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Poker Hand of the Week: 4/24/14

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

There are seven players remaining in a major European poker tournament. With a stack of 1,780,000, you are in fourth place. There is currently one short stack holding just 13 big blinds.

With the blinds at 25,000-50,000 with a 5,000 ante, you have over 35 big blinds. The chip leader, a man with some final table experience and a stack of 5,610,000, raises to 100,000 from the hijack. So far, he’s been active preflop, but has played somewhat conservatively postflop.

You look down at at ASpade SuitKClub Suit on the button and make the call, hoping to play the pot heads-up in position. Your plan is ruined when two similar stacks of about 2,800,000 call in the small and big blind.

You see a four-way flop of KHeart SuitQClub SuitJClub Suit and both blinds check to the original raiser, who bets 200,000. You’d like to see what happens behind you, so you just call. Both blinds fold.

The turn is the 4Heart Suit and your opponent bets 425,000. Again, you decide to call. The river is the JHeart Suit, pairing the board and putting three hearts on board. Your opponent now checks.

You have 1,050,000 remaining in your stack and the pot size currently sits at 1,685,000.

The Questions

Do you check or bet? If checking, what kinds of hands do you expect your opponent to showdown? If betting, how much? Are you betting for value or as a bluff? What kinds of hands do you expect to call with worse?

What Actually Happened

Vicky Coren MitchellAt the EPT San Remo main event and staring at a board of KHeart SuitQClub SuitJClub Suit4Heart SuitJHeart Suit, Croatian pro Andrija Martic opted to go for a value bet of 480,000 with his ASpade SuitKClub Suit.

His opponent, Italian pro Andrea Benelli, quickly called with 10Spade Suit9Diamond Suit, having flopped the bottom of a straight. Benelli increased his chip lead and Martic was left with just 570,000 in chips.

Martic was eliminated short afterwards, collecting €76,650 for his seventh-place finish. Benelli survived long enough to bust in fourth place, good for €166,700. The eventual winner was none other than Vicky Coren Mitchell, who became the first ever two-time EPT champion and took home the €476,100 first-place prize.

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 6 years ago

I would have checked the river. When our opponent bets the flop into 3 people and then double barrels the turn, I think we can expect him to have a decent hand here. Based on how the board ran out, the only hand that he can check call on the river that we beat is K10. I know our hand has been underrepresented but because of the board run-out I think we have to check the river.


over 6 years ago

Biggest mistake was not 3-betting preflop.


over 6 years ago

Agree with both above. ^^^^


over 6 years ago

There are many ways to play AK pre. This was one of them. I don't have a problem flatting pre here otb. It all depends as usual on what your reasoning is. Maybe he's been flatting a wide range in pos and playing a lot post flop. So AK is at the top of his flatting range. Not a bad spot. Maybe villain has shown he doesn't bet call pre out of pos often so u want to keep him in there with dominated hands. I would expect blinds to come along for the ride in a min raised pot with decent enough pot odds. So them calls is not shocking. Card player says plan was ruined when blinds call but how does CP know that hero wasn't expecting calls? Maybe he's good enough to play multi way in pos with a hand like AK. Sure, sometimes u miss and u give up and fold. Sometimes u miss and still find a way to win the pot. Sometimes u smash the board and get paid. Sometimes etc etc. Hero might have been inducing a squeeze as well. We don't know the blinds aggression or tendencies in this spot. So flatting pre is OK. I think all who auto raise to be HU may not be thinking it through. I'm not saying raising pre is bad or wrong. Certainly there are many good reasons to do so. Probably most of the time it's a raise but u have to balance your calling range too!

Now, post I like the flop call. You need to pot control multi way on a wet board. Raising won't do much. Pot doesn't really hit blinds range hard anyway so chances are they're folding on this board. Better to pot control. Yes you're giving odds to draw out on u but that's a chance u have to take and u have to be prepared to lay it down. That's the beauty of position. You can fold a hand like AK in pos depending on what happens. Flatting pre and hitting post multiway does not mean you're never folding. I don't understand why people don't like to fold. Yes you have AK and yes you hit. But sometimes it's correct to fold. Results oriented people say well if it were heads up I'd know where I was. And maybe for you yes that's correct. Maybe you're not comfortable in multiway pots. So go ahead and raise pre. But there is no automatic here.

When V barrels the blank turn card a call is the right play imo on this particular board. His range is not so well defined yet. If u raise, u don't know where your at if he calls or reraises. If u raise is it for value or protection? His turn bet already gives u protection. I don't think a raise is ever a bluff here on the turn. Call is good especially now that blinds folded flop and you're HU.

Me, I check behind here. I often value bet thin if I think it's the right play. But here I don't believe you're getting called by worse ever. Maybe KT/AQ calls sometimes? Even so I don't believe it would be +ev to bet. The villain either said F it and gave up in which case he's not calling anyway, or has a decent check calling range that beats AK. Hero's river bet can't really induce a bluff as your committed at this point. So V is either folding his air/missed draws/marginal one pair holdings, or he's calling and has you beat. And unless you've been outplaying him all night long and he's sick and tired of you, rarely will he hero call here. So check is really the only option. Not sure why he bet. I don't see a good reason to bet.


over 6 years ago

I absolutely hate the flat call pre-flop on the button with 35 blinds. The way this hand played out is exactly why, multiway pot flops a pair on a very wet board. I would 3 bet to 250,000 with the intent to fold/shove (read dependent) to a 4 bet from the blinds and shove a 4 bet from the Villain.

