What’s Your Play? Straight on Three-Flush River

What's Your Play?Sorry for the delay, new podcast episode should be up tomorrow. Here’s something to keep you busy in the meantime.

Shortly after dinner break at the $2500 Borgata Poker Open, re-entry period is over. Table is reasonably tough for this event, we’re ten-handed with three opponents I consider competent and three good. Here’s the cast of characters:

Hero (32K): I arrived at table a few hours ago. I’m definitely viewed as tight and probably weak-tight as a result of being card dead at a very active table.

MP (50K): Probably mid-40s, full head of slightly disheveled curly gray hair. Wearing glasses, jeans, and polo shirt, wouldn’t be shocked to learn that he majored in English but works in IT and takes his poker seriously. He’s been playing more aggressively than his image would suggest, involved in more than his share of pots and usually raising. Hard to say for sure since he hasn’t been to many showdowns, but he’s raised in a lot of good spots. I’m ranking him among the competents.

BB (100K): Mid-30s, athletic wear, probably from Jersey. Hasn’t said much but also playing better and more aggressively than his appearance would suggest. Caught him 3-betting A6s in middle position against a middle position opener for, as best as I could tell, no particular reason. Counting him as competent.

MP and BB played a hand against each other shortly before dinner that ended with MP bet-folding to a big overbet shove on an A999x board. I suspect BB had an Ace and forced MP off of a chop, but neither showed, so I don’t know for sure. MP seemed annoyed about it at the time, but it’s been like two hours and he doesn’t seem to be steaming or anything.

Blinds are 300/600/75. I open to 1500 with As Ts UTG+2. MP calls, BB calls.

Flop (5550 in pot): 9s 8d 7c We check it around.

Turn (5550 in pot): 9s 8d 7c 6d We check it around.

River (5550 in pot): 9s 8d 7c 6d 4d BB bets 2K, I think for 5-10 seconds and call, MP tosses out 15K and stares hard at BB, who folds without too much thought. Now MP swivels his head like a velociraptor who’s just caught the scent of Jeff Goldblum and gives me the staredown. I quickly pick up calling chips to see how he reacts, but he doesn’t flinch.

What’s your play and why? Post your thoughts and comments here, and I’ll be back with my own on Friday. Obviously my play on early streets was a little unconventional, mostly owing to my image and how aggressive the table was, but I’m happy to discuss those as well if you have thoughts or questions about them.

24 thoughts on “What’s Your Play? Straight on Three-Flush River

  1. We certainly could discuss your play on the Flop and Turn, but you chose to slow-play/trap this hand (to mix up your play?). Your tight-weak image very easily could project an AK/AQ whiff here on the Flop and you again chose to play the part on the Turn … I assume wanting to check raise any bet for sure?

    The bigger issue I see is the smooth call on the River. What are you trying to project that you are calling with here. We need to give MP some credit for picking up on this and at least putting you on a 10x, perhaps a A5. You mention the previous River over-bet, but I find that people who do this are more likely to have a hand the 2nd/3rd time around since they have to think they have created some doubt at the table from this kind of play. Is this just another high priced chop?

    What is the average chip stack and I assume you are not near the money? His bet size is perfect to entice a shove/fold situation for you to deal with. I suppose you could continue with 25BB with just a call. On the flip side, if you feel you can use your image to get MP to fold to a shove then if may have more merrit than a call.

    Why didnt either of these players stab at the Turn? If MP had nut straight, he probably would have bet Turn for value .. or is MP waiting for a bluff attempt on River since he has position? Is he discrediting Hero completely and just waiting to get chips from BB? Hero probably needs to fold here without showing that he got pushed around or shove .. but calling and possibly moving forward with 25BB isnt impossible either at this table.

    • Plan was just to call turn bets. I think raising would pretty much turn my hand face up.

      “What is the average chip stack and I assume you are not near the money?”

      Not near the money. How would average chip stack affect your decision?

      “His bet size is perfect to entice a shove/fold situation for you to deal with. I suppose you could continue with 25BB with just a call.”

      I don’t follow. Why would he expect me to shove more often than call here? What would be the purpose of shoving with this hand?

      • Raising the Turn does pretty much turn hand face up, but makes them pay to improve to higher straight or flush, but opens the door to bluffs on River as well. Slow play is certainly an option here, especially if you anticipate the action that occured on the River.

        As always I am a bit muddy, average stack size would indicate your ‘ability’ to recover from lost chips relative to the rest of the field .. ie .. get back into the tournament??

