Flop to River
We’re back at it with TV’s latest successful poker show, Poker Night in America, with well-known players Jennifer Tilly, Alec Torelli and Shaun Deeb at the table. They're playing $25/$50 and Matt Brady just put out a straddle. Jen Tilly raises to $300. Jack Schanbacher to her left calls in the cut-off and Deeb finds on the button. Deeb calls. Daniel Wolf folds his small blind but Dave Eldridge in the big blind and Brady in the straddle come along.
Five players go to the flop and the pot is $1,525. Eldridge checks, Brady checks, Tilly checks, Schanbacher checks; Deeb bets $800! That gets rid of Eldridge and Schanbacher but Brady and Tilly stay in. With three players left in the hand they take a turn with $3,925 in the pot. Brady now takes the lead and bets out $1,800. Tilly pays to play on. Deeb calls and the three players go to the river with $9,325 to play for.
Brady bets another $4,000 and Tilly calls again. Deeb realizes he now has a difficult decision. Does he want to call with his set? After a couple of minutes Deeb folds. Brady shows and loses to Tilly’s straight with. The $14,325 pot goes to Jen Tilly. Watch the hand again in the video below (starting at 4:00).
Nobody likes to fold a big hand on the river but, after a bit of thinking, Deeb makes the correct decision. Let’s look at several interesting aspects of this hand and analyze each player's (possible) reasoning.
Pre-flop, Tilly gets aggressive.
Pre-flop, Tilly raises it up with J-9o from the hijack. It's a rather loose-aggressive move but not unusual for a deep-stacked cash game like this one.
If you play like this you’ll have to make some good decisions on later streets or they'll be very expensive.
What about the other players’ decisions? Schanbacher has a suited ace and calls and Deeb calls with pocket eights on the button.
By calling on the button instead of re-raising Deeb goes set-mining. With both blinds and the straddle still to act he can expect at least one more player to feel priced in and call.
He also knows there will often be one or two overcards on the board so set value is the only thing he can go for with this call.
Deeb could raise to try and take down the pot right there and collect a lot of dead money, but the call is also fine. It’s really up to the player here.
Can Only Go One Way
Three of the five players involved find a piece on the flop. Brady in the straddle flops top pair, top kicker; Tilly has an open-ended straight draw; Deeb flops the set he was looking for.
Brady checks correctly as there are four more players to act behind him. Even though his hand is good there’s no need for him to make the pot too big.
Tilly can go for a semi-bluff and bet out but she decides to check, too. But Deeb can only go one way.
He has a strong hand and the board is drawy so he needs to get more money in the pot and make the draws and other good hands pay.
Can't like third heart.
He bets and gets rid of two players but then a third heart hits the turn and Deeb can't like that at all.
10 Outs to a Stronger Monster
Brady now takes the initiative and the lead on the turn. His bet is a semi-bluff. As he has the A♥ he knows that nobody can have the nuts at this point.
Of course he’s also representing the flush but his opponents are not that easy to get rid of. Still, Tilly’s call is a little light.
At this point she could already be drawing dead and she also has Deeb act behind her, which means there's potentially a raise coming which would force her to fold. Having the J♥ makes her hand a little stronger but if a fourth heart hits it could also maximize her losses.
At this point Tilly should fold while Deeb can certainly call. Deeb is getting 4-1 pot odds and almost certainly has 10 outs to an even stronger monster. He could also still be ahead which, as we know, is actually the case.
Brady goes for it.
Brady’s Last Shot
The last bet by Brady is part bluff, part value bet. His main intention is to make hands that are better than his, like two pairs and sets, fold.
To be profitable his bet of $4,000 into a $9,325 pot has to win roughly 30% of the time. It’s doubtful that this would happen as Deeb showed a lot of strength by betting the flop and over-calling the turn.
It would obviously be absurd for Tilly to fold now after she called the turn looking for this exact card. It would also be silly to raise as she would only be called by flushes.
Now Deeb finds himself in a very tough spot. If Tilly folded the river he would almost certainly call because Brady does have a lot of bluffs in his range. But to over-call you need a much stronger hand.
He’s getting pot odds of 4.3 to 1, which are great, but what is he really beating here? Brady might be bluffing, but even if he is Tilly’s range is still very strong.
The only reasonable hands that are weaker than his pocket eights are T-8 and Q-T – and even they don’t seem very likely.
Tilly wins again.
So, despite getting those great odds, Deeb is pretty much forced to fold because Brady isn’t always bluffing.
In a hand when several players are involved it’s difficult to keep track of everything that’s happening.
Shaun Deeb, however, manages to do just that and confirm how good of a player he is. He makes the correct fold with a strong hand.