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Poker Hand Of The Week -- 8/18/12

You Decide What's The Best Play


Give us your opinion in the comments section below for your chance at winning a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.

Ask any group of poker players how you played your hand and they’ll come up with dozens of different opinions. That’s just the nature of the game.

Each week, Card Player will select a hand from the high-stakes, big buy-in poker world, break it down and show that there’s more than one way to get the job done.

The Scenario

You are sitting four-handed in a major tournament and have the second biggest stack at the table, but not by much. The third largest stack, a solid, creative player, min-raises to 120,000 from under the gun and you call from the button with pocket jacks.

The blinds fold and the flop comes down 5Diamond Suit 4Club Suit 4Heart Suit. Your opponent continues with a bet of 130,000 and you decide to just call.

The turn is the 6Heart Suit and your opponent checks. You bet 235,000 and he calls. The river is the KHeart Suit. Your opponent checks once again and you decide to go for value with a bet of 475,000.

Instead of calling or folding, your opponent check raises to 1,400,000, leaving himself with 1,905,000 behind. You have 3,065,000 behind your river bet. Folding would put you in third place with 51 big blinds. Calling and losing would put you in third place with 35 big blinds.

The Questions

Do you call, raise or fold? Is your opponent raising for value or as a bluff? What value hands is your opponent raising that you can beat? Is it possible that your opponent is turning a value hand into a bluff? Can your opponent be holding a flush? Would your opponent take this line with a paired river king? How about trip fours?

The Argument For Calling

This is an odd line for your opponent to take with anything but a flush or a full house. The flush is unlikely, because your opponent would have undoubtedly bet the turn after picking up more outs. The full house is also unlikely, because after you call the flop, most players will continue to bet for value with their full house or trips. Even just one pair of kings is unlikely to raise on the river.

So that narrows your opponent’s range to big hands or bluffs. Given the pot size, your opponent only has to be bluffing in about 1 out of 3 situations for the call to be a break even play, not to mention the fact that winning this pot will give you the chip lead and all of the momentum.

The Argument For Folding

The river check raise bluff is an incredibly effective play because it almost never happens. It’s just not something that most players are capable of pulling off, especially at the final table of a televised, major event. Your opponent can’t be raising for value on this river with any hands that you have beat. He’s unlikely to raise the river with a six, five or lower pocket pair, because those hands tend to have some showdown value as bluff catchers.

So what’s more likely? That your opponent has all of a sudden decided to wait until the river to bluff you or that you are legitimately beat by a real hand? You still have 51 blinds if you decide to fold, more than enough to mount a comeback.

Anthony GreggWhat Actually Happened

After Chris Lee check raised to 1,400,000 on the river, Anthony Gregg went into the tank for more than three minutes before making the call, turning over pocket jacks.

Lee could only show AHeart Suit 5Spade Suit for a pair of fives. Gregg took the pot and the chip lead, which he used to propel him to victory in the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic and the first-place prize of $416,127. Lee went on to finish in third place for $158,450.

What would you have done and why? Let us know in the comments section below and try not to be results oriented. The best answer will receive a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.



over 8 years ago

It's a great board to bluff, straight is there, flush is there, and board is paired. Good read on the tough call, but it's probably a bad call most of the time.
Calling with JJ while 4-handed, pre-flop AND on the flop? This kind of play gets you in those sticky situations. As played, just check back on the river.
But I would re-raise pre, and/or raise that tiny flop bet to a size that says "you need a 4 or mondo draw to continue". Turn bet was too small, unless you checking back the river.


over 8 years ago

Consider whether the villian's actions match a holding of AKo. The pre-flop under-the-gun raise makes sense. On the flop, since he's still the aggressor, the bet on a low board makes sense. On the turn, he slows down out of fear you have a mid-pair (he's not scared of you having Aces or Kings, as you would have re-popped pre-flop with such a holding). When you bet the turn, he narrows your range to either a mid-pair, or a semi-bluff with high cards like AQ or KQ.

