Hand No. 10 with Dusty Schmidt

POKER STARS $5/$10 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 6 PLAYERS

There’s not much to say about raising preflop with jack- ten suited, particularly from the button, but there’s plenty to say about the small blind’s flop donk. To begin with, it doesn’t make much sense. Let’s look at his range.

The only strong hands he can represent are ace-queen, ace-three, and pocket threes. It’s possible that he cold called with pocket aces or queens, hoping that the short stack in the big blind would squeeze. Even then, why would he lead out with a flopped set, particularly aces which have the deck crushed? No, it’s unlikely that he holds one of the few strong hands possible.

It’s much more likely that he holds something marginal like ace-jack or ace-ten, or something weaker like a gutshot – king-jack, king-ten, or jack-ten.

Against this weak range, Dusty plans to make a move with his gutshot. He could raise the flop, but raising the turn is better. Here’s why:

  • Waiting captures a second (and larger) bet from the small blind on the turn.
  • Raising the turn represents a stronger range – the line looks stronger than a mere flop raise.
  • By calling the flop, Dusty can represent a queen if a second one hits the turn, whereas his opponent can never really hold one – people rarely donk the flop with second pair when an ace is on board. He would need to have flopped at least two pair for the queen to be a good card for him.
  • It’s harder for the small blind to re-bluff against a turn raise than against a flop raise because it requires committing almost an entire stack and usually works less often.

All in all, the small blind will be bluffing (or bet/folding a marginal hand) on the turn so often that raising the turn should be hugely profitable. It’s true that Dusty is also representing a narrow range, but his line looks more credible than the small blind’s. The sliver of equity provided by the gutshot subsidizes the bluff, meaning it doesn’t have to work as often as it would with a total air ball.

“But wait!?!” you may ask, “if waiting for the turn is so much better than raising the flop, then why not wait for the river?”

There are spots where waiting for the river will capture a third (and even bigger) bet, as demonstrated by the Mississippi bluff. Unfortunately, those situations are rare. In this particular hand, the small blind’s range is split between top pair and air. By raising the turn, there’s a good chance Dusty can get all of those hands to fold – everything except for an unlikely monster like ace-queen or pocket threes. But waiting for the river would allow the small blind to check and call with his top pair hands. Passing up the opportunity to bluff those out of the pot would be a huge mistake.

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