Getting there on the river

jl cashThe following hand is from one of my newest books, Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games, Volume 2, The Practice. This book is a collection of 105 in-depth hand quizzes that I played at $10/$20 and $20/$40 No-Limit at the Commerce Casino. My students have told me this is one of my best work to date. If you haven’t check it out already, I suggest you do so. Would you have played this hand the same way I did? What do you think about this quiz format? Let me know!

Hand:              Ac-7d

Position:         Big Blind

Blinds:            $10/$20

MP2 HJ CO Button SB BB
5k 5k 5k 5k 4k 5k
Villain1 Villain2 Villain3 Hero

Villain1 is Vincent, a kid who seems to be weak and passive. Villain2 is Dennis, your LAG adversary. Villain3 is a loose, passive, older player.

Vincent limps. Dennis and Villain3 call.

Question 1

The action is on you in the big blind. What do you do with Ac-7d?

  1. a) Check
  2. b) Raise to 40
  3. c) Raise to 120
  4. d) Raise to 300

You decide to check. The flop comes Qc-6s-3d.

Question 2

The pot is 80 and the effective stack size is 4,980. What is your action?

  1. a) Check
  2. b) Bet 20
  3. c) Bet 60
  4. d) Bet 120

Everyone checks. The turn is the (Qc-6s-3d)-Qs. Villain3 checks.

Question 3

The pot is 80 and the effective stack size is 4,980. What is your action?

  1. a) Check
  2. b) Bet 20
  3. c) Bet 60
  4. d) Bet 120

You bet 60 and only Vincent calls. The river is the (Qc-6s-3d-Qs)-As.

Question 4

The pot is 200 and the effective stack size is 4,920. What is your action?

  1. a) Check
  2. b) Bet 80
  3. c) Bet 140
  4. d) Bet 200

You check. Vincent bets 300.

Question 5

The pot is 500 and the effective stack size is 4,920. What is your action?

  1. a) Fold
  2. b) Call 300
  3. c) Raise to 740
  4. d) Raise to 1,050

You elect to fold. Vincent kindly shows a Queen.

Discussion and answers (each answer is ranked 0-10, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best)

Answer 1

  1. a) 10 b) 2 c) 6 d) 2

From the big blind, you should usually check with most of your marginal holdings in limped pots and see a free flop. Raising has a little merit if you think you realistically have some fold equity, which often will not be the case, resulting in you playing a bloated pot out of position with a hand that is often dominated.

Answer 2

  1. a) 10 b) 2 c) 6 d) 4

From out of position, it is usually prudent to check and see what develops. In general, your plan should simply be to check with the intention of folding to any bet. Even though you may have the best hand at the moment, you will have a difficult time realizing your equity if you check call. If you think your opponents are particularly weak, you could bet the flop with the intention of betting the turn and river, hoping to get them off top pair by the river.

Answer 3

  1. a) 8 b) 3 c) 10 d) 4

When no one shows interest in the pot, you should always be somewhat willing to take a stab. You should usually assume both Vincent and Dennis would bet the flop if they had any piece of it. When Villain3 checks on the turn, he probably has nothing as well. This should lead you to bet, hoping to win the pot when everyone has nothing or perhaps even get a bit of value from backdoor flush draws.

Answer 4

  1. a) 10 b) 5 c) 3 d) 1

Given your passive opponent called your turn bet, he probably had some sort of flush draw, A high, or a small pair. You now lose to the flush draws as well as almost all of the A’s. If he has a small pair, the only size bet he can realistically call is a small one.  However, most weak players will fold their small pairs when an A arrives on the river. This should lead you to check.

Answer 5

  1. a) 10 b) 3 c) 1 d) 1

If Vincent made a bet of around 100, you would be in a tough spot. When he bets huge, you should assume he is fairly polarized. Given there are very few draws he could have that missed, you have a trivial fold even though you rivered top pair. You must constantly assess how your hand does against the range of hands your opponent would play in this specific manner. Since your opponent has few, if any, bluffs and your hand is a bluff catcher, you must fold.

Note Vincent checked behind on the flop with top pair and only called your turn bet with trips. This should lead you to assume he is overly capable of slow playing. Always pay attention to your opponents and use the information you learn to adjust your play in the future.

Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games Volume 2I hope you enjoyed this hand from Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games Volume 2. Would you have played this hand differently? Do you enjoy hand quizzes in this format? Let me know! Be sure to check back next week at for another educational blog post.


3 thoughts on “Getting there on the river”

  1. Hi Jonathan! I really like this format. I really enjoyed it in Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Vol. 3 too. I like how you walk us through each hand and discuss the various options. It’s very helpful. THANK YOU.

    (Would you have played this hand in the same way in a tournament? I know this is not the focus of this book….so maybe this question is off topic. For this case, the answer is likely yes, since the table is so deep stacked. Maybe someday, if you feel the inspiration, it would be cool to have a book where you walk us through hands and talk about how your perspective would be from a tourney format vs. LIVE cash game format….where the thinking differs….just a suggestion. Thanks.)

    1. Addendum: Maybe the differences between cash games and tournaments are simple and few – hopefully it’ll all drop out as I get clear on all these wonderful concepts you are introducing to us. Thanks again. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    2. In general, deep stacked cash and deep stacked tournaments are quite similar. The main difference is you should be less willing to value bet thin for large amounts of chips early in a tournament because losing 2/3 of your stack is a horrible result whereas it isn’t bad in cash games because you can reload.

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