When the King hits on the river, the tricky villian goes for the check-raise, as he expects a bet from KQ, and also might expect a value bet from a mid-pair, and (considering his turn and river checks) thinks you could bet mid-pairs or AQ. So I fold.



over 8 years ago

I would have called. Most likely going up a small - medium pocket pair or an A-x with a min-raise. When the flop comes, the flopped 4's are an unlikely help to the villain. But, does he or she have QQ or better. It's possible but not likely so stick with getting value. Just call so you can set up your bet on the turn. The 6H on the turn is not much of a scare card unless your opponent makes reckless reraises preflop (7-8 or 2-3 suited?). Most likely at this stage of the tournament the villain isn't doing this but he is creative. Putting in a pot sized bet will help tell you what you need (the villain just calls). The river value bet is risky but you gotta be reading that the villain didn't reraise on the turn (with either the straight or nut flush draw). AA, KK or QQ would have likely bet out on the turn too. Flopped trips or a full house may have checked on the turn, but the villain likely would have reraised for value. On the might be going up against an A high flush......or a slow play hoping to get a big bet from you on the river - but not likely at this stage of the tournament. I would put the villain on 99 or A-x unsuited...thinking with just checks and calls you are likely good. Definitely wouldn't not reraise the river and might be kicking myself a bit for the extra river bet opening up the reraise opportunity for the villain, but would make the call for sure.


over 8 years ago

Why would he rasie for value on the turn if he's setting a trap with a flopped boat (5/5)? He would likely want you to see the river in hopes that you make you straight or flush in order to nail you with it. Heads up he flopped the second best hand possible. If he had the boat and bet the river hard after checking, the jacks would have probably folded.


over 8 years ago

The opponent could have min raised with a pair of 4's giving him the nuts after the flop or a pair of 5's flopping a boat. He would not likely have even min raised with 54,73 or some combination hand that gave him the up/down straight draw after the flop. His play seems to indicate that he flopped quads or a boat and is playing the "continuation game" to set the trap hoping you will gat a straight or a flush and increase the likelyhood that you will call him down to the river. You should have re-raised with JJ preflop to determine whether his min raise was a play or if he really had a starting hand. Weeding out a low pair min raiser early is the key play. They won't stay in if it costs too much to see a flop with their 4's 5's or 7's. If you're betting your weak Jacks against on the river against a straight and flush, you don't deserve to remain in the hand. The thing to do once the flop got you into trouble was to check the river and see the play instead of making another stab at it. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.


over 8 years ago

The answer is FOLD. You blew your chance to see his cards when you gave back the position by betting the river.


over 8 years ago

With Lee minraising from UTG and being 4-handed, we can already assume he has anywhere from 22-AA, Ax, Kx, Qx suited, all the way down to JT suited or unsuited.

Now with this range, Lee leads out for about 1/3 of the pot which is a standard continuation bet; here Gregg should've check-raised on the flop to about 350,000 being a dry paired flop to see where he stood in the hand and to get some early extra value from hands that he beats or even take the hand down right here.

But since Gregg just calls the continuation beat on the flop, the turn brings on a bit of a risk with JJ bringing a potential backdoor flush draw along with 12 overcards being any Q, K, or A. Fortunately for Gregg, the 6h brings a backdoor flush draw and once our opponent checks and just calls Gregg's turn bet, we can immediately erase all overpairs above 66, putting Lee on a range of 22-33, 66, Ax unsuited and suited, Kx unsuited and suited, or Qx suited. The reason 55 is not in Lee's range because of the check on the turn to Gregg, representing weakness, but 66 could be in the range since Lee is a creative player and could check it back to get some check-raise value in later in the hand.

