Almost the nuts on the river

littleoneThis hand is from the $1,111 buy-in Little One Drop event that took place during the 2015 World Series of Poker. This event attracted a huge field of 4,555 people. I managed to take 67th place for $7,215, which is always nice! When playing a tournament that consists of mostly amateur players, it is important to get full value when you are fortunate enough to flop a strong hand. Don’t let your opponent off the hook by slow playing.

With blinds at 150/300 with a 25 ante, a tight, passive lady with an 18,000 stack limped from first position. A Brazilian guy with 8,000 limped from third position, and another tight player with 25,000 limped from fourth position.  Everyone else folded around to me, with a 22,000 stack, and I looked down at 9c-9s. While most players raise in this spot, I was suspicious that the initial limper could be slow playing a premium hand, looking to limp-reraise. Always try to differentiate between limpers who limp with a range containing both strong and weak hands, and those who limp only with hands that are not strong enough to raise. In this spot, I assumed the first position lady could easily be trapping, so I limped. The small and big blind limped as well.

The flop came Qh-10h-9d. The blinds checked, the lady bet 500 into the 2,025 pot, and the Brazilian called. The fourth position player folded. While I could certainly be crushed by a straight or larger set, I assumed I had the best hand a large percentage of the time. I did not want to call because there are numerous bad turn cards that could easily reduce the value of my hand, namely any heart, King, Jack, or 8. I also did not want to make a huge raise because I thought my opponents would only continue with premium hands that have me crushed and premium draws. Against that range, my set is in bad shape. So, I made a small raise to 1,500. I expected my opponents to call this raise size with a wide range of one pair hands that I have crushed. It is important to size your bet so that worse hands can realistically call. You must realize and accept that you simply cannot price out strong draws with any raise size, so there is no point making a big raise in hopes of getting the drawing hands to fold.

The turn was the (Qh-10h-9d)-2c. My opponents checked to me and I bet 3,200 into the 6,525 pot. As on the flop, this bet was tailored to keep my opponents in with a wide range of hands that are drawing either dead or thin. If I bet larger, I would likely induce my opponents to fold all of the weak hands I have crushed, meaning that if they continue, I am either beat or against a premium draw. To my surprise, both of my opponents called. Going to the river, the pot was 16,125. The lady had 13,000 in her stack and the Brazilian had 3,000. I had 17,000.

The river was the (Qh-10h-9d-2c)-Qs. Much to my surprise, the lady bet 7,000. The Brazilian folded. At this point, I recognized that I could be crushed by a better full house or four of a kind. However, I assumed the lady could easily have a hand like A-Q, K-Q, or Q-J and be overvaluing it. While most people would raise in this spot, electing to get the lady’s last 6,000 in the pot, I decided to call instead. Notice if I call and lose, I will have 10,000 left in my stack. If I call and win, I will have 40,000. If I raise and lose, I will have 4,000. If I raise and win, I will have 46,000. The difference between 46,000 and 40,000 is small but the difference between 10,000 and 4,000 is huge. In a tournament, it is important to conserve your stack, especially if the stack you will conserve is worth a significant amount of money.  If this was a cash game, I would have certainly gone all-in because I do expect to have the best hand when I go all-in and get called more than 50% of the time. All of this led me to call.

To my surprise, the lady showed Kc-10s. Remember that my flop and turn bet sizes were tailored to keep my opponents in with exactly these marginal hands. Keeping my opponents in the pot paid off huge this time. Remember, you will rarely be able to raise large and force your opponent to fold huge draws. Your main concern should be to maximize value when you have your opponents drawing nearly dead.

555I hope you enjoyed this hand. Do you have an interesting hand you want to share with me? If so, upload it to ShareMyPair and post the link in the comments section below. Be sure to check back next week at JonathanLittlePoker.com for another educational blog post.

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