Hand No. 14 with Dusty Schmidt

POKER STARS $3/$6 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 4 PLAYERS

The preflop raise is standard on the button. The small blind is an aggressive 3-better, but only re-raises with very strong hands, small suited connectors, and junky middling cards. His cold calling range is mostly pocket pairs and suited broadway hands – stuff like ace-queen, ace-jack, king- queen, king-jack.

The small blind will almost never hit this flop, so Dusty throws out a standard continuation bet. When the small blind check/raises, the only value hand in his range is pocket fives. There should be plenty of overcards in his range, though.

Dusty clearly has no hand, but since the small blind has so many bluffs in his range, he decides to call the flop and make a small turn raise. Despite the fact that the small blind is tilting, it’s unlikely that he would be willing to shove against a turn min-raise. It simply represents too much strength.

When the turn pairs Dusty’s bottom card, it’s time to change the plan. A pair of threes is enough to call down against this tilting opponent. There’s no longer any reason to bluff. It’s more profitable to allow the opponent to continue bluffing.

When the river queen comes out, the small blind checks after a long pause. There’s a good chance that he would fire the river if he still had air. There’s also virtually zero chance that he intends to call a bet.

If he spiked a queen and was willing to call a large bet, it would make more sense for him to put the chips in himself instead of trying to induce a bluff. After all, what can he induce a bluff from? A double float? Most players calling the flop raise would have put their bluff in on the turn. Calling the turn would allow the small blind to bluff all in on the river, stealing the button’s opportunity. No, the only reasonable hand that could bluff the river is exactly what Dusty’s holding. It’s so unlikely that he has this type of hand that it’s not worth giving too much thought to.

So what happens on the river? Dusty turns his turned pair into a bluff. The small pair may be good as much as 80% of the time, but bluffing is like a freeroll here. He’ll almost never get called.

This hand is an example of a situation where you can come up with a plan on the flop, but modify that plan as the board and your opponent provide you with new information. Dusty called the flop planning to bluff the turn, then called the turn trying to catch a bluff, then turned his hand back into a bluff on the river. It’s important to have a plan early in the hand, but it’s just as important to keep your eyes peeled for unexpected developments.

The irony here is that the small blind may have backed into a hand with showdown value, and as a result didn’t get to showdown. If the queen gave him a pair, then he may have checked, hoping to show down for free, and gotten bluffed by a hand that would have called a shove! That means that he lost a 75 blind pot instead of winning an entire stack.

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