Q: My son and I have different opinions on a hand I played this week and would love to here your take. The game is live 1-2 and I have been running crazy good and only showing down big hands. My stack is at $1200.
Villan is young aggressive and only been at table for about and hour and has run up to about $700 playing about 75% of hands but playing well post flop and showing down several hands such as 8-3s 7-4s and 9-5s. No one else at table has more than $300.
I raise to 7 from late mid pos with j-8s (questionable I know) and he calls from button. Flop is 347 all spades (flopped flush) and I lead for 10 and he raises to 30. I put him on wide range with maybe ace and just flat. Turn is a blank and I check and he leads for $45. I raise to $145 and he reraises with $300 on top with about $200 back and I hated life. I decided based on the player I couldn’t fold and put him all in and he called and showed 9-6s for smaller flush. My son thought my lines were ok and thought i had to get it in but I thought we both made mistakes and should not be playing a $1400 pot with these hands…. I always enjoy your analysis and Im curious as to your thoughts.
A: I’d say that you identified the central problem in your question: playing J8s from middle position when effectively 350 BBs deep with a loose-aggressive player on the button is a disaster. The bad spot that you end up in post-flop is a direct result of this decision. Funny how what seems like a 3.5BB decision spirals into a 350BB disaster, eh?
When you’re playing a game that has “no limit” right there in the title, you have to be conscious of the fact that your entire stack could end up in the pot at any time. That means that you need to play with an eye towards making hands that will be worth your stack, and thus the hands you choose to play should be different when you’re 100BB deep than when you’re 300BB deep.
This hand illustrates how difficult it is for J8s to make a hand worth 300BBs. Obviously with just a pair of Jacks or 8s you wouldn’t want to stack off. How would you feel about a JJ5 or 887 flop? Even when you make one of the very best possible hands these cards can make, you’re still reluctant to bet everything. That’s an indication that you shouldn’t have been in the pot to begin with. You just won’t get that T97 rainbow flop very often.
Your standards can be a little looser when you have position, which makes it easier for you to control the size of the pot and determine where you stand. Here, though, you had reason to anticipate that this player would play his button, since you knew how active he’d been. That drastically restricts the number of hands that you can play pre-flop, and you should weight your range heavily towards suited Aces, pocket pairs, suited broadway hands, and the biggest suited connectors. These sorts of cards have the potential to make nut and near-nut hands and draws to same, which even nut draws are often easier to play than marginal made hands with little hope of improvement.
In the actual example, I think you should fold to his turn three-bet. If we assume that he never does this without a flush but would do it with any flush no matter how small, you’re still way behind. There are quite a few more combos of suited Aces, Kings, and Queens than there are suited small cards, particularly given that you hold two of those small cards. I actually just published an article on this in Card Player magazine, but it doesn’t seem to be available on their website.
The only thing that could change my mind would be if he 3-bet his button very often and that in particular you knew that he liked to use suited Aces for this purpose. If we could assume that he would 3-bet many of his suited Aces and suited broadway hands, then the combinatorics probably favor a call given there’s already a fair bit of money in the pot.
Needless to say, his turn 3-bet is even worse than your 4-bet. To be honest, though, assuming I wasn’t going to play it that badly, I’d rather have his hand on the button than yours in middle position. Position just matters more and more the deeper you get.
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