That being said, if I see that flop facing a bet from Villian and 2 left to act behind me I would consider folding. Even if I have the best hand, someone has good equity. If I raise I could get 3 folds, but I doubt it. If I flat, what am I gonna do when one of the blinds raise? Fold, obviously. This is a set-up to bleed chips.

The way the hand played out on the turn is another fold. Flatting is bleeding chips and shoving has little chance of getting better to fold.

On the river, this bet is terrible. The size is even worse. No way that you could get value from a hand worse than AK. Almost no chance that a shove gets through, but it is the only way you could hope to get a medium strength hand that is winning to lay down. Check behind is the only way you can preserve chips. My read of Villain's line is medium strength hand that is checking with the intent to call the river.


over 6 years ago

I would have checked. Considering the size of the pot and what I have left, any decent sized bet would commit the rest of my stack. There's no room for any thin value bets here because committing more chips and losing the pot means I'm left with 10 to 15 blinds.

The opponents check on the river is a little suspicious. It looks like he's giving up with a busted straight or flush draw, but if that's the case, then a bet is horrible because a busted draw isn't calling our value bet. He didn't fire two streets on this board with just a jack either.


over 6 years ago

....on river, 5 seconds of thought and check.....either i'm in contention with top pair or way behind....why risk any more chips with any size bet, any bet called will have any one of the many hands that beat me, much more likely i'm beat.....ez check.


over 6 years ago

Pre-Flop, I like the call. If you raise you are going to have to put in more than 20% of your remaining stack and then if one of the players behind you goes all what are you going to do? At this late point in the tournament do you really want to just put your life on the line for what will probably be a coin flip? But if you don't call that all in, you have crippled yourself a bit with the raise you made. And while you are hoping for heads up, if your call induces more calls behind you, as it did, you are playing the rest of the hand in position and getting the chance to flop something good and get a bigger payoff. So your call is a relatively low risk/high potential reward play at a time in the tournament where with your stack size that is exactly what you want. If someone behind you does go all in, then you can decide whether you really want to put your life on the line in a context in which you have materially more remaining chips than if you had raised. The call here is determined by your stack size and the point where you are in the tournament. It is the essence of what makes a late stage tournament play different from a cash game play (where a raise would be the right play).

Flop. The call is right. What else would make sense? You are either way ahead or in big trouble with a hand that will be hard to get away from.

Turn. Ouch. Has this guy switched gears or does this bet show that he must have a hand that beats yours? You are probably behind now and you don't like the size of the bet in relation to your remaining stack, but is very hard not to call. You won't be going deep in tournaments if you make a habit of coming over the top on a regular basis in this context. The call is questionable but probably right.

River. I can't understand any possible reason for this bet other than some kind of live action "tell" that you completely misread. There are so many ways for you to lose that you probably were not even able to count up all of them before you made your "value" bet. Basically, this was a trouble hand at the flop. If you weren't going to fold it (which I admit would be tough) you wanted to just keep the pot as low as possible and hope that it would get over soon without beating you up too badly.


over 6 years ago

Alright I will try and make my analysis as short and precise as possible.

1- Preflop: Playing 35bbs , you have wingle room to just call. However in this spot , i most likely would have put in a raise to 325k-400k simply because if the small blind and/or bigblind join the pot for such a cheap price , youve managed to put your big hand in jeopardy by losing not only the overal value of AK going from 2-handed to 4-handed but also made your positional advantage not as effective as heads-up.

2- Flop: KQJ ; two players check and preflop aggressor continuation bets. In a headsup hand the continuation bet is standard and his range doesnt rlly change from having much. His range preflp is very very wide. However in a four way pot after the flop , his range slims down significantly. He's obviously aware that 4 handed , KQJ is a flop that hits a lot for raise calling hands.

His new rage after post-flop bet:

AA to 99
Suited connector clubs

and maybe under sup[er aggro type players you can add in 33-88 but unlikely.

Now you decide to call which is fine because although your hand is definetly in small pot mode now (supposed to be) it still beats half his range.

The bet on the turn is when you have to realize that he's not really kidding around anymore. his range looks a little more like this now:

AA - KK - JJ - QQ - AK - KQ - KJ - AT - 910 - if aggro , two clubs still.

Holding AK you can't beat anyone of those hands , however , if you do have a good read on this guy and think this could still be AQ or something , you can still kind of justify a call.

However , when he checks to you on the river when the board pairs he's basically telling you this:

I don't have a boat , but i have a strong hand.
Meaning he wont bet and get re-raised but he'l check and obsorb a bet.

AK now beats very little of his range. You should check it down and just pray to god he's flipping over AK or AQ. Even if you are ahead , it's going to be agaisnt either AQ or a busted draw who can't call anyways...Absolutely no point in making a bet, this is the kind of bet you see at home games not at final tables.