Thursday, August 26, 2010

Playing Sets on Suited Board

In reply to MrEMC2. I was not allowed to post it as a comment because of the length. Thus, I had to make a new post. Perhaps the software is trying to tell me something...

PS: I like the hands you added! I haven't gone through the big hh, but will get to it later. Here are my quick thoughts regarding your original question.

The situation is we are in one of the first 3 blind levels in a tourney holding a small/medium pocket pair and facing a btn minraise preflop. We call the raise, flop a middle set on a suited board. Since this is early in the tourney we probably don’t know much about the other player(s). Furthermore, the preflop raiser’s range of hands is huge at this point.

Regarding playing hands out of position, Moshman says (and I fully agree) that you should choose to be the aggressor and make a 50% pot raise yourself in any situation where you would call a normal raise from another opponent (this means drawing hands too!). Most importantly, being the aggressor gives you fold equity that you give up by checking. Remember, a scary flop for you is often a scary flop for your opponent too. Your bet is large enough that anyone chasing a flush is making a pot odds mistake by calling.This is pretty straight forward, but most people don’t do it at the lower levels. In the situation above, I would always raise against 1 opponent and usually against two in btn, sb, bb situations. Furthermore, if the villian already has the nut flush, they will often slowplay their presumed monster and simply call your bet rather than reraising. Thus, giving you the chance to stack them if you hit.

If you check hoping for a free card, your opponents may still raise putting you in a difficult situation. I would only call if the odds are correct. If you check and do get to see the turn for free, your hand is reduced to bluffing status if a 4th suited card shows up. It is also worth noting that you have 7 outs for a house, whereas the villian has 9 outs if drawing for a flush. A free card is helping the villian more than you.

Summing up the flop.Your hand is presumably the best at the moment, but very vulnerable. Try to take the pot down now with a raise, but fold to a reraise.

If your flop raise gets called by the bb and the btn, then I would check/fold any turn card not giving me a full house. With three players, the pot will be getting so big that a turn bet may be pot committing you in an uncertain situation too early in the game.

Now, the tricky situation is where your flop raise gets flat called by the btn only. It is still hard to put the villian on a range. If the turn puts a 4th suited card on the table, then I check/fold the hand. If the turn makes my full house then I fire out another bet. This time around 30% of the pot hoping to get some action. If any other card shows up, you have a difficult situation. If the blinds are low, against 1 opponent I will make another 50% pot raise here, but folding again to a reraise. You still have 10 outs to make your full house on the river.

Finally the river, the pot is probably about 350 (10/20 blinds) chips now vs 1 opponent. I’m probably firing out a defensive bet of about 100 on any missed river, even a 4th flush card. If you don’t bet, the villian probably will bet (and often pot sized) no matter what he is holding. By betting small, they will often call with any hand other than the nut flush which they will reraise. I fold to any reraise. If I catch a card and get my full house, I’ll probably bet about 250 and move all in if the villain reraises.

You have invested about 450 chips, a third of your stack, in this hand. It will be a nice pot if you win, but not too devistating a blow to your stack if you lose. I won’t get pot committed with this hand. So, if the pot at any point reaches a third of my stack, I am going to slow down and accept check/folding rather than committing to an uncertain hand.

In a high blind situation, shoving these pocket pairs preflop is probably best. However, if I do get myself involved in a situation like this then stack sizes, the blinds, and my reads become important factors. If I’m already pot committed then I’ll simply shove the flop. If I’m not pot committed, I may check/fold the flop if I believe the btn will check. At this point in the game we should have some idea how aggressive the btn is.

Finally, let’s look at the situation above when the roles are reversed. Let say that I am the btn and have limped preflop with a pocket pair early in the tourney. I’ll call a raise if my pot odds are good, or if the sb raises and the bb calls giving me nice implied odds. However, if the flop is checked to me, now I can consider taking my free card in order to keep the pot small.

Well, now you know what I do, let us see what Benko has to say. I would probably listen to his advice over mine :)

Roland GTX


  1. Thx Roland,

    I do agree pretty much in all of it :D
    But it's certainly tricky every now and then, right ;)

    PS.: Interestingly enough, I wasn't called names by the fellow slowplaying his set of Q's.
    I guess he realized that he played the hand badly, while I was lucky with my steal attempt, lol.

  2. Any early game situation in which you are building the pot and playing oop is definitely tricky and dangerous! I tend to raise the hands I play, however, the cash book that I loaned to MrSmith might suggest more focus on pot control. Benko is the pot control expert, so we will see what he suggests.

  3. I have to stop to write posts while I'm at work, lol. Got completely confused by "oop", which means Object Oriented programming during daytime :D

  4. Nothing to add really to that very comprehensive analysis! I like the half pot lead out bet on the turn. An opponent who doesn't have at least a high flush draw will often (correctly) give up the hand at that point. If I get raised a decent amount, I'll usually give them credit for the flopped flush and fold even though they may be semi-bluffing with a flush draw (or even reraising with something like top pair or two pair because they think I'm on a flush draw!). It's just too murky a situation to risk a lot of chips early against an unknown opponent. If I get flat called, I'll try to play a small pot from there on out unless I hit the fullhouse or quads. Pot control may involve small defensive bets (sometimes even the bare minimum is enough to see the next card essentially for free), check-calling a small bet or check-folding to a large bet or if a fourth flush card hits. If the turn and river are both blanks, I would probably check-call one decent sized bet from the button.

    As I said, pretty much the same line as Roland's. (I'm having trouble with the Hand Replayer on my laptop, by the way, so haven't been able to look at the hands MrE posted. Hope that will resolve itself when our desktop PCs arrive.)

  5. Sorry, in the second line I meant to say I like the half pot lead out bet on the flop.

  6. Thanks for your input Benko. I'm glad to hear I'm not completely off the mark with this one!

    Leading with an out of position raise is great on scary boards. However, like a c-bet, it works best with 1 or two opponents. Don't make this bet in situations where half the table limped preflop, especially in turbos like the 45 mans. Your chances of getting everyone to fold are very small.