No one wants to quickly bust

Today I am going to share a hand with you that I played last year in the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stack WSOP event. This event was different from other $1,500 events in that each player started with an overly deep stack. This was third hand of the day 1.

A 35 year old guy who I did not know raised to 525 out of his 15,000 stack at 100/200 from middle position. Everyone folded around to me and I called with 4c-3c from the big blind.

Both calling and folding are fine options. I strongly suggest that you learn to profitably call in these situation because being able to continue with a wide range of hands will make you much more difficult to play against compared to if you only play strong hands in an obvious manner. If you constantly keep your opponents guessing, they will make mistakes. If they usually know where you stand, they will play well. For those who do not know, you profit when your opponents make errors. When they play well, you do not profit.

The flop came Ac-Jc-4d, giving me bottom pair and a weak flush draw.

I checked to my opponent, as I tend to do with all of my hands, and he bet 700 into the 1,150 pot. I decided to check-raise to 1,700.

If the stacks were a different size, either shallower or deeper, I would likely have called. If the stacks are shorter, my opponent would be able to realistically go all-in, forcing me to make a decision for my tournament life with a hand that I know will win roughly 50% of the time (in general, if you have edge, you want to avoid coin-flip scenarios). If the stacks were deeper, my opponent could call and play intelligently on the turn, folding when the draws complete and calling when they don’t. With the current stack size, going all-in would be a huge over-bet and calling would allow me to put significant pressure on him on the turn by betting again, making all of his options somewhat marginal.

My opponent surprised me by 3-betting to 5,000, leaving only 9,475 remaining in his stack.

I was fairly confident that my opponent liked his hand. However, I thought that he could like a strong hand such as A-K or A-Q but still be willing to fold if I pushed all-in. I was aware that countless players traveled a great distance to play this event and would certainly not want to bust out on the third hand of the day. I did not care if I busted because this event was one of many that I would play throughout the series. For a professional, no individual event is emotionally significant.

This gave me the courage to go all-in.

While attempting to bluff someone off a likely strong hand is rarely a good idea, occasionally it makes perfect sense.

My opponent looked disgusted. He asked me a few questions, trying to get a read, but of course I did not reply. He thought for around three minutes before folding A-J face up. He proceeded to tell me that he knew I got lucky to flop a set and that anyone else at the table would not have been able to make the great fold that he made.

222Be sure you are not one of these players who thinks you always make the right play. If I thought he had an effectively unfoldable hand like top two-pair, I certainly would not have tried this semi-bluff. When your opponents are looking for a reason to make a big fold, do not be afraid to get out of line and induce them to make a huge mistake.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends! Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. If you are looking for more content from me, check out my books. I imagine you haven’t read them all!

11 Comments

  • Tim says:

    J, does it ever factor into your decision making that going all-in will also catch the attention of the other players at the table, and set the stage for you becoming, in effect, the Table Captain? In other words, do you sometimes purposely try to make big plays early, to let everyone know you are someone to be wary of? Thanks.

    • I don’t think there is a ton of value in being seen as the “table captain”, especially once you already have the image of a pro. In general, if someone is making lots of all-in bets early, they are probably making significant errors, leading their opponents to simply sit back, make the nuts, and then call.

  • Fred says:

    I would have called your all in bet and would have been prepared to take on the cash tables just in case. Nice blog Jonathan. I appreciate your insight.

  • Tim says:

    Thanks Jonathan.

  • dev says:

    I mean you play 1.5k$ mtt at WSOP, so you can easily realize your edge in other spots!?
    looking at opponent; he looks super strong when 3betting on this flop, and you had no read imo, … so why should your opponent get out of line there?
    I think, you can do such plays… but a lot of factors standing against it in this specific situation.

    .. I think this is spewy and you were lucky that the opponent folded!?
    and the analysation of this hand is too much results-orientated…

  • mannes says:

    Let’s talk about villian’s flop check raise. Should he have a check raise folding range and what does it look like?
    The problem with his c/r is that it folds out the hands that he crushes and induces shoves from hands with decent equity like yours.
    In his shoes, I would flat call and try to proceed intelligently after the flop. If a third club comes and you want to get it in, with fairly deep stacks behind, I’d find a fold.

    • mannes says:

      Sorry, I mis-characterized the action. He bet, and facing a c/r, elected to raise. So, what does his bet/raise/fold range look like? His error here is even bigger than I thought.

    • Yeah, the opponent certainly played his hand poorly if he didn’t plan to call off. He probably assumed that the only range I would get in with had him beat. When you make assumptions that are incorrect, bad things happen.

  • Kyle says:

    Cool, opponent put you on 44. Showing the table that he folded AJ is not a good idea in my opinion. Gives away a lot of information about yourself without getting anything in return. If you are going to bluff in this spot pair plus flush draw is definitely the hand to do it with.

    I think calling or folding to his flop 3-bet is a significantly worse play than pushing all-in.

  • Steve Roselius says:

    Oh mercy, I think I would have shown the 3c after he folded just to mess with his head.

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