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A Street By Street Strategic Look At A Poker Hand

We Give You The Options, You Pick The Line


Playing a hand well requires multiple streets of good decisions, which pros refer to as a line. In Card Player’s new Finding The Line series, readers will be able to let us know what they consider to be the most optimal lines in hands played by professionals at some of the largest tournaments in the world.

Card Player will give the options of a player on each street and the readers can put together what they consider to be the most optimal line and leave it in the comments section below.

The Situation

You are at the final table of a very small, elite, nose bleed stakes poker tournament. You are eight-handed, but only five people are paid due to the small number of entrants. The blinds are 4,000-8,000 with a 1,000 ante.

You have just over 24 big blinds with 196,000 in chips.


You are in the hijack with KHeart SuitKSpade Suit and action folds to you. The players behind you are all solid, aggressive players. Do you:

A.) Limp – You disguise the strength of your hand by not raising and maybe a player behind you will raise.

B.) Min-raise – You are immediately getting value from your hand by raising and can maybe get played back at by somebody who thinks you are raising light from the cutoff.

C.) Raise larger (3-4 times the blind) – You are trying to get more value from your hand by raising bigger. You cut down the big blind’s immediate pot odds by raising larger.

D.) Fold – One of your opponents behind you fails to protect his hand while he is checking his cards. You see that his has pocket aces.


Action folded to Tim Adams in the $100,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Alpha 8 event in St. Kitts. He min-raises to 16,000 and gets a call from Jason Koon in the big blind.

The Flop

The flop is 8Heart Suit3Heart Suit2Spade Suit and your opponent checks. Pot size is 52,000. Do you:

A.) Check – You make your hand look like it missed that flop and can maybe pick up value from a turn bluff that thinks you have an ace-high type of hand. You may also be able to induce a double barrel bluff by checking the flop.

B.) Bet small (around half the size of the pot or less) – You continue to get value from your hand by betting and keep your opponent’s range wide by not trying to blow him out of the water on the flop. You can also possibly induce a check-raise from a worse hand by betting on the smaller side.

C.) Bet larger (70-100 percent of the pot)- The board is very draw-heavy. With two hearts and a possible straight draw, you want to charge your opponent the max to draw out on you. Especially with the money bubble approaching.


After Koon checked, Adams bet 20,000. Koon check-called and they saw a turn card.

The Turn

The turn is the AHeart Suit. Your opponent checks. Pot size is 92,000. Do you:

A.) Check – You don’t want get blown off your hand by getting check-raised by both better and worse hands. You have the nut flush draw and would like to be able to see the river for cheap.

B.) Bet small – You want to continue to get value from hands like smaller pairs and possibly smaller flush draws, but don’t want to discourage them from calling.

C.) Bet larger – You have the nut flush draw. You have some equity against anything your opponent has and you want to commit yourself here.


Koon checks and Adams checks behind.

The River

The river is the KDiamond Suit and your opponent leads out for 33,000. The pot, including Koon’s river bet, is 125,000. You have 160,000 remaining in your stack. Do you:

A.) Fold – You think the only hand he bets on the river here are flushes and straights.

B.) Call – You think your hand is best here a good percentage of the time, but the hands that you think probably wouldn’t call a raise.

C.) Raise – You think he can call a raise with a worse hand like a set or two pair and you want to get value in that situation. You are effectively committing yourself to calling a jam from your opponent given that you have 159,000 left in your stack before the river is dealt.


Koon bet 33,000 and Adams quickly called. Koon showed A-3 and Adams scooped the pot with a set of kings. Koon dropped to 373,000 in chips while Adams climbed to 265,000.

Adams was eventually the bubble boy, finishing in sixth place, while Koon rebounded from the hand to finish fourth for $298,760.

Adams took a line of B-B-A-B. Let us know what line you would take and why in the comments below for a chance at winning a Card Player digital subscription. We’ll post the results of the most popular line in the next edition of Finding The Line.



almost 8 years ago

I would go with B-C-B-B.