        I find that when most folks bet 50% of your stack they are looking to scare/draw you into .. or out of .. a pot commitment. REGARDLESS of the number of BB it represents or the size of the pot. Which make me feel like my average stack size comment is a different question … but it may just be the same question worded a different way.

  2. Why didn’t we bet on either the flop or turn? I am ok not betting the flop, but once it checks through and we hit the straight I think we have a clear bet when the BB checks to us on the turn.

    As for the river, I am inclined to think that MP is bluffing sufficiently that we can call. He has been active and aggressive and might very well view this as a spot where he can pick up the pot with a raise – there has been no interest in the pot shown from either of you until the river and this is an awfully big raise suggesting he might not want a call. Furthermore, being in position there is a good chance he semi-bluffs the turn with a flush draw. I am going to think his range has enough bluffs that we should call.

      • I think its a clear bet because we have a value hand that could easily get called by worse, both “made” hands such as pairs, 2 pair etc or the flush draw. Plus the hand, while strong, is also somewhat vulnerable to being out drawn as there is a 4 straight and flush draw on board. Its a spot in which you can bet for value and at the same time protect your hand – if you bet and a draw calls, great and if they fold still an equity win for you. If you get called and a blank rolls off on the river then you might even be able to value bet two streets. By waiting to the river you ensure only one street while letting anyone who is holding a draw have infinite odds. Seems like a bet is in order to me.

  3. I agree with much of what has been said in the two posts above by a20 and todd. Flop check makes sense to me but the turn is one of those cards that is really good for us (obviously, I haz a straight!)but more so to extract value and/or induce a flush semi-bluff that we can re shove over. Obviously if jersey shore wakes up with 10d9d or Ad10d we are in a world of hurt but no need to immediately look for monsters under the bed. My feeling is that jersey shore is just making a similar play to his earlier play and senses weakness from both you and the other player. He’s seen you both check twice and then v1 takes a stab and you pass up an opportunity to raise. You also said you’re probably viewed as weak-tight.

    Not to mention I think he would go for more value with a hand that actually beats you especially after you merely called the river bet and didn’t raise. Your call caps your range and most flush draws would have previously bet the turn in this spot (I think) due to having the pre-flop initiative and a flop check-republic. You almost never show up with a flush here but its clear you have some sort of showdown value. I think he knows that and coupled with the weak tight image believes he can get you off of a chop or even better hand if he has a two pair type hand.

    I lean towards calling and if he has the flush or JT then nice hand and nice bet and we can still try to chip up with 25bb. my second choice would be fold if you think he’s trying a fake bluff raise with the flush.

    its highly likely i’m way off but thats my 2 cents. hope you didn’t go busto on this hand.

    • “Jersey Shore” is not the guy raising the river in this hand. He’s the one who shoved in the previous hand I described, but this time he’s the one leading out 2K.

      Are you suggesting Hero should bet turn in order to induce a raise from a flush draw? I don’t see that happening. In terms of extracting value from other stuff, are there worse hands that you anticipate calling two bets? If not, why do you think betting turn is better than betting river?

      • my fault on the villain mix up. Not betting the turn costs us some value from hands that can call there but not on the river once the 4d peels off. Plus even though the 3rd diamond came, had it not, we would have missed picking up a bet from flush draws as well. basically my feeling is we hit our straight, but by not betting it we cost ourselves bets from the hands that can look up us (sets, two pairs) when there’s no flush out there and simultaneously allowed flush draws to get there for free. obviously if one of the villains has AdTd or JdTd they’re never folding on the turn.

        I don’t think its the worst thing in the world to induce a flush semi-bluff on the turn because I think a re-pop gets a fold enough of the time but now that i think about it more i’m not sure if it’s a good play or not but I think its an interesting alternative line to discuss.

  4. There are for me different facts to consider: 
    when villain 2 raises he has to know that he plays against 2 ranges and that may help us to have a read.
    Now let’s consider bb’s range: 
    for value, the sizing could make sense (does it with how he plays, that I cannot answer) with both, a 5 (even if I don’t think it’s great because a 5 is most likely a bluff catcher) hopping to achieve blocking bet to a10/getting sometimes a call from a set and with a 10 that wants to get called by a wider range than a bigger bet, maybe sometimes low flushes but I doubt he doesn’t go for more with any flush, knowing that he will probably get called by a 10 and sometimes a 5. 
    Now he can also do a blocking bet with a set or 2 pairs, possibly seeing his call out of the blind, maybe more than a5 (and maybe a10?) that he may 3bet sometimes.
    And then a big part IMO of his range is just a random stab with any hand, hoping both of you cannot call.
    You range is more simple to define. You can’t have the nuts (or you can predict future if you play it that way 🙂 ), and you almost only have a 5, (but few combos mostly A5s, 55, and some steals sometimes with the game flow, thinking that you won’t get 3bet too much out of the BB, because he got caught before), and a 10, 109s +. So a lot more combos  of 10s  although other players may think you would have bet it on the turn to get more value out of it. But knowing your image I understand the check on the turn. Anyway I would put you more often on a 5 even if there are much less combos, and sometimes even on a set that doesn’t believe (although the timing doesn’t really fit with such a tough decision).

