Hand No. 19 with Dusty Schmidt


With stacks of 350 blinds, nine-eight suited becomes a must-play hand against the hijack’s open. Re-raising would ordinarily be fine, but with a weak player in the big blind, calling has more value.

When three players check to Dusty, he makes a modest bet. This is the type of board that most folks will either raise or fold. In other words, they’ll either be very happy with their hand, or looking forward to getting dealt a new one.

Since the pot is already large on the flop, it won’t be a stretch for Dusty to get the money in when he makes his hand. By making a smaller bet, he also gives himself an easy call to hit his draw with nice implied odds.

People are more likely to call these small bets, then give up when they don’t improve, so Dusty plans on firing most turn cards. It’s surprising to see the hijack check and call this board, but perhaps he holds a hand like ace-king or ace-queen.

The board-pairing ten is one of the few cards that cause Dusty to check back. While his opponents are unlikely to have flopped anything to be proud of, a pair of tens fits that bill and will have just made trips.

When another ten comes on the river and again everyone checks to Dusty, his opponents can hold two types of hands. They can have a decent made hand like ace-six, pocket sevens through nines, or possibly a jack. It’s more likely that they have some sort of busted straight draw.

Since the pairs will always call a bet and the straight draws will always fold, it doesn’t matter how much Dusty bets. That is to say, it doesn’t matter in terms of how many folds he’ll get. And if the size of his bet makes no difference in how often his opponents fold, then it makes sense to bet as little as possible. So the size does matter in terms of how profitable the bluff is.

Now, betting something ridiculous like $6 might incite a curiosity call from queen high, or even prompt one of his opponents to re-bluff. So he bets the smallest amount he can get away with. This illustrates an important principle:

When your opponent’s range is entirely polarized and his calling range is inelastic (i.e. your bet size will not affect which hands he chooses to call with), make the smallest bet you can get away with.

It’s worth noting that Dusty can quite credibly represent a jack on the river. His line tells a story: value bet the flop, get scared of a ten on the turn, value bet the full house on the river. It would make sense for him to make his value bet small here, since his opponents can never really have a hand.

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