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Poker Déjà Vu: Getting Paid With A Premium Hand

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Dec 14, 2022


Jonathan Little If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out Jonathan Little’s elite training site at

How do you make sure that you get paid off when you have a premium hand?

The following two hands from a $3,500 buy-in main event illustrate the table image that I constantly strive to develop that gives me the best possible chance of earning the max when I happen to make a big hand.

The blinds were 200-400 with a 400 big blind ante and I was sitting on a 40,000 stack. Everyone folded to me on the button and I raised to 1,000 with QClub Suit 9Club Suit. A tight, aggressive kid in the small blind three-bet to 2,600.

Calling three-bets from in position with a wide range of hands that flop well is an excellent strategy when deep stacked and getting great pot odds because you risk very little to potentially win a lot. I am pretty much never folding QClub Suit 9Club Suit in this situation, especially against a tiny three-bet.

I called. The flop came JHeart Suit 8Spade Suit 4Club Suit and the small blind bet 3,100 into the 6,000 pot.

With a gutshot straight draw, a back door flush draw, and an overcard, am definitely going to stick around. Perhaps more importantly, I am in position, which gives me a reasonable chance to steal the pot on the turn if my opponent checks.

I called and the turn was the 5Heart Suit. The small blind now checked, and I bet 5,300 into the 12,200 pot. He folded.


One orbit later, everyone folded to me, again on the button, and I raised to 1,000 out of my 50,000 stack with 7Diamond Suit 7Club Suit. The same tight, aggressive kid once again three-bet to 2,600 from the small blind. Once again, I called.

The flop came KSpade Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit, giving me bottom set. And once again, he bet 3,100 into the 6,000 pot!

Now, I would normally raise in this situation some portion of the time because the board is extremely dynamic. That means it is likely that the current “strong” hands will be downgraded substantially on the turn or river.

But since I called in a similar situation one orbit earlier, calling makes a lot of sense to induce my opponent to either two-barrel bluff or look to check-call down with any made hand. I did not think my opponent would give up in the same manner as the previous hand. After all, nobody likes to get run over twice!

I called. The turn was the 3Club Suit, and just like last hand, he checked.

Sticking with the plan, if I make exactly the same bet as the previous pot, I imagine my opponent will call a lot. When my opponent calls, he will probably have a decently strong bluff catcher that will call again on the river or some sort of draw. It is important that you narrow your opponent’s range as the hand progresses so you can make smart decisions on the river.

I bet the same 5,300 into the 12,200 pot and this time he called. The river was the 4Diamond Suit and he checked.

Given my opponent’s range on the turn and the fact that the river is essentially a blank, I assumed he would fold all of his busted draws and call with all his bluff catchers.

You will find that most players do not enjoy the feeling of being pushed around. Since I do not think my opponent would fold any made hand, a large bet size makes sense, especially given he may be thinking that I am trying to steal the pot.

I bet 27,000 into the 22,800 pot. He quickly called and then disgustingly mucked when I turned up my set, awarding me a significant pot early on in the tournament. ♠

Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings, best-selling author of 15 educational poker books, and 2019 GPI Poker Personality of the Year. If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out his training site at