This hand is from the 2015 $3,500 World Poker Tour event at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We were in the middle of the third day of the five-day competition. The blinds were 4,000/8,000-1,000. I had 450,000 and my opponent, a middle-aged splashy player had 800,000.

I raised to 19,000 with Jh-Jd to from middle position and my opponent, in the hijack seat, called. Everyone else folded.

The flop came Js-7c-6d. Even though I flopped top set, it is somewhat probable that my opponent has a marginal made hand or a draw. Also, due to my opponent’s splashy nature, he may decide to bluff me. You will find that when you flop a strong, but vulnerable, hand, the best play is usually to bet.

I bet 26,000 into the 59,000 pot and my opponent called.

The turn was the (Js-7c-6d)-Jc. That is a decent turn for me! While slow playing certainly has some merit, I thought the best way to get a large portion of my stack in the pot was to continue betting. I thought my opponent would strongly consider checking behind on the turn with a middle pair, which would be a disaster for me. I also didn’t think he would pay me off if I check-raised on either the turn or river. Occasionally, he may even get out of line and raise as a bluff.

I bet 40,000 into the 111,000 pot and my opponent called.

The river was the (Js-7c-6d-Jc)-8c.

Since I thought my opponent’s range going to the river was almost entirely marginal made hands and draws (which would now be middle pair or a straight), it doesn’t make sense to bet huge. Most opponents will only call a small bet with their worst made hands. If for some reason I thought my opponent was a calling station, a larger bet would have been ideal. I bet 57,000 into the 191,000

I bet 57,000 into the 191,000 pot.

To my surprise, my opponent instantly raised 157,000, making it 100,000 more.

At this point, I assumed my opponent’s range was very polarized to premium value hands and bluffs. If he is bluffing, he will fold no matter what I do, so I do not need to be concerned about that portion of his range. Most players are not capable of getting away from a strong hand on the river to any reraise size. This should lead you to make a large reraise in similar situations.

After matching my opponent’s raise, I had 207,000 left in my stack.

Since I thought my opponent had either an overly premium hand or nothing, I went all-in.

My opponent instantly called with Ac-6c, a flopped bottom pair that backdoored into a flush, awarding me a gigantic pot.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I think my opponent made an error by calling my river all-in. Unless he thinks I am blatantly crazy, my river bet-reraising range is almost entirely full houses. After the hand, my opponent was beating himself up for raising my initial river bet of 57,000. I think his river raise was acceptable because I should have trips a large amount of the time and will at least consider calling a raise. If he thinks I will call a river raise with trips, raising the river with the flush is a great play, but if he thinks I will fold trips to a river raise, he should just call. If he decides to raise, as he did, he must be disciplined enough to get away from his hand once it becomes clear that I think I have the nuts. Even when you have what you perceive to be the effective nuts, when your opponent is playing as if he has the actual nuts, you must be disciplined enough to get out of the way.

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19 Comments

  • Kevin S. says:

    Great read!
    The following struck me as such a fantastic bit of information that I often forget to consider:
    “Even when you have what you perceive to be the effective nuts, when your opponent is playing as if he has the actual nuts, you must be disciplined enough to get out of the way.”

    Hopefully I can remember that the next time I need it!

  • Steve says:

    Agree after you re-raised, he should’ve taken heed of the pair on the board and figured you have a full house, at a minimum. Well played and well analyzed.

  • Matt Tag says:

    I have trouble in this spot as the villain because if we can legitimately put you on trips, the available trips combos are often more than full house combos.

  • Mannes Neuer says:

    This hand is a good illustration of reverse implied odds associated with drawing to a flush on a paired board. Street projection on the turn should lead him to fold even when getting close to 4:1 pot odds, since there is no scenario – even when he makes his flush – that he should be happy to get the rest of effective stacks in. Since effective stacks were 57BBs to start the hand, I even more dislike his preflop call. If you were much deeper, there might be some logic in the call.

    • sylweste.r says:

      Nothing more to add.
      Marginal call PF, slightly justified with position advantage.
      Again – marginal flop call with 3rd pair, backdoor and overcard.
      And following dangerous direction on the paired board with bad AI call for most of his stack.

  • Mark says:

    But here’s my question. Being new to the game the last time I played I got pushed around pretty good by deep stacked players. I this scenario, if I have been, or am playing someone who has been pushing me or the table around with a large stack, and a wide range, should I go all in with the nut flush?

    • Just call! If you push, your opponent is only going to call when he has you beat. Calling/playing in a trappy manner is by far the best strategy against overly aggressive players.

  • Shmuel says:

    I like the way you analyze the hand. I sometimes forget to think what he will do with trips? What you should do if you have 66 and you got full house? Are you going to raise and than folding to re raise?

    • It is a tough spot with 66. I think raising is fine and if you get pushed on, it is usually safe to assume that your opponent is losing his mind with a flush or Jack some portion of the time.

  • Robert says:

    Keep up the winning ways, hope you top 10 million in 2017.

  • Nick says:

    I think there is another issue here and that is knowing your opponents. If this player knew his opponent, he would know the river re-raise can’t be a bluff. He would know the bet on every street can’t really be a bluff. He would know Jonathan is not a maniac player. If he didn’t know Jonathan, he really needs to get out more.

    • David says:

      I agree with you Nick. Jonathan bet all 3 streets, which on this paired board indicates a huge hand or nothing. Best to call because there are just too many hands that have Villain beat. He would have to be reading Jonathan as a maniac to dismiss all the full house possibilities

  • Nina says:

    Thank you, thank you and thank you!
    Amazing article to read!
    You are one of the best poker coach!

  • LuckyEva says:

    Hi Jonathan! Isn’t there a rule somewhere that states you must raise if you have the absolute nuts and are the last to act? If this is so, aren’t you then obligated to re-raise with your quads to obey this rule? Just want to know the rules. Thank you!

  • LuckyEva says:

    Thx. 🙂

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