Once the river card comes Kh, we can put Lee on a range from 22-33,66, Ax suited and unsuited, Kx unsuited, and Qx suited at best. Once Gregg value bets and then Lee puts out a massive check-raise, Lee wants us to put him on a backdoor flush, 66, A4 unsuited, or Kx unsuited hand. Gregg doesn't beat Ax suited, AK unsuited, A4 unsuited, 66, Qx of hearts or KQ-K2 unsuited, giving us a combo of around 8 Ax suited hands, 12 AK unsuited hands, 8 A4 unsuited hands, 6 66 hands, 8 Qx suited hands, and 110 KQ-K2 unsuited hands, for a total of 152 hands that Gregg can't beat. On the other hand, Gregg beats 6 22 hands, 6 33 hands, and 146 Ax unsuited hands, for a total of 158 hands that we beat plus a small amount other random air bluffs that are irrelevant since Gregg's river call is positive equity by 158/152 or +4% EV in the long run.

Overall I think Gregg's river call was correct with the math by being +EV in the long run, but the check-raise on the flop could've been a better path rather than having such a difficult call decision for about a third of his stack on the river. Gregg ended up winning more chips than possibly a check-raise on the flop would've, but in a crucial moment alike these in tournaments I'd rather take the check-raise on the flop to narrow down Lee's range to even a smaller set of hands and either taking the pot down right here or seeing if Lee has JJ beat on the flop with QQ KK or AA, ultimately minimizing the amount of chips lost later on in the hand.


over 8 years ago

Not sure why the hero didn't raise the min raise pre-flop? But, this hand is extremely complex and you guys used the word " creative player" to describe the villan. Since he didn't raise pre-flop the hero really has no idea where he stands, but the villan led out on the flop and again the hero just called. I get the feeling that the villan flopped something big like an A4 or even pocket 5's and when he wasn't raised on the flop, he didn't want to scare him away with a bet on the turn. The hero then decides to bet the turn and the villan smooth calls, which smells a little confident to me. Either way the villan is gonna get paid so he's checking the river because if he decides to bet now, the hero will definitely not raise and probably know he's beat. In conclusion, my senses say the villan flopped something big but at the vary least, he had a pair of 77's or something like that or a curve ball like A5 of hearts or at the bluff end of it all,A3,A2. But I do believe the hero has to call, never re-raise and the villan takes this pot?


over 8 years ago

As I said on facebook:

Folding is not an option. I can't that the river K helped him in any way, so I move all my chips to the center of the table. That way I might get him to fold QQ, and I keep him guessing.

I reckon he will fold almost every hand, and I don't have to show him mine.
44 and 55 are the only hands I can see him play like that, and that is just two out of a wide range.

Ergo, I push and when he folds I act like it was a big bluff.


over 8 years ago

what a great call . it looks like he was roughly getting 2-1 or better on a call. the big tell for me in the hand takes place on the turn . i have jacks when the villain raises preflop and then c bets the flop i think his range looks alot like this : AA,-8's , A K , A Q , and some other broadway cards maybe K Q , or K J depending on how loose i have seen him play up to this point . so up until the turn i cannot really narrow his range down further than that . when he checks the turn to me alot of his range falls apart . at that point there is 3 to a strait , and 2 to a flush , alot of his range isn't going to check there for fear of getting drawn out on without getting some type of thin value bet there . so when he check calls in my mind he doesn't have any of the pair hands like AA-8's or maybe even 7's as all of those hands in my mind would of either bet out or check raised . i think also even if he has a flush draw some how on the turn with a hand like A K suited etc i think he is going to raise hoping to get u off your hand . on the river i cannot fold my hand when im raised or else i would have checked behind hoping to win at showdown . when he raises the value bet on the river i have to call expecting to see mostly bluffs and the occasional very occasional 4 , or flush draw that got there . but again mostly bluffs because the flush draw would of probabley raised the turn , and the raise preflop doesn't . make sense for a 4 in his hand . maybe sometimes he flips over pocket 6's or a hand with a king in it but that 's just unlucky talking .