POKER STARS $5/$10 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 8 PLAYERS
Against an extremely tight opener and a tight cold caller, 3-betting ace-king would be a mistake. Even against only one player with a very tight range, ace-king is an underdog. Adding the second player with a tight range makes matters worse. It’s now likely that one player has a pair and the other has another ace-king, killing outs and cutting down on implied odds.
Ace-king is easily strong enough to cold call, which is what Dusty does, allowing him to play a well disguised hand in position. Somewhat surprisingly, four more players call behind him, and they all take a flop seven ways.
As a result of all the callers, there are already 28 blinds in the pot when the flop comes down. It’s unlikely that either early position player would check a set with so much money in the pot and draws on board. It’s also very difficult for them to hold pocket aces or kings with two of each card accounted for. There’s only one combination of each. The only way Dusty’s top two pair is no good here is if someone called behind him with pocket twos.
All of this is to say that Dusty is not considering whether to make a value bet, but rather how to size it. If he makes a very large bet, flush draws may just fold outright, since there won’t be room for them to make a big enough raise to generate fold equity. Instead, Dusty makes a bet slightly larger than half the pot. The idea is to bait someone into thinking they have fold equity. Everyone folds around to the original cold caller who calls again.
The turn is an excellent card for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s almost impossible that Dusty’s opponent will have drawn out on him. Tight players don’t cold call with five-three, and pocket fours would surely have folded the flop. So ace-king is still the relative nuts. When the early position player check/calls Dusty’s three-quarters pot bet, it seems likely that she has a hand like ace-queen. On a blank river, Dusty can comfortably place a pot sized bet to get the rest of the money in.
The river is not a blank. The 8♦ prompts some hesitation and a large bet from Dusty’s opponent. Given what he knows about her, Dusty knows almost exactly which two cards she holds.
Back when everyone played tight, it was possible to put players on very narrow ranges. In fact, there were a number of times where you could put someone on their exact two cards.
When the tight player cold calls from early position against an even tighter under-the-gun player, she will have a very narrow range. Big pocket pairs, ace-king, and ace- queen suited will surely call. Smaller pocket pairs, ace-queen offsuit, and other suited broadway cards may also call. Once she checks and calls the flop, her range can be narrowed down to flush draws with top pair and ace-queen almost exclusively. It’s very likely that she would bet the flop with any naked flush draws, since it’s hard for anyone to flop a very strong hand on this board. With top pair to go with her flush draw, her check/call line makes more sense since she has strong showdown value. There’s no need to semi-bluff.
So why is she leading the river now? Almost certainly because she holds exactly A♦ Q♦ . She leads out to prevent Dusty from checking back with a strong hand that’s scared of the flush. It’s also possible but less likely that she would play A♦ J♦ or A♦ T♦ this way. There’s almost no chance that this conservative player would be turning ace-queen without a flush into a bluff on the river. Some players might, but that’s not a play likely to be in her arsenal. No, she almost definitely holds the nuts.