    Now we know that your hand is underrepresented. Tough to get away from these.

    Mp’s range is also interesting, because of the sizing: value goes clearly with flushes. I think j10 is a bit less likely because he may think someone could sometimes have a low flush, and I would think that if he raises j10 he would size smaller to have more calls. But it’s also great play to look polarized and hope someone wants to bluff catch. Anyway still possible. 
    Then there is a great play, and I think it’s possible: a 10 that hopes to make another 10 to fold/sometimes get value from a 5. 
    Anyway his polarized bet is very oriented toward flushs. Flush makes sense with the previous streets. And with his image too, wanting to get value from it, if he knows it. But still we could also think that he would bet a bit smaller sometime with a flush.
    So our decision is to know if he can do a great bluff like this one, having totally understood the situation. I would guess that most of the people aren’t. But if he took a long time, I would certainly call. Thinking he may have more bluffs in his range. 
    At the end, I think I would tend to call anyway because it’s a board where he is so polarized, both of our ranges are quite clear, and aggressive players can make spewy plays like that time to time aspecially if a lot of his bluffs worked before.
    If you take the pot it’s a big step in your tournament, and anyway it’s very good for your image, they will see your ranges stronger later, and will try to bluff you less. If you lose, you can still hope to have the cards that makes you bigger, because of the bluffy dynamic.

    That’s the humble thinking of a low stake MTT recreational wining player.

  5. You have to be right 35% of the time to call. Given your table image and history I think this is a bluff (or a chop) more than that. The way he acted and the over-bet makes it seem like he is bluffing back BB for the previous hand, but it could be a reverse tell – if it’s 50/50 either way then a call is definitely worth it. I agree with previous people that JT seems very unlikely given the previous streets and that if he had the nuts he’d probably bet less to get a call. The overbet is usually nuts or air, so even if I just got to the table I’d lean towards a call.
    I don’t think you are deep enough to shove as a bluff – I think he’s getting too good of odds that he will call too much with small flushes (I don’t think he’s calling with a 5).

  6. Andrew’s telling of the hand suggests this was all about the two villains.

    Just listened to Greg Merson discuss a hand in the WSOP ME on the 2+2 pokercast. He faced a similar, intense stare and a raise on the river from an inexperienced player, which he read as “not wanting a call”. Is MP good/experienced enough to throw that off as a reverse tell?
    The oversized bet suggests he doesn’t want a call, again unless MP is experienced enough to value bet that large. Make the read on MP and call or fold based on that.

    As an inexperienced player, I’d be confused by MP’s play and I would severely discount flushes. I don’t believe he would have checked those draws on the turn. I’d like to think I would call, but as a nit, I would likely fold, and hope for an easier spot.

    Question: Any merit to jamming right back at him?

    • “Andrew’s telling of the hand suggests this was all about the two villains.”

      I know I’ve encouraged this by posting hands where I thought there was a clear correct answer before, but I hope people won’t read too much into stuff like this. I’m trying to give you all the details that could possibly be relevant about the hand, not suggest that everything I tell you is equally important or lead you to a specific conclusion.

      • Let me rephrase. The information you provided about the prior conflict between the two villians seems like a very relevant aspect of this hand.
        Add in your stated image, and I am guessing that the two villians are likely focused on each other. I came to this based on the description of MP’s stare at BB, but it’s possible I read too much into your background information.

  7. First off, I’d be shocked if Villain did this with a straight because I don’t see him checking it on the turn being last to act. It seems like a really good spot for him to bet the turn with a wide range of hands (I assume you thought this as well and that’s why you checked the turn?). Therefore he’s extremely polarized on this river, air or flushes (and possibly only nut flushes based on the bet size, at the least I’d be shocked if he bet that size with a small flush). From my experience life, the majority of the time the intense staredown is a bluff but as piefarmer said he could be doing this is a reverse tell. Given the history between the other players, I’d lean towards calling here thinking he bluffs here often enough with the bare Ad or Villain simply attempting revenge on the BB for the earlier hand to make it a profitable call.