I would minraise in the hijack because the players behind me are elite and solid. It is unlikely that they will play poorly post-flop, and less likely than amateurs to raise light after a player with enough table image to be at the final table of a $100k buy-in limps from the hijack. If you raise larger, you are unlikely to get any calls at this stage.

On the flop, I would bet large. First, as the article points out, it is a draw-heavy board, and I do want to increase value in the pot. but, secondarily, if you bet half the pot or less, the problem becomes that you are creating a pot too big to be given up on, but small enough where an opponent can bluff at it without committing too much of his stack. Example: I have 100 and you have 100. The pot is 20. You can bet 15 if a draw completes, and it's a hard call for me to make, but if I do, you're only down to 85, so you will probably bluff at it more often. If we both have 100 and the pot is 60, now you have to bet 30-50 to bluff at it, and if I call you're out half your stack, which will induce more check-folding when you don't make your hand, or checking with intent to raise when they do, and you can just check behind, and avoid paying them off.

On the turn, I would bet, but bet small. I'm making a pseudo-blocking bet here; if he has made his flush, he will either checkraise me now, allowing me to dump the hand if I don't read bluff, or he will call and either check again on the river with the intent to checkraise, to which I can check behind, or make one of those increasingly-common river bets which are, in my experience, easy to read. Also, if my hand is good, I'm still increasing value.

By the river, when he bets the 33k (using the facts from the real hand) he could either be signalling that he thinks my check behind on the turn was weak, or that he has the hand. However, in the hypothetical hand I've described, it would only be that he thought he had the hand, or he would check. In either event, there are a lot of things in his range from air all the way up to a flush, and a set of kings beats everything but a set of aces, a flush, or a wheel. The way I've played the hand so far, the pot would be larger than it was in the real hand, so the bet would probably be larger. You'd have plenty to win right there, so the case for raising decreases a bit, as does the risk involved in raising, as it'd be effectively a shove.


almost 8 years ago

First of all, love this new feature. Hope it keeps coming.

My only difference might be to start with C, but the problem does not say what he relative chip stacks are. I assume this stack is short, so may want to lead out and scoop here knowing that any action behind probably leads to trying to get it all in. Assuming I am about average, though, a min raise makes sense.


almost 8 years ago


The pre-flop bet: I would not limp in a spot that looks like I'm stealing if I raise so a raise is best; I'd do whatever I had been doing, i.e. if usually min-raising then I'd min-raise and since that is likely the case I'd go with B.

After the flop I'd bet 70% of the pot for the following reasons:
1. I want to make it juicy for a steal attempt right there by my opponent and maybe get them pot committed to getting all in.
2. I want to protect my hand or at least charge a got bit for a drawing hand to beat me.
3. I want to further define my opponents hand and get a better read on him.
4. I want to win more money by getting more money in the pot.
The negative is I blow off hands like QJ that might take one off for cheap drawing almost dead - but since this is defined as elite players I don't think they will play that poorly anyway.

On turn the Ace is the worst card in the deck - it makes any ace rag hand, a likely calling hand pre-flop, a winner, as well as any flush draw or 4/5 - therefore I would check my nut flush draw and see a free card. I don't want to have to get it all in on a draw with one card to come.

On the river I would normally call a decent sized bet, as a raise can only be called by a hand that beats me most of the time - but it would depend on my read. If my read was spot on that my opponent had aces up (I don't think a set would have taken this line by my opponent) then I would raise and be prepared to go bust if I was wrong and my opponent shoved. Due to the money bubble and stakes it is very unlikely this is a risk worth taking.

All in all I think Adam played the hand well - but I would have made a larger flop bet and I think that would have yielded a better result (bigger pot).


almost 8 years ago

I would think the most important information at this stage of the tournament, even before you look at your cards, are your opponent's stacks, and this information is not given.


almost 8 years ago

I tend to play a bit more tricky and probably would have just called pre-flop to hopefully induce a raise and then 3-bet. But the min-raise is just fine too and I agree exactly with how the hand played out. If Adams gets check-raised on the turn he's sick and if Koon gets raised on river...he's sick! Adams made the most he could have. Well played!


almost 8 years ago

I will choose option D each and every time I have kings and see that my opponent have aces!