Have you ever won a house with one pair in a poker game?
But it happened recently in a $200/$400/$800 cash game at The Lodge Card Club.
Let’s take a look at the hand.
Taras opens to $3,500 from UTG+1 with . It folds to KBM in the Big Blind who 3-bets to $13,500. Taras calls.
The effective stack size between the two players is $210,000.
When open-raising, the best size to use is somewhere around 2.2 to 2.5bb, in theory. This bet size puts just enough pressure on the Big Blind’s range.
Taras’ 4.4bb raise makes the Big Blind’s life too easy. He can simply fold with a lot of mediocre hands without punishment due to the bad pot odds that he’s getting.
Alas, the hand selection was on point though. is strong enough to open-raise from UTG+1 even with this size.
KBM has a very simple decision to make with his Pocket Kings: 3-bet. The only question is what size he should use. Typically a 4-5x size works great to put pressure on the opener’s medium part of the range.
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The flop comes . The pot is $28,400.
KBM bets $17,000. Taras calls.
An interesting flop as KBM has an overpair and Taras has second pair.
Although intuitively, it may seem like KBM should c-bet here given that he has a strong hand, in theory, the best play is to check.
However, the correct action on the flop hinges on the kinds of hands that Taras gets to the flop with. If Taras were to occasionally just call a 3-bet with hands like Pocket Queens through Pocket Aces or Ace-King, as he should in theory, then KBM would have to proceed with more caution.
But I suspect Taras would almost always 4-bet with Queens or better.
If that is the case, then Pocket Kings are a must c-bet. The sizing he chose is also good since they are very deep and he needs to build the pot rapidly if he wishes to get the whole stack in.
Even though he has middle pair and an overcard, Taras should be folding. KBM’s range is extremely strong and he isn’t getting great pot odds to continue. He doesn’t have a backdoor flush draw either, so there’s no extra equity from that. If the was the , calling would be fine. He just doesn’t have enough going on versus KBM’s strong range to continue profitably in this spot.
The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $62,400.
KBM bets again for $50,000. Taras calls.
The turn is a brick; it completes no draws whatsoever.
In this case, KBM’s range remains ahead and thus an aggressive strategy is optimal. His Pocket Kings are still very strong so he should keep barreling big to get value from hands like , , , , and some combo draws. Betting also denies equity from hands such as and which should now fold, at least sometimes.
Taras is very stubborn with his after receiving no help from the turn card. He should fold right away because he will not be able to call on the river profitably except on an Ace or a Ten. He has many better hands to call with even without the QQ+ in his range.
Any of the following hands would make a better call:
- Pocket Nines
- Pocket Tens
- Even is close between calling and folding because it has 8 outs to a straight
These hands are either stronger than Ace-Ten or have more backup equity than Ace-Ten, which is important when the pot starts to bloat like this.
The river comes the , making the board . The pot is $162,400.
KBM goes all-in for $129,000. Taras thinks about it for a while and ends up calling and losing the $420,400 pot.
The river is a neutral card as it doesn’t help either player. This means that KBM has the range advantage and thus fast playing his strong hands is the highest expected value (EV) strategy. Pocket Kings are way ahead of Taras’ range, which means KBM should go all-in to get max value from his hand.
Taras’ is a bad bluff-catcher at this point as it blocks disproportionately more bluffs compared to value bets. When making a hero call, you want to unblock the hands that your opponent would be bluffing with.
We have to give Taras a bit of leeway here. There are so many things to think about during a hand, even aspects not covered in this article (like body language). And when there’s potentially a house on the line, it’s very, very tough to think as clearly as I’ve written here.
That’s it for this breakdown! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned something new from it!
If you want more high-stakes hand analysis, scroll down to “Related Posts” below.
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
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