  8. This hand is super tough to decide what to do.
    Really though I can’t see MP not betting AXDD on the turn so how can he have it on the river.
    Plus Hero and BB look so weak it seems like a good time to bluff.
    Plus it seems like a rather strange play for MP without AD that I feel like he has it.
    I am tempted to shove to get villain off of AD 10nonD (a chop) but I just call.

  9. I don’t mind the flop check and for me I probably check/call the turn most of the time here as well, hoping to hide my hand and get some river value or persuade a stab on the river. You and BB have been pretty weak on the flop and turn and him being “competent” I’m not sure I can believe he’d check the nuts down to the river and I’m not sure he’d put a slightly over-raise if he wants you to call(like if he hit a flush) plus the fact that you have probably the highest of your range based on the pre-flop raise and 2K call on the river and your image is pretty tight/weak-tight. I don’t think he checks the turn with a 10 so he’s either got almost nothing, a 5 or a flush(he probably bets a 5 here or the flop, too…). I would think he might bet a stronger flush-draw on the turn though maybe not for fear of being reraised off of it and hopes of being paid off on a river over-raise… So while most of his range is lots of things you can beat or a crappy flush, I think you shoving only gets a fold when you’re ahead and a call if you’re behind(I think he’ll probably call most, if not all, flushes, unless you think he’s sooo mad at the chop-fold earlier that you can put a 5 into his shove-calling range…even so I don’t think it’s enough to warrant a shove) I also think I lean towards him bluffing by his physical tells, flop/turn checking, then over-raising and staring the opposition down. Some players those tells speak strength, but without history or me being at the table to get the complete picture, I’d say it’s weakness and hit betting doesn’t make complete sense. So I call and hope to not look like a donkey if he flips over the nut flush…

  10. Ignoring the previous game dynamic for a moment and just looking at the action and I think that shows villain has the nuts or air here. I don’t think there is merit in reraiseing because of that.

    There are 9 nut flushes if he played every suited ace. Even if he plays a lot of suited kings and some queens I doubt he has more than 15-20 out of the total 45 possible that he doesn’t bet the turn with?

    We have to pay 13 to win 24.5, so he needs to have ~10 bluffs. I don’t have any live tournament experience, but I think there could be a lot more than 10 given the action.

    I however also find it plausible that his look given the dynamics is trying to discourage BB from bluffing him. Which I think makes it a better call.

  11. I would base this decision on my read of him. You said he didn’t flinch, does that mean he was frozen like a statue? I would look for signs of looseness, especially around the eyes and extremities (fingers). If his replies are more than 1 or 2 words I’d fold. If he calls the clock I’d fold. If I can’t get any additional information despite my attempts I would be right back at the beginning, so….

    This is a tough spot. A lot of times when someone goes out of the way to look this strong they don’t want a call, but older rec players project this much strength when they have a lot of hand strength (although with passive older rec players this is more likely). Then again most players are not comfortable giving a lot of eye contact, and when they do it usually means they are strong. Then you have to consider your 5-10 delay on your call. For some reason a lot of live players will read this as a green light to push you around, especially on a scary board. There have been a few times where I flop the nut flush, do a little delay like I’m calculating pot odds or whatever, trying not to look weak or strong, and they go crazy with complete air. And of course you have to consider the previous hand. Could English major be getting back at Jersey Shore for pushing him off a chop earlier?

    In the end I’m leaning towards a call. I think you win enough and chop enough to make this call profitable. I’m really curious how this hand turns out.

  12. Holding a flush, any player is concerned with making some money on the river, not chasing people out of pots. You described both villains as competent but not great players. So we can discount MP making a big overbet because its EV is greatest even though it gets called rarely. In tournaments players tend to go for surest thing – smaller callable bets.

    So besides a low flush, MP can have a A5 or a low pair like 44 or a stone-cold bluff. Given the fact that this hand wasn’t defined – no betting after the flop, river bluffs are likely. This is a clear call for me.

  13. upon the initial read, leaned strongly toward a call given game flow and alredy cited BEP. however, one question not yet considered is: although villain may have the heart and propensity to bluff, why would he wait until the river when he had two earlier opportunities on the flop and turn? seems more likely he backdoored into a flush rather than suddenly realizing he could steal the pot with a bluff raise through two players.

    • It makes sense to wait till the river because on the turn there are all kind of draws (+made hands) one could call with. On the river you only have to worry about made hands that can stand a little heat.

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