Hand No. 3 with Dusty Schmidt

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

Ace-ten suited is a strong hand before the flop, but calling allows the cutoff to see the flop with dominated hands like ace-nine and jack-ten, so Dusty just calls.

Flopping the nut flush draw with two overcards is always nice. The question is not whether to put money in, but rather how much and in what fashion. Leading out would be fine, but only with the intention of getting the money in if the cutoff raises. Since the cutoff might be willing to get all in with weaker flush draws, it’s possible to have about 50% equity against the range of hands he’ll go all in with.

Checking and calling has its merits as well. It’s a deceptive line which may provide more value when an ace or a ten fall.

Checking with the intention of raising is fine, too. Just like leading out, it’s possible to get it in with the best draw often enough to justify shoving over a potential re-raise. The advantage the check/raise has over the bet/3-bet is the ability to capture the opponent’s continuation bet. Leading out allows him to fold his junk immediately, whereas check/ raising will usually get at least $25 from almost his whole range.

After the flop checks through, the turn gives Dusty the nuts. It’s okay to lead here and try to get two streets of value, but it’s unlikely that the cutoff would fight back and raise. Instead, Dusty check/raises, hoping to represent a naked ace (i.e. just a draw – not a flush). It works well, as the cutoff makes a small re-raise.

Examined more closely, this guy’s turn re-raise doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What’s he representing? When most players get re-raised in this spot, they assume their opponent has a big hand so they try to get the money in immediately, scared that a bad card would roll off if they just called or made a smaller raise. They shove because they’re afraid. But shoving forces the cutoff to have a hand. Otherwise he’ll have to fold.

With almost a sure thing to win the pot, this is a time to slow things down and carefully consider the cutoff’s range. If he flopped a flush draw, straight, or set, he would have made a continuation bet. This player is erratic, but people just don’t check back flops with those hands in mid-stakes games these days. On the off chance that he does hold a hand like that, all the money will go in one way or another.

So what does make sense for him to hold? Perhaps a marginal hand that’s putting in a small raise as some sort of free showdown play. It’s more likely that he has a draw or some other weak hand.

Against an erratic player with a weak hand, what’s the best way to extract value on the turn? By feigning weakness yourself. What’s the weakest looking play here? Somewhat counter-intuitively, it’s a raise!

If Dusty calls in this spot, he has to have a hand. Why else would he call a turn re-raise out of position? By making another small raise, Dusty’s saying that he either holds the nuts or simply doesn’t believe his opponent. It’s harder to make the nuts than it is to be skeptical, so the raise looks pretty suspicious. It also gives the cutoff another chance to make a move at the pot. Surprisingly, instead of shoving, the cutoff just calls.

The river doesn’t change anything. The cutoff still has nothing. Now Dusty checks to tell the cutoff that he’s giving up on his bluff, and his opponent takes the bait. It looks like the cutoff called the turn to get more information on whether or not his bluff would work. This is actually a pretty good play – one that we’ve recommended earlier in this book. Dusty takes advantage by telling the guy what he wants to hear. The funny thing here is that the cutoff rivers a pair of jacks – a hand with some showdown value. Whatever we may think of his turn re-raise, his river bet is awful. There’s no reason to turn his pair into a bluff here since Dusty’s range is missed draws and the occasional monster.

By taking his time and grinding on his opponent’s range, Dusty was able to win an entire stack from an opponent who had a very weak hand. He took a line that kept the opponent’s weak hands in the pot and eventually got the money from one.

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