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Hand of the Week: Home-Game Hero Hits Bullseye, Paid Double
Usually in the Hand of the Week, we explore how world-class players make great moves in high-stakes games or tournaments.
But that's a very small - and specific - representation of the millions of poker hands being played around the world.
Most poker hands, in fact, take place in micro-stakes online games and haphazardly played home games - much like ours at the PokerListings head office.
They usually aren't pretty. But they're still worth analyzing because spectacular hands happen at every level.
This week's Hand of the Week is a Special Edition exploring the biggest cash-game pot ever played in our office game.
Flop to River
It's a full-ring cash game with blinds at 25c/50c. The game’s been on for several hours already so several stacks are much larger than 100 bb.
In the hijack is a hyper-aggressive LAG who’s been raising up to 70% of the hands and c-bets 100% on the flop. Up to now his strategy has paid off as he's more than doubled his original 100 bb stack.
He raises 4bb = €2. In the cut-off, a solid and rather tight player calls. He has about €70 (140 bb) in front of him. Our hero holds
It’s a speculative hand, but he hasn’t played any hand for a while. It’s folded to the big blind - another tight player - who calls. His stack is around €60 or 120bb.
There's €6.50 or 13 bb in the pot as we see a flop of
The big blind checks, the LAG bets €5 and both the hero and big blind call. There's now €16.50 or 33 bb in the pot.
Things heat up on the turn. The big blind now leads out with a bet of €10. The pre-flop raiser rises to €30 and our hero is sent tanking.
He finally decides to call and the big blind also calls. We now have a pot of €106.50 or 213 bb. The remaining effective stacks are at €30 (big blind) and €40 (hero).
The river is the The big blind checks, the pre-flop raiser pushes all-in, hero says “well, I can’t fold now” and calls. The big blind calls, too. The overall pot is €216.50 or 333 bb, which is quite a sizeable pot for a low-stakes game like this.
Showdown: Pre-flop raiser shows for top full house. The big blind held for a lower full house. Our hero shows his quad sixes and takes down the pot.
For once, we’re not going to analyze the hand for all players simultaneously but for each player in turn. We’ll start with the LAG in the hijack.
The Pre-Flop Raiser
He’s raising with an above average hand, considering that he’s been raising 70% of his hands, as this brings J-To into the top third of his range.
Getting two callers doesn’t bother him. He knows what it’s like to play a weak holding against several opponents post-flop. If he hits, however, he gets paid off more often than the tight players.
The flop is very dry and there’s no reason for him to believe that he doesn’t have the best hand. Top pair, fifth kicker, is actually a pretty strong hand for him and he can get money from hands like 8-8 or 7-7 who would probably not fold.
So, both calls don’t mean much. But on the turn, things become interesting. After another six appears, the big blind takes the betting lead and the LAG has to ask himself, why?
In this spot a call would have been the correct move. The LAG has showdown value but he doesn’t have a monster.
Raising here is a big mistake, particularly because he’s also committing himself. When the tighter player behind him calls, he should definitely have known that he’s losing.
Every good player’s alarm bells would go off here. At least one of the opponents would often have a six or even already a full house.
The river is a “lucky” six, as it gives him a full house with top pair. Strangely, the big blind now checks, but we know that pocket deuces have now been counterfeited and the kicker doesn’t play anymore.
Considering all these factors his all-in is actually correct, as he would have to call any all-in anyway for the pot odds and the overall situation.
Our usually rather tight hero opens up with a very loose pre-flop call. This is not a very good idea as the hand is weak, there could be a squeeze behind him and even if he hits the board, he can easily be dominated.
However, having made the call pre-flop there's no way he can fold after he hits second pair on the flop. He might have the best hand now, and he has five outs to a very strong hand.
But on the turn he finds himself in a very uncomfortable situation and he really needs to keep his cool. He’s actually found his dream card on the turn – another six – but both opponents fire big time.
The tight big blind leads out and the LAG raises so much that neither him nor any caller would be able to fold the river. If this was a game with tight, strong players, a fold would be recommendable as there are several hands he’s drawing dead to. Plus, there might be a better six.
But in the actual situation, folding is not an option. Especially after the LAG raised as he does this with good but also with bad hands. The real question is, should the hero call or go all-in to maximize the profit if he’s ahead?
There’s no simple answer to this question as it really depends on the other players. With strong players, an all-in would look more like a bluff, while a call would look like a monster.
Here, a call seems enticing because it gives the big blind irresistible pot odds. Indeed, the big blind comes along and, when the river hits, all he needs to do is collect the money.
The Big Blind
This player has shown the worst performance in this hand. Pre-flop, he holds the sixth best hand and he should have re-raised to protect his hand and to get into a heads-up situation with the LAG.
Even out of position he’s way ahead of the LAG’s range, so he should try and build a pot.
On the flop there’s nothing wrong with his play. He has to over-call with a pair between top and middle pair, but the price is right and the ranges aren’t clear.
But on the turn he gets confused. Leading out, he turns his hand into a bluff. And if you want to see this as a bet for information, there's no way he should still be in the hand after he gets a raise and a call!
Pocket nines are definitely dead in this spot losing against a jack, a six, deuces and overpairs. His decision on the river doesn’t really matter anymore, although he could still have saved 60 bb if he had folded.
Three players are on the hunt for a big pot and they all make mistakes. However, some are more costly than others.
Right when the hero hits the bullseye with his marginal hand, his opponents build the pot for him so he can get a double payout.
Good players often call, and that made the difference in this hand.