Hand No. 21 with Dusty Schmidt

POKER STARS $2/$4 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 6 PLAYERS

Dusty makes a standard preflop open and gets cold called by the contentious player on the button.

The flop is extremely good against the button’s calling range. Top pair with a queen kicker is basically the third nuts here, since the button can have pocket threes and fours, but almost never aces, ace-king, or two pair. Dusty bets for value and gets called.

The turn looks like an ugly card, but there are not too many aces in the button’s flop calling range. A bet will usually go in better if Dusty puts it in himself than if he checks and calls. Another consideration is that checking this turn with hands as strong as flopped top pair would result in a bluff-heavy range. While balance is not always the primary concern, it is an important consideration against regular opponents, particularly observant ones.

When the button raises the turn, it’s unlikely he just hit the ace, unless he has specifically ace-three or ace-four suited. Even with a hand as strong as ace-queen, he can’t get paid that often. He’s more likely to call with an ace, since Dusty is very likely to put a bet in on the river either as a bluff or thin value bet.

This leaves only pocket threes and fours in the button’s value range, and even those should wait to raise the river, since most players will bet/fold the turn with a single ace. Even against ace-king, waiting until the river is fine, since all the money will go in regardless of the turn action.

All told, the button’s turn raise doesn’t make much sense. It looks like a float more than anything, perhaps a turned draw like 76♠ or 65♠ . Dusty calls, planning to call a non-spade river.

Against a more conservative opponent, the turn would have been an easy fold. But this hand was against an aggressive player who had been even more active than usual.

It can be hard to deal with players putting a lot of pressure on you, but you can’t let them get away with representing narrow ranges all the time or they’ll run you over. It doesn’t pay to be roadkill.

The only hands that the button can value bet here are queen-jack (which floated and semi-bluffed the turn) or a small set (which slowplayed the flop). That’s 18 combinations of hands (QJ is 12, 33 is 3 and 44 is another 3). It’s just as likely that the button is bluffing with queen-ten or jack- ten. That’s 21 combinations of hands (QT is 9 and JT is 12). There are also 5 combinations of suited connectors that picked up spade draws on the turn but missed the river. Getting better than 2-to-1 makes this an “easy” call for Dusty.

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