thinking is based upon the fact that our opponent’s bet on the turn is $50. If he had bet larger I may call one more time or just fold, but on this draw heavy of a board there was no way I thought that he had a hand like A-K or A-Q.

Unfortunately for me, the river brought out the KHeart Suit, far from a blank card. It was not the absolute worst card for me but I thought that if I bet now it would be optimistic to get called by weak middle pair hands like J-10 or Q-J and it also brought in the Q-10 straight draw. So I decided to check. Now my opponent bet out $250. This was really strange to me. I would have thought that if he was driving Q-10 as a draw he would have bet a lot more on the turn and take the same line with A-K. I could really only conclude that the river somehow helped his hand but that he did not have one of those two hands. I tanked for a few minutes and folded and my opponent showed me K-K for a rivered set.

This was a very unfortunate result because if the river was a blank I truly believe that I would have been called if I had bet. Remember, when an inexperienced player makes a bet that is the same size or less on the turn then they did on the flop their hand is usually weak. So if you get into situations where you have a draw on the turn you can pounce on their bet sizing weakness by raising them. ♠