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Poker Hand Of The Week: 9/26/13

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 heads-up for a major tournament title. With 19,750,000 and blinds of 150,000-300,000 with a 30,000 ante, you are currently sitting with the chip lead and a stack of nearly 66 big blinds. You have a reputation for being hyper aggressive, with the creativity to be holding any hand at any time. Your opponent, a non-poker pro yet talented amateur with good live tournament results, has 15,925,000, or 53 big blinds.

You look down at JDiamond Suit3Diamond Suit on the button and limp in. Your opponent raises to 900,000 and you call. The flop comes down ADiamond Suit7Heart Suit4Diamond Suit, giving you a flush draw and your opponent bets 1,300,000.

You call and the turn is the 2Club Suit. Your opponent bets 2,600,000 and you call. The river is the JHeart Suit and your opponent checks. There is currently 9,700,000 in the pot.

The Questions

Do you bet or check behind? If betting, how much? Are you betting for value or as a bluff? Is there any way to make your opponent fold an ace in this spot? What are you representing? If betting for value, what range of hands do you expect to call with worse than your jack? If checking behind, what range of hands do you expect to see at showdown? If you hadn’t rivered second pair, would you still check behind?

Anthony ZinnoWhat Actually Happened

Facing a decision at the 2013 WPT Borgata Poker Open on a board reading AClub Suit7Heart Suit4Diamond Suit2Club SuitJHeart Suit, Vanessa Selbst elected to check behind with her JDiamond Suit3Diamond Suit.

Her opponent, Anthony Zinno, could only show QHeart Suit6Heart Suit for queen high. Selbst took the pot and a 2-1 chip lead in the tournament, but could not hold on for the victory.

Zinno rebounded and went on to win the tournament and the $825,099 first-place prize. Selbst finished runner-up, just short of the Triple Crown, banking $492,569.

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.

*Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour



over 7 years ago

I personally would have put them on a busted flush draw as well or a middle pair until the river...I would have bet to try and induce a call thinking that my J was good after a river check. If they had the Ace they would of continued betting on the River


over 7 years ago

I would check behind. My opponent has repreented an ace. His check on the river may mean he has a weak ace. If he has an ace, I do not expect to be able to bluff him off.If he does not have an ace, but instead has a smaller pair, or less, my pair of jacks is good enough to win. If I bet, I can not stand a re-raise. I don't want to risk the whole tournament on this hand. Therefore, I check behind, because my hand has showdown value.I expect to lose to an ace, and win agsinst most other hands.


over 7 years ago

I'm thinking my opponent has either an ace, or a busted flush.
I want my play to look like a thin value bet;
-to scare off a weak ace
-to get small pairs to call
Or if my opponent was hiding a medium to big ace and put me on a busted draw and was looking to induce my bluff I would lose a minimum, and just fold to a re-raise.


over 7 years ago

Dont you risk losing entire pot to a bluff versus your hand having value and winning the entire pot?


over 7 years ago

When he checks the river he basically gave up on the hand...When the river misses the flush but puts the Jack out it can be an easy (8J, 9J, 10J, QJ, KJ suited diamonds) hand for Vanessa so him checking there means he doesnt have an Ace so for Vanessa to bet the river only means she is only getting called by an Ace that beats her so she has enough showdown value to check behind and the pot is big enough for her to win by checking. It would have been more interesting for the guy to bet all in on the river and put Vanessa to a decision with second pair....her calling on the flop and turn and not raising pretty much showed she had a flush draw...any big Ace two pair or set she would have raised the flop or definitly raise the turn...the hand played itself out and her check behind on the river was the best play.


over 7 years ago

I think I have to check here and hope my amateur opponent doesn't have an Ace.

We limped in on the button and our amateur opponent raises from the big blind. I think I'm giving him credit for a slightly better than average hand and giving more weight to a value range since he is an amateur and is raising when he will be oop for the rest of the hand.

Obviously, he can have anything when he bets the flop, but after we call, he still bet the turn. If our opponent was a pro I think he would realize we can't have a pair of Aces since we didn't raise preflop, but I'm not sure an amateur reaches this conclusion.

I think if we bet the river, it's more of a bluff than a value bet. Even if we do have the best hand, what worse hand is calling. I think the only better hands a bet can fold out is QQ or KK.

From his perspective, if he does have a pair of Aces, he probably gets more value by check-calling then by betting since we are a hyper-aggressive player.


over 7 years ago

I would try to maintain my lead and check.


over 7 years ago

Check Check Check. Any hand that is calling a bet on the river is beating you. It is clear given the action that the villains hand is either a weak ace or a busted draw. The ace isn't going to fold and the draw isn't going to call. Our hand is 2nd pair and has good showdown value in this spot heads up.

2 other points

You cant stand a re-raise

There is a good chance the villain is checking to induce the hyper aggressive player to steal the pot



over 7 years ago

I agree, why bet with a hand that has value. Since you have 2 diamonds that is more unlikely that villain has flush draw...a check on the river could mean he has hit his kicker for 2 pair and he puts you on an A. He couldnt get any value from a busted flush draw but could from any other A. Check and showdown


over 7 years ago

I shove all in.

Here's why:
I'm a HYPER-aggressive player. So if my smart aggressive opponent had any part of this flop, he/she would have checked to me. And then check-raised me off the pot. But he/she didn't.
He/she tried to push me off the pot. Why?
Because he/she wanted to control the action - dictate the pot size.
My guess - he/she was on a flush or straight draw. 5,6 maybe.
Or maybe he/she hit a small pair.

The Jack on the river is a perfect card because it beats anything in his/her hand. Better yet, it looks like I was on a draw and missed it. So if he/she was holding K(d), he/she might even call thinking it was good.

So by continuing the hyper aggression - I think I would get called by any small pair. Maybe even 99 or TT. Any big diamond. Or any pair on the board.

No way this smart player checks the river hoping I'd bet. He/she would have done that on the turn. This check is 100% weak. And should be punished.


over 7 years ago

I can't imagine another option post flop play. call, call, and check-down there play is right. If We raise to worse hand was folded, better to call, that's all. I don't use fold equity this spot. Very easy 3-bet with weak ace some player especially limp-pot, and frequency flop ace on board. If We get flush to great chance to finish to tournament super high percentage. It's obviously better than 50%, 70% all-in flip for heads-up end game.


over 7 years ago

The river check is an obvious sign of giving up. Nothing got there on that board, so what raises pre, bets OTF, bets OTT, but checks river? A bare ace wouldn't check the river. No two pair hand would check that river, especially AJ. Therefore, this guy is not calling a bet if we choose to bet for value. A check behind is best.